Book Review: Good Omens

The cover of Good Omens.

The cover of Good Omens.

I picked this up on my trip to Kitt Peak in May 2014. I was travelling with my supervisor for the trip, who went to University of Arizona for grad school. Since we were down there, he picked up some books he had left behind years ago; he also decided to purge some of the books because he either had other copies, or didn’t want them anymore. As a result, I got a free book!
Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, is a cheeky/sarcastic take on the tale of the end of the world. I suppose the two main characters are Crowley (the Snake from the Adam/Eve story) and Aziraphale (an angel) who live on Earth and attempt to sway humans into their respective camps. The Armageddon is started by the coming of the Devil’s son, named Adam in this story, who Crowley had inserted into a human family in Britain. The rest of the story follows Adam and his realization of his abilities.
If you like british humour, it’s a great book. It’s full of witty banter, sarcasm, and has a great message regarding the philosophy of living your life to ‘code.’
While I liked it, this wasn’t the best book I’ve ever read. I kinda feel like something was missing. Or perhaps, a better way to put it, I felt like it didn’t focus hard enough on one story. There were a lot of parallel stories that you get bits and pieces of. It also felt a bit anti-climactic, but perhaps I’m missing the British style humour.
Either way, if you like Neil Gaiman (and you should) give it a read and enjoy a different take on Armageddon.
Happy Reading!

Book Review: Coraline

The cover of Coraline.

The cover of Coraline.

Written by Neil Gaiman, Coraline is a wonderfully imaginative tale of a girl named Coraline who is becomes twisted up in a race to save her parents from her dreaded Other Mother. It’s a short (163pgs) novella that you could classify as horror/fantasy. Perhaps the best way to describe it is it feels like a child’s imagination gone wild. When we’re young, the line between reality and imagination is very blurred. We can dream up so many amazing things (both wonderful and scary) and live inside that world as if it’s real. This inevitably leads to nightmares that make us rush into our parents room, avoiding going downstairs without an adult, or simply afraid to look in the closet at night. Just pondering the idea that children live in such a mix of imagination and intellect makes me jealous.
Coraline, our protagonist, has just moved into a new house with her parents; well, just moved into PART of the house, there are two other flats in the house occupied by very interesting characters. On a random rainy day a couple of days before the new school year begins, Coraline discovers a door that is supposed to lead to the empty flat on the same floor as theirs. Upon stealing the key from her parents, she opens the door, but it leads to a freaky parallel dimension wherein her Other Parents will do anything she wants: play the games, make her yummy meals, and all around support her in her desires to explore and create. However, her Other Mother has a (not so) hidden agenda to keep Coraline as her own for all eternity. The Other Mother has stolen Coraline’s parents, and won’t tell her how to get them back. Coraline draws on all her wit, courage, and physical strength to save her parents (and other children trapped in the alternate dimension), and eventually destroys the Other Mother.
I very much enjoyed the pace of the book, finding myself on the edge of my seat as I was reading. I was rooting so hard for Coraline! Gaiman’s style came through as a cheeky and interesting, and with a mature childhood tone to it. It was if the writer was a child with a wealth of adult vocabulary and experience to draw on. It was refreshing to see such an exact portrayal of what it’s like to be a child with an active imagination.
Of course, the movie was very well done, and you should absolutely see it. My philosophy is to always read the book first; but honestly, this is one of the few times where the movie does the book justice. No matter which you read/watch first, you’re in for a treat. Highly recommend either.

 

Happy Reading!

Book Review: Preludes & Nocturnes

After reading the epic novel The Brothers Karamazov, I was sad, and for two reasons: 1. After reading a book I really love, I’m always sad to see it end, to no longer be part of it, to see the characters stop, but also, 2. because I didn’t have any other booked lined up to read after it. Usually I have a stack of 2 to 5 books somewhere on my shelf that I’m dying to read, but haven’t gotten to yet. At the end of BK, I was not in the same position. This time, I was left wondering ‘what to read next?’ Sure, there are a couple books I haven’t read that are on my shelf, but I’m not dying to read them. One for instance is the follow up to the Mars Trilogy: The Martians by Kim Stanley Robinson, which is a collection of short stories. Or perhaps I could finally dive into Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I also have Flatterland, the differently authored follow up to the amazing Flatland by Edwin Abbott. But none of these were itching at me. All sitting on my shelf, but none were calling my name.

So this was my frame of mind, sitting at my book shelf, hopelessly looking for a new book to read, when I ran across The first instalment of the comic series The Sandman by Neil Gaiman. I had gotten this graphic novel a few christmas’ ago (and I can’t remember which of my family members gave it to me), but I just put it on my shelf and forgot about it. As I was apparently in a world of literary lostness, I decided it couldn’t hurt to at least flip through it and see what it was like. After I got started, I really didn’t put it down!

Preludes & Nocturnes is the first of 10 graphic novels in the Sandman series, each consisting of multiple mini episodes. This novel tells the story of Morpheus, the king of dreams, who is somehow summed by a human cult leader. This leader was actually hoping to summon Death itself, but ended up with Dream. Not sure of what to do, the cult leader imprisons Dream for decades, until Dream finally escapes. In order to regain his full strength he spends the course of the novel looking for the three objects stolen from him: his helmet, his ruby, and his bag of sand.

I actually found it very hard to switch genres from the epic Russian drama The Brothers Karamazov, to the graphic novel fantasy The Sandman. In reading graphic novels, most of the tone and story line is not told in the reading, but in studying the images given. If you only read the conversation bubbles, you’re missing everything! I had to force myself to slow down, and appreciate what I was seeing, and not just reading. My experience in graphic novels is limited only to The Watchmen, which I loved, but it has been a while since I read it.

I very much enjoyed making the switch, and have decided to purchase the rest of the series. Come on Amazon, ship faster! I have nothing to read while I wait! I recommend reading this series if you are at all into graphic novels/comics.

Happy reading!