Saturday, April 10, 2010

Robert Louis Stevenson - Two-For

It's good to have something different every once in a while. This week I decided to bounce back a few years and go with a couple classics from Robert Louis Stevenson. When I went to our bookshelf, I had every intent to pick up James Fenimore Cooper(guess I was interested in three name authors) and read Last of the Mohicans, but that didn't last. Cooper didn't fair to well. He's very text-bookish and I don't really feel like that at the moment. Stevenson wasn't, and I found both of the books I read VERY enjoyable.

Treasure Island (Puffin Classics) was the first book by Stevenson that I read this week. I know that most of the last couple generations will think of The Pirates of the Caribbean when they hear pirate, treasure, booty, and pieces of eight. It's unfortunate b/c this is an excellent classic for one to read at any age. It's a great adventure story told from the point of view of a young man(or teenager, I guess there's a small spread). Treasure Island is incredibly well written and keeps you moving from one point to the next without any real boring gaps. I do believe that the only thing I would have done differently is REMEMBER TO STAY AWAY FROM ONE-LEGGED SAILORS! Just don't give any ground.. tsk tsk.

Next book for the week was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It's a little shorter than Treasure Island, and helped supplement some pages for the week. Where I felt that TI was well written, Jekyll & Hyde was just brilliant. I am not a great writer, but I can see great writing when I need to. Stevenson uses punctuation in a manner that is sorely missed in this day and age. It is a agreeable to me. The story itself is also good; it isn't overshadowed by the punctuation. It wasn't what I was expecting though. Whenever I think of Jekyll & Hyde I see a normal doctor and a monster. You do have both of those, but the monster is somewhat short on stature..... makes up with it on hatred though. It's told from the perspective of a lawyer and through a few letters from Jekyll himself. It's a little abrupt though. Beware of doctors that hide themselves in their cabinet, act erratically, and end up disappearing. It's not good for business, or your health.

"Mr Utterson, The Lawyer, was a man of rugged countenance, that was never lighted by a smile; cold, scanty and embarrassed in discourse; backward sentiment; lean, long, dusty, dreary, and yet somehow lovable." 

Rating for Treasure Island: 8.5
Rating for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: 7.5(10 on punctuation)


Next on the horizon: A fantasy book from Christmas that I received from my Aunt Nell, and a book from booksneeze that I need to review.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Life of Pi

It was my first clue that atheists are my brothers and sisters of a different faith, and every word they speak speaks of faith.  Like me, they go as far as the legs of reason will carry them - then they leap. - Pi Patel
I tried to be really clever and type the pi symbol in my title.  I say tried because you can see the result. 
This week's book for me was Life of Pi by Yann Martel.  I have heard good things about it from different sectors, and Stacie brought it over one day for me to read.  It has been sitting in the office for a while and I had never even looked at the bookleaf to figure out what it was about.  The bookleaf is intriguing in it's complete vagueness.  Don't worry about having to find a copy to read it, here it is in it's entirety:

A Boy
A Tiger
And the vast Pacific Ocean

This is a novel of such rare and wonderous storytelling that is may, as one character claims, make you believe in God. 

Can a reader reasonably ask for anything more?

This struck me because I already believe in God and wandered what story other than the one I have already heard could make a believer out of an atheist.  It also struck me because I LOVE when I don't know anything about what I am about to experience (be it movies, music, or books).  I love a good surprise!

Did I find what I was looking for while reading this book?  Yes and no.
I did think the story was remarkable, well told, even if it was a little tedious toward the end (although I do think this too was an author's device).  Did it make me a believer?  No.  I already have a knowledge and faith in a well-defined God, not the/an undefined god of this book.  The story plays well into the fate/hand of God  ideas of many stories that have gone before (e.g. he never would have been prepared for that if he hadn't done this), but stops short somewhere along the way.  I was also put off by the multi-god religion the main character builds for himself, especially considering they are mutually exclusive faiths. 
I did enjoy the air of mystery the book jacket provided.  Each page truly was an adventure until a little past two-thirds in.  By this time, I was done with the surprising story and was ready for the denoument.  Just get there already!  The first part of the book was what I found most intriguing over all.  If you are a person who likes to start a book and then lay it down, this could be a candidate.  Just read the first half and you will have lots to chew on. 

In regards to the athiest-turning claim of the book jacket, there are some great quotes in the first section of the book.  One is at the top of the post, but there really could have been a few more. 

Rating:  4 out of 7