Sunday, July 31, 2011

Room by Emma Donoghue

RoomRoom by Emma Donoghue

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have had Room by Emma Donoghue on my TBR list for a very long time. Lot of reviews pronounced it disturbing and depressing. Despite my apprehension about reading a sad book, I was excited about reading it. So much so that I had to abandon a Ishiguro book and start this one. On another note, my jinx of Ishiguro books continues. I borrowed Never let me Go twice and never finished it and now Remains of the day looks like it will be read sometime in future only !.Back to Room - I loved the book from start to finish. How can you not love a book that starts thus?

Today I’m five. I was four last night going to sleep in wardrobe, but when I wake up in bed in the dark I’m changed to five, abracadabra. Before I was three, then two, then one, then zero.”Was I minus numbers?”

Jack and his Ma are held captors in a 12by 12 shed they call “The Room”. Ma’s been there for 7 years now and Jack has just turned five .The only company they have had over the years is a television set,not to mention the nightly visits of old Nick, their captor. Jack thinks Dora and other cartoon characters on TV are his friends. He doesn’t know yet that there is a whole world outside the Room. Though Ma secretly hopes that one day they’ll be rescued, Jack doesn’t know that they are captives. He’s perfectly happy in his 12 by 12 world. The love Jack and Ma share is so adorable. Soon, Jack structured life is about to change as Ma decides that they have had enough of the Room and wants them to get out. If I describe the plot more, I might have to give out a spoiler alert, so I am not going to go into the plot and talk about other aspects of the book.

I loved how Emma chose to tell the tale from Jack’s point of view and not stick to a more jaded adult view. Jack’s narration is innocent and strangely funny at the same time. There is no remorse associated with the narration because Jack simply doesn’t feel that he is being held a captive. Everything is just one big game for him. Through most of the book, Emma manages to stay faithful to Jack’s voice- Jack does sound like a normal, affectionate and an extremely inquisitive five year old. Briefly, a couple of times, I found Jack’s tone slightly more “Adult” and wondered if it was done deliberately to show that Jack had matured or whether it was a genuine slip.

Though the subject is rather depressing, the treatment is most refreshing that at any point of time I didn’t feel excessively sad or depressed. The tone is so matter-of-fact that it doesn’t give you much scope to brood too much. Another aspect that goes in favor of the books is its pace- the book doesn’t sag for a minute and keeps you on tenterhooks most of the time wondering what else is going to happen. That said, it’s not an overly action oriented book, just that Jack’s views on everything is so refreshing.

This book, however made me wonder about something that I’ve always wondered about- What really makes a book literary fiction? If it is long difficult words and sentences that make you want to reach out for a dictionary pronto, then Room doesn’t qualify as literary fiction. The words are simple (obvious choice because of the narrator being a five year old), sentences never too long and most of it as conversations between Ma and Jack or plainly stated as Jack’s thoughts.What probably makes it literary fiction is that its beautifully sculpted and extremely poignant. In fact, if not for Jack’s “voice”, the book would have been yet another story about abuse victims. I am so glad that I picked up Room. I recommend it highly to everyone. My rating : 4/5

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Very Good, Jeeves by PG Wodehouse

I am a huge Wodehouse fan;have been one ever since i found a copy on our book shelf when I was in school. I find his writing breezy and plots as funny in a geeky sort of way.Not to mention the Brit humor which i totally heart. I tucked into a Wodehouse book almost after five years and found that I didn't enjoy the book as much as I would have wanted to.

Very Good Jeeves is a collection of short stories, all featuring Jeeves and his feeble-minded master,Betram Wooster.The 11 stories that appear in the book seemed very similar to each other,with just a few variations in the plots. On top of that the collection contained many stories I've already read, so I wasn't really impressed with the book. Which is a pity!. My favorite stories of the lot were the one about the blighted Sonny boy song and the one featuring the kid Clementia.The rest were quite a let down. Maybe, this had to do with the fact that most of my favourite Wodehouse books have been full-fledged novels and not short stories. Somehow, his style of writing is more suited to a novel ,where the bloopers pile one on top of each other ,until Jeeves makes an appearance finally and puts everyone out of their miseries.

The same happens here,but with not much momentum building up,the stories appeared rather weak like a cup of diluted tea ,rather than a pot of refreshing Earl Grey it is supposed to be like.
Also,the choice of stories could have been more prudent,with more diverse plots included in the collection. After all, nobody wants to read a Wodehouse book and be content with weak distracted chuckles.

Overall a downer. Its not a bad book,mind you. The Wodehouse brand of humor flows freely, but on some level it just fails to excite you as much as some of his other books have. I'll give it a 3/5. My heart bleeds to give a Wodehouse book less than a four,but I'll not be fair if Igave it more than a 3.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Harry Potter and the sorcer's stone- My thoughts

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I must be the last person on the face of this planet to have discovered the magic of Harry potter books.It all started a few months back when a pesky teen asked me if i liked Potter books .Having half-halfheartedly read a few pages almost a decade ago and seen the odd movie,I told her that i didn't. The kid's jaw dropped and she stared at me incredulously. "Dude,how boring.What kind of a person doesn't like Harry Potter?" She demanded, her nose high up in the air. I remember indignantly telling her something about choices and how all the five fingers on a hand weren't the same.Lame,I know. The result of all this was that there was a new resolve in me to somehow read a HP book.I started almost half-halfheartedly again ,wanting to hate the book. But,I just couldn't. This time around, I guess I've managed to see what millions of people like the kid that rebuked me see in the book. The book has managed to make me want to go to a school like Hogwarts so badly that I've been dreaming up my own versions of Harry's adventure. Oh,no..I am not joking here.

What a wonderful,fertile imagination JK Rowling must have to even have conceived such an adventure. And she doesn't compromise on development of any character by giving importance just to Harry. LOVE IT and am neck deep into the second part.. Highly recommended for Muggles like me who don't normally include Fantasy in their reading diet.

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Monday, July 18, 2011

The accidental billionaires by Ben Mezrich : Book review

Sometimes it is just difficult to define what a good book really is. Is it something that is overflowing with robust language and literary merits or something that really quickens your heartbeat and makes you want to turn pages in anticipation of what happens next?. A lot of people have reviewed this book as a pedestrian effort with almost a frat-boy style of writing. I do tend to agree with the frat-boy comment ,but I do think that this story demanded the kind of handling Ben Mezrich has used.

I saw the movie before I read the book and really liked it.The movie is a faithful adaptation of book ,with some minor rearrangement in the flow of the events. Whereas the book focuses more on the genesis of Facebook and the trials and tribulations the founder went through, the movie focuses more on the law suits that plagued Mark Zuckerberg. I was putting off reading this book mainly because I always find that reading a book after seeing the screen adaptation takes away from the charm of the book.In a way this was true with this book as well ,as the words bought forth images from the movie only and left little to my imagination. Nevertheless, I enjoyed reading the book.

One does wonder whether all sides were represented properly in the book, what with Zuckerberg refusing to have anything to do with the book. To me, the book seemed fair ,with viewpoints of all the major players in the "drama" represented. What really happened is something only a few people know. At the end of the book, one is just overwhelmed at the sheer genius of people like Zuckerberg.I guess we need to take into account the fact that he ate, breathed and lived Facebook. Focus of that kind is just phenomenal and jaw-droppingly inspirational.

Though Zuckerberg is painted as someone who didn't really care much about things like friendship, honor and morals as long at his baby,Facebook surged ahead, I couldn't really see him as an opportunist. Great enterprises are sometimes born out of cold, calculated moves devoid of emotions and other baggage that often staggers the progress of that enterprise .Maybe, all the bad-blood that was shed and the law suits that happened were essential to the birth of a true monolith of Facebook's proportions.

Overall, an awesome story of a maverick kid who chose to dream big and matched it with hard work and focus.My rating " 4/5