Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Book Rant: Classic Literature

As previously mentioned in another post of mine, I have this habit of reading from the same genre continuously if I find that I loved one book from the same genre. A while back it was Zombie/post Apocalyptic books and then it was dystopian. I think it's going to be the 'Classics' this time round. I just finished reading H.G. Well's The Island of Dr Moreau, War of the Worlds & The Invisible Man and also Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice and Frances Burnett.

In addition to reading a lot of classics I've suddenly bought quite a few of them. And I've bought the Penguin English Library collection that have beautiful covers. I now own the 3 books mentioned above and Persuasion & Emma by Jane Austen, David Copperfield & A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, Fairy Tales by Hans christian Andersen and  Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. And the best part about classics is that there's always an edition that is not hard on your wallet. So rest assured that I did not spend a lot of money on these books.(Though it does depend on what you would define as "not a lot of money")

H.G. Wells Books

I read 3 of H.G. Wells' books - The Island of Dr Moreau, War of the Worlds & The Invisible Man. He has also written The Time Machine but I somehow could not finish it at this point in time. I got distracted by other books. So let us talk about the 3 books I did read. If I had to rank the 3 books I did read The Invisible Man would be ranked 3rd, The Island of Dr Moreau would be 2nd and the War of the Worlds would be 1st.

The Invisible Man was an enjoyable enough story but I just could not relate to the Main Character (MC) at all. I found that the other 2 books that I read were far more interesting than this book. One other reason could be that I loved the Hollow Man better.

I want to talk about the Island of Dr Moreau and War of the Worlds together. Now these stories were very interesting to the say the least. What bowled me over was that these books were set in the late 19th or early 20th century. And they are Science Fiction!! I loved the conflict the MC goes through in Moreau and the narration in War of the Worlds was just Amazing. War of the Worlds was like a Steam punk novel before there was any Steam punk. Both these books, in my opinion, will always be relevant. It is not hampered by time. I mean these books talk about aliens and genetic modification.

I would recommend these books to anyone who loves Science Fiction.


Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

There are some books that I always go back to re-read. Pride & Prejudice is one of them. I finally bought a copy of my own and it is the beautiful Penguin English Library edition. I have always loved Liz Bennett and Darcy. This time around I felt I understood Darcy more than I did Liz. The last time I had read this book I was as indignant as Liz with Darcy, I mean in my eyes he was an arrogant jerk. But this time around I could see the circumstances through his perspective.

This is what makes me re-read books. The books kinda change for you as you grow older. There is always something new that you can glean from a story, a new perspective at the least. And the romance... It's just perfect. This is why the book is a classic. I would recommend this book to everyone - especially to people who hate insta-love.


Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

I had read the abridged version of this book when I was a lot younger. So when I got my hands on the unabridged version of this book I pounced on it. I had watched the movie adaptation of the book too. As it has been over a decade since I had read this book it was like I was reading it for the first time.

It was a different feeling reading this book as an adult. I found Mary to be spoiled, at least in the first half of the book. I mean the author herself states so. The story portrays her changing from a self-centered spoilt brat to a pretty agreeable child. I also love the depiction of the moor in this book. I could just visualize the scenery and the garden. Reading this time made me appreciate the writing more than the actual story. But if I were still in school I would have loved this book as much as all the Enid Blyton books I read when I was younger.


I can tell you one thing, reading the classics wins you brownie points from your parents and also makes you seem very intellectual. This could be because people think that reading something that was written more than a 100 years ago automatically makes you smart. I mean the War of the World is not all that different from the Sci-Fi of today but its got the advantage of age on its side.

I would like to read Little Women and Jane Eyre next. Maybe not immediately but I would definitely read them in the next couple of months.

Book Review: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

Soooo... I though I would get back to reviewing books by reviewing a book that had a very different approach. And for that I chose Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion. I heard of this book after the movie came out. And for some reason I held out on watching the movie before reading this book. That was a great decision.

'R' is a zombie. He has no name, no memories, and no pulse, but he has dreams. He is a little different from his fellow Dead. Amongst the ruins of an abandoned city, R meets a girl. Her name is Julie and she is the opposite of everything he knows - warm and bright and very much alive, she is a blast of colour in a dreary grey landscape. For reasons he can't understand, R chooses to save Julie instead of eating her, and a tense yet strangely tender relationship begins. This has never happened before. It breaks the rules and defies logic, but R is no longer content with life in the grave. He wants to breathe again, he wants to live, and Julie wants to help him. But their grim, rotting world won't be changed without a fight...

As you can tell from the synopsis, this is a zombie story. What attracted me to this book was that this was a zombie story told through a zombie's perspective. That in itself was a winning plot in my mind. I admit that R is already a different kind of zombie when it comes to the others. He actually thinks. But what was even more interesting was that the zombies were not as mindless as we would assume. The zombies actually had a sort of society. It was like they were a community - they had a place of worship, a school, of course a school where they taught the young how to kill humans but a school none the less and they also had a concept of marriage.

One of the things that Marion made clear early on was that the zombies ate not because they felt hungry for nutrition but they just felt hungry with something other than their stomach. They could relive a persons memory by eating their brains. This is important because this shows that even though they were the living dead, they were trying to experience the life force by eating brains, by having those concepts of humanity that you would think that the living dead might not have. 

When R attacks Perry, a member of a salvage team, and eats his brains something happens. He suddenly decides to save Julie, another member of the team and girl friend of Perry, and takes her with him to his home at the airport. it is through his interactions with her that he sees the changes that happen. He starts speaking longer sentences, he doesn't feel as hungry as before and so on. Another change is that he starts dreaming. It is just Perry's memories at first but he slowly starts dreaming his own dreams. 

On the other end of the spectrum are the Living who have walled up a stadium and are living inside of it. The Living are barely surviving. They guard their borders, send out salvage teams to get necessary items, teach the children to hunt and kill the zombies. The people in charge think it more important to just keep fighting instead of preserving life. It is from this environment that Julie, Perry and their friends hail. There is a part in the book where Julie asks her friends what they dream of doing. Perry, who wanted to previously wanted to be a writer does not see a point in it anymore, he doesn't understand whom it would benefit. What would be the point of writing a story in a world that is in its last leg? This is how the living live now. They live to survive. The zombies were just the last nail in the coffin to a world already ravaged  with wars before the plague.

In the end the dead are more closer to living than the Living are. The dead are moving towards reclaiming all that they had lost in this plague but the Living have lost touch with all the good parts of being human and are just wrapped up, not in hate, but in fear and fear has always brought out the worst in us humans. 

That is why this book isn't just a zombie book. It is more than that. Even I did not expect such deep messages from this book. I mean it's such a small book too. Just 240 pages long. But it packs such a punch. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I loved it that it made me think so much. If anyone is hesitant to pick this book up because it has got zombies and the like, don't be. It's just that the setting is such that there are zombies. 

I rate this book a 4.5/5