Friday, 30 January 2015

"The Road" by Cormac McCarthy

I really enjoyed reading "The Road". I hadn't read any books by Cormac McCarthy before so I was curious to see what "The Road" would be like. "The Road" is unlike any book I had read before. I found that McCarthy's use of dialogue added to the sense of near complete silence and fear that the characters experienced throughout the book.

"The Road" is set sometime in the future where every day is a struggle for the people who have managed to survive whatever catastrophe had happened in the years past. It is a story about a man and his son who are trying to stay alive with only a few rations and gun with two bullets and their journey to reach the coast. Throughout the book they are followed by men who are starving and will try to kill them. We don't know the age of the man but the boy is about seven. They end up reaching the coast after a hard and treacherous journey in which they encounter many horrific things.

However, they start to run out of the little food they the have left and the man dies from starvation. I thought that the young boy was going to die too, but a few days after his fathers death he is saved by a group of people who agree to help him.

My favourite character was the father. He kept trying to reach the coast in an effort to keep his son alive. He was extremely brave throughout the book and tried to protect his son from the men and from seeing the horrific things that they saw on their journey. He was also very kind. When there was a shortage of food he would always give the son the larger share of food.

My favourite scene was when they were running dangerously low on supplies and they found a warehouse packed with food such as cans and other food that doesn't perish easily. This scene was such a rare moment of happiness in the book where the characters felt safe and happy and this is why its my favourite scene.

I would sincerly recommend this book. It is such a sad but beautiful story and I feel that people should read it and acknowledge the author and how great this book is. I would definitely read other books by Cormac McCarthy.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens

 This was the first Charles Dickens book I had read, and despite its length of 880 pages, and the language, which took some getting used to, it has now joined my list of books which I will never forget, and will probably reread many times. It takes a couple of chapters to get into, but when you do get into it, you will fall into its pages, and for the days, weeks or months while you're reading it, you will only have to glance at a page to disappear into the world of Nicholas Nickleby.
  The story follows the life of our central character, Nicholas Nickleby, after the death of his father. He moves to London with his sister and mother, but soon, needing a job, he leaves them to work in a school a long way away. It is here that we first meet Smike, an unhappy and helpless boy whom Nicholas befriends. Nicholas is very quickly, like the other inhabitants of the school, entirely unhappy. Events at the school build to a climax, resulting in Nicholas and Smike fleeing back to Nicholas's family in London. However, between the terrible schoolmaster, Squeers, (Dickens has a flair for  naming his characters!) and Nicholas's cruel and money- obsessed uncle, Ralph Nickleby, life for the Nicklebys, and their devoted friend Smike, is far from uneventful. The book documents the many adventures, and more often misadventures, of Nicholas, Kate, their shallow and talkative mother, and the various characters they meet along the way.
  The thing I most enjoyed about this book was the characters. At times it is hard to keep track of them all, but each character has a very developed personality. Nicholas was a very believable character- he was strong, brave, caring and intelligent, but none of these characteristics was unrealistically over- developed. He had enough depth and complexity to make him the kind of character you can relate well to and understand. His mother's incessant, mindless and highly irritating chatter contrasted perfectly with his steady, considerate patience.
  Somebody once told me that Dickens's books are funny. I expected that. What I didn't expect was the moments when I was sitting there reading in a room full of family members, all staring at me as I  laughed hysterically at the book. This is one of the very few books that has made me laugh out loud. It was mainly the character of Newman Noggs who provided the entertainment- Dickens's descriptions of his many oddities, especially in the scene where we first meet him, had me grinning like a lunatic.
  I expected "Nicholas Nickleby" to be good. What I hadn't expected was the the way it captured my attention. Sometimes a chapter will be spent on some seemingly random and unrelated scene, which is forgotten until it is woven back into the story twenty or thirty chapters on, to create a complex and thrilling twist in the plot. The story's many layers and side- plots add a depth and extra dimension to the book that give it that bit more reality and complexity  than any other book. I would give this book 10 out of 10.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

I read the book pride and prejudice by Jane Austen. The book is about the Bennett family mainly who live in Longbourn, the family has a variety of very strong contrasting characters, Jane the eldest of five daughters and  is supposedly the most beautiful, Elizabeth who is my favourite character is really confident and witty, Mary the middle child is the intelligent quiet one and the youngest two are kitty and Lydia who are just silly and ditsy and love going to town to see the officers. Mrs Bennett main purpose in life is to get all five of her daughters married, preferably to wealthy men with large estates.

The main theme of this book is love, marriage and money. throughout the book all three themes are very apparent. Love is found in marriage and hopefully money is brought with marriage. You see love between Jane and Mr Bingley even at the very start when you see how he cares for her so much when she falls sick when she comes to visit him which contrasts with the love between Darcy and Elizabeth which is not very clear at the start but it becomes more apparent throughout the book.

The book starts with news of a new wealthy single man arriving in town to buy Netherfield park, Mr Bennett is sent out by Mrs Bennett for a social visit as she hopes that this young man will be the future husband of one of her daughters. Mr Bingley first meets Jane at a ball and falls for her beauty at first sight, he dances with her most of the night. Mr Darcy is also introduced but as an arrogant man with excessive pride as he refuses to dance with Elizabeth. Later on in the novel Jane goes to visit Mr Bingley in Netherfield park but has to stay there when she falls sick, , Elizabeth then travels to Netherfield park to take care of her sister and encounters Mr Darcy again with Ms Bingley, Mr Bingley's sister who is chasing Mr Darcy. Ms Bingley is not impressed with Elizabeth at all and her stay in Netherfield park is not the most pleasant and she is happy to return home.

Mr Collins a clergyman is then introduced who is supposed to be inheriting the Bennett's land, after a while he proposes to Elizabeth but is refused and later marries her friend Charlotte. The Bennetts and Mr Collins go to visit their uncle in town when they meet Wickham who is an officer, He tells Elizabeth of what a horrible man Darcy is and how he cheated him out of his inheritance, this adds to Elizabeth's dislike of Mr Darcy.

The book continues with more encounters between Elizabeth and Darcy and more marriages between the young ladies. I really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it to anyone. its beautifully written and is a grasping novel and quite humorous at parts.

Kyla O'dwyer

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

The book that I read was Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. It's about these two people who are outsiders in their lives who meet and fall in love. It's quite generic to be honest.

The main girl Eleanor is constantly described as being fat and having massive unruly red hair and always dressing really weirdly. Yet that's okay because Park is in love with her. It just seemed that it was always being like "how does he like me? I'm fat" like I get that she was supposed to be a self conscious character but I mean stand up for yourself. The only times she actually felt good about herself was when Park said nice things about her and that doesn't exactly scream role model or strong person in any way. I get that her home situation was really bad, her stepdad hated her and she always had to walk on eggshells around him but love yourself for yourself sometimes not because someone else said that you looked nice! plus Park is always saying things that sound like thinly veiled back-stabbing compliments towards her.

Park is the main guy in the book. He is introduced as kind of popular yet at the same time is an outsider who is really actually unique and perfect in his own way. With about one friend. He is half Korean and it seems that the book can't go one chapter without mentioning it. One time it even said something that went like "No Korean guys can be good looking" I mean WHAT? Isn't that a touch racist? Park's mum is a beautician and one day he starts wearing eyeliner because he thinks it makes him look better and his dad asks him why because guys don't usually wear eyeliner and he starts crying. I don't really know why but I think it was supposed to show that Park's family isn't perfect either..?

In this book both the main characters acted normal enough at the start but then fell in love in about a second and then started acting like they were on drugs. Having random mood swings, becoming so dependent on each other I thought that I was reading Twilight and just a general strangeness. I think what the author was trying to do was have them as the classic YA John Green or Stephen Chbosky outsiders but just missed the mark. I just couldn't have any feelings about them because I thought that they were utterly ridiculous. Maybe if Rowell had spent more time exploring other characters like Eleanor's mother and the abuse that she was going through regular beatings and what I'm guessing is rape would have given the book more range and depth. The "super emotional ending" just flopped because by the end I just didn't care.

So overall I would not recommend this book but I wish the author tons of luck with their other books in the future.