jules (perfectfigure) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

bright-sided by shining elephant metadomes

I've actually read 13 books so far this year but I'm too lazy to review all of them right now. So here's the first five. :P

Rating guide:

**** +1, would read again
*** it was certainly better than staring at the wall for hours on end
** well, at least i'm not dumber for having read this
* this shit made me briefly consider that twilight may not be so bad after all

On to the reviews!

Under the Dome by Stephen King *****
I would call this King at his best. I also think it can serve as a really interesting companion novel to The Stand. The premise is completely different, of course, but in both books, the premise is not really the point, anyway. If The Stand is about community-building, Under the Dome is about a community eating itself alive. The Stand's big conflict was a battle between very real -- and very clearly separate -- forces of good and evil; Under the Dome is about the good and evil that lurks within each of us and how easy it is to confuse the two. But don't worry: even though the larger themes may be Very Serious, the book is a helluva lot of fun. There's plenty of suspense, sarcasm, horror, and small woodland creatures being cut in half to satisfy just about anyone.

WARNING: There is a rape scene that is pretty hardcore. If you are triggered by depictions of sexual violence, please be careful.

The Shining by Stephen King ****
I gave this four stars because there were definitely large parts of this that were page-turners -- the parts where I knew something horrible was about to happen, and I couldn't possibly go to sleep with that looming in my mind. Ultimately, though, I found The Shining largely forgettable.

MetaGame by Sam Landstrom ***
HALLELUJAH: the very first free Kindle download that didn't make me want to bash my head repeatedly into a brick wall. This is a VERY weird book. For the 99 cents it now costs, I think it's worth giving a go. More importantly, I think Landstrom could improve to the point of being a really great sci-fi writer. Ze's certainly got plenty of wild ideas.

Bright-Sided by Barbara Ehrenreich ****
Ehrenreich is most well-known for Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, but ze's a prolific writer on a variety of topics. In Bright-Sided, ze takes on the "positive thinking" meme that is so prevalent in American culture. I'm a pessimistic cynic and definitely share Ehrenreich's annoyance at people constantly instructing others to "think positive." And, whaddaya know, there's no scientific basis to the idea that positive thinking will lead to positive results. Or, no matter what Joel Osteen tells you, imagining yourself as a rich person will not cause a million dollars to appear in your bank account.

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen ****
This is an adorable book. The narration style is one I usually find very annoying and distracting: the real story is about young Jacob Jankowski joining a travelling circus in Depression-era America, but it is interrupted with flashes to the present, where nanogenarian-Jacob is beginning to go senile in a nursing home. The plot is imperfect in many ways -- there is a "big reveal" that is completely unnecessary and really cheapens what could be a great period piece -- but Gruen has done zir homework and we certainly get an uncensored look at circus life during the 30s.
Tags: fiction, futuristic, historical fiction, horror, non-fiction, sci-fi, suspense, thriller

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