ningerbil (ningerbil) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

Books 25-27

25. Half Brother, by Kenneth Oppel. Oppel packs a lot of story and a lot of information in relatively few pages. In this book, Ben discovers that his parents have adopted a baby chimp to use for an experiment on language learning. Ben's father, a prominent professor, wants to see if the baby chimp, whom they name Zan, can learn and use sign language. Of course, anyone today who has read about gorilla and chimp studies probably knows the answer is a definitive yes, but this story takes place in an earlier time. Ben is at first not happy about not only moving across the country for his father's new job, but having to view Zan as his new baby brother. But Ben soon becomes attached to Zan, and the feeling is mutual. Zan is very affectionate and picks up sign language, but there are constant reminders that Zan is not a human, despite his human clothes and surroundings. Problems soon ensue; it is painfully obvious the father has not thought things through. Ben and his family are soon faced with many hard decisions concerning Zan's ultimate fate. I really enjoyed this story, save for the very ending. I thought the author cheated a bit. The ending was sweet but I think the point could have been brought home in a way that didn't feel so deus ex machina. But other than the ending, this is a good, thought-provoking read about human responsibility.

26. Breakfast of Champions, by Kurt Vonnegut. This is the fourth Vonnegut book I've read. I didn't care for this one. I really liked it at first, but then it just got weird and not a little bit crude, and for no apparent reason. I don't mind odd or crude if there is a purpose. The ending was a bit unexpected, which I did like. In this book, a mediocre author finds himself surprised that he has had an impact after all- but not necessarily in a positive way. The illustrations were an interesting and fun touch, as well as the little explanations throughout of sundry, ordinary things.

27. Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens. I really enjoyed this one. It's a bit slow and long-winded in places but the story itself is great, as are the characters. Pip, the hero of the story, has grown up with his harsh, even abusive sister and her kinder, good-hearted husband. His life is spent dodging his sister's wrath and attending the eccentric Miss Havisham. He falls for Miss Havisham's adopted daughter Estella. One day, when he's a teen, he gets a mysterious message- an anonymous benefactor aims to bring up Pip like a gentleman, with money, fine clothes, education and more. Pip is ecstatic - finally he sees a way to be worthy of the proud and beautiful Estella. But the teen soon realizes that money and prestige can only do so much to make him happy. Pip watches his ideals and his scruples change, and he is not happy with the changes he sees in himself.

Will be picking up tomorrow: Grapes of Wrath, Game of Thrones (graphic novel), Stayin' Alive and Hollow City.
Tags: classic, young adult

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