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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Book Review: 1984

Title: 1984

Author: George Orwell

Genre: Negative Utopian

Book Blurb: 
While 1984 has come and gone, Orwell's narrative is more timely that ever. 1984 presents a "negative utopia", that is at once a startling and haunting vision of the world — so powerful that it's completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the power of this novel, its hold on the imaginations of entire generations of readers, or the resiliency of its admonitions — a legacy that seems to grow, not lessen, with the passage of time

So I've done it.  I've finally read the book which answers my question: "Where does the Big Brother reference stem from?" (Not that I was forced to read this book or anything *wink wink nudge nudge cough cough school*  But all silliness aside, this book honestly wasn't exactly wasn't what I expected--it wasn't bad (surprisingly easy to read), the plot and characters just wasn't what I was expecting.

Set in a "negative utopia" (clearly this book was written before the whole "dystopian" phase of 2012-13--not that I have anything against the genre--in fact, it's one of my favorites,) Orwell paints a very grim and futuristic America (well, not futuristic any more consider 1984 passed 30 years ago.)

And here's the thing: I found the setting quite interesting and terrifying and I liked how the main character was an outlier compared to the rest of the people. There were a lot of quotable quotes as well.  But that ending. That ending.  Utter disappointment.

Let me backtrack a bit.

I was rooting for Winston, the protagonist, from the beginning to fight the system.  I was so happy when he met 2 other people who were also against the system, one who happens to induct him into the Brotherhood, the underground movement against the Party (aka the bad guys.)  But then he gets betrayed and gets thrown into prison. And this is where everything goes downhill. 

***Spoiler Alert***

Winston gets brainwashed into loving Big Brother and the Party. Quite literally the last sentence--"He loved big brother" (Orwell, last page of the 1984).  How depressing is that? (By the way, be sure to check out my Why Are High School Reading Books Depressing? discussion.)  I mean, you spend the past 200+ pages cheering along the character to stay strong and not breakdown--but he gets defeated by the Party anyways and even betrays the love of his life.

If there was a sequel to this book, I might have been okay with that because there is hope for Winston to redeem himself--but there is no sequel (unless somebody wants to write one? Any takers?) and I closed the book with a bitter taste in my mouth.

Guess I am a happily-ever-after person.

I would recommend this book if you want something that discusses a serious/grim topic (definitely do not read this if you want a light hearted read!)  It's still an interesting book and I'm glad I've read it.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Book Review+Giveaway: Gypsy

Title: Gypsy

Author: Trisha Leigh

Genre: YA Sci-Fi

Reviewer: Aly

Book Blurb: 
Inconsequential: not important or significant.
Synonyms: insignificant, unimportant, nonessential, irrelevant
In the world of genetic mutation, Gypsy’s talent of knowing a person’s age of death is considered a failure. Her peers, the other Cavies, have powers that range from curdling a blood still in the vein to being able to overhear a conversation taking place three miles away, but when they’re taken from the sanctuary where they grew up and forced into the real world, Gypsy, with her all-but-invisible gift, is the one with the advantage.
The only one who’s safe, if the world finds out what they can do.
When the Cavies are attacked and inoculated with an unidentified virus, that illusion is shattered. Whatever was attached to the virus causes their abilities to change. Grow. In some cases, to escape their control.
Gypsy dreamed of normal high school, normal friends, a normal life, for years. Instead, the Cavies are sucked under a sea of government intrigue, weaponized genetic mutation, and crushing secrets that will reframe everything they’ve ever been told about how their “talents” came to be in the first place.
When they find out one of their own has been appropriated by the government, mistreated and forced to run dangerous missions, their desire for information becomes a pressing need. With only a series of guesses about their origins, the path to the truth becomes quickly littered with friends, enemies, and in the end, the Cavies ability to trust anyone at all.

At first I didn’t see the differences that the synopsis of the book made me expect. And this was good. It gave you a few pages to get used to viewing them as humans before seeing them as different. Otherwise I have a strong feeling that we might have looked at them at freaks much as society would view them if their powers ever came out. It was great to get a small break to get to know them before knowing for sure that they were different and in what ways they were different. Admittedly some of their powers did scare me because who really wants to know when they die? And that’s just one of the powers that’s a little less scary than others.

Until we were given a description of Gypsy’s power, and how exactly she sees the age that the person will die, I imagined it as something like the clocks above people’s head in Nickelback’s Savin’ Me video. But then were given a more concrete description of her gift and I could imagine it as the author probably sees it.

There were several facts that I didn’t clue into until it was brought up in discussions or by characters. For instance, I didn’t realize that none of them have mothers still alive until it was brought up by Gypsy. It made it a lot harder to guess what’s significant and what’s not. Which added to the fun of trying to figure things out. 

Gypsy also brought up the difficult question of who the good guys and bad guys were. Most times in real life it can be hard to determine who has good intentions and who has bad, and Gypsy reflects this. It was one thing I loved and disliked about the book. It made things more realistic but it also made things difficult at the same time. It made things more challenging. 

And then there was the ending. Major cliffhanger. I have to say that I was not happy to have that sort of ending. But only because I wanted to know what happened. 

Gypsy was a realistic, if different read. 


Buy the Book:

About the Author
Trisha Leigh is a product of the Midwest, which means it’s pop, not soda, garage sales, not tag sales, and you guys as opposed to y’all. Most of the time. She’s been writing seriously for five years now, and has published 4 young adult novels and 4 new adult novels (under her pen name Lyla Payne). Her favorite things, in no particular order, include: reading, Game of Thrones, Hershey’s kisses, reading, her dogs (Yoda and Jilly), summer, movies, reading, Jude Law, coffee, and rewatching WB series from the 90’s-00’s.

Her family is made up of farmers and/or almost rock stars from Iowa, people who numerous, loud, full of love, and the kind of people that make the world better. Trisha tries her best to honor them, and the lessons they’ve taught, through characters and stories—made up, of course, but true enough in their way. 

Trisha is the author of The Last Year series and the Whitman University books. She’s represented by Kathleen Rushall at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. 

Author links:

Be sure to enter the giveaway below! (US and Canada only, please)

Monday, August 25, 2014

Book Review: The Healer

Title: The Healer

Author: Jeffrey G. Roberts

Genre: Sci-Fi

Reviewer: Aly

Book Blurb: 
Imagine you're a doctor in 2181, on sabbatical on Mars to research the extinct Martians, deep within the titanic Face on Mars. Now imagine - using Martian technology - you've traveled to Alaska 168 years in the past to solve a baffling medical mystery. But, before returning home, terrorists have destroyed the only means to return to 2181 Mars. You're now marooned in 2013! How will you survive - and risk healing the sick - using 22nd century science?

The first chapter was a bit confusing, but only because you had to get used to the writing style. Once you were a bit more familiar with the style of writing it became much easier to read and understand. 

The idea behind the book was also amazing. I really liked the plot and it held enough problems to make the story seem realistic while not being all about the problems.

We were also given the history of the Mars exploration as well as some of our character's personal past. It gives us a chance to explore the world that the author has created. While we were given extensive background and it helps to establish characters, organisations and the history of earth. This was good, but it did also take a while. Sometimes I found it frustrating as I wanted to jump right into the plot of the book.

There were religious aspects but they didn't dominate the book. They fueled the conflict for the most part. 

While we were following the main character for the most part, we also are given a glimpse into the wife of the main character. Which was very good because we were allowed to see her motives for destroying the only method of return for her husband. And while it was partially her own fault, she also wasn't the only one to blame. It was a fascinating read, and I enjoyed the chapters following Linda.

The Healer is also chock full of moral debates. It was intriguing and thought-provoking to read all of these difficult decisions that the characters faced and trying to determine what you would have done and if you believed the main characters actions to be correct. Then there were the implications of the actions of a time traveler and how he changed his own future as well as the future of the world.

The Healer is a great read if you enjoy time travel romances, and space travel.