“My Name is Sir Lanka” by November Gyllensvard

My Name Is Sir Lanka(Author: November Gyllensvard) + (Year: 2015) + (Goodreads)


Review:

If you are willing to go for a wild and totally mad book, this is a good choice!

I purchased this book from the author recently (have it autographed and all), and I knew a little about the story before I started reading it. However, in reality, it exceeded my expectations about how exactly crazy it could get.

As this book is November Gyllensvard‘s first one, and has yet to be introduced to more readers, I would assume you don’t know what it is about. Once you have read it… you still might not know.

The short version of the plot is: There’s a woman who is absolutely and totally unprepared to take on the world. The greatest joy in her life is drinking. In fact, nothing else gives her joy in life. So, logically, when she gets pregnant by accident, she is not much more ready for that next big adventure. She decides to abort the baby. But instead strikes up a friendship, or rather, a “frenemy”-ship with it. As a result of that, the baby, or later the grown man, Sir Lanka, decides that he is also not ready for the world and would prefer living in his mother’s womb for a very, very long time. 32 years, to be exact.

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I know this sounds insane. It is. The entire world of My Name is Sir Lanka is upside-down, absurd, and full of social satire. Don’t expect logic in this, there is none. Every cliche is trampled and spit upon. None of it makes sense, but in a way, in this cartoonish (often in a nasty and brutal way) world things do add up and compliment each other, if not our own world.

The problems that I had with My Name is Sir Lanka were as follows:

  1. The ending: the cliffhanger left us with very little closure for any of the stories. I would have preferred just a little bit more, so that at least a part of it ties up in a way, no matter how twisted or insane. This bothered me because it left me wondering where the entire story is headed to and whether it will actually arrive to a conclusion at any point (spoiler alert, not really: My Name is Sir Lanka is the first book of a series).
  2. The proofreading, or lack thereof: this is not such a big issue and had the opportunity to discuss it with the author. It’s understandable, as it is his first book, that there was no big publisher to take care of that, but it was there and it wasn’t easy to avoid. However, this is as much a fault of the author, as it is of the person who proofread it, and hopefully it will be fixed in the future editions.
  3. This one is not a big one, the methodical execution: for a book that relies so much on paradoxes and absurdity, all of that was put together all too neatly. It was visible how much care has been put into make it as crazy as possible. And a little bit more randomness might have gone along with the tone of the book, even if to make it more absurd. My reason to say this is that there is a thin line between doing something, and trying too hard. But! For a first book, I think it is another sin that doesn’t need to be scrutinized deeply.

Overall, I would say that My Name is Sir Lanka is the beginning of a wildly imaginative journey, and I do hope that it reaches more people.

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“Deadpool, Vol. 2: Soul Hunter” by Brian Posehn

Deadpool, Volume 2: Soul Hunter(Author: Brian Posehn) + (Year: 2013) + (Goodreads)


Review:

Ya’know, Deadpool just keep getting more and more sad the more volumes I read. And also more insane.

By that, I mean that the humor and the jokes are still there, but the bitterness is entirely too tangible. Especially those moments when no one wants to team up with Deadpool, despite his best efforts to be helpful and despite the fact that he takes quite a few killing blows for it.

One thing worth mentioning is the first issue of this volume. It was drawn in a very old school comic book style and it looked so convincing, that I wondered whether they hadn’t actually taken old issues. Until I found out that Deadpool didn’t even exist at the time, that is.

The story with hell was also pretty interesting, as it was sort of convoluted and unexpected, but it worked out pretty cleverly.

I can’t say whether I really like Deadpool as a character, though. And that is not because everyone else also hates him, but because there is such a focus on that hatred, that his personality is half sad doofus, half other people’s view of stinky old Wade. So I kind of want to continue reading, and I kind of feel like it’s getting nowhere, because we only see the tip of his personality and it doesn’t really move beyond that.

“Written in the Stars” by Aisha Saeed

Written in the Stars(Author: Aisha Saeed) + (Year: 2015) + (Goodreads)


Review:

I had absolutely no expectations going into this book. I remember seeing the pretty cover and thinking it might be worth checking out, so it did end up on my shelves and stayed there for a long time.

However, after reading the first few chapters, I was surprised by the direction and the tone of the book. The beginning was mild enough and innocent enough, as we followed the hardships of an American-Pakistani girl, who is struggling with hiding the fact that she has a boyfriend, despite the orders of her conservative parents.

The book quickly changed its tone, surprising me yet again. With Naila going back to Pakistan and staying with her family there for the summer, I was baffled as to the idea of the book and it took me longer than usual to figure out where things are going.

Once it came to me, though, I couldn’t help but feel helplessly furious. Not just at the idea of this book, which is positive, more or less, but at the injustices and abominations on the female personality that are allowed to exist even in our times. The author condemned the situation the main character was in, but also, setting her personal example, kind of tried to make excuses, which made me even more angry, as I think this is something inexcusable.

Since it might be a spoiler, please continue reading only if you don’t mind knowing the main storyline of Written in the Stars.

S P O I L E R S     A H E A D

So… arranged marriage, huh? Can anything positive really be said about that? I don’t think it matters what your religion tells you, how pious or conservative you are, what social order and norms you are used to, taking someone’s right to choose who they share their life and bed with is abominable. I am sure that no matter what I say, I would not be able to convince otherwise a person who believes in arranged marriages, however, I would compare that to rape. It is rape. It is forsaking your own child to be raped and continue living with the person who did that to them.

And no matter how this book was supposed to be received, the only thing it positively succeeded into making me is feeling angry. While reading how happy Naila’s family was to send her to that man’s family, I was angry. By seeing how his family treated her, I was angry. I am still angry that someone on this planet there is even one single person who is living in this terrible situation. And lastly, I am angry because of the hypocrisy of women’s movements nowadays. Western women fight for their right to show their nipples on Instagram, but they don’t fight for the millions of women who spend their lives married to their rapists. If your argument is that Islam praises arranged marriages, please go away, because this is just some perverted way of reading something that has a completely different meaning, exactly the same way as Islam only encourages men taking second wives in order for widows not to starve to death, and not in order to help out a man’s virility and the wider variety in his bedroom.

“Childhood’s End” by Arthur C. Clarke

Childhood's End(Author: Arthur C. Clarke) + (Year: 1953) + (Goodreads)


Review:

I finished this book around a month ago, but I just didn’t know what to put in a review of it, so I kind of left it waiting… and it’s been a month now.

 

Despite my many attempts, Childhood’s End just didn’t work very well for me. It was definitely not without merit, but there were also certain things that were supposed to be important for the positive experience of the reader, but were not, for me.

For one, I don’t like the general atmosphere of old sci-fi novels. The idea of sci-fi has evolved a lot since the first books on the topic started getting published, and whether it is due to habit, or taste, I have never really been a fan of the concept of an alien invasion the way it is in Childhood’s End. There is this overreaching attempt to come up with a truly unique being which to be the prototype of the alien, and it usually ends up a lot more frightening than aliens in media nowadays.

Also, there was one crucial point that really disturbed me and which doesn’t seem to bother many other readers, from what I have seen since I finished the book. Namely, the Overmind. While the Overlords are strange in their own way, the Overmind is terrifying to me, in the fact that the Overmind is essentially an invader, while everyone in the book seems to think of it as a greater intelligence. The Overmind is a being with bigger resources and a hunger for minds which to feed into its own self. Therefore, what is so different between the Overmind and all of the humans who, thanks to bigger knowledge and more refined weapons, have conquered and all but destroyed valuable cultures? Just because the colonists had a different set of diseases to bring with them to the new countries they visited and the population of which they destroyed en masse, it doesn’t mean that they were actually superior in their worth. Just developed differently. So in the same way, I was deeply chilled by the general euphoria of the characters in the book when faced with the idea of joining the Overmind.

Nevertheless, there were moments when I enjoyed the book, especially in its musings on the creativity and productivity of people. This is not the first book which I have read that puts a focus on the fact that without a driving force and a certain level of humanity, people can’t produce works of art and science with the same quality. Even nowadays, art has become something rather grotesque and perverted and despite that, people are not really allowed to say so, as it would be seen as an assault to the right of certain “artists” to create. So we just go along with the notion that we are still creating, but in reality, and facing the facts of history and the great works of old art, what we create today is trash, masked as art. In a time when a big part of the population of the planet has enough means to survive and even thrive, we are already losing our ability to advance in art with value. At the same time, as we have not reached the point where everyone can have equal amounts of everything they need as everybody else, science is developing and yet hiding its biggest finds. For example, there have been many scientists who are said to have developed cures for different plagues of our century, such as cancer and HIV, but those people often die or disappear, because the useless medicine for the same diseases is expensive and therefore makes all the right people rich.

Having said all of that, I would conclude that I have a rather negative attitude toward the ultimate outcome of the book, but also, that I liked that it made me focus and think about some realities of our time that one often forgets exactly because they live in the same time.

“Kindred Spirits” by Rainbow Rowell

Kindred Spirits(Author: Rainbow Rowell) + (Year: 2016) + (Goodreads)


Review:

I usually like Rainbow Rowell’s books, but this small novel was not my cup of tea.

For starters, the story of Kindred Spirits was rather unusual for me. I’ve never been big enough of a fan of anything to wait in a line for days to see it. As a matter of fact, this line culture doesn’t exist in my country at all and people almost never go that crazy over the things they like.

As an outsider to American culture, I would say that it’s something very specific to America to reach this level of admiration towards some aspect of pop culture. To me, that seems rather excessive. Of course, all over the world, there are people who are fans of, or even completely obsessed with something. However, I don’t think it exists as a group behavior on so high of a level.

On the book itself, it was too short to really start caring about the characters. They didn’t have enough time to have fully developed personalities and their back stories were lacking, as well. Mainly, two sides were told of the same story and it was rather hard to choose which one to believe, because basically the two main characters had completely opposite views.

What I liked about the book was the snappy humor. The one-liners were pretty good and very, very dorky, which I fully support.