Lemony Snicket (Or dare I say Daniel Handler) is a fantastic author who’s written an abundance of stunning and gripping mysteries, most famously A Series of Unfortunate Events and its prequel series All The Wrong Questions, which’ll hopefully soon be joining ASOUE in Netflix fame. This February I will be reviewing all his books that I’ve read. Stay tuned!
A lot of storytelling is about the perspective. If you tell the story from the right perspective you could make the most ghastly of stories justifiable. That’s exactly what happens in Kinsella in his hole. A group of immoral, slightly psychopathic kids team up to murder the tyrant in their lives, with the backdrop of old day Catholic teaching methods and when teachers were meant to be Gods in the lives of the students.
This doesn’t work, and the increasing distaste of this teacher is communicated perfectly through this story, so much so that even we want her to receive her comeuppance. No matter how holy you claim yourself to be, almost everyone has a fleeting thought of what the death of that one horrible, despicable person would be like. This story picks at that gruesome part of human nature we all share, the violent intrusive thoughts, and puts it into a short yet haunting story. Must read if you have the stomach for a little gore.
Rating – 4/5
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (or Blade Runner) by Phillip K. Dick
Science fiction is a difficult genre to write, because no matter what you write about you haven’t explored all the possibilities, but Dick has chosen a lovely slice of this reality to show us. Our protagonists are simple, but the situation is absurd, and arises some complex questions like what you would do if you found out you were the exact thing that you hate. The characters were believable, and the androids were so close to humanity it was startling. Our protagonist, Rick, goes through quite a lot, and sympathy is gained for him through his simple need of an animal. I think however that my favourite character is Isadore, simply because his intense desire to converse and relate with people is so relatable, and his character is one designed to project yourself onto. It’s not always clear to follow however, and some parts fly by so quickly you don’t even get them on the reread. Overall a complex read that will leave you questioning what it is to be human.
Rating – 3.5/5
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
A lot of books age badly, but this 96 year old book doesn’t. The story is quick and upbeat, and easy to follow. The story of Siddhartha’s life is a rollercoaster of clearly defined steps that are easy to keep up with, our titular character is incredibly interesting. His search for meaning is incredibly grounded and relatable, apart from the section of where he did magic (which stood out like a sore thumb). His failures and successes are deeply human, and he’s easy to sympathise with. I think one of the reasons this has aged so well is because (apart from the magic) the story isn’t grounded in the era it was made in. The story is one of the struggles of trying to find meaning in a confusion, and a story of dealing with failure when trying to reach your goals. And the best thing about it is the uncertainty of his life afterwards and whether he will become the next Buddha. A very relatable read that seems to float through the years.
Rating – 3.5/5
They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera
The title is clever, intriguing, and yet central to the story all at once. The whole story feels like an episode of Black Mirror. Their world is so similar to ours, yet vitally changed by one piece of technology, or one company in this case. I’m glad Death-Cast’s ways of knowing someone’s day of death are never described, and for me that raises a bunch of mind-shattering questions, like what is free will? If Death-Cast has never been wrong, then is someone not scheduled to die unable to kill themselves? It’s mind-boggling, but this book is not actually a sci-fi. It’s a romance. It takes a while till you realise it, but all the clues are there. They’ve been crushing since the start of the book and it ’s a nice moment when they kiss, but then I do think the author goes a bit overboard with the kissing. I think it was a very good decision to have the story constantly switching it’s point of view, managing to create sympathy in every character we’re introduced to. The realisation at the end is an intelligent way to end this thriller of a book, and I must say I am very glad I read it.
Rating – 4/5
John Steinbeck is a strange author. Perhaps it is because of the time of writing, or maybe because of his own personal experiences, but his stories don’t follow any rules. First of all, the story is plain. It’s one dimensional . Throughout many parts, the characters simply blurt out their emotions and spell out their motivations each letter at a time leaving nothing for the reader to infer. Making Lennie’s death at the end very predictable at the end, though some would call that foreshadowing. The Dust Bowl barely played a part in the story, and there really wasn’t much significance in the job searching aspect. Perhaps being forced to read this book played a role in my dislike of it, but I do not recommend it.
Rating – 2/5
Truth Or Die by James Patterson
They say mysteries are the most intelligent genre, and this book takes that to a T. Patterson has formulated a deep and complexing thriller that takes physical brain power to keep up with at the smart parts, has you flipping through the action parts, and chuckling at the odd strain of humour. The characters each had their own distinct personalities, except our protagonist Trevor himself, who got into this all from his girlfriend’s death but very quickly forgets about her and is really just a pair of confused eyes that we can see this world through. I think my favourite character would be the kid, who is like an L from Death Note caricature, with his 220 IQ. However, this book does have a pretty bad case of overflowing us with character names, and it even addresses it in-universe and gives us some summary sentences throughout. Something I found very satisfying was how no one purposefully left the reader in the dark about anything, giving us the answers that we crave the entire way through, making a brilliant snappy novel from the most popular author on the planet.