Wednesday, 20 August 2014

PRE-RELEASE REVIEW: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven is a dystopian novel in which a pandemic occurs wiping out 99% of the world population. The book focuses on a few people different lives before and after the pandemic. These people are all connected by actor Arthur Leander. We discover the difficulties of surviving after the pandemic in a world where there is not even electricity or phones and when cults start to appear.

Photo taken from Goodreads

The opening chapter really excited me. The opening scene took place during a play of King Lear and well I don't want to spoil it, so all I will say it's a very dramatic opening scene and that really made me start reading more.

I won't lie though, I really didn't like this book for a good maybe 50 pages or something. I thought it was going to be one of those books that I couldn't even get through but I'm not one to give up on a book and I'm glad I didn't. I think I had trouble with the book because it's different to my usual reads.

I was amazed by how well Mandel connected everything together. All the characters were connected in different ways and I found that amazing, particularly they were all connected by Arthur Leander. I adore an author who can do such complex things with their writing like managing to connect people just as Mandel did. It wasn't even just simple connections, some of the connections we didn't find out for so long but then things just clicked and unravelled..

At first I found the mixture of going from the past and future very frustrating, but this just took some time getting used to and was a really great way for the author to tell the story! Mandel really pulled that off well.

I liked the book because you don't get to the end and everything is resolved, life is back to normal. There was just a hint of hope and I really liked that. I was so impressed by this book. Receiving it, I had never heard of the author or the book and I really didn't know what to think especially because it's probably not the type of book I'd choose. I really hope this book does well!

One thing that kept playing on my mind through the book was where's Jeevan? It was driving me crazy. I really wanted to know more about him and what he was doing and unfortunately he wasn't mentioned as much in the book as I would have liked. I feel I just instantly liked his character from the very beginning at the theatre. It was so good how Arthur was kind of in the centre of it all, with everyone connected around him. I ended up loving Kirsten however she seemed to be the only member of the travelling symphony who I really had some kind of vested interest in.. but I did really care what happened to her!

Overall, I really enjoyed this book.
Rating: 4 out of 5

Station Eleven releases on 10th September (UK)

Sunday, 3 August 2014

It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

It's Kind of a Funny Story has been one that I've always thought about reading. I actually saw the film two or three years ago and fortunately it wasn't memorable enough to overpower my brain while reading the book, a problem that often occurs when I watch the film before the book. I have to admit though, I couldn't get some of the actors faces out of my head while reading the book.

It's Kind of a Funny Story is a story about Craig, a teenager who is battling depression who checks himself into a psychiatric hospital after wanting to commit suicide. The book focuses on the stress of school which really can get overlooked in real life and the expectations of himself and others to do well in school especially a school he worked so hard to get into.

What I enjoyed about this book is that there wasn't any big event that seemed to set off his depression. Craig also had a loving family. It represents those people who, from afar, seem like there is no reason for them to have depression and this is really, really important to modern day life. Often people are overlooked or told they're stupid because they apparently have no reason to be depressed and "people have it much worse than you". I really like how Vizzini kept away from all that, showing that anyone can have depression. This was the best and most important thing about the book.

What I think is really special about this book is that at the end of the book there is an extract to say that Vizzini was in a psychiatric hospital for 5 days, just like the character Craig. This is very poignant and shows that the book was really inspired by the authors own experiences. Unfortunately, the author is not around today due to his depression. This really seems to make the book that much more meaningful and personal to Vizzini.

I can't say I was extremely impressed with the book however I did like it's quirkiness showing Vizzini's great skill of even making such a sad and touching subject a little fun in ways. I did enjoy all the different characters in the hospital and the author did such a great job and creating such unique characters and really making the readers like the characters. Particularly, Noelle was an interesting character. She had cut her face with scissors and she is a great source for the struggles of teenage girls and their looks.

I love the book cover that I own (the one pictured above) and there is a reason behind this book cover. which is great! Craig enjoyed to draw a lot of maps when he was younger. While in the hospital he then revived his love for drawing maps and developed these pictured into something new. I feel like this was an interesting idea to bring something back from childhood that you loved but make it better and fall in love with it all over again.

One aspect I didn't really like is that it just seemed like almost all of Craig's problems were solved after just a few days in a hospital. He managed to eat some food, made some friends because they were the only people to talk to and really fancied a girl who fancied him back and that's all he really needed.. A bit of attention maybe. However, I guess it was still explained that depression never just goes, people just deal with through drugs or a therapist or other ways to ease the difficulties.

This book was a very easy read and even better because of it's simplicity. The progress of Craig throughout his stay was very interesting and it is a great book to get a real insight of a normal teenager's mind. I believe this is a very good YA read and would recommend it to all teenagers. It is definitely a book written just for teenagers with the exact language appropriate for the age group. I won't say this book was perfect but it was a nice short and easy read that really made you think a little.