The Invisible Man

timTitle: The Invisible Man

Author: H G Wells

Summary: There are good scientists and there are bad scientists, but Griffin is out on his own. A dazzling mind and a driving ambition have carried him to the very frontiers of modern science, and beyond into territory never before explored. For Griffin has pioneered a new field, the science of invisibility, and dedicated his life to the achievement of a single goal – that of becoming invisible himself.

With such a prize at stake, what sacrifice could be too great? What personal tie would not seem trivial; what ethical scruple not pale into insignificance? Through long, lonely days and nights Griffin has pursued his fantasy of invisibility, yet even as he attains his dream, his nightmare begins…

With undreamt power comes an unimaginable price: out of the ordinary, out of society, out of life – can an invisible man be a man at all?

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 3.5/5

Review: I’ve read two books by Wells before–The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds–one i loved and one i hated. I was nervous about reading another, to say the least. It was my review of the latter where someone recommended The Invisible Man as another i might enjoy, so when i spotted it in a charity shop, i decided to give it a go.

Thankfully, i loved it!

The start had me hooked. Instead of meeting the scientist and discovering how he turns himself invisible, we meet Mrs Hall, the proprietor of an inn, who welcomes her newest lodger. He’s a strange fellow, but she’s friendly and accommodating. Discovering the invisible man along with the entire population of this small town was a delight and a much more interesting way of following the story.

At first i sympathised with the invisible man right alongside Mrs Hall; it was only once he’d had to flee the town and move on that i began to question his tactics and state of mind. By the time he’d stumbled upon Kemp, i was rooting for his downfall.

Talking of Kemp–i adored him; he’s second only to Mrs Hall. His grasp of the entire situation, how to handle it, and how he teased out the back story we were missing was wonderful to read. I feared the worst for him by the last couple of chapters, but i saw it through.

This is perfectly the kind of Wells i want to read more of. There is science, with fudged but sensical enough facts for it make sci-fi sense. But it’s more than just the science. It’s a good story, with interesting characters, well told. So well told! It being self-referencing and omniscient point of view made the reading casual and fun.

I’ve already taken the plunge and bought more Wells. For as disappointing as i found War of the Worlds, The Time Machine and The Invisible Man are brilliant and I wouldn’t hesitate to read more like them. Fingers crossed i pick the right ones!

High Rise

highriseTitle: High Rise

Author: J G Ballard

Summary: Within the concealing walls of an elegant forty-storey tower block, the affluent tenants are hell-bent on an orgy of destruction. Cocktail parties degenerate into marauding attacks on ‘enemy’ floors and the once-luxurious amenities become an arena for riots and technological mayhem.

In this visionary tale of urban disillusionment society slips into a violent reverse as the isolated inhabitants of the high-rise, driven by primal urges, create a dystopian world ruled by the laws of the jungle.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 2.5/5

Review: I moved this book to the top of my to read pile when i heard about the film, hoping to read the book first and get to see the film at the cinema. There were some delays in getting to the book, but even if the film was still showing, i’m not sure i’d want to bother.

The premise is fascinating. A self-contained society within one multistory block of flats descending into chaos. That’s the kind of story i want to get into the details of, to follow along with as things unravel. Except in this case, that didn’t really happen. The specifics and action surrounding the collapse of the society within the high rise are severely lacking. There are glimpses, but it’s mostly exposition after the fact. The focus is not on the action. Not on what is actually happening or why. The focus is actually one the three main characters. Really, the story is more of a psychological thriller. Instead of detailing the high rise’s decline into dystopia, it follows three men’s descent into varying types of madness.

Spoilers ahead. I can’t talk about how problematic this book is without them, i’m afraid…

There is Royal, the architect of the building, who lives on the top floor and sees himself as above–literally and figuratively–the rest of the residents. This causes him to draw away from his neighbours and isolate himself, instead forming (what he thinks is) a kinship with dogs and birds. There is Wilder, a television producer who lives on the lower floors and is at first keen to make a documentary about the high rise and its self-contained collapse. Over time he becomes obsessed with ascending the building, even abandoning his wife and children to accomplish the feat. There is Laing, a medical professor who lives in the middle of building and mostly just wants to keep to himself. Despite the madness around him, he manages this, pulling his sister in until she’s dependant on him.

The thing is… a story about the fragile egos of three men isn’t fascinating. I didn’t like any of them, honestly. By the end i assumed at least one of them would die, but I wanted all of them to. I just didn’t care about their plights, their mental health, their futures. I just didn’t care.

As male-centric as the bulk of the story is, the end was almost–almost–pretty awesome. While the men have been scrambling about the building, fighting, barricading, protecting… the women have been biding their time, working together and generally getting shit done. BUT, when the focus of the women’s power is centred around caring for children and keeping house i’m left feeling distinctly resentful. Honestly, that’s some pretty dated stereotyping, even for 1975.

Essentially, this was a brilliant idea poorly executed. I had a couple of other Ballard books on my to read list, but i’m seriously going to re-think them. I’m in no rush to read more of his work. I think i will give the film a go, when it comes out on DVD. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s actually better.

Slaughterhouse Five

S5Title: Slaughterhouse Five

Author: Kurt Vonnegut

Summary: Prisoner of war, optometrist, time-traveller – these are the life roles of Billy Pilgrim, hero of this miraculously moving, bitter and funny story of innocence faced with apocalypse. Slaughterhouse 5 is one of the world’s great anti-war books. Centring on the infamous fire-bombing of Dresden in the Second World War, Billy Pilgrim’s odyssey through time reflects the journey of our own fractured lives as we search for meaning in what we are afraid to know.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 3/5

Review: This was my third Vonnegut novel, and while i’ve enjoyed them all, this was probably my least favourite of the three. Considering the amount of times i laughed out loud, was made to pause and think, and grab my pen to underline quotes… i did thoroughly enjoy this book.

The disjointed non-linear narrative follows the main character, Billy Pilgrim, in his disjointed non-linear leaps through time. We essentially experience the book as he experiences his life. Whether or not Billy really does jump around in time in time is never revealed, and i love the ambiguity in that. I can imagine it being real, but i can also imagine it being a mental health disorder, or something Billy made up for fun. I enjoy aspects of all the possibilities. The same goes for Billy’s belief that he was abducted by aliens.

His alien abduction, whether real, imagined or fabricated, is a key point in Billy’s life. He learns lessons and alters his perception of life due to the influence of the Tralfamadorians, and think it helps him embrace himself, his time travel and his life. He is so laid back about everything, and i appreciate that about him. So many dramatic things happen to him, but he makes none of them dramatic.

I’m thinking too much, now. About all those ambiguous possibilities. I’m putting things together and making them fit in all new ways. I so love books that allow me to do that. To play with the meaning for so long after i finish the book.

This isn’t a book that instantly leaves an impression on the reader, but one that stays with you. It’s crept into my subconscious and will stew there, as i ponder on it more and more. And i’m already changing my mind on this being the Vonnegut i’ve enjoyed the least. Come back to me in a month or two, and i’m sure i’ll have dozens of other things to say about this book. Right now, i’m still mentally digesting it.

The ideas this book has stirred will continue for a good long while, but the book itself is over. So it goes.

This is the eleventh book i’ve read from my Classics Club list.

The BFG

bfgTitle: The BFG

Author: Roald Dahl

Summary: The BFG is a nice and jumbly giant. In fact, he is the only big friendly giant in Giant Country. All the other giants are big bonecrunching brutes, and now the BFG and his friend Sophie must stop them guzzling up little human beans–with some help from Her Majesty the Queen.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 4/5

Review: This was, undoubtedly, my favourite book as a child. I remember my mum reading it to me at night. I remember when i had learnt to read, reading it myself. This is the book of my childhood. And one of the films of my childhood, the only real ‘kid’s film’ i remember watching. So many childhood memories wrapped up in this book for me.

And it stands up to the test of adulthood. I still love it. In some ways, i love it even more, in other ways, slightly less. Overall, though, just as much love.

The BFG is fabulous. His way with words is wonderful and hilarious, and i would never get sick of it. I could read his switchfiddling the English language around all day. I also want to introduce the word ‘whizzpop’ into my everyday vocabulary. But aside from the language, the BFG is so effortlessly wise, and despite the communication difficulties, makes himself perfectly and easily understood. The lessons he teaches Sophie–and the reader, if they’re paying attention–about the world are relevant and important beyond the pages of the book. There was one section of several pages that made me stop and smile with how simply he demonstrates the hypocrisy and arrogance of the human race.

“You is a human bean and you is saying it is grizzling and horrigust for giants to be eating human beans. Right or left?”
“Right,” Sophie said.
“But human beans is squishing each other all the time,” the BFG said. “They is shooting guns and and going up in aerioplanes to drop their bombs on each other’s heads every week. Human beans is always killing other human beans.”

“I think it’s rotten that those foul giants should go off every night to eat humans. Humans have never done them any harm.”
“That is what the little piggy-wig is saying every day,” the BFG answered. “He is saying, ‘I has never done any harm to the human bean so why should he be eating me?'”

I missed these wise words as a child, or, at least i didn’t consciously recognise them for what they are. It could have had more of an affect that i realised, because i did grow up to be a vegan who holds strong anti-war opinions…

The thing that unfortunately didn’t hold up to an adult reading was the nature of the heroic conclusion. A queen who holds authority over the army and the air force, who takes the revelation that giants exist in her stride and invites one to breakfast, who commands so absolutely that no politicians are involved and no one else bats an eyelid at the giant because if they queen’s cool with it then it’s fine. I hold little respect or regard for the royals, and am just unable to stomach the queen being a realistic go-to figure to help save the day. And okay, yes, fiction, but in that case, magic up an evil-giant zapping machine or make Jack and his beanstalk a reality. Don’t base the solution in fact, but have it be so unrealistic. …Turns out, if i let myself, i feel quite strongly about that aspect. Oops?

Thankfully, the disappointing resolve of the story doesn’t do enough to take away from the BFG himself and his perfectly splendiferousness. If only human beans could be as wise, insightful, eloquent and… friendly.

This knocks the final(!!) square off my Bookish Bingo: A book from my childhood.

The Paper Men

tpmTitle: The Paper Men

Author: William Golding

Summary: Fame, success, fortune; a drink problem slipping over the borderline into alcoholism, a dead marriage, the incurable itches of middle-aged lust. For Wilfred Barclay, novelist, the final, unbearable irritation is Professor Rick L. Tucker, implacable in his determination to become The Barclay Man.

Locked in a lethal relationship they stumble half-blindly across Europe, shedding wives, self-respect, illusions. They confront terrifying abysses – physical, emotional, spiritual – continually change roles, change themselves, change the worlds about them. The climax, when it comes, is as inevitable as it is unexpected.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 4.5/5

Review: Golding is an author who’s work i am making my way through at a sedate pace. I haven’t loved every book i’ve read so far, but i have liked, appreciated and admired them all. He’s an author who doesn’t stick to the same genre, format or message. Each of his books is unique, and i love that. The Paper Men was, gladly, another score for the ‘love’ list.

I was apprehensive at first, as i had read some pretty damning reviews. The only thing those bad reviews liked was the ending; they adored the last line. Unfortunately, as i am wont to do, i had already flipped to the last page and read the last line. So i knew going in exactly how this book ended. (Therefore it was not at all as unexpected as the synopsis claimed–they never take into account people skipping ahead!) But screw all the bad reviews–this book was brilliant!

There is humour–oh, so much humour, i laughed loud and often. There is meaningfulness, introspection, commentary. How people can gloss over or miss that and complain that not enough happened makes their taste and intelligence poor, if i’m being honest in my own opinion.

I adored Wilf. I’m not sure i was supposed to, but there we have it. He isn’t perfect, by any means, but he is unapologetically himself, and hurts almost no one but himself. Almost, except those closest to him (though whether he is close to them is debatable), and of course Rick L. Tucker. Wilf travels the world on no whim but his own, drinking, sleeping and writing. He makes no demands on people, letting the wind take him wherever it decides to blow. Rick L. Tucker, on the other hand, goes exactly where Wilf does. His obsessive, stalker, relentless behaviour really, really bothered me. He just wouldn’t give up chasing Wilf around, trying to convince him to let him be his official biographer. How many times can Wilf say, “No,” and disappear to another country before Rick gets the message? Never enough, apparently. Sorry, but harassment is not an endearing quality, and for all Wilf’s faults, i’ll take him over Tucker any day.

That covers the plot, really. The rest of the interest of the book is more Wilf’s mind and thoughts, so i supposed having a soft spot for Wilf makes me more inclined to enjoy his words and the book itself. He is very much a writer, often comparing the world to how things would be done in one of his novels, and offering insight into the mind of a writer. He tos and fros between thought processes, opinions on himself, and choices and reasons. He’s an intellectual and literary man, and he’s also one of the most unreliable narrators i have ever read. His words were a joy, his drinking problem worrisome but occasionally controlled, his paranoia palpable but relatively harmless. He was, ultimately, fascinating.

There is, really, only one point of criticism i have of The Paper Men. As much as i loved reading it when i was reading, when i wasn’t reading, i had no drive to get back to it. I didn’t think about the book when i wasn’t reading it. When i picked it up again i often had to re-read the last paragraph of the previous chapter to remind myself of the exact circumstances it had left of on. And while this didn’t impede my enjoyment of the book when i was reading it, i did miss that burn–that desire to still be reading and to know what happens. I missed it enough to be distinctly aware that it wasn’t there.

But still, the book itself, regardless of my emotions towards it when i put it down, is thoroughly enjoyable, insightful and such a hoot. I loved some sections so much that when i did have a pencil to mark passages i… i used a pen! And i don’t regret a single inked line.

This knocks one square off my Bookish Bingo: Published in my birth year.

Much Ado About Nothing

much adoTitle: Much Ado About Nothing

Author: William Shakespeare

Summary: Set in a courtly world of masked revels and dances, this play turns on the archetypal story if a lady falsely accused of unfaithfulness, spurned by her bridegroom, and finally vindicated and reunited with him. Villainy, schemes, and deceit threatens to darken the brilliant humour and sparkling wordplay–but the hilarious counter plot of a warring couple, Beatrice and Benedick, steals the scene as the two are finally tricked into admitting their love for each other in Shakespeare’s superb comedy of manners.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 4/5

Review: Like most people, i read and studied a bit of Shakespeare at school. I never hated his work as vehemently as some, though i didn’t love it either (excepting A Midsummer Night’s Dream–that play is a hoot!). However, in my maturity (ha!) i have wanted to read the plays i didn’t get a change to at school. I’ve finally started that task by reading Much Ado About Nothing.

At first it was hard to get into, the language is awkward and difficult to get your head around, but it was only that way for a few pages. I realised quickly that i was reading as i would have at school; slowly and meticulously in order to pick apart the words and figure out how they’re put together and decipher their meaning. As soon as i was conscious of what i was doing, i stopped doing it. The moment i stopped trying to analyse the language, it all started to make much more sense. I didn’t have to know exactly how something was being said to understand what was being said.

Beatrice and Benedick certainly do steal the show, despite the main plot being Claudio and Hero’s engagement and drama surrounding it. For me, it was because they were the characters i liked the most. They were witty and intelligent and, despite the verbal sparring, they were respectful of each other. The other characters, with their preoccupation with marriage, interference and lies, were much more difficult to sympathise with.

The plot was simple enough, but then the play isn’t long. I can’t say i enjoyed the conclusion, with Claudio and Hero marrying despite the accusations that were so easy thrown around. But what this story had plenty of was humour. I genuinely laughed out loud on several occasions. While each character had a moment or two to shine, and Beatrice and Benedick shine throughout, the funniest characters by far were Dogberry and the watchmen. Every ‘deformed’ with a capital D gave me a little chuckle.

I would urge anyone with the slightest inclination to give ol’ Shakespeare a go. He’s more awesome than you think, and basically invented half the words we all use today… not to mention the insults! This book also left me thinking in Shakespeare for a few hours after i’d finished. And now, i can finally get around to watching Joss Whedon’s adaptation!

This knocks one square off my Bookish Bingo: A play.

The Yellow Wallpaper

tywTitle: The Yellow Wallpaper

Author: Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Summary: Best known for the 1892 title story of this collection, a harrowing tale of a woman’s descent into madness. Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote more than 200 other short stories. Seven of her finest are reprinted here.

Written from a feminist perspective, often focusing on the inferior status accorded to women by society, these charming tales are not only highly readable and full of humour and invention, but also offer ample food for thought about the social, economic, and personal relationships of men and women–and how they might be improved.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 4/5

Review: I read and adored Gilman’s Herland a few years ago. I did, and still do, think that is a book that should be compulsory reading for everyone. However, after finishing The Yellow Wallpaper and the other short stories contained in this book, i think everyone should read this book first.

The stories are short, easy to read and, on the face of it, easy to digest. Their message–the point Gilman is trying to make in each story–is quite clear, and well told. She has a talent for making her point–for clearly portraying inequality and sexism–without ever making it about us verses them; without outright blaming or alienating men. Really, more men should read her work. And by ‘more’ i mean ‘all’.

My favourite story was by far ‘If I Were A Man’, where a wife inhabits her husband’s mind and body, with both her own and his memories and thoughts. She/he is able to evaluate the mindset of both sexes, and make a small move to bring them to more of an understanding.

The title story, The Yellow Wallpaper, was another excellent story. It felt very much biographical; some how striking a more personal–more real–chord than the other stories. Delving into her psyche and mental health, which are so easy dismissed and overlooked by the males around her. I think this is both a reflection of the time period’s (lack of) understanding of mental health and a comment on sexism. I think both of these are issues that are still rife today, and still desperately need to be talked about more.

My only real qualm with this book is the fact that, by the very nature of short stories, the concepts and issues broached are not delved into deeply enough. They are a light, quick and skimmed view of feminist issues–which is the very reason i think this book would be perfect for people to read before Herland. These stories would plant the seeds that Herland could then help grow.

With Gilman’s bibliography being as long as it is, i feel a strong need to get my hands on some more of her work!

This knocks one square off my Bookish Bingo: A colour in the title.

The Female Man

tfmTitle: The Female Man

Author: Joanna Russ

Summary: Joanna’s world is recognisable; it’s very much like ours. So is Jeannine’s–except that in hers the Second World War never happened, the Great Depression is still going on, and inequality is even more rampant.

But Janet’s world is different. On the planet Whileaway there is no problem of relations between the sexes because there is only one. Janet is unfettered, she is free to lead her life as she wants, as an able and competent being, as a female man.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 3.5/5

Review: There are two things i need to explain in this review. What i loved about this book, and why it took me a month to read it. It was a random purchase from a library book sale, and i was instantly intrigued and eager to read it. Science fiction and gender? Yes, yes please.

On the gender front, this book is brilliant, and the science fiction aspect only helps explore things. It brings together four versions of the same woman (the author, Joanna Russ, essentially), from alternate realities and times. One from a 1930s version of the present day, one from a time unspecified but which represents the author’s and readers own time, one from the female-only world of Whileaway, and lastly one from a world which is engaged in a literal war of the sexes. Their views on their worlds and their own identity and behaviour differ wildly, but still they stick together, travelling and learning.

Honestly, i wished i’d read the book with a pencil in hand to mark the lines and passages that struck me as right, as making the best point, as putting the perfect words to things i have felt and experienced all my life. There were so, so many. There was one particular chapter that spanned several pages, and i just want to type it out, word for word, and make the world read it. I’ll have to settle for quoting here the line that summed up a lot of it so succinctly for me:

For years I have been saying Let me in, Love me, Approve me, Define me, Regulate me, Validate me, Support me. Now I say Move over.

Urgh, this book just makes my heart feel more alive, feel a glimmer of hope, feel like it’s not just me; it’s all women, in all walks of life, in all sorts of ways. It makes me feel understood and not alone. Jael, in particular, also made me feel fucking empowered. And the very end, damn. That very last paragraph. This book will stay with me for a long time.

And so, why only 3.5/5? Why did it take me so long to read? Because as a work of fiction, as a story… it fell so flat. I think this book would work so much better as a series of essays, because that is already what it reads like, on the whole, to me. The thing the story lacked was a strong narrative and any kind of drive, which in turn left me with no drive to keep reading, to keep picking up the book. I had no desire to know what happened next, because nothing was happening. It felt a lot like free writing at times, like character studies at others, and often it was not clear who was narrating. Some sections are written in first person, but it’s not easy to distinguish whose, which took my mind away from the story and the meaning, and i began to focus on details and technicalities.

I enjoyed the book immensely when i was reading it, but found it so hard to pick up again when i wasn’t. I enjoyed each section and the individual messages being conveyed, but the story they were supposed to fit around just seemed non-existent. I would have liked more structure to the chapters and individual stories told throughout the book, so they each existed in their own terms, rather than in and around a narrative that failed to make the most of itself around them.

Despite the haphazard structure and lacking narrative, there was so much to love about this book, and i will be seeking out more of Russ’ feminist science fiction works. I hope more of it weaves the two together more seamlessly into a worthy story, without compromising on the amazing feminist literary criticism. Some might argue that this book is outdated, but i wonder which world they are living in, because it’s not one of the ones represented in this book.

This knocks two squares off my Bookish Bingo: LGBT main character and a main character my age.

Metamorphosis and Other Stories

metaTitle: Metamorphosis and Other Stories

Author: Franz Kafka

Summary: Metamorphosis is one of the most terrifying stories ever written. a man wakes up one morning to find himself transformed into a giant insect. Kafka describes his reactions and the reactions of his family—at first horrified, then kind, wrathful, despising, and finally negligent. This haunting parable on human reaction to suffering and diseases has already become a classic.

Other stories in this volume, which contains the best of Kafka’s short stories, are The Great Wall of China, Investigations of a Dog, The Burrow, In The Penal Settlement, and The Giant Mole.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ 2.5/5

Review: I had never read Kafka before, but Metamorphosis has been on my to-read list for quite a while. When i picked up this copy that includes several other short stories i was rather chuffed. Chuffed only lasted through the first story and a couple of pages into the second, unfortunately.

Metamorphosis itself was wonderfully dark and depressing. Through Gregor’s slow realisation that something is seriously wrong and how the people around him react there are so many things to consider. Gregor himself is the one affected by the metamorphosis, but he seems constantly to worry only about his family, despite their increasingly neglectful and hostile reaction to him. Very much a morbid story, but one i found rather fascinating.

The next three stories, The Great Wall of China, Investigations of a Dog and The Burrow, are where my problem with this book really lies. Rather than stories, i found them to be in the style of essays. Told mostly in first person (though occasionally drifting into third), these pieces discuss and analyse various concepts. Two of them from the point of view of an animal, but i think drawing on ideas from human life and putting them in an alternative context. I actually found the concepts discussed and Kafka’s general approach to them very interesting. However. I found the overall writing and the failed attempt at a story-like narrative rather dull. With no driving plot, no characters and no no dialogue, the entire pieces dragged. I mean really, when one paragraph stretches over four pages, it’s just ridiculous.

Things picked up again with In The Penal Settlement, which was much more of an actual story and felt like a breath of fresh air after the previous three essays. It was my favourite of all the stories in this book, but i’m still not sure if that was the story itself, or simply the relief it gave me.

If i ever read any more of Kafka’s work, it will be with more thorough research into what i’m getting myself into: story or essay. Either way i think it could be interesting and enjoyable, i would just much rather be prepared!

This knocks one square off my Bookish Bingo: Originally written in a different language.

To Kill a Mockingbird

tkamTitle: To Kill A Mockingbird

Author: Harper Lee

Summary: ‘They don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.’ Scout and her brother Jem can understand that idea of sin, but in the small American town where they live, evil comes in many shapes and they have to learn to recognize it, and understand how people behave. Their father’s unpopularity when he fights for a Negro in trouble reveals other mockingbirds.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 3/5

Review: Apparently i had high expectations of this book. I hadn’t even realised i did until i started reading and it just… wasn’t as good as i had assumed it would be. It’s pretty much ~the~ classic, which i guess i, personally, should have been more wary about. I usually instinctively adopt mistrust of overly-popular books (and film and TV and etc), assuming them to never be as good as the masses claim them to be. But To Kill a Mockingbird tricked me somehow. I guess my weak spot for classics blindsided me.

Most simply, i didn’t really like the writing style. It was overly descriptive and hugely specific, mostly noticeably with regards to location and layout of the town. I was too busy trying to figure out where the Radley house was and how and why Scout and Jem need to walk past it that the effect them being so scared of the house should have had on me was lost. I much prefer when descriptions are more vague and i’m allowed to picture it in my own way. I like being made to feel, not forced to picture.

The story meandered and there was pretty much no plot. I liked the characters well enough, and i’ve always said the characters can make or break a book for me. Well, apparently, a lack of a plot can also be a breaking point. Summer, school, summer, school, summer… with nothing to string them together. Nothing to follow, other than Scout’s wandering thoughts. It was only when the trial started, about two-thirds of the way into the book, that things started to get interesting enough for me to really want to keep reading. And really, the trial just made me angry. Angry about how hateful and blind people are. I already know the world is full of injustice, i see it every day all around me. Some people might need that spelled out to them in a work of fiction, but i read fiction as an escape, not to remind me of the world i’m trying to escape from.

And the characters. I liked them, mostly, but they seemed very divided into “good” and “bad” with only very few coming near to blurring the lines between the two. I also found Scout herself to uncharacteristicly miss the point sometimes. The book is told from Scout’s point of view, and she spans the ages of six to eight, but it’s established on the first page, and referenced throughout the book, that she is writing this later in life; she’s older and has more perspective. And i think the distinction became blurred on that. Sometimes she offered insight, either in the childish way she would have understood it at the time, or in hindsight. But there were several occasions where it seemed Scout just didn’t get what was going on, though it wasn’t a stretch to think she would, based on other times she’d been so astute. These moments left me with something akin to a lack of respect for her. The character i liked most, i think, was Jem, because he seemed to grow and develop over the course of the book, where all the other characters, though slotted perfectly into their assigned spots, were very two-dimensional and flat. They played a role, rather than a full character.

This review is heavily on the negative side, but i did enjoy the book. I looked forward to picking it up to read. It just wasn’t as good as i’d hoped. And it is definitely one of those books that i see as having so much potential, so much good, but that could just so easily be so much better.

This is the tenth book i’ve read from my Classics Club list.

This knocks one square off my Bookish Bingo: Pulitzer Prize winner.