Monthly Archives: June 2008

eclipse by stephenie meyer

628 pages. atom books. copyright 2007

as much as i didn’t really like the second book in the twilight series, ‘New Moon’, i still can’t resist the urge to be hooked and want to know what happens next. i’m glad i got the third book. ‘eclipse’ sort of becomes ‘new moon’s redeeming factor. so this picks up where new moon ended–the cullens are back in forks. but there’s been a series of murders in seattle that alarms nor just the forks local police and people but the friendly neighborhood vampires and werewolves as well.

more action, more historical info (aka legends) are in the book. the suspense builds up at a moderate pace, and doesn’t all just culminate in the end (like twilight). there’s the suspense of battle, and of personal decisions.

the characters are much more developed–i was going to hate edward cullen forever for being so possesive of bella –and for bella as well for being a pushover, but later on they reach a compromise. and edward becomes more understanding of bella’s and jacob’s friendship. i’ve also found a newborn respect for edward in his conversation with jacob–him admitting that there are times he thinks jacob would be better for bella.

jacob as usual is very endearing, and still devoted to bella. bella finds herself being able to relate to the catherine of ‘wuthering heights’, torn between 2 opposing and feuding admirers.

it ends with bella graduating from highschool–and all twilight readers would know what that means.

i really feel for jacob black. bella is too dumb and lovestruck not to see this!

PS: atom books has serious issues with typos (grammatical and all sorts), all 3 books have had them so far. very trivial errors but affects the reading of course.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

penguin books. 326 pages. copyright 2005

this book is one of the first novels dealing with the 9/11 attacks. oskar schell is a precocious 9 year old boy whose father died when the second tower fell. since then, he’s been ‘wearing heavy boots’ because of many factors: the messages his father left in the voicemail that only he has retrieved, his mother dating another guy, oskar’s naturally curious and inventive nature, and just a son’s loss basically.

he finds a key inside an envelope with his father’s handwritting on it. from then on, his main goal is to find what the small key opens. his father has written “Black” on the envelope, and he begins paying a visit to ALL the Black-surnamed people in New York.

along his quest, he makes new friendships, and gets to know his grandmother and grandfather more.

extremely loud and incredibly close is a one-of-a kind novel. it is almost multi-media as it has accompanying photographs, scribbles, scratches, and even a flip book type animation of a man falling from one of the towers. it brings forth an intro to modern storytelling, not just in prose but delivery and presentation.

oskar is your typical school genius who gets picked on and his narration of his grief and hatred with the events that happened on the 11th of september is creative, innocent, admirable, charming, and sad.

i’ve totally fallen in love with this book–it is a story of a boy’s quest, and a story of sons and fathers.

how very apt for me to have read it on fathers’ day.

i’ll be looking forward to getting my hands on Foer’s other novel, ‘Everything is Illuminated’. need to read it before the movie comes out.

author jonathan safran foer, born 1977 is married to novelist nicole krauss.

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

atom books. 563 pages. copyright 2006

there is no way that you could read twilight and not want to know what happens next. so i immediately got the second book, new moon (thanks to hubby). ‘new moon’, according to author stephenie meyer, is the complete opposite phase of a full moon. and it is supposedly the darkest kind of night. that definition alone sums up the book in a whole. so these are bella swan’s darkest days. edward cullen realizes that his vampire-human relationship isn’t doing any of them good, so he ups and leaves. meanwhile bella is left , for the next half year, moping around. she seeks comfort from jacob black, who turns out to become a werewolf to fight the vampires. she actually seemed to be just using him, for the meantime that she is nursing a broken heart.

edward only appears in the beginning and in the end of the book. in between is like one grey matter (the only climax revealing that jacob belongs to a pack of werewolves, and that victoria is back seeking for vengeance) the whole book is too reflective, and too emotional, especially with bella not being able to move on. the pacing is not as good as twilight, even with edward’s life or death scenario in italy towards the end.

bella practically ‘dumps’ jacob like a used comforter when edward returns back into the picture. edward, for all the frustrations i have with him, at least was man enough to thank jacob for keeping bella alive when he wasn’t around.

so the issue which leaves readers hanging now is, will she or will she not? (be turned into a bloodsucker)

i have eclipse waiting to be read, but im taking a break from the vampires first.

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

Atom Books. 434 pages. copyright 2005

i had my apprehensions, doubts and qualms about this book. just about everyone was raving about this young adult novel series. i was never into young adult literature, and definitely not interested in a vampire love story ala buffy, etc. but since im experiencing such a long spell of good book drought, i was welcome to suggestions. that is, after all, how you discover new favorites.

i struggled at the beginning till the middle part, because it was only then when the pacing picked up. but once it did, i couldn’t, for the life of me, put the book down, even for a toilet break.

4 now-famous sentences on the back of the book:

about three things i was absolutely positive. first, edward was a vampire. second, there was a part of him–and i didn’t know how dominant that part might be–that thirsted for my blood. and third, i was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.

that was isabella swan speaking, the heroine of the story. she’s just moved to the small town of Forks, and though the town is boring and dreary, her relationship with edward cullen, a 90 year old vampire in a 17-year old high school student’s clothing, is anything but normal or steady.

what i loved:

–the suspense that the twists and turns of the plot and chase scenes take you to.

–discovering how cool the cullens are

–the occassional romantic thrills

–the plot, period.

what i didn’t appreciate:

–very slow build-up

–bella’s dullness/lack of character

————————–

that’s just about it. though i’m not a full-on fanatic (yet), i am already starting the second book, New Moon. (given by my husband since he could see me hunched over the book till early in the morning). and ive been talking non-stop about it.

overall, im pretty glad to have found a series to look forward to. the last time my heart beat that fast while reading a scary book, was about 1994? (Fear Street Saga by R.L Stine!)

i hope the movie won’t disappoint. (coming december 2008 )

A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley

Ballantine Books, 371 pages.

I don’t even know how to begin with this book. This book that is as flat as the thousand acres it is set on. So this is a modern-day, 1980’s, rural Iowa set King Lear story. A successful but now retiring farmer decides to divide his land among his 3 daughters. Things turn awry when the youngest daughter, Caroline, refuses to get into any of the farming business. Afterall, she is now a successful lawyer in Minnesota. The other 2 sisters, quick-tempered Rose and ‘yes-man’ Ginny , are both ‘tied’ to the farming business, as they are both housewives to their husbands Pete and Ty, who are both working for the farm the girls’ father /family owns.

But their father, Larry is extremely overbearing and abusive and have pretty much controlled the girls’ lives which resulted to them growing into adults with a ball of issues.

Soon, Ginny and Rose become the talk of the town when they engage in a dispute with their father over his domineering ways. They become each others’ confidante and also each others’ rivals when a family friend’s son comes back from the Vietnam war and gives both of them fresh air from their everyday farmer’s daughter/wife world.

This book is for you if you are into heavy family drama, and much into symbolisms/undertones. I can see why it is much acclaimed, and the occurances in the story are very good for discussions and forums.

But again, it’s just not for me. The narrative is average–neither poetic, nor entertainingly simple. It’s just…bland, really. Towards the end, I must admit that something in the plot made me hopeful for an exciting change. The end doesn’t disappoint, and it doesn’t impress either.

A film adaptation of this novel was done in 1998–a powerhouse cast of talent (Michelle Pfiffer, Jessica Lange, Colin Firth) .

Author Jane Smiley is a Pulitzer Prize recipient.