Monday, October 22, 2012

In Progress: The Casual Vacancy

So, we all know how I feel about J.K.Rowling.
Brilliant writer, but I dislike her publicity stunts.
That being said I did really want to read her new book which I thought was a murder mystery.
It's not.
It's a character study I guess. I'm still not sure though I'm over 200 pages in and I'm haven't quite figured what I'm reading. Everyone is an asshole.
I jumped on Goodreads to see if I was alone in feeling that this book was not up to snuff.
What I found was a lot of J.K. Rowling fans saying she's super awesome and don't compare it to Harry Potter.
Why would I ever compare a super mundane story to Harry Potter?
Then I ran across this review from Entertainment Weekly, and feel much better about how I view the book.

"Rowling seems determined to distance herself from the innocent pleasures of wizards and Quidditch, and The Casual Vacancy piles on the unpleasantness — rape, child abuse, suicide, self-mutilation, mental illness. It's all just too much: When the novel finally arrives at its predictable and heavy-handed ending, what started as a lively comedy of manners has turned into an overwrought slog."

I still intend to finish the book for now- I mean I've made it through worse, but it was not a gripping or enlightening tale like I anticipated.
The writing is still brilliant, but the subject matter might not make it worth it.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Book Review: Outlander

It is finished!
That's what went through my head when I reached the last page of this book. 
So many things happened and so much time past during this story I feel older after reading it.
To portray the passing of time well in a story is a true talent I believe and Diana Gabaldon possesses that talent. 
The characters were believeibly real, there was a good sprinkling of historic fact amonst the fiction. 
I learned something about the Scottish clans and the Bonnie Prince Charlie uprising which was nice because I had no previous knowledge of Scotland period. 
Claire and Jamie and lovable characters with realistic flaws and Randall- the bad guy- was truly evil.
My problem with the plot at several points was I had to stop and say to myself- where is this going?
If I look at the bigger picture, like this novel is a set up for the rest of the series, I could understand the meandering plot line, but I spent the first half of this book ignorant of that fact so I was annoyed at some points.
Claire's problem solving for the roadblocks she faces is genius. Smuggle cattle into a prison so they could smuggle Jamie out? didn't see that one coming at all. 
Throughout the whole book there is a good spirit of adventure so to speak that keeps things seeming lighter than they are, but near the end the plot took a dark and awful turn that I'm not sure was necessary. 
Jamie is taken captive by Randall and to save Claire's life he offers himself to the Captain.
After an odd and slightly unbelievable scene that has Claire fighting off a pack of wolves with her bare hands she finds help and rescues Jamie from the hangman's noose. He later tells her of the torture he underwent. 
I had read ahead of time through Goodreads about this scene and many people were throughly disgusted by it. I figured this was an exaggeration since the scene where Claire was punished for almost killing half the clan wasn't nearly as bad as everyone said it was. But they were definitely right about this one.
Jamie was sexually, physically and psychologically tortured by Randall and it was later inferred that Randall did this same thing to his younger brother. 
I mean, damn.
Then of course Jamie lost his will to live so Claire had to put him is some drug induced rage on the edge of death so he could face his demons, almost kill her, but than realize that he wants to live and have sex with her.
Oh okay.
And for such a horrible villain to have such an anticlimactic death off screen.
I was actually happy when the ending showed up abruptly because things had definitely spiraled down as far as plot and feel of the story.
I enjoyed most of the book and the adventure that was happening until the last 100 pages because that's when the adventure stopped and the horrors began. I had thought of reading the rest of the series originally, but after an ending like that I don't think I could do it, so I probably won't.