Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes

Posted in Book Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on May 14, 2010 by penempress

Personal Rating: 9.5 out of 10.0
Technical Rating: 9.8 out of 10.0

From the Back Cover of Flowers for Algernon,
“Charlie Gordon is about to embark upon an unprecedented journey. Born with an unusually low IQ, he has been chosen as the perfect subject for an experimental surgery that researchers hope will increase his intelligence— a procedure that has already been highly successful when tested on a lab mouse named Algernon.
As the treatment takes effect, Charlie’s intelligence expands until it surpasses that of the doctor’s that engineered his metamorphosis. The experiment appears to be a scientific breakthrough of paramount importance, until Algernon suddenly deteriorates. Will the same happen to Charlie?”

Personal Review
This is one of the most wonderful books I’ve read of its genre. I usually read thriller/horror/ mystery/fantasy books, but general fiction is a genre rarely seen on my shelves.
It also reminds me of another book I have read before, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, by Mark Haddon. While Haddon’s book is about an autistic teenager (who happens to be very intelligent, especially concerning mathematics) and Keyes’ book is about a 32-year-old retarded man, both narratives have the same feel.
Things happen that reader knows about, while the character remains doubtful and confused. This book shows the basic horror in everyday things, and of forgetting things you don’t want to forget.
Another thing I loved about it was the pattern of the book. It is written in first person, through a series of progress reports that narrate the story. As it starts out, the spelling is poor and the sentences short, and the vocabulary is even worse than that of a child. After the operation, Charlie cannot see the changes in himself, but the reader can.
You can see him using punctuation properly, make longer sentences, and word things in quotation marks. His vocabulary expands, and the progress reports can be almost five book pages long while the previous would only be a single paragraph. This really gave the reader a feeling of change along with Charlie.
And now, before I give anything away by accident (being the silly person I am) let’s move on to the technical review.

Technical Review

Narrative pace: The pace of the story took its time, pushing you through events and happenings that were relevant to the story, also pausing to insert what Charlie was thinking, or worrying about. In hindsight, it was a very slow pace, but when you read it, it doesn’t feel that way at all.

Writing Style: Very masterfully written. As I have mentioned in my personal review, the same remains of the technical review. One would think that misspelling words is easy, but to make it seem like a person who can’t spell takes some thinking. The gradual progression towards the proper spelling and vocabulary is there, quietly showing the change without an abrupt difference.

Twist: Well, since this is more of a life story, there wasn’t any twists.

Beginning: Defines the motivations of the main character immediately, while also showing the views the main character has towards the other characters, such as Dr.Nemur and Ms.Kinnian.

Ending: (I almost cried, really.) It was a sound ending, if not a little long. I can’t say it tied up all loose ends, but brought resolve to the ending of that time in the main character’s life. A very good ending indeed.

And thus I conclude my book review. And in case you’re wondering how I can write these reviews so fast, well it’s cause I can read that fast. I read Flowers for Algernon in about 5-6 hours yesterday afternoon. Anyways….

Till the Next Review,
PenMaster

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Island of The Aunts, by Eva Ibbotson

Posted in Book Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on May 12, 2010 by penempress

Personal Rating: 8.8 out of 10.0
Unbiased Rating: 9.0 out of 10.0

From the Back Cover of Island of the Aunts
“Aunt Etta, Aunt Coral, and Aunt Myrtle need help caring for the mermaids, selkies, and other creatures who live on their hidden island— and they know that adults can’t be trusted. What the kindly old aunts need are a few sensible and sturdy children who can keep a secret. And while kidnapping is generally not a good idea, sometimes it just has to be done. (After all, some kids just plain need to be kidnapped.) When the newly kidnapped assistant caretakers, Minette and Fabio, arrive on the island, all kinds of amazing and wondrous things start happening.

Personal Review
I have actually read this book several times, and thought each and every time that it was a wonderful book. The story is heart-warming and exciting, with a subtle theme of respect and sensibility. The older characters are well-rounded and lovable(not to mention downright fun), while the younger characters (except for Lambert) show character growth and likability as well.
I mean, I haven’t read every book in the world, but to me, a group of aunts living on an island to take care of not only regular animals, but mythological animals does NOT rank high on the list of clichés. I also thought it was rather funny that they so clearly marked themselves as aunts, since their sister Betty got married (to a tax inspector no less) and had children.
I also loved the fact that the main characters (not including the aunts) Fabio and Minette, were so very different from the other children described in the book. While most of the other children mentioned in the book (for instance, Betty’s children) were shown to be horrid little brats that were idiots and had no common sense, while Fabio and Minette were perfectly sensible children.
There is nothing I hate more than a poorly raised/bratty/basically-an-idiot child. So therefore I loved the fact that Fabio and Minette were so far from my basic hate standards.
In one view, the second theme of the book can scream, “SAVE THE WHALES.” But, instead of making humans out to be the complete bad guys, it simply shows the two sides humans can take. The kind, good kind, like the children and the aunts; and the bad side, Lambert and his father, Mr. Sprott.
So overall, Island of the Aunts is an excellent book, even if you’re not a young person, it’s a fun read, and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for something light and entertaining.

Technical Review

Narrative Pace: It starts out at a moderate pace, the first chapter explaining the situation the aunts are in followed by the next three chapters showing how the aunts are doing on their quest to kidnap children. After that, the pace slows down to life on the island and then picks up in speed as the turning point nears.

Writing Style: I like the style used in this book; I find it very straight forward, and although the subject might have comments added to it, it doesn’t deviate so much as to make the narrative confusing. It reminds me of the way Peter Pan was written.

Twist Quality: There is at one point a twist, and I must say, it’s a pretty good one. Like all good twists, you didn’t see it coming.

Beginning: Draws a quick background without overwhelming the reader with information. Get’s straight to the immediate problem.

Ending: A little long, as far as endings go, but ties up most all loose ends and completes the story in a very heartwarming fashion. Plus, it was done without a lame deux ex machina.

And that concludes my book review. I hope you found it helpful, maybe a little insightful, and that you’ll stick around for my next review.

Ciao,
PenMaster

Thr3e, By Ted Dekker

Posted in Book Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on May 11, 2010 by penempress

Personal Rating: 8.0 out of 10.0
Unbiased Rating: 9.3 out of 10.0

From the Back Cover of Thr3e
“Kevin Parson is alone in his car when his cell phone rings. A man calling himself Slater offers a deadly ultimatum: You have exactly three minutes to confess your sin to the world. Refuse, and the car you’re driving will blow sky high. Then the phone goes dead.
Kevin panics. Who would make such a demand? What sin? Yet not sure what else to do, Kevin swerves into a parking lot and runs from his car. Just in case.
Precisely three minutes later, a massive explosion sets his world on a collision course with madness. And that’s only the first move in this deadly game.”

Personal Review
When I first heard about this book, I thought, “Sweet, a killer game, and a villain obsessed with the number three and one man.” However, as I first started to read it, a lot of things threw me off-kilter.
One was the lack of subtlety. When characters are introduced, practically their whole life stories are thrown at you. All except the main character’s of course. Personally, I like a few facts to be shown to me, and then more tidbits added as the story goes on. The second was when the point of view of Slater is being written. While the entire book is written in third-person, Slater’s moments alone are written in second-person, which threw me off the first time. And thirdly, the lack of swearing. I understand Ted Dekker is a Christian author (I myself am a Baptist) but in reading adult novels I find that certain emotions are better conveyed using cuss words. It was a little awkward, but not terribly off-setting. Ironically, those were the only three things I felt wrong about the book.

*WARNING SPOILER ALERT*
*WARNING SPOILER ALERT*
*WARNING SPOILER ALERT*
Have you been warned enough? Hehe.
As the plot moved along, I was mostly confused, and yet quite informed at the same time. I knew what was happening to the characters, I simply didn’t know why. The ending explained everything, however, and so I feel satisfied. I had actually suspected that Kevin and Slater might be the same person having read Fight Club and most of Shutter Island. I didn’t however, expect Samantha to also be a split personality. The fact that Kevin had three different personalities, the book title being called Thr3e, and the underlying religiously philosophical theme of good, evil, and man was nothing short of brilliant. Although the struggle of good and evil is classic, almost trite even, the new twist of actually role-playing the everyday struggle was something I have not read before. It also tied in perfectly with his ghastly upbringing by his Aunt Balinda.
*END OF SPOILERS*
*END OF SPOILERS*
*END OF SPOILERS*

So, I personally thought that Thr3e was an excellent book, well written, and had a clever and thrilling plot. I would recommend it to any thriller-addicted reader, or anyone who likes a little philosophy in their books.

Technical Review
Narrative Pace: It started rather quickly, Slater calling Kevin only five pages into the book. After that, the pace slowed to an average speed, and picked up as the climax of the book neared. I’m actually quite impressed with the consistency of the pace, as a writer myself, I know it can be difficult to get the timing right.

Writing Style: I like Dekker’s writing style, its very easy and clear to read, but maintains the proper flair for writing fiction. Although, (like I have mentioned before) it does have a certain way of throwing a lot of information very quickly and then just as quickly with-holding information, it suits the purpose of the book.

Characters: While the characters aren’t very original, the good guys are likeable and the bad guys, well, unlikeable. Kevin’s personality fits like a glove to his role in the story, as does Jennifer, Samantha, and basically every character in here. Character growth is limited to Kevin and Jennifer.

Twist Quality: It is a very good twist. It is a twist with a twist, let’s just say that.

Beginning: It got to the main plot rather quickly, so the beginning was short to say the least. But it was a sound beginning, not confusing, and not boring either. It sets the first premise for the theme of the book, plus it gives a quick background of the setting and the current situation Kevin is in.

Ending: It was a satisfying ending, with mostly all the loose ends and questions tied up. Not particularly exciting but good as far as endings go.

And there you have it, 779 words on how I liked a book, plus the little technical details. Hope you found some use for this, and I also hope you don’t get offended if you think Thr3e deserves more of a rating than I gave it.

Till the next Review,
PenMaster

Greetings. *solemn nod*

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on May 11, 2010 by penempress

Hello all Internet skulking creatures you~  I am PenMaster, or Pen, or Pensie, or just plain, “Hey you.”. No, I’m not the master of pens, but I love pens and well it sounds downright cool. You know it does.

Anyways, I love to read. And after lots and lots of reading books, and learning how to write books, I realized that, “Hey, I can properly dissect books from a pretty unbiased point of view.”
So I thought, and thought, and thought some more, (you’ll see I’m a thinking person) and figured, “Hey I think I’ll write book reviews” and BAM I’m here. Deal with it if you haven’t already.
The kind of books I read actually are pretty far stretched from each other, so expect a certain level of variety. The kinds of reviews you’ll rarely find me read would be all-romance, historical fiction, and most kinds of vampire novels. I mean, I have read some, but not a lot. *coughs awkwardly*
Also amongst my rants about books, you might find rants about writing books. I happen to be a writer (although not a published one), and you will no doubt find me this November typing away for NaNoWriMo.
I will avoid writing about my personal life like a plague unless it’s to cook up an excuse as to why I haven’t posted anything. (If you end up caring if I post or not, in any case. Trying to cover up all angles here)
Okay, did I miss anything? No? Good. Then that is all, good-bye. *waves good-bye*