Thursday, March 16, 2017

1984 by George Orwell

(Source: Kelsey Darling)
This is my second time reading 1984. The first time was my senior year of high school for my term paper. At the time, I was in love with the book; I thought it was one of the greatest books ever written. When it was listed on my 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime list, I was excited to read it again. This time, I wasn't as impressed. The writing is great, the plot is strong, but it didn't hold the magic it did all that time ago.

(Source: Google Image)
Winston Smith works for the Ministry of Truth, Minitru in Oceania, "correcting" documents so that they reflect the "truth." He goes through his day without thinking about much, he doesn't have to; Big Brother does all of the thinking. But Winston has vague memories of his childhood, and stories that his mother told him, it hasn't always been this way, and occasionally, he thinks of that and wonders what is was like before everything was decided for them. When Winston meets Julia, he slowly begins to rebel. But Big Brother sees all and knows all, and nothing gets past them for long, and they will make you conform. 

(Source: Other 98%)
1984 is pretty much what Kellyanne Conway is referring to when she says that our microwaves are watching us. Big Brother monitors everyone through telescreen's that are conveniently placed throughout buildings, homes, offices, and streets so that it is almost impossible for a person to do anything without Big Brother knowing. George Orwell is the creator of dystopia. 

Mind control is a big part of society. Big Brother is always watching you. Children are taught to turn in their parents. The past is edited to fit what Big Brother wants it to say. 

(Source: Giphy)
Winston and Julia rebel for a time being, meeting up at random locations to engage in pleasurable sex (because in 1984, a woman should not receive pleasure from sex, or in laments terms, no orgasm) and fantasize about running away to Eurasia or Eastasia. But they are eventually captured. Instead of Big Brother killing them though, they are tortured. We don't know what Julia went through, but Winston was left to starve for stars knows how long, then taken to a room, beaten, other forms of torture, and then coddled and taken care of, only to be tortured again. In the end, he confesses to things he didn't do, believes that two plus two equals five, and turns on Julia. And then he is returned to the real world.

It's a very unique, and scary, idea. When the book was written in 1949, the ideas in these books seemed possible, but unlikely. With today's technologies, some of the things that happen in the book are plausible to a degree. 

I'm not sure why I didn't find the book as great this time around. Maybe reading a dystopia novel that is so realistic during the Trump administration was too much.

(Source: Other 98%)

Rating: 6/10
Genres: Dystopia, Science Fiction, Classics

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Dwellers Saga and the Country Saga by David Estes

This series really caught me by surprise. I had bought the audio book on Audible because they had The Moon Dwellers, The Star Dwellers, and The Sun Dwellers all together in one bundle. I didn't think I was going to love it, but it had an interesting aspect to it. So, I started. About halfway through the first book, I realized this was something that had really piqued my interest, so I did some searching on Goodreads and saw that there was a fourth, The Earth Dwellers, that wasn't included in the bundle. Turns out, it combines the Dwellers Saga with another series, the Country Saga, and that you shouldn't read it until finishing the other six books. Well, now I had to finish all of it, and David Estes did not disappoint.

(Source: Kelsey Darling)
The People Who Live Under Ground

The Dwellers series starts out by explaining that a huge meteorite was coming towards the Earth and so the American people built a shelter beneath the surface of the Earth that eventually evolved into three realms: Star, Moon, and Sun. Like every typical political systems, the Sun Dwellers got the best of the best and lived lives that seemed impossible to the lower classes (they also stole from the lower classes, but hid it); the Moon Dwellers were the "middle class" but it was far off from the American middle class, maybe upper-lower class; and the Star Dwellers were the lower class, living in the severest forms of poverty.

(Source: Giphy)
The three books follow two main characters: Tristan Nailin, son of the president, and Adele Rose, a prisoner unjustly sentenced. Through the course of the books, they, along with their friends and family work to overthrow President Nailin, while attempting to reunite Adele's family and unite the three realms. It doesn't help that Tristan's father has sent out a psychopath, Rivet, to capture and kill Adele. 

At the end of the third book, Tristan reveals to his surviving friends (yes, lots of death in these books) that his father had been working on creating a civilization on the Earth's surface, and that there is a small city of Earth Dwellers there now. However, Tristan doesn't know how bad it is as his father was eventually cut off from that community. Adele and Tristan travel to the Earth's surface to learn what they can where they are rudely greeted by a stranger with a weird accent.

The People Who Barely Survive

The Country Saga follows a few different people. This series includes Fire Country, Ice Country, and Water & Storm Country. With each of these civilizations, the people took refuge from the meteorite in caves and mountains, however, they do not give as many details as how life resumed after the meteorite as the Dwellers Saga does.

In Fire Country, we follow Siena, a 15 year old girl who has been raised in a tribe with strict laws regarding child birth. Because the average age of death for the people of Fire Country due to the harsh environment, girls are married off at the age of 16 to a man of random draw and must give birth every 3 years. Each man will take a new wife every year until he has 3 wives, making for a full family of 13. But this is not the life Siena wants; she wants to marry her lifelong friend, Circ.

(Souce: Giphy)
The villain in Fire Country, or at least the known villain, is Siena's father, Roan, who lies, steals, cheats, and beats. He is not a father, he is a sperm donor. His actions cause Siena to run off and join the Wild Ones. Girls are told to fear the Wild Ones because they kidnap girls before they can be sold off into slavery given to a man. However, this is not the truth; they are a safe haven for girls who know the tribes way of life is not for them, and Siena learns that her sister Skye joined them when she turned 16. You also have the Marked Ones, a group of men heavily tattooed, but not much is known about them.

In Ice Country, we follow Dazz and his friend Buff, who have gotten themselves into a pretty bad gambling situation, owning a chunk of money to some bookies. But when Dazz's sister goes missing, he knows that King Goff is behind it somehow. Dazz and Buff conceive a plan that puts them inside the castle...well, to be specific, the prison. Dazz's brother is supposed to help them escape and rescue their sister, but their plan doesn't go as planned.

(Source: Giphy)
While they are imprisoned, they meet Siena, Skye, Circ, and a few other characters from Fire Country where they learn how intertwined their communities are, and it's not in a good way. Together, they all come up with a plan to escape, rescue Dazz's sister, and other kidnapped children, kill King Goff, and find out why Fire and Ice Countries are doing business with each other, and what they could be doing that involves the people of Water & Storm Country.

Water & Storm Country returns to the two person POV. First is Huck Jones, son of the admiral of the Soaker fleet. In a nutshell, he hates/fears his father, he thinks he killed his mother, and he's fallen in love with a lowly bilge rat, Jade. Sadie is a Rider in the Stormer army and she wants nothing more than to avenge the death of her brother at the hands of the Soakers. Sadie admires her mother, tolerates her father, and has no interest in a love interest. When Siena, Dazz, and Co. show up outside the Stormers walls, all four countries collide, secrets are revealed, and families are reunited.

When Two Worlds Meet

In the Earth Dwellers, all of our characters combine to fight the ultimate boss, President Borg Lecter, who has plagued each group of people. Each chapter is told from a different characters POV as they end up separating and converging multiple times. Adele infiltrates the Glass City to try to find a way to Lecter from the inside; Tristan returns below to unite the realms and hopefully bring them to the surface to fight; Dazz returns to Ice Country to convince them to fight against the Glass City; Siena needs to convince the newly formed Tri-Tribes to do the same; and Huck and Sadie show up at the last minute with their respective armies, resulting in the Glass City being surrounded from all sides.

(Source: Giphy)
As a whole, I loved this series. The Country Saga took me a bit longer as it continued to change POV, but David Estes did a brilliant job at combining the worlds. Some notes:

  • Do NOT get attached to anyone. Someone you love dies in every single book. In Earth Dwellers, be prepared to curl up in a ball and die.
  • There are boo-koos of strong female leads in these books!
  • I love the David Estes really builds the worlds for you, and he really submerges you in it; you learn their slang, you relate to their customs, you feel what they feel.
  • I have never thought about never seeing the sun or stars before, but when Adele sees real stars for the first time, it brings tears to your eyes.
  • Don't trust anyone. There are back stabbers everywhere.
  • Two of my most favorite characters are Roc and Buff. Both are witty, lighthearted, never take anything seriously, and their banter (Roc with Tristan and Buff with Dazz) make you want them to be your friends.
  • By Earth Dwellers, you will be so emotionally spent, you won't know how much more you can take, and you think there is clearly nothing more that can be written to break your heart anymore, and then David does the unthinkable.
Rating: 9/10
Series: The Dwellers Sage; The Country Saga
Genres: Dystopia, Science Fiction, Young Adult

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

With all of the crazy going on in the world right now, it was really nice to read a book that is just positive. The Alchemist is filled with hope and dreams and makes you believe anything you set your mind to is achievable. But there is also a lot of simple truths in the book, making it full of life lessons.

(Source: Kelsey Darling)
The Alchemist follows the path of Santiago, who is a shepherd that dreams of travelling the world. That is one of the reasons he became a shepherd; they don't stay in one place and are always meeting new people. But after a chance meeting with a great king, Santiago finds out that he is so close to discovering his Personal Legend if he just travels to Egypt and finds the treasure. Going out on a limb, Santiago travels to Egypt, but this is just the start of his journey. As his search for his Personal Legend takes him to places he never dreamed of, we learn bits about the people who enter his life and how they influence his decisions, and how he influences theirs.

There are a lot of quotes from the book that really hit home. Paulo Coelho has a way with words that you do not see in modern books. And despite the fact that the book follows a boy from Spain who travels to Egypt, you can relate to the story and the feelings.

Because this is such a short book, and because I'm seriously behind on reviews, these are some of the quotes that have really hit home for me.

"And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." (p. 24)

(Source: Giphy)
The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world, and never forget the drops of oil on the spoon." (p. 35)

"When we love, we always strive to become better than we are." (p. 155)

"There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure." (p. 146)

(Source: Giphy)
"It's not what enters men's mouth that's evil," said the alchemist. "It's what comes out of their mouths that is." (p. 119)

"You must understand that love never keeps a man from pursuing his Personal Legend. If he abandons that pursuit, it's because it wasn't true love...the love that speaks the Language of the World." (p. 124)

"So, I love you because the entire universe conspired to help me find you." (p. 126)

(Source: Giphy)
"People are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of." (p. 163)

As  you can see, all of these sections are about achieving your dreams and true love and your Personal Legend, which is something I've been needing more of lately. The Alchemist really makes you believe that everything you dream can come true.

Rating: 10/10
Genres: Classics, Fantasy, Philosophy