Archive for September, 2008

Anthem

[openbook booknumber=”0452281253″]

[rating:1/5]

I tried my best, but there was so much of this book that I had problems with, and it was such a short book with so little plot it was very hard not to spoil it, so… spoiler ahoy in this review!

Anthem is a novel about a man named Equality 7-2521. Much in the style of other horrific Utopian novels he is one of many is a futuristic society, where everything is utterly controlled from education, to vocation, to sex, to death and (like Brave New World, 1984 and The Giver) the main character is seeking to throw off this yoke and go back to how things were before, though he hasn’t realized it yet.

For the first ten chapters he speaks in the style of Gollum, of Lord of the Rings. When he speaks of himself he says “we” and “us” for the collective is what is important, while individualism in any form breaks divine law. Everything is done for the betterment of all, for the will of many is greater than the will of the individual. The many’s needs are greater as well and therefore the individual must sacrifice himself for the many.

Equality 7-2521 is given a position as street sweeper and in his work finds two things that are his undoing: a beautiful woman, and an old underground sewer left over from the times before. He sneaks off there and writes his own private thoughts and does his own private research. But, the scientific discoveries he make are nothing next to the truth that he uncovers there.

Anthem is supposed to be a novel exemplifying Ayn Rand’s philosophy about individualism and collectivism and the pros and cons thereof. I have to say some of what she believes I don’t really agree with and actually reading the foreword (a fault of mine) kinda prejudiced me against her before I even got to the story.

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M*A*S*H

[openbook booknumber=”0688149553″]

[rating:2/5]

I loved watching M*A*S*H reruns growing up, so when I found this book at a brown bag book sale I just had to pick it up. M*A*S*H by Richard Hooker is the book that the TV series was based off of. When my husband read the book he thought it was hilarious and highly recommended it. I dove in with high expectations that unfortunately ended up being too high.

The characters come across as far more serious in the novel. Their attempts at banter and fun and games came across as what they really were, mere attempts at sanity in the insanely harsh conditions they faced serving in Korea. As a whole, the novel seemed to have a much different tenor then the light hearted TV series does.

The other thing that was different (or perhaps my memories of the TV show were rose tinted) is there seemed to be a great deal more and much harsher misogyny. I remember the fighting with “Hot Lips” Houlihan, I did not recall anything concerning whore houses, brothels or the taking advantage thereof by married enlisted men and officers.

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The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

[openbook booknumber=”0760750750″]

[rating:5/5]

The first time I read The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes would have been in the summer between fifth and sixth grade. My parents had gotten me a boxed set of classics and this particular one was my favorite. I had always loved mysteries whether in the form of Clue or The Boxcar Children and these seemed so much more polished, not to mention were much harder to guess out how it was going to end to my eleven year old mind. I read them again in the seventh grade when I had to take a bus to school for the first time and the novel acted like the proverbial security blanket as I sat and read it every morning in the increasing cold temperatures in the strange environment.

Some time before I moved out I gave away 90% of my book collection (some 100+ books) so that when I left home it was only with a mere handful of ten or twelve. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes was one of the books to go. I have since thunked my head on my desk many times wishing to have many of those books back. My parents repurchased The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes for me in far more adult binding then the lovingly tattered paperback I had before and I sat and re-read these beloved stories to my husband. He tended to fall asleep during them, but I quite enjoyed the trip down memory lane.

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When You Are Engulfed in Flames

[openbook booknumber=”9780316143479″]

[rating:5/5]

Another hilarious collection of essays by David Sedaris. This was another book that I read aloud to my husband. Again, a lot of this book had to be read in private though, and not around relatives. It’s definitely adult reading and adult language!

The portraits he paints of every day people doing things that are absolutely crazy in a way that makes them seem mundane is his calling card and he does this to excellent effect in this new novel. Whether it’s the woman that lives alone in an apartment building that acts like she runs the place (and really does), the crazy people he hitchhikes with in the early 70’s, his parent’s take on art, or the people he meets in his attempt to quit smoking in japan, it’s all written with a humorous edge and a sarcastic wit that makes even the most outcast and odd palatable.

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The Last Man in the World

[openbook booknumber=”061514750X”]

[rating:3/5]

This book is an alternate universe story written about Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. You almost need to have read Pride and Prejudice for any of these “alternate endings” written by Abigail Reynolds to make any sense.

In this one, right at the scene where Lizzie tells Darcy that he is the last man in the world she could be prevailed upon to marry, things take a split from the main plot. Darcy is so enamored with Lizzie, so convinced of his success and completely certain that Lizzie is totally in love with him that he compromises her and, before she could utter the damning phrase that is this novel’s title, kisses her. And, right at that moment his cousin, Fitzwilliam, and two groomsmen find them in the cinch and Lizzie is forced to accept Darcy’s proposal or face social ruin.

The premise seems to be a bit too archaic for the times. Just being caught kissing somebody, especially if it is against your will, shouldn’t mean you have to marry the guy, even during the regency. The entire novel being based on it has the story start off on shaky legs. Things progress from there through an at times uplifting and at times depressing book. But, mostly the depressing.

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