2061: Odyssey Three (1987)

2061: Odyssey Three Review

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2061: Odyssey Three Review

2061: Odyssey Three is a 1987 science fiction novel by Arthur C. Clarke. It is the third entry in the series which was a very satisfactory reading experience.

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He found it both sad and fascinating

that only through an artificial universe of video images

could she establish contact with the real world

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2061: Odyssey Three Review

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What I was promised but did not get in ‘2010’, I finally got here – an exploration of Europa! And of course I loved every bit of it. That is not to say that it is better than its predecessor which it isn’t, but it was probably more fun to read. I absolutely adored those passages about Europa even if I myself do not believe in convergent evolution. I loved the descriptions of the planet and all of its creatures with the highlight being the shark creature part.

The rest of the story is no fluke either. I absolutely loved the ending and can’t wait to read the sequel as this again sets it up really well. Diamond mountain is one great imagery to imagine and surely the novel has a lot of those superb set pieces and adventurous stuff that I do wonder why they have never filmed it when it is so obviously better suited for a film treatment than its too predecessor ever were.

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2061: Odyssey Three Review

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Chris Floyd isn’t a great case for nepotism, but he is not bad either. I loved his relationship with his grandfather and that ghost scene, although directly taken from ‘2010’, is still very heartwarming (by the way, Clarke admitting self-plagiarizing was hilarious to me). Rolf van der Berg is forgettable, but the two share a good dynamic.

Other characters are forgettable and once again the chapters that focus more on humans were the dullest of the bunch as character development was just never Clarke’s best suit. But even though the characters were not great, I liked 2061’s Earth parts and history. Even though unlikely in real life, I liked the formation of the new South African country and the politics surrounding the diamonds was very well established here. He showed us here how people will always be greedy and selfish. His writing and descriptions are strong as usual here.

2061 succeeds as a very solid sequel because it finally utilizes on the satellite of Europa along with other Jupiter’s moons and Lucifer. The exploration of them all was just fascinating to me and the formation of the new Solar System was beautifully envisioned by Clarke.

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2061: Odyssey Three Review

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Convergent evolution is very well explored here and I loved the focus on extraterrestrial animals for once. I actually really liked the choice to not portray Europans but only hint at their present or future appearance. Europa is set for their arrival and maybe ‘3001’ is going to explore that more in-depth. But here I liked that it was low-key and more realistic, yet consistently entertaining and adventurous. 2061 truly is a very adventurous book, the most fun out of all the entries in the series, though far from best. But my fingers are crossed for a potential film adaptation one day as that would be awesome.

In the end, 2061 is inferior to its predecessors and again the characterization is weak, but its high adventure is great, the exploration of Europan fauna was just so fascinating, I loved its more realistic approach, Clarke’s writing and descriptions are stellar per usual and the novel is a satisfactory look at extraterrestrial animals, convergent evolution and the potential changes in our Solar System.

My Rating – 4.5

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The Amber Spyglass (2000)

The Amber Spyglass Review

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The Amber Spyglass Review

The Amber Spyglass is a 2000 fantasy novel written by Philip Pullman. It is the third and final chapter in the His Dark Materials trilogy.

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I stopped believing there was a power of good

and a power of evil that were outside us.

And I came to believe that good and evil are names

for what people do, not for what they ares

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The Amber Spyglass Review

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I liked this entry in the end. I definitely thought that the series never recaptured the strength of the first book as the second and third one are much weaker, but I found this to be a solid conclusion to a really entertaining story. The Amber Spyglass is definitely overly ambitious as it follows too many subplots, characters and story arcs, but even though it is uneven in many of them, most stories are well crafted and the vastness of space witnessed here is truly extraordinary.
The character development is actually quite good. I still do think that Lyra was just never as great as she had been in ‘Northern Lights’, but here she is certainly better than she was in ‘The Subtle Knife’ as she got a bigger role. The most fascinating chapters were her sexual awakening chapters. Very progressive and ultimately bold. Will is superb and one of my favorite characters in the entire series. I loved him here and he remained a flawed, yet incredibly thoughtful and likable kid throughout.
Lord Asriel is forgettable and he was unfortunately really de-emphasized in this installment. Marisa Coulter, on the other hand, is great and I really liked how she eventually came to love Lyra and changed to the good side because of her.

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The Amber Spyglass Review

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Metatron is underutilized, but Balthamos is memorable as this gay angel, although his presence and importance was never totally clear to me. Mary Malone is very likable and possibly even too likable, but Mulefa as these crazy but sympathetic creatures were quite heartwarming and I loved their relationship.
Of all the storylines, Lyra and Will’s part is certainly the best with the underworld passages being the most fascinating this time around. The Mary Malone and Mulefa storyline was certainly very charming, but it almost felt like a detour at some points. And all of the other parts felt weaker in comparison with the exception of some Coulter’s chapters which were quite well executed.
As I said before, The Amber Spyglass is thoroughly uneven and it takes its time to get there owing to a somewhat abrupt, yet slow and uninvolving start. But the ending truly is fantastic. Will and Lyra’s love story is somewhat clichéd plus some of the dialogue was ridiculous, but still they are very charming together and the last two chapters were immensely emotional, epic in scope and with tragic, bittersweet tone to it. It really ended on a high note and thus lifted this story to greater heights.

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The Amber Spyglass Review

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Philip Pullman’s writing is solid, but I never thought that he could write dialogue particularly well. His descriptions are admittedly very good, but the dialogue not so much. I also thought that the entire series isn’t as thematically rich as the critics have been constantly pointing out. It is sometimes quite sophisticated, but it’s mostly just a good, entertaining story and rarely being more than that. The emotion is there and the characters are very well established, but still there were too many characters here and some never got their moments to shine. The book is overly ambitious and rarely succeeding in its epic scope as it was supposed to do. I thought that it should have been longer as well.
In the end, even though it is a highly uneven conclusion which is overly ambitious, I still really liked The Amber Spyglass mostly because of its immensely emotional and satisfactory ending, a fair share of really entertaining and memorable chapters, very good character development and a vast variety of settings included.

My Rating – 3.9

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Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865)

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Review

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Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland Review

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is an 1865 classic fantasy novel written by Lewis Carroll. It is such a quintessential family fantasy novel that is a timeless joy to this day.

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It’s no use going back to yesterday,

because I was a different person then

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Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Review

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It is probably the first work in the nonsense subgenre where the plot is seemingly nonsensical and where everyone is acting crazy. Its story is so well known by now that I don’t need to summarize it. Of its various film adaptations, none of it managed to match its quality, only the Disney version which is to me even better than the novel.

Let’s talk about each and every chapter. Chapter One – Down the Rabbit Hole is such an undisputed perfect opener and I love everything about it. The way it starts off is riveting, Alice is well introduced, The White Rabbit is so much fun and of course those size cakes are great.

Chapter Two – The Pool of Tears is very engaging once again and very atmospheric, but even though I liked the mouse character, I found it to be forgettable compared to the rest and this chapter is quite uneventful.

Chapter Three – The Caucus Race and a Long Tale is so much fun and it is the first chapter that showcases Alice not fitting in this crazy world and others being frightened of her in an amusing way.

Chapter Four – The Rabbit Sends a Little Bill is phenomenal as the titular character is so memorable and Alice’s situation here is unforgettable.

Chapter Five – Advice from Caterpillar features this awesome character who is easily one of the best ones in this book. His riddles are entertaining and he is such a unique, odd creature and the plot point with size here is one of the highlights.

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Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Review

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Chapter Six – Pig and Pepper has a great introduction to The Cheshire Cat, but I really disliked The Duchess as her character is quite forgettable and pointless.

Chapter Seven – A Mad Tea-Party gives us so many classic parts and characters. The March Hare and The Mad Hatter are amazing and so funny, this sequence is so authentic and brilliant in its craziness and it is probably the best chapter of the entire book.

Chapter Eight – The Queen’s Croquet Ground finds us meeting this crazy queen and she is an awesome villain. The game is great, the suspense is evident and it is such a great point in the book that I wish that it happened later on, just like in the movie.

Chapter Nine – The Mock Turtle’s Story has its moments, but the characters here are very forgettable and the chapter feels like a filler.

The same applies to Chapter Ten – Lobster Quadrille which is basically the continuation of the previous chapter.

Chapter Eleven – Who Stole the Tarts has many great developments and is such a great build-up for the finale and I liked the king character, quite a bit actually.

Chapter Twelve – Alice’s Evidence is awesome! It is such a great action packed final chapter. I loved the various testimonies, I loved the chase where the cards chased her and the ending is so satisfying.

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Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Review

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The dialogue is the highlight of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland naturally. it is so clever and sophisticated and it is the reason why I deem it to be a book for adults more so than for children. The poems are great, the riddles are memorable and it utilizes the English language in such a great way.

I wish that some parts weren’t filler-like and some characters weren’t forgettable, but most were memorable, the plot here is mostly spectacular and of course unforgettable and it is just such an influential novel that deserves praise centuries after its release. To me it is uneven and far from perfect, but I still really enjoyed it as it is such a memorable, amusing read.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is uneven in terms of the pacing as some parts do feel like filler, but it is mostly such a terrific book filled with a memorable storyline, crazy and amusing characters, great humor, superb dialogue and excellent writing. It deserves its classic reputation.

My Rating – 4

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2010: Odyssey Two (1982)

2010: Odyssey Two Review

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2010: Odyssey Two Review

2010: Odyssey Two is a 1982 science fiction novel by Arthur C. Clarke. It is a sequel to ‘2001’ and it is a very good, at times brilliant book which is still not fantastic.

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Whether we are based on carbon or

on silicon makes no fundamental difference;

we should each be treated with appropriate respect

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2010: Odyssey Two Review

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I won’t describe the plot here as it very complicated and needs to be read to be fully understood, but I will say that it is again very well written by Clarke whose writing is always phenomenal and filled with great descriptions as well as scientific approach. I found the entire storyline to be very interesting and actually quite different from its predecessor which is commendable.

The parts about Europa were fascinating. I did not like that the Chinese were so clichéd in their depictions, but at least the Russians were very well depicted. I loved how the Russians and the Americans worked together here, so wonderful to witness. But back to Europa, I was always fascinated by this planet and here those chapters certainly did not disappoint.

David Bowman was interestingly utilized, but I wish HAL was more memorable. The entire last third was stellar with a superb Jupiter disintegration sequence which was amazing to behold. And of course its very intriguing epilogue was simply fascinating, incredibly authentic and a perfect way to end the novel.

So I loved the first third and I adored the last one, but I honestly did not love the middle parts. That is mostly because the pacing was sluggish there, some of the chapters were admittedly quite boring and it relied too heavily on its characters where the characterization here was clunky from the beginning.

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2010: Odyssey Two Review

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It is actually pretty good for sci-fi standards, but not needed in my opinion plus it has way too many characters. Floyd is very good as the protagonist and I liked that he was back for this installment. Dr. Chandra certainly has his moments. And that’s about it as the others, although perfectly fine, are not great plus the romantic entanglements here were thoroughly unnecessary in my opinion.

Comparing it to ‘2001’, 2010 is definitely weaker, but not by large as some parts here are so exhilarating and so incredibly original and satisfactory that they rival its predecessor successfully. To me the book succeeds as a sequel because it is different from the original while still managing to give us some answers about some of the great questions asked before. It achieves that perfect balance between new and old and I liked it although I can definitely see why the fans of ambiguity would not like it themselves.

I can’t wait to read the sequel as this ending here definitely opened a lot of possibilities for a sequel which was great as it felt nuanced and natural instead of forced. Rarely have I read such a powerful epilogue such as this one here.

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2010: Odyssey Two Review

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2010: Odyssey Two is very oddly paced, but it is so well written and so fascinating in its plot and memorable in its imagery that I was enthralled more than a couple of times while reading it. I just wish that it was a bit tighter and it would have been awesome, but this way it ended up being very good and at times even great, but not amazing I’m afraid.

Nuanced and rich in terms of storytelling and fascinating in its imagery and especially the epilogue, 2010: Odyssey Two succeeds as a sequel to one of the best novels ever as it gives us some answers to the questions posed before while still giving us some new things. And although the characters are far from great and the middle parts are somewhat dull, this sci-fi work is still more than satisfactory and capable enough that it succeeds in spades as a great sequel.

My Rating – 4.6

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2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

2001: A Space Odyssey Review

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2001: A Space Odyssey Review

2001: A Space Odyssey is a 1968 science fiction novel written by Arthur Clarke. It is one of his greatest literary achievements.

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The thing’s hollow… it goes on forever and…

oh my God! It’s full of stars!

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2001: A Space Odyssey Review

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Of course the book and Kubrick’s film were made together simultaneously and although I absolutely love the film and it is in my top ten of all time list, I still do prefer the novel a bit more mainly because it is much more clear in its narrative. In fact, I would say it is essential read for everyone who wants to properly understand the film. I only understood the movie after reading the book and I do not agree with some snobbish people who state that the book spells out too much to the readers. Not at all. The book explains a lot, but still leaves many things unanswered. Books should be more on-point and detailed whereas films should rely more on imagination and visuals and that is why these two are so successful at accompyning each other perfectly.

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2001: A Space Odyssey Review

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The story is amazing and one of the best ever written. As in the film, the beginning and ending are the greatest parts. But I loved how in the beginning we got to properly meet the apes and follow them through quite a couple of chapters. Very well written and engaging. The ending is excellent despite that atomic bomb part. That is probably the only part of the book that I did not care for as much as it tells its age too much. Kubrick made the right call to exclude it from his version.
I love all of the other chapters and to me there isn’t one chapter in this book that isn’t great, all of them are fantastic leading to an overall phenomenal literary work that is one of the best that I have ever read. In my opinion the book is hugely underrated as it should have much better status than it received as it was overshadowed by the movie unfortunately.

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2001: A Space Odyssey Review

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2001 is very good in characterization and that is where it trumps its visual accompaniment quite a bit. Heywood Floyd is much better developed and much more memorable here, not to mention that he cared for his mission which in the film he did not unfortunately. HAL 9000 is of course great as this superb, calculated, yet very human villain. All of the chapters with him were amazing. Poole is likable and of course David Bowman is the best realized human character in the novel. He is so much better here than in the film as he is much better developed, much more likable and to me he made a very satisfactory protagonist.
The only slight problem is that the book got rid of Floyd too quickly and I thought that maybe one major character instead of two would have been a better choice. But that is only nitpicking on my part. I loved the imagery in the book, really well imagined and of course written. The dialogue is absolutely fantastic and is one of the strongest aspects of the novel. Clarke has always had a great scientific mind and here he proved it. I loved that 2001: A Space Odyssey is such a hard science fiction work that relies heavily on science in minute detail. We here get to explore and follow every quest on the ship and every single aspect of space travel is so beautifully explained. I loved the descriptions here and Clarke’s writing is top-notch. The book is short, but still never rushed owing to great pacing.

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2001: A Space Odyssey Review

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It has a plethora of themes which is why it is essential genre read. Of course technology and its dangers is one of the best utilized themes through HAL. It wonderfully showcases the flaws and strengths of artificial intelligence. As I said, space exploration is so well established and I loved every single detail of it and how tough it is presented as it really is difficult. As I said, I wasn’t a big fan of nuclear war theme as it was too timely, but I loved its touch on evolution. I myself am some sort of agnostic when it comes to these things as I believe in evolution, but I just have big problems with the evolution of humans as that doesn’t seem right to me. But here he gave us such a clever and unforgettable alternative and to me this is some sort of mix between religion and science and I loved it. The book also goes into too fantastical territory in the end whereas it was previously extremely realistic, but still that part is highly unique and memorable and quite epic for sure.

2001: A Space Odyssey is one of the best novels ever written. Clarke’s writing is superb, the various themes of evolution, technology and space travel are beautifully utilized, the characters are good and of course the story is epic and one of the most unforgettable and fascinating ever conceived. It truly is an essential science fiction read and one of the greatest literary achievements.

My Rating – 5

 

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Star Maker (1937)

Book Review: Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon………………………………………………………

Book Review: Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon

Star Maker is a 1937 science fiction novel written by Olaf Stapledon. It is a pretty admirable, yet frustratingly uninvolving book.

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Either God is the universe,

or he is the flavor of creativity pervading all things

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Book Review: Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon………………………………………………………

It describes the history of life in the universe. It tackles philosophical themes such as the essence of life, of birth, decay and death, and the relationship between creation and creator. So obviously it deals with very fascinating and ambitious themes and it truly is one of the most ambitious and all-encompassing sci-fi novels that I’ve read. The relationships between different alien civilizations and the importance of them is probably the best established and most important theme. But the relationship between the creator and the creation was simply a fascinating read and to me the book serves as a great proponent of agnosticism.

But as I said above, this is a very difficult read. I am not only saying that it is tedious and it truly is like that in most of its second half. Very slow. But I also want to say that it features a pretty problematic approach to its storytelling. So Star Maker is basically a documentary, a non-fiction book in its style of writing. But it isn’t as it isn’t real and it is fictional in its story. And that duality was frustrating and not at all welcome here. I guess he wanted to be even more ambitious, but it wasn’t needed as this was always going to be a hugely ambitious SF work.

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Book Review: Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon………………………………………………………

Some of the highlights here include the various alien species and the descriptive passages there are excellent, the ending, the beginning is very intriguing and the entire first half was pretty great to me. But the second half became too documentary-like and thus it went off the rails in my opinion.

Star Maker is a dull read that isn’t too long as this is an epic story, but it should have been written in a more accessible manner for readers. Arthur Clarke also writes hard sci-fi with a lot of science talk in it, but he phrases his sentences in a shorter, easier and more accessible manner so that is why I prefer his writing much more. Olaf Stapledon is a visionary and probably the grandfather of all hard science fiction and I respect him for the plethora of ideas here, but the execution is not as visionary and, much like most of the books from his time, his writing is too difficult, to entangled and with way too long sentences in my opinion.

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Book Review: Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon………………………………………………………

He is the best at describing some phenomena and different civilizations, those passages were great. But whenever he got into the politics, he lost me a bit. The characterization is not the greatest, but also not that necessary to begin with which is usual for this genre. So the story is great and the lack of dialogue did not bother me at all, but this particular approach itself is very troublesome and it was a major turnoff to me personally.

In the end, Star Maker is a respectable, truly monumental work of science fiction in its admirable ambitiousness and a variety of interesting themes and ideas explored. But Stapledon’s writing is not the most interesting and his approach is too much like a documentary. It is a book that I respect a lot, but it was quite a difficult read nonetheless.

My Rating – 3.6

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Heidi (1881)

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Heidi by Johanna Spyri Book Review

Heidi is an 1881 Swiss children’s novel written by Johanna Spyri. It is a famous and still popular book for many valid reasons as it truly is a great work.

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Because I would rather be with my grandfather on the Alps

than anywhere else on Earth.

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Heidi by Johanna Spyri Book Review………………………………………………………………

It is about the events in the life of a young girl who comes to the Alps to live with her grandfather. It is a simple, yet wonderful story. I loved all of its parts. The first half is great as it is such a peaceful part where we follow Heidi adjusting to the life in the country and we see all of its aspects such as her relationship with her grandfather as well as her friend Peter and goat herding. The descriptions of the mountain are beautiful, but more on that later.

I loved its second half as well. It introduced us to Clara and her family while also presenting a good look at Frankfurt. The part where Clara arrived to the mountain and the chapters afterwards were probably my favorites, so sweet. But the ending is of course terrific. The novel does have a great, very well written first chapter, but it also gives us closure with the last, very satisfying and moving chapter.

Let’s talk about the characters. Of course Heidi is lovely and endearing and Clara was a fine companion and the two were wonderful together. But the only problem here is that Clara isn’t as well utilized as she should have been and both of the girls were just too good on my opinion. That is why Peter is the better and more interesting character. He pushed and broke Clara’s chair out of jealousy and that subplot is amazing as it was perfectly executed. We follow his guilt, his anxiety and eventually his confession. That event made his character a lot more relatable and realistic. He is certainly the most fascinating kid in the book.

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Heidi by Johanna Spyri Book Review………………………………………………………………

As for the adults, of course the grandfather is warm and caring and Clara’s father is just as sympathetic. Dete serves her purpose and Rottenmeier was typically over-the-top and excessively so. But the two old women were wonderful and I have to say that the doctor was my favorite. You just root for him as you witness his loneliness and unhappiness and I loved all of the chapters with him.

Johanna Spyri wrote this novel beautifully as Heidi is surely a wonderful read for both kids and adults. It is childlike and never childish, it is simple, yet never overly simplistic and it does have a couple of wonderful messages for the little ones in it. The religious overtones were aggressive sometimes, but other than that, Peter’s story as well as all of the country lessons were well depicted.

But the descriptions are the highlights. She is such a great writer and the way that she depicts the mountain, the goats, the weather, the trees and of course the cottage is just mesmerizing. The book is clearly pro-country as it clearly states the health benefits of living at the mountain and in the village which is why the city parts weren’t as richly depicted. But the cottage was just so heartwarmingly depicted that it transported me right into it. Heidi has such a powerful carrying quality to it that it made me want to visit the Alps immediately. That’s how strong its writing and the descriptions are! I also found the meals beautifully described and again quite inviting.

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Heidi by Johanna Spyri Book Review………………………………………………………………

If there is one problem I’ve had with it is that sometimes the titular character was overly happy and ecstatic and most of the characters were just too good and unrealistic which is why Peter is better than most of them. And some of the Frankfurt chapters either felt like detours or were over-the-top. But other than that, the book is terrific with solid dialogue and excellent pacing (it is always engaging) and is easily one of the best that children’s fiction has to offer.

With striking imagery, absolutely mesmerizing and beautifully written descriptions, a very inviting setting and likable characters, Heidi is also moving and wonderfully childlike while also being pleasantly simple and rich in messages for the kids. It is so well written and so wonderful that it’s one of the best children’s books ever written and a genuine, timeless classic.

My Rating – 4.6

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The Subtle Knife (1997)

The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman Book Review…………………………………………………..

The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman Book Review

The Subtle Knife is a 1997 fantasy novel written by Philip Pullman. It is a very good sequel, yet never as great as the original novel.

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It’s like having to make a choice: a blessing or a curse.

The one thing you can’t do is choose neither.

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The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman Book Review…………………………………………………..

As the second entry in the His Dark Materials trilogy, The Subtle Knife ultimately disappointed me as it just wasn’t as compelling nor as fantastical as its predecessors. Whereas ‘Northern Lights’ was magical and filled with memorable imagery, this one is set in a different and unfortunately much less interesting world.

Lyra ends up in the new realm and meets Will who came there accidentally after killing a man who chased him. His father has connections to Dust and Lyra’s scientists and he is after him and the two join forces in attaining the compass Lyra lost and later gaining the possession and power of the titular knife. That is the plot here and, needless to say, it is never really fascinating, albeit still very well told. I liked the ending and although abrupt and too much like a second part of a trilogy ending, it was still memorable, dark and tragic. Actually the entire second half of the novel was quite tragic and serious when you think about it.

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The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman Book Review…………………………………………………..

The highlights were the first couple of chapters which were very well written and exciting. It was great meeting Will and this new world. Of course everything with the knife and alethiometer was also memorable and I really liked the character of Charles Latrom who was a compelling villain. And naturally Mrs. Coulter continues to be a strong, dangerous presence when villains are concerned.

I really disliked the fact that almost the third of the novel was told from the perspective of Lee, the witches, Gruman and others. Those chapters were very dull, uneventful and just never as interesting. I get the decision to have other points of view and other storylines on the side, but to me the villains should have gotten that spot along with this time entirely absent Lord Asriel and that would have been infinitely more interesting.

But I still really liked Gruman and his death was unexpected and very dark. Having Will lose his father just after he’s found him was a bold and ultimately admirable choice on the part of the author. And of course Lee’s death was just so immensely tragic. I really like him as he is such a sweet soul which is why his death felt heartbreaking and that emotion was very much earned.

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The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman Book Review…………………………………………………..

But the kids are naturally the standout characters. It was odd that Lyra made so many mistakes this time around whereas she was such a heroic lead in the previous entry, but she was still realistic, tough and very likable in her flawed personality. And as for Will, he was too much of a flawless kid in my opinion, but I still rooted for him and I found the friendship that formed between the two very satisfying.

The Subtle Knife is very well written by Philip Pullman and the descriptive passages are excellent. The dialogue is also solid. But this time around the imagery was just not up to par with its predecessor. I found the fact that all of the worlds were different, yet mostly quite similar interesting, but ultimately a cheap method of storytelling and world building.

Cittagazze was intriguing at first, but the spectres were very typical creations in my opinion, unoriginal and not particularly interesting, at least not to me. The knife itself was, on the other hand, very interesting and I liked its usage and that it cut the portals to different worlds. That led to a lot of very interesting action.

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The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman Book Review…………………………………………………..

Even though the book is great in many of its parts and quite suspenseful at times, it isn’t particularly sophisticated and it is never coherent or as well crafted as a whole and a sum of its admittedly very good parts. That is because the structure is odd and unappealing. The book consists of important parts, dialogues and action, but almost every one of them felt unnatural and more of a succeeding coincidence than a natural plot progression. Don’t get me wrong, I still liked this book a lot, but it just was never as great as ‘Northern Lights’ was.

The Subtle Knife has more than a couple of memorable and suspenseful parts, it is very dark and tragic at times, the character development is strong and it is mostly well crafted, but it isn’t great as a whole because the structure isn’t the greatest, some chapters were tedious and uneventful plus the world building is never as majestic or as magical as it was before leading to a good, yet a bit disappointing sequel.

My Rating – 4

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The Jungle Book (1894)

The Jungle by Book Rudyard Kipling - Book Review……………………………………………………

The Jungle by Book Rudyard Kipling – Book Review

The Jungle Book is an 1894 book written by Rudyard Kipling. It is a classic novel from its period and to me it had its strengths, but also many weaknesses.

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Now, don’t be angry after you’ve been afraid.

That’s the worst kind of cowardice.

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The Jungle by Book Rudyard Kipling - Book Review……………………………………………………

Now, first I have to state that this is the collection of short stories or fables and because of such a nature to it, I will review each chapter or story separately. And because the stories are so varied and different, some are better than others leading to a very uneven work as a whole. I will also include The Second Jungle Book in my review as the book I’ve read contained both and because both are also of pretty much the same quality and can go in tandem.

So let’s begin. Mowgli’s Brothers is basically the most famous story here, the one which has been adapted for film numerous times. It was weird to witness that it just occupied one chapter and was thus rushed, but it was still a great story and very engaging. Kaa’s Hunting is a much weaker story that is sort of the midquel to the previous one and is much more forgettable.

Tiger! Tiger! is a solid first part of Mowgli’s life in the village and those descriptive passages of him adapting to it were really strong. However, after this one we get a bunch of different stories with different characters and Mowgli is nowhere to be seen and those stories were usually quite weak and dull.

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The Jungle by Book Rudyard Kipling - Book Review……………………………………………………

The White Seal is very forgettable and although it features an interesting setting, the execution is weak. Now Rikki-Tikki-Tavi features very annoying dialogue and is somewhat childish, but is still somewhat realistic and the most animalistic of the bunch. Toomai of the Elephants features characters that are far from memorable and dull pacing. Her Majesty’s Servants has an amusing premise, but is too singular and like a detour as a whole.

Now let’s talk about the second book which is my favorite of the two actually as it featured a couple of absolutely terrific stories. How Fear Came is solid as a prequel, but somewhat inconsequential. The Miracle of Purun Bhagat is very boring and one of the worst stories of both books and I just did not like stories about humans here.

Letting in the Jungle is very good as it features Mowgli being accused of witchcraft in the man village and it was very dramatic and very well executed. It is probably the most important story in this book along with the last chapter. But The Undertakers is so forgettable that I even do not remember it that well.

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The Jungle by Book Rudyard Kipling - Book Review……………………………………………………

The King’s Ankus is surprisingly good. It is one of the best chapters where Mowgli learns about humans and their worst tendencies and it features a very good use of Kaa. As for Quiquern, it is of course very authentic and intriguing in story and setting, but unfortunately never as fascinating as the premise demanded it to be. In Red Dog, Mowgli fights the pack of dholes and it is such a boring, very unimportant story.

But The Spring Running is just marvelous! It is actually my favorite Jungle Book story and it is such a shame that it was never included in any of the movies. So well done. Mowgli is now almost seventeen and suddenly develops an urge to go to his own people. Needless to say, it features some of the most emotional and most sophisticated passages. It perfectly explored his character and this grand conflict and it was just such a moving and powerful ending to the book.

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The Jungle by Book Rudyard Kipling - Book Review……………………………………………………

I liked the characters, although their development should have been better. Kipling’s writing is sometimes too simplistic, but is mostly excellent. He isn’t great at dialogue, but he is great in describing things and surely those passages were so intriguing and well written. He has such a great eye for detail. The poems are also quite solid and memorable.

In the end, The Jungle Book is too uneven as an overall work as some stories are better than the others, the dialogue is sometimes not great and some stories were very dull and inconsequential, but others were very well written and strong, his writing is very good, he has a great eye for detail and the last story is my favorite as it is such a powerful and deep piece of writing.

My Rating – 3.7

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The Metamorphosis (1915)

The Metamorphosis Book Review………………………………………………………………..

The Metamorphosis Book Review

The Metamorphosis is a 1915 German novella written by Franz Kafka. It is a famous story that truly is such a magnificent, very sophisticated work.

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I cannot make you understand.

I cannot make anyone understand what is happening inside me.

I cannot even explain it to myself.

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The Metamorphosis Book Review………………………………………………………………..

It is about Gregor Samsa who wakes up to find himself transformed into a large insect-like creature. It follows his attempts to adjust to his new condition as well as the reactions of his family. Now the story here is fascinating in its naively simplistic premise that, as it unfolds, reveals its deep themes and ideas. In fact, when you think about, it is actually such a clever book that is both realistic and absurd as well as entertaining and thematically rich.

I love the fact that we never really learn the cause of Gregor’s transformation as the reactions, both his and of his family, are more important. That part of the book, supernatural, is really well handled and more vague and mysterious than revealing which was a good choice in this case.

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The Metamorphosis Book Review………………………………………………………………..

Now the characters are pretty memorable and very well developed for its short length. And I just love how they interacted. To me, The Metamorphosis is very realistic as it showcases the man’s fear of the unknown and prejudices beautifully while, in a heartbreaking fashion, showing us how the family, especially in that time, only thought about their duties and image and that came first. The ending is so heartbreaking and yet thoughtful that it really had a deep impact on me. They basically killed him and showed no real remorse, but rather relief. And the fact that he cared for them and worked for the entire family and was apparently such a great man only further elongates the impact of this tragedy.

The Metamorphosis isn’t perfect as honestly some of those middle passages felt like a detour and possibly even filler as they moved away from the story and certainly did not add any new important layers. But apart from that, it is an almost perfect novella which is not only immaculately constructed and mostly phenomenally paced, but it is also beautifully written by Kafka who managed to write even those incredibly long sentences in an involving and concise manner. I really liked his style and he really knew how to accentuate the more important lines for dramatic effect.

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The Metamorphosis Book Review………………………………………………………………..

So it is about the duties of family, but it is also very absurdist and it should be regarded as a literary treasure as it is such a weird, pleasantly so, story that seemed out of place in the time that it was written. Groundbreaking in a way. I loved its attention to detail as it stayed pretty vague in the description of the creature that Gregor has become, but it still manages to wonderfully convey his feelings of alienation as well as him adapting to the new condition. His climbing on the wall as well as the food he ate was all fascinating to read. But the reactions of his sister and of course mother and father were all so grounded in reality, all different, yet essentially the same. It is such an emotional book that you can just feel the protagonist’s pain. It was almost palpable and it had a profound effect on me. It is a story that is fantastical, yet very applicable to a number of real-life situations and is especially true in the depiction of family and its interactions and duties.

The Metamorphosis is not only such a well written story with a great structure, but it is incredibly emotional and sometimes even genuinely heartbreaking with a thematically rich storyline, realistic characters and a fantastical, yet very relatable situation. It perfectly conveyed the protagonist’s feelings while consistently delivering from the other characters as well. A masterpiece.

My Rating – 4.7

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