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review 2018-09-04 22:39
Not what I expected, but I could not stop reading
Strangers on a Train - Patricia Highsmith

I think I enjoyed this one exactly for the same reasons everyone disliked it: the characters were so messed up it was nerve-wreaking to read.

 

I've likely commented many times before how I love those books that engage me enough for me to get emotional over the characters, even if it is rage enough to want to strangle them, and that's pretty much what happens here. Bruno is a messed up cookie, and Guy is a derrotist moron, and that's what drives the slide-down-the-slope plot.

 

There is the thing too: I think most people think this will be something that is not. It is not a mystery. It is not a heist type of book of two guys planning perfect murders. What it is, is the very, very, very messed up relationship between a sociopath and a coward. The murders are just the thing that binds them and the theme is something like "all the wrong choices". While it made most dislike the book, it made me want to bitch-slap Guy and continue to read the train-wreak.

 

I think Highsmith was trying for this high-minded "either guilt or law will punish" poetic thing at the end, but it felt like an unnecessary convolution that made me go "NOW you find your spine/brain/cold-thinking to live with your actions, you moron", which, yeah, OK, poetic irony or something but... 4 stars

 

 

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review 2018-07-13 04:00
Absolutely painful and gorgeous
Deerskin - Robin McKinley

It is lovely, and it is terrible and... hell, how do you even start to address something like being raped by your own father, let alone cope, accept, heal, move on. McKinley takes a good stab at it, and it's beautiful and wounding at the same time, and feels pretty much like abrading in a way.

 

I'm not making much sense, but I'm still riding the "just finished" wave of feelings. I thought it was an excellent book that I'd like to own, but likely will never re-read, or would feel too comfortable recommending. Yet, by all tbr's I swear, I do not regret reading it.

 

And if anyone feels I should've put a spoiler tag, they can go screw themselves. This is not the type of themes to be treading into unawares.

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review 2017-09-14 08:49
Beast, monster, man
The Island of Dr. Moreau - H.G. Wells

This went places I did not expect it to go.

 

For so short pages, I though it'd make a straight story of what we know would be the subject matter, with a tension building, a reveal and a violent resolution. Those elements where there, after a fashion, but not in the order or at the page number a reader would expect. I was surprised, and pleasantly so. For me, it was a truly horrifying read.

 

It takes a bit to get to the Island, setting up the atmosphere, and the MC's seeming passiveness or detachment, but also raising some interesting questions with the aftermath of that shipwreck. Things come to a head early and the story follows from those into unexpected paths.

 

Moreau could have made fast friends with Mengele. After that lengthy explanation, when I though I had grasped his cold evil, there were still little pockets of surprise horror to make me shudder, like:

 

He told me they were creatures made of the offspring of the Beast People, that Moreau had invented. He had fancied they might serve for meat,

 

Gah! Every time I read it I'm swamped with a wave of... Ick!

 

I kept thinking back to Frankenstein. The moral burden is a lot less debatable here: Moreau is the indisputable monster. Actually, it's a bit like human nature is the monstrous part. Like the bit about the leopard?

 

It may seem a strange contradiction in me,—I cannot explain the fact,—but now, seeing the creature there in a perfectly animal attitude, with the light gleaming in its eyes and its imperfectly human face distorted with terror, I realised again the fact of its humanity.

 

And Prendick seems to subconsciously think it so too, given his sequels. I feel for the guy. Seriously, I was melancholy by the end. Talk about connecting.

 

Hats off to Wells for this one. Even if he needs a synonyms dictionary, because "presently" appeared more times than the characters' names combined.

 

 

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review 2017-09-04 06:05
Better than I remembered
The Drawing of the Three - Stephen King

Second volume of this saga is sooo much better. Better than the first volume and better on second read.

Better than the first because it felt more grounded somehow. Despite the whole "magic doorway" thing, it was way less surreal than "The Gunslinger". The writing was more rounded too, and I connected better with the characters.

Better on second read because there was a dimension of meaning and character growth I could not appreciate first time around (having read it as a stand-alone), and because I'm older, and no matter how mature you think you are, there is a lot you can't really understand when you are a teen.

Despite remembering almost everything, I was not bored. At all. I actually sped through 3/4 of it before my brain revolted clamoring for sleep. That's a "good stuff" stamp, if there is ever one.

I'm full on board of this train now, and will be reading the next install soon.

 

 

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review 2017-08-19 21:09
Great take on the Cycle
Norse Mythology - Neil Gaiman

It was gloriously awesome. How much of the merit goes to Gaiman and how much always belonged to the myth compendium has little bearing in my enjoyment.

The stories are tall tales indeed: huge, fun, magical, gruesome. The characters are as great as flawed: Odin lies, cheats, seduces and steals; Thor is a block-head to which every problem is a nail (hah); and Loki is the charming psychopath. All this is more or less merit of the Edda.

The book is a fast read, very approachable, very engaging, and the order of presentation and building makes it easy to follow the names and elements. The text is cheeky, and has many little asides that had me in stitches, turning wistful and lyrical as we come to the bittersweet end. All this, plus some nuances to the dialogues that made them hilarious (or creepy, or bittersweet), was Gaiman I reckon.

It is a book I want to buy. I want to re-read it, whole and by pieces. Have it as a reference. Read from to my children. Also, as an object, it is a beauty. Full stars.

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