Thursday, 14 November 2013

1984 by George Orwell


War is peace
Freedom is slavery
Ignorance is strength
I had expected quite a lot from this book. Unfortunately it did not live up to my expectations. Eventhough the subject, a totalitarian regime, was very heavy the story seemed boring to me. Winston Smith was a pretty flat main character. That is something that I would be able to overlook because of the environment he lives in, but what really made the story a little boring was the fact that at some point Winston gets a book about the totalitarion regime he lives under and many chapters of 1984 consist of chapters from that book. If it had given me any new insights into how the system worked it could have been interesting, but it didn't tell me anything new. Also, in a non-fiction book I would expect to find this sort of information, but not in a novel. 

I'm not really sure why I felt about this book the way I do. It was clear that the setting was dystopian and a scary place to live, but somehow I didn't really feel that fear.

The only thing I appreciated about the book was the fact that the ending was really blurry because Winston had kind of lost his mind because of all the torturing.

Did you read the book? What did you think of it? Am I completely alone in my not liking the book?

Friday, 8 November 2013

Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson

One of my favorite books as a teenager was 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson. Eventhough I loved that story I somehow never read another book of her again. Finally I stumbled upon Suite Scarlett in the library a couple of days ago. I was so curious to read another book of her that I picked it up.

Her new summer job comes with baggage.
Scarlett Martin has grown up in a most unusual way. Her family owns the Hopewell, a small hotel in the heart of New York City, and Scarlett lives there with her four siblings – Spencer, Lola, and Marlene.
When each of the Martins turns fifteen, they are expected to take over the care of a suite in the once elegant, now shabby Art Deco hotel. For Scarlett’s fifteenth birthday, she gets both a room called the Empire Suite, and a permanent guest called Mrs. Amberson.
Scarlett doesn’t quite know what to make of this C-list starlet, world traveler, and aspiring autobiographer who wants to take over her life. And when she meets Eric, an astonishingly gorgeous actor who has just moved to the city, her summer takes a second unexpected turn.

Before the summer is over, Scarlett will have to survive a whirlwind of thievery, Broadway glamour, romantic missteps, and theatrical deceptions. But in the city where anything can happen, she just might be able to pull it off.

The characters were almost all pretty likeable. The main character Scarlett Martin is a believable and nice girl. We learn enough about her interests and her feelings.
Her brother Spencer was one of my favorite characters. He knew very clearly what he wanted his future to look like and he was een funny guy who liked to cheer Scarlett up. I loved the little bond that the two of them shared. Lola and Marlene were a little less interesting, but the relationship they both had with Scarlett seemed like a very realistic realtionships between sisters. Marlene was a little annoying, but that was understandable. I liked that Scarlett fell out with her eventually, because it seemed like something someone really would do. Scarlett doesn't have a big development throughout the book, but in the end she does seem a little more independent and less afraid to take charge.
Scarlett's parents seemed a little absent throughout the story. Eventhough they have a hotel of their own where they work, it felt like they weren't around much. The kids had to help out a lot in the hotel, eventhough there were barely any guests. What were the parents doing all day if they weren't doing all those chores? That was the only part of the book that felt a little bit unrealistic.

This part contains some spoilers
At first I really liked Eric and he really did seem like the gentleman kind of guy, but further in the story I started to get a little annoyed with him. He was the one who made Scarlett lie to her brother and eventhough Scarlett was the one who did it, he was the one who suggested it. Also after Spencer found out what was going on between Eric and Scarlett, Eric became a coward and didn't want to talk to her in public anymore. Eventhough he said that he didn't want to cause problems for Scarlett, it felt more as though he himself wasn't ready to have their 'relationship' made public. Personally I wouldn't want to be with someone who wants to keep me a secret. Near the end of the book we find out that Eric indeed is hiding something. He was still in a relationship with someone else when he kissed Scarlett. I was already starting to hope that they would not end up togethere, so even if, because of the kind of open ending, it isn't sure that they will not end up together it's also not sure that they will, so I was satisfied with that. I would have loved the ending more though, if Scarlett would have shown a little bit more of her newly gained independence and just forgot about Eric.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

If I stay by Gayle Forman

If I Stay (If I Stay, #1)In the blink of an eye everything changes. Seventeen ­year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall what happened afterwards, watching her own damaged body being taken from the wreck. Little by little she struggles to put together the pieces- to figure out what she has lost, what she has left, and the very difficult choice she must make. Heartwrenchingly beautiful, this will change the way you look at life, love, and family. Mia's story will stay with you for a long, long time.

This is a spoiler-free review 

 My favortite aspect about this book, was the close bond Mia had with her little brother Teddy and with her parents. They all loved and cared for each other, which I think is something you don't see very often in young adult/teen books. The family members seemed all very real and I wanted nothing, but to be a part of their family. It's actually not just the family members, but all the characters in the book seem like people you could meet in your everyday life.
Music plays a big part in this book and I loved how, eventhough everyone didn't like the same music, they connected trough the fact that they all liked music.

I found Mia a pretty strong main character for a young adult novel. She wasn't being dramatical all the time, but instead she was a very serious girl who thought a lot about her life and her future. In the book she is seventeen years old, and for once she is a character that actually comes across as a seventeen year-old.

The flashbacks and memories that Mia experienced were a nice interruption of the part of the story which plays in the hospital. If that would have been continuous it would probably have become boring.

I thought Forman did a good job by not making the book overly philosophical, but I would have liked to see Mia ponder a little bit more about her decision whether or not to stay. Eventhough it's mentioned that she thinks about it, it is not exactly clear what her thoughts about it are. How does she envision her 'life after death', or how does she envision her life if she stays?