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review 2017-05-12 13:58
Deserved a Reread
The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood

In just three years the USA has gone from freedom to total control. Women and men are divided into classes, but unlike women, men can work their way up through the ranks. Women, however, have a set place in society and that place is vividly displayed by the clothes they wear: striped gowns for the lower classes, the econowives; green gowns for the Marthas, the servants of the upper classes and red for the Handmaidens, the surrogates who bear the children of the infertile upper classes. It is to the Handmaidens that the main character of the story belongs. Her name is Offred and in the time before, she had a daughter, a husband, a job and a bank account. This was all taken away from her and now she is just a walking womb. She is not permitted to read or possess anything other than her clothes. She is also not allowed to converse with anybody more than is strictly necessary, there are ears everywhere to hear what she is saying and tongues ready enough to report her words. If she fails to get pregnant she will be sent away to 'the colonies' whose members clean up toxic waste and where life expectancy is low. Despite all her attempts to remain a good citizen she gets drawn deeper and deeper into subversive activities.

 

I first read this book a few years ago and couldn't understand what all the hype was about. I think the reasons I didn't like it that much the first time round were that it is quite slow, written in the first person, dystopian (I prefer post-apocalyptic) and held up as an example by feminists. None of these qualities really endeared me to the story although I found the idea itself intriguing. I was used to more pace and more action. In the few years' interval my tastes seem to have broadened because I enjoyed it much more this time, probably largely due to the fact that I knew what to expect. I love the historical notes at the end, they give the story a feeling of authenticity. The same device was used in 'the Passage' and I enjoyed it then, too. It's cool to read about something in the future as if it is already in the past. As for the feminist side, well, that isn't a problem with the book, that is a problem with my understanding of the word. When I think of feminism I think of women who don't want equality but a reversal of roles. That isn't what this story is about. I really hope though, that if some government today decided that women couldn't own money or have a job, we would fight harder than the women in this book. Maybe we should start hoarding our cash in our pillows - just a thought ;-)

 

 

 

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review 2017-05-12 12:29
Pink Bear
Method 15/33 - Shannon Kirk

Our young heroine is snatched off the street on her way to school and kept in captivity to await the birth of her baby. She's sixteen and seven months pregnant. Once the baby is born it will be sold on and her body will be dumped in a disused quarry full of water. That would be enough to terrify the wits out of anybody else but this girl is different. This girl is highly intelligent with an in-depth knowledge of the sciences. She has an analytical mind and uniquely (and usefully) can turn her emotions on and off at will. This means she spends her 33 days of captivity weighing up her assets and planning her escape and revenge on her captors. It won't be pretty...

 

I wasn't sure what to expect from this one, reviews were ambivalent. I thought it was going to be a straight forward thriller, which, in a way, I suppose it was, but the victim was unusual. I admit the story is pretty far-fetched but it acknowledges that - all I can say is pink bear. It is fun though so why not? The idea of a cool and calculating 16 year old girl who doesn't desperately scream for rescue or quail at the presence of her captors is quite unnerving, as her abductors soon find out. And she doesn't just leave it at escaping, she is playing the long game. I really enjoyed it for the unusual up-beat writing style and the even more unusual victim. Revenge is sweet!  

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review 2017-05-12 02:23
The Time Machine
The Time Machine - H.G. Wells

This was better than The War of the Worlds. H.G. Wells kept it short this time, so no overly long descriptions, though he's still allergic to giving his main characters names. The science is ridiculous, of course, but once you get past that this is a fun little story about the future of mankind, but there's not much else here than that. 

 

I did see the Guy Pearce movie (OMG has that been 15 years ago already?!) and yikes, I can see why people who read and loved this novella hated the movie. It's not really anything like the story at all. Let me just express my appreciation that H.G. Wells realized that the ability to time travel is motivation enough for an inventor to build a time machine - no fridging of a girlfriend necessary. Take note, Hollywood: STOP FRIDGING WOMEN!

 

I will leave you will this thought:

 

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review 2017-05-11 19:01
Megan Miranda - The Perfect Stranger
The Perfect Stranger: A Novel - Megan Miranda

This is the second book from Megan Miranda. I really enjoyed “All the Missing Girls”. It was one of the most unusual books I have ever read. This book is different although you can recognize the unique writhing style. I really liked this one, too.

 

Former reporter Leah has lost her job. She just wants to leave her mistakes and misjudgments behind. When she ran into an old friend one night which offers hers spontaneously to move into rural Pennsylvania with her she is happy to agree. Leah and Emmy used to live together for a few months after college. Then the lost contact for 8 years but Leah always felt deeply connected to Emmy.

 

In this little town in Pennsylvania Leah does her best to blend in. But she has the feeling that somebody is stalking her. Then a young woman is found almost beaten to dead and soon afterwards a second body turns up in a nearby lake. Then Leah realized that she has not seen Emmy for days and can’t track her whereabouts. She reports her missing and suddenly has to face the fact that she knows literally nothing about her friend.

 

The author weaves a dark and complex story. There are a lot of flashbacks which explains what happened back in Boston with the story Leah wrote and what went wrong. Her characters are not very likable, especially Leah. She is sullen and secretive. But that did not bother me. I don’t have to connect or like the characters in a book. I enjoyed the slow building tension, how with every new piece of information the story became more and more mysterious and that everybody was so unreliable. And I also liked the ending.

 

I will definitely look out for Megan Miranda’s next book.

 

<i>I received an ARC from Simon & Schuster via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-05-11 11:15
Nebbich
Der gefrorene Rabbi - Steve Stern,Friedrich Mader

Dieser Roman hat eigentlich alle Ingredienzien, die mich zu Begeisterung hinreissen könnten.

Jiddische Geschichte einer Familie quer durch die Jahrhunderte ganz so wie ich es mag, in Rückblenden a bissal polnisches Ghetto, a bissal Shoa, a bissal Auswanderung nach USA, a bissal kabbalistische Mystik versus gottloses kapitalistisches amerikanisches Judentum, a bissal Israel, Terrorismus (sorry Freiheitskampf) bei Staatengründung und Kibbutz - über mehrere Generationen verteilt. Jiddische Witze meist sexuell anzüglich bis fast schon unverschämt dreckig, ausschweifend erzählt mit Anekdöteln gespickt,  jüdisches Leiden in jeder Situation und eingeflochtene jiddische Sprach. Dazu noch ein Familienfluch und das Versprechen einer skurrilen Familiengeschichte.

Leider waren diese wundervollen Komponenten für mich im völlig falschen Mischungsverhältnis vorhanden. Die Story zog sich permanent und zäh wie Strudelteig und ich habe lange gerätselt, was mich tatsächlich so derart gestört hat bei einer für mich so perfekten Ausgangessituation: Es war  der Skurillitätszwang, den sich der Autor bei der Erzählung der jiddischen Familiengeschichte selbst auferlegt hat, der mich derart nervte. Sobald irgendwas in der Familienchronik einen Hauch von (spiessiger) Normalität versprühte, wie beispielsweise eine klassische Liebesgeschichte mit Hochzeit, normalen Kindern mit normalen Problemen und relativ normaler glücklicher Ehe wurde vom Autor sofort weggeblendet, ein paar Jahre übersprungen und das nächste Kuriosum erzählt. Somit ergab sich keine normale Familiengeschichte, sondern lediglich eine Aneinanderreihung im Kuriositätenkabinett. Ich fand den Autor einfach zu bemüht und angestrengt, sich bei all den Generationen nur die Skurillitäten herauszupicken, die mehr oder weniger doch jede Familie hat. Kuriositäten sollten wie Gewaltsszenen in einem Roman wohldosiert, in den Plot eingewebt und teilweise überraschend eingesetzt werden, sonst stumpft der Leser einfach ab und langweilt sich nur.

In die andere Richtung bin ich natürlich auch geneigt, Romane mit totalem fiktionalen Wahnwitz, der sich bei schwarzhumorigen Irrsinnspunkten ganz vorne einreiht, sehr zu schätzen zu wissen. In dem Fall war aber dann die Story eigentlich wieder viel zu normal, um in diese Kategorie zu fallen. So pendelte für mich das Werk permanent auf der Kippe zwischen Fisch und Fleisch (im Jiddischen selbstverständlich zwischen Fleisch und Milchprodukten herum). Was ich durch diese Erkenntnis aber gewonnen habe ist, dass ich verstehe, das dieses Buch sehr polarisierend rezensiert wurde, und dass es die einen lieben und die anderen hassen. Für mich war es gleichzeitig zu wenig und zuviel Skurrilität und deshalb bleibt meine Bewertung genauso wie die Geschichte auf dem Grad auf der mediokren Mittellinie.

Fazit: Nebbich mit guten Ansätzen hätte 2 komplett unterschiedliche gute Romane ergeben können.

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