Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
I picked this book up from the Barnes and Noble “must reads” sections. It was stacked next to 1984, A Clockwork Orange, and Beloved. Therefore, I expected a high-quality story from Ishiguro; and that is what I got.
Before I read books, I usually go through the top reviews on Goodreads so I know what I’m getting myself into. For Never Let Me go, all of the reviews say that it’s better to start this book without knowing any plot background or spoilers. This was a little irritating, especially because the story begins without explaining anything to the reader. Now, I’m very glad I had no idea what this book was about because it probably would have ruined it for me.
Therefore, I am not going to give this novel a full review. I gave it 4.5/5 stars and really enjoyed it. The book is quite short and makes for an easy read that can even be finished in about 2 sittings. I understand why this book was put in a section with “classics” and am happy to have it on my shelf at home.
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams
Rating: 4/5 stars
I have no idea how to start a plot summary for this book. If you’ve read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, then you know how unique Adam’s train of thought is. Unlike his other series, this book does actually have a continuous plot that was fairly easy to follow. The main storyline follows a man named Robert, who the police believe murdered his boss. Robert finds himself asking Dirk Gently and his “holistic detective agency” for help to prove him innocent. Dirk, while trying to help Robert, believes there is much more to this case than a simple misunderstanding. He’s set off to find the answer to life. Also, there is an electric monk stranded in the desert and I have no idea why his tangent storyline was included in the book…
I didn’t enjoy this book for the plot. I found it boring and easy to skim. What I did like was trying to understand how Douglas Adams’ brain works. He has the most unconventional ways of describing things and his sentences sometimes seem like the plugged a bunch of words into a “random sentence generator” and pressed enter.
It’s hard for me to compare anything to The HItchhiker’s Guide, because it is my all-time favorite series. Like I said, this book certainly has a more tangible plot than the other, but I don’t think it was as fun to read for that very reason. None of the characters are particularly likable, which adds to my mere 4 star rating. I do own the second book in this series and may give it a try next month. Both of my Dirk Gently books are vintage edition which, for some reason, makes me more inclined to read them.
In the Blood of the Greeks by Mary D. Brooks
Rating: 5/5 stars
*I was approved to review this book on NetGalley and received an e-book copy*
“Am I going to Hell?”
“For what? Breaking a promise that you couldn’t possibly be able to keep? You can’t control your heart, Eva…I also don’t believe in Hell.”
Zoe is growing up in Greece during World War II while her town of Larissa is taken over by the Nazis. Her hatred for the Germans grows daily, as she has lost family and friends to the war. Eva, a German girl in her early 20’s, moves into Larissa with her father, a powerful Nazi leader. Zoe reluctantly becomes Eva’s maid in hopes of taking down the Germans from the inside. Zoe and Eva, despite their differences, develop a unique friendship and eventually growing feelings for each other. Already been through conversion therapy once, Eva is reluctant to begin another relationship with a female. Still, the two find it hard to deny their mutual attraction.
Yes, yes, yes!! This is one of the best LGBT young adult books I’ve ever read. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this novel to any young girl (or woman) trying to explore her feelings and sexuality. This book put such a positive spin on coming out as gay and self-acceptance that many lesbians struggle with. Books like this give me hope that F/F relationships will become more mainstream in YA fiction.
I really loved both main characters and found that switching between their POVs was helpful in understanding their thought processes. Zoe is 14, the appropriate age for women to marry in Greece, but still very much a child. She is naive in the best ways, seeing nothing wrong with her feelings towards Eva and embracing herself. As a result of losing so many loved ones and experiencing death everywhere around her, Zoe grows into a fearless young adult. She was such a pleasure to get to know.
Eva, on the other hand, broke my heart. I read her narration as someone suffering from PTSD (due to past trauma and conversion therapy). Her inward struggles display themselves physically and mentally and it was so sad to see that through her words. Eva starts off as a shell of a person who once played against the rules and develops into a character who is learning to love again (with Zoe’s help). Although Eva’s mental conversation was less exciting than Zoe’s, I enjoyed reading her’s a little bit more.
I’m so thankful that I was approved to receive and review a copy of this book. I look forward to reading the next few books in the series!
Adulthood Rites by Octavia Butler (Xenogenesis book #2)
Rating: 4/5 stars
“The Human Contradiction again. The Contradiction, it was more often called among Oankali. Intelligence and hierarchical behavior. It was fascinating, seductive, and lethal. It had brought Humans to their final war”
Earth was nearly destroyed in a war until the Oankali came to save the planet and inhabit it themselves. Slowly, they are unfreezing humans to live and breed among the alien species. Lilith gives birth to the first male human/Oankali construct, whose name is Akin. Before Akin can even learn to walk, he is snatched by human “resisters”–humans that refuse to be treated and bred like animals by the Oankali. He grows up in a strictly human village and stripped of his contact with his Oankali family and friends. There Akin learns that the humans yearn to be able to raise families made up of only human DNA. Akin must choose between staying true to his Oankali genes, or fighting for a life for the human race.
Although this book is a sequel to Dawn, it can almost be read by itself if the reader is given a little background information. Dawn it told in Lilith’s point of view while Adulthood Rites is narrated by Akin.
I don’t want to spoil the first book for anyone, so this review will contain more opinions than plot critique. I wish I had liked this book more. Dawn, in my opinion, is one of the best sci-fi novels I’ve ever read. I was so excited for the sequel to live up to it; but maybe my expectations were set too high. It was interesting to read this book from a child’s point of view, knowing that he is a biased narrator yet believing everything he says. Butler does a great job painting the conflict that Akin feels between his split human and alien DNA.
I find it amusing that this series is categorized as “horror”. I almost didn’t start it because I was scared it would be too disturbing/horrific. “Post apocalyptic” is definitely a better genre, but it is irking to read about humans used as gene material and treated like animals by alien beings who have tentacles growing out of their bodies.
If you’re looking for a good adult sci-fi read, I definitely recommend trying this trilogy out. I look forward to (hopefully) reading the third book this month. I have a habit of putting off the last books of series and end up never finishing them.
Voice of Innocence by Lindsay Detwiler
Rating: 5/5 stars
“Life, as I’ve learned, fails to be a concrete, concise package that can easily be wrapped up and contained. Life is full of messy, unpredictable circumstances that test not only our characters, but the people around us as well.”
I was given an e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Corbin and Emma meet on the first day of their sophomore year art class. Emma stumbles with her words and is embarrassingly uncreative, while Corbin dreams of attending an art school after graduation. The two are seemingly opposites, but soon find themselves completing each other. Corbin brings out the fun in Emma–he takes her out sledding on snow days and adventures in the woods. Emma helps Corbin heal and overcome the hardships in his life. They are a perfect couple, but their world gets torn apart with Corbin is convicted of murder. Corbin is innocent, but is sentenced to a life behind bars. 28 years later, evidence of the real killer arises and Corbin is set free. Where does that leave him and Emma?
This book tore me apart. I was so excited for Emma and Corbin’s journey through their first love. I enjoyed the innocent passion they felt for each other. Every step in their relationship made me smile. Somehow, at the same time, this book ripped my heart out and crushed it.
It’s so hard to think of a life that could have been, but was unjustly stopped short. No one can say who had it worse– Corbin behind bars or Emma having to give up on the life planned out ahead of her. I was sad for both of them and was in a bad mood for half of my time spent reading this book. I wondered why I was feeling so upset a few days ago, and realized it was because Corbin and Emma were in a fight. Lindsay Detwiler certainly has a way of capturing the reader and pulling them into her world.
This was a quick read, but a great one. It’s full of angst and I loved it!
Lately, I’ve been finding myself re-reading old books instead of picking up new ones. It’s a weird kind of reading slump and the reason for my lack of reviews. Here’s a short list of books I keep coming back to over the years!
1. 1984 by George Orwell
I just re-read this book last week! It was my 5th time reading it since I first bought it in 2009 for my freshman year summer reading. I definitely didn’t fully understand Orwell’s intentions until the second or third time I read it. I just bought a vintage copy of this book that I plan on never touching/ruining. 🙂
2. The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
This has to be my all-time favorite books. I usually only re-read portions of this book–my copy is all marked up and I can easily find my favorite quotes/parts. I really, really relate with Holden and cherish all 3 copies of The Catcher in the Rye that I own.
3. Second Glance by Jodi Picoult
This was one of the first Jodi Picoult books that I read and I completely fell in love with her writing style (no matter how repetitive it can get). I wish this book was known to more people! It’s one of the best, and only, adult paranormal novels that I’ve read.
4. The Odyssey by Homer
I’m a classics minor, so this is a must-read for me almost every semester at school. Even before then, I was required to read it 2 times in high school and ended up reading it multiple times for fun. I find something new in Homer’s poetry every time I pick it up. I think what I love most about Homer is that you find the same ideals found in The Odyssey and The Illiad throughout almost every modern novel. Even though it was written/spoken in 800 BC, The Odyssey still lives on in literature from all time periods. I think that’s so cool.
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Rating: 5/5 stars
This illustrated autobiography follows the childhood of Marjane Satrapi, a girl growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. At age 10, she’s already decided that she wants to become the next prophet when she grows up. She has nightly chats with God and diligently researches political theory. Marjane lives in a time when her relatives are put in jail for protesting and friends abruptly move to the USA. Marjane sees political heroes all around her and strives to become one too.
This memoir/graphic novel is fantastic. It’s the first book I’ve read in a while that invoked emotion inside of me. I wanted to cry when it was over. There are many ways to tell the story of the Islamic Revolution, but through the eyes of a child is very unique. Marjane is definitely a bias narrator, but it’s interesting to see what the chaos was like for a 10-14 year old girl during that time.
Marjane finds comfort in religion and political theory, which makes up a good portion of the memoir. The ideas of Marx, Ghandi, and other political leaders are discussed (and some in depth). I found this really educational; It’s amazing that Marjane developed an interest in these studies at such a young age.
Overall, this was a very quick but phenomenal read. I think I have to go back and re-read it, as I didn’t take the time to appreciate the illustrations. I look forward to reading the sequel which, I believe, takes place in Marjane’s adulthood.