Classics

Book Review: The Man Who Was Thursday

The Man Who Was Thursday
Author: 
Chesterton, G. K.
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

On the surface, The Man Who Was Thursday has all the markings of a witty
thriller satire. Unfortunately, as the subtitle of this work is “A
Nightmare,” things don’t necessarily stay coherent to the end. It’s not
that The Man Who Was Thursday is terrible, but rather that it loses focus and
becomes absurd the longer it continues. And perhaps that’s the greatest
tragedy of this book: that it could have been a solid story if it didn’t
devolve into a nightmare at the end.

I certainly liked plenty of aspects of the early parts of this book.
Infiltrating an anarchist society with day-of-the-week codenames. The
revelation that few members of said society were actually who they said they
were. The conspiracy and twists as the protagonists and antagonists get
flipped on their heads. Of course, this last bit is when things started going
downhill. Perhaps it’s that odd British humor that influenced the weird
bits, but the story probably could have done without all the randomness near
the end. In fact, making the whole thing into a nightmare lessens the overall
impact of the story, since there is doubt that any of it happened at all.

I’m sure that books like The Man Who Was Thursday require extensive
footnotes and analysis to understand. I’m sure this book is assigned to
English classes as an example of deep and thoughtful prose. The problem is
that I’m mainly reading for entertainment. I don’t have the time to sit
down and pore over all the analysis of a book like this. For my money, I
think I’ll stick to the James Bond series for spies with code names
infiltrating secret societies. At least then, I know the result is closer to
reality than whatever this book contains.

A weird book that could have been an excellent thriller satire, I give The
Man Who Was Thursday 3.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: The Bell Jar

Book Review: The Bell Jar
Author: 
Plath, Sylvia
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

This semi-autobiographical novel is a searing portrait of mental illness. So dark and honest, it brings the reader in to the protagonist's descent into madness and her rise from it. The description of a mental hospital in the 50s was very interesting to me. This was before anti-depressants so many more people suffered there than suffer now. I was particularly fascinated by her description of electroconvulsive therapy. Overall a powerful novel by a one of literature's great writers.

Reviewer's Name: 
vfranklyn

Book Review: 1984

1984
Author: 
Orwell, George
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

1984 introduces Winston Smith as the primary character. Smith is a middle-aged man that lives within a dystopian society in April of 1984. Being nearly 4 decades after World War II and just a couple of years after the apparent Atomic Wars, Smith lives through the totalitarian state of Oceania, where is activity is consistently surveyed. At this point, Smith attempts to relocate himself from this totalitarian state in order to put him back to normal behavior.

1984 is another novel involving a dystopia, however, it stands out for its strong character development. The premise of the story is heavily shown through the setting, as it demonstrates a controlled and tyrannical lifestyle.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: 
Nam T

Book Review: The Things They Carried

The Things They Carried book jacket
Author: 
O'Brien, Tim
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

The Things They Carried follows through the perspective of a soldier within the 23rd Infantry Division. Enlisted during the Vietnam War, the book covers over the soldier's, as well as the platoons experiences throughout. The Things They Carried is a collection of stories that correlate to one another, bringing an ultimate immersion to those that are interested of any war, or historical context.

The Things They Carried is a book that has a deeper insight within the emotional, mental, and physical state of the soldiers that went through the Vietnam War. Having a darker and more serious tone than other novels, it is one that stands out and deserves recognition.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: 
Nam T

Book Review: The Crucible

The Crucible book jacket
Author: 
Miller, Arthur
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

Arthur Miller creates a horrifying and suspenseful narrative in his iconic play The Crucible with the intention of realistically depicting a terrible chapter in our country’s history. The play follows a group of young women, led by Abigail Parris, as they accuse hundreds of people of witchcraft, and cause a massive panic among the townspeople.
The Salem Witch trials is a topic that is mostly looked over in our history classes, so this book was extremely interesting in that it depicted an event that I only had surface level knowledge of. I was fascinated with the intense depth of all of the characters, and the almost rational actions of the villains. This book was perfect to read right before Halloween. Despite these things, the narrative can be somewhat slow at times, and while I enjoyed the historical anecdotes embedded in the book, they distracted me from the actual story. However, the rest of the book was great and I highly recommend it.

Reviewer's Name: 
Sophie L

Book Review: The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar
Author: 
Plath, Sylvia
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Sylvia Plath creates vivid,realistic and gripping narrative in The Bell Jar in order to depict the harsh treatment of both women and the mentally ill.
The story follows Esther Greenwood, who is a young and successful woman, slowly descending into madness. It chronicles her interactions with men, other young women, and her mother, and how those things had contributed to her becoming mentally ill.
This book is easily one of my favorites. Throughout the entire story, the readers are in Esther’s mind. We see first hand how she becomes insane.
Sylvia Plath has such an intense and realistic writing style that Esther’s actions almost seem rational. It makes us question our own sanity. This book definitely had the best portrayal of mental illness I have seen so far. It also deals with other intense themes such as the treatment of women in society. Despite these themes being severe and somewhat terrifying, the book remains eloquent and lyrical. The Bell Jar is provocative and heart wrenching at the same time, and I believe it is one of the best books ever written.

Reviewer's Name: 
Sophie L

Book Review: To Kill A Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird
Author: 
Lee, Harper
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

“It’s a sin to kill a mockingbird”. Harper Lee writes a beautiful and provocative narrative in To Kill a Mockingbird in order to create a conversation about relevant themes that affect our world. The story follows Scout and her brother Jem as their father, Atticus, defends an African American man named Tom Robinson in court for raping a young white woman.
Meanwhile, the children meet a new boy named Dill, and are curious about their neighbor, “Boo” Radley. The book deals with intense themes such as racial injustice, class, and growing up.
When I first read this book in 9th grade, I didn’t care too much for it. I enjoyed it, but I didn’t think it was something that I could read again.
But I was wrong. While re-reading this book, I discovered why it is a classic. The book deals with serious issues while still remaining eloquent and poetic. I adored Scout’s character and her development seen through her interactions with Boo Radley. I thoroughly enjoyed Harper’s writing style and her ability to create distinct and well rounded personalities for each of her characters. I believe that this book should be read both in schools and outside of them because of its powerful and controversial narrative.

Reviewer's Name: 
Sophie L

Book Review: 1984

1984
Author: 
Orwell, George
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

George Orwell depicts a horrific and terrifying alternate reality of 1984.
After years of war and conflict, the world is governed by three totalitarian regimes. The one that our main character, Winston Smith, resides under is ruled by the “party” and its leader “Big Brother”. The narrative follows Winston as he meets a mysterious woman named Julia, and the two begin to secretly rebel.
When I first started reading this book, I was a little bit disappointed. I had such high expectations (I think that was the problem) ,and it just didn’t live up to them. In the beginning, I thought Winston’s character was somewhat flat, and I didn’t feel a lot of sympathy for what he was living through. I thought Julia was unrealistic and a bit obnoxious. But in the second half of the book, my opinions had changed. The book becomes quite disturbing, and it makes you question what is actually real and what is just a fabrication of the party. It’s terrifying to say the least. Despite the fact that I enjoyed parts of this book, I have to rate it 3 stars because I wasn’t engaged in the first half of the narrative.

Reviewer's Name: 
Sophie L

Book Review: The Bridges of Madison County

The Bridges of Madison County
Author: 
Waller, Robert James
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

The Bridges of Madison county is a tear jerking love story. It tells of a middle aged photographer who is sent to photograph some of the bridges of Madison County, Iowa. On his lonely journey, he meets an old house wife whose children and husband had gone on a trip. The story tells of a love with a burning passion that happened too late. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a beautiful romance story detailing a beautiful relationship that could never be. Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: 
Kyle Y

Book Review: Prince Caspian

Book Review: Prince Caspian
Author: 
Lewis, C.S.
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy are drawn back into Narnia 1,300 years in the future to help Prince Caspian defeat a terrible king and gain the throne.

This book was not nearly as good as The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. I listened to it on audio and while the narrator was good (Vanessa Regrave), the story left something to be desired. I know Prince Caspian is young, but he sounded like a whiny child to me. Over all, it was pretty good, but not great.

Reviewer's Name: 
vfranklyn

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