Sunday, May 5, 2013

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon: Wrap-up

During the Readathon, I finished one book (~40 pages) and completed three books.

  • Beyond the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo
    • This is the book I finished.
    • I had heard a lot of good things about this book, so I decided to pick it up. It's written like a novel, with the author playing no role in the story (note: this is non-fiction), which I wasn't expecting. I had to continuously remind myself that this is a true story, not something like Sweetness in the Belly or Slumdog Millionaire, which are realistic but still ultimately fiction. The reality of this non-fiction novel was hard to swallow - not because it wasn't realistic, but because it was heartbreaking to see what the people who serve as the characters in the story experience as ordinary, every day life. The amount of corruption was astonishing and infuriating - it quickly becomes clear that those who demand bribes and those who give them are only doing so to gain the smallest of advantages in a difficult society, or to gain access to basic necessities of life, or to ensure the criminal justice system plays out 'fairly'. Beyond this common aspect of life, what the people of the slum have to do to survive is almost incomprehensible to someone like me, who has not faced any challenges even remotely similar.
    • The only complaint I have with this book is that there was no afterword describing what happened to the slum featured. Towards the end of the novel, destruction of the slum was imminent but there was no word of what ultimately played out. I'm sure I can find out through Google, but I feel this is basic information that should have been included.
  • When the King Comes Home by Caroline Stevermer
    • I had cautiously optimistic hope for this book! I stopped signing books out of the scifi/fantasy section years ago because I could only find awful books, but somehow this caught my eye and the description on the dust jacket sounded very nice, just the sort of thing I would like to read. But...
    • Oooh, what a disappointment this book was! It was alright for about 50 pages, then I thought it was going to get better, so I kept going, and by the time I realized it was going to stay awful I was so far in I decided to finish it. This is the only book I made any notes on because it frustrated me so much - here they are!
    • The first note I made was 'Nice little read, not too much to note - lots of art, a little too perfect and blissful' - hah!
    • There's no real conflict (a bit of teasing is the most we see) then BOOM out of nowhere about 60 everything turns around and the main character's running away and she finds the alleged King and things start to go haywire. There's a number of weird plot things (SPOILER: I thought it was absolutely silly that this 'King' is not actually the King but his assistant and the King himself shows up a bit later, why bother, why not go straight to the King?) that don't make sense or seem pointless or are really weak. For example, one numerous occasions the MC continues to tag along because it's 'not convenient' for her to go home, as she is supposed to be doing - this isn't played as wishful thinking, like the MC wants to tag along so she pretends it isn't convenient; it's played as actually being inconvenient therefore she must stay. It seems like the author had to work so hard to make sure her MC stays the MC and so everything feels really forced and awkward and out of place. Most of my notes are comments on the poor plot; you get the idea so I won't post them all here.
    • I did like the writing style - nothing too fancy, fairly concise, but easy to read. I like to think it's the sort of style I write in.
  • Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
    • I saw the movie first......I prefer certain aspects of the movie's plot (mostly the differences towards the end of the film) and Tiffany's portrayal, but I liked how the book handled mental illness and how the dance competition was intended to help young girls overcome depression. I also really enjoyed the narrative style and the counsellor character (can't remember his name); the book was a nice easy breezy read for me so not too much to comment on. Also, I borrowed the book from my friend so I don't have it here to reference. 
  • Isis by Douglas Clegg
    • I read this book around 11PM during the Read-a-thon, after I came home from a going away party. It turned out to be a great way to cap off the event! Really a short novella, it's a creepy little tale told in what I consider to be a traditional storytelling style, just the kind of story I adore - I loved how it got darker and darker, and how the relationship between the brother and sister was always a little unnerving, bordering on incest but not quite.
    • The illustrations are also really lovely! Some repetition throughout the book (I've never understood why repeating an image is a thing :/) but very pretty all the same.

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