Classics

Book Review: Ringworld

Ringworld
Author: 
Niven, Larry
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

It can be difficult to judge a book, especially one as critically acclaimed as Ringworld, with 50 years of scientific and societal progress between when it was written and today. On the one hand, there are many scientific concepts explored in this book that we almost take for granted in modern sci-fi. On the other hand, the stink of 1970s misogyny doesn’t age very well, and this book is a prime example. Even today, sci-fi authors are still trying to dig out from the sexist tropes that books like this perpetuated throughout the genre. It’s a complicated, uphill battle, but we’re trying to be better than this.

For 1970, I do have to admit that the science presented here is relatively revolutionary. Unfortunately, the descriptions were occasionally a bit dry and felt more like reading a textbook than a sci-fi adventure. I could appreciate how Niven described the indescribable scale of something as massive as the Ringworld. Additionally, the alien races were well-rounded and had complex physiologies and backstories that made the group dynamic entertaining to read. However, the only thing well-rounded about the women in this book were their bodies.

Aside from the considerable age difference between the two romantic leads being an acceptance of pedophilia, it’s clear that Niven only thought of women as objects. This is disappointing because the story could have been more interesting if the female characters had any agency other than being driven by pleasure or luck. I have to recognize that this book is still a snapshot of its temporal circumstances, but that doesn’t necessarily excuse it in today’s society. Acknowledging that it’s from the 1970s, modern works should be more aware of these flaws when using such a pivotal science fiction book as a base for today’s books.

Some great science with not-so-great misogyny, I give Ringworld 3.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: Brave New World

Brave New World
Author: 
Huxley, Aldous
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Brave New World, written by Aldous Huxley, is a personal interpretation of society’s attitude towards technology. It takes place in a future, either dystopian or utopian, where technology reigns supreme, and humans are created in a lab. It offers commentary on where humanity’s values are placed, and where they should be placed. The characters have to choose whether or not conformity is the best option, and whether numbing the pain is better than understanding the suffering. Written in the 1930s, Huxley has a surprisingly modern style and understanding, and knowing that he was unsure of the future makes it an even more exciting book.

Reviewer's Name: 
Malachi

Book Review: Bridge to Terabithia

 Bridge to Terabithia
Author: 
Paterson, Katherine
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

This book is about two unlikely friends who create an imaginary world with many kinds of animals and beasts. Jess Aarons and Leslie Burke become friends when Leslie moves and becomes Jess’s neighbor. But they really get to know each other when Leslie is the only girl to beat Jess in a running race.

One day, Jess and Leslie use a hanging rope to swing over a little river that is nearby, and that’s when they start to rule, as king and queen, the imaginary Terabithia.

There, the two friends have adventures as they try to rule over their subjects, and keep peace and order in Terabithia. Some of these subjects include hairy vultures, squogres, and other spirits, both good and bad. Squogres are massive squirrel-like creatures who are constantly growling, and they wear strange golden helmets with a spike on top, like a Triceratops.

With this book keeping you imaginative, with some sad and happy parts, I'm going to go with 3/5 stars for The Bridge to Terabithia.

Reviewer's Name: 
Gurman

Book Review: The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid's Tale
Author: 
Atwood, Margaret
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

This novel followes the life of "Offred" who is part of the first wave of women during the Gilead regime. "Offred", whose real name is never revealed in the book, is a Handmaid whose sole responsiblity is to have children to sustain the rapidly declining Caucasion population. She tries to accept her life as a Handmaid, but is haunted by memories of the time before Gilead when she had a family and was free from the oppressive society she currently lives in.

I really liked how Atwood discloses minimal details about "Offred" which makes it clear that what is happening to her can happen to any woman. The novel is set in a utopian society, and it's very interesting to read the rationale behind the establishment of the Gilead regime and how sexism and anti-feminist retoric is a constantly looming problem in society. The novel is told through "Offred's" perspective, and personally, I felt she was a bland character, but her story itself was interesting. The book hangs off on a cliffhanger, and I'm definitely going to read the sequel and watch the Hulu adaption after!

Reviewer's Name: 
Nneoma

Book Review: The Joy Luck Club

The Joy Luck Club
Author: 
Tan, Amy
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

The Joy Luck highlights mother-daughter relationships in the midst of generational conflicts. The Joy Luck daughters, Jing-mei, Waverly, Rose, and Lena, are first generation Chinese-Americans living in San Francisco during the 1980's. They feel their mothers are overbearing and do not understand their desire for independence. Ironically, their mothers feel they are losing their Chinese identity and became Americanized.

I love this book! The book is structured like the traditional Chinese game mahjong, and each of the daughters and mother's stories are complex and thought-provoking. Although it's set back in the 80's, a lot of its themes regarding mother-daughter relationships and intergenerational conflicts are relevant amongst first-generation immigrants and families today. Among the eight main characters, Jing-mei is my favorite, because she's really the only daughter that fully embraces her hyphenated identity.

This book is different because it tells the story of eight women who are so similar yet so different at the same time. I really recommend this to anyone looking for a female dominated novel!

Reviewer's Name: 
Nneoma

Book Review: The Bluest Eye

Cover of The Bluest Eye
Author: 
Morrison, Toni
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

The Bluest Eye is about a young African-American girl named Pecola living in 1940's Ohio. Pecola lives with her brother and abusive parents who constantly tell her she is ugly because of her dark skin and kinky hair. On top of that, the children at her school bully her for the fact that her father is an alcoholic. All her life, Pecola has wanted blue eyes to feel pretty. Her only friends, Freida and Claudia try to defend her against the colorism in their community, but Pecola is unable to embrace her features and becomes obsessive over her desire for blue eyes.

One of the reasons I read this book is because of Morrison's writing style and her thematic elements. The book is very intellectually stimulating and gave me better insight into colorism and how it is still largely prevalent today in the African-American community. I really liked how Morrison used a young girl as a main character to show how these feelings of low-esteem and poor body image are started at a young age, and how the people around us influence our thoughts and feelings.

There are a lot of complex characters and you get to hear each of their stories about why they're the way they are. Claudia is my favorite character because she represents women and girls who challenge our ideas of beauty. The ending was sad, but it really brought light to how damaging our obsession with beauty is.

Reviewer's Name: 
Nneoma

Book Review: Night

Night
Author: 
Wiesel, Elie
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Night by Elie Wiesel is a powerfully graphic novel that tells the story of a Hungarian Jew's experiences in various concentration camps within Nazi Germany during World War II. I really enjoyed this book. It was very well written and hard to put down. This book not only tells of Wiesel's experiences in concentration camps, but provides insight into psychological and philosophical ideas that make it even more interesting. Wiesel was just a teen when he and his family were sent away. He and his father were separated from his mother and sister and underwent an immense amount of trauma that was life altering for both of them. I'd recommend this book to those interested in World War II. The book is a quick and easy read with deep, profound content.

Reviewer's Name: 
Elizabeth

Book Review: The Call of the Wild

The Call of the Wild
Author: 
London, Jack
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

I was required to read The Call of the Wild for my Literature class. The story is about a lovable St. Bernard dog named Buck. At the start of the story, Buck lives in the cushy and comfy house of Judge Miller, but eventually winds up in the wild North of the Yukon. Serving as a sled dog, Buck passes through many owners, good and bad, and learns to answer the Call of the Wild. Overall, it was a pretty good book, but I would only give it Three Star review for these reasons:
1: As it is a classic, the book was written with an older style of English, which can be a little hard to understand. Older English can also take away some of the gravity in pressing situations.
2: There wasn’t quite as much action as I would have liked.
3: I enjoyed the book, but some of the action scenes may have been ruined by the Older English, although the Older English gives the reader a taste of how people communicated in the past. However, the characters, plot, and setting were developed well, so overall, Call of the Wild is a classic, and a quality work of literature, which still can be enjoyed today.

Reviewer's Name: 
Zach

Book Review: To Kill a Mockingbird

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

"To Kill a Mockingbird" is an essential piece of literature. It tells a story that highlights the darkness of America's past, through the innocent eyes of a young girl. With this type of narrator, who almost only understands pure truth, joy, and rage, it is possible for readers to feel what she feels, and be brought into her small world (Alabama during the Great Depression) with simple, yet beautiful writing. The story itself is touching, and focuses on themes of family, racism, and solidarity. Aside from its essentiality in explaining America's history, it also can be read as a coming of age story, where the characters begin to see the harsh reality of the world in which they grew up, and in which they created lasting memories and relationships. It will make you laugh, cry, and feel.

Reviewer's Name: 
Malachi

Book Review: The Hound of the Baskervilles

The Hound of the Baskervilles
Author: 
Doyle, Arthur Conan
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

The Hound of the Baskervilles is another outstanding Sherlock Holmes novel. After wealthy landowner Sir Charles Baskerville is found dead, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson must investigate the rumors of an otherworldly hound with glowing eyes and jaw. The Hound of the Baskervilles once again showcases Sherlock Holmes brilliant deductive capabilities and the mental chess-match he plays with villains. However, this novel also shows Dr. Watson's wit and all that he has learned throughout his years with Holmes.
This gripping adventure will keep you on your toes and leave you guessing until the very end. I highly recommend this book for any fan of classic mystery novels.

Reviewer's Name: 
John

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Classics