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Review: Things Fall Apart

Things Fall Apart
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Very difficult for any book to follow Love in the Time of Cholera. From the heights of Marquez, Achebe was very simplistic in contrast. I’m trying not to compare, but it’s hard to allow the emotions from a really good book from spilling over and colouring the objectivity in reading the next.

Achebe tells the story of Okwonkwo, a leader in a tribe in Nigeria, and how his carefully planned existence and climb to power eventually unravels in a sequence of events outside of his control. The life of the village and its inhabitants brings me back to the excellent The Poisonwood Bible by Kingsolver. Achebe’s prose is simple, straightforward, but in its simplicity lies a strong voice.

The interesting thing about this book, like Poisonwood, was its eventual discussion of the introduction of Christianity into a relatively peaceful albeit primitive existence. I find myself asking whether modernization is worth the price of admission for these simple folk.

I like the questions it asks here, and it is definitely more complex than the start of the book would have you believe. Read it if you want to learn about a drastically different culture (if Africa is not yet something you’re familiar with), and if you want a portrayal of how forced injection of modernity and a religion designed to spread affects culture, family and society.

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Review: Love in the Time of Cholera

Love in the Time of Cholera
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve known about this book for a very long time now, but truthfully the horribly uninspiring title conjures up an incredibly bad trek down some well-worn tropes and cliches. Since his death not too distant past, Marquez’s books have been recommended to me by readers I respect, so when this one turned up in a sale I just grabbed it. And recently I thought I may as well try it out. I braced myself for a snorefest, but this book turned out to be one of the best books I’ve ever read.

It’s not easy to explain why. I risk boring people with any attempt at a synopsis, because I actually tried it and bored myself. But the story is written with a tenderness that I hadn’t expected, filled with emotion and grace. The story traces the paths of two (plus one more) people, and intertwines their fates together in a beautifully crafted story that’s about love, life’s journeys and destinations, what we want and what we settle for, and death. Florentino Ariza is by no means paragon of virtue, but it’s a life lived.

It’s a book that I would never have touched and appreciated 10 years ago. I couldn’t have, since I don’t have the maturity/experience needed to like what I find here.

The books ends with a sentence that left me breathless. The entire novel seems geared towards that one final word, and what an incredible impact it made.

I loved the book. This was not expected. This bloody thing sneaked up on me and caught me unawares. Recommended.

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Goodreads Blog Post Feature

Wowsers. Saw this feature for a very long time now when I was updating my reads in Goodreads, but I hadn’t really tried it out before now. Pretty good. I’ve had plenty of reviews up in Goodreads now, and it would have been nice if it was cross posted here as well. Anyway, better late than never.

 

Review: Summer of Night

Summer of Night
Summer of Night by Dan Simmons
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My first Simmons, which is pretty strange, considering that I’ve owned his books for years. I didn’t know what to expect, to be honest. I had intentionally kept myself in the dark (pun!) on what the book was about, save the fact that there were a band of kids and supernatural horror. And I wanted to continue my recent binge of horror books.

My first impression of the book was the quality of the prose. I’m not saying Simmons is Chabon or anything, but he is surely not Suzanne Collins or (gasp!) Cassandra Clare. His prose has a nice heft to it, weighty. Nothing of the lightweight quality I half expected, like from a Koontz. Which was a pleasant surprise. He goes deep into the character of each of the major characters, builds a nice history around them and gives them distinct personalities. Of course, he goes on and [!!!SPOILER!!!] kills one of them (and the one I was rooting for too), but you can’t have everything. [/!!!SPOILER!!!]

The plot was interesting, and resolved itself in the end in a satisfactory manner.

Overall I loved the book, was pleasantly surprised. And am now looking forward to getting the sequel.

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