Review: Lord of the Flies by William Golding

lotf-front-coverFucking kids, man. There is a reason I don’t want any. I read this as part of the reading challenge my mom and I are doing for 2017. This is the classic we chose. When I think of Lord of the Flies I think of that scene from Silver Linings Playbook where Jennifer Lawrence gives a synopsis. And it’s pretty spot on.

I also think of the Stanford prison experiment, where they were looking in the psychological effects of perceived power. These boys are on an island with no adults, who were the authority figures in their life back home. But now they are their own authority. So what do they do?

I didn’t totally expect Ralph to be as diplomatic and reasonable as he was. He was still a bit of a jerk but he was also trying to get everyone off the island. But then of course someone doesn’t like not being in power so they go and make a fuss and abandon any sort of lawful, respectful behavior. They create a “my way or the highway” sort of order and treat anyone who doesn’t want to follow them like shit.

I won’t say the book shows that their are only two kinds of people in this world. The two different factions that form on the island are not the only way things could go down in a situation like that. Lord of the Flies reminds me that it’s hard to really know a person until you’ve seen them in extreme circumstances, or at least a wide range of different circumstances. When people are tested and exposed to new pressures lots of things can happen that you might not have guessed.

I think Jennifer Lawrence was right when she said, “Humanity is just nasty,” but not as right about there being no silver lining.

~Ren

Review: Kitty and the Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn

51urprxs1ql-_sy344_bo1204203200_This time I picked up the right book! In NZ I confused Patricia Briggs for Carrie Vaughn. But in my defense the stories are similar. Anyway, onto review stuff.

The Kitty Norville series is urban fantasy. Kitty is a werewolf living in Denver and of course from time to time the clashing of the supernatural and natural worlds cause problems. The first book in the series is a coming of age tale where we meet Kitty and watch her come into her own as a person and a werewolf (you know, while she deals with murderous werewolves and hosting a talk radio show).

I enjoyed the book but these types of novels aren’t something I dedicate a lot of time to. They are fun, quick reads to intersperse between the heavier stuff. But if you are more into these kind of books I will tell you why I enjoyed it and maybe you can pick up a new series.

Kitty has a strong voice in the book. Her personality shines through clearly as a sassy, stubborn, but also sort of lost individual just trying to figure out her life. All the other characters have their own strong personalities and everyone compliments each other nicely. They mysterious, gruff werewolf hunter Cormac butts heads with Kitty but they also have a rapport. Key members of the pack are well represented and not just there for dramatic effect or because Kitty needs a pack. Things moved at a nice pace and the radio bits were very amusing.

I don’t plan to read the rest of the series just because it’s not really my type of book, but I would recommended it to anyone who is a fan of urban fantasy or is looking for an easy series to have in the wings when they need it.

~Ren

Review: Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

31y1ackaprl-_sy344_bo1204203200_David Levithan, we meet again. Those who have been following my reviews will know I’m a David Levithan fan. His writing is always solid and he does such a fantastic job of putting visceral emotions into words that are always spot on. Sometimes he even captures them in new ways you never even thought of. But anyway, point being a really like his stuff.

Boy Meets Boy has been on my list for a while and it filled the I-need-to-read-one-more-book-for-the-year requirement nicely. I saw someone describe the book as set in a “gay utopia” or something like that. Which I can agree with a bit. It’s definitely a world different from our own. The cheerleaders ride Harleys, the star quarterback is also homecoming queen, and people are pretty tolerable of all types. But it’s not a utopia.

Feelings still get hurt and people are still unhappy about things. Utopia can’t exist as long as people exist because we are inherently “flawed” just based on our hardwiring. But this book also shows that a world that is different from our own (and in some ways better) can exist and life won’t implode. David Levithan’s books make be believe in love, like the true, deep, passionate love a lot of us dream about and secretly hope for even if we’re cynical as hell on the surface.

Levithan’s characters are funny, complex and have their shortcomings, but when you put them all together they create a diverse group of friends that you feel a part of when you’re reading.

~Ren

Review: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

trevor-noah-book-born-a-crime-stories-from-a-south-african-childhoodLike many people, I was first introduced to Trevor Noah through The Daily Show. And I liked him. So when his book came out I decided to pick it up, and I’m really glad I did.

Even though he’s young, Trevor Noah has had a very exciting, if not unorthodox (at least compared to my own) childhood/life. That was one of the big things I liked about the book. It immersed me in a life that I can hardly imagine growing up in. It gave me a closer look at what life was really like during apartheid and helped me to understand just what apartheid really meant to the people that lived through it.

Even though the book deals with awful, hateful things, the tone is generally lighthearted, and there are quite a few funny moments. The end almost had me in tears though. There was what amounted to a huge spoiler right at the start of the book but I couldn’t figure out the whole time whether…something bad was going to happen. And then I was dragged through the last 10 pages like I wasn’t reading a memoir but a freaking thriller novel!

I would recommend this even for people who aren’t the biggest fans of memoirs. Also, Trevor Noah’s mom sounds like a total badass.

~Ren