Thursday, January 28, 2010

Death With Interruptions~A Review

"We here who cannot die await all of you who pass us by."
This book caught my eye from the first time I had seen it at my local bookstore. The plot follows a town that is never named as they struggle with the absence of death. The book begins with a hauntingly gripping first line;
"The following day, no one died."
This event causes confusion and chaos throughout the country. The dying linger and the families wait, tormented by the thoughts of trying to end it for them. Soon after this disaster they find that people can die if they are taken out of the country. The later half of the book focuses on how, once death returns, should be handled. People are notified by mail two weeks before they die that it will happen. The book also follows the narrative of death herself (she prefers the small d to D), as she tries to deliver one of these fated letters find their owner after it is returned to her.
The news of the absence of death shakes peoples faith, morals, and outlook on how they should live. It is a truly interesting book full of moral problems and questions how we look at death, the dying, and the living. Overall I felt that this book was full good topics to think about. The only thing that ever got to me while reading this book is the way the prose is written. There are very, very long paragraphs, sentences, and almost no markings for when people are speaking to one another. This made the book highly difficult to read. Even though it is a short book (238 pages) it took me more than a month to read. Most of this was caused by the way the book was written. I do believe that the style was intentional because of when they talk about the letter death sends the government. It is mentioned that it is in this same style as the books writing. I felt like the author intended the book to be narrated by death.
I think that this is a great book for book clubs and classes. There is lots of discussion material. Overall I felt like I had a great sampling of this authors work and hopefully get to read more of it in the future.

My Recent Absence

Sorry readers for my recent lack of updates! The last two weeks have just been crazy! I had a very bad cold and I really just needed to sleep it off. I will be posting again soon, until then, keep reading and have fun!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Lovely Bones~A Review

"These were the lovely bones that had grown around my absence: the connections-sometimes tenuous, sometimes made at great cost, but often magnificent-that happened after I was gone...The events that my death wrought were merely the bones of a body that would become whole at some unpredictable time in the future."
I picked up this work because of my interest in the upcoming Peter Jackson film. But I soon found that I cared far more for the substance of the novel than the imagery of the film. This book follows the narrative of Susie Salmon, a fourteen year old who was murdered. It mostly takes place after the murder as her narrative of what happens to her family because of her death. The author really spends time building these core characters, and tells a story that takes place over many years in a short enough span to not bore you. I finished this book in less than a day, it is a simple read.
This book spends a lot of reflective time in Susie Salmon's heaven. "Heaven" or the "In-Between" in this book is not a perfect place. Susie does meet other spirits there, but spends most of her time watching her family. There is plenty of emotion in this book. Her father is the most convincing character to me. He turns obsessive after he learns that it was a murder and falls into depression. He tries desperately to find her killer. My least favorite character in this book surprisingly, is the mother. She does end up leaving the family for a time. This plot line is not followed by Susie in heaven very much other to say that she works at a vineyard. This really hardened me to the character. Even though I disliked this character, the author did a good job making a believable person. Susie's ex-interest Ray also gets involved with Ruth, who seems to have "felt" Susie pass her. And is changed afterwards.
Overall, I really did enjoy this book. Even though it was a short novel and moved quickly I felt that I got my monies worth. If anything, the only disappointing parts of this book is the conclusion of the Ray/Susie/Ruth relationship. But you will just have to read to find out what I'm talking about. Also, the fate of Mr. Harvey, even though it is matched up to an earlier subject in the book, left me feeling like I needed more. As a bonus I bought the copy of the novel pictured above, it has a reading group guide in the back. I liked the questions and wish I had some other people to discuss this with!