Sunday, 28 June 2015

My Review of The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas

For the PopSugar topic of "a book that makes you cry," I added  book that I have wanted to read for a long time, but just have never seemed to have gotten around to. The book I chose was The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne.

I'm not entirely sure where to start with my review, but I'll start by being honest and admitting that I hated this book. Hopefully I will be able to coherently explain as to why.

The first few pages of the book I found the writing style to be extremely strange and it took me a while to get into the flow of how Boyne wrote. I also found a lot of the metaphors and similes extremely odd, for example on page 7 we had this simile " 'Say Goodbye to them?' he repeated, spluttering out the words as if his mouth was full of biscuits that he'd munched into tiny pieces but not actually swallowed yet."  To me that just seems really long winded and awkward.

SO MUCH REPETITION

The descriptions of some of the characters physical actions are also odd, the fact that Bruno (who is 9) feels his arms stretching out at his sides in surprise, is something that my toddler does when he's surprised or excited. A child of 9 would have grown out of this a long time ago. Also the amount of people whose mouth formed the shape of a O is quite ridiculous. There are so many better ways of describing this facial expression such as " his jaw dropped in surprise," "her mouth was agape" I could go on, but you get the picture.

SO MUCH REPETITION

Another thing I found infuriating was Bruno's mispronunciation of Auschwitz and Fuhrer. It felt as though Boyne was just trying to avoid actually using the words in his book. It is just plain unbelievable that a child of one of Hitler's top men would be allowed to go on in this manner, oh and don't let me forget that he believes that saluting and saying "heil Hitler" is a way of saying "goodbye and I hope you have a nice day".....yeah....oh, oh and a high ranking Commandant's son that does not know what or rather who a Jew is. I do understand that a lot of people at the time were sadly unaware of what was happening around them, but as someone who is living right next to Auschwitz and who is surrounded by soldiers, it just seems unbelievable in my opinion that Bruno would know so little. My feelings are that Boyne used this time period and the atrocities that happened to write his "fable" but was then too scared to actually use any form of correct representation of what was actually going on.

SO MUCH REPETITION

As children of a Commandant, there is no way they would have been allowed to have been out of education for even a short amount of time or some form or military style training. By 1943 (which is the year I'm guessing this is set in due to Bruno being 9 and born in 1934) the Hitler Youth and the subdivisions were recruiting children as young as 10, so though Bruno wasn't quite old enough, he would have being prepared for it and Gretel would definitely have gone as I believe only 10 or 20% of German youths avoided being drafted.

SO MUCH REPETITION (is it annoying yet)

I felt that the children were portrayed in such a way that they appeared much younger than any child, especially in a time of war, would seem. Children are extremely intelligent and know a lot more than any adult would like to think. Their characters just didn't seem to fit the ages that were given as 9 and 12, I don't feel that Boyne can write children very well at all, the way they talk, think and act just don't seem natural.

SO MUCH REPETITION

And we come to the ending, if you don't want to be spoiled, stop reading here...Ok the ending for me came completely out of nowhere and was surprising, however I am apparently the only person who hadn't been spoiled for the ending as even my husband knew what happened and he has neither read the book or seen the film. I did not cry at the tragic end as I'd not felt any connection to any of the characters and I felt that though yes you should definitely mourn the loss of one boy, the book almost sidelines the fact that millions of people died. Even the final sentences were kind of insulting "Of course all this happened a long time ago and nothing like that could ever happen again. Not in this day and age."

Did I mention - SO MUCH REPETITION (Ok I'll stop now)

The only part of the book that I actually found quite interesting was the implied affair between Bruno's Mother (who was never even given a name) and Lieutenant Kotler. But we never really get anything in a way of payoff as we're following the story through the eyes of a child. All that happens is that Kotler is sent away, whereas I would have thought he would have suffered an "accident" but maybe that's just me.

I do kind of feel that I am cheating using this book as the one that made me cry as it did not. I am going to stand by it as I could cry with anger and frustration at how history has been used to produce this book. There are even now more things that I could comment on (the fence not being electrified, no guard patrols, a child in Auschwitz being able to sit around all afternoon without anyone noticing, the fact that that child was alive, the fact there was a way under the fence and not one person tried to escape) about how much I dislike this book, but have chosen to only include the most prevalent in my mind while writing this.

I originally gave this book 2 stars on Goodreads, just due to the surprise ending (for me) and then I dropped it to 1.5 and now as I've been writing my review I have decided it is only a 1 star.
I started reading this book on the 23rd of June 2015 and finished it on the 26th of June 2015

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Can I Borrow a Feeling - My Review of The Borrowers

Back to PopSugar for this reading choice, and I opted for "a book my mum loved" It took a good while for her to decide what she would suggest., but her final decision was to suggest The Borrowers by Mary Norton which made me really happy as it was a book I loved as a child, so off I went to borrow it from my local library.

The book started off extremely slow and I found it very hard to get into, I kept putting it down and finding pretty much anything else that I could do instead of finish reading it. Sadly I think the book has aged badly due to it's casual mentioning of smacking children and being firm handed with your wife, The idea of the story itself is brilliant and with the amount of things I put down which disappear, I'm inclined to believe in Borrowers.

When Arrietty meets the boy, some of the magic I remembered came back into the story and it seemed to pick up the pace of the story as before she was "seen" the story was just meandering along with no real purpose or destination.

I think my favourite part of the book was in the back, where there were loads of quizzes and activities to do once you had finished reading. One of the activities was to draw your own Borrower family and make up a story around them which I think is a fantastic idea.

I started this book on the 19th of May 2015 and I finished reading it on the 6th of June 2015
I gave this book 3 Stars on Goodreads

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Cyborgs, Princesses and Fairy Tales Oh My! - My Review of Cinder

I've been doing a lot of the PopSugar categories recently so I thought it was about time to get into some of the Book Riot Read Harder challenge categories. I chose "a book that is a retelling of a classic story" and the book I chose was Cinder by Marissa Meyer.

I will hold my hands up and confess that before reading this book, I really thought I was going to hate it. I don't like cyborgs and I'm pretty sure this is the first retelling book I've ever read so I did not know what to expect and I had made a judgement before I even started.

The writing throughout Cinder is fantastic and Meyer has created a world and characters that you can instantly recognise and relate to. I absolutely adore the characters of Cinder, Iko and Kai and in complete contrast I absolutely hate Queen Levana with a passion, though I think there's more to her character which I'm looking forward to hopefully finding more about in one of the other books.

I really enjoyed the fact that we had a bit of back story for the prince in this story too as I sometimes feel we get the princesses story and then prince charming just rocks up to save the day without us knowing much about him (this isn't true for all fairy tales, just some of the ones I can think of off the top of my head).

I loved this book and was gob smacked it ended when it did, I don't have the next book and I NEED to know what happens next.

The only...not negative but something I want to point out is that I figured out pretty much on page one who Princess Selene was, to be honest though surely everyone must have known. Am I right?

I started this book on the 23rd of May 2015 and I finished reading it on the 24th of May 2015
I gave this book 5 Stars on Goodreads

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Hot! Hot! Hot! - My Review of The Scorch Trials

The Scorch Trials by James Dashner is the 2nd instalment of my choice for the PopSugar "trilogy" category. There was nearly a month between me reading this and The Maze Runner, but the story was still really clear in my mind and I knew exactly where the story had left off which is a good sign that I had really enjoyed the book.

I feel like I've said it a lot recently but this book definitely got start with a bang, Dashner does an amazing job of creating the feeling of confusion and fear with the fast paced and bizarre goings on. You feel alongside the characters and need to keep reading to find out what on earth is going on.

With how much was happening, I got around 50% through the book and I needed a break, I was just so tired with all the adrenaline rushes. After I got past this though, I flew through the second half of the book and I'm really looking forward to finding out, hopefully, how these trials are helping design a cure for anything or how it will help save the world putting children through so much trauma in the final book.

I did enjoy the addition of the new characters Brenda and Jorge though I wasn't sure about them at first, I really grew to like both of them. I do feel really sorry though for all the peripheral characters that survived the Maze, that we never even learn their names and they keep getting killed off like red shirts in Star Trek.

I'm going to have another small break before reading the final book in this trilogy (eventually I am planning on getting the prequel and reading that too), but I really can't wait to continue the journey with Thomas and the gang.

I started reading this book on the 20th of May 2015 and I finished it on the 23rd of May 2015
I gave this book 4 stars on Goodreads

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

May 2015 Book Round Up

I said earlier this year that I would start to do a round up of the books I'd read each month as I was only blogging reviews of books on my reading challenges and I have finally got organised enough to be able to do it! Yay! These are the books I've read during May with the rating I gave them on Goodreads.

Book 1 - Half Bad by Sally Green  - 4 Stars
Book 2 - Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher - 5 Stars
Book 3 - Four: A Divergent Collection by Veronica Roth - 5 Stars
Book 4 - Superman: He'l On Earth by Scott Lobdell - 5 Stars
Book 5 - Superman: Godfall by Michael Lane Turner - 3 Stars
Book 6 - Gone by Michael Grant - 4 Stars
Book 7 - The Scorch Trials by James Dashner - 4 Star
Book 8 - Cinder by Marissa Meyer - 5 Stars
Book 9 - Half Wild by Sally Green - 5 Stars

9 Books, not a bad month if I do say so myself. Currently I am 52% the way through my reading goal of 100 books this year and I am 11 books ahead of schedule according to my Goodreads reading challenge counter thingy. I am however really slacking in my 2015 Reading Challenge, my Classics Challenge (though to be fair this is a 5 year target) and my Panels Challenge, I really need to make more of an effort to start ticking books off my lists.