Friday, June 05, 2009

Books: Several reviews/Thoughts

I have read a TON of books without a single review, so I am putting a few quick thoughts down here for posting.

The Outcast is the first novel from Sadie Jones. It is a story about a boy named Lewis living in post-WWII England whose mother dies when he is young. As a result of the complete lack of emotional support from a single adult in his life after her death, Lewis becomes emotionally disturbed. As he gets older turns to drinking and violence and is pretty much rejected by his family and friends, eventually landing himself in prison for a couple of years in his late teens. The only person that sees Lewis for who he really is is Kit, a girl who is several years younger. She thinks of Lewis as her hero and loves him from afar for many years.

The reader spends most of the time reading being frustrated with the people that interact with Lewis and that they are incapable of helping him through his emotional difficulties. In addition, you will be waiting for Lewis to get a break. I found it very compelling and a quick read. Lewis and Kit are likable despite their faults, like the bad is happening around them and to them, but they are not bad themselves. It was a heartbreaking story, but an enjoyable read nonetheless.

John Grisham's The Associate was just released in February and I got it for 3 bucks at the Indian bookstore, so I gave it a shot. There was a time I read everything Grisham wrote, but it has been a few years now since I lost that habit. I am glad Grisham has returned to the legal thrillers, but I found The Associate to be just so-so. It is the story of a law student just before graduation who gets blackmailed into taking a job at a huge firm and stealing information for his blackmailers. I don't know if it just felt anti-climactic (or perhaps there just wasn't the right build up to the climax), but I found myself saying "eh" about it. Not bad. Not great.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne caught my attention at the bookstore after I watched the trailer for it online. It is told through the eyes of a young boy in Germany. It is eventually revealed, while the boy doesn't understand anything that is going on, that his father is a Nazi officer, put in charge of a prison camp (Auschwitz). The boy makes friends with another boy on the other side of the other fence who wears "striped pyjamas."

This story was really sad and I hated seeing it through the eyes of a young child like that. It was a really quick read (read it on a train ride in a few hours), but I easily predicted where the story was heading, just based on the tone. It was certainly not a feel good book. Just a warning...

The highly acclaimed book High Fidelity by Nick Hornby was also a quick read. There are certainly funny parts. But I didn't find any of the characters to be very sympathy-enducing. Rob's co-workers, girlfriends, even Rob himself are all a little unlikable. Now, that makes it a little more real and gritty than your typical "love story" novel. But I also found it frustrating. I would be interested to read something else by Hornby and see how I feel.

Beastly by Alex Flynn is a reimagining of the old Beauty and the Beast story, set in current times. Unfortunately, the cheese level was incredibly high. Kyle mentions so many times how good-looking he was before he was cursed and made into a beast that he grossed me out. A movie is being made of this. Let's hope it is better than the book. I would say pass unless you are 15 years old.

1 comment:

Emily said...

I've never read "High Fidelity" by Nick Hornby, but I love the movie. My favorite Hornby book so far has probably been "A Long Way Down." Maybe you should give it a shot.

"Beastly" sounds like a strange book, but it makes my joke about a Beauty and the Beast tv show revival not sound too far fetched!