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review SPOILER ALERT! 2013-10-04 03:07
Anna Karenina


I first read this book as a high school senior. I had to write a research paper for my English class, and when I approached the teacher to tell her that I'd chosen this book, she told me that no high school student in her right mind would even attempt it - I got a 98% on the paper. Now, I re-read it for another class, this time one that focused on Russian history. Both times that I read the book, I fell in love with it. 


I think that a lot of people who read this book are intimidated by its length - my current copy is 942 pages long. It doesn't help that the book has its slow parts - I personally don't find chapters that are entirely dedicated to Levin's thoughts on Russian agriculture to be particularly stimulating. But the book also has several passionate romances, devastating tragedy, personal turmoil... it's everything a good Russian novel should have. 


I adore Tolstoy's character development. We start with Oblonsky, a shameless womanizer who breaks his loving wife's heart repeatedly and without consequence. Then there's Levin, who's in love with beautiful and innocent Kitty but lacks confidence in his ability to win her heart, especially when in contest with the dashing Alexey Vronsky. And finally, there's passionate Anna, married to cold and robotic Karenin, and falls in love with Vronsky, tearing him away from Kitty. It's a soap opera, but so much more deep and well-crafted than those that we see on television. 


One thing that impresses me above all else is Tolstoy's portrait of the sexism in Russian society. He juxtaposes Anna's adultery with that of Oblonsky. Anna is crucified: she loses her husband (which she's not really disappointed about) and her son (which devastates her), she loses her pristine position in society, she becomes neurotic and paranoid, and she's ultimately driven to suicide (and in a most dramatic way - how many characters do you know who threw themselves under a train?!). Oblonsky, by contrast, loses absolutely nothing. His wife, though heartbroken, stands by him loyally, and his friends turn a blind eye to and even support his philandering. We also see several conversations about the lack of educational and professional opportunities for women, and though Tolstoy never comes right out and says it, we're lead to believe that he disapproves of this inequity. Considering that this book was published in the 1870s in a nation that was even more conservative than most, I think it's astonishing, refreshing, and extremely impressive to find a male author who was so liberal in his thinking. 


There's no denying that this novel is challenging to read, but I think that it is well worth the extra effort. It's such a compelling story, with so much depth to it. I can't even begin to review every aspect of this book because there's just so much to it. But I can tell you that it's so worth reading, provided that you have the time to read it, because, be warned, it does require extra time and attention. But again, it is so, so worth it. So go out, get your copy, and start reading! 

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review 2013-09-30 03:31
Revolutionary Road


This was a very interesting book. It's definitely well-written and the characters were all really intriguing, if not particularly likeable. The only one I really liked was Frank and at times he was such a jerk that I didn't even like him. The ending's fairly depressing and the whole point of the book is that the traditional American family and the ideal of suburbia is innately flawed and a false dream. I don't agree with that at all. No family is perfect, but few families are as dysfunctional as the ones in this book. Yates tries to make it seem like ALL families are a sham and there is no such thing as a truly happy family.. and that simply isn't true. That aspect of the book came off as very pretentious and snobbish. In fact, that's exactly how I would describe the other main character, April. She's so wrapped up in her own misery and disappointment that her life isn't as glamorous and exciting as she hoped it would be that she refuses to see the good in her life, and she drags Frank down with her. Her life certainly isn't perfect, but she doesn't even attempt to see the good in it, and I found that to be incredibly frustrating. 

So, to sum things up, this book was worth the read. It's not ever going to be one of my favorite books and I don't really agree with its message, but I'm glad that I read it, if for no reason other than the fact that Yates is a very good storyteller.

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review 2013-09-30 03:20
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close


Really weird format... I also didn't LOVE any of the characters. There were good parts and bad parts. It was definitely a very interesting read, but I also had some major issues with certain parts of it (for example, the main character is simultaneously endearing and incredibly frustrating). All in all, I'm not sure if I liked or disliked this book. I can definitely say that it was worth the read, because it gave me a lot to think about.

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review 2013-09-30 03:11


This was SUCH a good book! It had just the right amount of mystery, romance, and suspense. Daphne duMaurier has an amazing writing style too. There are tons of plot twists that come completely out of nowhere. I definitely recommend reading it!

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review 2013-09-30 03:02


This book was so much better than I thought it would be. It's not a book that I would ordinarily read - I'm not a huge fan of horror movies, and just knowing that this is the book that the Ring movies are based on would ordinarily be enough to deter me from reading it. But my book club decided to read it and I do try to be open to reading new books, even if I don't expect to like them. 

In this case, I'm SO glad that I decided to read it!

It was a little difficult for me to keep track of all the characters at first. Suzuki throws a lot of names at you right from the beginning, which kind of makes things difficult under any circumstances, but the fact that all the names are Japanese and I am totally unfamiliar with Japanese culture just made that even more confusing than it normally would be. Luckily, that was balanced a little bit by the fact that Suzuki has a very clear, concise writing style, so even if you have a difficult time keeping track of the names, you can at least keep track of the plot. 

The plot is really interesting. Because of the movies, I was definitely expecting the book to be way more scary. I'm not sure how close the plot line is to that of the movies, because I've never watched any of them, because I really don't like horror movies, but I would imagine that the movie version really emphasizes the creepier aspects of the story. There definitely are creepy parts, but the book reads more like a psychological thriller/mystery than a horror story, which, as far as I'm concerned, is definitely a good thing. There were some really cool plot twists. The ending is the main reason why I rated this book so high. There's a plot twist at the end which really makes you think. The main character is faced with a moral decision that's definitely a catch-22 (for the record, I would make the same choice that he made). I would recommend reading this book purely based on the way that it ended because it was that good.

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