Lord of the Flies by William Golding

8016155I have no words to describe this book; simply stunning, incredibly disturbing yet it was such a delight to read.

This book had been on my radar for quite some time and I had been meaning to read it and then I got sent this by my Twitter friend who said she wanted to hear my thoughts on this, so here you go;

I must admit the litany of descriptions of the island made me hold up a little bit. I had to reread the same part over and over in an attempt to visualize what the island looks like and what paths the characters are taking, etc, etc… it got me stumped. That said, the writing is absolutely gorgeous and the plot is magnificent – incredibly dark and heavy, it made me feel sick in the stomach. I cannot say anything but AMAZING.

What I found quite disturbing and jarring was Jack’s transformation from a boy to nothing but a bloodthirsty savage; he is gradually stripped away from his rationality and fair judgement, and gets obsessed with hunting and even becomes capable of a horrific murder – it literally sent chills down my spine. So unnerving, so spine-chilling.

You may find the first half is kind of slow at first but the latter half is definitely a page-turner. I loved how the creepiness begins to crawl into every sentence and each scene and how the descriptions get more and more graphic as the story moves on. The jolt definitely comes in the latter half and it only gets intensified from there.

The cast of characters and the dynamics are just brilliant. In my personal opinion, the main two characters, Ralph and Jack are at the opposites end of the spectrum; Ralph represents rationality and order while Jack savagery and feral instinct and I found it really well done, simply stunning.
The power struggle happens in the latter half is also gripping, too. Despite Ralph’s attempt to bring order to the group and hold everyone together again, the small society crumbles and the assembly ends up a complete flop; Jack starts to gain ground and eventually assumes power – he literally reigns  as an invincible sovereign in the uninhibited island with the charismatic authority. This gradual power transfer is written so perfectly, it’s just glorious and riveting.

The last four chapters may be too graphic and horrific to read; I actually had to put it down so many times and take a breather to calm down. My heart was beating so fast that I thought I could hear my heart was bumping against my rib cage.

Could this really happen to kids, or us were we left to our own devices with no adult supervision or intervention?
Could our mind really be grawed at and overtaken by our own inherit feral instinct?

Such idea like those made me think, really THINK.
I honestly don’t want to admit it, I really want to refuse, but I also know it CAN happen and that’s what I found the most horrendous.

Nevertheless, I can also say that’s where things start to happen and the plot becomes intense and captivating. It’s gory, yes, but it’s like watching a horror movie between your fingers – you cannot stand the goriness but you want to see how things unfold.  That’s what happened to me.

Like I mentioned, I did struggle to grasp the story and took me some time to get into the flow, but I am now glad that I made it to the end.
Since the writing is rather graphic, this is definitely not for the faint of heart, this is not for everyone, but I think this story will stick with me and I’m sure I’ll come back to this at least more than once. I quite enjoyed it.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

the-great-gatsby

As a non-native, this book had always been like an insurmountable mountain to me – a masterpiece decked with beautiful yet somewhat elusive words.

The very first chapter was the most difficult; like a tough nut to crack, the smooth flow of words felt really elusive and abstract, it took me some time to get the hang of his writing style and decipher what the author tried to say.

That said, I must admit that I literally fell in love with the writing. It’s stunningly beautiful and mellifluous, I even thought it was like impressionist’s paintings at times where the story was told not explicitly by solid outlines but by numerous numbers of brushwork. The story was woven and contoured so subtly yet it’s got quite a strong ‘draw’ that captivates the reader. I can’t really put my finger on exactly what it is, but I was enthralled by his outstandingly beautiful writing.

His writing is also very descriptive. The description of almost-out-of-order-parties was just amazing; I could easily visualize how flamboyant and bustling they must have been.

Story-wise, I had neither read this book nor watched the movie so I dove right into this book without knowing anything. As I previously mentioned, the toughest was the very introduction in Chapter 1, but once I powered through it, I was captivated by this enchanting yet poignant story.

Honestly, I didn’t anticipate this turn of events; I sometimes felt it was kind of hazy and ambiguous in a good way, but as I came to understand Gatsby’s personality and his anguish as well as the flame for Daisy that he keeps burning in his mind, I found myself completely reeled in the story and wanting his love for Daisy to come to fruition.

I was really surprised to find how strongly invested I actually was in Gatsby’s character; I wasn’t expecting to be emotionally attached to any of the characters because none of the characters felt realistic nor grounded. They all seemed frivolous and were living in the moment not caring much about where they were heading nor the consequences of their actions.
With the sad outcome that Gatsby faced, I, for the first time, felt the pang of sympathy toward him and I also felt sorry for Nick. The ensuing funeral scenes and the aftermath tugged at my heartstrings.

How close Gatsby had become to Nick.
What big of an influence Gatsby had had on Nick. 

The last several chapters are just stunning. It’s so atmospheric, poignant yet beautiful like quiet, undulating waves on the surface of water.

I wouldn’t boast that I got to grasp the gist of the story.

Not quite, I’m afraid.

Nevertheless, this story left me enthralled and mesmerized, and I pledge to come back to this book at some point in my life. This is a masterpiece.

And I really adore this book.

Prince Caspian (The Chronicles of Narnia Publication Order #2)

prince-caspian

I adore this book as much as ‘The Lion,’ probably even more – this grand story evoked a lot of emotions inside me and I just couldn’t process my feelings when I closed the book. The ending wrecked me in a good way; I just couldn’t think of anything else.

This is the second time I’ve picked up this book; the last time when I picked up this one, I gave up on continuing to read for some reason; probably from the lack of my vocabulary at the time.

After about 3 years, I now got to finish this book and – oh, my, I’m so glad that I read it!
Like I said, this book moved me much more than the last one (Lion) did.

I enjoyed this book from start to finish – it is just impeccable! The plot is well-crafted and I personally think the writing and descriptions are much more engaging than ‘The Lion.’
I must say I felt the story in the last one (The Lion) went in a flurry, but with this one, ‘Prince Caspian,’ the plot has a lot more depth to it and the dialogues are quite engaging and amazing. It touches on some political stuff – ugly conspiracies involving the throne and the war to take back the kingdom – I think that’s what makes this story more entertaining and just riveting.

All the characters are so likable and relatable; I particularly liked Reepicheep! Despite being a mouse, he is noble and is truly a knight. His remarks are pregnant with meaning which came as quite a surprise to me.

Just like the last time, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I got to understand the messages and teachings this book carries, but I enjoyed this book immensely for its great story-development. It’s action packed (particularly the combat part with Miraz) ,exciting, and I particularly liked the remark that Peter makes when he starts to doubt if he can pull off defeating the despicable Miraz – it is just poignant!

I was a bit thrown off when I realized how many alterations had been made when it was made into a movie. In addition to Prince Caspian being much older than the book, a love story between Susan and Caspian??  I would have liked the movie to be a faithful reflection of the book. Most of the great dialogues had been cut, many unnecessary scenes had been added,  I must say that I was a bit sorry about that.

I was so sad to know that Peter and Susan wouldn’t be able to come back to the world of Narnia any more because I love them both! They found a place which has a special place in their hearts but the fate has taken it away from them – how sad it is!
When they all come back to the real world from Narnia in the end, the poignant feel washed over me- I almost cried. (seriously)

That said, like I said, I enjoyed this amazing journey from start to finish. I can’t wait to pick up the next book and see what happens next! I’m loving the series so far!

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia (Publication Order) #1)

lion

I gave this book 4.5 out of 5 stars. I really, really adore this book.

I re-read this book for the first time in about 3 years.
I was a bit worried if all my senses and emotions had gone numb after a major book hangover stemming from reading NOS4A2. Although I picked up a different book prior to this one but the book didn’t speak to my heart as much and I began to wonder if there was something wrong with me.

It was when I decided to pick up this book; I remember enjoying it so much the last time and I figured I would be in trouble if I didn’t.

You can’t imagine how glad and relieved I was to say this out loud – I enjoyed this book immensely!

First thing first – the plot; I adore the story line! How fantastic and exciting it is to step into a completely different world and eventually ascend to the throne!  I think this is everybody’s dream come true and I love it!

Being such a short book which has got only 206 pages or so, the story goes pretty fast.
I still can’t believe so many events take place in such a short book.
The writing comes across rather simple (it is also natural considering it’s for children) and some scenes feel overly simplified and concise compared to the movie adaptation, but the power that his writing has held me in thrall throughout the book. I couldn’t put it down.

The dialogues are so vibrant and sound quite natural. In particular, whatever that comes out of Aslan’s mouth does speak to me; his remarks are literally words of wisdom and they naturally come into me.

The Pevensie siblings are all so adorable, but I found a bit difficult to see why Edmund is being so spiteful in the early part of the book. I wish there were some more explanations or descriptions of a rift or two particularly between Peter and Edmund as there was in the movie.

Putting all the metaphors and messages of Christianity this book carries aside (for me not being a Christian), I believe this book does impart some messages that each and every one of us should bear in mind; put others before you, there may be some people who need as much help as you or your loved one needs.
And the messages are conveyed in a masterful, beautiful writing. Just amazing.

This story has got somewhat a warm vibe and hope keeps running through the entire book.
It is a bit sad and poignant when the Pevensie siblings come back to the real life through the magical wardrobe, but I love the Professor’s very last remark before the story ends.

Once a King in Narnia, always a King in Narnia. But don’t go trying to use the same route twice. Indeed, don’t try to get there at all. It’ll happen when you’re not looking for it.

Keep your eyes open.

Ahhh, another word of wisdom… I love the Professor!!

This is a perfect example that showcases a great book doesn’t need to be way too long.
Short and sweet yet full of wisdom. I now desperately want to get the box set so that I can always go back to the Narnia world!

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

pride-and-prejudiceTitle: Pride and Prejudice

Author: Jane Austen

Edition: Dover Thrift Editions

Length: 262 pages

 

I honestly don’t know what to make of this book; not in a negative light but in a positive light.
When I closed the book, I was still drifting in the world of the 19th century and it took me a while to be back in the 21st century.

I must admit that I didn’t get to comprehend every sentence that’s in the book, there are some parts that I couldn’t wrap my head around however hard I tried, yet it was such a delightful read and I just adore this book.

I have watched the film adaptation prior to reading this and the film is one of my favorites. That said, having read this book, I can say that you must read the book to fully enjoy the film because the book gives you a lot of in-depth descriptions and explanations for things that happen in the film and more than anything, much detailed descriptions of Elizabeth’s vacillation and torment upon Mr. Darcy’s confession.

Although the film does contain the scene where Elizabeth receives the letter from Mr. Darcy explaining what happened between him and Mr. Wickham which makes Elizabeth realize she has been all wrong on disliking Mr. Darcy, but it is a bit hard to detect Elizabeth’s change of heart where her disliking toward Mr. Darcy changing into affection and gratitude by merely watching the film. (As everything goes at a fast pace.)

In addition to that, I personally think the dialogues are what makes this book outstanding and a delightful read. They all reflect the characters’ personality really well and make each character really relatable and endearing.

Not to mention the plot is just adorable and heart-tickling. I personally think it’s rather deplorable that such modesty and courtesy have long been lost in the modern society.
Some may think it’s long-winded and unnecessarily circumspect, but I do think it adds to the thrill and suspense of how things turn out between them.

Well, that’s all I can say now about this book for the lack of better words, pardon me 😦

I will definitely re-read this book so that I get to better understand the story next time.
I’m even thinking of reading the other two books, ‘Sense and Sensibility’ and ‘Persuasion’ in the coming months!

 

The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury

the-halloween-treeHappy Halloween!

I’ve now come to wonder if it’s appropriate to use this common phrase having finished this book.

As I previously mentioned, I managed to finish reading it last Saturday, thanks to my mom going out for a walk for an hour or so.

My gosh, this book amazed me in all respects; the writing is just grand and beautiful, it sounds like a poem and oh, THE BARGAIN the boys make with Mr. Moundshroud to save Pipkin!! It ripped my heart; it was incredibly profound (for children’s book) and pregnant with meaning. Literally mind-blowing. I momentarily lost for words and couldn’t say anything but ‘Oh, my gosh, Oh, my gosh!!

Spoiler Alert: The following paragraphs contain some spoilers. Those who haven’t read this book before, I strongly suggest you read this part AFTER you’ve read the book. For those who have already known how it goes, drag your mouse down to ‘End Spoilers.’

The bargain they make with Mr. Moundshroud to save good-old Pipkin trapped in the world of Death and Darkness is to give up one year out of their lives.

One year doesn’t seem like much with the boys being so young and sprightly, but as Mr. Moundshroud says it carries a significant meaning when their days are numbered. I think they will come to wish to live as long as possible, every single day counts in such situations, but once they make the pledge, Mr. Moundshroud will come to them and take away one year of their lives.

So he asks the boys – Can you make this commitment? Are you willing to sacrifice your precious one year of your life to save Pipkin?? Consider and deliberate this; think about a time when your life is coming to a close.

I literally sucked my breath, thinking, “What a huge decision for the boys to make!” One year out of their lives. What will the boys be thinking of having their one-year taken out of their lives when they want to live longer?

I just couldn’t put it down – completely got wrapped up in reading and was desperate to see how the story ends.

–End Spoilers —————————-

I would not say that I get to comprehend all the-origin-of-Halloween part, but in spite of that, I am glad that I picked up this book for this year’s Halloween.

Having read this book, I now feel sorry for all the craziness and racket that we’ve seen here in Japan (especially in Shibuya, Tokyo): dressed up in crazy costumes and traipse down the streets not knowing what Halloween really is, or what meanings Halloween carries to the dead.

Halloween is a celebration for the dead and personally, I don’t think it should be taken lightly; it shouldn’t be reduced down to a mere festival propagated by some guys who just want to jump on the bandwagon.

A great book does possess a power to change our perspective.
Mine has definitely changed upside down having read this book and I think it’s a wonderful thing.

Now, what do you think?
As I said, I’m glad that I picked up this book in time for Halloween and I am seriously thinking of getting a hardback because I want to read it again and again and again when Halloween rolls around!

Happy Halloween!

 

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

a-little-princessI assume I don’t have to tell you much about this book – this is THE classic loved by both adults and kids around the world and I did love it so much – except the fact that I have never read the actual book; I have only read its comic adaptation or animated one when I was a child.

Back in the day, there was a popular animated program broadcast on Sunday evenings featuring word-classics such as Little Women, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and this, ‘Little princess’ was my absolute favorite.

After all these years, I finally got my hands on this book – the original one not the translated version – and I have to admit, it was as moving as ever; it still holds so much power to enchant me. This book is simply amazing.

However, I’m not sure if it is because of me being jaded and cynical, there are some points that I couldn’t related to Sara wholeheartedly.

First and foremost, she is PERFECT for a mere 11 or 12 something year-old girl. How can a mere child be so matured, calm and collected? Of course, there are scenes where she takes her rage out on her beloved doll, Emily or distances herself from her friends, yet she still retains her dignity and refuses to be reduced down to being spiteful. I think I’ll need to take a page out of her book in this regard.

Secondly, although she eventually amends her remark about Ermengarde before she actually says it, it can’t be denied Sara in fact thinks of her as being ‘stupid.’
In my opinion, ‘stupid’ itself is a very derogatory, strong word and that implies one disregards others, looking down on them.
By the same token, I felt Sara is a bit disrespectful to Miss Minchin after Sara has lost everything – her beloved father, her fortune, anything you can think of – and fallen in a state of a penniless with no one to be looked after.
She could have been dead out on the street had it been for Miss Minchin; she ought to have thought of herself as fortunate to have a roof over her head, yet she refuses to utter a word ‘Thank you.’
It goes without saying that Miss Minchin is very detestable (as we all know too well), but she could have shown her gratitude even a bit, if you ask me.

Other than that, this is a very moving story. Sara teaches us that we don’t have to stoop ourselves to the same level of those who despite us or make fun of us, or we don’t have to resort to the ‘eye-for-eye’ tactic. Instead, we should just hold our heads high and not let them get to us.

As this is a Classic story written more than 100 years ago, it may be a bit challenging for beginners, but I think it would make a nice change to revisit some classic stories that you adored in your childhood 🙂