February – The Power

This highly rated, much raved about book was sure to hit our book club list at some point. I knew nothing about it, apart from the buzz (yeh sorry) about it being some great feminist instant modern classic. I had assumed that it was about Women finding their inner power, and ensuring that female persecution was a thing of the past. I expected a very deep, thought-provoking book, with some wonderful insight that would leave me with a book hangover for days, after all even Barack Obama listed it as one of the best books he read in 2017.

The Power – Naomi Alderman

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I thought it was a reasonably good concept, with the potential to address the issues of a patriarchal society with some element of wisdom. It was badly written, lacked the guts of a real storyline and basically teaches ‘yeh but if women held the balance of power, they’d be bastards too’. The only character that was developed properly was Tunde, and I felt that I understood him, and his motivation. Tunde’s character changed radically throughout the story, as and when things changed for him, in terms of his freedom and safety. I felt there was a huge hole in Allie’s story, as the situation with her foster Mum was never addressed when she dealt with her tormentor. I did get to the point where, if I read the work ‘skein’ again I was in danger of destroying the book, mostly I was just totally bored and couldn’t wait to finish it, but I did, so I’m proud of that.

I was really excited about reading this book, and then, urgh. Utter claptrap… I know that this is unlikely to be a popular opinion, but I really struggled to find a reason to keep going with this book. In the end, it was the fact that it was a book club book that made me plough through the dirge, that and the hope that there would be something (Come on the has to be SOMETHING) worth holding on for… for me, there was not! The book group seemed to agree on the fact that the story was confusing, even at the meeting some thought that the story was one thing, and some another. The ratings ranged from 1.5* (me) to 4.5* (Steph) and pretty much every rating in between, with nobody agreeing. I don’t know if this is a good thing, but it reminded me never to judge a book on behalf of somebody else.

The strange case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson

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The strange case of Dr Jekll and Mr Hyde is so well known, and so often mentioned in everyday life, that I felt that I already knew the story. I have never read the book, and I did not even know that it was only a short story, but I loved it. The story is so beautifully written, that the 55 pages gave us plenty to discuss. In contrast to ‘The Power’, the characters in this short book were very well developed. Robert Louis Stevenson’s ability to engage his audience so quickly means that none of the prose is wasted, there is no need for long meandering descriptions. We get it, and we buy into it long before there is any reason to believe that Jekyll has something to hide.

I absolutely loved this story, I did not feel sympathy for Jekyll, but I did understand how a scientist would get so tied up in an idea, that they might cross a line, and descend into chaos. The moral dilemma; if you could, without recriminations do whatever your dark half wanted to do, would you? is a fascinating one, and I believe that many would. The end of the book shows the consequences of 1) letting go of your morals/ethics, and 2) messing with science, both of which could do with being taught more readily in my opinion. I gave the book 4.5*, as did Alex, and the others have all gone off to read it. A great wee, thought-provoking story, that can be read in an hour, what’s not to love?

Happy Reading!

Mel xx

 

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January – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

I remember my Mum watching ‘Hitchhiker’s’ on TV when I was quite young, it was big, everyone knew about the book, the TV show and the Radio play version. Quotes from the book were part of my growing up, I KNEW that the meaning of life, the universe and everything was 42, people often said ‘so long and thanks for all the fish’, and I KNEW that Marvin was a paranoid android, but I never read the book until now….

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

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The book started well; the bit on Earth was witty, and I had high hopes. I loved the way that Ford Prefect manipulated those around him, without seeming to be manipulative, or smarmy, he just knew how to achieve his desired outcome. This is seen early on in the story when the builder is trying to destroy Arthur’s home, and Ford has an unusual request. There are things that I liked about the book, it was easy to read and the characters, although not fully developed in this book are at least interesting. I loved the justification for ensuring that you pack a towel above all else when hitchhiking through the Galaxy, and I loved how resilient Arthur was given the circumstances.

Overall, I was disappointed! I remember it, I never read it, never heard it, never saw it, but it was there, pretty much all my life. I remember the names Arthur Dent and Trillion because it was HUGE, MASSIVE, everyone knew it, everyone quoted from it, it just was! SO I was sure I’d love it… I didn’t, it was okay, but not okay enough for me to want to read on! It did not live up to my expectations, and that makes me sad! I gave the book 3* and the rest of the group gave it an average of 4*, which makes it worth reading if you’re looking for something light-hearted and humorous.

Brighton Rock – Graham Greene

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Brighton Rock is a book that I first read when I was just 17 years old, at the time I loved it, I raved about it, I told everyone to read it, I have not read it since. I was a little concerned that it would not live up to my own hype, but it was only the 2nd book, so it’s not like I was forcing people to read it. I do remember it being pretty dark and that Pinky’s character was really well written, and I have read other Graham Greene books, and I know that he is pretty good at creating tension. I thought I remembered the end but was unsure whether I was misremembering, and worried that it wouldn’t be as powerful as I thought it was.

As soon as I started reading this book again, I was hooked. I love how well the characters are written, Ida is a force to be reckoned with. I love that the book has strong, female leads, as well as the obviously strong male gang members. I believe that Ida is inherently good, yes, of course, she is on a little adventure, but it is fueled by the need to uncover the truth. Something happened to someone that she connected with, however briefly, and she wants to make sure that justice is served, and that makes her morally superior to the other characters.

Brighton Rock is not a light read, it is gritty, it is dark and it is brilliant. I still love this book, I gave it 4.5* and was yet again blown away by the ending (no spoilers). The rest of the group rated it between 3.5* and 4*, and I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone, but it is definitely a beautifully written and emotive book.

Happy Reading!

Mel x