Wednesday, 25 June 2014

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Title: The Giver
Author: Lois Lowry
Publisher: Ember
My Rating: 5/5 Stars
Blurb: Jonas' world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the Community. When Jonas turns twelve, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.

This book was the very thing I have been looking for in quite a long time. I know this because upon reading the last word, a shiver crept through me and my eyes began to sting with longing for more.

Jonas lives in an ideal world. Conflict does not exist. Poverty, injustice and divorce are unheard of. There is no color in his community. Everything is nondescript. Each December, children who reach the age of 12 are given a job that was selected to fit their aptitudes. Jonas is given more, for as of age twelve, he must bear atop his shoulders a weight equivalent to a million mountains.

When I finished the book, I asked myself why on earth it took me so many years to finally read it. I've seen this book around since I was ten years old, and now, six years later, I am glad that I did not read it earlier. Had I done so, I might not have understood the beauty in the simplicity of the language. I might not have understood the importance in distinction. I might not have felt the sting of tears at the idea that there could be a world without love and loss. Without pain and joy. 

Jonas lives in this indifferent life, and it was certainly something new for me to perceive. The idea behind the story is very bizarre, but definitely atmospheric. The setting was such that the colorless world seemed almost palpable to me.

And the characters! Their conformity with the rules was very well executed. The characters did not come off as card boards even though they felt nothing they were not taught to feel. In all honesty, until about halfway through, I began to wonder myself what was so rotten about the nondescript life they lived in. It was that real. I thought everything really worked. There is no struggle! But there is also no choice.

I would recommend this book to everyone. Though it was written for children, the depth between the lines is enough to fill up anyone with wonder. 

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Summer 2014 Must Reads!!

It's finally that time of the year when all the book nerds throw back, relax, and get ready for extreme reading. Oh, joy, I am so stoked because summers are when you can finally get to try perhaps a new genre, or a book you've heard plenty about, but have never gotten around to read. The only problem is, the world is overflowing with books of all sorts, so much so that it can be sort of intimidating stepping out of your norm. This year, I've actually already taken some baby steps away from the YA field. Today, I will share with you the books I've read this year that would make worthy summer reads. So progress, good folk.


1) The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn't thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she'd claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy. (more)

Why you should read it: 
Ever read a book that really makes you feel nostalgic? Makes you feel a longing for childhood, or just really goes deep into your memories and emotions and builds a nest there? This book does that with its subtle hint at beautiful lessons about what it means to be a child and how we grow up to forget. The setting was beautiful and vivid, containing every sort of comfort (a pond, quiet old town, a barn, green hills).

Bottom Line:
Read to feel a moment of awe.

2) The Little Prince

A pilot forced to crash land in the Sahara desert encounters a little prince who is visiting the earth from his own small planet with its three volcanoes and a beautiful flower. Through this encounter, the pilot comes to discover many of life's universal truths which illuminate the human condition with all its foibles, cunning and eccentricities. The Little Prince is a strange and wonderful parable for all ages, championing the beauty and wisdom of childhood which fades when one becomes a 'grown up'. (more)

Why you should read it:
The Little Prince is a timeless, abstract classic that is relatively fast to read. The pictures within the books are absolutely breath taking, and the dialogue is so very unique and emotional.

Bottom Line:
Read to indulge in the aesthetic of language and art simultaneously. 

3) The Golem and the Jinni

Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a strange man who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian Desert. Trapped in an old copper flask by a Bedouin wizard centuries ago, he is released accidentally by a tinsmith in a Lower Manhattan shop. Struggling to make their way in 1899 New York, the Golem and the Jinni try to fit in with their neighbors while masking their true selves.

And then, one cold and windy night, their paths happen to meet. (more)

Why you should read it:
If you are a die-hard fan of beautifully constructed love stories, than jump right on and read this baby! The main characters are so very unique, and the story will keep you on edge and turning the pages because you simply cannot get enough of the plot.  

Bottom line:
And then, one cold and windy night, their paths happen to meet. Tell me this line doesn't give you goosebumps of anticipation.

4) The Ghost Bride

Though ruled by British overlords, the Chinese of colonial Malaya still cling to ancient customs. And in the sleepy port town of Malacca, ghosts and superstitions abound.

Li Lan, the daughter of a genteel but bankrupt family, has few prospects. But fate intervenes when she receives an unusual proposal from the wealthy and powerful Lim family. They want her to become a ghost bride for the family's only son, who recently died under mysterious circumstances. Rarely practiced, a traditional ghost marriage is used to placate a restless spirit. Such a union would guarantee Li Lan a home for the rest of her days, but at a terrible price. (more)

Why you should read it:
For those of you who are reluctant to step out of YA fiction, this piece of work is a great place to start. The writing style is not very different than that of YA. The plot of the book is very unique, and the mysterious element really reels you into a whole new world. And if you are not accustomed to reading about books that take place overseas, well, you should be worried. Books with Chinese or Japanese settings can be extremely beautifully crafted, and extremely addicting. After you read this, you will want more books with a similar setting, at which point I would recommend Three Souls by Janie Chang 

Bottom line:
You will not be able to predict the ending. Or the romance (insert wink).