22 November 2016

A Sudden Light by Garth Stein

     I did not like this book. I said I would start writing reviews even if it was just to say “I liked it” or “I did not like it.” Well, I did not like this book. The weird thing is I remembered reading The Art of Racing in the Rain by the same author and loved it. It was a book written from the perspective of a dog, and I self avowed dog-hater liked that book. So, I was pretty excited to find this one.

     A Sudden Light was the story of a boy and his father who return to their family home to help out his aunt who has been taking care of his aging grandfather. The boy’s father and aunt wanted to put the grandfather into a facility that could take care of him better and sell the house. But as soon as the boy moves in he realizes that the house is haunted, or the grandfather is haunted, or maybe the boy himself is haunted by a homosexual ghost who is some distant relative and doesn’t want the land to be developed but rather wants it returned to nature because….because he loves nature. Also as it turns out the aunt actually has been creating dementia like symptoms in the grandfather because she’s actually crazy.

     I think it’s biggest flaw was that it felt incomplete, like the author hadn't decided what his book was going to be about. I couldn’t tell if this was a book about man’s destruction of nature, or a book about bringing justice to the homosexual community, or a book about a boy bringing redemption to his family. I think it was the latter. I say I think because it felt super scattered and in the end I felt like he lost his family. Nearly literally. I’m not going that deep into it because I actually don’t really think it’s worth a read. I hated the end. No, let me revise that. I HATED  the end. 

   At the beginning of the book I got a clue there was a line that said something like “The gravel crunched under the car like dried bones.” Really? I realize you are setting up an atmosphere, but don’t beat me over the head with it. I didn’t heed the warning and I wasted some time reading this. Don’t do it. I'd have to read it again to be sure, but I think I can say The Art of Racing in the Rain was really good. So, I'm not ready to write off this author entirely.

17 November 2016

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

     Ok, I've just got to do this. I keep telling myself I want to get back into blogging, but I think because I'm rusty I keep just not doing it. So, I'm going to restart and even if my blog posts consist of:
I like this book.
This was a good book.
Read it.
.....then so be it.

     What has been helpful is that this year, after saying so often, "I really want to do that," I am finally doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) where you write a 50,000 word novel in a month. If you are attempting to do the math that is almost 1700 words a day. It doesn't have to be a good novel. You just have to take one of your ideas and turn it into 50,000 words. The goal is to get a draft out basically. I actually have loved the experience so much I plan on doing it in December through February to write out my three other ideas which were runners up for my novel. So, anyway, the point is, I'm writing again. I'm creating again, and I feel like now would be a good time to plunge back into the blog. And now that I said that I'll feel very ashamed if I don't blog more regularly, so for sheer fear of man, I must do it now.

     Ok, the main event. I read Me Before You by Jojo Moyes because I saw it everywhere. You know when you just kind of become aware of a book and everyone is lauding it and you just...gotta? Well, that was Me Before You and since it was followed by a book called After You, of course I had to read that too.
     To be honest, I finished it maybe two weeks ago and I'm still wrestling with whether or not I actually liked it. It's a story about a young British woman named Louisa whose family is pretty much barely scraping by and is mainly relying on her income to keep them going. When she loses her job and realizes she has pretty much no interest in life beyond living day to day she begins to look for work pretty much anywhere. She finally finds employment being the companion of a wheelchair bound man named Will, paralyzed from the neck down in a tragic traffic accident. He is extremely embittered by life and has actually attempted suicide before, but when Lousia comes into his life things begin to change for him, and they develop feelings for each other. Unfortunately Lousia learns that she has been employed to look after him for the six months he has promised his mother before he plans on ending his life via a Death With Dignity type institution in, I believe, Switzerland. Louisa sets out to change his mind.
     Ok, in the interest of anyone who wants to read this book, I won't say anything more. Though, to be honest you may glean the outcome from what I say anyway, so maybe just SPOILER ALERT! So, I liked the story. I think it was interesting how in ways both Louisa and Will are somewhat bound. Will is physically bound to life as a quadruplegic, and Louisa is bound by her apathy and general passionless existence (Might I add, big sympathy with Louisa from this reader who somewhat still doesn't know what she wants when she grows up). But when they are brought together they sort of teach each other how to really live.
     The downside is pretty obvious if you know me, obviously euthanasia is right out as, in my opinion, it's suicide. I mean, let's get that out in the open right now. However, you can say something is sinful and at the same time be like, Well, yeah, I mean, wouldn't you want to? I can quite honestly say if I was paralyzed from the neck down, I would handle it any better than him. My brain would say I couldn't play God in this way, but my emotions would definitely be rioting against my brain's rule. So, my sympathies are definitely there, but I don't like media that sort of plays with your ethical standards. Does that make sense? Something that sort of sets out to question whether you are right in the way you think. Sort of a, "Did God really say?" situation.
     Also, one of the things that was really not explained at all, was this idea that Louisa was the whole family's punching bag. She had this sister who did not contribute to the family at all and was pregnant and unmarried and somehow that sister was praised by everyone while Louisa was made fun of for her weight and general laziness, when she was the one who seemed to take care of everyone. I just did not understand that at all and it was honestly a little upsetting.
     I know I have lingered over the downsides of the book, but I actually liked it overall. I think it was really different, and I would probably recommend it to people. The second book was a more satisfying one, but had a really bratty teenager in it. Like, reeeally bratty. So bratty in fact that even after you understood what was causing the issue it was almost too late for you to turn around in your feelings for her.