Saturday, November 29, 2014

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

"Ethan Frome works his unproductive farm and struggles to maintain a bearable existence with his difficult, suspicious, and hypochondriac wife, Zeena. But when Zeena's vivacious cousin enters their household as a "hired girl", Ethan finds himself obsessed with her and with the possibilities for happiness she comes to represent. 

In one of American fiction's finest and most intense narratives, Edith Wharton moves this ill-starred trio toward their tragic destinies. Different in both tone and theme from Wharton's other works, Ethan Frome has become perhaps her most enduring and most widely read novel."

Well. If you're looking for a feel-good Thanksgiving break book, this isn't it. Part of the main theme is bringing out harsh winters that suck the happiness and life out of people, so that's fun. It's a bit of a confounding book, all the way through. That's not to say that it's uninteresting, just definitely needing some extra patience and consideration. It's got a mine of literary angles to it, what with ironic twists and kinda depressing character flaws and such. And there's a definitely ironic ending, so if you like those this may appeal to you. Keep in mind, though: it isn't the type of "karma via irony" where everyone gets what's due to them and lives happily ever after or meets justice or whatever. There isn't much black and white in this book, and there definitely aren't any happy endings. That said, I'll remind you that it's a very literary book and has a lot of depth and thoughtfulness to it. It wasn't exactly a book I was tripping over myself to keep reading, but I'm glad I did. Honestly, I think you kind of have to decide for yourself on this one. It's a bit polarizing. There's a copy at SHS, MEHS, and Kettleson.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

"Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills. 

Nobody fights the Epics...nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them. 

And David wants in. He wants Steelheart - the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David's father. For years, like the Reckoners, David's been studying, and planning - and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.He's seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge."

I will admit, when I first picked this book up, I was very skeptical, simply because rip-roaring action/adventure is not my typical reading choice. After reading the first few pages though, I was utterly hooked; the fighting is described in a way that reads like a good heist movie, the concept is a captivating twist on superheroes, and the motivation of the main character is believable and interesting to follow. The characters who fight alongside David all have their own quirks that make them fun to read about and easy to cheer for, as well. 
There is a dry humor throughout the dialogue and in David's narrative, and the friendship he has with the main female character really is quite amusing. 

To be completely honest, my favorite part of the book was the ending--the entire book was an extremely well done, fast-paced build-up to what was a truly satisfying ending, and I highly recommend that if you spot this book on a shelf you should snatch it up and immerse yourself in a world of steel, action, and superheroes gone wrong. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Outcasts United by Warren St. John

"This young people's version of the adult bestseller, Outcasts United: An American Town, a Refugee Team, and One Woman's Quest to Make a Difference, is a complex and inspirational story about the Fugees, a youth soccer team made up of diverse refugees from around the world, and their formidable female coach, Luma Mufleh. Clarkston, Georgia, was a typical southern town until it became a refugee resettlement center. The author explores how the community changed with the influx of refugees and how the dedication of Lumah Mufleh and the entire Fugees soccer team inspired an entire community."

Hmm. Well, it was a true story, which is always nice, and the subject matter was pretty interesting--the background of all the boys and everything touched on different issues that you don't normally read about--but the writing. I'm sorry, but it was not enjoyable to read because it's literally a 200-page news article. That's what it is, and it's going to give you the facts. It gives play-by-plays of the soccer games, way more than I needed personally, but hey. If you're into soccer, might be your thing. And I mean, I didn't hate it; like I said earlier, the story in general was super interesting and all the characters had an incredibly rich background. The story was good all on its own, and I'd suggest it if solely for that. You could try it, I s'pose. There's copies at SHS and MEHS.