Friday, 28 February 2014

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

"This late age of the world's experience had bred in them all, all men and women, a well of tears" 

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf is written in a stream-of-consciousness form; as were many modernist literature. The story is set in only one day, as Clarissa Dalloway organizes a party. The story reveals her thoughts and ideas. It also explores the interwoven stories of Dalloway's friends and husband. The story is told in parallel with a War Veteran suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. Even though the veteran is quite disillusioned he shares Clarissa's feeling of oppression by society. 

Personally, I did not enjoy this book as much as I had hoped to. This is due to my own dislike of the usual modernist style. I much prefer structure and a full narrative. However, I do enjoy analyzing and breaking apart this style of story. The more you analyse the more little 'tricks' and ideas of life and society that were so subtly criticized/analysed are discovered.

Divergent by Veronica Roth

‘There’s a difference between not being afraid and acting in spite of fear,’ Divergent, Ch12

Divergent by Veronica Roth is the first book of a trilogy. It is about a world where it is split into five factions: Erudite, Dauntless, Abnegation, Amity and Candor. Each year, 16 year olds have to choose only one of them to live in for the rest of their lives. Beatrice, one of these 16 year olds, struggles to make her decision, she can’t choose between family and where she feels like she truly belongs. In a world that’s supposed to be perfect, Beatrice sees the real truth. That nothing can stay perfect for long.

Divergent is a very well known book so that’s why I decided to read it. I was a little bit disappointed in the beginning of the book, because it didn’t capture my interest like I thought it would. There have been many positive comments on the book, so my expectations were very high.  The book didn’t get my interest right from the start, but after a few chapters it was definitely a page-turner.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Solace & Grief by Foz Meadows

Solace and Grief follows the story of a 17 year old girl called Solace. She was raised in a foster care, but when she finds out she is a vampire she is compelled to run away. Soon, she finds herself within a group of other strange young adults. They are part of ‘the Rare’ and each one of them has a ‘Trick’, which is a superpower or a supernatural ability. For example, Jess is a psychic reader, and Solace is a vampire. But soon things start to get a little weird... A Faceless man is stalking her and Professor Lukin is a bit too interested in their ‘Trick’...

This is the first book of a series called The Rare. It is set in Sydney, Australia and I found it interesting that Foz Meadows has used real places in the city but added twists to make them supernatural. At the beginning of the book, the story seemed to be droning on to nowhere. However, some things that seemed irrelevant at the start actually ended up being important towards the end. I didn’t like how Solace and her friends went to the Gadfly and got drunk, then stayed home all day. This seemed to happen several times, and I think it stalled the story a bit. Nevertheless I continued reading, and I’m glad I did.
I loved the variety of characters in the book. They all have different ‘Tricks’ and personalities. I found it a bit hard to remember who was who at the start, because a lot of characters are introduced all at the same time.

Monday, 10 February 2014

The Return of History and the End of Dreams by Robert Kagan

“When individuals have the power not just to dream, but to realize their dreams, they will demand a greater say.” – Bill Clinton

The Return of History and the End of Dreams by Robert Kagan is a long ‘essay’ on the study of geopolitics/economy of the ‘great powers’ after the Cold War. Kagan explores the main foreign policies and aims of the United States, Russia, China, Europe, Japan, India and Iran. According to Kagan, “Autocracy is making a comeback.” And, as the world goes back to ‘normal’ the hopes of the modern democratic world that, “wanted to believe that the end of the Cold War did not just end one strategic and ideological conflict but all strategic and ideological conflict” are diminished.

Surprisingly, I quite enjoyed this book. I say surprisingly because I have never read any book of this style. I had a sort of prejudice in my head before reading that I would find this all very dry and difficult to understand, this prejudice all went away when I started reading, and I found I am really interested in the field of geopolitics.