1984 (audio book)

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4 1/2 Stars

This was my first audio book ever! It was cool because it allowed me to “read” while doing other stuff like playing Civ IV or doing bookkeeping or whatever. Unfortunately this also causes me to miss some of the smaller points, but for the most part it is satisfying.

The book itself was great. It was written in 1948 about a future in which the moral authority sees everything and controls everything.  Personal freedom, even of thought, is less than an memory.  It is depressing, frankly, and a little scary in its resemblance with the current American social and political climate.  Overall it was very good.

ben

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Published in: on December 29, 2007 at 10:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

Empire of Ivory

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2 1/2 Stars

I am tiring of this series of books. The setting is great–not just the time and place, but also the characters, especially the dragons, are very interesting– but the stories are getting kinda old, even though each one is different. In this one our protagonists venture to Africa, where great adventures ensue. This was an easy read, and not bad, but it sure wasn’t great. This setting would, I think, make for a good video game or perhaps television series, but I am not too excited about the upcoming fifth volume.

ben

Published in: on December 9, 2007 at 12:20 am  Leave a Comment  

Rocket Ship Galileo

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2 1/2 Stars

This story of three boys who build a rocket ship to the moon is Robert Heinlein’s first published novel, one of a series of juvenile fiction books he wrote early in his career. What is juvenile fiction, you ask? After reading this book, I gather that it is a book targeted at grade school boys, as opposed to adolescent boys for whom most Heinlein books are written. Instead of unrealistically accommodating women, this book has cloying science lessons and life advice.

The story itself is pretty good, but weird considering the timing. It takes place in the future … of 1947, when the book was written. It was also really, really slow. I almost was unable to finish it, and fairly loathed reading it, until the very end. At the end the book gets super exciting, and I might just go ahead and read the follow up books, at some point.

ben

Published in: on December 8, 2007 at 12:16 am  Leave a Comment  

The Dark Is Rising

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1 1/2 Stars

This book was dumb.

Considering how Adrienne raved about it, I was very disappointed. I have talked to her since starting to read the book, and she acknowledges that she was very young when she read it, and it does take place over Christmas, so she could understand if it didn’t do for me what it did for her.

Anyway, it’s about a boy who thinks he’s an ordinary boy but is really far from ordinary, and his adventurous twelfth Christmas.  Only it’s not written very well, and his adventures aren’t all that adventuresome.  Instead of actually doing anything interesting, the boy seems to just be along for the ride as a bunch of cryptic nonsense unfolds.  The surprises aren’t surprising.  The characters aren’t interesting.  And the plot isn’t engaging.  It tries to be all mystical, with a grand back story, but it just doesn’t work.  Imagine the first Harry Potter book, but written as badly as the movie was made.  That’s this book in a nutshell.

I suppose this might be a good book for kids, but it’s the first Newberry book I have read that was not enjoyable for me, the adult.

ben

Published in: on December 7, 2007 at 1:04 am  Comments (1)  

The Bluest Eye

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3 1/2 Stars

Oprah’s Book Club! Oh, well. When Adrienne put out the list of books that had most frequently been requested to be banned, this one caught my eye because, one, Toni Morrison is a famous, Nobel Prize-winning author and, two, there is a Black Star (Mos Def & Talib Kweli) song with a line in it asking why we “follow the law of the bluest eye.” I always thought that was a peculiar turn of phrase, and when I saw this book on Adie’s list I figured, I like the song, maybe I’ll like the book too.

And I did like the book! It is not the sort of book with an engaging story or a lot of suspense, so it is a bit unusual for me. Instead it focuses on the characters of the story, and the society that has shaped them into what they are. It was very interesting. It looks like some folks want it banned because incest is kinda central to the story. That, and there’s some naughty language, but the book is depicting a dirty world, so the explicitness seems appropriate.

So back to the hip-hop music. The first line of the book is used by Wyclef in “The Year of the Dragon”, and the last-ish paragraph is used as the chorus for that Black Star song “Thieves in the Night” that got me reading this in the first place. Neat.

ben

Published in: on December 3, 2007 at 8:42 am  Leave a Comment