2015 Quarterly Check-In #1

So it’s Claire here and….APRIL FOOLS! It’s me, Nikki! Again… Claire has loads on her plate getting settled in so you’re gonna have to bear with just me on my lonesome a liiiiittle while longer. :’)

I thought I’d just show you how I’m coming on my challenges for the year so far!

First up, the Goodreads challenge!

Now, if you go to my Goodreads this looks a liiiittle skewed. It says I’ve read 36 out of 60 books (I increased the number from the original 35 to 60). Huzzah! However, this includes comics, audiobooks and short stories. Personally, I don’t mind including graphic novels and audiobooks as full books (they are!), but I’ve cut out short stories (and the 2 DNFs!) in my own personal count bringing the actual number of books (and 1 play) to: 26/60, which I’m mighty proud of if I do say so myself. (If you’re curious, without graphic novels, it’s 19/60.)

This year (and presumably in subsequent years until I die?) I’m putting a real focus on diversity in my reading but for now the two main areas I want to focus on is reading (A) more women and (B) more minorities. I was doing really well up until about mid-February. But right now I’m at 42% female authors. Not bad, I want it to be 50/50, but it’s way up from last year’s 27% female. And I have read 29% authors of colour so far. That’s around the 30% mark I’m aiming for (and up from last year’s 16%) and, without the Tor.com short stories, it would be 42% non-white, which is pretty good I think.

Only 6% of my reading has been translated. That’s not so great for finding out more from the non-anglophone/largely non-Western perspective that I know so little about.

I’m trying to clear out more of my TBR (particularly my physical bookshelf) and 33% of the books I’ve read have been from my TBR with 22% from my actual physical bookshelf.

Hopefully I can keep all this up through the rest of the year!

Notable genre trend alert: 35% of my reading has been fantasy (which I think is largely due to comics) and 16% of my reading has been memoir!

69% of my reading has been free either from the library or friends or eARCs.

• • •

10-10-10-10 challenge (formerly a 10-10-10-5 challenge):

TEN Novels (as in not non-fiction) by Female Authors:

  1. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
  2. Wonder by RJ Palacio
  3. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
  4. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

TEN Novels from Around the World: Doing so badly here…

  1. A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami

TEN Graphic Novels/Comics/Picture Books: Oh ho ho, I have no problems here at all…

  1. Saga, vol 3
  2. Saga, vol 4
  3. Red Sonja
  4. Ms Marvel
  5. Outcast, vol 1: A Darkness Surrounds Him
  6. Rat Queens, vol 1: Sass & Sorcery
  7. March: Book One

Five TEN Non-Fiction Books: Surprisingly, I’m doing well on this front too!

  1. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling
  2. Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood by Bell Hooks
  3. Letter to My Daughter by Maya Angelou
  4. Apology by Plato
  5. Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell
  6. Theory of Everything by Stephen Hawking
  7. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
  8. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

• • •

And as for my 2015 Old & New Classics Challenge

I’m not doing terribly well, but not terribly badly either. I’m sort of on track with 3 out of 12 books tackled: Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood, Murder on the Orient Express and The Awakening (which I DNFed). Does a book count if I DNF it? Yes, I think so. I gave it a good go and I will not make myself suffer it any longer.

But I’ve lost a lot of enthusiasm for my Old/New Classics list. This is why I prefer to set a number and a book group than to specify particular books I will read…ugh! Also, I feel like I’m pretty happy in the realm of classics but not like I necessarily “need” to read more of them. I feel like I could be better educated by focussing on other genres, so I doubt I will do another classics challenge in future, but just pull my “women” and “authors of colour” and “translated works” from all eras.

• • •

Can you believe we’re already a quarter of the way through the year!? Crazy.

How are your challenges going??

Do you have any translated/non-Western/AoC book suggestions for me?

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Nikki’s Rating System (and related thoughts)

It occurred to me that, if I’m going to be making reviews about books, it might be good to share my thoughts on rating them. I’m always surprised when I learn that someone else’s rating system is very different from mine because I always assume mine is the obvious, natural method. I mean, logically I know it’s not. But sometimes I forget. Then I’ll come across someone who considers 3 stars a low rating or someone else who practically never gives 5 stars. I am neither of those people.

So firstly, I try to stick to the Goodreads rating system as closely as possible.

★★★★★ It was amazing

★★★★☆ Really liked it

★★★☆☆ Liked it

★★☆☆☆ It was OK

★☆☆☆☆ Did not like it

An aside: Despite the fact that in my reviews I might specify a half star rating sometimes, I’m actually not in support of official GR half star ratings. I like that whole stars force me to decide which general category a book fits into. It’s simple and it (generally)* works for me.
*more on this later…

This system is inherently very subjective. However, I want my reviews to be useful to as many people as possible as well as a documentation of my own thoughts on the books I’ve read. So, which rating is more valuable, a subjective one or an objective one? Naturally, it will be subjective because I am human, I have a certain perspective, I am affected by my experiences, so complete objectivity is impossible. Not much can be done about that. But I would like to support my opinions with as much evidence and explanation as possible so people reading it can understand my rating, my praises and my complaints. I also want to be fair to the book. I try to give some leeway if I was expecting something different that the book never intended to do. The book shouldn’t have its ratings lowered just because I expected Harry Potter to be a civil rights memoir and it didn’t involve enough of that content. You see what I’m saying?

If I don’t immediately have a star rating in my head, having my thoughts unfolded before me sometimes helps me to decide. A while ago climbthestacks (Ashley Riordan) posted a video on booktube about reviewing books which I think is a great guide for constructing a really helpful and interesting review for someone who might want to read the book (or discuss it after reading) as well as for uncovering your thoughts on what you’ve just read for yourself. It also helps to compare the book with other similar(ish) books I’ve read: “Is HG Wells’ The Invisible Man really on the same level as his The Island of Dr Moreau??” (No. The answer is no. It isn’t.)

Obviously some 5 star ratings are different from others. John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men and Jon Klassen’s I Want My Hat Back have both earned 5 star reviews from me, but they are very different books with very different 5 star ratings to suit their very different content and intentions. We can’t judge everything by the same bar. This is why kindergarteners don’t sit college exams. The books have different aims and should be judged by how successfully they’ve achieved what they intended.

It isn’t always so clear cut, though. Certain types of books always leave me conflicted about how to rate them. Those are books that I might think are good or even needed, but I wouldn’t say I “liked” them. Or disliked them! I’m just overall indifferent emotionally. I’m never sure what to rate these. This dilemma happens most often with non-fiction and with memoir in particular. It’s sort of like rating something that almost must necessarily be rated primarily subjectively. (I don’t know how true that is, but that’s how it feels.) Especially if I think a book is important and like it would benefit people to be aware of it, I want to rate it higher (like 4 stars)! But if I also didn’t feel personally moved by it or already was aware of much of what it was saying, I sometimes feel a mid rating (which, for me, is probably a 2 stars: “It was OK” or maybe a 3: “I liked it (but didn’t love it)”), is more true to how I felt about it.

OK. But do star ratings even matter anyway?

Yes, I think so.

Why?

Because people use them to determine whether a book is worth reading.* Because people use them to determine whether other people’s book opinions are in line with theirs and, therefore, to know how much to take on the reviewer’s recommendation (or opposition) for that book. Because people spend time thinking about how to wrap up the worth of a literary work in the most concise way possible for someone to understand at a glance. Because they are more easily averaged to get a general, wordless consensus about a book than reading (literally!) tens of thousands of reviews. Because star ratings often work as quick pre-review/overall opinions. Because it’s good when you’re navigating reviews to be able to immediately pick out the negative ones so you don’t have to trawl through loads of praise before uncovering the major criticisms. And for all sorts of other reasons!

*Mercy discusses in a recent booktube video how she tends not to read anything with less than a 3.6 rating. At first I thought “this seems kind of harsh” but then I went through my books and, by chance, my favourite (or even just well-liked) books don’t tend to have a rating lower than 3.6 even though I don’t intentionally take notice of specific average rating numbers on GR. In fact, only two books that I really enjoyed have ratings lower than 3.6 and, even then, they were only a little lower at 3.4 and 3.43.

And, for many of the same reasons as previously listed, if you don’t have any opinion about a book or you do have an opinion but have decided for whatever reason you don’t want to influence the book’s overall rating, you shouldn’t feel pressured to participate in the star rating system (either just for that book or in general – whichever you choose!). And, of course, that’s fine too.

I trust I’m not the only one who thinks this deeply into what/why I’m rating a book and the implications of that rating… (The implications, of course, being ridiculously trivial.) I’m not obsessive or anything…! I just have reasons for doing the things I do. There’s method to my madness!

How do you rate books? Is your system similar to mine?

Do you try to be objective or is it more about opinion?

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Review :: Outcast

A review of Robert Kirkman’s Outcast, vol 1: A Darkness Surrounds Him

SUMMARY

23043731New horror series from The Walking Dead creator, Robert Kirkman!
Kyle Barnes has been plagued by demonic possession all his life and now he needs answers. Unfortunately, what he uncovers along the way could bring about the end of life on Earth as we know it.

• • •

First, a little known fact about me: even though I don’t enjoy horror or any scary films, I really love occult/demon-lore films (while simultaneously being terrified of it despite my otherwise very rational instincts and not being religious in any way). I’m not talking about stupid Hollywood horror flicks that deal in sudden noises and flashing images to make you jump…Nor am I talking about *too scary for my chicken pants* Exorcist deals. I mean good old (often cheesy) human vs the devil stories that carefully walk the line of rich ancient myth and contemporary life. My list of guilty pleasure movies that successfully achieve this includes: Dogma, End of Days, The Craft, Constantine, Hocus Pocus… For similar reasons I have also enjoyed the films Van Helsing and The Brothers Grimm.

The Craft

The Craft

Those films are all pretty cheesy and probably all have terrible ratings…And I completely agree with those ratings (except for The Craft; that was genuinely good). But I think it’s so fun to see the different rules that demons (or other creatures) must abide by, their motives, their abilities, and the solutions to banishing, entrapping or destroying them. So, naturally, when I read the first half of the first sentence of the blurb for Outcast—”Kyle Barnes has been plagued by demonic possession all his life“—I was intrigued.

SO, my biases aside, I was really impressed by this graphic novel. The art is great—realistic but also brooding and a little rough, effectively using brush-like lines with ambient colour—and the story is intriguing.

Outcast by Robert Kirkman

Overall, it feels like a quiet story with big things stirring in the background. It’s a little like a demon-centric X-files in some ways: a mysterious suited character getting up to mysterious shenanigans, overarching secret plots, and strange small-town happenings that stretch out and connect deeper than you think. But instead of the famous skeptical and superstitious police investigator duo, we get the perhaps unlikely team of Kyle, with his secret troubled past, and the (not completely unwavering) local pastor who play the roles of skeptical and superstitious respectively.

Outcast

From the beginning, the way the story unfolds creates more questions than answers, which I tend to really like in a first volume! Some answers are inferred as the story progresses. Hints are dropped about events in the past – not just through flashbacks (which I appreciate are used sparingly and effectively) – but also through clues in the things people say. But nothing feels overly explained in this series introduction. I hope the mystery element is taken forward in future volumes without dragging the intrigue out so as to become uninteresting.*

*After all, this is by the creator of The Walking Dead: the series that seems to have no end…and I like my series to eventually end (preferably before things get ridonc).

Outcast

Demon stories are often best told when the demons are enigmatic, largely unseen and when there is doubt as to their existence in the first place despite strange happenings and changed people.. But there is also a good balance between the mystery of the dark religious creatures, a healthy dose of angsty agnosticism and cool skepticism, and just enough evidence points to the only answer being demons!

This was a great first volume and I’m really looking forward to finding out more about the world, the ways these demons work (Are they all the same? They don’t seem so.) and what the demons want.

Outcast

rating: ★★★★☆
genre: paranormal
publisher: Image Comics
source: Net Galley
date read: 28 February 2015
recommend for: fans of The Last Exorcism, fans of X-files, fans of horror comics
pros: perfect ambience created by great art and scripting
cons: might be too quiet/slow for some

Nikki

Posted in Book Reviews, Fantasy | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

(5) Magical Me: Claire’s Stats

Obsessed

We all know this to be true, I am wondrously obsessed with Harry Potter. Wondrously obsessed. I’ve devised my own schedule in the past, and I figure, why not go the full thing and just plan out my entire Harry Potter world persona? Well here it is! It’s a simple survey of sorts and you’re welcome to replicate if it you’d like, just link back to this post and Bitches With Books, to give credit, that would be splendid. Also, if you drop a link from your post I could visiiiiiit!

So in this world, this feels like the makings for a fanfic or book actually, I received my letter at 11. My parents never left London (Fun fact! I lived in London when I was 3, 4, and 5 but my parents left because they hated the cold). One chilly day, August 5th, 2000, an owl comes smashing into my kitchen causing much pandemonium. My mother, trying to squash the poor owl with a pot and my dad opening the window shooing it out. My sister? Throwing shoes at it. Me? I dove under the table and my poor brother is crawling to pet it. I get the letter, I open it. Much magic ensues. I’m trying to make some sort of order for this, so I hope it makes sense.

THE BASICS: MY MAGICAL PERSONA

1) Hogwarts pet: Cat, because I’d be homesick and want something furry to keep me company. Preferably a grey one with green eyes? Why? I’m not quite sure but there is a cat that looks just like this that is stalking me around my apartment complex and I figure I’d get one like it in the HP world! I name her Frida, after my favourite Muggle artist.

HPCat

2) Wand: I don’t know the significance of it, but it looks pretty darn cool.

Wand

3) Quill: Something small and practical, with a solid grip. Maybe a solid eagle feather? I’d be quite fond of fancy inks though and I’d use Muggle sealing methods, with wax and stamps to give my letters flaire, and a nod to my Muggle roots. I’d still magically seal my letters, for protection. I’ll hate writing on parchment, trying to find a way to persuade my professors to let me use notebooks.

4) House: Ravenclaw for life! I’ve gotten Slytherin on Pottermore, twice, but I’m just not admitting it. I’m not a Slytherin. I’m a mix of the two but the Sorting Hat took my pleading into consideration and I join my feathery fellows in Ravenclaw. I’ll get locked out often though, I hate riddles.

5) Top 5 classes: You can read the full list with explainations here, but in brief they are, Transfiguration, Charms, Ancient Runes, Arithmancy, Defense Against the Dark Arts.

6) Bottom 5 classes: Divination, Potions, Herbology, Care for Magical Creatures, Astronomy. I don’t care for plants and I know I’ll spend much time running from blast-ended-skrewts.

7) Surprise talent: Charms and Transfiguration. I’m quite organised with a dedicated personality. I think the hard application of spells would well suit me with due practice. Once one knows the incantation and the right movements, with determined focus, they master spells. This appeals to me because I don’t have much patience for abstract thought. I’d enjoy Defense Against the Dark Arts but I’m not the quickest thinker so I might end up flying into a wall.

8) Go-To Defense Spell: Reducto!

9) Go-To Transfiguration Defense: I’ll transform you into a tea-cosy.

10) OWLS (The ones I didn’t fail): Charms, Transfiguration, Defense Against the Dark Arts, History of Magic, Care for Magical Creatures, Herbology, Astronomy, Ancient Runes, Muggle Studies, Arithmancy, maybe Potions. Maybe.

11) NEWTS: Charms, Transfiguration, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Ancient Runes, Arithmancy, Potions.

12) Patronus: Honey badger. My coworkers and best friends and I have had much discussion about this and I’ve come to the conclusion that my patronus would be a honey badger. Small and slightly aggressive, but also terribly fun loving and loyal. Just don’t piss it off.

13) Animagus: Honey badger.

14) Career: Curse breaker for Gringotts or transfiguration or charms teacher.

15) Future: Successful career as a curse breaker travelling around the world for Gringotts. In my spare time, I write for the Daily Prophet about my experiences with the Muggle World and cultural differences in magical countries. How is magical London different from magical Bahamas, for instance? I also stick to my Muggle roots and blog, from an anthropological perspective, hiding my magical inclinations.

ADAPTING TO THE MAGICAL WORLD

1) Favourite treat: Sugar quill.

2) Least favourite treat: Licorice wand.

3) Favourite snack: Cauldron cake.

4) Least favourite snack: Pumpkin pastie.

5) Favourite drink: Butterbeer!

6) Least favourite drink: Pumpkin juice, eughhh, I don’t like pumpkin anything.

7) Guilty food pleasure: Edible dark marks.

8) Favourite game or sport: Gobstones, hyah!

9) Least favourite game or sport: Quidditch, I’d watch it but goodness, I’d never get on a broom unless I absolutely had to. No way in heck. As an adult I master Apparition very quickly.

10) Favourite magical creature: Fascinated and terrified of dragons. Fond of Unicorns and MerPeople. A big advocate for the rights of creatures and “Human-Creature Hybrids” (Is there a PC way to say this in the magic world?).

11) To Hat or Not To Hat? I’d never wear a hat unless it was required of me. Wizarding fashion be damned, I freaking hate hats.

12) Robes, in fashion or just a wooly distraction? (Bahahaha, that rhymes!) I’d love robes. I am the laziest dresser ever, so I’d shirk muggle clothing for simple robes in my favourite colors: deep reds, jewel greens and sapphire blues. They wouldn’t be too long though, knee length tops.

13) Favourite past time? Magical photography and painting. I’m a huge art person, going to art school for 2 years and I know I’d be determined to make my own magical painting friends, watching my drawings, paintings and art come to life. I’d make an army of painted figures.

14) Favourite Diagon Alley haunt? Flourish and Blotts with all of their lovely books. I love books, so it fits that I’d have a prodigous library in the magical world.

15) Biggest Cheat in the Muggle World: I hex gas and electricity meters to give my family the proper heat they deserve (we all hate the cold) and do so for Muggle families in need. My flat becomes a sauna, hot and lovely.

Well I hope you enjoy the survey… I spent a lot of time on this and enjoyed it immensely. Remember to link back if you do it! If you want to read my other Harry Potter posts, I encourage you! I have… a lot.

Would you be my magical friend?

NameClaire

 

Posted in Discussions, Harry Potter | Tagged , | 11 Comments

Review :: The Raven Boys

A review of Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys

So first let me say, I actually hadn’t read the blurb at all when I started listening to the audiobook which is unusual for me, but I’m always on the lookout for new stuff to listen to on my way to work (or at work sometimes). I’d seen the cover around a lot and, for some inexplicable reason, I got curious and checked it out. In fact, I think if I’d read the blurb first I wouldn’t have picked it up, but I’m probably more inclined to try new audiobooks from my library on a whim than taking a chance on buying books or even on library ebooks. I attempt to create a slightly(!??) less cheesy-sounding blurb below…but I might advise you just skip that too and just read the book. I don’t know if this book can be blurbed successfully.

SUMMARY

15995747Blue Sargent is surrounded by confident, strong-willed psychic women. In fact, she is the daughter of one. And, although she is also confident and strong-willed, she has no great psychic ability to speak of except that she increases the power of everyone else’s clairvoyance. This means she sometimes unintentionally gets relegated to psychic secretary; relaying messages. After an experience with one of the soon-to-be-dead, she gets wrapped up in a bit of a ghostly treasure hunt of sorts with four ‘Raven Boys’ (spoilt, privileged rich kids from the local private school, Aglionby) who are more than just fancy cars and trust funds. Incidentally, she has been predicted to fall in love with or kill (but most likely both) one of the Raven Boys.

• • •

As I said in my Goodreads sort-of review:

I don’t think it’s too dramatic to say this book has completely restored my faith in the YA genre. The blurb does it a terrible disservice.

I like how subtle the fantasy elements generally were in this book. The mysteries that begin to interlock and compound really draw you into the world. And I definitely appreciate Blue’s character. She is sensible (as is occasionally remarked by other characters, sometimes to her dismay) and a little sass. She isn’t whiney, but is still compassionate. She behaves believably but I don’t think the focus is so much on her as a character or her development. Perhaps, she is more like a very likeable conduit to the real story (though it feels unfair to undermine he part by putting it that way…). The boys—Gansey, Adam, Ronan and Noah—each feel like fully rounded characters with separate personalities and interesting stories of their own. They aren’t just a hoard of randoms to fill out some space. And they are where the story lies (as might be inferred by the title).

I couldn’t help but like Gansey, which you are meant to. But this is a particularly special gift of the writing because Gansey is a bit of a golden boy and I very rarely like golden boys. Adam, however was more typical of the types of characters I like (and I did rather like him). He’s sensitive and intelligent and has a complicated kind of strength. Where Gansey and Ronan are from money and flaunt it (Gansey, ostensibly unintentionally), Adam is not from money and is very aware of it. He has worked very hard to be at Aglionby. Ronan…is the kind of ‘bad boy’ who is both annoying and strangely likeable. He sort of keeps you slightly on edge wondering if he’s going to balls everything up with his idiotic temper (he probably is), but I think there are a lot of interesting things in his past and I want to know more about those things. Noah is a mystery. A dusty little mystery. Affable, but only partly there. It’s interesting to see how he fits in. They are all earnest boys recruited by Gansey as a motley crew of friends on a mission to solve an ancient Welsh mystery.

Something that kept coming up throughout the novel were themes of privilege: being unaware of it, being very aware of it, being ignored because you don’t have it, becoming invisible because that’s all people have reduced you to when they see you… This sort of made me think a little bit of what The Great Gatsby was trying to do in regards to commenting on the presence and absence of privilege gained through the complete serendipity of inherited wealth. It felt more palpable and better executed here, if somewhat repetitive at times, though I feel that was intentional to show its omnipresence. And I got the impression that the connection between The Great Gatsby and the unspoken leader of The Raven Boys, Gansey, was intentional. His name, obsessive goal, infectious spirit and fortuitous circumstance has lead me to believe so. I wonder if there are further links to be made throughout the rest of the series.

Will Patton’s performance on this audiobook is perfect. I must admit, a southern American accent always makes me think of the past so, even though this story is set in the present day, it has a slightly ‘old timey’ storytelling note in it which really worked for me in this instance. (It doesn’t always.) I think I would be equally as pleased to read this one, but I will certainly be recommending the audiobook because it was so engrossing I just couldn’t stop listening.

I tend to be bad at getting quotes from audiobooks because I’m usually too wrapped up in them and there were a few times where I definitely should have just stopped to make note of them.

The ending felt slightly abrupt and ends with a few questions unanswered. This does not seem to be a series where the books can stand alone and, for me, that kind of continuity is fine. And, while the overarching series mystery remains as curious as ever, other smaller questions were satisfactorily addressed. I always appreciate character development and world building and this book definitely had all of that. I will be looking into the next book in the series, The Dream Thieves!

rating: ★★★★☆
genre: YA, paranormal
publisher: Scholastic Audio
source: library
date read: 7 March 2015
recommend for: YA readers interested in quiet paranormal mystery stories with well-built characters
pros: great storytelling, strong female characters, interesting characters in general
cons: ill-fitting blurb, ending was a little abrupt

Nikki

Posted in Book Reviews, Fantasy, YA | Tagged , | 3 Comments

A Survey of Habits: Claire x Nikki Respond

Hello! We have decided to do some sort of survey into some of our bookish habits, because I think we each have our quirks and it’s a fun way to get to know bloggers! Feel free to reproduce it on your blog, if you’d like. It would be nice to link back to us though!

A Survey of Habits

1. Coffee or tea with your book?

Claire: I don’t multitask well, so I’d say none to be safe. That tea or coffee would get spilled.

Nikki: Sometimes a cup of tea (I don’t like the taste of coffee). But I feel like it’s more the idea of reading with a cup of tea that I enjoy more than anything else.

2. Do you like to read during a specific time of day?

Claire: I’m noticing that I like to read during the night. It became particularly apparent last Sunday when I had absolutely nothing to do around 2PM and still didn’t want to read. Like wha? But the minute night fell, I was reading!

Nikki: I tend to read in the evening or at night. I’m often too active during the day to keep still. And even if I’m not, I feel like I’m wasting the day – particularly if it’s a good day for doing things…even if, like Claire, I never actually…do…anything during that time… haha

3. What’s your favourite reading position?

Claire: I have to lay down to read. I am incapable of reading sitting upright, I have to be flat on my back, either on a couch or a bed.

Nikki: I just like sitting upright :’) Occasionally I lie on my side in bed to read but only if I’m reading an ebook on my phone before bed.

4. Do you have a favourite place to read?

Claire: My couch! I love couches, it makes me feel semi-sociable.

Nikki: My bed. Or any wide cushioned surfaces really; sofas, chairs, padded window ledges…

5. Do you read ahead or skip pages?

Claire: I don’t read ahead or skip-pages, if I do it means that I’m not enjoying the book and just reading it for the sake of finishing it.

Nikki: Nope.

6. Do you listen to music while reading?

Claire: I’m a bit odd but I’ve noticed that the best work or the best reading for me, happens, when I’ve got a conversation going on in the back of me. So this means that I tend to put a film I know by heart in the background (Any HP/LOTR/Hobbit film) and then start reading. I think it’s because I used to read on the couch in my living room, which opened up to the kitchen where my mother and sister always was. It was also next to my bro at the table and father on the computer. So I learned to read within chaos.

Nikki: Nope. I get caught up singing/humming it while I should be paying attention to what I’m reading. If it’s an instrumental piece I don’t know then maaaybe if it’s subtle…practically unnoticeable (…but then why bother having it on at all?). That’s not to say I need total silence. Just no obvious purposeful noise. Consistent, monotoned background noise will do.

7. Can you read in crowds?

Claire: This is similar to above but no, I can’t actually read in crowds! I can read with my family or friends around but take me to a bookstore or cafe and it can’t be done.

Nikki: Yes. Consistent background noise will do nicely.

8. One book at a time or several at once?

Claire: I typically do one at a time but lately find myself doing several at once. WHY??? It just leads to confusion!

Nikki: ALL the books. ALL AT ONCE! I like to flit from one thing to the other as the mood takes me. I don’t think I’ve ever actively been reading more than about five or six books at a time, but I’ve certainly had books that I’d taken an unintentional few months break from because other books got in the way before I found my way back to them.

10. Do you buy secondhand books?

Claire: All the time!

Nikki: Regularly!

11. Bookmark, random piece of paper or dog-ear?

Claire: I have bookmarks and don’t use them, sigh. It tends to be a random piece of paper to be honest.

Nikki: It ends up being a random piece of paper: receipts, napkins, train tickets, movie tickets, doodles, envelopes… I take the train regularly these days so it has tended to be a train ticket of late. I don’t dog-ear to mark my page, but I have been known to dog-ear to mark pages with interesting quotes or ideas. (Only in Fahrenheit 451 and I feel it was a completely ineffective method.)

12. Do you write, underline or highlight in your books?

Claire: Err, in the nonfiction books I underline with pencil. Fiction, those books are as pristine as possible.

Nikki: I would if I weren’t so lazy. I don’t tend to care about keeping books pristine unless they’re graphic novels. Sometimes I think “oh! Got to remember that! Make a note!” But then I don’t.

13. Do you take notes (not written in the book you’re reading)?

Claire: For my NF reads, yup! Anything else, hells no.

Nikki: I’ve been getting a little more into the habit of adding favourite quotes to my GR or tumblr on occasion though. And I regularly highlight and make notes in ebooks (fiction and non-fiction). It helps me remember things later when I review them or when I assess what the book meant to me.

13. See the film first or read to watch?

Claire: Read to watch! That is the proper order of things (in my chaotic world, it is). Whatever canon came first, I do first. If it was a film and then turned into a book, I watch the film first (though this is rare and often the other way around).

Nikki: It’s rare that I postpone watching a film because I want to read the book first. There are soooo many films based on books that I have no interest in reading. I already have an ever-growing TBR of books that I have a genuine greater interest in actually getting around to.

14. Paperback or hardback?

Claire: Paperback because I travel and realistically, I won’t settle for some time.

Nikki: Paperback is usually cheaper and easier to hold in the case of larger tomes so I lean that way (even though hardbacks are often more beautiful).

15. Hardcopy (paperback/hardback) or audiobook or ebook?

Claire: I’ve written a post about this, but mostly hardback or paperbacks.

Nikki: It depends on the book! But, generally, hardcopy if it’s around 200 pages or more. Audiobook if I have only a mild interest – I particularly like audiobooks for non-fiction – or if the audio performance is particularly well-crafted. Ebook if it’s around 150 pages or less.

16. Own it or borrow it?

Claire: I borrow it, I like it, I buy it!

Nikki: If I can borrow it, that’s good enough. The only real exception is graphic novels; I prefer to own them.

17. Do you re-read?

Claire:  I re-read all the darn time. I’m on the 15th reread for the Harry Potter series actually.

Nikki: Nope.

18. Do you rate books based on the book’s objective merit or your subjective feelings about it?

Claire: You can tell that Nikki wrote this question because I’m sitting here thinking, what??? I rate the book according to how I felt about it! Doesn’t everyone do that…? …Am I alone in this?

Nikki: hahah! WELL, yes. I did concoct this question :’) It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently (was thinking about doing a post about it). I try to make it a little less arbitrary than just how I’m feeling because I have been known to be capricious in my opinions of books at times – particularly those that I have immediately “disliked”/given 1 star. I want my reviews to be useful to people wondering if they should read that book (objective), just as much as I want my reviews to be an account of my thoughts about that book (subjective). I will never be fully objective (and wouldn’t want to be! A person’s unique, subjective perspective is very valuable too!), but I’d maybe like to try to be 3 parts objective to 1 part subjective.

19. Character or plot focused?

Claire: I’d like you to have both please. But, I prefer a well developed character to be honest. But, I also like a tightly packaged plot! Alas! It is a draw.

Nikki: Character. (Although I have discovered that I can also appreciate situations that are so interesting and enormous that dynamic characters would detract from the gravity of the event…)

20. Recommendation or blurb?

Claire: Blurb. Sorry to all the friends that recommend stuff, I have to read the blurb first.

Nikki: Blurb.

21. Book trailers: yes or no?

Claire: No. I’m writing a post about this I swear, I hate these.

Nikki: I like the book trailer for WonderOh god! I’m already crying ;_; I am literally already crying. Admittedly, it is the only one I’ve ever seen.

22. Does it matter to you whether the author is male or female?

Claire: Honestly, it does. I tend to prefer female authors so I gravitate to works by female authors more. When it is a male author, I tend to question whether I’d want to read it a bit more than I honestly should. I’ve been surprised and proven wrong, however, many times, such as Nikki pretty much shoving Sabriel at me with a violent force, and even though I was all poo, poo, it is written by a male author, Sabriel by Garth Nix is pure utter brilliance and the icing to my cake. I so love that book.

Nikki: It doesn’t matter to me in the slightest though I have noticed that I gravitate towards male authors (except when it comes to cartoonists of whom my favourites are fairly even if not skewed in favour of women). It could very well be because I rather enjoy classics and non-fiction, and those worlds are saturated with pale, male authors trying to tell you their terribly important messages and teachings…

23. How do you organise your bookshelves? Alphabetically, by colour, by size?

Claire: I haven’t had bookshelves in a while because I’ve moved 6 times in the past 3 years and by the end of 2015, I’d have moved another 4 more times (to London, to my temp flat, to my 5 months lease flat and then hopefully after that, my more permanent flat). Book shelves are a luxury for those who have a more concrete place to live in (anyone looking for a flatmate? Shameless plug, I apologise).

Nikki: I’ve never had any intentional order, but recently I’ve picked a (random) shelf for my read books so it’s easier to see which books I haven’t read yet. I keep most of my graphic novels on a shelf reserved for arty prints and the like.

24. Would you still read a book even after coming across a spoiler?

Claire: Oh yes! I’m that odd person that loves spoilers, I utterly loathe surprises. I’m not good with them, I blame Harry Potter for scarring me thusly.

Nikki: I don’t really tend to. The only book I can recall reading despite being spoiled has been And Then There Were None and that was partly because I’d already got a fair way into it. I have no rules about it, but the steam and excitement just gets a little deflated is all.

25. What’s your favourite way to find out about new books?

Claire: It used to be browsing a book store but now it’s Goodreads. I’m fond of the listopia portion especially!

Nikki: I like to spy what my Goodreads peops are reading (and occasionally the GR algorithm fairies will come up with something interesting). I also watch booktube videos (a lot) which is good for recs. My parents are also good sources for recommendations because we have similar book interests.

26. Do you recommend books to people based on what you think they’ll enjoy or what you think they should read?

Claire: What they might enjoy. Who am I to judge what they should read?

Nikki: Ohohoho.. Primarily it’s what I think they’ll enjoy. But, if someone implies that they’re intolerant of something (makes a really callously privileged or homophobic or racially questionable comment, for example), I do occasionally recommend a book that I think might help them see things from a different (by my humble estimation, healthier and more balanced) point of view.

27. Be honest, have you ever bought a book just for the cover?

Claire: Yes, and I can’t remember what book it was but I know I’ve done it and I’m not ashamed of it.

Nikki: I was having difficulty thinking of any even though I feel like this so something I would do, but then I remembered I bought THIS last year purely because of its cover (and title).

 

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Multiple Mini-Reviews: Fantasy & Sci-Fi (2)

Book: Ash by Malinda Lo
Publisher: Hodder Children’s, 2010
Genre: Fantasy, YA, LGBTQ
Rating:
Source + Date Read: Library + September 2014
Recommend: For those than want a bit of diversity with their fantasy.
Book Pro’s: Everything, it causes all the feels!
Book Con’s: None. None, I tell you!
Quote Squeal: “Then they took the last step together, and when she kissed her, her mouth as warm as summer, the taste of her sweet and clear, she knew, at last, that she was home.”

Oh, my goodness. Spoilers if you haven’t read the book but I have to do it, I have to.

I didn’t know about Malinda Lo’s penchant for writing diverse books when I picked this up. I grabbed it because I liked the cover quite a bit and because my nickname is Ash, so why not? It started off as any other book, with some serious fairy tale leanings (namely, Cinderella) and actual faeries were brought in and then some romance. Halfway into the book, I sat up and said to myself, wait, what? Who is she falling in love with? I started to read a bit more furiously (and when I do so, it’s a bit dangerous because I actually forget to breathe when I’m excited, so I got dizzy quote a few times) and then it hit me, the protagonist was falling in love with a woman. Cue in the fireworks, the squeals, the furious texts to my friends (who aren’t all bookish, so some were like… Ash, it’s 1AM, GO TO BED) and tears. I stayed up till 3AM reading this, and considering I had to be up at 7 for work, it shows how much I loved this book.

It’s a well paced, well thought out book that incorporates a number of styles. It’s diverse, and yet exceedingly normal. I didn’t realise, as a gay woman, how much I needed to read 1) a fantasy book with LGBTQ characters and 2) how much I needed a world where ‘gayness’ wasn’t odd, just another normal fact of life. Just like eating a sandwich for lunch is normal. I also like how she brings in so many fantasy elements, we have the fae, we have fairy tales, we have hints of random myths! Ash is sheer brilliance and I beg of you, dear readers, give it a shot.

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Book: Huntress by Malinda Lo
Publisher: Little Brown Books, 2011
Genre: Fantasy, YA, LGBTQ
Rating:
Source + Date Read: Library + September 2014
Recommend:
Book Pro’s:
Book Con’s:
Quote Squeal: “Love is not what you fear, is it? You fear the loss of it.”

Huntress is a prequel to Ash, set in the same world where Huntress’ are valued just as much as the male hunters. Well, this story is more of an origin one telling us how Huntress’ came to be and why are they are so darn awesome. What’s amazing about this tale is that Malinda Lo breaks, what I fell, are some serious unspoken rules in fiction, in that she mixes fantasy elements from many cultures. Her fae are, in my opinion, European in origin, in that you have the devious, treacherous, beautiful creatures that cause nothing but chaos and pain- but yet humanity needs them, because magic, yah. However, the world itself seems to be of East Asian influence. I think it’s brilliant that she mixes everything together. It’s well written and well paced and my heart ached for my protagonists, their pain and fear. I wanted to punch Taisin a few times but I truly did empathize with her struggle. All in all I think it’s a great book that sets up the world for Ash nicely. I gave it 5 hearts because it’s well written and immensely diverse. So go read it, shoo, go!

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Book: The Bone Season (The Bone Season #1) by Samantha Shannon
Publisher: Bloomsbury, 2013
Genre: Fantasy, YA, Dystopia
Rating:
Source + Date Read: Library + December 2013
Recommend: For those that want a solid British YA book with fantastical elements.
Book Pro’s: Not all good-guys are good-guys and not all bad-guys are actual bad-guys.
Book Con’s: Romance felt a bit contrived?

I read this while I was at Oxford so I could perfectly picture the world she was setting up, the Sheldonian, Magdalen College (pronounced Maud-el-in, you have no idea how long it took me to get this right) and the square. I loved it all. It’s a truly fantastical book, splitting magic into hierarchy and style. Our protagonist is of a rare kind of magical person, so there is the fear and secrecy of keeping it hidden from those that seek to use her magic for their selfish purposes. Also, the weird alien creatures in this eat magic, like take a chomp out of your Aura and there are scary creatures that go more than boo in the night. I liked it, though, the romance made me scream a tad. I am quite excited to get my hands on The Mime Order, having just come out recently.

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Book: The Archived (The Archived #1) by Victoria Schwab
Publisher: Hyperion, 2013
Genre: Paranormal fantasy, YA
Rating:
Source + Date Read: Purchased + May 2013
Recommend: For those that want the ghosts of the past with their YA.
Book Pro’s: Serious plot twist in the end, it’s great.
Book Con’s: Drags a bit.

I’m starting to think that though paranormal fantasy is fun, it might not be wholly my thing. I liked this book quite a bit and I took a risk on it, I bought it without having borrowed a copy from the library before so I really wanted to work out. I like the world that Schwab sets up, she’s got a prodigious imagination (where the heck or how the heck did she come up with this stuff?!) with an amazing ability to convey loss with the future possibility of hope. It drags a bit and I did find myself wanting the end to happen a bit sooner, and I’m not sure I’d read the second book for this series, but I did enjoy this first one.

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Book: Between Two Thorns (The Split Worlds #1) by Emma Newman
Publisher: Angry Robot, 2013
Genre: Urban fantasy, YA
Rating:
Source + Date Read: Promo + November 2013
Recommend: For fantasy buffs that like a reimagined world.
Book Pro’s: Greatly imaginative, I loved this book.
Book Con’s: The middle drags a little but makes up for it later.

Angry Robot, I’m still not over what you did to Strange Chemistry. Anyway, moving on! I received this book as part of a promotion and I remember devouring it, with my homework to the side. I haven’t read the second or third installments yet but I most definitely will.

In general, Between Two Thorns looks at the possibility of split worlds, of two worlds coinciding and coexisting at the same time. Set in the UK, it’s a brilliant take on the classic fae genre and the sheer cruelty they embody. It’s an ambitious novel that sets the fae world within some sort of Victorian time suck, where the women don’t like leaving it for fear that they’ll age in the human world. The sheer vapidness of those women were enough to make me scream, I can see why our protagonist ran from it all. Kuddoes for the cover, it’s amazing!

Have you read any of these books? What do you think of my ratings?

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Classic Dystopia (with mini-reviews)

I’ve recently realised I read a lot of classic dystopia. I’ve never bothered with YA dystopia and I suspect that’s because I’m more interested in the dystopian world itself, its psychological effects on the characters and the underlying social/political commentary than how to carry on as normal a teenage life as possible within a challenging environment.

Uncle Wikipedia had this to say about dystopia: Dystopia is defined as a society characterized[sic] by a focus on negative societies such as mass poverty, public mistrust, police state, squalor, suffering, or oppression, that society has most often brought upon itself.[1] Most authors of dystopian fiction explore at least one reason why things are that way, often as an analogy for similar issues in the real world. In the words of Keith M. Booker, dystopian literature is used to “provide fresh perspectives on problematic social and political practices that might otherwise be taken for granted or considered natural and inevitable”.[3]

So I thought I’d make a little list of a few of the dystopian worlds I’ve read (and one utopia) with a mini-overview of each. And, as I always find it handy, I’m trying to get into the habit of also suggesting (non-algorithmic, subjectively handpicked by a human) related books or films to check out but the suggestions aren’t always dystopian (the similarity might be in the style or main themes rather than the genre).

They are listed in the order I read them.

 

Animal Farm (1945): This is the only dystopia I had to read animalfarmin school. An allegorical novella about the Russian Revolution. The symbolism here is pretty thinly veiled: each character (all of whom are animals except the four humans) represent someone or some force in the Russian Revolution. I didn’t think I’d be into it because it’s a book of talking animals, but the anthropomorphising of characters really does help your understanding of the events that took place during and after the revolution by giving a very visual overview of what happened as well as different groups’ feelings about what was happening. Turns out I really enjoyed it. It also has some great maxims. Favourite character: Benjamin the donkey. He’s smart but pessimistic (I seem to be drawn to these types of characters even when they’re animals). ★★★★☆

 

 

 

Brave New World (1932): People wilfully enslaved by their society, eugenics, genetic caste system, rampant sex (with contraception!). My favourite book. It resonated with me on a personal level in terms of both style and content. The following might be biased, but should not be dismissed. This book has so much foresight and has often been called prophetic considering when it was written and how true it rings. It does a brilliant job of showing how a state can control people by making them willing victims. People in this dystopia give up their freedoms for pleasure and consumerism. I have a special connection to Bernard. Personally, I wasn’t crazy about the bits with John or the part in the ‘savage retreat’. I have noticed that most people will tend to massively favour either Brave New World or 1984. I don’t think this is to do with the books themselves or their worlds’ believability so much as it is primarily a stylistic preference perhaps… If you enjoyed this book, you might enjoy the film Gattaca which was also brilliant. FYI: Inspiration for The Strokes’ song Soma is taken from Brave New World. ★★★★★

 

I thought the androids were better in the film. They had more motivation and presented better conflict: literal and moral.

(above: Rutger Hauer as Roy Batty) I thought the androids were better in the film. They had more motivation and presented better conflict: both literal and moral.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968): The Earth is seriously f*cked. Everybody with money flew off to Mars or somethin’ to escape the radiation but some poor saps are still there for various reasons (some are too radiated, some have jobs to do, some are too poor, some aren’t smart enough…). Androids are labourers on other planets but the new model is too human. They must be exterminated. But the public can’t know about it. I read this after watching Blade Runner (the film based loosely on this book) which is a favourite – and a highly recommended one, might I add. Here is an instance where I much preferred the film. The story builds beautifully but the climactic showdown is unsatisfying and the characters feel stiff. Mercerism feels…oddly placed, but I’ll accept it. Many dystopias touch on religion and this was one of the most interesting accounts of that for me. I wish the film had been able to cover the elevator scene and the second police station scene. An unforgettable moment of dark humour: an ailing cat. ★★☆☆☆

 

 

 

 

1984Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949): Heavily surveilled society deceived and enslaved by its own hardline government. I audiobooked this one and I had trouble with it. The full first half I rolled my eyes so much I thought they might fall out of my head (this is probably pretty subjective). Warning: manic pixie dream girl. But it made up for it in the second half for me. The characters felt flat and the world seemed ridiculous. However, it is worth noting that this world basically is North Korea! You can’t get more real than that so it gets bonus points for being so ridiculous, but also so true. That makes it scary in a very real way. People sometimes talk about the ‘romance’ aspect of this book which I would say is pretty misguided and misinterprets Julia’s role in this book. I really appreciated the end, even with the info/explanation dump speech (which also happens in Brave New World) but, for me, if comparing Orwell’s dystopian works it comes second to Animal Farm. If you liked 1984, you might enjoy We (discussed further down in this post). ★★★☆☆

 

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I always see them as mice with this cover (I think it’s the white hats). Appropriate.

The Handmaid’s Tale (1985): Oppressive (modern day, Earth, our universe) society forces some women to be wombs-on-loan to certain wealthy couples so as to repopulate the Earth after killing loads of dissenters to this bizarre, largely unexplained regime…I had a complicated relationship with this book so take this with a grain of salt (or a glass of salt). I wanted so badly(!!!) to love it, but we just didn’t have any chemistry. A lot of people thought this world felt like a very real possibility, it just didn’t feel so to me. I though it felt sillily oppressive rather than shockingly so. Eye rolls for Nick (who was one of my biggest issues with the book) and an out of place outing which suddenly broke the crawl-speed pacing (which I was just getting used to!). If you read my GR review, you’ll see that I did make peace with and eventually sort of appreciate Nick’s character even though I thought it would have felt less like an eye roll had Ofglen or the maid (cook assistant lady??) fulfilled that purpose in a different way. HOWEVER, I think my “meh”-ness about this book is largely subjective and if you enjoy more flowery, lightly experimental writing style and slow pacing and ‘quiet’ atmospheres, this might be for you! If you liked this, you might also like Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories (which is not at all dystopian, but feminist fairytale retellings). ★★☆☆☆

 

How could I resist posting this cover with this serious suited dude on his time bike!?

How could I resist posting this cover of this serious suited dude on his time bike!?

The Time Machine (1895): Strangely engaging. The plot is simple: some smart dude builds a time machine; his friends are skeptical. He ignores those chumps and jettisons himself tens of thousands of years into the future. Everything’s wrecked. There are two main warring species who are markedly different. (I say “warring” but it’s pretty one-sided.) Our protagonist’s time-craft goes missing and he needs to find it to get back to his own time… You get the picture. It was sort of like reading a novelised scientific journal from the 1800s. There is a cute little reluctant friendship that might have been crafted into a creepy romance with no chemistry if written today. You don’t often see (at least I don’t) time travelling to a future so remote that humans have evolved (possibly several times) into a new species altogether that actually feel like a different species and not just like “future humans…who maybe have blue skin!” or something. It drags a bit towards the end. Something about it all was rather charming. If you enjoyed the style of Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne, you might like this. ★★★☆☆

 

 

Herland [utopia] (1915): Three men visit a land entirely populated by women. These men are a bit of a Goldilocks’ bears trio: one is too aggressive, one is too admiring/servile, and one – our narrator – is open-minded/just right. I really enjoyed this novella. It is a feminist utopian work that does not blame men at all and makes its points in a very diplomatic way. I was particularly interested in the way Herland proposed punishments (or, rather, the lack thereof), education systems, agriculture/GM food (remember this was written in 1915), and the recurring feminist mini-theme of pockets for women’s clothing. Great and small points are made about how women might behave when the element of sexual competition is taken away. This sort of ignores lesbians but I suppose that might complicate the point which is trying to be explained in a basic way for a wide and already critical audience? But the point is that women (and men) might do less silly things, more similar things and be seen as less separate, more equal. I did not enjoy Herland’s emphasis on womanhood being synonymous with motherhood as it is problematic to those who cannot or do not want to have children. You can be a perfectly functioning woman regardless of whether you propagate. And as far as motherhood in a country of all women cut off from any men goes, there is a supernatural element that the women just sort of gain the ability to will themselves pregnant. If you liked this, you might also enjoy The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories by the same author. ★★★★☆

 

logansrunLogan’s Run (1967): There is massive overpopulation and everyone over 21 gets hunted down and killed. 13 year olds think they run things and gangs of adolescents have been known to attack people to prove how tough/adult they are(?) as, I suppose, the definition of children/adults/elderly changed massively. This was an odd one. I don’t know if I can make a proper assessment because, truth be told, I sort of drifted in and out. It felt sort of random and disjointed (but maybe that was because I was drifting in and out!) and the characters were flat. I have seen the movie and remember more or less the same from that as the book…That is to say, not very much. I wouldn’t recommend either one really. But you’re an adult and I ain’t your mama. ★★☆☆☆ (generous)

 

 

 

 

Fahrenheit 451 (1953): This often gets lumped into the f451“big three” (dubious title/collection) with Brave New World and 1984. This is massively misleading. Not only do 1984 and Brave New World address different issues in different types of societies and, therefore, I don’t think should really be compared (but I can see why you would..), Fahrenheit 451 is different in its content and tone. Sure, it is chiefly concerned with all information being destroyed and people becoming wilfully ignorant couch potatoes. And, yes; those who disobey by reading books will have their book collection (and, by extension, your entire house) burned to the ground and their might happen to be inside their house while it happens. I know, I know. Wilful ignorance, oppressive system…sounds like it fits right in! But it doesn’t really sit with them for me. The tone definitely sets it apart. My best job at explaining is just to say it feels ‘a bit grey and a little hardboiled’? It’s also not nearly as prophetic coming after BNW & 1984 and offering no real new ideas of its own. Its world just feels very flawed…I hope I don’t get hate for bringing this up, but it’s a little how I feel about Divergent (which I haven’t read!). I have trouble suspending my belief so far and so constantly. I do hate to compare…but it is definitely not on the same level as BNW & 1984 in my book. That said, it’s full of great quotes and mini-ideas. There are some perfect scenes with our protagonist and his wife that show with equal parts hopelessness and comedy the horror of this world. A for effort: some interesting ideas. C for achievement: choppy execution leaves much to be desired. FYI: Apparently 451°F is the temperature book paper burns at…So keep your thermostats in check! Also, I can now spell “fahrenheit” without having to think about it. PS: Did anyone else think of that film Equilibrium when they were reading this? If not, watch that. I felt similarly about it as I do this book. That is to say, conflicted. ★★★☆☆

 

This cover is sort of how I feel about the book so far...

This cover is sort of how I feel about the book so far…

We [currently reading] (1921): I haven’t finished this one so my thoughts are a little scant. Disjointed. Plotless. Some interesting ideas. A little unintelligible at times. Characters behave strangely. I couldn’t really explain the dynamics of the world in detail as it is very difficult to decipher: what are the rules?? what are the punishments?? But you are given snippets of the whole and I get the impression the world is most like 1984 although the encouraged sex is more like Brave New World. Both Orwell and Huxley have cited We as an inspiration for those works respectively. The text, written in an epistolary (diary/letter) style to a more primitive society (/our current society whenever that may be/the reader) is interesting and works well. The text itself feels a bit coded as it might be if you were writing something in an oppressive society. Truth be told, I’m having trouble feeling like continuing at the moment…but it’s so short I’m going to try to soldier on. I don’t dislike it. Warning: manic pixie dream girl. [rating pending]

So there you have it. I hadn’t actually realised I’d read this many dystopian novels when I started this post and there are many more on my TBR so it doesn’t look like my quiet obsession is showing any signs of letting up.

 

Was this helpful to you at all? Or interesting?

Which was your favourite classic dystopian tale? And least favourite? Why?

Do you have any recommendations that I need to get around to right this minute!?

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