“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.

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“The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer” by Michelle Hodkin

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer, #1)(Author: Michelle Hodkin) + (Year: 2011) + (Goodreads)


Review:

I keep YA novels as my refuge for whenever I am feeling down, or whenever I have read a particularly bad/boring/tough book. That’s how this entire series ended up staying on the last page of my Kindle for years.

Well… I could have gone several more years without it, to be honest.

The premise of the book is quite good and at the beginning, I was pretty excited by the mysterious and ominous atmosphere. And that’s where things ended.

I really could make up my mind about what this book was supposed to even be. Romance? Horror? Parody?

I guess I will go with… a dream. It’s the author’s dream of what she’d like to have in life. The main character is a rather dull, very unsociable and awkward teenager. After losing her best friend, Mara moved to a new school where from a total nobody, she turned into a superstar because of her charmbrainswits… Errm so it might be because of…

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Which is the only compliment anyone ever gives her, outside of her boyfriend.

And don’t even get me started on the boyfriend. A.K.A the most perfect human that ever lived, or so says the author. Has a posh English accent, has read hundreds or even thousands of books, quotes entire pages of Lolita like it’s nobody’s business, drives a fancy car, has a multimillionaire/billionaire father, is worshiped by everyone in school, is handsome as hell, has beautiful eyes, has a lovely soft hair, is very possessive and willing to fight for his girl, is a great kisser, doesn’t kiss and tell, has superpowers. Excuse you. It’s not really like he’s a person at all. The author basically made a character who is 70% Ken doll and 30% British Captain America figurine.

And so this highly unlikely pair happens to match perfectly and create a super-duo. In a great lovestory adventure! Oh, wait… no. In a YA horror story? Not really?! So what are these two actually doing, even?

The entire supernatural story was not much more convincing than the love one. The events were rather scattered and random and I wasn’t even sure I cared to find out what’s going on because there was this general notion of:

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“The Trial” by Franz Kafka

The Trial(Author: Franz Kafka) + (Year: 1925) + (Goodreads)

(Around the World: Czech Republic)


Review:

For me “classic” literature goes in one of two ways: I either find a certain book absolutely amazing; or I dislike it profoundly. Unfortunately, The Trial was the latter.

I believe the popularity of this book is based on the symbolism, rather than the writing itself. While I do admit the general notion of the book is one I fully support – that of the pointless and even vile system of the Law, – I could not be bothered caring about the book itself.

What the book represents:

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One of the things that everyone would agree is absolutely terrible is bureaucracy. We all hate it. It’s not only tiresome and ridiculous, but it is also like a machine that actually does damage, rather than just lose time. The law, the courts, the lawyers, the bureaucrats, they are a giant, horrifying monster which never shows mercy and destroys life after life. The Trial is a story which shows this very plainly. The main character, Josef K., is swallowed by the monster called the Law and put to a trial for a crime which is never explained to him.

Every person he meets tries to convince him that he has to give in to the Court, accept the crime as his own, and embark on a journey in which he has to prove not that he is not guilty, but that his guilt is yet to be proven – the purpose of that being that he will continue living free until the court’s final decision, which can take decades. Josef K., realizing that this can hardly be called freedom, decides to fight this flawed system and insist that he is not guilty. Under the heavy wheels of the court, his trial ends tragically, as has the heavy trial of bureaucracy and the machine of communism. The sensational part of this is that The Trial, Kafka’s almost prophetic novel, was written without his ever coming face to face with the communism, which would only appear almost a decade after he wrote his book.

How the book actually was:

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Boring. That’s how it was. The general feel of the book was very dreary and uncomfortable, up to a point I would get frustrated every time I had to start reading (that being early every morning, on the tram commute to work). I kind of expected I would like Kafka’s writing, but this book did not do it for me.

The personality of Josef K., a selfish, pretentious prick, was very infuriating, as were his internal struggles which never really made anything of consequence. By that I mean that the character would always make a decision which would take page after page of explanation, and the moment he met another person, that entire, endlessly too long list of future actions would be completely wiped out and he would start a new plan of action against the Court.

I fully realize that there is a reason for the actions of the Court to be unpleasant to read, but the dread for me went beyond the intentional one. I just couldn’t take any more of the characters, each and every one completely smitten with their own selves, the bragging, the nagging, the way everyone was sure everyone else was a moron and they, themselves, a god.

The dialogues were equally as suffocating and I couldn’t wait for every dialogue to just end. The words of each character just rang hollow and fake and the emotions expressed didn’t really manage to affect me in any way.

I am still planning on reading The Metamorphosis, but definitely not any time soon.

“Kuyruklu Yıldız Altında Bir İzdivaç” by Hüseyin Rahmi Gürpınar

Kuyruklu Yıldız Altında Bir Evlenme(Author: Hüseyin Rahmi Gürpınar) + (Year: 1912) + (Goodreads)

(Around the World: Turkey)


Review:

The title of this book translates as “a marriage under a comet”, the comet in question being the Halley comet. The story follows the lives of several people, who are preparing for the coming of the Halley comet, some of them terrified of the end of the world, and some, taken by the fire of love.

I was rather curious about the book, as it is considered one of the classics of Turkish literature, with the author being one of the people who are still studied in school and university. I can imagine how this book was progressive and unexpected for its time, however, in our age, it seems very grotesquely simplistic in terms of interpersonal relations. The relationship between the main characters develops in a very absurd, intentionally or not so, way, with the main character falling in love with the girl by the end of her first letter to him.

For the life of me, I could not do anything but strongly dislike Irfan Galip, who was the epitome of a daft male who thinks himself intelligent and progressive, while at the same time acting like he is so much better than everyone else, women most of all. His dismissive attitude toward the woman’s desires to be treated as an equally intelligent individual frustrated me so much. Even today I have received that attitude from men and I couldn’t help but hate seeing it in this book, too: “I believe that women are just as smart as men, but please shut up when I speak and leave the men to fix this.” It’s the same thing that I’ve seen with people in highly religious countries who say “I’m atheist, but it would be highly immoral for my sister to be a waitress because it goes against the foundations of society.” IT DOES? Or does it, perhaps, go against the religious beliefs that are so deeply ingrained in you that you don’t even realize that you are abiding by them?

One thing I did approve of however, was the depiction of the woman who, despite everything, was trying to be emancipated and well-read. At the time this book was written, the place of the woman in the Ottoman empire was not in the university or the library, so I can only imagine how shocking it was that the author challenged that position of the woman in his world.

“The Door” by Magda Szabo

The Door

(Author: Magda Szabo) + (Year: 1987) + (Goodreads)

(Around the World: Hungary)


Review:

While on a trip to Budapest, I decided that to help my “Around the World” book challenge, I should buy a book written by a local author in each country that I visit. The Door was one of two books that I got there (the other one being Satantango). I had really high hopes for The Door because of the slightly mystical and fairy-tale-like description.

It was not meant to be.

The Door is a dreary book. The premise was good, but the same can’t be said about the author. Magda Szabo, to me, was not all that she is claimed to be. It seemed like she tried to make the narrator her own self, except that she went heavy on the bragging, which was very annoying. Her character is so very sophisticated, educated, smart, talented. Well… Emerence, the housekeeper, sometimes tells her that’she’s stupid and childish… But Emerence doesn’t mean it, she loves her. Right?

However, nothing is more annoying than the main character of Emerence. Emerence is as bipolar as they come. Szabo would have you believe that she is a saint, that she is a genius, misunderstood, clever, with impeccable taste, etc, etc, etc. However, Emerence is so self-contradictory that the author’s descriptions fall very short. For example, Emerence is supposedly a reserved woman of few words, who likes to do her work, but doesn’t like to show affection. Two pages later: everyone in town loves Emerence who is everyone’s confidante. People come to visit her day and night and sit on her porch for hours to talk to her, get advice or help, gossip. However, Emerence is also always working and she is never actually home. She sleeps on the loveseat for a couple of hours and then goes back to work. She’s so busy that even the people who pay her to do the housekeeping sometimes don’t see her for days on end.

So… how does that work exactly?

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In general, the book was highly repetitive, the same episodes went on and on and on and on again, until the reader was perfectly able to construct the steps on their own. Also, considering how many times the author revealed small details of the ending, at some point it was so obvious that the actual ending felt dragged out for no reason. Like the narrator’s endless visits to the hospital. I will not reveal spoilers, but for 50 pages the exact same thing was happening and the only difference between every few pages were the narrator’s ominous musings and attempts at being philosophical.

There might be many great Hungarian books, but I would not say that this is one of them.