Thursday, April 26, 2012

The War of the Worlds (book), by H.G. Wells

There is a place in my heart for the classics. And as a lover of science fiction, it was high time I picked up this novel.

Written in the late 1800s, this classic is no stranger to most readers and movie-goers, so I won't bore you with the details of the plot. All I really want to say is that it was tough to get through this one.

Admittedly, I'm conscious of the fact that I found this story fairly boring, likely due to my modern mind. Today's stories are filled with suspense, plot twists, sub plots, and various story lines that interweave. It seems that in H. G. Well's days, a single linear story was enough, and the subject matter was more important than the exposition of the matter.

I've read a few Jules Verne books (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and Journey to the Center of the Earth), as well as other H. G. Wells novels (The Time Machine, and The Invisible Man). As far as sheer enjoyment goes, I enjoyed this one the least of those listed here. Verne's 20,000 Leagues was a phenomenal book, and I also really enjoyed Wells's Invisible Man. The War of the Worlds doesn't compare by today's standards in my opinion.

It should be noted, however, that every time I put myself in the place of someone in the late-1800s/early-1900s, I could easily understand how this book would have been revolutionary. 50 years before Roswell, 70 years before the moon landing, H. G. Wells was already writing about space travel and aliens. He paved the way for much of today's science fiction and I will forever be grateful for that.

Is The War of the Worlds a literary classic? A revolutionary novel that deserves a place in history? Absolutely. But if I am to be honest and base my rating and critique on how much I enjoyed the book, on how interesting and captivating it was, then I have to say that it bored me and I couldn't wait to finish it so that I could move on to something else.

My Rating: 1.5/5
My Recommendation: If you're a science-fiction reader, then you should read this if nothing else then for context in your genre of choice. Otherwise, based on the shallow and dull story, I say look elsewhere for a more interesting novel.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

11.22.63 (book)

I love Stephen King's writing style. His prose is vivid and gripping. I haven't read many of his books, however (about 5?), for a couple of reasons: he often writes supernatural horror which I'm not expressly into, and he tends to use extremely foul language, which I'm also not into.

However, when I heard that he was going to write a novel based around time travel, I couldn't help but to put it at the top of my wish list (time travel is probably the most fascinating fiction topic for me).

11.22.63 (the title of this book is the date that John Kennedy was assassinated) did not disappoint. It was, in a word, fantastic!

My review here doesn't contain anything that you wouldn't find on a dust jacket so read on with confidence (I never post spoilers, just in case you want to read it as well).

11.22.63 is about a high school English teacher that (essentially) stumbles upon what he calls a "rabbit hole": a portal to the past. 1958 to be exact. Stepping through this rift in time will take him back to the same day, the same moment, every time. He could go back for a month and return to the future, and when he went through the portal again, it would be to the exact moment as the first time he went. Each time is the first time.

So what do you do with that? Can you actually change the past then? Would you want to? You'll have to read the book yourself to find out the answers to those questions. But let me assure you that King takes a unique perspective on time travel (something that is hard to find in modern fiction). The tale of this English teacher and the incredibly difficult task he has set himself to is gripping and full of adventure.

I love to read but I can only name a handful books that have pulled me in so deep that I couldn't put it down. Angels and Demons by Dan Brown, Pathfinder and The Worthing Saga by Orson Scott Card, and Jumper by Stephen Gould are among these great novels that make me want to neglect the rest of my life just to read a few more pages. 11.22.63 fits right in.

I haven't decided if I will put it on my top 10 favorite books yet, but if I don't, it's close.

If you're looking for a story with heart-pumping adventure and the excitement of possibility, written by an author with impeccable world-painting and story-telling technique, then 11.22.63 is a must read.

The downside? As is typical with King, there is a bit of language. A bit more than I would have liked but no more than expected.

Also, I'll just put this out there on the off chance that someone actually reads my blog: something VERY uncanny, scary almost, happened to me (based on this novel) on the day I finished reading it. I can't tell you what it was without totally giving away the book. You need to read the full book, all the way to the last page, and then ask me about it. If you're half way through the book, then you'll know what I mean when I say I experienced a "harmonic" of my own.

My Rating: 5/5

My Recommendation: This is a must-read. Put it at the top of your list. You'll love it.