Title: The Time Machine
Author: HG Wells
Publisher: Trout Lake Media
First Published: 1895
Length: 4 hours, 10 minutes
The Time Machine is a sci-fi novel from 1895. It’s the story of the Time Traveller describing his trip to the future. He travels to the year 802,701AD, where he meets two group of creatures: the Eloi and the Morlocks. The Eloi are small creatures who live above ground in crumbling buildings. They are kind of lazy and dumb, but happy. He befriends a particular Eloi female named Weena. However, after learning that his time machine has been stolen, he discovers another group, the Morlocks. These creatures live below ground in tunnels and they are definitely sinister. The Time Traveller must get his machine back so he take Weena back home with him, but they end up getting attacked by Morlocks.
I first read this book in the sixth grade. While I could certainly map the plot and compare/contrast the Eloi and the Morlocks, I don’t think I really “got” the story. For example, I didn’t realize that this story essentially coined the word “time machine” and the idea of time travel using an object as a vehicle. I also had no concept of how the Eloi/Morlock creatures represented class struggle. The delicate, yet useless, class of creatures living above ground and the underground creatures who run the machinery beneath the surface. Now it’s a little more obvious what Wells was trying to say. My sixth grade brain had no context for that information. I just remember the Worlocks being really scary.
And is it just me, or is the “story within a story” conceit big in the these older books? My most recent classic was Frankenstein, which was a story within a story within a story. Here the narrator is just a dude listening to the time traveller recount his time spent in the future. However, at the end it totally makes sense why Wells did this. In fact, I found the ending the most oddly creepy part of the whole novel. I did not remember it at all.
FINAL GRADE: C Maybe it’s because I’d read the book before, but I found it lacking. It was only four hours long as an audiobook, and it took a long time before the Time Traveller even started telling his story. The actual time traveling, Eloi/Morlock part of the novel was relative short. I wanted more adventure, more action. But I recognize that this is a trail-blazing story, and my thirst for those elements comes from all the subsequent works that added them. It’s definitely worth a read as key work of science fiction, if nothing else.
Assigned Reading: Assigned to all fans of science fiction, Doctor Who, and anyone looking for a quick classic.
Library Recommendation: Put it in a middle or high school library. You can probably find a relatively cheap edition. It’s not for every kid, but it’s a classic and it should be there. Also consider buying one of the graphic novel adaptations of the story, as I’m sure that format would appeal to kids.
What was the first time travel book you ever read?
Title: Being Henry David
Author: Cal Armistead
Publisher: Albert Whitman Teen
Release date: 3/1/2013
Length: 270 pages
Genre: YA coming-of-age
Source: Review copy from Netgalley
“I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.”
– Henry David Thoreau, from Walden
The first thing Hank remembers is waking up in New York’s Penn Station. He doesn’t know how he got there, why he’s there, or where he’s going. He doesn’t even know his name, so he names himself “Hank,” short for Henry David, after Henry David Thoreau. Thoreau’s Walden is his only possession and the only clue to his past. Now Henry David is on a hunt to find out who he was, but he’ll also find clues to who he is and what he wants along the way.
This is a strange little novel, hard to categorize and hard to rate. The cast of characters is pretty cool: you’ve got some janitors, a way cool librarian, and all of the kids Henry David meets along the way. There’s also the mystery factor — what keeps the story moving are the questions looming over Henry David. Enough is revealed along the way to satisfy readers, and the answers are not cliche. In fact, I was surprised throughout this story. After reading lots of YA, I can see a lot of plots coming. That was NOT the case with ole’ Henry David’s story. So…kudos to Cal Armistead.
However, this novel left me wanting more. Not like a hundred pages more, but just a smidge more. More from the ending, more from some of the characters, more depth. Don’t get me wrong — it’s good. And I understand why Armistead ended it the way she did. And maybe the wanting of more is a deliberate choice, to parallel how we want more out of life or something. Overall, I felt it was good but not great.
Oh, and I loooooooooved that The Beatle’s “Blackbird” played such a big role in the story. Not only is it perfect for Henry David’s journey, but it’s also just a good song. I totally didn’t mind having it stuck in my head (I posted the video at the end of this review in case you don’t know the song).
FINAL GRADE: B- I couldn’t decide between a C or a B, but I decide the story is definitely good enough to deserve a B, with a few points subtracted for the lack of depth in certain places.
Assigned Reading: Assigned to lovers of Walden, all high school English teachers, and fans of YA contemporary/coming of age novels. Also great for fans of the great outdoors (the Appalachian Trail, in particular) and rock bands.
Library recommendation: Put it in your high school library, skip the middle school library. Consider adding it to the curriculum paired with Walden to make the text relevant to modern life. There’s definitely enough in the book to use in an English class.
Title: The Madman’s Daughter
Author: Megan Shephard
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: 1/29/2013
Length: 432 pages
Series?: The Madman’s Daughter #1
Genre: YA Historical Fiction/Gothic
Format: Print ARC
Source: ARC from HarperCollins
Challenge: Debut Author Challenge, Feminist Reads Challenge
If you’ve ever read The Island of Dr. Moreau by HG Wells or if you even know the plot, then you know the story. A madman (Dr. Moreau) has been banished from London for his criminal acts of surgical cruelty on animals, leaving his wife and daughter alone as he flees to an island off Australia. After her mother dies, Juliet finds herself cleaning rooms in the medical school and hoping to find her father again. Her search leads her to that isolated island, along with her childhood friend, a shipwreck victim, and a whole host of very strange-looking villagers and staff. Juliet learns that the isolation of the island is hiding as sinister secret, and she is forced to answer the one question that has haunted her for most of her life: is her father really a madman?
The Madman’s Daugher is a novel about opposing forces: good vs. evil, animal vs. human, wild vs. domestic, jungle vs. civilization, curious vs. mad, chaos vs. order, science vs. nature, and even a good ole fashioned love triangle of the Edward/Jacob variety. While Juliet watches these opposing forces play out on the island and in her romantic interests, she also must face the opposing sides within herself. Though Juliet struggles with this opposition, she also has the brains and strength to have a hand in her own fate. Juliet isn’t a perfect heroine, and isn’t always likable, but I respected and understood her.
For a 400+ page novel, this story moves along very quickly due to the mysteries revealed and the danger at hand. AND THE TWISTS! You guys, there’s a plot twist, and I knew there’d be a plot twist, and I love a good plot twist. I kind of saw the plot twist coming, but it was still a great moment. Not to mention the cliff hanger ending, since this is definitely a trilogy. I know, I know…a trilogy with a love triangle, how cliche. How much I’ve complained about such things, right? Well, I take it all back. If Megan Shepherd wants to entertain me with two more hefty love triangle-licious volumes, I’ll read ‘em.
FINAL GRADE: B Wow. I enjoyed this way more than I thought! It loses a few points for a few ridiculous moments related to the romance, and for being a little angsty , but it was a great read. I love when authors play around with classics and bring them into modern storytelling. In fact, I may have been inspired to read The Island of Dr. Moreau next. I actually had HG Wells’ The Time Machine already downloaded to my Audible account, ready to go, so it wouldn’t be a far stretch (plus I’ve already read The Time Machine once, so it can wait).
Assigned Reading: Assigned to fans of HG Wells and anyone who likes creepy, dark historical fiction. I guess the technical genre here is historical sci-fi, but it’s definitely no steampunk. Also recommended to anyone who wants to read a REAL love triangle novel.
Library Recommendations: This would be okay, content wise, for either a middle school or high school library. I think high school students would be quite drawn to the story if you can sell it right. If you are a middle school librarian on a strict, slim budget…skip it. Otherwise, give it a go!
What do you think about classics re-imagined? Is a fun idea, cheap trick, lack of creativity?
I’m not done with my discussion of The Great Gatsby just yet (if you haven’t already, check out my review from Thursday). While poking around the internet for Gatsby love, I happened upon this video by the one and only John Green. It’s one of his regular Vlogbrothers videos from last fall (just a few weeks before my epic school night road trip to see him speak in Asheville). In this video, he offers his analysis of some of the big metaphors in the novel, mainly the valley of ashes. If you’ve ever read or loved Fitzgerald, you need to watch this video. So happy Saturday, y’all. Enjoy.
Title: The Great Gatsby
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Publisher/Year: Blackstone Audio, 2007 (Original: 1925)
Length: 4 hrs and 53 mins
Format: Audio Book
Source: Purchased from Audible
[#72 in my 2012 75 book challenge]
In case you haven’t heard, this classic novel about the Jazz Age is being made into a movie staring Leonard DiCaprio. The movie comes out in May, so I got a head start and re-read the novel in anticipation of seeing it later this year.
The Great Gatsy is the Jazz-Age tale of a bunch of crazy people living in an Egg.
Or at least that’s my one sentence summary.
Seriously, though, our protagonist, Nick Carraway, moves next door to this dude named Gatsby in West Egg (Long Island-ish). Gatsby lives in this fancy-pants new money house, totally playing up his mysteriosity while still having parties every weekend. Nick also hangs around with Daisy and Tom Buchanan, and everyone knows that ole Tom is cheating on Daisy with this lady named Muriel. These folks all live in the East Egg with the old money. Gatsby, the eternal social climber, wants nothing more than to be old money…and to get in Daisy’s pants. Infidelity ensues. Then a lot of people drive their cars around, a tragedy occurs, and the shit hits the fan. Cue curtain.
AND IT’S ALL A METAPHOR.
I get it, you guys, I do. In high school I read this book and I was fascinated by the Jazz Age, the social climbing, the affairs, and the dead people. I could relate to the story more than anything else we were reading that year (except 1984, my favorite book ever), so I decidedly enjoyed it. Round two? Not so much, even though I understand the layers a little bit better. I see the commentary on the American Dream and wealth, the metaphor with the damn green light and the colors. I don’t get it all, which is where I miss having a class to discuss it all with, but I get it enough.
FINAL GRADE: C I didn’t love it, but I’m glad I read it. Reading books as an adult that I read in my childhood is always a fascinating experience, and I don’t think I’m the only person who looks upon this novel differently now that I’m out in the real world. However, I also know some folks who adore this book and will praise it until the cows come home. I guess you have to decide that for yourself — at only 180 pages, you can read it pretty quickly and get back to me on what you think.
Assigned Reading: Read it if you love the Jazz Age, literary fiction, classics, or metaphors. Or if you want to see the movie. It’s really one of those novels that everyone should read, since it’s always being talked about. Maybe that’s what leads to the disappointment?
Recommendations: Librarians, you can buy it for the middle school library, but it’s definitely a must-have for the high school library (do I even have to tell you that?).
Did you have to read The Great Gatsby in high school? Have you read it since? Does it hold up to your test of time?
The answer? Of course. Don’t we all have fond memories of Charlotte’s Web? It’s an American children’s classic. I remember reading the book and watching the movie in elementary school. But how do we evaluate the story as adults? Does it stand the test of time? Is it more than a children’s classic, but an actual literary masterpiece? This video says it all, and it’s definitely worth watching. Check it out if you want your heart to flutter with nostalgia from childhood:
What are your memories from this classic novel?
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the bloggers over at the Broke and the Bookish. Book bloggers from all around create lists based on the chosen topics, and post links to the host blog to share our love of books. This week we are making some reading resolutions! There are plenty of books I’m looking forward to in 2013, but I also have stacks of books I’ve been wanting to read for EONS. 2013 is the year to finally get these out of the TBR stack and into my brain.
Top Ten Books I Resolve to Read in 2013
[a TBR takedown]
I’ll start with three classics. Yes. Three. I’m keeping it simple and do-able. I got all three of these from Splinter this fall (I told them I wanted to read more classics!), and I love these beautiful covers!
1.) Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
2.) Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
3.) Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Followed by three books sitting on my Nook that I’ve bought but never read. I think I bought them all because I make sure to snag books from my mental TBR list when I find them for under $3.99, even if I’m not ready to read them yet. I know they are all good books — I KNOW this. I’ve just been distracted by too many other shiny new things.
4.) The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
5.) Feed by MT Anderson
6.) City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
Then three books I own in hardcover that have been sitting on my nightstand. I bought them through Scholastic to bump my school’s book fair up $30 to reach our spending goal (and the next level of rewards!).
7.) Cinder by Marissa Meyer
8.) Legend by Marie Lu
9.) Stolen by Lucy Christopher
And finally, one book that I need to read just because:
10.) The 2013 Printz winner
Though I’d love to have read it before it gets picked, that’s not likely to be the case.
It’s my goal to read all of the winners, so I need to keep up with them as they’re picked!
Which books are you hoping to find under the tree this year?