Saturday, August 31, 2013

Audio: The Host

I listened to an audio version of The Host written by Stephenie Meyer and read by Kate Reading. The book is set on Earth, where aliens have taken over by entwining themselves with the spinal cords and brains of human host bodies. These aliens (who call themselves souls) are gentle, peaceful creatures (with the exception of seekers) who decided to take over because humans are prone to violence and destruction. The main character and narrator, Wanderer, is one such soul, who has been placed in the body of one of the few human resistance fighters (or really just survivors) left, Melanie. She finds that her host is not going to fade away easily, and so begins the story.

(picture taken from Photobucket; uploaded by allwaysatoffee;
probably a promotional picture from the movie, which I haven't seen)

First Impression: Meyer uses simple language in this book, which was also the case in her Twilight series. Perhaps because she's writing about an alien, or "soul," most of the time, her style seems more appropriate for this type of book. Reading does a very good job varying her voice between characters, especially with the small difference in tone she uses between Wanderer and Melanie. It makes a big difference when they are having conversations internally. There isn't the same "teen drama" as I found in Twilight, so I'm enjoying The Host so far.

Conclusion: I found myself genuinely curious throughout the book as to what might happen to Wanda and Melanie. Will they be separated? Will one of them disappear? Will Wanda fall in love or steal more bodies for her kind? Okay, that last one was a little complicated. But generally, I just found myself curious as I read on. I saw a lot of things coming in this book, mostly because I had so many ideas; one of them was bound to be right. The encouragement of these ideas is what I like in a book such as The Host, so I would consider Meyer successful in that respect. The extraction about 65% of the way through the book is very well done--possibly one of the best parts. I can't be more specific or I'll ruin it, but Meyer shows a great eye for detail in that section of the story. While I'm not sure that I like where that portion ends, I think it is more true to Wanda's character because of my non-agreement. I find the emphasis on the body in connection with love very interesting. I don't necessarily agree that the body has such a strong physical reaction against the mind, but the connection fit in well with the story. I don't think this novel needed to be so long in order to tell Meyer's tale, but it is more well-rounded than the Twilight series, which I hope is a sign that Meyer is maturing as an author. I also think she does better with sci-fi than with dark fantasy. Maybe it's the higher ratio of science to drama. Anyway, this book saved Meyer as an author that I might read in the future. I'll probably read the next one she writes.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

P&P Challenge: Darcy's Story

Darcy's Story by Janet Aylmer is the story of Pride and Prejudice told in third-person limited from Mr. Darcy's point-of-view. I'm not going to cover the story for you again, but this version starts a little before the original and ends at the same time as the original.

(sketch of Mr. Darcy taken from Photobucket;
uploaded by paranoia_rebirth 5)
paranoia_rebirth5;taken from Photobucket

First Impression: It's impossible for me to read Darcy's Story without comparing it to Mr. Darcy's Diary by Amanda Grange, since both books are based upon the same premise and I read Grange's novel in April. While Grange's story is written in diary form, Aylmer's novel is written in the third person. I prefer this so far, because she isn't taking as many liberties with Pride and Prejudice as Grange does. However, this also means that she's being a little less creative with the story. Maybe that will change as the story goes on. I like the relationships that Darcy has with his friends and family in this one. There is plenty of background without comments that might change Austen's characters too much from their original form. I'm enjoying this book so far. I definitely think that this challenge is helping me to not be so critical of sequels and re-interpretations of classics that I love.

Conclusion: Aylmer does a great job not revealing more than Darcy would know at each point. Darcy notices that Elizabeth refers to Wickham in a friendly way, for instance, but he hasn't seen them together a lot and doesn't suspect a strong attachment. Also, he is completely blindsided when Elizabeth rejects his proposal, which is to be expected. Darcy's relationship with Georgiana seems very well-executed to me as well. He has taken care of her in the past as a father, but Aylmer makes a very smooth transition for Darcy from the role of a father to the role of a caring older brother. Instead of treating his sister like a child, Darcy begins to see her as a young woman--someone who still needs guidance but should be allowed to make some decisions on her own. Georgiana, in turn, becomes Darcy's closest confidante on matters of the heart. Overall, I really enjoyed this. I think Aylmer did a great job reflecting Darcy's character without assuming too much about his emotions and actions beyond Austen's intentions.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Book Talk: North and South

This will be an experiment! For a while (possibly a couple of years, but we're trying to find a way to speed it up) my friend, Jenny, and I will be reading North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell.

 (the Elizabeth Gaskell Window in Poets' Corner
of Westminster Abbey; picture taken from The Gaskell
Society webpage)

We're each going to read two chapters or so a week and have a regular correspondence on them. If you read my review of Two Guys Read Jane Austen, that book is my inspiration for this idea. We'll be reading the book at the same time, discussing about every two chapters at a time, and I'll be posting slightly edited versions of our conversations here. I encourage you to read along with us if you're interested! I'd also like to warn you now about spoilers to come. Usually, I try not to ruin books for those of you who have yet to read them, but since this discussion will be much more in-depth, I won't be able to do that. Each of these posts will be clearly labeled as spoilers in the title for those of you who would like to avoid them. I'm going to link back to this post with each chapter post as well, so you can just refer to this one if you prefer. I've been trying to think of more ideas for this blog, and I'm really excited about this--I hope you all are, too!

Bitsy View: Bedtime

Dr. Seuss's Sleep Book by Dr. Seuss   
     --Summary: Creatures everywhere are going to sleep.
     --Writing Style: rhyming sentences
     --Highlight: "Speaking of dreaming, / I think you should note / That the Bumble-Tub Club is now dreaming afloat."
     --Afterthought: As with all of Seuss's books, this is very cute, with lots of fun creatures that don't actually exist. I think it's great for the imagination right before you go to bed--inspire those dreams!

Pajama Time! by Sandra Boynton     
     --Summary: Various animals are singing and doing the pajama dance as they get ready for bed.
     --Writing Style: rhyming song/chant
     --Highlight: "Pajammy to the left. Pajammy to the right. (Jamma jamma jamma jamma P! J!)"
     --Afterthought: This is currently my son's favorite bedtime story. It gets that last energy burst out with a pajama dance, and then he is ready to sleep.

Clifford's Bedtime Story by Norman Bridwell    
     --Summary: Emily Elizabeth helps Clifford get ready for bed.
     --Writing Style: short sentences
     --Highlight: Clifford falls asleep while Emily Elizabeth reads a story, and he dreams about saving a girl (who looks like Emily Elizabeth) from a castle.
     --Afterthought: This is a simply enjoyable bedtime story. The pictures are not intricate, but they are bright enough to attract attention and fun for any Clifford fan.