Monthly Archives: February 2017

Room–Emma Donoghue

Entry One: Barton Zhuang

I know you guys are probably getting sick of all the depressing stuff I write in these blog posts… but the dark parts are the parts that really stand out to me, and “Room” by Emma Donoghue really shows a lot darkness below it’s facade of happiness and joy.

How large is your house? 1,026 square feet? 4,204 square feet? You may even think your house is small, but the characters of this novel have lived in a mere garden shed, and Jack, the main character has lived here since birth, not knowing of the endless possibilities the world holds. He’s happy because he’s never known anything else, and thought that the endless possibilities of the world were trapped in an imaginary realm viewable only through their television. He lives with his Ma, who was kidnapped as a college student and held in the garden shed for many years where her captor comes almost every night to rape her. The life that Ma has created for Jack (who is five years old now) in this impossible situation is admirable, after all that she has had to bear.

The juxtaposition that Donoghue applies is heartbreaking. Little Jack doesn’t understand everything that is happening, and is happy. He enjoys his life as it is, while Ma is trying very hard to give Jack a normal life. One can learn to hate Old Nick, not only because he’s the antagonist, but because what he is doing is absolutely disgusting. He’s taking away another human being’s life, something that everyone gets only once, which can be too short. For me, sometimes a school day can just fly by, and I’ll be home before I know it, but I just can’t bear to imagine how life would have been for Ma and Jack.

One really specific part that stood out to me a lot was “Scream.” Ma had taught to Jack a game every day after their nap to scream as loud as they could, Ma trying in a harsh effort to communicate their entrapment to the outside world so they can be saved. Ma seeming almost desperate, and Jack screaming as if playing a game, not knowing the full reason why they scream. After they scream, Ma always shushes Jack, and Jack asked once why they become quiet, and Ma responds “Just in case someone is listening” (or something along those lines… I can’t find the quote right now). This part really saddened me, as if there was no hope for them, and that this kind of stuff could be happening every day. The thought that someone right this moment could be screaming behind a panel of soundproof glass chills me to the core.

Overall, this novel has been fun to read, especially from Little Jack’s point of view. The innocence and naiveness of Jack only makes the book more painful to read, but it’s a kind of painful that makes you want to read more. It’s so good at keeping me hooked, so 9/10 is my current rating.

 

 

 

 

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Mistborn, The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson, first half

There is a world where creativity is only an idea, and slavery is commonplace. A place where people can draw special powers from the metals of the earth and where an evil tyrant rules. Well not anymore. After the Lord Ruler was overthrown, the rebellion scrambles to take up rule. This is where our story begins. Before I start, I have to explain some details in order for this to make sense. Allomancy, is the ability to burn metals and gain special powers from them. Each metal has its own special ability. Metals such as tin enhance your senses while metals such as pewter enhance your physical strength. There were twelve known metals; iron, steel, tin, pewter, brass, zinc, copper, bronze, atium, malatium, gold, and electrum. This is enough information to make my analysis understood. If anyone reading this has questions, ask.

Now you may be wondering why I said there were twelve known metals, and if you didn’t you’re looking back now. The reason for me saying this is not just a tense issue, but the reason that the Mistborn series is so great, its surprises. Some books that I have read are very predictable, but with the Well of Ascension this is not the case. In a way the book is similar to a pick your own adventure book. There are so many different ways the book could turn in just a few short pages.Though it is not you who is making the decisions but Brandon Sanderson. He makes you feel that you are opening a gift every page.

One case of this is the reason that I said there were twelve known metals. Vin, the main character, realizes that there are more than just twelve metals. Sadly the reader does not know this until suddenly she accomplishes her task. This new metal allows for many new abilities that she can achieve. Before this point you had no idea that there might have been anymore metals and had accepted the twelve. This is a total surprise and took me off guard. Most people would think that it was the author’s mistake for not mentioning there was a probability of a new metals beforehand. This is not how I see this. Books are great because of their surprises not because of the absence of them. This is just one of many of these exciting plot twists in the Mistborn series. Due to spoilers I do not want to share anymore than I have.

There is another reason that The Well of Ascension and Brandon Sanderson are perfect. This is the changing of character perspective. With a different character every chapter, you get to know as many as eight people by the first half of the second book. Though this may get confusing, once you get into Sanderson’s style switching between characters is a breeze. This also does not allow for boredom to accumulate over one character. Knowing these many people’s thoughts allows the reader to really step into the world of the Final Empire.

So with surprising events and the changing of characters, there is no way to know what is on the next page. Explore this amazing page turner by Brandon Sanders after you read the first book, Mistborn. I can tell you, you won’t be sorry.

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Book One: Dracula

Dracula: 1st half

It is my belief that the 1897 Gothic Horror novel Dracula, written by Irish author Bram Stoker, has been incorrectly named. The novel hardly seems to be at all about the count himself, but rather how the crimes he’s been committing in the background affects the characters residing in the ocean side town in which the count has recently bought a house.

The story begins with solicitor Jonathan Harker visiting Count Dracula in his castle in Transylvania to speak with him about the business matters of the count’s recent purchase in England. Jonathan is excited to be visiting new lands, and to learn about the culture of the country. Though he is confused by the ways of the people. Everywhere he goes, he is met with people crossing themselves, and handing him crucifixes as they learn of his destination: the Count’s castle.

“When I asked him if he knew Count Dracula, and could tell me anything of his castle, both he and his wife crossed themselves, and saying that they knew nothing at all, simply refused to speak further. It was so near the time of starting that I had no time to ask anyone else, for it was all very mysterious and not by any means comforting.” (6)

Jonathan passes off these actions as superstitions of an inferior religion to his own. This gesture is often seen in the country of Romania, of which I myself am from, though in many instances, it becomes apparent that Bram Stoker had never visited the place. And that would have been fine, if his research had been at all correct. First of all, his spellings are horrendous at times, and in many cases, he seems to attempt to write the word in the way that Romanians seem to speak it, rather than how it is actually spelt. One such example is his mention of the gypsies and the “szygany” (spelt țigani, or better known as the Romani) The two names are mentioned as two separate groups of people in Romania, when in truth they are the same. While gypsy is a derogatory term that is frowned upon in other countries, that is a simple fact of what the Romani are in Romania. Regarding some of the mentions of foods, specifically mămăligă, though is correct that these foods exist, and are a common dish to eat, they are most definitely not eaten at the times of day in which Jonathan eats them. The descriptions of the land’s geographical features, and the superstitions and stories regarding Count Dracula are not very Romanian at all, and are rather the anglicised versions of it all. Though I cannot place too much fault on Mr. Stoker for the stories the Romanians in the story told of Dracula, as they were imperative to the story line, I wish he had not made so many attempts to make it be a “realistic” Romania. In short, the country was very unfortunately and falsely stereotyped, yet it does account for the many misconceptions I’ve come across about my home country.

Before ascending into the Carpathian Mountains by way of a carriage, an old woman warns him of an evil that comes out on a night like tonight at the stroke of midnight, and warns him against travel. Jonathan, while this causes a slight feeling of dread, insists on going, and so the woman hands him a crucifix, which is the first and only one of which he accepts, simply out of politeness, as crucifixes are not used in his church.

On the way to the castle, there is mention of a blue flame, which confuses both the reader, and Jonathan himself, and though it is explained later what the blue flame means, it has yet to have any significance in the story, and I have read over half of the book already.

Dracula, may I just add, is nothing like the legends and stories I’ve heard myself from true Transylvanians, but never mind that, as the vampire version of the man is a fictional character, after all.

Jonathan’s stay is recorded through a series of diary entries, much like the rest of the book, which is put together with a series of diary entries and letters that numerous characters have written. His stay is very exciting, and had me at the edge of my seat the entire time. The entire novel so far, in fact, has proven to be extremely captivating. My two favourite characters are Wilhemina (Mina) Murray (later Mina Harker, as she marries Jonathan immediatly upon his arrival since they had been engaged for several months prior) and Lucy Westenra. Both girls struggle with uniting with the men they love, but both girls get the man of their dreams at some point or another in the novel. That adds an exciting touch of romance that ties the book together wonderfully, and adds a touch of tragedy and heartache later. Two characters that I find a little odd however, is the psychoanalyst Dr. John Seward and his patient, Mr. Renfield. The patient seems to hardly have a significance in the story, despite the fact that he has long since been introduced, and has been mentioned numerous times already. In fact, so far I believe the plot would have fared perfectly well without the two of them, or the patient at the very least. That is my main problem with this otherwise captivating novel: the way that random details are added. Many of these details seem to have no business in the story, and it often seems just a bother to have them in there. To many readers however, I should hardly think these details would be any bother, or at the very least far fewer details would seem unnecessary, as many of them have to do with the first quarter of the novel in Romania, and they are the cultural inconsistencies.

On a more positive note, this novel has been amazing to read so far: a perfect blend of horror, mystery, and romance. It’s truly a great novel, and totally worth a read. Thus far, it is a 9.5 out of 10.

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