The Giver by Lois Lowry

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3 out of 5 stars

★ ★ ★

The haunting story centers on twelve-year-old Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community.


Yes, I committed the unthinkable sin – I watched the movie before reading the book! I’m quite positive you’re wondering why I’m just reading The Giver in college, instead of in middle school like the majority. Well, remarkably I was reading Historical Romance in middle school and it wasn’t on my school syllabus…dumb. Anyway, let the review commence!

Don’t let the three star rating deter or fool you into the assumption that I didn’t enjoy this novel, because I did, however I expected more. Although the idea was extremely interesting – a utopia that’s a dystopia. Devoid of violence, emotion, and lacking overall passion to suppress the most basic of human nature. Love, sex, violence, hatred, are all feelings that come from passion, no matter how egregious or euphoric in nature. It’s basically challenging the reader to asses if they’d rather a world where such harrowing things exist, but also such joyful things exist that they balance. Or live in  world that’s without passion and all emotion and actions overall.

We gained control of many things. But we had to let go of others.

The question is a taxing one, and we receive Lowry’s answer with this novel. Lowry, creates a world in black and white, lacking distinction and real emotions. People go through the motions, however there aren’t any genuine thoughts or feelings on the matter, which is something Jonas will express in the book.

Speaking of Jonas, I loved that kid! He’s compassionate and honest even in his dishonesty, and will endure the pain of life even when no one else around him seems to understand. However, I wasn’t satisfied with the memories we get. They are so many better things that are utterly human that could’ve been shown to Jonas but Lowery chose these, I wonder why. But Jonas was this character who always felt, but just realized the meaning of who he was and where he was.

But now Jonas had experienced real sadness. He had felt grief. He knew that there was no quick comfort for emotions like those.

They lived in hell and didn’t even realize it. Which brings me to the world building.

The world that Lowry has created in this novel isn’t as thorough as I’d like. It actually reminded me of Utopia by Sir Thomas More because although it’s supposed to be a world of perfect balance there were citizens that were looked down upon – the birth mothers were treated like trash, and the people who worked in sanitation were also lesser. It didn’t make sense to me, like the part where The Giver tells Jonas that everyone has the same flesh…so there aren’t any races? I was terribly confused. However, there were some interesting tidbits like there not really being gender roles, a suppressant for the “Stirring” which is basically the sexual feelings that come along with puberty, kids that aren’t your own and a limit to the amount allotted,  and this mysterious place named Elsewhere.

Elsewhere is the place people go when they’ve been released…it’s not too hard to figure out what this means, however I’m not going to say it here. This is the place children go who aren’t performing properly, this is the place the old go, this is the place “criminals” go, this is the place the failed go. It’s supposed to be super symbolic I guess, but it wasn’t for me because it was so obvious!

Meanwhile, The Giver is an interesting man with deep wounds and harsh pain. He’s seen everything, yet still realizes that everything is meaningless in the world. Being so wise and being the only one to see – apart from Jonas – and not have the power to do anything about it has to be the worst thing in the world.

“Honor,” he said firmly. “I have great honor. So will you. But you will find that is not the same as power.”

 

Although, this is all fantastic I still didn’t understand HOW they got to this point. There wasn’t any backstory or prologue to just explain everything beforehand – this would’ve been a good idea. Similar to the ending, which could’ve been elaborated further, however I did read that the other books continue Jonas’ story but he’s not the main character.

For the first time, he heard something that he knew to be music. He heard people singing. Behind him, across vast distances of space and time, from the place he had left, he thought he heard music too. But perhaps, it was only an echo.I

I hope you enjoyed this review and tell me what you thought about this novel!

The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare

the_taming_ofthe_shrew_Fotor2.5 out of 5 stars
★ ★ ★/★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Lucentio falls in love with Bianca, the apparently ideal younger daughter of the wealthy Baptista Minola. But before they can marry, Bianca’s formidable elder sister, Katherine, must be wedded. Petruchio, interested only in the huge dowry, arranges to marry Katherine -against her will- and enters into a battle of the sexes that has endured as one of Shakespeare’s most controversial works.

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Man v. Woman

Shakespeare really was a genius!  He unknowing – or perhaps knowingly – created the first battle of the sexes (feel free to chastise me if there was something earlier).  His idea was amazing and Katherine was such a rich character, but then it totally went downhill.

Having adored the 1999 film adaptation 10 Things I Hate About You, of the play The Taming of the Shrew; it pains me to have disliked the written version to the extent I did, and it being Shakespeare also hurt me because I LOVE Shakespeare (who doesn’t). The novel was good… until it wasn’t. This will never be my favorite Shakespeare book, basically because he took the fire out of Katherine’s eyes.


My Reaction:

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Pros:

  • Katherine – She’s my kinda chick. During this Elizabethan/Renaissance era I don’t know if it was common for women to have acted that way, but Kate was a 21st century girl all the way.

“My tongue will tell the anger of my heart

Or else my heart, concealing it, will break,

And, rather than it shall, I will be free

Even to the uttermost, as I please, in words.”
Come on! Her character was so feisty and full of passion, a true spinster in a time period where that was the only way you were a bad ass. They called her a shrew because she refused to acquiesce to the whims of the men around her, of course within the parameters a woman’s ability during this time. And this was only one of her many sharp-tongued retorts to the men in her life.
  • Theme – The theme of a battle of the sexes was so before its time.
  • Initial – Our initial introduction between Kate and Petruchio is hilarious. They were a contentiously pair – one comeback after another,  like Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger. They do seem perfect together, like Ying and Yang, and their acid tongues are just harmonious and the sexual tension is off the charts. But it ends there.
  • The Drunkard – That guy was hilarious in his whole scene.

Cons:

  • Petruchio – Ugh. Say hello to the original douchebag, Petruchio. He’s the guy that only cared about himself and money, has a “taming” school for disobedient wives, and likes Kate to be quick-witted with everyone else except him.
“Be mad and merry, or go hang yourselves.
But for my bonny Kate, she must with me.
Nay, look not big, nor stamp, nor stare, nor fret;
I will be master of what is mine own.
She is my goods, my chattels; she is my house,
My household stuff, my field, my barn,
My horse, my ox, my ass, my anything.”

Believe it or not, he gets doucheir (that’s so not a word) as the novel progresses. He basically tortures Kate by starving her, threatening others (like on Insurgent), forcing her to stay awake, etc.

“That bate and beat and will not be obedient.
She ate no meat today, nor none shall eat.
Last night she slept not, nor tonight she shall
not (…) This is a way to kill a wife with kindness,
And thus I’ll curb her mad and headstrong humor.
He that knows  better how to tame a shrew,
Now let him speak; ’tis charity to show.”

  • Bianca the Bitch – She was so annoying because of her actions and holier-than-thou attitude. Just like Bianca in the movie, she’s vapid and just lacked spunk with all these guys fighting over her because she’s so beautiful and perfect. But then she pretends to be this seriously submissive and obedient wife, the quintessential wife of the Elizabethan/Renaissance era, until she’s good and married then shows her true “shrewish” personality. Please.
  • Every Man – I think it’d be easy to just say every man in Katherine’s life was a complete waste of ink and parchment. From her hideous father Baptista who basically sold her off to the highest bidder, Hortensio is the lapdog of Petruchio, and Petruchio – as we previously established – is the ultimate abusive douchebag.
  • The Ending – I don’t know why, but I half expected Katherine to Snap Out Of It (Arctic Monkeys) and tell off Petruchio, sadly this didn’t happen. The ending was so final, almost like a funeral. All the men are sitting around a table discussing the usual Elizabethan talk, the weather, the Queen, and who has the most obedient wife. Duh. Common topics. And then they make a bet on who’s wife would come the quickest: The Widow, Katherine, or Bianca. Katherine comes first and gives this lovely (sarcasm), lengthy (literal) speech:
“Fie, fie! Unknit that threat’ning unkind brow
And dart not scornful glances from those eyes
To wound thy lord, thy king, thy governor.
It blots thy beauty as frosts do bite the meads,
Confounds thy fame as whirlwinds shake fair
buds, And in no sense is meet or amiable.
A woman moved is like a fountain troubled,
Muddy, ill-seeming, thick, bereft of beauty,
And while it is so, none so dry or thirsty
Will deign to sip or touch one drop of it.
Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper,
Thy head, thy sovereign, one that cares for thee,
And for thy maintenance commits his body
To painful labor both by sea and land,
To watch the night in storms, the day in cold,
Whilst thou liest warm at home, secure and safe,
And craves no other tribute at thy hands
But love, fair looks and true obedience—
Too little payment for so great a debt.
Such duty as the subject owes the prince,
Even such a woman oweth to her husband.
And when she is froward, peevish, sullen, sour,
And not obedient to his honest will,
What is she but a foul contending rebel
And graceless traitor to her loving lord?
I am ashamed that women are so simple
To offer war where they should kneel for peace;
Or seek for rule, supremacy and sway
When they are bound to serve, love, and obey.
Why are our bodies soft and weak and smooth,
Unapt to toil and trouble in the world,
But that our soft conditions and our hearts
Should well agree with our external parts?
Come, come, you froward and unable worms!”

What else is there left to say besides:

Exactly

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Overall, it was quite humorous and probably would have remained so if it weren’t borderline torture for Kate, and obsessive with Petruchio to tame her disobedient ways. Just didn’t hit my funny bone the right way, and I know that that’s the point of the novel but I’d have just rather it be the dark play it was meant to be instead of hiding under the mystique of humor.

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Sons and Lovers by D. H. Lawrence

Sons_and_lovers

2.5 starts out of 5

★ ★ ★/★ ★ ★ ★ ★

What happens when the love of a woman isn’t good enough?

The marriage of Gertrude and Walter Morel has become a battleground. Repelled by her uneducated and sometimes violent husband, delicate Gertrude devotes her life to her children, especially to her sons, William and Paul – determined they will not follow their father into working down the coal mines. But conflict is evitable when Paul seeks to escape his mother’s suffocating grasp through relationships with women his own age. Set in Lawrence’s native Nottinghamshire, Sons and Lovers is a highly autobiographical and compelling portrayal of childhood, adolescence and the clash of generations.

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My reaction:

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Pros:

  • Writing Style – I love D.H. Lawrence’s writing style, it’s fun (for an autobiographical written during this time) and full of imagery that allows you to feel and see everything he’s painting. Although sometimes drawn out, his writing was the main thing possessing me to continue the novel.
  • Plot – Surprisingly enough the plot (which is semi-autobiographical) is intriguing, especially for people who are interested in the psychological side of the novel. It’s not everyday I read a novel based on the Oedipus complex, so I was interested in how he was going to pull it off without crossing that line where it’s unforgivable – and Lawrence pulled it off splendidly.
  • Walter Morel – His character was a beautiful disaster. I have it on good authority that the novel would have been exponentially superior to Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers. He is a character living a life he believed was suitable, however was condemned the moment he met Gertrude. I know it might seem weird to enjoy the antagonist of a novel but he was the only character with some substance.

Cons:

  • Characters – It’s rare that every character in a novel annoys the everliving shit out of me, but this book succeeded beyond my imagination. Paul never stops whining about being dissatisfied with living because it didn’t live up to his standards, and neither do the women in his life, which are Miriam and Clara. Miriam is a hard character to understand because you feel compassion towards her, but then you’re like girl have some confidence. Clara started off strong, a true feminist, but then she just became another dumb, annoying girl in Paul’s life. Along with his mother, Gertrude who’s conclusion was where the story should have started.

  • Length – I’m not a person who is generally concerned with the length of a novel, if a novel is good it’ll take no time for me to gobble-up every word entirely; but this novel was too long when it didn’t need to be.
  • Boredom – Basically I was plagued with serious boredom while reading this novel, which is probably the reason it took so long to complete it. My mind has been trying to wrap around the purpose of the novel but it doesn’t seem to have one, and I think D.H. Lawrence hypothesized that his life was much more provocative and thought-provoking than it actually was.

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Overall, this novel was painful and uniteresting but for some it might be beautiful and heartbreaking – therefore it really just depends on the person. Regardless the link to buy the novel is below:

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Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Their Eyes Were Watching God

5 Solid Stars

★ ★ ★ ★ ★/ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Their Eyes Were Watching God is a phenomenal, unprecedented novel that showcases the best of black authors during the Harlem Renaissance. The novel follows Janie – a beautiful girl known for her luxuriously long hair and light brown skin – who has never had control of her life. Her whole life she’s been someone’s daughter, granddaughter or wife, but never the thing she craves most; the freedom to be her own woman. Can she overcome the “need” for a woman to not be her own, in a time period that women were only as good as their connection to another.

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Reading this novel was not an easy task for me. I procrastinated until I finally buckled down, put on my big girl boxers and conquered this feat. Now, don’t get me wrong I loved this novel it was interesting, enthralling and just so real. However, novels like this are hard for me to read because I just, foolishly, believed it was going to be about slavery – and before the people who actually enjoy slavery books jump on my back just understand some of us are still sensitive to the subject, but nevertheless I was misguided in the predetermined theme I had for this novel.

After reading the first three chapters I was completely hooked to the novel. Janie as a character was so strong but naïve and also so easy to feel empathy for. You’ll root for her from beginning until the very end, which was executed very well. But one problem some people may have is with the writing. I actually found it reasonably easy after I got passed the first chapter, but it may be difficult because of its use of old, uneducated southern twang. If you can read Shakespeare you can read this.

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My Reaction:

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Pros:

  • Janie – Janie has to be one of my absolute favorite heroines. She was a woman born before her time, and I like to believe if she were a) real and b) born now she’d literally thrive. Her honesty and innocence were just as prominent and potent as her strength and endurance in all the situations she found herself in.
  • Vernacular – I applaud any author that can accurately capture a settings language, so here it goes: 
  • Growth/progression – I felt like I got to see Janie grow up while reading this novel; pre-sexual awareness and post-sexual awareness was an extremely interesting thing to behold and witness her life unfolding.
  • Racism – I loved the fact that this book was written during a time period that racism and segregation was strong, however the book wasn’t really about it, although it was mentioned. An African-American novel that can be full and complete without race issues being a filler for page length is an A+ for me.
  • Feminism – This was a novel about feminism, and to be even more specific, Black women and feminism. It placed a literary spotlight on the role of black, women during this seldom acknowledged time. Janie was the rare creation born of both tradition and innovation and independence.

Cons:

  • POV – I’m not a huge fan of third-person omniscent point of views because they always seem somehow cold and detached, but then again I guess that’s the point.
  • Tea Cake – His character was just off, and I personally didn’t care for him but mayhap it’s just me.

Basically, just buy it and immerse yourself into the greatness of Ms. Hurston.

Buy