READING UPDATE: PLAYER PIANO AND FAULT IN OUR STARS (BOOK REVIEWS)
Is anything as lovely as a sunny spring day? I missed reading outdoors, I can tell you that. Sitting on a bench on a nice spring day, with a nice book in one's lap, now that has to be one of the greatest pleasures in life. Speaking of reading, March has been a good reading month so far. As loyal I am to my favourite writers, I also love to discover new ones. I try to read at least one new author every month. This March I read two American authors for the first time: Kurt Vonnegut and John Green. Naturally I heard about them before. Both of them are quite well know, but this March marked my first introduction to these two. They are not the only 'new' writers I tried this month, but more about that some other time. Earlier this month, I read Kurt's Player Piano and Green's Fault in Our Stars. I liked Player Piano much more that Fault in Our Stars but I was kind of expecting that. I'm happy I read both, though. It is just that Kurt's writing is more my cup of tea. Fortunately it seems I'm still young and eager enough to be able to read for a half a day without a stop. So, I manage to get a lot of reading done.
|bag: vintage/jeans: old,/jacket: no name/ boots: Peko/ long velvet shirt: Zaful|
THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, A NOVEL BY JOHN GREEN 2/5
First of all, let me say I'm glad that this novel is so popular because we need more cancer awareness. The writing wasn't my cup of tea, but there are some aspects of The Fault in Our Stars that I quite liked. In fact, I read this book in what felt like a heartbeat. Did I enjoy it? Well, I liked it. Nevertheless, I have to admit- I wasn't exactly blown away. I did feel engaged while I was reading The Fault in Our stars, but I do think this novel has some writing faults that keep it from being great. I do understand why it means so much to so many people, for it does bring to light some aspects of terminal and chronic illnesses that aren't often talked about. I found the theme quite brave: love in spite of chronic and terminal illness. Unfortunately, while reading I often felt like I was emotionally manipulated into feeling sadness. I did feel sad at times, but I didn't like the way the author seems to achieve that effect of sadness. I don't mind books that make me suffer, but I want these books to be solid literature that breaks my heart with amazing prose, not emotional tricks repeated over and over again. There is a difference. It is a subtle one but it exists.
While some parts of the book regarding chronic and terminal illnesses resonated with me and touched me, I couldn't tell if the writer just relied on his own experience and research (drew on his work experience and read description on chronic illness and cancer blogs and included them as quotes of some kind), because I couldn't see any character development that would explain them. In other words, I couldn't relate to the characters, only to some parts of this book. Speaking of which, the characters were written terribly flat. The two major protagonists, Gus and Hazel, seem like the same person. They also sound like an older person, someone who majored in literature, not like teenagers at all. Not saying that there aren't eloquent teenagers out there, but they just sounded 'older'. They were also too much alike. Somehow, Hazel doesn't seem like a girl, either. Perhaps both of them sound a bit too much like John Green himself?The parents of the main characters are annoyingly perfect. Nobody is that perfect. I have a feeling they are written in such a praising and idolizing way, only so that we would cry for them and feel even more bad about the fact their children are dying. I know it's probably the worst thing that can happen to anyone and every parent's worst nightmare, but I would have appreciated a bit more emotion in describing them. They don't sound real at all. I'm sorry to say but they also came off as very flat.
The story itself is a bit predicable and I don't mean the obvious 'sad ending', just the story as it develops. The way they fall in love is super predictable and not very realistic. Their quest to find an ending to an epic novel written by some Dutch guy was not very exciting and I could see it from afar. Especially that Dutch guy's personal history revelation part. Many things in the story didn't feel too credible. Letting a dying girl with oxygen tubes fly over to Amsterdam? Underage teenagers drinking champagne and nobody seeing anything odd with that? There was also a lot of brand mentioning, perhaps the writer is getting paid for it, but it felt out of place. Green's film comments were quite annoying too. I think they were the writer's way of making Hazel seem more like a girl. Green made Hazel dislike movies he thinks are more for boys, which did nothing for her character development.
On the overall, I'm not a fan of the writing. The book reads easy but too easy. There are some big words that seem to inserted in the texts forcefully. Are these big words there for the writer to show off? You know, a way to show how intelligent Green's protagonists are, but I have to say they don't come off as terribly intelligent to me, more cynic in their dialogues then anything else. I would preferred to be shown what makes Hazel and Gus so intelligent apart from their exchanging some random philosophical quotes and metaphors that feel out of place. I mean both Hazel and Gus are likable, but their dialogues often felt too adult, cynic and sarcastic. To conclude, in my view this novel has both its cons and prons. I'm not fan of the writing or the portrayal of characters, but I was touched by the story. If you have imagination enough, you can always make up for the poor characterization. I don't regret reading this book or anything like that, I just wish it was better written.
PLAYER PIANO, A NOVEL BY KURT VONNEGUT 5/5
|I do like books that make me think. Player piano really got me thinking about our society and life in general. As it happens that is one of my favourite qualities in a novel. I heard that Vonnegut was a fantastic writer and (what you'd know) it is true. I did enjoy his writing in this novel, it's very intelligent and to the point. |
Player Piano is a novel set in near future. It is a dystopian kind of future, set in USA. Most of the labour is done by machines, meaning that only a selected few get to have a real job. Others aren't exactly starving, the state feeds them but that's about it. They are depressed and lack a sense of purpose in their lives. So, those who 'work' are the privileged ones. The plot focused on a young engineer who is increasingly unhappy and frustrated in a society where the work force is composed primarily of managers and engineers. Why is he unhappy? He is young, successful and married. But not everything is as it seems. Our protagonist feels guilty and more than that, he is starting to realize something is terribly wrong with the society he lives in.
This novel is very relevant for today's world, especially if one takes a look at the number of unemployed young people. In the future, even more work will be done by machines. Player Piano asks some really interesting questions, and it certainly got me thinking. Simply said, I was absolutely blown away by this book. I wrote a rather long review for it but unfortunately my laptop shot down in the middle of it and it was all lost. I don't have the time to rewrite that review, so a shorter one will do. Perhaps this little incident is a perfect metaphor for this novel. Technology influences our lives in ways we can't always predict
Have you read these two novels? Are you familiar with these writers? What was the last book you read? Do you have any book recommendations to share? Do you like this outfit? That would be all for today. Have a lovely start of the week!