22 4 / 2014
"Stories are people. I’m a story, you’re a story … your father is a story. Our stories go in every direction, but sometimes, if we’re lucky, our stories join into one, and for a while, we’re less alone."
11 4 / 2014
29 3 / 2014
1984 is a book that most people today grow up knowing about, whether or not they’re actually forced (or encouraged?) to read it. For me, 1984’s “Big Brother” was always somewhat used as a threat, or as a reminder that I’m never truly alone or invisible enough to get away with making bad decisions (ahh, the tribulations of growing up in a smallish town where everyone truly does know your name). And you know what? The fact that Big Brother is referred to in a threatening way is pretty spot on—the plot of this book is absolutely terrifying when you get down to the nitty gritty. A world where there is no recognition of love, no freedom to make any of your own decisions regarding what you do or even think, no opportunity to escape or make a better life for yourself? Talk about a horror story.
As I read the book I couldn’t help but think about all of the amazing lesson plans I could build around this tale including an entire persuasive essay or short story written in doublespeak, a comparison between the rules and ideals of Oceania and the current political climate, or an analysis of Winston and Julia’s love story and how it compares to the myriad of other dystopian affairs in today’s popular YA literature. There are so many interesting themes and ways to dissect 1984 that it’s no wonder that it’s required reading for most of the high schools in the U.S.
However, just because I understood, appreciated, and realized the importance of the the book’s message doesn’t mean I enjoyed reading it (especially the pages and pages and pages of Oceania’s history and the building blocks of doublespeak). 3.5 stars.
20 3 / 2014
I saw the movie trailer for the adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go long before this bblog was even a blip on the radar. It had a really creepy, dark feeling too it, and while I wasn’t out of my mind excited to see the film (I’m kind of a baby and spooky nursery rhymes in trailers is a total red flag), its ominous intrigue really spiked my curiosity. So of course I wiki’d the book and ruined the plot for myself. Of course I did. Why wouldn’t I? I’ve ruined nearly every single surprise throughout my (almost) 28 years on this earth.
The only saving grace was that this wasn’t a HUGE surprise to ruin. Because I wasn’t privy to the intricacies of the plot I don’t feel like I robbed myself of any big reveal or mind-shattering secret. As soon as Kathy H. began her story and used the word “donor,” I’d like to think that I would’ve put 2 and 2 together pretty easily anyway. Also, I saw the movie The Island back in 2005, and while the overall stories are VERY different, the bones are basically the same: the science of using human beings to grow and harvest organs, the methods of keeping the operation a secret from the vessels growing the organs, and the moral gray areas of such projects and how people rationalize or come to terms with them.
The thing that made Never Let Me Go so poignant was the relationships between Ishiguro’s characters. I really want to refrain from using the term “love triangle” here because it was so much more than that. The interweaving connections between Kathy, her best friend Ruth, and Tommy, the man they both love in very different ways, creates such a delicate and fragile range of emotions for characters who are already so ephemeral to begin with.
The novel begins with Kathy analyzing her past in order to explain her present (and future) to the reader. While it is not chronological, and there is a lot of back and forth, Kathy is one of the most clearly spoken and trustworthy narrators I have read in some time. She goes onto discuss her childhood at the prestigious Hailsham boarding school in England, the aftermath of graduating and attempting to traverse the outside world at The Cottages, and her adulthood as a “carer” for those going through donations.
While the life stories of these characters are very important to the overarching plot, the true backbone is the importance and presence of secrets: hiding one’s secrets, uncovering other’s secrets, and the hope and faith people put into the unknown.
Looking back over this post, I really don’t feel like I did the book much justice at all. I mean, Ishiguro takes a very futuristic and dystopian notion and transforms it into the softest and most beautiful tale of love and humanity. It must be some kind of sorcery. 4.5 stars.