Monday, 21 January 2013

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

There has been a lot of buzz over this novel, so I willed myself to start it, and then happily finished it.

Hester Prynne is a strong stubborn adulterous wife in a Puritan society, who's character I quickly fell in love with. After spending her pregnancy, plus some, in prison, she's forced to walk through the town, cradling her baby girl, and to stand on a high scaffold in silence. The town's people watch on in disgust, many wishing her dead. At this most inopportune moment, her long-lost unloving husband wanders back into town. Coldly he calculates his revenge as he stands with the rest of the crowd. Everyone urges her to divulge the name of her lover. Loyally, she endures their prodding and remains silent.

Its a beautifully written tragedy, and my heart broke into a thousand pieces at the end.

""Shall we not meet again?" whispered she, bending her face down close to his."

I strongly recommend reading it, though I will admit Hawthorne is quite wordy in his intro. The old English used poses a bit of a challenge, but it is well worth it in the end.

For a book published in 1850, I'm actually shocked by its message. It questions sin, and asks the reader who really has the right to judge?... it begs for pity, mercy, and compassion. A few movies have been made of the book. Demi Moore starred as Hester Prynne in a more recent retelling, and Emma Stone starred in Easy A which was inspired by The Scarlet Letter, and is referred to several times throughout the movie. I'm sure it was a very powerful book for its time, and probably why these ripples still touch us today.

The Scarlet Letter can be purchased here:
Chapter's Indigo: The Scarlet Letter Special

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Wither by Lauren DeStefano

This story had so much promise, but it withered. I'm sorry that's the best I can say.

There was so much plot potential. Dystopian society where all girls die at 20 and boys at 25. Most of the world is underwater. Technology has made huge advancements. Girls are kidnapped and sold to the highest bidder so they can be impregnated. However, the plot seems to just rotate pointlessly around Rhine, blurbs about her boring past, her growing apathy, and then suddenly there is a random outburst of energy which amounts to nothing. Topped off with an anti-climatic finish.

Rhine is a sister bride to a wealthy landlord in a gorgeous mansion where her every whim is catered to. All she has to miss of her old life is her twin brother, and her relative freedom. One starts to loose patience for her plight as it painstakingly reveals, and then repeats over and over again, how horrible the outside world really is. The story is told through Rhine's perspective which is unfortunately too limited to be interesting and too slow to be suspenseful. It was hard to form an attachment to any of the other characters.

I will say, however, there were many scenes that were beautifully described. Her dresses seemed full of Channel and allure. The landscapes were often so sweet you could smell them. Unfortunately, the plot did not move fast enough, and with little depth. I think perhaps it was a mistake to make this a trilogy. Perhaps if all three books were condensed and merged together with updates on other characters, throughout, it would have a more substantial effect... perhaps.

Chapter's Indigo: Wither Special

All that being said, if I happen to find Fever (book 2) in the bargain section I may finger through it just to see what direction Destefano decides to take.

Chapter's Indigo: Fever Special

Coming soon February 12, 2013 : Chapter's Indigo: Sever Special
See also this review of Wither: Susan's Bloggin 'bout Books

Escape from Camp 14

I just finished reading an incredible story of survival. 

The story of Shin Dong-Hyuk takes you right into one of North Korea's most horrifying prison camps that make the Holocaust seem like a spring vacation. Human life is disposable. Human feeling unheard of. Trust even between a mother and her son does not exist. Love is impossible.

What was most scary for me, was truly coming to terms with this place where I could understand how and why Shin made the decisions he did. And I question my own moral integrity were I to be in the same place.

To get such a vivid description of what life was like for Shin, who happens to be my age, and so many others in these camps, was very serial. I have grown up with the comforting thought that camps like these were a thing of a Nazi past, not happening simultaneously as I've been living my very comfortable free life.

Shin met many strange, and deeply troubled characters along his path, and I couldn't help wondering 'why?' Why certain people acted this way or that? What was their motive or drive? Did no one feel any emotional attachment? And most of all what happened to many of them? - Questions, I'm sure, that will forever haunt Shin.

What's heart breaking is there is no foreseeable end to camp 14 and the likes of it. But I believe, at the very least, they deserve our attention.

You can purchase 'Escape from Camp 14' in trade paper back here: Chapters'