Review: Far from the Madding Crowd

Far from the Madding Crowd
Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don’t know if this is the start of a trend. Another great classic that grew on me. I loved the build-up to the finale, which you sorta know was coming, but for a while there you are thinking “could this be one of those really tragic novels that you could not imagine classic stories usually go?” As it turns out the novel holds the tension pretty tautly throughout.

I use the word ‘tension’ here pretty loosely, because this isn’t exactly an action thriller. But I find there’s a huge feeling of satisfaction at the end of these types of novels where everything resolves itself.

It’s pretty good love story. Not GGM’s Love in the Time of Cholera level exactly, but a pretty decent one. I’m almost afraid I’m losing my edge here, falling for these types of stories.

Writing-wise it’s pretty standard classic English prose. Those with literature degrees please refrain from strafing me with bullets, because I’m obviously generalizing here. I’m not elite enough to distinguish the difference in prose between Austen, Eliot or Conan Doyle with Hardy, merely by the emotion they evoke. And Hardy is, in my highly technical and considered professional opinion, pretty good.

A quick note: I thought Francis Troy is one of the awesomest (another highly technical term – you can tell I put in a lot of effort in these reviews), smoothest, most dastardly playboy/badboy in literature. My favourite character in the novel, hands-down, and one of best I’ve read. In the spirit of the recent Star Wars fever, let’s just say Han Solo has nothing on this chap. He has the best lines, and I particularly like this passage, which, of course, resonates with universal truth.

Why, Miss Everdene, it is in this manner that your good looks may do more harm than good in the world.” The sergeant looked down the mead in critical abstraction. “Probably some one man on an average falls in love with each ordinary woman. She can marry him: he is content, and leads a useful life. Such women as you a hundred men always covet—your eyes will bewitch scores on scores into an unavailing fancy for you—you can only marry one of that many. Out of these say twenty will endeavour to drown the bitterness of despised love in drink; twenty more will mope away their lives without a wish or attempt to make a mark in he world, because they have no ambition apart from their attachment to you; twenty more—the susceptible person myself possibly among them—will be always draggling after you, getting where they may just see you, doing desperate things. Men are such constant fools! The rest may try to get over their passion with more or less success. But all these men will be saddened. And not only those ninety-nine men, but the ninety-nine women they might have married are saddened with them. There’s my tale. That’s why I say that a woman so charming as yourself, Miss Everdene, is hardly a blessing to her race.”

So yeah, I think the prose’s ok, and the story’s ok too.

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Review: Bound to Rise

Bound to Rise
Bound to Rise by Horatio Alger Jr.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Read this some time back, now catching up on reviews.

This was a quick read. I expected a non-fiction treatise on the principles of success, but instead it’s a fable – a tale of hardwork and enterprise to seek success, and not be seduced by short-term gains and temptations.

It was fun, but the bloody book stops just when he starts work in a publishing house. It would be good, you know, if the book ACTUALLY ENDS PROPERLY.

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Review: Light in August

Light in August
Light in August by William Faulkner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another one of those classics where I have absolutely no idea what I’m getting myself into. The first impression I got, and it stuck throughout the book: Faulkner writes brilliantly. Excellent prose. Not a classic that I’m crazy about, I have to say, but it’s better than Ragtime for me.

Finished this sometime back and a lot of impressions have disappeared, but I remembered that the book wasn’t bad – an unwed pregnant girl travels alone to find the father of her child, only to find that he’s (surprise) a no-good small time naughty boy, but not before catching the eye of the local good boy. The story then veers its focus towards the said bad boy’s ‘friend’, Joe Christmas, which takes up the majority of the book, up until the point Christmas got lynched (well, didn’t those choice of words controversial).

Unlikely to revisit, but the writing. Whew. I’ve been known to do some crazy things, and one of them might just be picking up Absalom, Absalom!

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Review: Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America

Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America
Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America by Jeff Ryan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It was ok. I was never a console player, so Mario didn’t really evoke much nostalgia in me. I wanted to find out what made Nintendo tick as a company, and I thought this book went into that somewhat, but not in any particular detail. Largely driven by personalities with whims that the market responded to, it seems like. Talked about the upstart challenge from Sega, and how Nintendo inadvertently helped create the astronomical rise of the PlayStation (has to do with how they rejected the use of the CD in their consoles).

At the moment Nintendo isn’t exactly winning the console wars, and their previous big successes on the handheld gaming market is well and truly trounced by the rise in casual gaming in smartphones. So it’ll be interesting to see where they go from here. Their legacy, though, as detailed in this book, is enormous, and it’ll be interesting to see how Mario can fix their pipes (groan).

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Review: Blood Ninja

Blood Ninja
Blood Ninja by Nick Lake
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

[No idea when I finished this]

Vampires and ninjas. This is a fun book. I have to admit that my expectations weren’t fantastically high to begin with, but this was better than Jet Black and the Ninja Wind, another of those ninja YA fiction.

(Flipping through the CIP Block on the page, this particular book is curiously not catagorized as YA).

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