Sunday, November 26, 2017

Fahrenheit 451: By Ray Bradbury

Hey readers, happy thanksgiving! I can't wait to share with you the latest book I have read. I started and finished this one in one night, so I suggest you see what it is about and pick it up yourself!

This dystopian novel is appropriate and should be read by those of all ages. I do not want to give too much away, so I will make this short and sweet.

The protagonist: a firefighter.

Now I know what you are thinking, firefighters put out fires and save lives. However, in this backwards world set in the distant future they instigate fires in order to burn books, and even end up killing people occasionally along the way. Montag, the firefighter, has little concept of the wrongs he is committing, and has little to no knowledge of what a book even is.  All he knows is that books are illegal in this dystopian society.

Montag lives in a society where thinking is something no one does and people walk around like zombies without feeling. They watch TV and go on "joy rides" in their cars in order to feel anything at all. When Montag meets a 17 year old girl names Clarisse, his eyes are opened to the world around him and the events to follow are that of a thriller (to me at least).

In today's society where people are constantly absorbed in their screens, this book is more than applicable. We go about our lives in our screens with little thought to the world around us, turning into zombies without emotions or original thought, just like in the novel. This cautionary tale about the loss of knowledge and human curiosity is one that is just as applicable as it was when Bradbury wrote it.

I suggest this quick read to those of all ages. Even if someone young does not have the deeper understanding of the book yet, I think that it is a book one can reread (I know I will).

Enjoy and happy holidays :)

Your Friend,
Rae Sparks

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Turtles all the Way Down: By John Green

Hey readers! So I have been waiting for a new John Green book, and I am happy I found this one! It just came out in October and I got some flashbacks of younger me reading his books like Paper Towns or The Fault in Our Stars.  This book is perfect for my younger readers and even teen ones as well! Although this book is very different than any other John Green book I have encountered, it still has the John Green charm and genius.

What I really enjoyed about this book is the three "plots" that are interwoven throughout; a love story, a depiction of mental illness and a mystery.

The Love Story:  You have your typical John Green love story. Aza and Davis. Davis is the son of a millionaire and has his own complicated life. While Aza ...well I will explain in the paragraphs to follow.

Depiction of mental illness:  You also have something not typical of John Green novels. John Green deals with the painful reality of people living with mental illness. Aza has OCD and constantly describes how she is "spiraling" into a mess of thoughts and emotions that she cannot control. Green really included the raw truth of what many have to live with, and he did not only include the good parts.  This is what made the story real and an honest portrayal - something needed for young adults.

Your mystery.  My not so favorite subplot. Davis's father has disappeared and a reward of $100,000 is offered. Aza wants the money to pay for college and she and her good friend Daisy are determined to solve the mystery.

I did like Aza as a character, mostly because I loved how real she was, however, I could not seem to wrap my head around the Davis-Aza love saga. It seemed so superficial to me. Maybe I am getting a bit old for these tween novels but I found their relationship unrealistic. Although this book included texting (which is needed because teens communicate via their phones all day, everyday these days), I found the texting philosophical and not at all how I have seen any teenager behave.

While the premise of this book was really great, I found that the three subplots, although intriguing, made the overall plot seem as if it was stretched out too thin and failed to make much of an emotional impact on me. Without the big mystery of the father, not much of the story would be lost at all in my opinion and I think the story would be better without it.

My message is contradictory though. I loved how real the book was with mental illness, yet I hated how fake it was with the love story. Loved Green's seemingly new style, yet also found it kind of annoying and not as predictable as expected. Overall, by my standards I would give it a "fine" or a "please read it but don't expect your mind to be blown". It definitely passed the time and John Green is always an interesting and easy read to pick up in your free time.

But as I said the mental health portrayal in this book was honest and I found it to be the best part of the book. Well done John Green. Kudos to you.

I hope you guys enjoy this new Green novel! I know I (kind of) did.

Your Friend,
Rae Sparks

Thursday, September 21, 2017

A Clockwork Orange: By Anthony Burgess

Hey readers! I am sorry it has been a while since my last post! I had a busy summer, but I am back with an amazing book! This classic, A Clockwork Orange, is one that cannot be beat. It has definitely made my top 5. This book, however, is not for my tween crowd but ventures on the teen and adult side.

Written in 1962 Burgess portrayed a dystopian society in which everything is run by the state. The totalitarian society's rigid rules leave little room for freedom.

Alex, the protagonist, uses the little human freedom he has to engage in two things: violence and classical music. Although a seemingly juxtaposing pair, they are quite similar in Alex's mind.

Alex, the egotistic, brutal, violent and overall awful human being spends each night going out with his 'droogs' or friends committing horrible acts of terror from rape to robbery and even murder.

Although seemingly graphic, the book is written in Burgess's made up language "Nasdat".

The language was definitely the coolest thing about the book. In the beginning, just warning you, it is hard to understand what is going on because you have to get used to a new language. The slang of the Nasdat language has some similar sounding words to that of English, however, it takes concentration to become "fluent" in Nasdat. For that reason it is hard to fully understand the violent acts Alex is committing.

After the first few chapters though I found myself understanding the narration, and being in complete shock. The violence-packed book is masked by the language which really helps you take a step back from it all. SO if you are not interested in violence I still recommend you give it a try, because you may not even realize what is going on!

 In a world where the state thinks taking away one's humanity is better than having free will, Alex gets sucked into the system and spit right out.

You think you would feel bad for such a terrible human but guess what? You don't! It is exactly the opposite. You will find yourself feeling sympathy and even wondering what is wrong with other people, but not Alex! You will be confused on who the victim truly is, and what is the crime.

After reading this book I began to ask myself if this was really where our society was heading. Not only was I entertained and intrigued to keep reading (and maybe even a second reading), but I found it weird and mind-blowing that I was able to pick up another language so quickly by just reading this book. Do not be discouraged though, not every word is in this made up language.

Overall...READ IT. You won't regret it. Apparently there is also a movie, but don't go for the movie until you have read the book...please.

Your friend,
Rae Sparks