Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

image from LibraryThing
I have certain holes in my reading background. That may seem a bit odd - since I have been a pretty active reader for most of my life, and a teacher librarian in a past life.  But - I grew up in an elementary without a library.  I visited the public library often - but I didn't have anyone suggesting books for me - so I fell into a pretty shallow rut.  By the time I got to Jr. High I was more interested in romances.  My high school reading career consisted of all basal readers. I never read a novel in a class until college.

All of that is a sort of excuse for the fact that I have never read Ender's Game  - until now.  I have heard about this book for years and I knew I would get around to reading it sometime. I have always enjoyed science fiction - so that wasn't the reason I haven't read it.

Then about a month ago I walked out of the HS library talking to a student. I asked about his favorite book and he said that Ender's Game was the best book ever written. Pretty high praise!  I went home and ordered it from Amazon immediately.  When I heard it would become a movie that spurred me to read it before allowing myself to see it!

And what did I think?

I liked Ender.  I used to teach elementary kids and I could see them in Ender.  I felt sorry for his isolation and his destiny and his understanding of his fate.  I felt sorry for the way he was manipulated and cheered as he attempted to break the rules to fit his desire.  But, even in that he was a pawn.

That was what I didn't like. Maybe it is because I've read too many YA books - but I am a bit tired of the 'stupid adult' syndrome.  This syndrome takes a twist in this book because the adults are more than just stupid - their seeming omnipotent knowledge just proved them even more impotent.  I got tired of that. They were always the bad guys - from Ender's parents to all the 'teachers'.  I am not a fan of that philosophy.

And then there was the game.  But which game is really Ender's?  He is involved in numerous games. And Card drew those out in minute details.  Until near the end and suddenly time sped up and the final scenes of the game were over in a flash of description though they took many years to actually play out.  I am not a fan of that technique either.

So - I am glad I read this.  But, I would not be able to agree with that high school student's praise.  It was enjoyable and thought provoking and an important book to have in your reading knowledge bin.  But, not one of my favorites.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

House of Hades by Rick Riordan

Image from LibraryThing
The next book in the Heroes of Olympus series.  This continues the journey of the heroes to fulfill the prophecy.

Percy and Annabeth must fight demons and monsters through the underworld.  This journey is simply horrible!  Especially as they continue to cross paths with creatures they have already killed. In the worst segment - they are cursed to relive each of the final curses of those they have killed!  But, they also discover some reformed creature who sacrifice themselves to help the pair.

The other six heroes (Leo, Frank, Piper, Hazel, Jason and Nico) continue on the ship and each of them faces their own demons - for real!  Frank grows up and accepts the burden of his own life, Nico admits his hidden secret to Jason, Leo falls in love and Hazel figures out the way to save them all.

Even though I am getting weary of waiting for the story to finish, this was a good installation.  It moved the story along, but, of course it didn't finish.  I continue to be amazed how Riordan so easily weaves myths into a current day story with it all making sense.

Now - I have to wait for the next one!

I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb

Image from LibraryThing
I was ready for a thick, involved book and this was the perfect story.  It is one that haunts me still. There were times that I really disliked the book - REALLY disliked it!! But, I couldn't stop!

Dominick is a twin.  That descriptor has defined him through his entire life. Being a twin brings to mind pleasant images of shared secrets and moments. That is not the life of Dominick and his twin Thomas.  The book opens with Thomas cutting off his hand in a public library to protest the Gulf War.  Yes, cutting off his hand.

This is a culmination of Thomas' life with mental illness. His defining moment in the stacks of the library. Thomas is convinced that this event will force the world leaders to pause and rethink their march to world destruction.  But, this event also defined the moment start of the end for both Dominick and Andrew.

The book then is about the journey from that moment for Dominick - the road to understanding of his own limits and the road to healing as he fights to keep Thomas safe and deal with both is mother's death and her refusal to admit how his real father was.

Buried in this is the story of Dominck and Thomas' grandfather - a story that had been translated from Italian and uncovers the tendrils of mental illness from past generations.

I gotta say - I cried and sighed and wrote down the final lines of this book! I LOVED it!!!