Monday, September 28, 2009

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

This is a graphic novel written by an Iranian women, about her childhood growing up in Iran and in Austria, and how all of what she experienced shaped her into the woman she is now.
I had seen the movie before I read the graphic novel, so I knew what to expect for the most part. Even having seen the movie, though, there were still things that shocked me. A lot of her story involved the ways that her countrymen were tortured by their own government for being Revolutionaries.
One of the best things about this novel is that you get to see what life inside Iran was really like, and not just what we've been shown its like from an outsider's perspective. Satrapi tells us that despite all the freedoms they lost, they still managed to live their lives and go on. I think the best lesson that I get from this novel is that no matter what, you can survive if you want/have to. You can survive anything if you have a reason to, and there are so many reasons to survive.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

I heard about this book from a review on NPR, and I was intrigued. This was also another audiobook for me, and it has to be said that the reader was really good, and that had something to do with how much I liked the book.
The Magicians was kind of like a mishmash of The Chronicles of Narnia and the Harry Potter books, but with main characters that are older and more mature than the characters of either of those stories. Since the characters are older, the issues here are very different. Getting in to college, falling in love for real, intimacy, etc. I really liked how everything worked here, how all the characters got along or didn't. It seemed very real, all the interactions between characters were genuine and personal, sometimes to the point that it was uncomfortable to listen to. But I love books like that, ones that really and truly engage you in the lives of the characters.
To get to the story itself. There is a young man named Quentin who has been obsessed with a series of books about a magical place called Fillory, which definitely reminds me of C.S. Lewis' Narnia. There are three siblings who travel to Fillory via various portals. They have to fight battles and use magic etc. So, Quentin loves these books, and really wants Fillory to be real. Then one day he shows up for a college interview, and finds out that it might actually be real.
He is talented enough to get into a magic college called Breakbills, that is actually located in upstate New York. And of course, adventures in magic and in his love life ensue.
The only thing I didn't like about the book was the induvidual boob descriptions for each and every female character. I understand that the main character is a teenage guy, but seriously?
Other than that one thing, I really enjoyed this novel.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk

This was a very odd book about one surviving member of a cult and all of the things he goes through when more and more of the survivors end up dying. I can honestly say I liked it. Like all his books, it always on a subject that I never would have thought about if he hadn't written about them. These are the kinds of people that are never really talked about until something bad happens to them, or if they do something bad. I'm always glad I've read one of these books. They're always something new.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield

I just finished listen to this, one of the very few audiobooks I have ever listened to. The story was about a famous writer with a very mysterious past who contracts a biographer with a unique point of view to write her biography before she dies.
Vida Winter, the famous author, has written many very popular novels in her lifetime, but her life story is one that she is afraid to tell. That is why she contracts Margaret Lee to write it for her. But she specifically hires Lee instead of any other number of biographers because Lee has a particular perspective that is uniquely helpful to telling Winter's story.
I quite enjoyed this story. I'm not generally into ghost stories, and this most definitely is a ghost story. But I liked this one nonetheless. Ms. Winter is an intriguing character, one who tells stories, but tells them in a such a way as to make you want to know if she's telling you the truth or if she's telling you a version of a version of the story. Winter has things about her past that she is desperate to hide, and yet she also wants to be able to die without these memories and secrets weighing on her mind and soul.
Margaret Lee, one could say, is more of a detective than a biographer. She knows that she is not being told the complete and accurate truth by Vida, so she goes in search of it on her own. She very much wants to know what really happened. She also has a vested interest in the story, because there are twins in Vida's past, and Lee herself is a twin, but her twin is dead. Lee wants to know what its like to be a real twin, because she was never able to do so.
If you like ghost stories, you'll like this one.