BOOK REVIEW: The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis

The Magician's Nephew (Chronicles of Narnia, #1)The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis
On a daring quest to save a life, two friends are hurled into another world, where an evil sorceress seeks to enslave them. But then the lion Aslan’s song weaves itself into the fabric of a new land, a land that will be known as Narnia. And in Narnia, all things are possible.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Reading The Magician’s Nephew was like learning about a secret: a secret about a Lion, a Witch, a Wardrobe, and how they came to be. The secret began with a boy and a girl. Although they were not the most memorable characters, the magical worlds they discovered distracted me from that. There was a quiet world between worlds, an old red world, and, best of all, Narnia, when it was nothing but darkness and its first light broke out with a song.

“A voice had begun to sing. Its lower notes were deep enough to be the voice of the earth herself. There were no words. There was hardly even a tune. But it was, beyond comparison, the most beautiful noise he had ever heard.”

I loved the second half of the book where all the whys and the hows in the succeeding books were explained – including that conspicuous lamp post. Even more interesting were the similarities to the Theory of Special Creation. Whether intentional or not, it gave me an insight into Lewis’ beliefs and it reminded me that authors are basically just people writing stories about what they know and care about.

The narration was straight-forward and the plot was simple, but this simplicity was both a hit and a miss. It was easy to understand, but the characters lacked the depth and complexities that would have made them memorable. The story also sometimes bordered between boring and uninteresting before Aslan came into the picture. Still, it’s hard not to like it because, for a book that markets itself as children’s literature, I think it was just right.

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BOOK REVIEW: Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

Peter PanPeter Pan by J.M. Barrie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“The story may be so compelling partly because of its attentiveness to reversibility. Childhood and adulthood, birth and death, boys and girls, dreams and waking life all persistently change places in the story. But they change places in such a way that they reinforce rather than dismantle the oppositions that confuse and distress us. Children do become adults; birth leads to death; boys and girls cannot effortlessly change roles; dreams remain distinct from waking life. Time moves ferociously forward.”

Amy Billone’s introduction to the 100th Anniversary Edition of Peter Pan perfectly summarizes what I thought about the book. Without her introduction I might have thought differently, but since I learned a little about J.M. Barrie’s childhood I realized that Peter Pan is more than just the protagonist in a fairy tale story.

“Just as his mother was perpetually haunted by her dead son, Barrie himself became preoccupied by a ghost child who kept returning to him from the other side of the grave. Most famously, this ghost appears in the shape of Peter Pan – a boy who materializes from the world of children’s dreams.”

I realized that Neverland was a reflection of the childhood J.M. Barrie wanted but was denied of, I could imagine the open window as the path to his mother’s memories of his dead brother, and I understood the feelings that Peter Pan felt for and against a mother who had forgotten about him.

“Some like Peter best and some like Wendy best, but I like her best.”

It was moving and interesting to think of the story as a re-telling of the author’s life. Although it is possible that I might be overthinking things I believe that, however you look or understand it, Peter Pan is one of those children’s books that, despite what they’re called, is actually for adults because they remind us who we were, what we’ve become, and how there’s always a child within us.

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Book Review: The Princess Bride by William Goldman

The Princess Bride The Princess Bride by William Goldman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There is a line in this book that perfectly describes it:

This book says, ‘life isn’t fair’ and I’m telling you, one and all, you better believe it.

So in between true love were disappointments, nightmares, tortures, and a huge number of deaths that exceeded the death restrictions granted to fairy tales. Again, quoting from the book:

Get used to disappointment.

But don’t despair because Willaim Goldman belives in happy endings too, and for a Tale of True Love and High Adventure, that’s all that really matters. That, and the lovable characters, wicked villains, and a wonderful story. Throw in some good humor in the form of unexpected shocks and-

Interruption, and hey, how about giving old Morgenstern credit for a major league fake-out there.

-then you’ve got yourself a classic that’s one for the ages. Read it. Now.

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Book Review: The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle

The Last Unicorn (The Last Unicorn, #1)The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If there ever was a unicorn that would make me see silk from rags and light in darkness, it would be this book.

It was so magical not only because it has witches, singing gold coins, and a harpy but because it reminded me of the beauty of books: being able to imagine and create a world that I never thought could exist.

You’re in the story with the rest of us now, and you must go with it, whether you will or no.

This book had so many characters, big and small, that were very easy to despise and sympathize with. They all had their own motivations and goals, and yet every single story was all about two important things: believing and discovery. Read More »