Jan 27, 2005

Children of the Mind; by Orson Scott Card

Find this book in the Hawley Library


I read Children of the Mind, by Orson Scott Card. This is a very good author of science fiction, because he does not blow your mind with concepts of time travel and other things that are impossible to grasp. It is science fiction only in the fact that that it is set in the future. It also has some slight philosophical concepts.

This book is about a man named Ender Wiggin the Xenocide, or the Speaker. Three-thousand years ago he was trained in Battle School to fight a war against an alien adversary called the Formics, or the Buggers. He destroyed their home planet, but was not allowed to return to Earth. A book written by Ender himself convinced the population of Earth that he destruction of the Buggers was a bad thing; they weren't the enemy, they just couldn't communicate with humankind. He in turn was given the title of Xenocide, killer of a species, and no one would speak his name. With his sister he used relative travel to go among the stars and stay young. Three thousand years later, he came to the colony planet of Lusitania.

On this planet, he found a famil wrought with tragedy and despair. Their father was not really their father. He had a tragic disease that ate away at him, piece by piece, rendering him barren. So the mother, Novinha, reproduced with another man. Both men died, and she was widowed with seven children. Ender took this family under his wing.

Now for this book. This is at the end of his saga. He has been cloned by an effect of faster than light travel. He has a computer entity friend, nicknamed Jane, who found a way to take a ship out of space and time, and put them back in wherever they wanted. But anything that you think about strongly is created in this outside area. Ender's brother and sister, as they were when teenagers, are created with Ender's memories. Anything else said will give away the ending.

I liked this book because this is just a really good author. He knows how to weave all kinds of fiction together into one really good book. It's not too romantic, or too science-y, or too philosophical. It is a book anyone can read, and most will enjoy. I highly recommend it.

Jan 22, 2005

The House of the Scorpion, Nancy Farmer

I think this book is so great because so many times when you read sci-fi it is too far removed, too different, compared to real life today, and this book is not that way at all. What I mean is, the elements that make this a sci-fi book don't take over the whole book and become more important than the plot itself. And the plot in this book is really great. There are clones, there are zombies, there is an entirely new country carved out between the US and Mexico, but it is all too believable (read: frightening). All the people act how people generally act: some are evil, some are wonderful, many try really hard to be good but are scared or lack the courage to stand up to people. You really grow into these complicated characters.

My only problem with this book is when Matt finally escapes Opium. Even though I could tell something else was going to happen (there were a lot of pages left to read), I was not ready for him to be kidnapped into an orphanage that worked kids and beat them,etc. By that time everything had been so terrible I was really just ready for him to be united with Maria, the end everyone lives happily ever after. Although I can see that by going through that experience, Matt grows up. He really was somewhat selfish and poor me (although you can hardly blame him) before he inspired the other orphans and everyone works together to break out. So it was needed as a story point, but I was tired of being anxious about what was going to happen next by that time.

Jan 21, 2005

Kingdom of the Golden Dragon, Isabelle Allende

I am so disappointed in this book! First, I should say this is the sequel to City of the Beasts, but I've never read that book and it really didn't matter to my understanding of this book. Isabel Allende is one of my favorite authors. She has written The house of the spirits and Daughter of fortune : a novel, just to name two. She is originally from Peru and Chile and writes in the common South American style using magical realism. To sum that up and oversimplify, that means things that normally don't/can't happen in our straight up white America do, and nobody bats an eye. Not fantasy, different. In this book, Kingdom of the Golden Dragon, Allende over-explains every potential instance of magical realism and takes all the magic out of it. The story line is ok - I find explorations of other cultures and religions, especially non Judeo-Christian ones, to be fascinating. If this story was infused with the same spot on writing style that Allende normally shows, I'd be jumping up and down and shoving this book in the face of everyone I met. But, like many authors who normally write for adult audiences unfortunately do, Allende has dumbed this one down too far.

Jan 20, 2005

What do you guys think?

You may have noticed that book covers have appeared on some of the posts. What do you guys think? Good idea? It doesn't take much to do, and as long as y'all agree, we'll start putting the covers on all the new posts from here on out.

Life Expectancy by Dean Koontz

I thought that i would finally check in and make a post. This is going to be short and i apologize ahead of time.

After reading Life Expectancy by Dean Koontz, i have to say that i am disappointed. I read Koontz's work for the plots and the suspense the he fills his stories with. Life Expectancy was lacking in the suspense section. I felt as though all of Mr. Tock's trials and tribulations are somewhat played out. Also the story seems to jump ahead in time without giving the readers enough information to fill a proper timeline.

Well that's all i have for now.

Jan 15, 2005

Big Mouth & Ugly Girl, Joyce Carol Oates

I was really excited to see that Joyce Carol Oates had written a YA book, and it is also up for some awards. I like how this book examines what happens when we falsely accuse people and how that changes them, even if/when they have been exonerated. In this case, it really forces Matt to grow up. Before the stupid twins accused him of wanting to blow up the school, he was constantly making stupid jokes and really just playing the clown for his friends. In fact, he did say he wanted to blow up the school, which in general is just not that funny. So when he is arrested, and then none of his friends stand up for him, it really forces him to examine why he was making those jokes, if none of his friends think it is worth it to talk to him.

After he is released because the police realize he wasn't at all serious, he is basically a social outcast. Everyone goes from thinking he's a funny guy to not ever talking to him. Even though he didn't do anything wrong. It makes me think about how we change our minds about people, and about the justice system. How when we see celebrities accused of things, we immediately think they are guilty and change our opinions of them, even if later it is found they are innocent. And public opinion of them can make or break their careers. Matt didn't do anything wrong, but instead of welcoming him back, everyone is upset with him and keeps their distance. Then because everyone is keeping their distance and making him miserable, he agrees to go along with his parents plan to sue, making everything worse. It's as if his high school "career" is over.

I also really liked the transformation of Ursula. Sometimes these books can have really lame endings, like Ursula cleans up her act and becomes super pretty and popular. I guess I think this is way more realistic and allows her to grow without falling into any stereotypes about what makes people happy. Ursula learns she can be part of the team, not the sole star. And she learns she can have relationships - friendships, a boyfriend - without losing her sense of self. She doesn't have to change that much, she just had to learn that she was making really wrong assumptions about how people felt about her. In Matt's case, he assumed people liked him more than they did, he assumed his friendships were stronger and more genuine than they were. In Ursula's case, she assumed people hated her all the time, and she assumed her relationships were much weaker than they were.

Jan 10, 2005

The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger

Wow, wow, wow...blown away. I may grapple for words during this post because it is hard to find words to fit the feelings I have about this book, but I'll give it a shot. Many times I feel as though I am too critical of books, and that may be the reason for my frequent disappointment. It seems that it is a rare find for me these days when I stumble across a book that totally and completely blows me away, and leaves me thinking about it for days on end. "The Time Traveler's Wife" is such a book. I came to understand that this book is not about time traveling or science fiction or genetics, but about a love that so encapsulates what it means to endure that I found myself weeping for their love at the end. Books don't make me cry, generally. The theme of time is obviously important to the book, but it is what Henry and Clare do with that time that is the core of this story. Their lives intertwine and wrap around each other, and they just KNOW each other. They are conscious of every second they have together, and remain fully aware and present in those seconds, minutes, hours, or days. I see so many people go through the motions of life, without actually experiencing it. The contrast to Henry and Clare that shows those motions of life is Gomez and Charisse. They are with each other by default, and they enter married life, have children, and live comfortably. What does any of that matter when one of them is in love with someone else and the other is content being second choice? Henry and Clare are flawed, but they are real, and their love is one of the most real and raw I have ever seen depicted in fiction. Clare and Henry take turns anchoring the other, they understand that life isn't perfect, but the perfect lies in what they make of the imperfection. I don't think I've really done my feelings justice with this post, but I am still, even now, thinking about this book and its implications for my own life. Savoring moments, anchoring, it, it's good. If you've read it, please post!