Saturday, April 28, 2012

Book Review: the Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

We read The Hobbit in my English novel class this semester. I, sadly, have never read anything by Tolkien before. This book was a lot of fun.

It follows the adventures of a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins as he travels with some dwarves in search of their old treasure that has been guarded by a dragon named Smaug for years. They encounter goblins, elves, eagles, wolves, giant spiders, and thanks to Bilbo's secret ring and the wizard Gandalf , most of them survive the journey.

The writing style is very much like storytelling. The narrator takes on this paternal tone and even intercedes with explanations to teach the reader. I thought that was unique and seemed to fit Tolkien really well. I do not think the novel would do so well if it was published today, though. We have too many faster-paced novels available now and taste has changed. I think people would find it juvenile.

I really enjoyed this novel. It was fun, well-written, and unique. Tolkien didn't steal ideas for his made-up worlds or his creatures - he is basically the first fantasy writer ever. Side track! I actually think J.K. Rowling was a big Tolkien fan. I have not looked into that at all, but she also uses crazy-powerful objects (the Deathly Hallows), she has giant spiders, she has a super powerful father-figure wizard, and the objects are what can be used to defeat the ultimate bad guy...and now I'm going into Lord of the Rings as well. I warned you about the side track.

Anyways, I really enjoyed The Hobbit and I highly recommend it. For my English novel class I had to make a blog about The Hobbit and Tolkien (with a classmate, not on my own). You can read more about these ideas and other more in-depth thoughts at that blog: Journeys with Tolkien.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Book Reviews: The Maze Runner Trilogy by James Dashner

He's been on the New York Times YA best seller list...WHY? Dashner's books were juvenile, ridiculous, confusing, and way too violent. I'm sorry, YA readers, but I was not impressed by Dashner's trilogy, I was highly disappointed. I just now put down the third book, walked into my kitchen and told my roommate that this "may be the worst trilogy I have ever read." Harsh, I know, but that's how I felt.

First off, lots and lots of hype was made about these books. I was interested of course. The trilogy is yet another distopian one. The world is ending and in chaos and only a few can save it. Typical, yes. But, Dashner did get a good spin on it by not answering any questions until basically the epilogue. Actually, that's not a good spin, it's just frustrating to the reader to be 100% in the dark through the bitter end. I don't think Dashner himself knew the answers. Honestly, I'm still a bit confused on who's who and what's what.

The violence was a bit over the top in my opinion. I understand that it fit the story line really well and was actually realistic for the world-in-chaos idea, but this is YA fiction and I think Dashner went a bit too far. Too much killing, "blood spurting," things like that. It was gross. The only good thing was that he rushed through the intense and significant killings. Which is bad writing, but good to get through the violence. He rushed through the deaths of important characters so much that I didn't even feel anything at all. No sadness, no relief, no nothing. Looking back, I don't think I cared about any of these characters. ... Nope, I don't care about them at all. I have no way to connect to them because they can't even remember their lives before all the chaos. Lack of characters you can relate to = bad.

I'm sorry if you loved these books. I was not impressed. I thought they were badly written and I don't feel satisfied at all. The ending was frustrating, and not just because of who ends up with who. I almost feel like I, as a reader, was tricked. I also felt like Dashner was growing into writing as the books continued, but he's already written the entire 13th Reality series, so he should be better at writing than this trilogy was.

Again, I'm sorry if Dashner is your inspiration, but I cannot recommend these books. They were so disappointing and awful.

Hopefully the next book review I do will have a better response.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Too Busy for Life

I need a shirt that says that. Seriously, this is ridiculous. I'm sorry for the lack of posting and book reviews - school and work has me BUSY. But here are some book reviews you get to look forward to in the next 2ish weeks when things calm down:

The Maze Runner trilogy by James Dashner
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

I'll also write about (FINALLY) meeting Shannon Hale (!!!), bacon on desserts, some exciting book-related adventures I've been having (launch parties, meeting people, ect.), possibly some Native American Literature stuff, and maybe a few brief dramatic stories.

If you're in school, good luck with the rest of the semester! If you're not...I'm currently jealous.