The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne [Book Review]

The Boy in the striped pajamas.jpgTitle : The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Author : John Boyne

ISBN : 9780385751063

Publisher : David Fickling Books

Genre : Historical Fiction

Pages : 224

Source : Self

Rating : 3 Stars

The ending is heart-breaking!

The story revolves around a 9-year-old boy, Bruno, his 12-year-old sister Gretel, his mom who’s a housewife and his dad who’s a commandant in the German army. The book is set in 1940’s Germany.

I enjoyed reading the book, though the author’s attempt to show the main lead, Bruno, as an innocent kid has kind of resulted in a few flaws.

One-time read.!

Buy yourself a copy of the book here: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

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The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami [Book Review]

The Strange Library.jpg
The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami

Title : The Strange Library

Author : Haruki Murakami

ISBN : 9781846559211

Publisher : Harvill Secker

Genre : Contemporary Fiction

Pages : 77

Source : Self

Rating : 2 stars

 

 

 

“The strange library” was a good experiment in terms of writing. Yes, it had the typical Marukami material through out. One day a scholar needs to be descended from Murakami’s literary brain cells and explain the module of his intentions in his novels. I absolutely adore his way of writing but this book had its own positives and negatives.

A boy goes to a library to return the book he had finished reading and plans to get more regarding tax litigation. He was told to go downstairs where he meets an old man who is cruel and shred and manifests him into following him after helping him get the book he wanted. The old man successfully tricks the boy into a joy where he is to read for 3 months and his brain would be eaten long after that. The whole story is about the escape.

The book to see is beautiful, quite unconventional but the pictures in them were unnecessary. Sure, dogs, feathers and shoes come in the story but I would not have any problem picturing it instead of wondering how these elements might look like.

And if someone may, please explain the below.

  1. The pretty girl who exists in his own world and the girl in the book he was reading who cannot talk as well, are they same and if yes, how?
  2. What was that the old man coughed?
  3. What did the switch the old man used for?
  4. Why did the narrator’s mother die?
  5. How did the crow escape?
  6. How did the old man manage to find the dog that bit the boy years ago?
  7. How did the bird manage to grow in size and attack the old man?
  8. How did the bird speak and why was the voice same as the pretty girl’s who gives him his dinner?

And the questions go on and on. Are these metaphors for something? Did I fail to read between the lines? I cannot quite understand.

All in all, the book kept me going until the end and this probably is the only novel that I have finished in 15 minutes. So yay.

Review by Pavan Kumar B C

Buy yourself a copy here: The Strange Library

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The Book Thief by Markus Zusak [Book Review]

The Book thief by Markus ZusakTitle : The Book Thief

Author : Markus Zusak

ISBN : 9780375831003

Publisher : Knopf Books

Genre : Historical Fiction

Pages : 552

Source : Self

Rating : 5 stars

 

 

 

The Book Thief is a story of a 11-year old German girl, narrated by none other than Death himself. The story is set in Munich, Germany during the World War II period.

Liesel (The Book Thief) loses her brother and is orphaned when her mother leaves her, after giving her away to her foster parents Hans and Rosa Hubermann, who live in Himmel street, Munich. Hans, an accordionist and painter, teaches Liesel how to read and write. Rosa, a gruff woman, swears a lot but has a heart of gold. Liesel is loved greatly by them.

In keeping a promise, Hans agrees to shelter Max Vandenburg, his friend’s son and a jew, in the basement of his house. During the course of his stay at the hubermanns, Max becomes great friends with Liesel. He writes two books for her, ‘The standover man’ and ‘The word shaker’.

Liesel loses everything when Himmel street is bombed, including her parents, her next door neighbor and best friend Rudy Steiner and a book she had written about her life, titled ‘The Book Thief’. The book is later found by Death.

The story is a strong one – it moves like a sailboat on a brisk day. The choice to tell the story through Death was a good one. Death foreshadows constantly, so we know a bit about which characters will die. This doesn’t ruin the shock value, instead it heightens the anticipation and dread of the reader.

Few quotes from the book:

“A DEFINITION NOT FOUND
IN THE DICTIONARY
Not leaving: an act of trust and love,
often deciphered by children”

“I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.”

“Imagine smiling after a slap in the face. Then think of doing it twenty-four hours a day.”

The Book Thief is beautifully written, extremely engrossing. A masterpiece.

MUST READ.

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood [Book Review]

The heart goes last

Title : The Heart Goes Last

Author : Margaret Atwood

ISBN : 9780385540353

Publisher : Nan A. Talese

Genre : Fiction

Pages : 308

Source : Self

Rating : 3 stars

 

 

 

Stan and Charmaine are a couple forced to live in a car due to the unfortunate circumstances perpetuated by recession in the country.

They seem too afraid to leave their car most of the time in the beginning. There were rapists and thieves wandering the streets. Stan usually slept sitting behind the wheel as he wanted to be ready to drive off quickly if danger was near.

While they both struggle to make their ends meet, they come to know about the “Positron” project in the town of Consilience- It is a social experiment that offers home and job stability in return of a few favors. They both sign up for it without giving it a second thought and thrown into an entirely new world- a world that looks all hunky-dory in the beginning but gradually turns dystopic as they find out what exactly goes around in Consilience.

The book has a contemporary feel to it. A medicine that goes down smooth and delicious, with little burbles of laughter and giggles and snorts along the way.

The author has a lot to say about the human sexuality too and the nature of love – both romantic and lustful. This is, at heart, a cautionary tale – a be careful what you wish for narrative.

Through her beautiful narration, Atwood shows us at our most selfish and self-indulgent, revealing our perpetual hunger for assurance and we are in the right place, doing the right thing, sleeping with the right person and that whatever we are doing and whoever we are doing it to, it’s by our choice. We’ve chosen it today and we might choose it again tomorrow.

The book could be bipolar. On one side – the worst of human atrocities and on the other side – dry and emotionless language in which it all was presented.

The book makes you both cringe and laugh. It seems like Atwood’s strength is taking events from the current scenario and spinning a future world where the implications of these stories are fully realized.
I have neither read Atwood before nor read any book from the dystopian genre and hence it was quite an experience reading this one. I wasn’t thoroughly amazed but this book is definitely a page turner at various points of time.

The Pearl that Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi [Book Review]

The pearl that broke its shellTitle : The Pearl that Broke Its Shell

Author : Nadia Hashimi

ISBN : 9780062244758

Publisher : William Morrow

Genre : Fiction

Pages : 452

Source : Self

Rating : 4 stars

 

 

When you read a book on dystopic Afghanistan, the first thing that strikes you is Khaled Hosseini and his books. Hashimi (the debut author) is no Hosseini but she has successfully made her mark in this book which includes two parallel stories of generations apart.

Her life would be riddled with everything an Afghani woman could encounter as part of the cultural practices in their families. The picturesque prose would relate a story of fear, oppression, abuse, love, hope and freedom.

The story is of Rahima (of present time) and her great great Grandmother Shekiba. Though hundreds of years apart, what is common in their stories is the fact that both were forced to act and dress like a man during a part of their life- Rahima as a Bacha Posh (the notorious Afghan tradition) and Shekiba as a guard to the harem of the king of Afghanistan.

As both the stories continue, you get to witness not only inhumanely tragedy, suffering and injustice but also insurmountable hope, perseverance and endurance by both the leading protagonists. Though Rahima’s story becomes predictable by the end, it is the twist and turns of Shekiba’s story that will keep you glued to the book till the end.

The story of country’s women, experiencing political and social upheavals of a country’s own weaknesses and strengths, and the role played by people in being forced to be the buffer zone between competing external powers battling for control over the region and how people adapt to challenges.

The story contains all those elements that make a book a winner, such as, tastes,  colors, emotions, history, traditions, politics, everything that a book needs to become a great book. The character Rahima becomes so real  in the narration that it makes the reader want to write her a letter after reading the book. Although it is a fictional tale, it portrays enough reality to leave the reader informed and wiser in the end.

The prose is detailed and written with much grace and integrity and ensures the reader walks away with a much deeper understanding of a country we only see through constant wars.

The book has an average prose but an engaging plot and Hashimi has done a great job in her debut.