The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood: A Book Review

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Along with her The Blind Assassin, this is one of the most convoluted and elaborate novels I have ever read. The story is too cloudy to understand that it requires your powers of concentration, especially if you are not analytical enough to grasp its complexity, the style I have proven Atwood bears the hallmark of.

Instead of analyzing it in a broader literary context with intellectual bravado since everyone can turn to Wikipedia, I’d rather review it in a manner of  what I found out in her writing styles: I’m envious of her skilled mastery for turning into beautiful prose her train of thoughts or whatsoever plays  in the figment of her imagination. Furthermore, she is an unfathomable female writer who can be as genius as any writers mostly celebrated in world literature.

This novel from the first pages to the last is strewn with vivid, beautiful, elegant, graceful, sumptuous sentences which I enjoyed reading rather than   gripping its main idea. The sentences are so lyrical that I chanted them again and again. They melt in my tongue like sweet, dark chocolate, or smell good like a garden,  full of a variety of colorful flowers hovered  above by a swarm of butterflies.

Under an unlikely scenario, if there were still such a world that men were superior to women over skills in writing stories or any literacy pieces, and Atwood were into such a literary show-off ,surrounded by supercilious writers looking down on her feminism, I bet my life that Atwood could dominate or catch up with them at any cost of literary bouts. Don’t dare her write one because this her The Handmaid’s Tale has proved me   wrong that there is something Atwood could make her rather genius. Her novels may appear complex, much more if she writes a simpler or more intricate one. In other words, there is nothing to find fault with her more; it’s crystal clear that she is an extraordinary writer. Roll down the red carpet and pay homage to Her Majesty.

Now, I freely  acknowledge that reading another Atwood’s books could be challenging since I have now the clearest idea of her writing style. Sometime in the future, if I have a great deal of time, perhaps when I reach my mid-life , no longer preoccupied with how to embellish my life with youthful experiences, hers would be one of those books I want to read again and again.As American musician and filmmaker, Frank Zappa put it , so many books, so little time to read.There are still thousands of  books in the world I haven’t read yet.

Also, the best course of technique I should use when I happen to read Atwood’s other books  and others books which have little resemblance to her style  would be a matter of full concentration ( regardless of  how poor my reading comprehension skill is .) Then, I will seat myself at a coffee table with a voluminous dictionary and colorful highlighters scattered around , par for the course in my reading repose. Ho-ho!

P.S . It is now being adapted for a TV series  broadcast live on  Hulu.

Rating: 4/ 5 stars ( I really liked it. )

The Maze Runner by James Dashner: A Book Review

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I have never read a great deal of science fictions yet despite that   my major in psychology inculcated me in scientific schools of thoughts; I am more into books that have to do with philosophy, autobiography, politics, children’s life, agriculture, and history. The very first sci-fi that I read and eventually caused me to love this genre is The Martian by Andy Weir. After that, I failed to try another one, for there are too many books  lying around to read.

I got the good chance to read one when my student decided to read it in my reading class. I was exhilarated upon his book choice because this was one of the books I had wanted so much that I could not afford. He was the one who provided my own copy.Voila!

I first enjoyed it a whole a lot because the story is new to me. The settings are awfully fascinating: The people are trapped in the middle part of a mysterious and huge maze, and the challenge for them is how to get out of it by finding the exit. It is not about how to outwit or outplay one another. Kinda  survival of the fittest.  It is about testing who is cut out to be the maze runners   to solve the puzzle . In addition, the gargantuan   walls of the maze are so monumentally impressive and indescribable. Imagining them while reading sent  a chill   through my spine. I would even feel like jumping to my feet whenever I imaginarily heard the echolalia of the Grievers , the  bionic monster created to sting whoever dares to find the exit, and the  heavenly roar of the gates when they close  after twilight. As a matter of fact, what I liked most of the setting is that the characters have been living in the dead center of the maze, a wide  community which is called Glade, where everyone has access to everything they need. Eventually, I came to understand that the concept of this story is about experimentation on how humans can be used in  saving humanity.  For instance,  the  Flare  ,with its  deadly consequences like the contagious disease  , which is the cause of  human and earthly  destruction.

However, little did I realize that there seems to be something wrong with it; it is misleading and mesmerizing.  I forgot that what I look for in a book is consistency. Is the concept realistic or   conceivable?  Is there something   readers might miss  while being rendered amazed at it?  The answer could be yes because the story shows that   the earth is in a dystopian and ultramodern era or   no because it is unimaginable for a science ignoramus like me to believe that the Sun could be the reason for a  widespread viral disease. Perhaps, James Dashner   did not justify the ideal scene of  what he really wanted to paint a picture of. Take the movie   Elysium for instance ,written and directed by Neil Blomkamp and starred in by Matt Damon. It perfectly  depicts a dystopian world.  Rather, Dashner  focused on the maze itself.  Besides, it  occurred to me  that  he may have thought the trick would do that the reader would not realize that  the Gladers could  make a bigger difference   than  finding  the exit in the maze   by using their  mind  power inventing  something to fly out of the place  just the like of a parachute. What do you think?  So what happens is that   the reader only focuses on the book title: The Maze Runner. The characters are all absorbed in the idea of getting out of the   maze. I know  that you may contradict my  hypothesis because I  was even surprised to find out  that the maze  must be massive. It is even ridiculous of  me to suggest that the Gladers could have tried the  famous  suicidal game Angry Bird where the  Angry Birds use a huge, wooden slingshot  to pull themselves away.(laughs)

Despite my literary musings,  I can’t deny that the book has still considerable impact on me. First, it is   page turning. I only concentrated on the mission of the runners. Second, it is head- bashing. I had to think of answering the why’s in my mind. What is the purpose of  putting the people in the maze? Why  most of the characters are male? How did they survive the maze without sexual needs for two years? I wonder if there is such an  intimate relationship developed among them ? Pardon my prurient question! ( laughs) Finally, the ending is heart-breaking. I did not  expect that  there was such a thing,  tragic ending where readers have been attached to the brethren relationship between the two characters  all along  given the fact that obviously, it is a trick writers  usually use as a literary device – an old music that  still turned out to be marketable.

Like the other writers, it also took  Dashner   years  to finish it ,and was even  turned down by some publishers.I wonder what made them not to do so. Nevertheless, due to its sensational popularity and box-office movie adaptation,  Dashner should be grateful for gaining a toehold in writing its another sequels: The Scorch Trials, The Death Cure, The Kill Order, and its coming-soon The Fever Code.  In fact, The Scorch Trials and The Death Cure have also been adapted for movies. Huwaw!  Congratulations, Mr. Dashner!

Rating: 3/ 5 stars ( I liked it.)

King Kong by Delos W. Lovelace, Edgar Wallace (Story) and Merian C. Cooper (Story): A Book Review

kingkongPerhaps among the imaginary giant characters I am more familiar with, King Kong stands out among them. I can see his replicas in toy stores (And for sure you can even come across him in Universal Studios). I can play him on video games. I can read him in comics. I can see him making fun of children as a mascot at birthday parties. He could scare the living day lights out of me in a haunted house at an amusement park or even on Halloween day. Above all, he could make an antagonistic cameo appearance in fantasy dramas or movies. He can be famous in any situations. Thanks to its movie adaptation, he is now immortal. For sure, he will be borne upon in the mind of the next generation since it is said to have another movie remake.

I have seen its 2005 movie remake and I enjoyed it a bunch. Comparatively, having watched its movie adaptation gave me the ideas of the plots and settings. However, nothing beats the book. It gave me more clear description and narration. Imagining King Kong gave me the creeps. Also, I could feel the atmosphere of the unchartered, far-flung Kong Island. I could feel the breath-taking hue and cry among the characters.

Although I am now a young adult and I no longer believe in fantasy, I still find it fascinating. King Kong is a downright strange, far-fetched creature. Something or someone unusual can get my attention. Besides, the theory of poor old Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution is instilled in me. So a confluence of questions popped into my head. Pop! How if there were such a gigantic monkey? Gee whiz!

Granted that it is a fantasy, Cooper seems to have made a botch of , or to put it bluntly, to have monkeyed around with some settings. He must have intended to leave us readers hanging, turning over the questions such as: How long does it take the main characters to get to Kong Island? How do they manage to load King Kong onto a ship back to New York? Hehehe Even a genius kindergarten could call it into a question.

In the end, it just occurred to me that we, the said highest mammal on this planet, would be defensive against another species superior to us. It would be a big, big threat. Figuratively speaking, King Kong resembles some hot issues today such as the advanced robotics, nations with big economy, nuclear deterrent, etc.

Admittedly, I am still completely flummoxed by some latent meanings of this book. Obviously, the themes have something to do with survival, lost civilization, dominance of human to animals….But the book gives emphasis on the Beauty and the Beast. King Kong represents The Beast who will fall for Anne Darrow as the Beauty. At the end of the story, Danhem bragged before the news reporters that, “It’s the Beauty killed the Beast…” What do you think Danhem means?

I worried that I would not enjoy it since I have seen its movie; it could be kitsch; it could have been just a product of a child’s imagination. Also, the passages must be awash with low standards of languages. Not bad. It is still a classic everyone should not underestimate. Merian Cooper had somehow what it took to be a fantasy-adventure writer.

I’m looking forward to its most-awaiting movie remake since we have now ultramodern media production ^^

Rating: 3/ 5 stars

The Bridge by Iain Banks : A Book Review

TheBridgeWhile I was burying myself in this book, I was vacillating anywhere between 4 and 3 STARS. Every chapter left me to twist in the wind.

4 STARS

Iain Banks is immortal for how he begins his novel just the like of his famous one, THE CROW ROAD. In THE BRIDGE, I liked its opening, describing the bridge with beautiful sentences- something savory, something musical to my ears when I read it aloud, something that is imagined in awe.

“The road cleared the cutting through the hills. He could see South Queensferry, the marina at Port Edgar, the VAT 69 sign of the distillery there, the lights of Hewlett Packard’s factory; and the rail bridge, dark in the evening’s last sky-reflected light. Behind it, more lights; the Hound Point oil terminal they’d had a sub-contract on, and, further away, the lights of Leith. The old rail bridge’s hollow metal bones looked the color of dried blood.”

Notably, with the background in psychology, I enjoyed keeping up with the characters –from John Orr, one of the protagonists to the dour shrinker, along with his two delusional patients. Although feeling a tingle of scare, I absorbed myself in it more; I could not put it down-I just read and read.

Another thing that spiced up my interest is the psychological tests, which were given to the protagonist, I had been preoccupied with. I could not analyze what the relevance of those tests.

Besides, an ignorant atheist may raise a question if NDE (Near-Death-Experience) has something to do with afterlife. But, for sure, a deep-rooted believer might insist so.

3 STARS

Fiddlesticks! I enjoyed the beginning a lot until I reached the part incited me to get annoyed because I could not make out the Scottish accent rendered in phonetic words. I was interested at first, but it took me a lot of effort to decipher the dialogues among the camouflaged entities until I gave up because the story seems to be different since I had been preoccupied with the first story- as though I moved to another dimension in a comatose state I was not familiar with. So I was just trying to be more patient because I knew it was Banks ‘intention.

4 STARS
I found transisting to another dimension more interesting. There was something new. And at this time, I liked Iain Banks more. I can now recognize his styles for writing; he is like a raconteur. There is something about his styles that I tend to read smoothly, calmly despite the fact that his book is steeped in violent and hostile situations. He gave me an inspiration how to be a writer.

1 STAR
I said it! I had expected to pass this nose-bleeding part. I wanted to get furious, with the tears welling up in my eyes. I felt like spitting on Banks- he should not have written such parts. So I just skipped it since I could not figure out the phonetics even though speaking with Scottish accent sounds interesting, but not like this- somewhat stuffy. I had almost been attached to the real story as though I did not like to separate myself from the protagonist. Uh-oh! I was disappointed. So, I was sick and tired of the same situation as though I wanted to get out of that wacky world. I could not wait for what would become of John Orr. But still, I was trying to hang in there.

5 STARS
At last, I appreciated this book a whole lot. I had gone out of that quizzical and mind-boggling world. I had patched every story together. I had understood why everything had been going all along. I could not believe my eyes that I had felt those feelings. I had been carried away by Iain Banks. I was speechless at the end of the story, with some questions niggling in the chambers of my mind. It iss a big WOW! If I did not have too many books on my list to read, I could re-read it beyond the shadow of doubt.

To understand the real concept of the book, I browsed through the Wikipedia. Eventually, I realized that the story centers around the three protagonists: Alex (full name hinted to be Alexander Lennox, but never explicitly named), John Orr and The Barbarian, the character in the “epistaxis “ parts.

Iain Banks thought that of the novels he had written, this is his personal favorite.
“Definitely the intellectual of the family, it’s the one that went away to University and got a first. I think The Bridge is the best of my books.”

No doubt! I have not been able to get over this book yet. I have still been trying to digest and assimilate all the stories. Like the brain-teasing psychological tests given, it is like a whodunit novel. I have still big WHYs?

Rating: 5/ 5 stars ( It is amazing. )