Thursday, 19 June 2014

Review - Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

12000020Genre: young adult / contemporary
Pages: 359
Rating: 4,5 / 5 stars

Summary from Goodreads
Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

My thoughts
This was a great book! I thought it captured the thoughts of a teenager very well. Aristotle wanted to be bad boy, but in reality he was just a good kid. He strugled with the question who he was and he tried to find his place in the world. His relationship with his parents was a dificult but loving one. I love how real this whole book felt. Because it felt so real it really grabbed me and I definitely cried over this book.
I think why I connected so much with this story was probably because I myself have dealt with depression and that made it very easy to relate to Aristotle who often felt sad or angry, but didn't know why or how to change it.
The writing style was very simplistic, but beautiful. The chapters were all very short and this really made me want to read on and on, because everytime I would be like 'Oh, let's just read one more chapter, its only a few pages'. I finished the book in two days, eventhough I was really bussy. If it would have been possible I probably would have ended up reading this one in one go.
I really loved Aristotle's snarky humor and when he and Dante were talking it often was very funny. Overal it was a pretty sad read though, but I absolutely loved it! All the characters were flawed but likeable people. They all felt very real and I could easily imagine knowing people like them. After finishing this story I had complete bookhangover. I had no clue what to do next. I was quite surprised that this book impacted me so deeply, because it is not overly dramatic or action packed. I guess this time that's exactly why it impacted me so much, the writer didn't use big word to try and make everything that happened seem more than it really was (what a lot of authors do) but instead used the right words to make it feel real. That's the thing I could keep mentioning, this story felt real.

Also, the book itself is really pretty, I love the cover! (I have a thing for covers with starry skies)

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Review - The Humans by Matt Haig

21265230Genre: science fiction
Pages: 304
Rating: 3,5/5 stars

Summary from Goodreads
The narrator of this tale is no ordinary human—in fact, he’s not human at all. Before he was sent away from the distant planet he calls home, precision and perfection governed his life. He lived in a utopian society where mathematics transformed a people, creating limitless knowledge and immortality.

But all of this is suddenly threatened when an earthly being opens the doorway to the same technology that the alien planet possesses. Cambridge University professor Andrew Martin cracks the Reimann Hypothesis and unknowingly puts himself and his family in grave danger when the narrator is sent to Earth to erase all evidence of the solution and kill anyone who has seen the proof. The only catch: the alien has no idea what he’s up against.

Disgusted by the excess of disease, violence, and family strife he encounters, the narrator struggles to pass undetected long enough to gain access to Andrew’s research. But in picking up the pieces of the professor’s shattered personal life, the narrator sees hope and redemption in the humans’ imperfections and begins to question the very mission that brought him there.

My thoughts
I found writing a review for this book pretty hard, because I had very mixed feelings about it. I had pretty high expectations for this book, but in the beginning it didn't really live up to them. The first 2/3 of the book took me quite a long time to read. I think I expected to much from this book and also I just wasn't in the right mood. The first few pages were very interesting and original, but after that I felt like the narrator went on and on about the weird things humans did. It's not strange that an alien would observe the differences between humans and his own race, but after a while it just started to get a little boring.
I put this book down for two weeks and after that I read the last 100 pages in one go. This time I started to like the book a lot more. This probably had to do with the fact that the main character became more human throughout the story and thus more relatable. In the beginning he didn't really feel any emotions and I personally find it hard to relate to someone who doesn't really feel anything.
Other characters that appear in the story are Isobel Martin, the professors wife, and their son Gulliver. In the beginning they weren't a very big part of the story and for a very long time they seemed very flat characters. In the last 1/3 of the book the story starts to revolve around the relationship of the alien with Isobel and Gulliver a lot more which also made the story a lot more interesting.
There isn't that much that I can say about the beginning of the story because there just wasn't a whole lot going on. The book definitely got better throughout and I ended up really enjoying it.
The descriptions about human life were lovely, especially the ones later on in the story and the book was often quite funny. I loved how the ending of the book was what I was hoping for, while still being realistic. 

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Argentina book haul

A little over a week ago I got back from Argentina. I had an amazing time and met lots of lovely people from all over the world. Ofcourse I also bought some books, seven in total. It was a pain trying to figure out how to pack my suitcase and backpack in a way that they wouldn't surpass the weight limit at the airport, but I managed ;). (Though I did give some books that I had brought to Argentina to one of my housemates there)

The first book that I bought in Córdoba was Harry Potter y la piedra filosofal (Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone) by J.K. Rowling. I read the Dutch translation of this book over and over again so I know the story really well. I always find it a lot easier to read a book in a language that I'm not fluent in if I am familiar with the story. For example I read The Hunger Games in Swedish, after I read the Dutch translation, and that worked out really well. It was easy to keep track of where the story was going and I learned a lot of new Swedish words without constantly having to look them up.
The second book that I bought was Boquitas pintadas (Heartbreak Tango) by Manuel Puig. I bought this book from an older man at a market. He didn't speak any English so I tried to ask in my best Spanish (which was at the time pretty much non existent) if he had any books by an Argentine writer. He had a couple, but recommended me this one because it was one of his favorite authors and this was one of his books that was a little easier to read if you don't speak Spanish very well. It was great to see how passionate this man was about books and I loved how we managed to have a very lengthy conversation despite my lack of Spanish speaking skills. A couple weeks later I saw him again at the same market and bought El Alquimista (The Alchemist) by Paulo Coelho from him.
El Principito (The Little Prince) by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry I bought together with Los Días del Venado (Days of the Deer) by Liliana Bodoc at a bookstore and I planned for them to be the last books that I would buy during my stay. I read The little Prince both in French and in Dutch so I'm familiar with this story as well and it is very easy to read in another language, while still being entertaining. Los Días del Venado is the beginning of a fantasy trilogy by an Argentine writer and I ended up buying the other two books as well (Los Días de la Sobra (Days of the Shadow, not translated into English as far as I know) and Los Días del Fuego (Days of the Fire, not translated into English either as far as I know)). I just loved the cover of the first book and wanted to have them all with matching covers :) .