Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Book Seventeen - Amsterdam

Ian McEwan is a man I read so much of throughout A Level but he never ceases to amaze me. 

He is able to punch you in the gut when you least expect it.

He always picks subjects which are contentious and wows you with his ability to lure you into one way of thinking before creating a tense or dramatic situation which questions your way of thinking.

The story focuses mainly on the two of the three lovers of the recently passed Molly Lane. Vernon Halliday, an editor of The Judge newspaper, Clive Linely a composer and The Foreign Secretary Julian Garmony. 

Molly's husband George is a shadow in the background in this story of lies, deception, jealously and revenge. 

All these themes simmer below the surface and make an epic climax as you cannot feel yourself getting close to the characters. 

From a journalist point of views McEwan offers his views on tabloid sensationalism as Vernon holds a timebomb which ultimately ruins the three lovers in one way or another. 

The book won the Booker Prize in 1998 and still rings true in modern times with the discussion of euthanasia as Molly dies a undignified death and others do not want to follow suit.

It is a compelling read and I would most definitely recommend it.  

Rowen's Review

Book Sixteen - Birdsong

It has been a while since I was able to pick up a good fiction book. Unfortunately the works of Politics and History of Journalism beckoned with first year exams. 

So after a long departure I was able to soak up (some) sun and read what is entitled a modern classic. 

Well they were right in a sense, I really enjoyed Faulk's ability to capture the pain and suffering of the soldiers in the trenches. Yet it sometimes felt disjointed jumping from the past to the present just to compare similar plot lines. 

Also even as a huge romantic, I didn't enjoy the love story between Stephen and Isabelle. 

They were drawn together by lust in my opinion as Isabelle's nature is compulsive and leave Stephen alone twice. It is her very underdeveloped sister Jeanne who is there to pick up the pieces. 

This works well as we learn what she is like through Isabelle and how Stephen is able to retain some human qualities despite the miserable surroundings.

The books emotions come from the supporting characters who have good qualities. Wier and Jack are two that you sympathise with as they try to coerce Stephen into giving life another shot.

It is the tragedy and irony of the situations that show that war is not fair. The graphic details also give you a true flavour of the suffering of the men. 

The book leaves you with hope because it finishes in the present day. However you do go through a range of emotions which is what you want to experience in a book.

I am not going to say it is the best book written this century but for it opens a generation to the horrors we hopefully never have to experience.  

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

For Whom the Bell Tolls - Ernest Hemingway

I liked the story in this book. I didn't like the way it was written. I found the language stilted and it had a lot of repetition which I felt was unnecessary . It actually quite disappointed me because I'd heard a lot of good things about the book and as such I had high expectations of it.

I felt that the story, or rather the action within the story, really picked  up during the latter half of the book. It had a better pace and I felt more invested in reading it.

I wish that the romance which took place and was one of the central themes had more background to it. Personally I found the whole situation rather rushed. They met each other and 12 hours later had slept together and were madly in love, it just didn't seem to click. Robert Jordan also seemed to have conflicting views concerning Maria, at times he just wanted to protect her and other times he looked on her as a form of lesser human.

I did feel that the romance, although not quite right, lent some extra depth and emotion, without which it the book would have rung hollow. I also have to say I'm glad that I can assume Robert Jordan died after the end, not because I dislike him, more because it felt right. He wouldn't have made sense in a world where they'd escaped.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

London Fields - Martin Amis

It's taken me a while to write this post. I finished this book about a fortnight ago and even now I'm unsure what I make of it. 

Near the end it drew me in, but throughout the reading of it I struggled against it.  At times, frankly, it bored me.

I didn't like the use of language. Nothing happened, plot-wise, for most of the book. And most of the characters seemed shallow and underdeveloped. 

I felt sorry for many of the characters, each being subtly abused. Mostly I felt sorry for Sam, who thinks he has it all worked out, but he really doesn't.

I'd have liked for more to have happened. To have felt some movement. If the book had been a quarter of the length it was I feel it would have done a much better job of telling the story it had to tell. In and of itself the story was good.

I just didn't like the way it was told. Personal preference I guess.


Clarissa's Review