The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl

August 4, 2008

by Barry Lyga.

(Try to ignore the bombastic title.)

Skinny guy living in his mother’s basement, computer and comic book geek, bullied at school, convinced everyone hates him. Self-proclaimed brainiac loser and his bullet, good liar, surviving from week to week between gym classes, hoping to start over in college. Sounds familiar? Sometimes it’s good to know, there are people worse off.

With more than a fair deal of unrealistic moments (IM date, Dina) and obvious plot turns (stolen bullet, step-fascist helps, she’s at the con), this novel is only as good as its sarcastic narrator. I liked the ending a lot, though.

Quotes:

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Epiphany of the Day

July 28, 2008

It is NOT a good idea to eat while listening about putrefaction.


Looking for Alaska

July 27, 2008

by John Green.

A novel which made me wonder about so many things.

Miles “Pudge” Halter, 16, decides to leave his friendless and uneventful home town and seek the Great Perhaps at an out-of-state boarding school. There he meets Chip “The Colonel”, Alaska, and Takumi, and their undying love for mischief soon introduces him to the world of smoking, drinking, and pranking. Miles notices:

The phrase booze and mischief left me worrying I’d stumbled into what my mother referred to as “the wrong crowd”; but for the wrong crowd, they both seemed awfully smart.

It’s interesting to see how Miles becomes a different person (in many ways) by associating himself with these people. But this is just the setup scene for what is about to happen, and it will leave nobody unaffected.

This is about as much as I can tell you without spoiling your reading pleasure. So you’d better stop here and read the book.

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I Have No Idea

May 5, 2008

how to translate Paştele Blajinilor into English. In short, it’s the day we remember our dead, and it’s always one week after the Orthodox Easter. My family stuck to the tradition this year and visited my grandfather’s resting place in that big cemetery at the edge of the city.

A few thoughts:

  • I know this is not_nice, etc., but how can our departed continue to be annoying even after they die?! Do we have to make such a fuss about “remembering” them?
  • There were way too many policemen out there. Where’s one when you need one?
  • I’ve seen only one grave that really impressed me. And I didn’t even see it in real life. It’s featured on the covers of albums by Nightwish and Evanescence.

Before I Die

January 5, 2008

This is the saddest book I have read in the past several years; in all my life, maybe. Other people keep saying that it has taught them to appreciate life, to live fully. I didn’t feel that. I only felt sad. Or maybe it didn’t sink in just yet.

Several years ago I have seen “Sweet November” and I thought the final decision was a worthwhile one. This novel made me doubt that. Hollywood is always trying to make things easy.

Their love seemed a bit unrealistic to me. But I think that in such a situation it was only fair for Tessa to “get it right” the first time. I can understand why she wanted to do drugs and break the law. After all, what did it matter? But I don’t see the line of thought behind the “instructions” she left for Adam.

“Look after no one except yourself. Go to University, and make lots of friends, and get drunk! Forget your door keys! Laugh! Eat Pot Noodles for breakfast. Miss lectures. Be irresponsible.”

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The Unbearable Lightness of Being

January 4, 2008

This book was heavier than I expected. Many of the author’s ideas were understandable and I even agreed with some of them, but at the same time those I did not agree with, and those which completely left me in the dark, will make me return to the book and read it again eventually.

This is another book that can hardly be called a novel. First, its characters are deliberately sketchy and incomplete. Second, there is no obvious plot, only a bunch of recurring themes throughout the work. Third, and most pleasantly surprising to me, the author uses an original approach to story-telling: he makes believe he is the omniscient narrator, using the third person to convey the story. But beneath this “believable lie” he stays in the mind of a single character in one part, then he switches to another character in the next (7 parts total). While he is in the mind of one character, he does not infiltrate the consciousness of others. Consequently, he is actually a first-person narrator in disguise, not omniscient in the least. As if that were not enough, he also uses ‘I’ to talk about his characters directly, as if discussing his novel with somebody. Whereas in most of what I’ve read so far the narrator tries to be as unobtrusive as possible, here he steps right out of the shadows, openly admitting that the characters are mere playthings of his imagination. Amazing.

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Human Memory at Work

January 2, 2008

velcro-ball.jpg A target and three velcro balls. A children’s game that somehow stuck. Sometimes I still play, usually because I can’t sit still for too long ;)

That’s exactly what I was doing today, when I was suddenly hit by a feeling, the same distinct feeling I felt when I listened to the audio version of Vanishing, by Bruce Brooks. I thought this strange, because the book was a short one and it never crossed my mind again after I finished it. Then I remembered that I was playing the same game while listening to the book. The sudden memory must be a result of an association my brain has made (without asking for my permission!) between the book and the action of playing the game.

Take any life you can. Doesn’t matter. Because…just between us, tell you: Dying sucks.

Books for children; books about death. Open question: how early does it make sense to teach youngsters about death?

PS. Here’s an article you may find interesting.