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Of Mice and Men (Penguin Red Classics)
Of Mice and Men (Penguin Red Classics)
by John Steinbeck
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

5.0 out of 5 stars "Maybe ever'body in the whole damn world is scared of each other...", 19 July 2014
This was one of the few books at school which I actually enjoyed reading. Even though the novel only focuses on a small area Steinbeck is still able to create a vivid picture of the depression era of 1930s America. It follows to friends, George and Lennie, who are travelling across California desperately looking for ranch work. The characters are extremely well written and compelling. One character, Curley's wife, is given no name to symbolise the treatment of women at that time. The novel also considers the impact of racism and the pursuit of the American dream.

The heart of the book is friendship and the desire to combat loneliness. George looks out for Lennie, who has a mental disability, throughout the novel, even in carrying out the heartbreaking final act. He knows that he will again be alone as a result but the real friendship he forms with Lennie allows him to realise that he must do it form him.

I honestly would recommend this book to everyone. It is so deeply layered that it takes many readings to fully appreciate it.


An Abundance of Katherines
An Abundance of Katherines
by John Green
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Do I matter?, 30 Jan. 2014
Originally posted at[...]

Well this was an interesting read, to say the least. This is my third John Green book but it has sadly not become my favourite.

The novel is about a boy, Colin, who is on the edge of adulthood struggling with the fact that although he was a child prodigy, he may not become an adult genius. His solution to that is to make a formula mapping out whether relationships will fail or not. This is also because he has just been dumped by K-19, the 19th Katherine he has dated in his life.

What I liked...

As always I really like John Green's writing style. It is insightful and fresh while never being condescending to the reader.
In terms of characters, I found Hassam and Lindsey the most intriguing. In terms of the problems they were facing in their lives I found them most realatable.
I also liked the unusual format of the novel with the footnotes and the maths. This was never too heavy though as the real detail regarding the formula and how it worked is reserved for the appendix.
The overall messsage of the book was what really struck me the most. It really dealt with the problem facing most young people: do I matter? All of the characters had to learn what they really wanted out of life and how they really wanted to be remembered.

What I didn't like...

Unfortunately, I never warmed to the main character Colin. Even though he realised in the ended that maybe he was approaching his life in the wrong way, it all came to late for me. Throughout nearly the whole book he is extremely annoying and selfish. I thing I would have accepted that more if his realisation had occurred a little sooner.
There were definite issues with pacing for me. It took me well over 100 pages to really have any resolved to finish the book. The book is only 272 pages long.
Unlike in some of his other novels, I felt like most of the supporting characters were poorly drawn and not particularly interesting.

Although I did enjoy the overall message of the book I cannot give it 5 stars because of the pacing. This book is definitely best for those in their late teens.


Every Day
Every Day
by David Levithan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "That's why we have to care about each other.", 21 Jan. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Every Day (Paperback)
Originally posted on [...]
The story is narrated by 'A'. They are a being of unknown gender (to themselves and the reader) that wakes up every day to find themselves inside a new body. 'A' tries to go through the motions each day until he meets Rihannan, a girl he just cannot forget.

This premise instantly drew me in. I had never read a book from this sort of perspective so I had no idea what to expect.

What I liked...

I love David Levithan's writing style. He immediately draws the reader in and never stops making them feel welcome.
Although the nature of 'A' existing is never fully explained that did not detract from the enjoyment or understanding of the novel. It actually enhanced my experience as I felt the exact confusion that 'A' also felt.
Even though 'A' is an extremely sympathetic character that never felt unearned to me. 'A' had never felt like it could question it's situation until it met Rhiannon.
I liked the contrast between Rihannon's perspective of life and what 'living' is with what 'A' perceived. 'A' believed they could see what people should be doing and how they should be behaving on the day he inhabited their body but he did not understand that living in one body your whole meant that it was impossible to consider yourself that way. Change could not always be that simple. I think therein in lies the message of the book.
I actually enjoyed the ending. Without giving too much away, 'A' is presented possible information regarding what it is and how it can stay in one body more than one day. 'A' does not choose this. To me 'A' realises that it would like to stay with Rhiannon but that it's purpose has to be what it has always done: helped guide people's lives just a for a moment.

What I didn't like...

The 'A' is a devil angle. I did not particularly like the character Nathan that began this rumour and did not really believe he would have drawn attention to himself in such a way. The being of 'A' never acts in any 'devil like' way so this along with the reverend reveal feels slightly bizarre and out of flow with the rest of the novel. That is saying something I know considering the nature of the novel overall.
I was also a little disappointed with the character of Rhiannon. Her personality and behaviour changed a great deal over the course of the novel which made it difficult to recall why 'A' was so fixated on her. I do accept that could be more an example of how 'A' does not fully understand people when it first meets them as it believes but I remain unsure.

Overall this was one of the most unusual but strangely captivating Young Adult books I have read recently.


Eleven
Eleven
by Mark Watson
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking, 20 Jan. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Eleven (Paperback)
Originally published at emmablogsbooks.blogspot.co.uk

Eleven is premised on some of my favourite concepts: that everyone is connected and that one action can cause an unimaginable chain of events. The idea that everyone is connected is also known as the six degrees of separation and basically means that everyone is, on average, approximately six steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person on Earth. The author makes use of these concepts through one event that scars the main character's, Xavier Ireland, life having an unintentional knock on effect on the lives of 10 other people.

What I liked...

The writing style of the author is fairly casual, chatty and informal
The third person narrative allows for much observation and humour to be contained in the text
The writer does lay hints for what the life changing event in the main character's life was but are really only noticeable on a second read
Following on from that point, to build to the reveal of what started the chain of events the writer litters the present day narrative with 'flashbacks' to the main character's live where he seemed to be, contrastingly, very happy. This helped maintain interest and curiosity over what could have possibly happened to make him lose that life.
The book is also littered with crazy little passages, which sort of come out of the blue, like this one after Xavier says goodbye to a woman he met the previous night: "[T]his is the last time they will ever see each other. She will return to Australia in eight months, sleep with ten more people, then meet and marry an orthodontist named Brendon. She will have two children and work part-time in a tanning salon once they have grown up. She and the orthodontist will retire to Tasmania and die within a few weeks of each other. Xavier watches the cab disappear, a streak in the dark, and turns back to the house."
The author does also spend some time with each of the other people in 'the eleven' once the chain passes along to them. Stylistically this may sound odd but it really works in bring clarity to the story progression.
Also, without any spoilers, the way that everything culminates in the novel allows Xavier to put his past behind him in a very satisfying way. Although it does also sadly emphasis that well known phrase that you can't go back.

What I didn't...

There really is not that many negative things to say about the novel.
The main issue I had was it took me quite a few chapters to really get into the novel and empathize with the characters. Certainly I do advise people to push through the slow start because once I did I was completely hooked. I'm not really sure why I felt this way but I imagine it could be that I was not exactly sure where the story was going until Xavier met the person after him in the chain of eleven.
My only other complaint, which is a minor one really, is that there were a few characters in 'the eleven' that I would like to have had a little more resolution on.

Overall this is a book which I would definitely recommend to others, particularly to those pondering over their past actions.


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