Friday, June 15, 2012

Book Reviews: Slaughterhouse-Five, The Good Earth, Lord of the Flies, The Maze Runner, and The Tipping Point

For those of you who haven't jumped on the Goodreads bandwagon, I highly suggest it. It's a great way to keep track of the books you've read, the books you want to read, see what all your buddies are reading, and get recommendations on what to read next. Plus I need more friends on there. How else am I going to find my literary soul-mate? And if you were on Goodreads, you'd have seen all these awesome book reviews long ago!

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The more I read Kurt Vonnegut, the more I like him. He has some of the best similes I've ever heard. He's quirky and weird and funny and gets a message across all at the same time. I swear reading his stuff is like looking into my own brain and all the weird thoughts I have on a constant basis. But somehow he's able to voice those thoughts in a more clever way. This isn't my first Vonnegut book and it definitely won't be my last.

The Good EarthThe Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really wanted to love this book, but I just thought it was average. Basically a guy is poor, buys some land and eventually gets rich... all whilst adding a few wives and children along the way. A simplistic synopsis? Maybe... but accurate I think. There are lessons to be learned here... about pride and family and hard work. But, I guess these things were taught a little too slowly and uneventfully for my taste. Don't get me wrong, I liked this book. But I wasn't enamored by it. It's just another one of those "classics" that to me, doesn't deserve the title.

Lord of the FliesLord of the Flies by William Golding

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I remember watching this movie when I was a kid, but didn't remember much of it besides the basic premise. Basically it's about a bunch of boys who are stranded on an island without adults and how they cope with their new surroundings.

The short and sweet review is I liked this book. The characters were well developed and the plot was actually really fascinating. It makes you wonder how close to reality this would be if it happened in real life. Sort of scary to think of, really.

There was one thing I didn't like about this book: the narrator. Normally that wouldn't be a huge shocker, but the author read this book. That usually means it's going to be awesome, but I've decided Golding should stick to writing stories, not telling them. He didn't put much feeling into it which made some of the situations fall kind of flat when they normally would have been really intense. I think I would have been better off reading this one.

The Maze Runner (Maze Runner, #1)The Maze Runner by James Dashner

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was actually pretty entertaining overall. There was good character development, a good amount of mystery and suspense, good plot line. However, I thought there was a little too much repetition... yes I know Thomas doesn't remember anything, I don't need you to tell me twenty times. And it seemed like any time the author described something bad, he used some variation of "cold"... things to the effect of "his blood felt like ice" or "a wave of icy dread swept over him" etc. I tried to pay attention and see if maybe it was some sort of symbolism, but if it was, I was too dense to pick up on it. I also assumed there would be some reason for Thomas' fellow Glader's hesitation to explain things to him. He keeps asking questions and never gets any answers, but there is never any explanation as to why they're so secretive.

*Spoiler Alert*

So, the main thing I didn't like about this book was the ending. I know it's a set up for a sequel, but still... it seemed more like the author was finally like "Well, I gotta come up with an ending... how about... this." It just didn't make sense to me that the real world is a wasteland full of people that are dying and yet the whole time the Gladers are in the maze scenario they're able to get all this delicious food and basically anything else they ask for. Not to mention the technology these people used to create the maze. Where did they get the manpower to create such an elaborate maze? How did they make the portal that the Grievers came out of? How did they make the Grievers? Seems like if they had the technology to do all this fancy stuff they should be able to come up with a cure for the Flare and wouldn't need to rely on a group of smart kids to do it. It was just too far-fetched for me. Based on this first book as a whole, I'm not sure if I'll get around to reading the sequel.

The Tipping PointThe Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Tipping Point identifies the main factors involved in what makes something "big." It answers the question of how people and ideas get famous, how major trends start, and what makes something "stick" in our minds.

For me this book was both entertaining and enlightening. While I don't think that I personally fit any of the personality types (Connectors, Mavens, & Salesmen), it was interesting to scan through the people I know to try and identify someone who did. I also liked learning about the seemingly insignificant factors that are actually the main cause of huge epidemics & social problems.

Although it has been a while since I read Gladwell's book Blink, I would say this one ranks right up there with it, which was a nice surprise after being slightly disappointed by Outliers.


Rachel said...

I'm going to have to try out some Malcom Gladwell and Kurt Vonnegut.

Unfortunately, we will no longer be able to be friends, due to your rejection of one of the greatest books ever written (The Good Earth).

It's a shame, really, because I liked you so.

Paul said...

I'm glad you liked the Vonnegut. He's an interesting author who, although I don't love everything I've read, I really enjoy.

Phew though. The Good Earth. I read that when I was maybe 14. Pearl Buck was an interesting person. She spent a lot of time in China during a period of upheaval. I haven't read her autobiographies, but am told they are worth seeking out. The Good Earth though, I found difficult. My interpretation was a little different; I read it as a story of a man who gained materially, but with security and respect always just out of reach. I think I was at a vulnerable age because the ending depressed me.

In conclusion, I recommend Breakfast of Champions if you haven't read it and are looking for more Vonnegut. It even has drawings!

Karen said...

Breakfast of Champions was actually my first taste of Vonnegut. LOVED that book. So dang funny. My favorite part is where he draws the picture of an "asshole." * HA!