Posts Tagged ‘literature’

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold is a novel that presents the reader with a fascinating premise: the young protagonist, Susie Salmon, has been raped and murdered.  She tells the reader her story from heaven, as she watches events unfold in the world she still longs to be a part of. 

She observes intently as her parents’ marriage is shattered by the tragedy of her death.  Her mother, retreating to a solitary world with locked and confused emotions; her father, on the relentless pursuit to find her murderer.  Truly, the dynamic of relationships were evidently affected and altered by Susie’s death. 

The reader will be particularly interested in the chilling parts that detail Susie’s killer, Mr. Harvey (that isn’t a spoiler since we know this from the beginning of the book).  While Harvey is certainly creepy, Sebold paints him with too many clichés (loner, socially awkward, strange hobbies) that regrettably limit some potentially interesting character development. 

The book started off with a lot of promise.  Tugging at the heart-strings and evoking a wide range of emotions; there were moments of suspense, comedy, sadness and even joy.  I particularly loved the author’s unique perspective on heaven and thoroughly enjoyed these descriptive episodes throughout the book. 

However, despite a great start, the book started to loosen its grip on me midway through.  Apathy –one emotion that should not be felt with this type of story– made its presence known.  I started to feel as empty as the mother in the story.  I mentioned cliché earlier when describing Mr. Harvey…it turns out most of the characters are showered in cliché after cliché.  Susie’s dialogue was mostly unbelievable and the writing overall, was poorly executed; strange sentences attempting to convey poetry, filled with metaphors that make absolutely no sense.  I was particularly put off by a scene near the end of the story, that has Susie “live” out a fantasy — it felt like the book suffered from an identity crisis at that moment and I was reading something out of a sci-fi novel. 

I am giving it a favourable rating of 3 stars because despite its many flaws, Sebold did a fantastic job of displaying raw human emotions in the face of tragedy.  I would have given it a higher rating if she had capitalized on that and ventured into a more profound territory (with the characters) and stronger writing. 

3 Out Of 5

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Being an avid fan of literature, you will find that I will periodically post reviews of some of the many books I’ve been acquainted with.  Here is the first:

Rare are the stories that demand your attention and fill you with emotions so real that you can practically envision yourself, next to the characters, sharing in their joys and sorrows.

“The Kite Runner” is a beautiful tale that achieves this feat, effortlessly and so effectively that you may find yourself, at one point, with tears in your eyes and so infuriated that you want to rip it into pieces and toss it in the garbage; that is until the next paragraph, where you suddenly find your eyes appreciating and your heart loving every bit of this eloquently written story. Yes, it truly takes you on an emotional roller coaster ride, manipulating your feelings as if they were puppets on a string. Sadness, happiness, anger, fear, hate, love, disgust, compassion and resentment amongst many more are all marionettes that you seem to have absolutely no control over. Isn’t that indicative of a great author?

The protagonist and narrator is Amir, the son of a well-known, respected and wealthy Afghani businessman. Hassan is a poor illiterate boy, the loyal best friend of Amir and the son of Amir’s servant. Amir and Hassan are different in many ways, but their friendship is not unlike any other of young boys that grew up together. They play, get into mischief and have the common bond of growing up without mothers. Hassan possesses admirable qualities. He is the epitome of honesty, loyalty, courage, forgiveness and innocence; a loveable and admirable character. Amir on the other hand, is really quite the opposite. Do not be entirely surprised if you find yourself loathing his selfishness, falsehood and cowardly demeanor. When faced with a heartbreaking scenario, Amir makes a regrettable decision that will forever change his life and the lives of others.

“The Kite Runner” is Khaled Hosseini’s debut novel. The majority of the story takes place in Afghanistan, Hosseini’s country of birth. He presents us at first with a fascinating view of a once peaceful and cultural country, but as the story progresses we see a land plagued by war and calamity in its “evolution”.

The portraits painted in between the pages of this book are one of sin, betrayal and the ultimate quest for redemption. They may not always be beautiful to look at, but these are all relatable themes, making the story all that more powerful. Alas, not everything is perfect and it suffers from a tad too much of predictability and the overuse of foreshadowing. These criticisms however, are so minute, and are eclipsed by the sheer quality and grandeur of the story as a whole. Like the kites in the book, this is an epic tale that really does soar.

To the author, Mr. Hosseini, I quote these very fitting lines from your beautiful book: “I enjoyed your story very much. Mashallah, God has granted you a special talent. It is now your duty to hone that talent, because a person who wastes his God-given talents is a donkey. You have written your story with sound grammar and interesting style. But the most impressive thing about your story is that it has irony. It is something that some writers reach for their entire careers and never attain. You have achieved it with your first story. I shall hear any story you have to tell. Bravo.”

Bravo indeed.

5 out of 5