Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A Study in Classics: 3 Book Reviews

I’ve read a lot of books in school. A lot more than I thought I did. I have a total of 10 books that I read for school that I still need to review. One from sophomore year, seven from my junior year, and two from what is about to be my senior year. That’s a lot of books to be assigned. So, let’s dive into a few a time because just thinking about all these classics and literary novels is a little overwhelming- especially since I’ve started to dive into those genres on my own. 

10257528To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Originally a standalone, but has a sequel that is newly released

2 stars
To Kill a Mockingbird is the story of Jean Louise Finch, a tomboy who goes by Scout. She knows that life in Maycomb, Alabama. She has a father who is a lawyer, a brother who she loves, and a best friend. Then one summer her father, Atticus, takes on a case that shows Scout the monsters hidden within the people of Maycomb. This small little town isn’t all what it seems. To Kill a Mockingbird is receiving a lot of hype again in the book community. TKAM has always had many readers throughout the years, but with the recent release of Go Set a Watchman it has blown up. I read this novel over a year and a half ago, personally I didn’t feel the impact that TKAM has left on a lot of readers. This novel addresses a lot of important topics: racism, the close-minded nature of a small town, injustice in the legal system, morality, and so many smaller topics that just barely skim the surface of this novel.

I’ll admit I hated reading this novel. I found the writing to be dull and near sleep-inducing at times. I think the reason why I don’t hate TKAM completely is because I enjoyed discussing the merit of this novel. It is something that is great to discuss because there is so many small things that can be picked apart. My problem with TKAM is that I shouldn’t feel a greater connection to the characters when I’m not reading it. I want to love these characters as I read them on the page and discuss them off of it.

Whimsical Writing Scale: 1.5

The main female character of this story is Scout. We follow her for a long period of her childhood throughout TKAM. As the novel progresses, we see Scout start to become a new person with a new identity. She’s blossoming from a child to a little person with thoughts and opinions. I do like Scout as a character. I like her quite a lot, but I also didn’t feel like I could always connect to her. I personally think that it’s because of the writing style that I wasn’t able to always make that connection.

Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: 2

There are a lot of characters in TKAM and all of them matter. This can be a little overwhelming to keep up with, but one thing Lee does well as that it never feels hard to distinguish all the different characters that we interact with. The biggest characters in TKAM are Atticus Finch, Jem, Tom Robinson, and Calpurnia to name a few. I honestly can’t tell you who my favorite characters are within TKAM because I’ve read this so long ago. One character I’m still confused about and will always have an uncertainty to until I reread this is Boo Radley. I do understand what he is to this story, but I wasn’t so sure about the execution. I think that’s my biggest problem with this character.

Character Scale: 2

The Villain- It would be easy to say that this novel has a villain, but I think the biggest problem with this novel isn’t just racism. The biggest problem is the people in Maycomb who harbor their racist views like long-lost treasure that can be snatched away at any moment. While racism is the obvious problem presented, I think that the bigger one is the small Southern town that is stuck in its old ways and old views.

Villain Scale: 3.5

While I don’t love TKAM, I do see this is a novel I will be rereading whether it’s by choice or force. TKAM isn’t my favorite classic and I don’t think it ever will be, but it’s a classic that I understand the importance of and its merit. For that reason alone, I think TKAM has done its job for this reader.

Plotastic Scale: 2

Cover Thoughts: I actually have a huge love for this cover. I love the font, the spine, and the back. Opening this book and looking at it as a whole is beautiful and the fact that I understand what it represents makes it slightly more special.

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
5 stars
In the small town of Holcomb, Kansas in the fall of 1959 the small town finds itself the site of a bloodshed. The Clutter family was a simple American family that had its secrets, but was a good wholesome family. That is until that family is left viciously murdered. Capote embarks on an intense unearthing of the truth behind this brutal blood-shedding. This novel exposes everyone. We see the family and who they were as well as the murderers. I loved every minute of it.

Capote paints a truly masterful piece that doesn’t read like a nonfiction novel. To me it felt like something that Stephen King could’ve written and Lifetime would’ve produced. It’s a weird mash-up, but Capote is able to sell this classic novel in a way that is hard to come by.

What is so chilling about this novel is that it ripped apart a very trusting small town until it created a very frightened and unsure community. The 1950-60s are known as the time when you could live your windows open and nobody would sneak in. The most chilling aspect of this novel is that you are told about the Clutters last day on earth, but as it unfolds as a normal day for the family it becomes chilling how you never truly know when your time is up. Capote is able to set the tone for everyday life coming to an untimely end.

"Imagination, of course, can open any door- turn the key and let terror walk right in.”

As if that couldn’t get any worse, the way the murders were committed are horrifying. Upon the big reveal at the end of this novel about how it really unfolded it becomes worse. These people were cold-blooded and the murders they committed were just as. It’s horrifying to see the worst of humanity put on display. That doesn’t just go for the murderers of the Clutter family, but for the people we meet who are in death row along with them.

"Envy was constantly with him; the Enemy was anyone who had anything he wanted to have.”

Whimsical Writing Scale: 5
It would be easy to classify our two murderers as villains, but it doesn’t seem all that simple, especially since I didn’t know who I was really reading about until the end. This is a very weird dynamic. These two partners are disturbing and both have very questionable traits. It’s just one is easier to sympathize with.

Villain Scale: 5
Also this novel has a lot of great metaphors that I don’t want to get into until I reread this novel. I feel like the meanings will be clearer and I can fully expand upon them when I do that. To say I love this novel is an understatement. I think it is truly something to be read by everyone. In Cold Blood was one of those classics I had never heard of until I was assigned to read it. I’m so happy I was assigned this novel because I was introduced to a brilliant writer and a classic that I can see myself coming back to over the years. Just writing my review for this book, which is much overdue, makes me want to pick it up right now and gobble it up.

Plotastic Scale: 5

Cover Thoughts: My cover for In Cold Blood is very simple, but it is such a beautifully simplistic cover. I love it.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

4.75 stars

"And I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.”

"Whenever you feel like criticizing any one, just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”
It wasn’t until my freshman year of high school that I knew the name Gatsby. The new movie starring Leonardo DiCapprio was something I was intrigued by. Instantly after watching the film I added the novel to my TBR. I know it’s a big no-no to see the film before the movie, but I honestly hadn’t realized that Gatsby was a literary masterpiece. I didn’t realize it was something I would need to read in my life. I honestly think that The Great Gatsby is a book that everyone needs to read in their life. It seems that everyone knows of this novel now because of the movie. Put the movie with Leonardo out of your head because it’s better than the reading experience, but the reading experience is so amazing. I truly love Gatsby. It isn’t until a whole year after reading it that I realize it’s a classic I highly adore. Fitzgerald is a remarkable writer.

"I’m glad it’s a girl. And I hope she’ll be a fool- that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.”

There are a lot of things to love about Gatsby. Everything from the writing, to the brilliant quotes, the characters, the themes, and the irony is remarkable. My favorite thing about Gatsby is the irony because everything in this upscale New York posh glamour is easily tipped over with little thing. It’s horrible to see how the divide in America is prevalent.

Whimsical Writing Scale: 5

The main male character is Nick. Nick doesn’t get all the recognition in this story because Gatsby is really the story here, but Nick is in my opinion Fitzgerald. Nick has a lot of the same issues that Fitzgerald did and he is basically the same person. Therefore, Nick is a lot cooler when you actually start to think about who he is. The man of the hour is Gatsby. Jay Gatsby. He’s a fascinating character. He wants to be rich, but is trapped in the essence of a man destined to be poor. He’s ambitious, but also has very many faults. I can go into a whole discussion about Gatsby, but I doubt anyone wants to read my thoughts and literary opinions.

Swoon Worthy Scale: 4

On the surface, this story is probably the epitome of a love story gone wrong. It’s not Gatsby fault, but let’s face it Daisy is an absolutely horrible human being. She only cares about money, but it doesn’t seem like that. As the novel goes on, it becomes obvious that Daisy a material person who isn’t looking for love like she may seem to be.

Tom is an even more despicable character, but he is a man who has everything. Gatsby is the thing that can take it all away. Tom is on the outside a rich racist, but his racism isn’t towards the black people as it may seem. He truly hates the poor people who are ambitiously hoping to become rich and Gatsby is the representation of the thing he wants to stomp out the most.

"They were careless people, Tom and Daisy- they smashed up things and creatures and the retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they made…"

Also Jordan slays and she is hands down my favorite character in Gatsby. Also she has great hair in the film.

Character Scale: 5

I’m just going to assume that this book is already on your TBR list and if it isn’t you should probably think about adding it because this novel is a literary masterpiece and it deserves to be.

Plotastic Scale: 5

Cover Thoughts: My cover is the movie adaptation and it’s ugly, but the original cover is iconic and that is something I love.

Have you read any of these classics? Or seen the films? What are your thoughts? Let me know down below in the comments!

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