Thursday, 24 March 2011

Some speedy reviews

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
(<---by the way this cover here is not OK. What's up with Adam's face? Ugh).

With two writers as Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, there was really little chance I wouldn't like this. And yet, at first, I struggled a bit. There are so many story-lines and characters that it's hard to love it at first sight. I liked almost every one of them, but there wasn't time to get acquainted with one that you had to leave it and start with another. It gets better when you begin to know the characters. It's easier to leave them and follow others. But even then, I was always looking forward to spending more time with Adam and the Them. He's the kid who's supposed to bring forth the Armageddon, and the Them are his gang. But Adam, even with his powers, and being the Antichrist and all, is really hard to fear. I loved him to bits, him and his friends. Second close comes Anathema Device, because she's a witch and she reminds me a bit of Tiffany Aching. Then there's the angel Aziraphale and the demon Crowley, who are supposed to be mortal enemies, but get along better than they would ever admit. They also should facilitate the Armageddon, but none of them is keen on the idea of the world ending.

But most of all I loved to know I was in safe hands. There's nothing more comforting than that. Whatever happens, you're going to enjoy it, because it's Terry Pratchett and because it's Neil Gaiman and that's that. So I did. I laughed and I giggled and I was sorry when it ended, just like with every good book, although the ending was absolutely perfect, and probably my favourite part of the story.
Now I'm looking ever more forward to what that photo promises. How long do we have to wait?

About a boy by Nick Hornby
Again with the comforting here. It's Nick Hornby, I won't be disappointed. At least, it hasn't happened yet, so don't start listing all his worst books now, OK?
Anywho, this was brilliant and I wanted to hug it and the characters lots. Especially Marcus, the boy of the title. For those who never heard of this book, it's about a boy, (!), who is too grown up for his age and sticks out a lot. It's also about this other guy, Will, who hasn't grown up at all and still feels like a teenager. In a way they complement each other but they take a while to realise that. The funny bit is that I identify with both, at different times. It's easy to identify with Marcus, the outsider, generous, bullied kid. With Will was different. He's shallow at first, with no real purpose in life except to just get on with it. But I could sympathise with him when people criticised his seemingly aimless life. Since he doesn't have a job and doesn't have a family, people fail to see what use his life is. Sometimes, being unemployed I feel in a similar situation. I know I'll have to get a job, but even though I tell people I don't do anything, I do lots of things. Things I enjoy, but that I'm not paid for :P I'm great at filling my life with these little things, and if I could keep doing them for the rest of my life, I'd be happy. But for some people, it still looks like I don't do anything.
But anyway, the similarities with Will end here. He's a bit of a wanker to be honest, and even Marcus doesn't understand why he keeps going back to him. But he does, and their relationship gets stronger and stronger, until even Will starts seeing that Marcus is good for him. And how couldn't he? He's ADORABLE. And wise, and kindhearted and everything that's good in the world.
I can see this book making the top list of best books I have read at the end of the year :)

Gifts by Ursula Le Guin

This one was a slow burner. For a while I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy it, because the introductory part seems to go on forever. Nothing much happens for a long time as we're introduced to the world and powers of the Domains. But sure enough, almost without realising it, I found myself caring deeply for its main characters and enjoying the time I spent with them. It definitely isn't an action-packed story, but aside from the start I can't say it's slow either. It's definitely unusual. Intimate. And ultimately very powerful. I couldn't expect anything else from Ursula Le Guin.

The story take places in the imaginary rural Uplands where its communities are plagued by perpetual feuds and where each lineage has a particular power called gift. The story is told by Orrec, a teenage boy whose lineage possesses the power to undo, to destroy. But Orrec's gift only manifests itself wildly, and since it can't be controlled his father is forced to blindfold him, so not to harm anyone accidentally. Orrec's dear friend is Gry, a girl who has the gift to call animals. Traditionally this gift is used to call animals to the hunt, but Gry refuses to do so, putting her in a similar situation as Orrec's. They both struggle to be accepted and to find a suitable role in their rural society. Their relationship is beautifully portraited. You can feel their strong bond any time they're together, in very gesture and word. I really liked the two of them together. I also liked Orrec's mother, Melle. She's an outsider, a lowlander, and all her life she struggles to understand the ways of her husband's people, never fully grasping the meaning of the gifts and their importance. She's the only one in the Uplands to know the beauty of the written word which she teaches to both her son and Gry. Her love for storytelling is her gift to Orrec, and one that he treasures more than anything, his only moments of light in his blind dark years.
It was a wonderful book, one that shows its beauty little by little and will stay with you for a long while.


Chris said...

I love this post :) It's three books that I absolutely love and I couldn't agree with you more on your assessment of each one of them! My exact feeling!

Anonymous said...

I read this book a loooong time ago. I can't even really remember what it was about until I read your review! Have you read any other of her books?


valentina said...

You mean by Ursula le Guin?
yes, her Eartsea novels except The other wind and they're among my favourite books ever.

Darla D said...

I love Le Guin and really enjoyed Good Omens, although it took me a while to get into it, too. What a fun book! I have had Hornby on my list for years - I think Chris and Nymeth were instrumental in getting him there, but why I haven't taken the plunge, I have no idea. I'll have to remedy that!

valentina said...

remedy that pronto! :)

Trish said...

I've heard great things about Good Omens and hope to read it one day. I've tried to read About A Boy but I can't separate the movie in my mind (loved the movie). For some reason I didn't have that difficulty with High Fidelity.

valentina said...

yeah that happens to me sometimes, but not with Nick Hornby, I love his writing too much :)