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Victoria Craven

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Cat Quips (Mini Squares)
Cat Quips (Mini Squares)
by Helen Exley
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The perfect gift for the cat admirer, 3 Feb. 2004
Cat Quips is a compact, yet gloriously funny little book. Each page is beautifully collaged with images of cats by different artists: children’s drawings, pastels, watercolours and cartoons flourish each page, and act as eye candy to the lucky recipitant. The quips themselves vary considerably; there are general observations from members of the public regarding their feline friends, "We have a cat that doesn’t even bother to run after mice. She just lies around waiting for the goldfish bowl to break", and input from various literary greats such as Mark Twain and P G Wodehouse. It was the latter that was responsible for the following contribution: "Cats, as a class, have never completely got over the snootiness caused by the fact that in ancient Egypt they were worshipped as gods."
The book is one to sit down and savour. True, it can be read cover to cover in ten minutes, but if you're an individual who appreciates the ways of your feline companion, this is almost a psychology book - allowing you to glimpse the truth behind your cat's actions in black and white. With varying fonts and colours, Cat Quips is a visual treat, and the hardback cover makes it perfect for slipping in your bag and carrying it around with you, without it getting worn or scuffed. I believe the book captures the true essence of the wonderful creature that is the cat, and although short, it is worth the asking price of four pounds. Other books available along similar lines are 'The Cat and the Tao' (by Kwong Kuen Shan) and 'All I Need to Know I Learned from My Cat' (by Suzy Becker). Curl up on a rainy day, and enjoy this delicious treat.

Rush Hour 2 [VHS] [2001]
Rush Hour 2 [VHS] [2001]
Offered by Discountdiscs-UK : Dispatched daily from the UK.
Price: £4.94

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Get caught up in Rush Hour, 3 Feb. 2004
I was primarily sceptical as to how the cast and crew of the second instalment of Rush Hour planned to equal the success of the original, and whilst it's not quite up to the standard of its predecessor, it's still a worthy sequel.
Following on from where the first film left off, Rush Hour 2 follows LAPD Detective James Carter (motor-mouth Chris Tucker) and his Chinese partner, Chief Inspector Lee (the multi-talented Jackie Chan), as they take a break in Hong Kong. Predictably, the holiday soon takes a turn for the worse, as a building containing two American government workers is blown up, and Carter and Lee are quick to take on the case. As Rush Hour 2 is directed by Brett Ratner (who also directed the first film), it contains many similarities. The numerous subtle parallels include Lee telling Carter to "never touch a Chinese man's CD!" (in just the same tone as Carter informs him to never touch a white man's radio, in the original film), as well as more obvious tie-ins, such as the mass-destruction of a public place (in this case a casino) in the climax of the film. The fight scenes were breath-taking, as was to be expected from Jackie Chan: the two detectives fighting twenty-odd bad guys in the 'Heaven on Earth Massage Parlour', whilst semi-naked was especially amusing, and talking of comedic moments, the scene in which our two heroes are forced to run naked through the streets of Hong Kong was also very funny.
Characters of note in Rush Hour 2 are the scary Hu Li (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon's Zhang Ziyi) and the incredibly camp Versace salesman played by Jeremy Piven. As always, Chris Tucker delivers some brilliant lines, including: CARTER: 'How come you ain't got no black people performing in this casino? We ain't good enough for you?' CASINO BOSS: 'We got Lionel Richie!' CARTER: 'Lionel Richie ain't been black since the Commodores!'
The use of subtitles whilst Inspector Lee and other Chinese characters were conversing in their native language was quite wearing at times, but it was also a source of humour. The occasion when Carter attempted to pick up a couple of Chinese girls by speaking Chinese, and accidentally asking them if they wanted to 'get naked and sacrifice a small goat' was hugely amusing. The outtakes at the end are well worth waiting for too, as we are allowed to see both Tucker and Chan fluffing their lines and performing stunts with some inaccuracy. As I said previously, Rush Hour 2 is a decent sequel - it's not up to the standard of the original, but it contains the same charismatic partnership of the two main characters and the clever plot. It's well worth taking a look, and if you can't get enough of the Rush Hour franchise, there's always Rush Hour 3 to look forward to in 2005.

The Catcher in the Rye
The Catcher in the Rye
by J. D. Salinger
Edition: Paperback

5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Does The Catcher in the Rye deserve its status as a classic?, 1 Feb. 2004
This review is from: The Catcher in the Rye (Paperback)
Upon learning that The Catcher in the Rye had been voted the fifteenth best loved book in the country in the BBC's Big Read extravaganza, I thought it was about time I gave it a read. It is immediately apparent why thousands of people are such fans of the book, and the reason they can relate to the story's hero, Holden Caulfield. Caulfield is a boy in his late teenage years who has recently been expelled from school, and not for the first time, either. Frustrated by his situation, and fed-up of all the 'phonies' around him, it would be fair to say that he feels a certain degree of alienation towards his peers. In fact, only a few chapters into the book, Holden embarks upon a disagreement with one of his school friends, Stradlater, which ends in a scrap. Unable to bring himself to tell his parents that he has been thrown out of school again, Holden checks into a hotel and spends several days meeting up with friends, and dancing and drinking in clubs.
I must admit that I found The Catcher in the Rye rather difficult to get into at first, due to the way in which the main character frequently uses slang, and it was not unusual for a sentence to run on and on when Holden got a bee in his bonnet about something, and could not bring himself to let a subject stop. This was a frequent occurrence, and the word 'goddamn' was often used when he felt aggravated (the word was repeated no less than two hundred times in fact, which is rather impressive, given that the book is only one hundred and ninety pages in length). One aspect of the author's storytelling that I greatly appreciated was the way that during one of Holden's frequent rants, the story would suddenly take an abrupt change of direction, and the reader is allowed to come across a little gem of a sentence: "What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it."
I found the author's decision to set the story in New York rather impressive, as it was frequently apparent to the reader that Holden was incredibly lonely in one of the largest cities in the world, and therefore conveying not only his sense of isolation, but also his struggle to find independence and acceptance against the odds. He is a very impulsive boy, and upon meeting up with one of his female friends for the first time in a number of years, he formulates an outrageous plan for the two of them to run away together: "Here's my idea. How would you like to get the hell out of here? Here's my idea... What we could do is, tomorrow morning we could drive up to Massachusetts and Vermont, and all around there, see. Later on, we could get married or something. Wuddaya say? C'mon! Wuddaya say? Will you do it with me? Please!" This kind of statement is typical of Holden's reckless and irresponsible personality, which although adds to the reader's fondness for him, also enhances the sympathy I felt towards him. This is increased further as the implications of Holden's deteriorating mental state is revealed.
I was curious as to where the title, 'The Catcher in the Rye' originated, and it is revealed in one of the later chapters to be a line from a verse by Scottish poet Robert Burns. J D Salinger wrote the story in serial form between 1945-46, and it was finally released in book form in 1951. This just goes to show that it is significant now as it was fifty years ago. Do not expect an explosive plot from this book, simply a slice of a struggling teenager's life. Its simplicity is one of the reasons it is considered a great novel. I urge you to give it a read.

Voyages Travel Journal (Hit the Road)
Voyages Travel Journal (Hit the Road)
by Beth Nelson
Edition: Spiral-bound

57 of 58 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful journal for holding wonderful memories, 31 Jan. 2004
It was the unusual collage on the front cover that first drew my attention to the Voyages travel journal. The art theme continued on the front and back pages, as a collage of random letters (possibly written by the book’s author/artist, Beth Nelson) are used for decoration. Having found this particular art style very fetching, I was rather disappointed that it did not carry on throughout the entire journal. Instead, the two hundred pages of writing space were collage-free zones. Split into three sections, the first third of pages are reminiscent of the sky, with patches of fluffy white to represent clouds. Running through the middle of each page in faint letters are the words, ‘Nothing but blue skies…’ The pages in the next section are plain white, with a yellow strip through the centre and the words ‘When a day was long…’ The final pages are also plain white, but with a pale green border and the words, ‘Enchanted and very far away…’
The striking blue of the hardback cover reminded me of summer and blue skies (and of course the clear ocean of warm holiday destinations). The elasticated band holds the journal pages together (so they do not flap around in the wind if you happen to be writing outside), and the large envelope attached to the back page allows you to keep any photographs or stray bits of paper in a safe place. The spiral-bound spine is also very attractive and practical, should you have limited space in which to work.
Although the Voyages Travel Journal contains plenty of space in which to write down your thoughts, I thought the asking price of was too expensive. There are other similar journals available, such as ‘A Traveller’s Diary: A Planner, Journal and Scrapbook’ (printed by the Running Press), and the popular ‘Royal Geographical Society Travel Journal,’ which contains an array of beautiful photographs and, unlike Voyages, a specific section for keeping addresses, telephone numbers and the like. In conclusion, Voyages is a charming journal, although rather heavy, and perhaps not suitable for those hoping to travel light, but worth a look all the same.

Dangerous Creatures of Australia (Green Guides)
Dangerous Creatures of Australia (Green Guides)
by Marty Robinson
Edition: Paperback

125 of 126 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't visit Australia until you have read this book, 30 Jan. 2004
Researching Australia for an impending trip, I heard all kinds of horror stories about how I could end up being injected with poison by innocent-looking toads, ripped to pieces by blood-thirsty tiger sharks or even have a couple of bites taken out of me by cute-looking caterpillars. What I discovered by reading Dangerous Creatures of Australia however, was that that is all they are; stories. In fact, on the first page the author’s opening statement is “Many people believe that Australia is full of dangerous wild animals. Although it is true that we have many potentially dangerous creatures, most of them are rarely encountered and indeed even hard to find.” Whilst he goes on to admit that “Australia has more venomous snakes than any other country, both the world’s most venomous spiders and the world’s most venomous octopuses,” Robinson covers many pages on reassuring the reader via a table of statistics regarding accidental death, that you are more likely to be murdered, poisoned or even struck by lightening than you are to die from a snake bite. There is also material regarding precautions the reader can take to avoid being attacked by a dangerous animal and many maps showing the precise locations of the creatures’ whereabouts.
The author splits the book into the following sections: Large land animals (including feral pigs and snakes), small land animals (spiders and scorpions), large water animals (sharks and crocodiles) and small water animals (jellyfish and octopuses). One thing that particularly enthralled me about the book was the strange and sometimes downright bizarre creatures that can be found in Australia. The sea snake, for instance, with its paddle-shaped tail, single lung and short (yet deadly) fangs. Fire coral, as the name suggests, is a type of coral which looks no different than the regular kind, yet one brush against it could cause nasty stinging.
I found the full colour photographs together with the information very useful, as I could get a clear picture of exactly what was being described, should I be unlucky enough to come across the creature in question. Those with a tendency for being faint-hearted should steer clear of the rather nauseating pictures graphically depicting injuries sustained from encounters with leeches and snake bites. Whether you are planning a short break in Australia or a backpacking holiday, the book is very small and lightweight, and therefore can slip into your bag without adding any significant weight. A down side however, is the price – for a book so concise, I found the asking price a bit much.
Anyone with an interest in the fascinating country that is Australia may also like the wonderfully funny ‘Down Under’ (by travel writer Bill Bryson), or ‘Wild Down Under: The Natural History of Australia’ (by Damon Smith). Both are excellent, with the latter depicting the natural wonders of the country in hundreds of beautiful photographs. I sincerely hope that I won’t bump in to any of the dangerous creatures shown in this book on my travels, but just in case, it’s handy to have a copy nearby.

The Beach
The Beach
by Alex Garland
Edition: Paperback

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beach life... not as blissful as you may imagine, 27 Jan. 2004
This review is from: The Beach (Paperback)
The Beach is a strange book, and I don't just mean in content. Although I whizzed through it in a couple of days, even when I was reading it I wasn't quite sure whether I liked it or not. In the days after finishing it however, the more I thought about it, the more it grew on me. That's not to say that I didn't enjoy reading it at the time, more that I further appreciated it upon completion.
The story follows a twenty-something traveller named Richard. Several days after arriving in Bangkok, the tourist in a neighbouring room commits suicide, leaving Richard a hand-drawn map of a secret beach. Richard tells some of his fellow travellers about his gift from the dead man (named Mister Duck), and together they set out in search of the hidden paradise. When they eventually reach their destination, they discover that the beach is not quite so secret as they had been lead to believe: Twenty or so other young travellers have set up camp, but luckily Richard and his friends settle in almost immediately. The simultaneous intimacy and isolation experienced by the community I found particularly disturbing. On the one hand, Richard found companionship: "Just as people were drifting off, a sleepy voice from somewhere in the darkness would say, ''Night John-Boy.' Then there'd be a short pause while we waited for the cue to be picked up, and eventually you'd hear someone say ''Night Frankie'... or anyone they felt like saying good night to." On the other hand however, Richard's disturbing dreams regarding Mister Duck's demise escalated to a shocking degree: "Mister Duck was sprinting towards me across the embassy lawn, his wrists freshly slit, blood looping out from the cuts as he pumped his arms." This is just one example of the gruesome imagery employed by Garland to convey the horror experienced by Richard, so needless to say, it's not for the faint-hearted.
I think one of the reasons behind The Beach's popularity is its ability to shock - not only through graphic description, but also the fact that it challenges the idyllic image of desert island life imagined by many. Throughout the book, I anticipated a different ending to the one I eventually read about, and I was extremely pleased that the author didn't go for a Hollywood-style ending. That is to say, whilst loose ends are tied up, the outcome of the characters' lives was not quite what I had expected. Regarding the big-screen version of the film (with Leonardo DiCaprio playing Richard), I believe the book to be far superior, not least due to the appalling change of direction the screenwriters took in terms of Richard and Françoise's relationship. Another aspect of Garland's writing I greatly enjoyed was the research into Thailand's tourist industry. I have not visited Thailand myself, so am not aware of whether or not the geographical side of the story is accurate, but any reader who has visited that particular area of Asia would, I'm sure, value the book.
In conclusion, I have no hesitation in recommending The Beach. It is fast paced, exciting and not too intellectually challenging (and therefore rather an appropriate book to take on holiday). Reading it, I was greatly reminded of William Golding's 'Lord of the Flies,' which also looks at the psychological issues of a close-knit community forced to endure each other's company for a long period of time. It is a fascinating read, just like this one. I urge you to read it.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
by J.K. Rowling
Edition: Paperback

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Philosopher's Stone is a little gem, 23 Jan. 2004
I was determined, absolutely determined that I would not give in to the hype and jump on the Harry Potter bandwagon. When J K Rowling's phenomenally successful series was voted in to the BBC's Big Read list however, I inevitably caved in under pressure. I am enormously glad I did. The author has frequently been compared to the exceptionally talented Roald Dahl, and whilst I am not entirely convinced such association is just, there are certainly similarities between the authors. Harry Potter greatly reminded me of Dahl's 'Matilda' - an unhappy yet tremendously gifted child escaping an unhappy home life.
The story follows a young boy named Harry Potter. His parents were killed in a terrible accident (or so he believes) when Harry was very young, and so he was sent to live with his awful Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia. On the eve of his eleventh birthday however, a lovable giant named Hagrid informs the boy that he, like his parents before him, is a wizard. With that, Harry escapes his dreadful relatives and boards the train to magic school Hogwarts from the enchanting platform 9 and three-quarters.
The imagery employed by the author to convey the captivating atmosphere at Hogwarts is often breathtaking: "Harry had never even imagined such a strange and splendid place. It was lit by thousands and thousands of candles which were floating in mid-air over four long tables… These tables were laid with glittering golden plates and goblets." Similarly, J K Rowling's wonderfully creative inventions are a treat, and real candy for the reader's imagination. The Mirror of Erised, for example, allows the individual standing before it to see in its reflection their deepest desire (Harry's own longing to be with his parents is particularly moving during this section of the story). Bertie Bott's Every-Flavour Beans are sweets that, as the name suggests, are available in every flavour imaginable. Unfortunately, it is impossible to tell which kind you will end up with until it is in your mouth. Indeed, the section describing the vomit and ear-wax flavour beans is suitable disgusting. And then there is Quidditch, the Hogwarts sport, of which, much to Harry's surprise, he happens to be naturally gifted.
Harry's friends are a great source of amusement. Hermione, a bossy yet good-natured witch, and the geeky yet loyal Ron become friends to the reader by the end of the book, so much so that I felt I had lost my own companions upon finishing the final chapter. The bad guys, Harry's classmate Malfoy, Professor Snape and Harry's nemesis Voldemort are all suitably evil in their own ways, providing the reader with plenty of opportunity to boo and hiss at them. I did feel, however, that the author used many aspects of the gothic life one would associate with witches and wizards, that is, a castle full of dark corridors, limited modern appliances and long, flowing robes. "The narrow path had opened suddenly on to the edge of a great black lake. Perched atop a high mountain on the other side, its windows sparkling in the starry sky, was a vast castle with many turrets and towers."
Any reader who has enjoyed Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (and many have) may also appreciate "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and its sequel, "Through the Looking Glass" (by Lewis Carroll). I found aspects of the Philosopher's Stone (such as a book that screamed and a chess set in which the pieces were alive) greatly reminded me of Carroll's splendid books. I was truly surprised by how much I enjoyed reading about Harry and his friends, and I urge you, if you have not already, to locate a copy immediately.

Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £1.15

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Former Fame Academy student to future legend, 21 Jan. 2004
This review is from: Dedicated (Audio CD)
First of all, Lemar must be credited for not falling into the same trap as his fellow Fame Academy (and indeed Pop Idol) students – that is, hastily putting out a debut album saturated with bland cover versions. Instead, he took the time to write thirteen of the fifteen tracks on the album and unleashed the infectious Dance (With U) in August of 2003. With a touch of pop and a dash of RnB, the single is more than slightly reminiscent of Stevie Wonder’s work. In fact, much of the album contains traces of Lemar’s influences, Lionel Richie and Al Green, for example.
Whilst many of the songs on the album would make potential number one singles, it is Lemar’s beautifully soulful voice that won him respect from the public during his Fame Academy days. Effortlessly floating through my personal favourite track, the smooth 50/50 (released as a double A-side single with the ballad ‘Lullaby’ in November 2003), his vocal ability could not be more suited to its velvety sounds. Noticeably also, is ‘Let’s Stay Together,’ a hit for Al Green (reaching number one in 1972), and Tina Turner’s comeback in 1984 (reaching number 26). Adding traces of his individual musical style, Lemar’s charming rendition of the classic is a treat, and a major success as cover versions go. If you like to get up and dance to an album, you certainly won’t be disappointed with the infectiously catchy ‘No Pressure’ and ‘Body Talk.’
Thankfully, Lemar favours the upbeat numbers over the ballads. Forthcoming single ‘Another Day,’ whilst a platform for demonstrating the artist’s enchanting voice, is a rather mediocre boy-band type tune, which is lyrically clichéd: “I don’t want to live another day without you by my side… I should have got down on my knees and begged you to stay with me.” Similarly, ‘What About Love?’ lacks any real substance and fails to pick up any pace, although the delicate piano playing in the background is rather pleasant. Recent single Lullaby is far more agreeable and better suited to Lemar’s ability as an artist. Also, Alright With Our Love seems to carry more wisdom as emotional songs go. It is lyrically more interesting. However, it is the upbeat numbers that carry more credit: ‘Fresh,’ which appears early in the track listings is a catchy little number with saxophone arrangements announcing its dancing potential. “I’m so cool, I’m so fly, I’m so fresh,” Lemar proclaims, and he’s right. It is easy to imagine this song as a future number one. Another track that intrigued me, purely by its title, was All I Ever Do (My Boo), with its twangy guitar rhythms and acoustic arrangements, makes an ideal track on which to end the magnificent Dedicated.
Those who consider themselves a fan of Lemar from his Fame Academy days will be thrilled with his debut offering – the variety of ballads, mid-tempo and dance tracks is hugely impressive, as is the artist’s ability as a songwriter, which is something of a rarity in a music world full of manufactured pop puppets. Lemar sings with great passion on many of the songs, and his voice, as I have frequently mentioned, is nothing short of outstanding. ‘Dedicated’ is a treat.

A Christmas Carol (Children's Classics)
A Christmas Carol (Children's Classics)
by Charles Dickens
Edition: Paperback
Price: £1.99

29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The original Christmas message, 20 Jan. 2004
Upon learning that A Christmas Carol had won a place in the BBC's Big Read extravaganza, it occurred to me that I had never actually read it. Of course, there have been many film adaptations over the years, and Amazon currently has more than thirty different versions of the book available, so it must have something going for it. Let me assure you, it does. The message behind the story is simple, and I believe that is a large contributing factor to its continued success. Although it was first published in 1843, to this day it remains as significant as when Dickens first allowed the public to feast their eyes upon it.
Ebenezer Scrooge is the central character - a lonely old miser of a man, he keeps all of his money locked away, and allows neither himself nor his impoverished relatives to enjoy it. Returning to his chilly home on Christmas eve, he is rather alarmed to find his once-business partner Jacob Marley waiting for him. This is hardly surprising, since Marley has been dead for seven years. Scrooge is warned that unless he changes his miserable ways, he will spend the afterlife repenting. The exchange between the two is followed by a lengthy night, in which three spirits - the ghosts of Christmas past, Christmas present and Christmas yet to come, visit Ebenezer.
Although A Christmas Carol is largely aimed at children aged ten and above, many adults can (and have) enjoyed the wealth of description Dickens packs into the novel. The depiction of the streets of nineteenth century London and its architecture is a treat. Also, the way in which the author uses imagery to convey the difference between Scrooge's desolate existence, and the tenderness he could be experiencing had he any kind feeling in his heart towards his family. "... along the streets, the brightness of the roaring fires in kitchens, parlours, and all sorts of rooms, was wonderful. Here, the flickering of the blaze showed preparations for a cosy dinner, with hot plates baking through and through before the fire, and deep red curtains, ready to be drawn, to shut out cold and darkness."
I would recommend any reader wishing to locate a copy of the book look for one with explanations about words used in the story that are no longer (or rarely) in use. 'Negus' for instance, was a word used in the story, and I was not aware that it was "wine and hot water sweetened with lemon and spice" until I consulted the footnotes in the superb Penguin Classics edition. Similarly, 'twelfth-cakes' being "large, rich cakes, frosted and decorated with icing sugar figures, made to be eaten on Twelfth Night."
Any reader who has enjoyed this splendid, eerie treat may also enjoy Dickens' other Christmas writings (of which there are many). "The Cricket on the Hearth," "The Haunted Man" and "The Chimes" are all fine examples of the author's other festive tales. A Christmas Carol will be around for a long time, indeed, it has already and with good reason. It is only a short story, and can be read in an hour or two. I urge you to read it, it really is a delight.

Brave New World (Flamingo modern classics)
Brave New World (Flamingo modern classics)
by Aldous Huxley
Edition: Paperback

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More frightening than brave, 20 Jan. 2004
Upon hearing that Brave New World had been awarded a place in the BBC's Top One-Hundred Books list, I decided to give it a read. I must admit however, that I had some reservations about the novel, since the scientific explanations and extensive technological procedures contained within the story are so frequently referred to. Perhaps this could have been tedious if the book had been lengthier, but as it covers around two hundred and fifty pages it was not at all tiresome - it was fascinating.
Huxley begins the novel by explaining the caste system: "We also predestine and condition. We decant our babies as socialized human beings, as Epsilons or Alphas, as future sewage workers or future world controllers." The lower the caste, the less oxygen administered to the embryo - thus the Epsilons foetuses will receive far less oxygen than the Alphas and grow to be far less intelligent. The mental disabilities of the Epsilons allow them to perform the least desired jobs without questioning why, or desiring a more fulfilling life. The story follows two main characters, Bernard Marx (an Alpha plus male) and John (a 'savage,' who is part of a Native American tribe with Christian beliefs, and therefore grew up without the conditioning or clinical living of the majority of people in Huxley's future). Because the two are as different as can be, the way in which the two men cope with their strange lives makes for enthralling reading.
John, the savage, often quotes Shakespeare and this is where the title of Brave New World originates (Miranda's reunion with her family in Act V of The Tempest). Should inhabitants become unhappy or dissatisfied, an anti-depressant known as 'Soma' is regularly handed out to all. Within the dystopian society, marriage and child bearing no longer exist. In fact, the latter is a taboo subject: “The word…‘father’ with its connotation of something at one remove from the loathsomeness and moral obliquity of childbearing – merely gross, a scatological rather than pornographic impropriety.”
Although many people believe Brave New World to touch upon the subject of genetic engineering, this is not quite true: The novel was written in 1932 - twenty years before the structure of DNA was discovered by Crick and Watson. Still, procedures such as hypnopaedia (sleep-teaching) and cloning have accelerated rapidly since the book's publication, and Huxley was quoted in 'Brave New World Revisited' (a collection of essays exploring the themes of his novel) as saying, 'I feel a good deal less optimistic than I did when I was writing Brave New World. The prophecies made in 1931 are coming true much sooner than I thought they would.' It has been said many times before, but Brave New World is a groundbreaking novel, written way ahead of its time. Read it and judge for yourself.

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