Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Review of Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

 From the Booker Prize-winning author of The Remains of the Day and When We Were Orphans, comes an unforgettable edge-of-your-seat mystery that is at once heartbreakingly tender and morally courageous about what it means to be human.

Hailsham seems like a pleasant English boarding school, far from the influences of the city. Its students are well tended and supported, trained in art and literature, and become just the sort of people the world wants them to be. But, curiously, they are taught nothing of the outside world and are allowed little contact with it.

Within the grounds of Hailsham, Kathy grows from schoolgirl to young woman, but it’s only when she and her friends Ruth and Tommy leave the safe grounds of the school (as they always knew they would) that they realize the full truth of what Hailsham is.

Never Let Me Go breaks through the boundaries of the literary novel. It is a gripping mystery, a beautiful love story, and also a scathing critique of human arrogance and a moral examination of how we treat the vulnerable and different in our society. In exploring the themes of memory and the impact of the past, Ishiguro takes on the idea of a possible future to create his most moving and powerful book to date.
I decided that I would read this book after seeing the movie trailer on the tele a few months back. The title was put in my "to read" list and on my Amazon wish list and I actually had forgotten about it till a few days after Christmas this title was put up on Amazon as a $5.00 Kindle mark-down so I thought I would pick it up. Well, the DVD will soon be coming out so I thought it might be a good time to knock it out. As with most books in this genre / age group / I don't even know how to categorize something like this after I have read it type reads, I went into it not knowing what to expect. I have got to be honest in the fact that I really struggled getting acquainted and settled in to this book. In the beginning, I would read a little, put it down, pick it up, read a little, put it down, so on and so forth, till finally I was like, "where possibly can the author go with this storyline?" It was at that point I put everything else aside and told myself that I was either going to sit down and finish it or I was going to forget it. Generally speaking, I really have a hard time giving up and not finishing something. So, sitting down and finishing it is what happened and I must say that I am really glad that I did. Because an all in one finish like that is probably what made me see this book for the great read that it is. I doubt that I would have the same opinion if I had continued with the start/stop method I was doing. All that being said, I feel as though I was in total check of my feelings on this read clear up to the end and I had put it down. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. It felt to me that it was all leading up to this great thing in the end but, then in the end, there was nothing... I really can't even pin point exactly what it was that made me feel all this but, there it was. I had a deep down longing feeling for something... more. I was angry, I was sad, I was confused, torn, depressed, I honestly felt... Hollow. I desperately wanted all Carers/donors to rebel against the establishment. I kept hoping for Tommy, Kathy or even Ruth (despite not liking one thing about her the entire length of the novel) would just get this notion to, I don't know... walk away, start anew. Would this even been possible for everything they have been taught or put through. How can this even be considered as a possible existence? As someone who has lived as average as a life (a pretty good life actually) thus far, I keep thinking in the back of my mind that, "this... couldn't reeeeeaalllly happen... Could it?" In the end, I don't know if I have an answer or more distinctly, I don't want to know an answer. Hopefully, that won't be construed as condoning this from being stood for. I just couldn't turn my head as the world has in this book. I would probably be hiding deserters in my basement or something. I guess that pretty much covers my written thoughts for the time being about this novel. I am sure it will be thought of often and any book that is going to stir these types of feelings in me is always going to be thought of a something pretty special. I may not have needed the negative tones this put in my head but it definitely aroused some pretty strong emotions. Thank-you Mr. Ishiguro for a wonderful novel.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Review of Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel


"Lenah Beaudonte is, in many ways, your average teen: the new girl at Wickham Boarding School, she struggles to fit in enough to survive and stand out enough to catch the eye of the golden-boy lacrosse captain. But Lenah also just happens to be a recovering five-hundred-year-old vampire queen. After centuries of terrorizing Europe, Lenah is able to realize the dream all vampires have -- to be human again. After performing a dangerous ritual to restore her humanity, Lenah entered a century-long hibernation, leaving behind the wicked coven she ruled over and the eternal love who has helped grant her deep-seated wish.

Until, that is, Lenah draws her first natural breath in centuries at Wickham and rediscovers a human life that bears little resemblance to the one she had known. As if suddenly becoming a teenager weren’t stressful enough, each passing hour brings Lenah closer to the moment when her abandoned coven will open the crypt where she should be sleeping and find her gone. As her borrowed days slip by, Lenah resolves to live her newfound life as fully as she can. But, to do so, she must answer ominous questions: Can an ex-vampire survive in an alien time and place? What can Lenah do to protect her new friends from the bloodthirsty menace about to descend upon them? And how is she ever going to pass her biology midterm?"
I have to admit that I was skeptical about actually reading this book. The premise, centuries old vampire becomes human and is thrown headlong into ordinary human (high-school nonetheless) life. I could not have been more wrong in all my preconcieved notions about how this book would turn out. And for that I am very happy with the outcome of this first installation of a proposed trilogy. Quite honestly, the end of the book came all too quickly for me. Although, a very climatic ending it did not seem rushed which makes me nod to the author for her ability to tell her story so well. The story of Lenah Beaudonte is told so well in fact that I could not help wanting to actually meet her while I was reading it. A want for something like this to happen to myself. Sadly, I was never the Justin Enos of my school, but I could relate to Tony very well. Even more sad I guess, thinking how Tony ends up... But Lenah, beautiful Lenah. This story is hers and what a wonderful one it is so far. I very much look forward to the continuation of the Vampire Queen Trilogy. A lot of questions come to mind for the remainder of the series. Answers about Suleen (what a mysterious character he is) and Rhode, the long ago knight who I don't really think ever forgot what real love was throughout his vampire existence. That is what lies at the heart of this story and if I may use the authors very own words, "It is the intent that matters the most." Thank-you for another great story.