BOOK REVIEW: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

A Monster CallsA Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.

But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…

This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth. (Goodreads)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book found me at a time when it could hurt and encourage me most; it was beautiful and terrifying, sad but consoling, and it kept me reading even though my tears left me in abandon while everyone was asleep and the only company I had were my own monsters, my personal ghosts.

I wish I had a hundred years. A hundred years I could give to you.

It resonated with me because stories, after all, are what we make of them. If loss had taken someone’s future from yours like it has mine, you might feel the same way. If not this book has 205 pages, 32 chapters, and so many beautiful things to tell.

You do not write your life with words. You write it with actions. What you think is not important. It is only important what you do.

It could be about strength of character and the weaknesses hiding behind it. It could be about growing up or even a fairy tale. In the words of its author, go, run with it. Wherever the story takes you, I’m pretty sure you’ll end up in the same place I did: hurt, hopeful, and entirely amazed.

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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: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the LaneThe Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what. (Goodreads summary)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Not fair, Mr. Gaiman. Not fair at all. How could you write a novel like this in 12 pt font and finish it in 180 pages? It’s injustice. It’s not right to start with a middle-aged, not-so-interesting man then make the story about his perfectly imperfect 7-year-old self who loves the rain on his face when he’s sleeping and doesn’t have guests on his birthday because he loves books.

I lived in books more than I lived anywhere else.

You should know better than to make your book cover sound like a mystery thriller and set the first few chapters for a murder scene, only to suddenly throw me into a world reminiscent of Bod’s and Coraline’s.Read More »

BOOK REVIEW: Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

Steelheart (Reckoners, #1)Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills.

Nobody fights the Epics…nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.

And David wants in. He wants Steelheart – the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David’s been studying, and planning – and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.

He’s seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.(Goodreads Summary)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Although Brandon Sanderson is a prolific writer, I’ve only read two of his books. The first one turned me into a fan of his story-telling, and the second one made me fall in love with his character development and world building. Just two books and he instantly turned into one of my favorite authors.

Steelheart was the third book and I was excited to inhale another Brandon Sanderson world. It started out very promising. It had a good backstory and an exciting premise, but there were so many disappointments.Read More »

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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