Thursday, November 21, 2013

Week 13 - Oryx and Crake

Over the last two weeks, I chose to read Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood.  I think this is one of the first novels in the last few weeks that I've found really fascinating because it has a combination of elements that make it different from science fiction or fantasy, but it is not the type of pure distopian literature that I am used to.  This novel felt like it had a lot of history to it... it felt very personal like I knew each of the character's and their motivations.  I guess Oryx and Crake was just really something that made me want to know where exactly things would end up because it had everything I love - it had a really cool backstory, mulitple converging plotlines, and I don't know, I just loved getting to go back and discover how the world ended up as it did.  I think I was really fascinated to by Jimmy (Snowman's) life growing up because as odd as it was, it felt very familiar to my own.  I particularly loved how well both his parents were painted - Jimmy's mother, odd, obsessive, controlling, especially when Jimmy brings home the rakunk after his mother had refused to get him a cat or a baby brother.  The characters just all felt so nostalgic... down to how Jimmy acts at his new school or when Jimmy's mother ulitimately gets rid of the rakunk.  Though I haven't quite finished... I'm really excited as to where the novel keeps going, and I'll continue to post as I finish it.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Week 8 - Ocean at the End of the Lane

While this wasn't my first read by Neil Gaiman, Ocean at the End of the Lane felt especially fresh and new from Gaiman's American Gods.  I loved the fact that the novel felt completely full and fleshed out even though it was a quick read, and I was able to read it all in one night.  For me, it was hard to tell if this was a children's tale or more in the adult realm like American Gods.  Perhaps that made it kind of better somehow that you have this adult-narrator telling a rather scary tale of what happened to him as a child.  Another interesting thing is how many interesting little thoughts Gaiman is able to weave into the narrative, it's almost like a stream of consciousness or at least as if you were having him sit next to you and read you a bedtime story.  It was almost impossible not to hear Gaiman's voice as I read this story, it felt so much as if he were reading it to me.  The book was extremely personal but I think something we can all relate to - childhood ostracism, loneliness, "evil" babysitters.  There is also something that feels greatly nostalgic about this novel, and I guess I'm not quite sure if this was the way in which Gaiman tells it or just the overall themes themselves.  I suppose that's part of the mystery that makes books like this and The Graveyard book so powerful, that they are almost a subgenre in themselves.  I think as we become adults it is hard for us to look back at childhood in the same way that Gaiman is able to communicate, but then it becomes so obvious how these memories are almost universal.  For me, it was easy to get caught up in the world that Gaiman creates, but then it was also hard to put it down and move on with reality.

Week 7 - Night Circus

Erin Morgenstern's Night Circus has perhaps been one of my favorite reads in this semester.  I think there was definitely something special in how Morgenstern discribes the magic and mystery that surround the circus, and I loved how she showed the passage of time in short sections that kept jumping back and forth and kept me guessing as to what exactly would happen next.  I really felt completely pulled into the setting of this novel, the time period and the way that she describes the world around you - I particularly enjoyed the short 1-2 page vignettes where she just zooms in on the sights and sounds of the circus.  As for the rest of the novel, I did have trouble keeping up with the slight nuances of the game that Marco and Celia are pulled into and I wasn't particularly a fan of the climax to the novel (where they duel from afar).
However, I was always rooting for Celia's abilities, and I loved how her character was the one who was  brought up to be the more "physically" magical that Marco, which made it a great contrast between the two characters and flipped the gender roles. I couldn't help but feel that Isobel's story oftentimes got in the way of the supposed fated love that binds Celia and Marco together.  I'm not sure exactly, but I felt this part wasn't entirely as fleshed out as the actual world itself.  Nevertheless, I still loved the world itself, and I especially loved many of the side characters - Widget and Poppet, Bailey, and Tsukiko all had interesting and important places in the novel as well.

Also, reading this week's novel was interesting because it really inspired me to do a "circus-themed" piece in my digital painting class... the piece I created, I feel was based much off the imagery and how much I loved reading "Night Circus".