Tag: fiction

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Author: Mark Haddon
AUDIOBOOK

Published: July 31, 2003
Dates Read:  March 7-14, 2017

My Rating: 5 stars

Book Summary from Amazon:

Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, Christopher is autistic. Everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning for him. Routine, order and predictability shelter him from the messy, wider world. Then, at fifteen, Christopher’s carefully constructed world falls apart when he finds his neighbor’s dog, Wellington, impaled on a garden fork, and he is initially blamed for the killing.

Christopher decides that he will track down the real killer and turns to his favorite fictional character, the impeccably logical Sherlock Holmes, for inspiration. But the investigation leads him down some unexpected paths and ultimately brings him face to face with the dissolution of his parents’ marriage. As he tries to deal with the crisis within his own family, we are drawn into the workings of Christopher’s mind.

And herein lies the key to the brilliance of Mark Haddon’s choice of narrator: The most wrenching of emotional moments are chronicled by a boy who cannot fathom emotion. The effect is dazzling, making for a novel that is deeply funny, poignant, and fascinating in its portrayal of a person whose curse and blessing is a mind that perceives the world literally.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is one of the freshest debuts in years: a comedy, a heartbreaker, a mystery story, a novel of exceptional literary merit that is great fun to read.

Review:

Christopher is our narrator for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. For the rest of the review it will be referenced as The Curious Incident. Though not mentioned by name in the novel, Christopher has Asperger’s Syndrome, a high functioning form of autism. He is fifteen and one day he finds his neighbor’s dog has been killed. The Curious Incident is his journey to find the dog’s killer, but it becomes much more than that: It is a tale of a boy trying to find his place in our very complicated world.

Mark Haddon used to work with autistic individuals and his writing perfectly shows us how a person with Asperger’s may think. Haddon really gets us inside Christopher’s head. I became fully involved in the journey and was with Christoper every step of the way.

I chose to read this book as it is next in a book club I have joined. Since my reading list is very full I had to listen to it on CD versus actually reading it. This review is for the audio version. I knew there were pictures throughout the novel, so I was prepared to get the actual book as well. I was worried I might miss something by not seeing the pictures. The narrator did a great job in his narration and I do not feel that I missed anything by listening to the audio version. I was actually able to get a copy of The Curious Incident at my local library book sale, so I was able to see what the pictures looked like in the novel.

One thing I was confused about as I started listening to the CD were the chapters. The novel did not begin with chapter one. They are instead numbered differently with prime numbers. Once that was explained I was fine. At first I thought the first chapter was skipped in the CD I was listening to!

Some other things to keep in mind if you are going to read The Curious Incident. Christopher is very detail driven in his narration. At times it could be seen as if it was dragging on, but this is who Christopher is and he can’t help it. He is very literal in his thoughts and explanations. Math is mentioned a great deal in The Curious Incident. For those of us that are not mathematically inclined, this can seem to keep going like the Energizer Bunny.

Christopher also doesn’t like jokes as he can analyze them, but he doesn’t understand them. He is writing a book on his mission to find out who killed the neighbor’s dog, and he says the book will not be funny, but he is so literal in this thinking that at times he is funny without realizing it and you can’t help but giggle a time or two.

This was a very enjoyable read for me. It is a shorter novel around 220 pages that could be read very quickly, though it may not be for everyone. It seems The Curious Incident is either a love it or hate it kind of novel.

The Curious Incident is highly recommended.

Room

room  25989448

Author: Emma Donoghue
Audiobook

Published: September 13, 2010
Dates Read: November 10-24, 2016

My Rating: 5 stars

Book Summary from Amazon:

To five-year-old-Jack, Room is the world. . . . It’s where he was born, it’s where he and his Ma eat and sleep and play and learn. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma it’s the prison where she has been held for seven years. Through her fierce love for her son, she has created a life for him in this eleven-by-eleven-foot space. But with Jack’s curiosity building alongside her own desperation, she knows that Room cannot contain either much longer.

Room is a tale at once shocking, riveting, exhilarating–a story of unconquerable love in harrowing circumstances, and of the diamond-hard bond between a mother and her child.

My Review:

I first listened to Room on audiobook just over three years ago. I decided that I want to watch the movie relatively soon, so I decided to listen to Room again so the book would be fresh in my memory.

Emma Donoghue takes a difficult subject matter (a kidnapping situation and rape multiple times) and gives us the book Room from the perspective of five year old Jack. This is a unique and original concept.

Jack has just celebrated his fifth birthday. All he has ever known in his life is Room, Ma, and Old Nick. Room is where Ma and Jack live. Ma has lived here for seven years after being kidnapped by Old Nick. Jack is the product of Ma being raped by Old Nick. Room is all that Jack knows. They do have a tv, and Jack believes that the rest of the world exists only on television. Ma does not tell him otherwise.

You can see how Jack experiences everything in Room and his curiosity about various things that all children become curious about. You can feel Ma’s frustrations with their living situation and her hatred of Old Nick. Later on in the book, Old Nick informs Ma of a change in his living situation and Ma begins a plan to get her and Jack out of Room. They do escape from Room and their lives are just beginning at this point.  You can see the adjustment that Ma and Jack have to go through.

Throughout the book Jack talks about adult situations, but with the innocence of a child as he doesn’t understand what is going on. But it is enough for the reader to know what is going on.

I really can not recommend this book enough! I think the book being from Jack’s perspective makes it easier to read. It would have been a very different book if it had come from Ma’s perspective. That would be an interesting book to read. Some authors have done that lately: rewrite their books from a different characters point of view. If Emma Donoghue ever chose to do that with Room, I would read it.

Audiobook Review:

I have listened to Room on audiobook twice now. It is superb! There are multiple narrators for Room and I find that makes it easier to listen to a book than a single narrator doing all the voices and changing their voice for the various characters. Changing their voice for multiple characters can be well done or not. I have heard both kinds of audiobooks. It really can affect your enjoyment of a book.

The narrator for Jack is Michal Friedman and she is brilliant! She voices Jack perfectly. She portrays the innocence, wonder, curiosity, and all the feelings that a five year old would express in this situation.

If I decide to read Room again in the future it will be the audiobook again. I can’t imagine ‘reading’ it another way. The audiobook is perfect!

If you listen to audiobooks and have not read Room yet, get a copy from your local library or on Audible. If you don’t really listen to audiobooks and are thinking about reading Room, give the audiobook a try!

Bonus PDF:

The audiobook I had of Room included a disc with a bonus PDF. The PDF is ‘Jack’s drawings’ of Room. It gives you a perspective of how tiny the room that Jack and Ma lived in for his whole life and her for seven years. I am definitely looking forward to watching the movie now to see how it is interpreted onto the screen!

**If you do get the audiobook on cd, there are nine discs. I thought the ninth disc was just a bonus disc and I wondered why the book stopped suddenly at the end of the eighth disc. It was not over. The ninth disc does have more of the book on it. I’m guessing I didn’t realize this three years ago when I listened to it the first time.

Room on audiobook is 100% recommended!

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After You

25041504
Author: Jojo Moyes
352 Pages in Paperback

Published: September 29, 2015
Dates Read: July 20- August 8, 2016

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Book Summary from Amazon:

“You’re going to feel uncomfortable in your new world for a bit. But I hope you feel a bit exhilarated too. Live boldly. Push yourself. Don’t settle. Just live well. Just live. Love, Will.”

How do you move on after losing the person you loved? How do you build a life worth living?

Louisa Clark is no longer just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life. After the transformative six months spent with Will Traynor, she is struggling without him. When an extraordinary accident forces Lou to return home to her family, she can’t help but feel she’s right back where she started.

Her body heals, but Lou herself knows that she needs to be kick-started back to life. Which is how she ends up in a church basement with the members of the Moving On support group, who share insights, laughter, frustrations, and terrible cookies. They will also lead her to the strong, capable Sam Fielding—the paramedic, whose business is life and death, and the one man who might be able to understand her. Then a figure from Will’s past appears and hijacks all her plans, propelling her into a very different future. . . .

For Lou Clark, life after Will Traynor means learning to fall in love again, with all the risks that brings. But here Jojo Moyes gives us two families, as real as our own, whose joys and sorrows will touch you deeply, and where both changes and surprises await.


My Review

**This review will have some spoilers, so beware.

Nearly two years have passed since the ending of Me Before You. Lou is still mourning the loss of Will. You can feel her pain and anguish in the first chapter. She is now working at a bar in an airport, and not happy there. She’s not living the way Will wanted her too.

She has an accident and returns home to recover. Her folks decide to let her return to her flat as long as she goes to a grief counseling group. She meets a man named Sam through a teenager in the group named Jake.

After some time, Lou seems to start to get her life together when (as the back cover of the book teases)a figure from Will’s past appears. This person appearing changes everything for Lou. The person ends up being Will’s daughter Lily. The daughter that he did not know he had. I could not help but wonder, as Lou did, if Will had known about her would he still have gone to Dignitas to end his life or would he still be around today. Would Lily have been what he needed to stay around despite being a quadriplegic?

Lou basically takes Lily in as Lily’s mother Tanya couldn’t handle her anymore. She was a very difficult teenager who just found out who her father was. Lily staying with Lou helped them both: Lily got to find out who her father was and Lou had a piece of Will. There is more to Lily than we first are led to believe. There is more to her than being the “troubled teenager”. I did have some issues with Tanya basically letting Lou take “custody” of Lily as Tanya did not know Lou. It just seemed like Tanya was just ready to “get rid” of Lily since she couldn’t really handle her.

Jojo Moyes brings back the Traynor family as well with the introduction of Lily and there have been some changes. Nathan has moved to NYC. I liked him in Me Before You and missed him in After You. There were a few scenes with himon the phone, but that wasn’t enough for me.

There is back and forth with the relationship of Lou and Sam. Will they get together or not? Is Lou even ready for that step after losing Will??? She is over her grief?

May people consider Me Before You and After You romance novels. I do not. To me, Me Before You was a life story to. It deals with two people’s lives and the decision one man made and they happen to fall in love. To me, After You is a book about dealing with grief and moving on. When the end of the book was coming, I had in my head the decision I was hoping Lou would make for her future. And I was happy with the decision she made.

There is one paragraph that really tugged at my heart. It is very powerful. This is towards the end of the book(page 325 of 352 in the paperback), so this will giveaway some things: Our eyes locked. And in that moment everything shifted. I saw what I had really done. I saw that I could be somebody’s center, his reason for staying. I saw that I could be enough.

In the paperback there is a “conversation with the author”. A question was asked if there will be anymore books with Lou. Jojo Moyes said she could see a third final book as a possibility if the readers want it. Well, Jojo, as a reader I can say that as a reader, I would love one final book with Lou!

I gave Me Before You 5 stars, so it was going to hard to live up to the original. In fact, I don’t think there is a way for After You to live up to Me Before You. It still did well. I would recommend it, but don’t have super high expectations if you loved Me Before You.

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