2015 Reading Challenge – Book Reviews Pt 4

Hi, Hey, Hello!

Another set of reviews today and then the next will come when I next get another 5 books in the bag (I’m part way through 1 of 5). But let me first get on with this one, and then I’ll probably get back to reading.

  1. One Day – David Nicholls – 3/5 stars

My journey with this book started over 4 years ago now when I got halfway through it and then got bored and decided that life was too short to read books I didn’t like. In that time I also watched the film and again, that was a struggle to get through (I stuck on in there because of Anne Hathaway in all honesty).

But I’ve heard a lot of good things about Nicholls as a writer so I thought I would give this another shot and this reading challenge presented me with the opportunity to. I enjoyed it a helluva lot more then I did last time (although given that I borderline hated it in 2011 that wasn’t really all that hard a thing to achieve). Maybe that’s because I was more open minded about it (and also wanted to avoid train boredom) so I was more receptive to the narrative and the way it was told.

In fact I loved the fact that it only focused on one day for these two characters over two decades. It was fascinating to see flashes of the way that their lives had changed, sometimes subtlely and sometimes drastically, over the course of 365 days. It showed this relatively realistic arc of friendship and the ebbs and flows of it as life happens to people and I liked that each chapter was almost like checking in with the characters and also for the characters in some cases.

I especially enjoyed the way the last few chapters were constructed (that is pretty much all I can say about the end of this book because I don’t want to spoil the ending. One of the final chapters stuck with me for a while purely for how direct and real it was).

And finally, I am so grateful for the way these characters were like actual human beings and the flaws were so obvious, but the fact that they were more than their flaws was also glaringly in your face. They were real and maybe I didn’t appreciate that when I tried to read this book the first time. It might not be the first book I’d recommend, but it’s worth a read.

2. Animal Farm – George Orwell – 3/5 stars

I didn’t even mean to buy this book when I did. I just accidentally found myself walking to Waterstones on my lunch break one day and the it self like a wasted trip to not get a book while I was there (doesn’t take much when it comes to books). But it turned out to be the perfect little book to read on a (probably dreary) Saturday afternoon and I love it when that happens.

Initially it took me a while to get used to the image of all these animals just running a farm…as actual animals. And to be honest I never stopped having a little giggle in the back of my mind about these animals building a windmill and interacting with humans the way other humans do.

But back to the actual narrative, I enjoyed that it was told in the form of a fable because it suited the message that it was trying to get across (and I love that kind of shit). The whole metaphor with the animals was so well done and fascinating to watch play out over the pages, especially in the case of the pigs. The cycle of regimes rising and falling and the importance of words an clarity and how even that can be distorted and warped and the fact that’s it’s a cycle. It translates to now but it is so clear how it would have been deemed controversial at the time that it was published, and this is why I love the fable form that it is written in. Just to really get that across. Definitely worth a read.

3. The Bone Season – Samantha Shannon – 4.5/5 stars

I don’t know why I made the foolish mistake to start this book when reading was highly unappealing to me but I did. And made it a chapter before I got bored and put it down. Then I picked it up 9 weeks later and was instantly hooked within the first few pages.

Again I loved the structure of this book, the fact that parts of Paige’s backstory was revealed as and when it was needed (and I guess as it was discovered, that seems suitably non-spoilery…I think) was super interesting and also means that there is sooooo much more about her to learnt that I super interested to do so when I eventually read The Mime Order and all the other books in the series.

Warden (Arcturus)  is such an interesting character (currently the only character I am really desperate to learn more about behind Paige) and I am so fascinated by him and the muted way his character developed. His role is just super interesting to me (I might be over using that phrase right now, I’m sorry).

What I also really like this books is it’s dystopian element which I think has been so well done and is so well rooted in well known history that it makes it believable. And finally, Paige’s tone of voice made this book such a page turner (as well as some of the events that were going down) and I instantly found her easy to relate to and enjoy her narrative (which is weird for me because each and every time I start a first person narrative story it takes me a good while to get into the motion of it, not with this one). So all in all I would 10/10 recommend this book and it’s definitely in my top 5 books at the moment.

4. Good Omens – Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett – 4/5 stars

This was another book that fell victim to uni starting back in 2011. In fact I feel like I started reading this book to try and get back into reading so that I could finish One Day, clearly I failed that because neither got finished. I got over halfway through this book the first time and other than the fact that I remembered that all tapes that had been a car for longer than two weeks turned into Queen and that it was basically about the end of the world I remembered nothing else. Nothing.

Which made coming back to it like coming to it for the first time. And made reading it all the more enjoyable.

Generally speaking it was pretty easy to follow and read (although I did get confused a couple of times as it jumps around little between sets of characters but that was probably more due to the fact that I was very tired and getting ill for a couple of days) and I actually quite like that it played with form and stuck, usually hilarious, footnotes in at points because they were quick and to the point. I suppose I should mention that the last time I read a book with footnotes as part of the narrative was Brief Interviews with Hideous Men and while I really enjoyed that book at times the footnotes went on a bit and really messed with the original narrative (I could, and have, write essays on why and the importance and blah blah but I’m gonna leave it at that). Also come the climax of the novel everything was making perfect sense and I had also forgotten that two authors had written it because it was all one seamless piece.

The dynamic between Azriaphale and Crowley was my favourite part about this whole book and how despite the fact that they were an angel and demon respectively, they were still similar and how they never seemed to be clear cut in their roles but both in this murky middle area with their allegiances. And also they were hilarious, again one do those books that made me laugh on the train (always seems weirder at 8:30 in the morning then it does at 17:45). The resolution of the story still makes me laugh because it seems almost anti-climatic but then you realise that it is so very fitting and the book is tied off with a nice bow. This is probably one of those books that I will find something new with each and every re-read and I love those kind of books.

5. Landline – Rainbow Rowell – 3/5 stars

With this book I complete my Rowell collection. Which I’m not gonna lie is making me feel hella accomplished.

But I will say this, this book wasn’t my favourite of hers (that will probably always been Fangirl actually because it was the first point that I feel in love with her and her stories). It was good and I am always intrigued by the notion of time travel and what it means but my main issue with it was the fact that I really did not like the ending. It left me feeling a little bit like how Lost made me feel when that ended and that was a weird place to be in with a book.

I liked Georgie and I liked following her entire thought process as she tried to figure out her…life all over again. I related to her in so many ways and was rooting for her to find her happiness. But here is where my problem arose, I didn’t like Neal. At any point. I had this huge urge to just lock him in a room and make him talk, about anything. Literally anything, just get him to actually talk. And I get that the fact that he didn’t talk was a key part of the story but it was just soooo frustrating to read because honestly it takes two to tango and one half felt like they had full checked out and the other was dancing on their own. And I honestly never felt like that stopped being the case.

The whole time travel thing was fascinating to me, but I think a lot of that derives from the fact that I am drawn to the idea that there is a continual looping of events as a result of time travel (think the thing with Hermione and Harry towards the end of Azkaban where they are clearly just doing that in a continual cycle for forever I guess). And I liked that it became this weird link between the past and future and how it was never really understood or explained how the hell that was happening and the fact that there was this fantasy element to an otherwise realistic story with realistic characters (because as much as I didn’t like Neal, there is no denying that characters like him exist in the world).

So there were parts I liked and loved and parts that I just couldn’t get past. So it’s not my favourite book, but it was an overall enjoyable read.

Whew, that’s done. 

Parentheses count: 19. See you tomorrow!

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