Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Here’s a book that’s been around a while.  The Handmaid’s Tale was published in 1985 and I’ve been encouraged to read it several times.  Now that I’ve read it, I’m not all that sure what to think.  I did enjoy the book and I do think it was worth reading, it was just not quite what I expected.  I knew the basics of the plot but I didn’t know anything about the writing style.  Of course, it’s hard to anticipate a writing style for an author you’ve never read.  Even so, I was surprised.

The story is about Offred, a handmaid who’s sole purpose is to bear a child for the Commander and his wife.  She once lived a normal life and was married with a little girl.  When the world changed, politics changed, and the rules changed. She was separated from her husband and daughter, forced to enter the life of a handmaid.  Everything was controlled for her, she had no real freedom.  

While I enjoyed the story, I don’t know that I’d recommend it widely.  I’ve read a great deal of dystopian novels lately and I do think that the Handmaid’s Tale may have influenced several of them.  That being said, it’s a difficult story to read because we never truly get into the soul of Offred, not even enough to know her real name.  While I was able to form an image of her before everything changed, it didn’t always translate to the quiet woman that did her duty month after month.  Only towards the end when she was taking a few risks, did I feel like she was a whole person.  The bottom line is that the story is beautifully written and very thought provoking.  It’s worth reading if you haven’t already. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Beach House by James Patterson

The Beach House, by James Patterson, is one of his stand-alone novels that are not a part of any series.  I expected it to be a quick read, like many of his books are, and I was right.  It was quick and somewhat pointless.

Honestly?  I didn’t love the book at all.  I thought the premise was good but the end was pretty ridiculous.  Essentially the story is about a young lawyer trying to find out who killed his younger brother.  He goes to some pretty extreme measures to accomplish this task.  

I complain a good deal about Patterson’s books and yet I do continue to read them.  They are rarely satisfying and yet they keep me occupied when I need something quick to read.  If you are a fan, you might as well read it.  If you haven’t read his books, I wouldn’t start with this one.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan

The Dark and Hollow Places is the third book in a trilogy by Carrie Ryan.  The first book is The Forest of Hands and Teeth.  It’s a fantastic book and I highly recommend it.  The sequel, The Dead Tossed Waves, did not disappoint either and I’ve been anxiously awaiting the third book.  It was worth the wait.

The Dark and Hollow Places takes place pretty soon after the end of The Dead Tossed Waves.  The narrator is Annah, Gabry’s twin sister.  Annah is living in the Dark City by herself, waiting for Elias to return.   While trying to leave the Dark City to make her way back to the forest, in the hopes of finding her sister again, she sees Abigail (now Gabry) passing the other direction.  Annah fights her way back to the city and meets Catcher as well as eventually reuniting with both Elias and Gabry.  The four have to find a way to escape what is left of the Dark City while avoiding both the recruiters and the unconsecrated.  

A good deal of the first two books involve characters trying to make their way through the forest.  I kind of missed that in this book but subway tunnels took the place of the forest paths.  Like the two previous novels, the story moves along at a fast pace and it’s easy to get caught up and sucked in.  I love Ms. Ryan’s writing style and her characters.  There’s always an aspect of hope, despite a hopeless situation.  I know this was supposed to be a three-book series but I wouldn’t complain if there were another!  Or two or three.  I really enjoyed the entire series and I highly recommend all three.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Tail of Emily Windsnap by Liz Kessler

This is another one of those books that I kept seeing over and over but never read.  Maybe it’s because the cover is pretty and that attracted me!  I’m not sure it was one hundred percent worth the wait.  The book is aimed at pre-teens and I think that if I were a ten year old girl, I’d be obsessed with the book and the series.  As I am not a ten year old (although I still act like it occasionally), I found the book to be entertaining but it lacked something.  

The story is about Emily, a twelve year old who lives on a boat with her mother.  Her mother is terrified of water and has never let Emily learn how to swim.  When her school provides swimming lessons, her mother gives in.  Emily is a natural in the water and for good reason.  She’s part mermaid.  The rest of the book follows Emily’s quest to find her father and figure out why her mother can’t remember a thing about him.  

I can’t put my finger on what was missing.  The character of Emily was great, she had a lot of personality.  I’m not sure if it was just too simple for me or what I was looking/hoping for.  Eventually I may get to the rest of the series but not right away.  I am curious as to the island they were referring to.  I would recommend it to girls in the appropriate age range.  I can see my nieces enjoying it when they are older.