Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Challenge Complete (3M)

Finished the challenge today--in the nick of time! If you can call this a "genre", it is one of my favorites. I ended up reading We as an alternate to A Scanner Darkly. Thanks for a wonderful idea for a challenge!

I had chosen:
A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick
Messenger by Lois Lowry FINISHED
Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry FINISHED
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood FINISHED
Never Let Me Go by K. Ishiguro FINISHED

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Children of Men by P.D. James
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
We by Yevgeny Zamyatin FINISHED

Never Let Me Go - 3M's Review

neverletmego.JPGThis review will contain spoilers, so don't read on if you want to read this book in the future!




This book started off very strong for me. I really enjoyed Ishiguro's writing style, but then the story bogged down in the middle, and by the ending, I was really mad. I didn't like how it ended AT ALL. So they do nothing? They just coolly accept their fate? That, to me, proves to me that the "students" were soulless. They never truly loved each other from my perspective, and they couldn't see that they could at least TRY to get out of their situation? I'm wondering what Ishiguro's point here was. Is he saying they had a soul or not? If you've read the book, please give me your take!

(Oh, and another thing. . . is disorientated a word? I always thought it was disoriented. Just another thing that irked me.)

2005, 288 pp.
Rating: 3

We - 3M's Review

I read this a few weeks months?! ago, and I'm not sure why I haven't written the review yet. I want to talk about it intelligently because I really loved it. Unfortunately, intelligent writing has eluded me lately. Had to write the review today, though, as it was one of my Dystopian Challenge books.

This book preceded and heavily influenced both 1984 and Brave New World. People have no names, just letters and numbers. They plan on going on to other planets to compel others to adopt their mathematically-minded happiness. Emotions aren't allowed. They live in glass apartments. Everything 'human' is discouraged. But. . . a rebel faction is present in and outside 'the wall.' Will those inside the wall learn to be truly human?

Side note: A few weeks ago I saw the movie Equilibrium starring Christian Bale, and it surely had to be influenced by this novel. If you're interested in the dystopian genre, it's a must-see. See my review here.

1922, 232 pp.
Rating: 4.5

The Handmaid's Tale - Wendy's Review

It was after the catastrophe, when they shot the president and machine-gunned the Congress and the army declared a state of emergency. They blamed it on the Islamic fanatics, at the time. Keep calm, they said on television. Everything is under control. - From The Handmaid's Tale, page 174-

Margaret Atwood's futuristic novel - The Handmaid's Tale - is timeless and relevant. Set in the fictional Republic of Gilead and spanning the Eastern seaboard of the United States after the collapse of the American government, the novel is narrated by Offred...a young Handmaid whose sole purpose in life now is to be the vessel for producing a baby for the upper classes. Atwood creates a terrifying hierarchy with men being "on top" and women being relegated to a variety of freedom-less classes such as Wives (top ranked married women who are unable to conceive), Daughters (the adopted offspring of wives), Marthas (infertile, single, older women whose skills at domesticity keep them from being shipped off to the Colonies), Econowives (low-ranked married women who must "do it all"), Handmaids (fertile women whose sole function is to provide babies for the upper echelon), Aunts (the only women who have any autonomy and are used to train and monitor the Handmaids), and Jezebels (the prostitutes who are hidden away in hotels and used for men's pleasure). Atwood uses irony effectively with Biblical references and play on words to craft a compelling story.

The novel questions how much freedom we are willing to give up in the guise of safety. Viewed in respect to our current world and political environment of red alerts, government lies to enact war, terrorism, airline security, phone tapping and the whittling away of individual freedoms...The Handmaid's tale is a thought-provoking expose on what could happen when we willingly give up our freedoms to supposedly ensure our safety. Are we on a slippery slope? Atwood also questions our sources of information (ie: the news media).

The anchorman comes on now. His manner is kindly, fatherly; white hair and candid eyes, wise wrinkles around them, like everybody's ideal grandfather. What he's telling us, his level smile implies, is for our own good. Everything will be all right soon. I promise. There will be peace. you must trust. you must go to sleep, like good children. He tells us what we long to believe. He's very convincing. -From The Handmaid's Tale, page 83-

Atwood is a genius at creating character. Offred's voice is pitch perfect, taking the reader step by step through her horrible story. Even Serena Joy, the Commander Fred's wretched wife, elicits sympathy from the reader. Atwood's skill with language has never been more spot on then in this novel where she twists words and phrases, showing the reader that all is not as it seems.

But all of that was pertinent only in the night, and had nothing to do with the man you loved, at least in daylight. With that man you wanted it to work, to work out. Working out was also something you did to keep you body in shape, for the man. If you worked out enough, maybe the man would too. Maybe you would be able to work it out together, as if the two of you were a puzzle that could be solved; otherwise, one of you, most likely the man, would go wandering off on a trajectory of his own, taking his addictive body with him and leaving you with bad withdrawal, which you could counteract by exercise. If you didn't work it out, it was because one of you had the wrong attitude. Everything that went on in your life was thought to be due to some positive or negative power emanating from inside your head. -From The Handmaid's Tale, pages 226-227-

I was hooked by the story from page one and read it straight through in two days.

The Handmaid's Tale
is on the ALA's list of 100 most banned books. It was short listed for the Booker Prize in 1986, won the Governor General's Award in Canada in 1985, and made the Orange Prize list of 50 Essential Reads. Brilliant, chilling, suspenseful, and masterly written - this novel is a modern classic.

Highly recommended; rated 5/5.

To read more about this novel, check out Wikipedia. Also here.

Wendy's Challenge List

November 5, 2007 - I COMPLETED THIS CHALLENGE!!! To read my challenge wrap up, go here. THANK YOU, Lisa for sponsoring this wonderful challenge.


Here are my books for this challenge:

1. Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell (Completed 4/18/2007; read a review here.)
2. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy (Completed 5/17/2007; read a review here.)
3. The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood (Completed 11/5/2007; read a review here.)
4. In the Country of Last Things, by Paul Auster (Completed 9/23/2007; read a review here.)

I can't wait to see what the rest of you are reading and to read your reviews. Dystopian literature is new to me, and so far I'm really enjoying it!

Time's up, Readers!

Today is the end of the challenge. How'd you do? Did you read everything on your list? Did you discover any new authors you love? Authors you'd never read again? Did you read more than you planned because it was just that interesting?

I know a couple of you have already posted wrap-ups, thanks! Any final thoughts?

As for me, I did not finish my own challenge. I still plan to read most of what was on my list, it's just going to have to wait for a better time.

Thanks to everyone who participated, even though I did not finish, it was a lot of fun.