I really can't wait to catch up on my reviews so that I can start writing about books as soon as I finish them. I don't like doing this, but I've neglected them for too long and now I need to cheat a little.
The first mini review is for The curious incident of the dog in the night-time by Mark Haddon
This was a good and fast read. It was an interesting and rare trip into the mind of an autistic teenager, with Asperger's syndrome. I personally didn't know anything about the syndrome and didn't do any research beforehand. I knew I was going to learn about it through the book which is my favourite way of learning new things. But for some reason this book didn't stay with me for long. It didn't touch me the way it should. I read it quickly and with interest, and I liked it, but not immensely. Maybe I should blame the hype, its being a bestseller that people rave about. Would I have discovered it before anyone else, I might be raving about it right now. Instead I find myself thinking coldly about it. Could have been the maths that put me off? Did the constant scientific, rational, logic way of thinking of Christopher Boone, the protagonist and autistic teen, leave me at a distance? It definitely had a role. Sometimes I even skipped a couple of pages, those with calculations and formulas. But it also added to the sense of authenticity that I felt reading it. Obviously I don't know how an autistic person might think, but it felt real. Probably too real. Sometimes I find myself in the middle of a crowd and think "how would Christopher react now?". Walking in the streets alone, finding the train station, buying a ticket, taking a train to London. That's Christopher's hardest task in the story, almost unreachable. I felt sorry for him, and then worried and then proud. Only I never felt close to him, and that's probably why I didn't enjoy it completely.
Next mini review is for Millions by Frank Cottrell Boyce.
"You know when you tell people Mum is dead and they give you stuff?"
"Well, I told God."
I pulled back the box and Anthony saw it - a big bag stuffed with money. His face glowed. He says now that it's the most beautiful thing he's ever seen. He was so happy just then.
"And it's from God, you reckon?"
"Well, he really wanted to cheer us up.
Damien is the storyteller, and that's what make this book so charming. He is a kind heart, naive like only 7 year-olds can be. His main aspiration in life is to become a saint and tries everything he knows to be one, including sleeping on the floor and have a hermitage by the train track, made out of cardboard boxes. He is so obsessed with saints that he actually sees them. And they talk to him, give him advices, even help him. We never know if these are visions or not, I just accepted them as a touch of magic in this surreal tale about something very tangible as money.
Very often I find myself reflecting on whether money has an actual value or whether people never stop to think that it really doesn't. Especially when you have more than you need. You think it'd give you whatever you want and you'd be happy. But as Coraline, another wise literary child, said, "what then?". I personally prefer the longing than the having. If I had all the books that I ever wanted, for example, there wouldn't be anything left to wish for. And that'd be boring. But I'm letting myself being rhetoric (money doesn't bring happiness blah blah blah) while I'm supposed to review the book. Which is anything but rhetoric. It talks about the value of money exploring all the possibilities and then it lets the character draw their own conclusions:
We thought the money was going to take care of everything, but we ended up taking care of the money.A funny, original, moving story that will also make you think.
The last mini-review for this round is James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
First of all, I have to say I can't believe this book was even challenged to be banned in some schools! It's completely ridiculous. From The forbidden library:
Challenged at the Deep Creek Elementary School in Charlotte Harbor, Fla. (1991) because it is "not appropriate reading material for young children." Challenged at the Pederson Elementary School in Altoona, Wis. (1991) and at the Morton Elementary School library in Brooksville, Fla. (1992) because the book contains the word "ass" and "promotes" the use of drugs (tobacco, snuff) and whiskey. Removed from classrooms in Stafford County, Va. Schools (1995) and placed in restricted access in the library because the story contains crude language and encourages children to disobey their parents and other adults.
Some people are just ludicrous. Anyway, this was a fantastic read! Totally crazy, highly imaginative, wickedly funny. A real treat. It was Roald Dahl's first book for children, and although I can't say it's my favourite, it's definitely worth my time. The insects that James meets inside the peach are a bunch of nut-crackers, and thus adorable! The story makes no sense whatsoever, but I don't think it needs too. It's entertaining, it's happy and phantasmagoric. And completely suitable for all children!
And now a quick mention of Cybils: The nominations are closed now, and the long lists of all the books that we nominated are up!
The judges are now reading all those books. I can't think of a better job, although quite exhausting too. There's so many of them. I'm really curious to know which ones will make the short lists!