Friday, November 25, 2011

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Never Let Me Go
By Kazuo Ishiguro
Publisher: Vintage
Date Published: April 5, 2005

     Hailsham seems like a pleasant English boarding school, far from the influences of the city. Its students are well tended and supported, trained in art and literature, and become just the sort of people the world wants them to be. But, curiously, they are taught nothing of the outside world and are allowed little contact with it.

Within the grounds of Hailsham, Kathy grows from schoolgirl to young woman, but it’s only when she and her friends Ruth and Tommy leave the safe grounds of the school (as they always knew they would) that they realize the full truth of what Hailsham is
The past month my assignment in English class has been to read a Man Booker Prize winner or nominee. Since I had been meaning to get around to Never Let Me Go for the longest time, naturally I decided to choose it! (It was a nominee for the prize in 2005). 

Through the eyes of Kathy, the narrator, we're bombarded with memories and brief moments in time. There are really quiet, lovely depictions of life and never-ending English countryside. The story is slow-paced at times, and not much action actually occurs, but the character interactions are magnetic. 

Yet despite the nostalgic tone (which I loved) and sense of peacefulness, there is always something disconcerting lying behind Kathy's narration, as it was probably meant to be. Perhaps its the resigned way in which Kathy regards her future, when readers can only think: Why didn't any of them ever try to escape their fates? I don't want to give away a large aspect behind the mystery of the novel, but as the story progresses, this sense of a loss of innocence as the characters move away from their childhood ignorance increases and it's heartbreaking.

This novel isn't for everyone. The themes are a bit more mature, and will not please those who prefer plots where major events occur. I felt drained once I had finished it. I felt tired because I had invested so much into the lives of these characters only to reach the end and discover their fates. Though it was somewhat unsettling (for a reason), I loved the quiet poignancy that pervaded Ishiguro's writing. I appreciate that Never Let Me Go gave me a lot to think about and suspect that this book will keep haunting me even after I have written this review.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

And Then There Were None
By Agatha Christie 
Publisher: Harper Collins
Date Published: 1940/2011

     First, there were ten - a curious assortment of strangers summoned as weekend guests to a private island off the coast of Devon. Their host, an eccentric millionaire unknown to all of them, is nowhere to be found. All that the guests have in common is a wicked past they're unwilling to reveal - and a secret that will seal their fate. For each has been marked for murder. One by one they fall prey. Before the weekend is out, there will be none. And only the dead are above suspicion.
Can you believe this is actually the first Agatha Christie novel I've read? I've seen plenty of visual adaptations of her stories, from TV specials, movies, to plays, but never really sat down with one of them. I called myself a sucker for mysteries and had never read anything by the Queen of Mystery!

I read And Then There Were None right at the end of my summer break, devouring it in about a day. It has a lot of the elements you'd expect: creepy, large house isolated from the rest of civilization, inclement weather, people with suspicious backgrounds, dark rooms, plenty of room for the killer to hide. Everything was pulled off well; there were more than a few times where I actually felt frightened. The poem about the Ten Indians, and the porcelain Indians that were smashed each time one of the characters died was a nice, creepy touch that heightened the urgency of finding the murderer.

I didn't expect that ending at all! And that's what makes the best mystery sometimes.
My first venture with Agatha Christie was a positive one, and I have Murder on the Orient Express to look forward to!


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Books Unread on my Shelf

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly meme created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte : I don't know how I haven't gotten around to this yet! My interested in Jane Eyre was piqued by the most recent film adaptation starring Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender. I've always been a bit wary of the Brontes because of the darker tones their writings possess, but I think it would be a good challenge for me. And there's the fact that Jane is me or I am Jane...

2. Juliet by Anne Fortier : Modern Romeo and Juliet?! I also don't know how I've just let this one sit on my shelf for so long. I've heard mixed things about this, so maybe that's why I haven't opened it yet.

3. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern : A circus, magic, and romance- all enticing things in one acclaimed bestseller- I'm just going to stop saying I don't know how I haven't finished this yet.

4. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro : Luckily, I've chosen to read this one for my English class this month, so I should have a review up when I'm done!

5. Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay : I've also heard good things about this one, and I believe the movie adaptation has come out, or is coming soon.

6. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson : Do I even have to explain why this is another book that I should have already read? Two movie adaptations, lots of talk, strong female character...

7. What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen : I think Dessen's books are always kind of hit-and-miss. I love This Lullaby and Just Listen but was not really a fan of Lock and Key. I think I stopped reading What Happened to Goodbye because the beginning was a bit slow.

8. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray: One of my favorite series of all time is the Gemma Doyle trilogy. I think Bray's forays into the modern world (as seen in Beauty Queens and Going Bovine) are just something that I have to get used to, since I was really drawn to her writing in Gemma Doyle.

9. Halo by Alexandra Adornetto : Most of the reviews I've read about this one haven't been particularly favorable, calling it another Twilight with a cliche supernatural romance and vapid female narrator. At the same time, the whole concept of angels really does interest me.

10. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie : A mystery classic! I'm a sucker for mysteries.

I plan on getting to all of these... eventually!

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Hunger Games: Official Trailer

The trailer for Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games was released this morning. The film will be released in theaters March 23, 2012. If you haven't already read the trilogy, now would be a great time to! It's never too late to start. The Hunger Games really re-kick started my reading addiction into action and was probably the main inspiration for this blog.

On another note, I should have a whole slew of reviews coming soon; college application season has been crazy!