Posted in Blog Posts, Read Me

IT, by Stephen King: a Novel Review

Synopsis:

Jumping between the past and the present, the Losers Club has been tasked with defeating a strange force that has caused the local children of Derry, Maine to hallucinate, have incredibly terrifying nightmares and to even go missing.

When Bill Denbrough begins to have nightmares of a mysterious figure, often taking the shape of a clown with a red balloon, things begin to go sideways in his life. His younger brother Georgie is found dead…his arms ripped from his body… when he goes out to play in the rain. Bill begins to realize that the creature in his dreams is what has caused Georgie’s death.

As his small group of friends spend the summer doing what kids do they join together over these nightmares, which have been plaguing all of them. When they discover the cause they do everything in their power to end it.

Ans things seem to have gone well, the creature appearing to disappear.

That is until another sting of vicious child deaths occur in Derry. The Losers Club must face all of their fears, and look into the face of IT again… this time will they defeat the alien force and come out alive? Or will they have to sacrifice everything they hold sacred to save the children of Derry, Maine?

General Information:

-Genre: Psychological Thriller, Horror

-Author: Stephen King

-Number of Pages: 1,138 pages

-Main Characters: Bill Denbrough, Ben Hanscom, Bev (Beverly) Marsh, Richie Tozier, Eddie Kaspbrak, Mike Hanlon, Stan Uris, Pennywise/IT, Henry Bowers, Vic Criss, Belch Huggins, Patrick Hockstetter, Peter Gordon, Moose Sadler, Gard Jagermeister, Georgie Denbrough, Eddie Corcoran, Adrien Mellon, Will Hanlon

-Where to Read: support local booksellers (many can order items that may not be in stock), get or rent the audiobook (on something like Audible or Libby), or look for it at your local library!

-Page of Reference in RP1: 63

Review (contains spoilers):

I just honestly can not with this book. It is WAY too long. You could cut about 400 pages out of the middle and it would be the same story.

There are so many moments in this novel where I feel like King was just putting stuff in to be disgusting. It wasn’t scary… it wasn’t terrifying. It was just disgusting.

This is one of the books I absolutely cannot stand. It is full of homophobia, misogyny, excessive abuse particularly sexual and abuse towards children. And most of the descriptions of these items ARE NOT NECESSARY to build the characters or move the story forward. It is just signature King.

As I have read more of his works I am finding that there is a consistent and excessive need to add in sexual encounters and moments that do nothing to the plot, often come out of no where, and are often incredibly degrading to women.

This books is no different.

The movie (particularly the newer two part film duology) are BEYOND better than this 1100 page novel. I wish I could get the 45 hours of my life back that I listened to the audiobook. Thankfully I was able to do other productive things while listening.

Do not recommend.

Rating:

Rating: 1 out of 5.
Posted in Blog Posts, Read Me

Misery, by Stephen King: a Novel Review

Synopsis:

Paul Sheldon is a prolific writer.  He is most famous for his Victorian-era romance novel series: Misery.  The problem is…he hates writing it.  He has passion projects that he would rather be spending time writing (though they often do not even net HALF of what a single Misery installment brings in).  As his final installment of the series, Misery’s Child, is released in which he FINALLY kills off his dreaded main character Paul takes a break to write a new crime novel: Fast Cars.

As he finishes the manuscript in the small town of Sidewinder, Colorado, Paul decides to celebrate with some champagne and a long drive…deciding that he should take his ’74 Camaro to Los Angeles instead of flying back to his empty apartment in New York, recently vacated by yet another ex-wife.

Fate has other plans as a snowstorm pops up outside of the small town and causes Paul to crash on the side of the road.  When he awakes its in a strange environment.  A small room with nothing other than a bed, a side table….and he doesn’t recognize any of it.  When Annie Wilkes comes into the room things go from odd to plain weird. 

It turns out Annie saved him from the wreck.  And being a nurse she has first hand experience, and the resources to take care of Paul as he recovers from his incredibly destroyed legs…but is she really there to take care of him?  Or is something about this “number one fan” even more sinister than what is first presented when Annie brings him back from the brink of death?

General Information:

-Genre: Psychological Thriller, Horror

-Author: Stephen King

-Number of Pages/Words: around 420 pages,

-Main Characters: Paul Sheldon, Annie Wilkes

-Where to Read: support local booksellers (many can order items that may not be in stock), get or rent the audiobook (on something like Audible or Libby), or look for it at your local library!

-Page of Reference in RP1:

Review (contains spoilers):

So I’ve seen the movie a lot and now I’ve read a few of Stephen King’s novels…and I can honestly say this: Stephen King is much better on film.

Maybe its because my imagination (while very clear and my inner eye can create basically anything) knows that it doesn’t have to with books) has decided it doesn’t need to animate what is going on in the novels.  Or maybe it’s the way the prose is written…the books just aren’t’ scarry.

Misery has a few ick moments in it but I didn’t find myself worried or scared.  Honesty the false ending where Paul imagines Annie as having escaped the police and showing up at his apartment to kill him with the same ax she uses to chop off his foot was way worse and would have been a better ending in my opinion that the “everything is fine” ending that was written for Paul.

Overall,

 the book was fine.  It wasn’t too long.  The action was fine.  The depiction of the mental illness that Annie displayed defiantly fit more of the knowledge and views that were known about in the 1980s when the novel was written and published.  There were some slightly misogynistic moments and Annie (while overweight, isolated and mentally ill) was described in a way that was disparaging when all the things she is aren’t necessarily negative traits.  Her being an Angel of Death however was discovered in a very interesting way.

It wasn’t the worst thing I’ve read.  And it wasn’t the best.  The movie is better in my opinion which for me isn’t a common view…usually the books are way better.

Review:

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Posted in Blog Posts, Read Me

Jurassic Park, by Michael Crichton: a Novel Review

Synopsis:

There have been a series of mysterious animal attacks in Costa Rica.  No one can figure out just what is causing them.  Including the attack that left a worker on a nearby construction project dying and another that left a young girl at the edge of death from a severe allergic reaction. 

Meanwhile, paleontologist Alan Grant and paleobotanist Ellie Sattler are contacted by another scientist about the attacks.  They hope the pair may be able to confirm or deny that one of the attacks was made by a Procompsognathus, a long extinct chicken like dinosaur that walked and attacked on two hind legs often in large packs.  Before they are able to work on the identification, they are whisked off by billionaire John Hammond to visit his latest project- a unique biologic nature preserve that will be full of animals that no one has ever seen before.

Located on an island…off the coast of Costa Rica.

When the pair, Hammond, his company lawyer, and a chaos theorist Ian Malcom, arrive at the preserve and are joined by Hammond’s grandchildren, they are presented with what is actually going on at Isla Nublar.  The Park is extremely unique.  So unique in fact the animals have been extinct for millions of years.  The name of this zoo, preserve, biological project and theme park?

Jurassic Park.

Featuring a variety of sweet as well as highly dangerous genetically recreated dinosaurs, the concept seems incredible and awe inspiring….that is until a storm blows in and the entire island is thrown into the dark.  What happens to the island when all the electricity is out?  What will the dinosaurs do?  And will they all make it out alive?

General Information:

-Genre: Science-Fiction

-Author: Michael Crichton

-Number of Pages: 448

-Main Characters: Alan Grant, Ellie Sattler, John Hammond, Ian Malcolm, Donald Gennaro, Tim and Alexis ‘Lex’ Murphy, John Arnold, Henry Wu, Robert Muldoon, Ed Regis, Gerry Harding, Dennis Nedry, Lewis Dodgson

-Where to Read: support local booksellers (many can order items that may not be in stock) or look for it at your local library! If you love audiobooks, you can find it on Audible (with subscription) or on library apps like Libby (to borrow it from your library).

-Page of Reference in RP1: 62

Review (contains spoilers):

I am so glad I finally read this book!  I was so scared of reading it.  I have had a lot of issues in the past with both adult literature and straight science-fiction stories but this one was absolutely stunning.

Michael Crichton is able to explain complex science concepts without being condescending while simultaneously mixing it with character and world development.  The result is a complex and witty narrative that is nonetheless accessible to most readers.

I fell in love with this book.  It is multi-layered and diverse with relationships that have more depth and compassion than what we got to see in the film adaptation.  The characters are funny, witty, snappy, sarcastic, narcissistic, and often full of themselves, sometimes with good reason.

And the world.

The step-by-step walk through of how the park was built, how the dinosaurs were created, their genetic defects and a variety of other details would have been clunky and difficult to read in another author’s hands but Crichton handles all of it with a grace that gives even the most under educated reader the chance to not only understand but to also enjoy.  I am not into biology but have a decent head for chemistry but the ideas behind genetic manipulation are far beyond me.  Crichton made it not only accessible but also make sense without the reader feeling inadequate or stupid.

The habitats, the animals, the rides…the theme park…they are all described with an incredible awe as if you were actually there not reading about an imaginary land that doesn’t exist.

Its just a beautifully written novel and one that I can highly recommend.  I literally picked the second novel right up after finishing the first and was honestly disappointed that there wasn’t a third novel in the series.

I’m even thinking of reading more of Crichton’s works like Congo.  This one was just that good.

Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Posted in Blog Posts, Read Me

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams: a Novel Review

Synopsis:

Arthur Dent is having a very bad day.  His home in West Country, England is set to be bulldozed to make way for a bypass…which will run right through his home. As he lays in front of the bulldozer his friend, Ford Prefect, shows up and drags him away to the pub.

He explains that Arthur’s house being torn down is the least of his worries as the entire Earth will be destroyed in about 12 minutes.  When a group of aliens show up in Earth’s atmosphere they announce that Earth is to be destroyed to make way for an intergalactic hyperspace expressway…or…a bypass.

As the Earth is destroyed Ford hitches a ride on one of the ships bringing Arthur along for the ride giving him a copy of The Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy to help him handle the strange new world he has been thrown into.

Afterall, it has great advice written right on the cover in big friendly letters: Don’t Panic.

General Information:

-Genre: Science-Fiction, Comedy

-Author: Douglas Adams

-Number of Pages:

-Main Characters: Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect, Zaphd Beeblebrox, Patricia “Trillian” McMillian, Marvin

-Where to Read: support local booksellers (many can order items that may not be in stock) or look for it at your local library! If you love audiobooks, you can find it on Audible (with subscription) or on library apps like Libby (to borrow it from your library).

-Page of Reference in RP1: 49

Review (contains spoilers):

So maybe I just need comedy with my science-fiction…because this book is so much fun and so easy to get through.  Douglas Adams doesn’t even try to explain the science behind anything. Not really.  Its just assumed that it exists.

Because in a world where a book with the words “Don’t Panic” on it in big friendly letters outselling every other book in the UNIVERSE….honestly, anything is possible.

The world is wonderfully diverse and detailed without anything actually being described in excessive detail.  Adams has a way of getting the picture of things across in the action and how the characters see the world.  We don’t get long winded descriptions of how the world or ships they are on look unless it has some sort of humorous reasoning.  What we do get are conversations that brand new whales have before they hit the ground and are no more.  Or what the dolphins did before they left earth.

Or the fact that the Earth was created as a computer program to find the question to the answer of the life, the universe, and everything…which is 42.

The characters are snarky and egotistical, irritating and absolutely human.  Guide is one of those books where even if you don’t love a character (like Zaphod and his idiotic ego) you still WANT to know what is going to happen to them.  That is really hard to do for an author.  Its hard to write characters that are neither villain nor hero yet still are interesting and full of depth and that the reader wants to keep hearing about.

Adams achieves this in every single page.

I’m so glad I revisited this story when I was older (more around the age of Arthur and Trillian).  I don’t think I found the books as enlightening and hilarious as I do now when I was a teenager.  There is just a level of life experience that you need to have to really appreciate these books.

I’m so excited to read the rest of the series again!

Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Posted in Blog Posts, Read Me

2010: Odyssey Two, created by Arthur C. Clarke: a Novel Review

Synopsis:

The Discovery One’s mission to Jupiter ended in failure.  None of the crew was recovered and the ship was left to float in space for nine years.

Now a joint Soviet-American crew including Heywood Floyd are on the Alexei Lenov are on a mission to investigate what happened on that earlier mission…and what exactly the odd black monolith that was in orbit around the planet had (if anything) to do with the failed mission.

While the American ship, the Discovery Two, is sent to investigate it is the Soviet ship that is quicker due to a new engine drive that will allow for higher speeds.  So Floyd is sent along with the Soviet crew to revisit the issues on his last mission.

However, when a Chinese space station rockets out of the orbit of Earth on a trajectory to Jupiter too the mission is thrown into disarray.

What were the Chinese thinking with the speed they were going?  Is it going to be a one way trip, or will they be able to refuel with the water on Europa?  And how do the black monoliths figure into everything that seems to be going on with these space excursions?  Are they friend, or foe?

General Information:

-Genre: Science-Fiction

-Author: Arthur C. Clarke

-Number of Pages: 290

-Main Characters: Dr. Heywood Floyd, Dr. Walter Curnow, Dr. Sivasubramanian Chandrasegarampillai (Dr. Chandra), Captain Tatiana “Tanya” Orlova, Dr. Vasili Orlov, Dr. Maxim Brailovsky, Surgeon Commander Katerina Rudenko, Dr. Alexander “Sasha” Kovalev, Dr. Nikolai Ternovsky, Zenia Marchenko, HAL 9000

-Where to Read: support local booksellers (many can order items that may not be in stock) or look for it at your local library! Also available on Audible if you enjoy audiobooks!

-Page of Reference in RP1: 107

Review (contains spoilers):

Ok…so this one just seemed weird.

There is a lot of underlying tension in it between America, the Soviet Union and China…which ill chalk up to the fact that it was written just as the Cold War was coming to one of its peaks…

There is some very odd stuff with the monoliths eating Jupiter…not really sure what that was all about…and honestly I’ve never been great with the allusions in science-fiction.  I struggle to see what the bigger idea is. To me its really just what is on the page.

A new star is created, the Discovery One is destroyed…HAL is given a second life for all of its help.  And there is new life on Europa. We do get to see how they are beginning to advance.  It felt like a decent parallel to how we saw 2001 start with prehistoric humankind.

Overall, it’s a decently good science-fiction story.  For me it really just was hard to get through, but I do chalk that up to the fact that I struggle with pure-science fiction novels (where as I love science-fantasy novels and almost every piece of science-fiction film I’ve ever gotten my hands on…no idea why the books are a struggle).

I can say I enjoyed 2001 quite a bit more.  And this one more than the other two books in the “trilogy”…but more on that in a bit.

Review:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Posted in Blog Posts, Read Me

2001: a Space Odyssey, created by Arthur C. Clarke at the request of Stanley Kubrick: a Novel Review

Synopsis:

In the prehistoric African plains, a strange alien monolith appears amongst the early humanoids. As it reaches out to study the primitive lifeforms they learn more and more, progressing to the point of using very primitive tools.  When the monolith has learned what it sets out to, it disappears, along with many others, leaving in its wake a more advanced civilization-one on its path to intelligence and survival.

In 1999, Dr. Heywood Floyd is needed on Clavius Base to review an electromagnetic disturbance.  When they investigate a large black monolith is found, its appearance and creation hinting intelligent origins.

The Discovery One is sent to Saturn with most of the crew put into stasis.  The ship is run by two humans: Dr. David Bowman and Dr. Frank Poole.  They are assisted by HAL 9000- an artificial intelligence that is extremely human in attitude and manner.

As the ship continues on its journey into the vastness of space HAL begins to report malfunctions to various parts of the ship…many of which are not occurring.  The problem is HAL refuses to admit that his diagnosis was wrong.  While trying to fix the issues Bowman and Poole discover that more might be going on that they realize.  What happens when your supercomputer might be trying to kill you?  And what are these odd monolithic structures doing popping up all over the globe?

General Information:

-Genre: Science-Fiction

-Author: created by Arthur C. Clarke at the request of Stanley Kubrick

-Number of Pages: 221/224

-Main Characters: Moon-Watcher, Dr. Heywood Floyd, David Bowman/Star Child, Frank Poole, HAL-9000

-Where to Read: support local booksellers (many can order items that may not be in stock) or look for it at your local library! Also available on Audible if you enjoy audiobooks!

-Page of Reference in RP1: 107

Review (contains spoilers):

Honestly not my favorite book, but I was fascinated with the story that was told at the beginning of the copy of the book I read.  It was a foreward with Arthur C. Clarke himself where he discussed how the story came together in the first place.

Usually when I am reviewing movies that are based off of a book it is a struggle to review whichever one I am less familiar with.  In this case I had seen the film of 2001: A Space Odyssey several times before.  It is classic science-fiction and is often recommended as one of the top 100 sci-fi films that you should watch in your lifetime.

As I read through the book (well, honestly, listened to the audiobook because multi-tasking for the win!), I was fascinated by how closely the book followed the film.  Like eerily close.  This is super common in a lot of older films that I’ve experienced based off of a written material verses but this particular novel/film pairing was basically the same save the book goes to Jupiter and the movie goes to Saturn…other than that they are identical.

So I went back and read the forward.  I’m terrible and usually skip it because it often doesn’t add much to the enjoyment of the book for me.  If I’m interested in what the author or the publisher or whoever put together the publication thought was important enough to add in something of the sort then I’ll go back.

I’m glad I did.  It changed a lot of my perspective on this book.

Apparently, the film and the book were basically written together.  In fact the novel is basically just the screenplay…but since Stanley Kubrick knew that Arthur C. Clarke would  be bored writing a screenplay he asked Clarke to write a book instead when Kubrick approached him asking if they could collaborate on a science-fiction story.

While that doesn’t change how I feel about the writing (pretty much the same I feel about most adult and/or straight science-fiction novels-what can I say they aren’t my cup of tea), or the plot (quite long and drawn out…and it was really hard to see the connection and why it started in the prehistoric era…), or even the ending (why is Star Child even a thing???)… it did give me some insight into why the two things were so insanely similar.

My opinion on the book:  if you are a hard-core science-fiction lover, read it, you’ll probably love it or at least enjoy seeing where a lot of modern sci-fi stories, ideas and storytelling come from.  If you aren’t a hard core sci-fi novel lover….just watch the movie…its literally the same thing.

Oh, and I did enjoy the audiobook if that is your jam. The narrator had a pleasant voice to listen to.

Review:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.