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January Book Reviews

Hmm so I decided to do book reviews for the books I read each month. Does anyone care? Probably not, but that's not going to stop me ^.^ All summaries from amazon.com, covers from the interwebs.



Title: The Cherry Orchard
Author: Anton Chekhov
Genre: play, drama
Rating: 4/5
Summary: Anton Chekhov was a master whose daring work revolutionized theatre. Robert Burstein declared that “there are none who bring the drama to a higher realization of its human role.” In The Cherry Orchard, his last full-length play, an impoverished landowning family is unable to face the fact that their estate is about to be auctioned off. Lopakhin, a local merchant, presents numerous options to save it, including cutting down their prized cherry orchard. But the family is stricken with denial. The Cherry Orchard charts the precipitous descent of a wealthy family and in the process creates a bold meditation on social change and bourgeois materialism.
My thoughts: This was the play my group picked for a project at school. We picked it mostly because it was Russian but weren't really expecting much. I loved it though! The characters were entertaining and sometimes frustrating, but overall very believable. There isn't much plot, but the storyline still manages to hold it's own, which is a major accomplishment in my eyes. My teacher thinks it isn't relevant any more and teenagers won't like it, but I think the financial and emotional hardships portrayed in the play are very relevant and it was an excellent play overall. I would love to see if performed on stage one day.



Title: Going Bovine
Author: Libba Bray
Genre: YA, fantasy, adventure, humor
Rating: 5/5
Summary: In this ambitious novel, Cameron, a 16-year-old slacker whose somewhat dysfunctional family has just about given up on him, as perhaps he himself has, when his diagnosis of Creutzfeldt-Jacob, "mad cow" disease, reunites them, if too late. The heart of the story, though, is a hallucinatory—or is it?—quest with many parallels to the hopeless but inspirational efforts of Don Quixote, about whom Cameron had been reading before his illness. Just like the crazy—or was he?—Spaniard, Cam is motivated to go on a journey by a sort of Dulcinea. His pink-haired, white-winged version goes by Dulcie and leads him to take up arms against the Dark Wizard and fire giants that attack him intermittently, and to find a missing Dr. X, who can both help save the world and cure him. Cameron's Sancho is a Mexican-American dwarf, game-master hypochondriac he met in the pot smokers' bathroom at school who later turns up as his hospital roommate. Bray blends in a hearty dose of satire on the road trip as Cameron leaves his Texas deathbed—or does he?—to battle evil forces with a legendary jazz horn player, to escape the evil clutches of a happiness cult, to experiment with cloistered scientists trying to solve the mysteries of the universe, and to save a yard gnome embodying a Viking god from the clutches of the materialistic, fame-obsessed MTV-culture clones who shun individual thought. It's a trip worth taking, though meandering and message-driven at times. Some teens may check out before Cameron makes it to his final destination, but many will enjoy asking themselves the questions both deep and shallow that pop up along the way.
My thoughts: This was what the Literary Club I'm in chose as our December read (and I didn't actually read it until January XD). It looked to be a good book, but a few reviews I read had a few negative comments, especially about the length, so I wasn't too sure. It turned out to be really good though! The characters are amazingly dynamic and their adventures are hilarious and exciting. It was perhaps a bit long and drawn out, but I enjoyed every adventure and wouldn't take out any of them. I had the ending spoiled for me (by my own choice, no less XD), so I wasn't surprised, but it still made me cry and laugh (not at the same time). I would definitely recommend it to anyone who like a long, funny, awesome book.



Title:
The Turn of the Screw
Author: Henry James
Genre: novella, psychological fiction
Rating: 1/5
Summary: One of the world's most famous ghost stories, the tale is told mostly through the journal of a governess and depicts her struggle to save her two young charges from the demonic influence of the eerie apparitions of two former servants in the household. The story inspired critical debate over the question of the "reality" of the ghosts and of James's intentions. James himself, in his preface to volume XII of The Novels and Tales of Henry James, called the tale a "fable" and said that he did not specify details of the ghosts' evil deeds because he wanted readers to supply their own vision of terror.
My thoughts: Another school read. I only actually read the first few chapters then skimmed and read the Spark Notes for the rest. I found it really dull, long winded, and generally lame. It's a famous ghost story, so I was expecting a bit of horror and I was sorely disappointed. The characters were boring and creepy (and not in a good way) and the plot (what little there was) was stagnant. The ambiguity and "suspense" were frustrating and pointless. I was very much disappointed with this "classic." The discussion after class brought up some interesting theories and generally made it sound more interesting than I had found it. I may try reading it again some day.

Comments

Too bad the last one was disappointing, I've been wanting to read it.
Yea, it was a shame. But a few other people in my class like it (it's a classic so I suppose someone at some point liked it XD), so you might enjoy it, who knows.
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