The Martian

Author: Andy Weir

Pages: 369The_Martian_2014

Genre: Sci-fi, fiction, comedy

I’m stranded on Mars.

I have no way to communicate with Earth. If the Oxygenator breaks down, I’ll suffocate. If the Water Reclaimer breaks down, I’ll die of thirst. If the Habitat breaches, I’ll just kind of explode.

If none of those things happen, I’ll eventually run out of food and starve to death.

I’m screwed.

Thoughts: This review’s been a little time in the coming, but it’s finally here. I saw The Martian as a movie first, and really enjoyed it. I then learned there was a book, and needed to read it. And, I think the movie did a very good job of portraying the characters, and the storyline. Basically, for anyone who hasn’t read or seen it, the Ares 3 crew landed on Mars, but had to abort their mission early, due to an unexpected storm. On their way over to the MAV (their ride home), Mark Watney is hit by flying debris and whisked away by the wind. The rest of the crew, thinking him dead, and under strict orders to leave, have no choice but to leave him there. But Mark did not die, and is now stranded on Mars. It was a really fun read, that made me laugh out loud many, many times, while also conveying enough worry for me to be on the edge of my seat.

“Actually, I was the very lowest ranked member of the crew. I would only be “in command” if I were the only remaining person.”
What do you know? I’m in command”
― Andy WeirThe Martian

From the opening line, I got Mark Watney’s character down pat. He has a very recognisable way of speaking… Like this! All the time!! With heaps of funny lines that will definitely be quoted! And he narrates most of the book. It does sound like it would get a bit tiresome after a while, but not for me. I really enjoyed reading it. The other parts of the book were either around NASA (on Earth), or the rest of the Ares 3 crew, (who are still on their way back to Earth). I really liked their parts, because all the characters were so developed, and had certain ways of acting. They seemed like real people, who I really would’ve liked to meet. There was just something satisfying about their conversations and the way they interacted with another, made smooth through Weir’s way with words. These chunks of the book broke up Watney’s, which is possibly why I didn’t get too tired of it. The only thing that could’ve made it better, is more of these parts, because I really, really enjoyed them.

“He’s stuck out there. He thinks he’s totally alone and that we all gave up on him. What kind of effect does that have on a man’s psychology?” He turned back to Venkat. “I wonder what he’s thinking right now.”

LOG ENTRY: SOL 61 How come Aquaman can control whales? They’re mammals! Makes no sense.”
― Andy WeirThe Martian

An aspect of The Martian that really amazes me, is the amount of research that went into it. There are crazy amounts of maths formulas involved, as Watney’s trying to figure out how to survive. On top of that, just general NASA knowledge, and terminology, like the Hab, the MAV, and EVA, and as well as that, the solutions to his major issues, for example growing food, repairing the oxygenator, or communicating with Earth. So yes, there was a lot of research that went into the book, so it would seem more realistic and plausible. And apparently, most of what he wrote was largely correct. (Not that I went through and checked everything. That would have taken forever) Which leads me to my next point: There was a lot of it. A lot of rambling on about ‘how this would mean that this thing has to be changed, which would affect that, and that cannot be changed, so scrap that idea, and form a new one.’ It’s written as if an astronaut had written it, which is essentially what it was meant to be, but I’m not going to lie. After the first few chapters, once it got to these parts, I would just skim over it, and then start reading properly when it finished. It wasn’t like it was badly written, it would just jumble everything up, and I couldn’t keep up. I appreciate the sheer amount of research that went into it, and feel like it wouldn’t have been the same book without all the realistic factors, but it just got a bit too much.

“Yes, of course duct tape works in a near-vacuum. Duct tape works anywhere. Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped.”
― Andy WeirThe Martian

It is not the amazingly-written book I’ve read, but the genre and style of story it is didn’t need it to be. It’s meant to be a collection on Watney’s thoughts as he logs his survival on Mars. This means it isn’t perfect English, there are jokes everywhere, he makes up names for people and things (kilowatt-hour per sol later becomes known as a ‘pirate-ninja’), and there are lots of short and jumbled sentences. It helps if you read it as if he was actually speaking it, which much easier if you’ve seen the movie.

“If ruining the only religious icon I have leaves me vulnerable to Martian vampires, I’ll have to risk it.”
― Andy WeirThe Martian

Sorry if all these quotes are annoying, I really love them all!! I had to narrow it down just for the review. Essentially, the best part was the continuous humour. Slightly unrealistic at times, but still, enough things went wrong that it still seemed plausible. It was a good, fun, easy read that I think everyone would enjoy. (although: language warning) To sum up, there were developed characters, who were all fun to read about, a thrilling story that had lots of ups and downs, it was very well researched, and the writing was light and easy. Also, did I mention, hilarious!!

“If a hiker gets lost in the mountains, people will coordinate a search. If a train crashes, people will line up to give blood. If an earthquake levels a city, people all over the world will send emergency supplies. This is so fundamentally hum
an that it’s found in every culture without exception. Yes, there are assholes who just don’t care, but they’re massively outnumbered by the people who do.”
― Andy WeirThe Martian

Rating: star_rating_4_of_5

Advertisements

Six of Crows

Author: Leigh Bardugosix-of-crows

Pages: 465

Genre: young adult, adventure, fantasy,

Criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker has been offered wealth beyond his wildest dreams. But to claim it, he’ll have to pull off a seemingly impossible heist:

Break into the notorious Ice Court
(a military stronghold that has never been breached)

Retrieve a hostage
(who could unleash magical havoc on the world)

Survive long enough to collect his reward
(and spend it)

Kaz needs a crew desperate enough to take on this suicide mission and dangerous enough to get the job done – and he knows exactly who: six of the deadliest outcasts the city has to offer. Together, they just might be unstoppable – if they don’t kill each other first.


Thoughts: I’ve wanted to read this book for so long, but when I finally got around to opening it to the first page, I did get a little afraid. There are so many good reviews and recommendations around this duology that I started to get swept up in its awesomeness before I’d even read it. And when I did start reading it, I finally started to wonder if it was that great… But I needn’t have worried!! It was amazing! I loved every second of it.

“Jesper knocking his head against the hull and cast his eyes heavenward. “Fine. But if Pekka Rollins kills us all, I’m going to get Wylan’s ghost to teach my ghost how to play the flute just so that I can annoy the hell out of your ghost.”

Brekker’s lips quirked. “I’ll just hire Matthias’ ghost to kick your ghost’s ass.”

“My ghost won’t associate with your ghost,” Matthias said primly, and then wondered if the sea air was rotting his brain.”
― Leigh BardugoSix of Crows

So, I haven’t read a young adult fantasy series in a while, at least not an amazing one. I’ve been trying to read different types of genres, and have read a few contemporary types recently. But this duology has hooked me right back in again. As I said before – so good, and so addictive!!! I think I’d forgotten how well a story can hook me in, and force me to read it every second of every day, which is basically what I did. Forget about study and exams –pffft, let’s figure out how Kaz Brekker pulled off his impossible heist.

From just about the first page, I was in love with the characters, and this was one of the few books where I didn’t mind the multiple points of view. I found every single character was exciting and interesting, and couldn’t wait for the next chapter of theirs once it was over. Leigh Bardugo described each of them so well, and gave them each a little unique metaphorical trait, and so she could introduce them without even having to say their name. The world she created was just so real that I almost felt as if I went on the adventure with them. And it’s been a while since that’s happened to me, so I’m more than a little obsessed right now.

“Always hit where the mark isn’t looking”

“Who’s Mark?” asked Wylan.”
― Leigh BardugoSix of Crows

Then there’s the humour – buckets of it streaming from the pages. While most of the book had quite a scary, serious outlook (remember they are planning and initiating an impossible heist), the easy-going banter and chat from each of the characters was hilarious. I laughed and snorted at the ridiculous, or sarcastic jokes they made about each other, and with each other. Even now, scenes are replaying in my head, and I can remember most of what all of them say. It’s definitely as if I travelled with them, because it’s like I know them all personally.

“No Mourners.
No Funerals.”
― Leigh BardugoSix of Crows

One thing I did note while reading was how the author backfilled in for the characters when we weren’t expecting it, and transitioned between the now and the past so smoothly that a lot of the time it wasn’t until I was right in the middle that I noticed. We are left quite in the dark at the beginning of the book, and it’s written so we can understand what’s happening, but are still curious why certain things are happening. For example, the group’s leader, Kaz Brekker, always wears gloves, and never takes them off until he is alone. This was one of the many mysteries that were revealed as the book went on, in the backfilling. Leigh Bardugo has found parts in her story, and matched up parallels of a point in that character’s past, and then has made the connection there, meaning it flows smoothly. And after a while, I began to realise she did this almost every chapter. And by the end of the book, we knew a whole lot more about each of the crew, sometimes without even remembering that we’d learnt it.

To finish, I’m just going to say that if you want to find yourself a good, fast-paced read, then this is most definitely the series for you. I feel sorry for the people who read Six of Crows before Crooked Kingdom was released, because I needed that next book when I finished. After finishing Crooked Kingdom as well now, while it resolved and everything, I find myself wishing for another one, just so I can hear from the characters again. *Sigh* Oh well, I’ll just have to find another book. Shouldn’t be too hard…

Rating: star_rating_4-5_of_5

A Wrinkle in Time (Time Quintet #1)

Author: Madeleine L’EngleA Wrinkle in Time

Pages: 211

Genre: fiction, sci-fi, children, classic, fantasy, young adult

It was a dark and stormy night;

Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger. 

“Wild nights are my glory,” the unearthly stranger told them. “I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me be on my way. Speaking of way, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract”.

Meg’s father had been experimenting with this fifth dimension of time travel when he mysteriously disappeared. Now the time has come for Meg, her friend Calvin, and Charles Wallace to rescue him. But can they outwit the forces of evil they will encounter on their heart-stopping journey through space?


Thoughts: Ever since I read this book years and years ago, I remembered it as one of my favourites, until the other day, when I realised that I couldn’t actually remember why I loved it. I’d forgotten everything about it, except that I had enjoyed reading it. So, after I finished my last book, I straight away picked this one up, and finished it overnight. And, it is just as good as I remember. The strange storyline, and the peculiar, though lovable characters soon all came back to me, and I can still say that A Wrinkle in Time is one of my favourite classic books.

“It was a dark and stormy night.”
― Madeleine L’EngleA Wrinkle in Time

I actually love the fact that the first line is the often mocked, “It was a dark and stormy night” phrase. This was not the first novel to use the line, that award goes to Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s 1830 book, Paul Clifford. But, it does not diminish the quality of book at all. In any case, I’d say it enhances it, because as you read that first line, and then the first page, and amazing writing really hits you with impact. The first paragraph features such wonderful descriptions, that I had to read it out loud a couple of times, to myself and members of my family. It’s just amazing.  And then the story starts.

“Life, with its rules, its obligations, and its freedoms, is like a sonnet: You’re given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself. – Mrs. Whatsit”
― Madeleine L’EngleA Wrinkle in Time

The plot is a very well thought out plot, and you would have to really know what you’re talking about to be able to write it. It’s not a usual fantasy novel, that if you’re creative enough, you can write; it involves quite a bit of science, and of course travelling in time (that is what creates a sci-fi novel), and it’s all mixed together marvellously to create an interesting plot. You would have no idea how it would resolve after reading the first half of the story. It keeps you hidden in the dark all the way through, until the end, which I think is a part of being a well-written novel. If it’s too predictable, then what’s the point in reading it?

“A straight line is not the shortest distance between two points.”
― Madeleine L’EngleA Wrinkle in Time: With Related Readings

I also absolutely adore the characters in A Wrinkle in Time. First off, it features a female lead, which I always enjoy. And it’s not as though Meg (the lead) didn’t have faults; she had quite a few, but there was soooooo much development for her, and this strengthens her even more. I also loved Charles Wallace, Meg’s younger brother, and the voice and input he gave the story. And then who couldn’t love the three Mrs W’s. Mrs Whatsit, the loveable and kind, brings these values to the book. Mrs Who, who was a little stranger, I also liked. She speaks mainly in quotes, which I grew to like from her, and then there was the even stranger Mrs Which. She is the more philosophical guardian of Meg and her brother. I feel like all the characters involved all had a purpose in the book. They weren’t just for show, or were meaningless. They were all there for a reason, so there was no rambling on about things we didn’t need to know. This also means that I loved all of them, because there isn’t too many of them.

“Have you ever tried to get to your feet with a sprained dignity?”
― Madeleine L’EngleA Wrinkle in Time

In general, I think everyone should have the chance to read A Wrinkle in Time. It’s written well, it has amazing descriptions, is fast-paced if you don’t like slow books, and it has a lovely feel to it. It is written so children can read it, so older people could find it a little young, or not for them, but I loved it. It’s also only the first book in the Time Quintet, which I did not realise until about three days ago, so I must get around to reading the other four. I don’t think you need to though, as it does finish alright. There is a bit of a cliff-hanger, but I think the complication of this book is resolved nicely.

Rating: 5-start

Fool’s Assassin

Author: Robin Hobb fools assassin.jpg

Pages: 688

Genre: Epic fantasy, fiction, magic, adventure

Tom Badgerlock has been living peaceably in the manor house at Withywoods with his beloved wife Molly these many years, the estate a reward to his family for loyal service to the crown.

But behind the facade of respectable middle-age lies a turbulent and violent past. For Tom Badgerlock is actually FitzChivalry Farseer, bastard scion of the Farseer line, convicted user of Beast-magic, and assassin. A man who has risked much for his king and lost more…

Then one Winterfest night a messenger arrives to seek out Fitz, but mysteriously disappears, leaving nothing but a blood-trail. What was the message? Who was the sender? And what has happened to the messenger?

Suddenly Fitz’s violent old life erupts into the peace of his new world, and nothing and no one is safe.

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19288321-fool-s-assassin


Thoughts: I’ve had this book waiting on my shelf for ages now, and finally decided to try it this week. Having not read any Robin Hobb before, (I probably should have, seeing as this is like the 4th series in the collection, but did I know that when I started? Nope) Anyway, it was a vast world that had been created, and I really look forward to reading more in the series, and the rest of the Realms of the Elderings.

“That, I think, is the shock of any relationship ending. It is realizing that what is still an ongoing relationship to someone is, for the other person, something finished and done with.”
― Robin HobbFool’s Assassin

When I began, I will admit, it was difficult to really get into the story. I think maybe it would have made more sense if I had read the books before it, but to me, it was just a jumble of names, and their relationships with other names. Especially the prologue. I was so confused as to what was going on, but, having read other giant fantasy series before, like Lord of the Rings and Eragon, I knew this was a sign of an intricate world that I would get to know. And get to know it, I did. After the first few chapters, I was getting really into it, and found it hard to put down.

“I will always take your part, Bee. Right or wrong. That is why you must always take care to be right, lest you make your father a fool.”
― Robin HobbFool’s Assassin

I did find that I was sort of just reading, and absorbing the words, and nothing was actually happening, but weirdly, I still felt compelled to read it. Really, most of Fool’s Assassin is just a recount of Fitz, Molly, and their household’s life. And with any other book, wouldn’t this be really boring? I don’t know whether their lives were just exciting, or it was a clever way of slowly building tension, up until about the last 3 chapters. And then everything happens. I found myself hunched over trying to read faster than I actually could, cramming the last pages in as I found out what happens finally. And then it finished. Aaaand I don’t have the next book!! Note to self: Do not start an exciting series, when you only have the one book. Not a good idea. Until I get the next one, I’ll just have to distract myself with some others.

“Time is an unkind teacher, delivering lessons that we learn far too late for them to be useful. Years after I could have benefited from them, the insights come to me.”
― Robin HobbFool’s Assassin

But, as I was saying, it is not a usual story structure, I can’t actually pick the part where the tension starts, and then where the climax is, or whether it really ends at all. It’s sort of all one big complication.

“You’ll do well, if you don’t mire in self-pity. Self-pity only gets you more of the same. Don’t waste time on it.”
― Robin HobbFool’s Assassin

Before I give too much away now, let’s talk about something else. The language used was really clever, for example when Fitz talks about his ‘cub’. Before this book begins, Fitz is part of an inseparable group of friends, one of them being his Wolf, Nighteyes. Nighteyes is long dead in this book, but his spirit still comes through in Fitz when someone needs protecting, and his mannerisms become more wolf-ish. I really enjoyed this aspect.

I didn’t particularly like how many times he stuffs up, and had a few face-palm moments on Fitz’s behalf. After the first couple, I got the sense that in some parts of his life (sorry if I’m being a little vague, I’m trying not to spoil it) Fitz was uncomfortable, and of course makes a few mistakes. And then he keeps doing it, and it seemed to take up a large portion of the story, and got a bit repetitive.

For now, I just need the next book so I can find out what happens. Beware, cliffhanger ending!!

Why you should read it: Because it’s the start of what I think is going to be an epic fantasy series, and is also written well, so you can enjoy it. It’s not as slow moving as Lord of the Rings, and also more relatable characters.

Rating: star_rating_4-5_of_5

Through the Zombieglass (White Rabbit Chronicles #2)

Author: Gena Showalterthrough-the-zombie-glass.jpg

Pages: 480

Genre: Young Adult, Zombie, horror, fantasy, paranormal

Zombies stalk the night. Forget blood and brains. These monsters hunger for human souls. Sadly, they’ve got mine…
Alice Bell has lost so much. Family. Friends. A home. She thought she had nothing else to give. She was wrong.
After a new zombie attack, strange things begin to happen to her. Mirrors come to life, and the whispers of the dead assault her ears. But the worst? A terrible darkness blooms inside her, urging her to do very wicked things.
She’s never needed her team of zombie slayers more, but ultra-bad boy Cole Holland, the leader and her boyfriend, suddenly withdraws from her…from everyone. Now, with her best friend Kat at her side, Ali must kill the zombies, uncover Cole’s secret and learn to fight the darkness.
But the clock is ticking…and if she fails at a single task, they’re all doomed.

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15755296-through-the-zombie-glass


Thoughts: I think I may like this book a little too much – more than it deserves. It’s not actually that greatly written, but I’m in love with the characters so much that I like the entire book.

“Do you know the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
“Wrong. That’s the definition of determination.”
― Gena ShowalterThrough the Zombie Glass

My first point is the title – again, meant to be modelled off Lewis Carroll’s Alice and Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. In the last review, I said that Book 1 had very little to do with the original Wonderland story, and that still sticks with Through the Zombieglass – though to a lesser extent. Since a certain zombie attack, Ali Bell has been feeling strange urges, and mirrors have been playing up around her. This sort of alludes to the title of the book. But, that’s about it. So, again, not much better than the last book in the title department.

The storyline or plot is getting a little more detailed than the first book, but at the same time, it seems a bit forced. Yes, I enjoyed reading it, but that was because it was easy to read and exciting. Looking back on it, it does seem a little dramatic in parts. Still, there were some points that were more sincere, and fitted with the storyline better. Really, Through the Zombieglass is a young adult novel that is written well for the audience, including loveable characters, a little romance, and a nice paranormal touch.

“If you don’t get yourself killed tonight, it’ll be because of a miracle.” he said.
“Good thing my middle name is Miracle.”
― Gena ShowalterThrough the Zombie Glass

The one thing I absolutely LOVE in this story is the main group of characters. I really love them, all their easy sarcastic humour between them. Maybe I’m being too harsh on this series, or maybe it’s my love for the characters clouding my judgement. I’m not actually sure. Obviously, this means that it’s not my very favourite book, but I don’t dislike it either. I need to buy the next two in the series to finish it off, and hopefully, after finishing it, I can actually decide. For now, I’m looking forward to the next book.

“Ali Bell doesn’t play hide-and-seek,” Lucas said. “She plays hide-and-pray-I-don’t-find-you.”
Mackenzie smiled. “When Ali Bell gives you the finger, she’s telling you how many seconds you have to live.”
Cole chuckled, saying, “Fear of spiders is arachnophobia, and fear of tight spaces is claustrophobia, but fear of Ali Bell is just called logic.”
“Oh, oh.” Kat clapped excitedly. “There used to be a street named after Ali Bell, but it was changed because nobody crosses Ali Bell and lives. True story.”
― Gena ShowalterThrough the Zombie Glass

Why should you read it: Why should you read this book?? Hmmmmmm, I think, if you like your young adult novels, then you’ll enjoy this, and I would recommend it. It doesn’t have the deep words of literature you’ll find in classics, but then, young adult books usually don’t.

Rating: star_rating_3-5_of_5

Alice in Zombieland (White Rabbit Chronicles #1)

Author: Gena Showalteralice in zombieland.jpg

Pages: 404

Genre: Young Adult, Zombie, horror, fantasy, paranormal

She won’t rest until she’s sent every walking corpse back to its grave. Forever.

If anyone had told Alice Bell that her entire life would change course between one heartbeat and the next, she would have laughed. From blissful to tragic, innocent to ruined? Please. But that’s all it took. One heartbeat. A blink, a breath, a second, and everything she knew and loved was gone.

Her father was right. The monsters are real.

To avenge her family, Ali must learn to fight the undead. To survive, she must learn to trust the baddest of the bad boys, Cole Holland. But Cole has secrets of his own, and if Ali isn’t careful, those secrets might just prove to be more dangerous than the zombies.

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11300302-alice-in-zombieland


Thoughts: So, first review for the year, and I’m starting off with zombies. I’ve never actually been a fan of zombie stories, but was persuaded to try this one, and did enjoy it. I think it’s because the story is about more than just zombies. When I first started it, it did take a little time for me to really get into it, but once Ali (Alice) met the rest of the main characters, I literally could not put it down. Most books, it takes me a few minutes to kind of ‘submerge’ myself back into the story, and then people have to yell to get my attention. For Alice in Zombieland the minute I picked it back up, I was back in La-La-Zombieland.

“I looked around, counting the competition. Sixteen. To win, all I had to do was incapacitate each one, place my hand over their hearts and turn my palm into a flame. Easy.
Yeah right.”
― Gena ShowalterAlice in Zombieland

The two things that really stick out to me after reading it, are both the characters and their sarcasm, and the fast paced storyline. It’s written in Ali’s point of view, and she is forever making snarky little comments about everything (and everyone) around her. Then there’s Kat, who would have to be my favourite character by far, just because of her dialogue. It’s hilarious!! Also, the adults and how they interact with the main group of teens, (especially Ali’s grandparents) are funny as well.

“I’m not trying to—What do teenagers say nowadays?” he asked my grandmother. “Get all up in her biznez,” Nana said. Without cracking a smile. “That’s right,” he replied. “We’re not trying to get all up in your biznez, Ali.”
― Gena ShowalterAlice in Zombieland

On to storyline, and like I said before, there is not a boring moment, apart from the first few chapters at the start. And while this was exciting, and made it a great book for me to read at the time, now that I think about it, there is almost too much going on. Which, I guess, is good for people looking for a fast, young adult story, which I was at the time, but if you aren’t, then it might seem a little silly to you. The characters a little too unrealistic, and their little zombie-killing organisation a bit unconvincing.

And one last thing that confused and frustrated me, was the title. Yes, the main character’s name is Alice, but does she meet interesting people and go on an adventure through a mystical land…? Nope, not at all.

But, let’s not get too negative, because it was a good book, with some very nice aspects as well. There is more in the series, so I’ll read them as soon as possible, and who knows, maybe the Alice in Wonderland theme will make more sense.

Why should you read it: So, it’s not my favourite book, but I did enjoy reading it, and if you enjoy the usual young adult genre, then you’ll like it too. It’s not a deep book, but nice for just some fun, light reading. Just keep in mind, it’s not got anything really, to do with Alice in Wonderland.

Rating:star_rating_3_of_5

Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury

Author: Ray BradburyFahrenheit-451-original-cover.jpeg

Genre: science fiction, classic, dystopia

“Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to burn books, which are forbidden, being the source of all discord and unhappiness. Even so, Montag is unhappy; there is discord in his marriage. Are books hidden in his house? The Mechanical Hound of the Fire Department, armed with a lethal hypodermic, escorted by helicopters, is ready to track down those dissidents who defy society to preserve and read books.”

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17470674-fahrenheit-451


Thoughts:

“It was a pleasure to burn.”
― Ray BradburyFahrenheit 451

This 63-year-old classic is definitely not a disappointment. Ray Bradbury has masterfully crafted this novel, using almost more figurative metaphors than words, to create the dystopian setting and story. The first line (above) is considered one of the most interesting first-liners ever, and I think the whole story can also be added to that category.

“With school turning out more runners, jumpers, racers, tinkerers, grabbers, snatchers, fliers, and swimmers instead of examiners, critics, knowers, and imaginative creators, the word ‘intellectual,’ of course, became the swear word it deserved to be.”
― Ray BradburyFahrenheit 451

While it was quite confusing at the start, the language used and the general setting, did start to make sense after a while. With virtual ‘families’ living in the walls of your house, society eats up the words and news that is delivered to them. Little do they know it was just a pretence to get them all doing and thinking the same thing. And the only people that see this for what it really is, are the few outcasts that haven’t already been killed. The main protagonist, Guy Montag, being among them. The only thing that makes him different, is that he is a fireman, doing the exact job that all of them hate. Once he meets one particular person, and sees one particular thing, Montag realises that he is doing the wrong thing, and Fahrenheit 451 is about his struggle to understand society and let other people understand what is really happening.

“There must be something in books, something we can’t imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don’t stay for nothing.”
― Ray BradburyFahrenheit 451

It is a very interesting book, with a very interesting take on the future of society. The scary thing is, with all the new technology of late, it very nearly could become true. We are starting to rely very heavily on technology, just as the characters in this book do, and if it is taken away from us, we find we can’t function, just as they do as well.

It’s the same with computers becoming ‘smarter’ or more ‘independent’. The earplugs in everyone’s ears in the novel, deliver messages and news to everyone in the city, putting words and thoughts in their mouths and heads, and this doesn’t actually sound too far from the future.

“We need not to be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real?”
― Ray BradburyFahrenheit 451

So, while I don’t think I can say that I enjoyed reading it, it certainly wasn’t a bad book, and it really made me think. It is definitely an amazing book, and very well written, with some very important messages.

“Stuff your eyes with wonder, he said, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.”
― Ray BradburyFahrenheit 451

Why should you read it: I think everyone should read this book, just because it is an important classic that carries a big message behind its words. But, if you’re not one for metaphors, or a dystopian setting, this probably isn’t the most enjoyable book for you.

Rating: I don’t actually think I can rate this one, just because it was so interesting and strange. While I didn’t exactly enjoy it, I don’t think it deserves a low rating, because it is amazingly written and thought out. For a classic, I think I’d have to give it  5 stars, even if I probably wouldn’t read it agin.

Hollow City – Ransom Riggs

Title: Hollow City

hollow_city_novel_coverAuthor: Ransom Riggs

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, photography, Sci-fi, Historical fiction

Thoughts: Just wow… This series just keeps continuing to impress me. The intricate plot line, and character developments, mixed in with vintage photographs, and the overall creepy feeling to this book and its series… I literally could not put this down.

“This second novel begins in 1940, immediately after the first book ended. Having escaped Miss Peregrine’s island by the skin of their teeth, Jacob and his new friends must journey to London, the peculiar capital of the world. Along the way, they encounter new allies, a menagerie of peculiar animals, and other unexpected surprises.”  http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23164983-hollow-city

Still following our main character, Jacob Portman, he and his newly found peculiar friends have to travel to London to help their beloved guardian, Miss Peregrine. Hollow City quite literally starts where the first book left off. It was a very engaging story, and every chapter, I would get to the end, meaning to put it down, and then something else exciting would happen, reeling me back in.

“Strange, I thought, how you can be living your dreams and your nightmares at the very same time.”
― Ransom RiggsHollow City

The storyline, while it can be confusing in parts, is very imaginative. The descriptions of the monstrous Hollowgast were amazing, and I particularly liked this book because of the setting – London. Having been there myself, I could easily picture the landmarks and streets as they passed them, like St Paul’s cathedral, meaning I got a much better feeling of where the Peculiars were. And then to the actual characters themselves. I feel like they’ve all grown so much since the first novel, and I could actually notice the change in them. I began to forget that it had only been like a week since Jacob met them all, and that this novel only took place in the midst of 48 hours. It was crazy. So many things have happened.

For anyone worried about spookiness or creepiness in this series, I wouldn’t hesitate to pick it up. While the pictures add to the overall eerie plot, it was just the right amount of scary for me. Not enough to give me nightmares or anything, but definitely something where I was on the edge of my seat. And again, the vintage looking photos Ransom Riggs has used so effectively, brings this story to life. While there were a few sad ones near the beginning that were a bit hard to look at, they most definitely helped get across the message that he wanted to convey with them, and I really, really love the way that he weaves them into the story so smoothly that sometimes you don’t even notice there’s been a break in words, and suddenly you have the clearest image in your mind of what you’ve just read. I’ve never read any other books that use this method, and I really find it effective.

“Some truths are expressed best in the form of myth.”
― Ransom RiggsHollow City

And now for the big finish!! What a twist! I was fooled the entire way through the book, believing they would get some sort of resolution when… BOOM – twist ending. I did not see it coming at all. And it left me feeling excited for the next book, Library of Souls. Lucky I’ve already got it at home…

I think the only reason why this book could be any better than Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, is that little extra bit of action. This entire book is full to the brim with it, every chapter something new and exciting happening. While in the first book, there was the few introductory paragraphs, setting the scene and characters, and then a few chapters here and there, Hollow City was an explosive book, that kept me engaged the whole time.

“I liked this idea: that peculiarness wasn’t a deficiency, but an abundance; that it wasn’t we who lacked something normals had, but they who lacked peculiarness. That we were more, not less.”
― Ransom RiggsHollow City

Why should read it? Obviously, if you’ve read the first one, definitely go on reading the rest of the series… It’s good. And for anyone who is worried it isn’t their thing, or too creepy, don’t worry. I had the exact same thoughts as I picked the first book up for the first time, and am very, very glad I did. This is one of those books that, if it were known, would be the next big thing. 

Book in a word: Engaging

Rating: Star_rating_4.5_of_5.png

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children #1)

Title: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Childrenmiss peregrine 1: Ransom Riggs

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Photography, sci-fi

Thoughts: This book was definitely a change from my usual readings. Normally, I like a fiction book with a bit of magic, and mystery, but this book was, well, peculiar. That’s not to say I didn’t like it though. It was one of those books that once you pick it up, you can’t put down. Let me set the scene. You’re working your part time job, as you usually do and get a strange call from your grandfather. Now, your grandfather does have crazy fits sometimes, but you think it’s just from fighting in World War Two. Little did you know what you would find when you go and check up on him. Dead in the woods near his house. In his last breath he rambles on about a bird in a loop on the island. This starts a whole chain of events that eventually leads to Jacob, the main character, investigating an old orphanage.

“I used to dream about escaping my ordinary life, but my life was never ordinary. I had simply failed to notice how extraordinary it was.” ― Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

When I first was recommended this book, I looked at the cover and didn’t really like it. I am one to judge a book by its cover, even though I shouldn’t. Then another friend of mine read it, and loved it, so I borrowed it out. And I should’ve done it earlier! I really liked it. The mixture of photography in the fiction made it all the more interesting. In the story, there are photographs found in Jacob’s house and in the old orphanage, and every time one is mentioned, the author puts the actual image after it. This gives you a good picture of what the characters are like and what special abilities they have. I especially look forward to images, and actually have to stop myself from looking forward in the book before I’m finished reading the description.

“Because we weren’t like other people. We were peculiar.”

“Peculiar how?”

“Oh, all sorts of ways,” he said. “There was a girl who could fly, a boy who had bees living inside him, a brother and sister who could lift boulders over their heads.” ― Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Another feature I liked about this book were the characters and plot-line. The storyline of this book is quite complicated, using a type of time travel loop thing, where a person has to walk through the loop and they come back in another time. Then at the end of each day, the loop is reset, so the characters experience the same day every day. September third 1940. This comes to be an important date in the book. When I first opened the book and was introduced to the time loop, I don’t think I was concentrating on the story as well as I could have, meaning I was very confused. When I reached the next part of the book that mentioned the time loop, I had to go back and read what it was. This was one of the only things that I didn’t like about the story. I also liked most of the characters. As they were in the time loop, most of the children are over 50 years old, some over 100. And because of this, some of them use different English or grammar, and some act a little strangely. I also found this feature interesting. Really, this book was quite good, but definitely not my favourite.

“I don’t mean to be rude’ I said, ‘but what are you people?’

‘We’re peculiar,’ he replied, sounding a bit puzzled. ‘Aren’t you?;

‘I don’t know. I don’t think so’

‘That’s a shame.” ― Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Why should you read it: This book is definitely unique, so if you want to read something different, this is the book for you. It mixes photography, young adult fiction, fantasy and even a bit of sci-fi. If you liked Julie Kagawa’s Blood of Eden series, you might like this. Also, there is a bit of mystery and creepiness in the story.

Book in a word: Unique (Peculiar)

Rating: 8½/10