Summer book binge (2 of 2)

The books I read last May were sort of centered on mother-daughter relationships. It wasn't because I planned it before; I actually realized it when I finished reading everything and we’re in the middle of our post-Mother’s Day celebration. Hahaha. 

Anyway, the books are reviewed right here:

[Books I read last April are reviewed here.]

Swamplandia!
Karen Russell
Photo from Wikipedia
I saw Swamplandia!, along with Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men and Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things, in a list of alternative books to include in high school literature classes. Of course, I got interested with the idea of a family living and working with alligators. The story is about Ava Bigtree and how every member of the Bigtree family tried to save Swamplandia and their alligator wrestling dynasty after their mother’s death.

I had a love-hate relationship with the story. I was excited to read it when I was leafing through the first chapters of the book, but by the time I got in the middle I was kinda bored. At one point, I thought of leaving it for some other book. The whole story was narrated primarily from the standpoint of Ava, but there were a few chapters told from the perspective of the other family members. There’s just so much talk but less action in the whole story.

After a few refreshing breaks, the essence of the narrative became apparent— the whole story showed how each family member coped with the decline of Swamplandia along with the death of their mother. For one, Ava felt like it was her responsibility to assume her mother’s role as alligator wrestler so Swamplandia will be back in business. She tried to be brave and resourceful, and ended up facing a responsibility bigger than alligator wrestling. Kiwi, Ava’s elder brother, felt that he has to work on the other side of their island to save some money and reopen Swamplandia. Ossie, Ava’s elder sister, on the other hand, tried talking to the dead with the hope of encountering their mother in one of her séances. It was funny and sad at the same time. I was half-hoping that Ava would get to be a good alligator wrestler and their theme park will be back in the market. But she didn’t and this is a spoiler. The things that happened toward the end of the story were kind of a denouement, and I felt it was still fitting. Overall, Swamplandia! did not disappoint. I think I’ll just have to get used to the narrative style.

3 out of 5.

For One More Day
Mitch Albom
Photo from Amazon.
After Tuesdays with Morrie, I stopped reading Albom; I dunno why. I felt it was too mainstream; the same way I felt when Paulo Coelho began releasing book after book every year. They’re still good, don’t get me wrong. I just felt like I had to stop once and read them again some other time when the hype on their books goes down. Char.

Anyway, I tried reading For One More Day before and stopped. I tried it again and this time it worked. It was a typical mother and son story—the mother singlehandedly raised a rebellious teenage son after his cheating husband left him; she remains supportive despite the many times he consciously and unconsciously ignored her. Finally, his mother’s death shatters him and the other relationships he tried to hold together for some time now. By the time he tries to claim his own life, his mother’s death becomes a life-changing epiphany. You already know what happens. Based on experience, Albom’s books are a cross between preachy to inspirational narratives, and this is no exception. And while that observation’s true, Albom retains his magic on creating inspiration over otherwise mundane-sounding stories like this one. Of course, Five People and Tuesdays are still my favorite but For One More Day did not fail to pluck a few heartstrings.


3 out of 5.


An Abundance of Katherines
John Green

Photo from a Tumblr account.
Ok, so the mother here plays a minor role. Actually, both parents. But anyway, I felt that their upbringing pretty much shaped how Colin Singleton, the novel's protagonist, became an annoying prick. Throughout the story, readers would surmise that Colin's parents babied him by telling him that he's special and that anybody who bullies him are just envious of his prodigious abilities. Colin is a child prodigy on literature and language. So when his girlfriend, the 19th Katherine he dated, dumped him, he was totally devastated. He can't accept that a guy so intelligent and destined to greatness like him would be dumped. 19 times. He promised to establish a theory that will predict whether a relationship will last or not. His Lebanese best friend, Hassan, accompanies him on a roadtrip that will prove whether his theory on relationships would really work.

I was annoyed with Colin the whole time while I enjoyed Hassan's character. So there, based on my diagram on Green's novels, Katherines is the least of them all. Green maintains the relaxed ambience of storytelling but the story itself wouldn't really fly. I even thought the anagrams would be something I'll enjoy but it didn't figure much on the story, so no. Or maybe I'm just plainly annoyed with Colin. Hehe. Anyway, read on. You may find it interesting.


2.5 out of 5.

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felix felicis: Summer book binge (2 of 2)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Summer book binge (2 of 2)

The books I read last May were sort of centered on mother-daughter relationships. It wasn't because I planned it before; I actually realized it when I finished reading everything and we’re in the middle of our post-Mother’s Day celebration. Hahaha. 

Anyway, the books are reviewed right here:


Swamplandia!
Karen Russell
Photo from Wikipedia
I saw Swamplandia!, along with Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men and Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things, in a list of alternative books to include in high school literature classes. Of course, I got interested with the idea of a family living and working with alligators. The story is about Ava Bigtree and how every member of the Bigtree family tried to save Swamplandia and their alligator wrestling dynasty after their mother’s death.

I had a love-hate relationship with the story. I was excited to read it when I was leafing through the first chapters of the book, but by the time I got in the middle I was kinda bored. At one point, I thought of leaving it for some other book. The whole story was narrated primarily from the standpoint of Ava, but there were a few chapters told from the perspective of the other family members. There’s just so much talk but less action in the whole story.

After a few refreshing breaks, the essence of the narrative became apparent— the whole story showed how each family member coped with the decline of Swamplandia along with the death of their mother. For one, Ava felt like it was her responsibility to assume her mother’s role as alligator wrestler so Swamplandia will be back in business. She tried to be brave and resourceful, and ended up facing a responsibility bigger than alligator wrestling. Kiwi, Ava’s elder brother, felt that he has to work on the other side of their island to save some money and reopen Swamplandia. Ossie, Ava’s elder sister, on the other hand, tried talking to the dead with the hope of encountering their mother in one of her séances. It was funny and sad at the same time. I was half-hoping that Ava would get to be a good alligator wrestler and their theme park will be back in the market. But she didn’t and this is a spoiler. The things that happened toward the end of the story were kind of a denouement, and I felt it was still fitting. Overall, Swamplandia! did not disappoint. I think I’ll just have to get used to the narrative style.

3 out of 5.

For One More Day
Mitch Albom
Photo from Amazon.
After Tuesdays with Morrie, I stopped reading Albom; I dunno why. I felt it was too mainstream; the same way I felt when Paulo Coelho began releasing book after book every year. They’re still good, don’t get me wrong. I just felt like I had to stop once and read them again some other time when the hype on their books goes down. Char.

Anyway, I tried reading For One More Day before and stopped. I tried it again and this time it worked. It was a typical mother and son story—the mother singlehandedly raised a rebellious teenage son after his cheating husband left him; she remains supportive despite the many times he consciously and unconsciously ignored her. Finally, his mother’s death shatters him and the other relationships he tried to hold together for some time now. By the time he tries to claim his own life, his mother’s death becomes a life-changing epiphany. You already know what happens. Based on experience, Albom’s books are a cross between preachy to inspirational narratives, and this is no exception. And while that observation’s true, Albom retains his magic on creating inspiration over otherwise mundane-sounding stories like this one. Of course, Five People and Tuesdays are still my favorite but For One More Day did not fail to pluck a few heartstrings.


3 out of 5.


An Abundance of Katherines
John Green

Photo from a Tumblr account.
Ok, so the mother here plays a minor role. Actually, both parents. But anyway, I felt that their upbringing pretty much shaped how Colin Singleton, the novel's protagonist, became an annoying prick. Throughout the story, readers would surmise that Colin's parents babied him by telling him that he's special and that anybody who bullies him are just envious of his prodigious abilities. Colin is a child prodigy on literature and language. So when his girlfriend, the 19th Katherine he dated, dumped him, he was totally devastated. He can't accept that a guy so intelligent and destined to greatness like him would be dumped. 19 times. He promised to establish a theory that will predict whether a relationship will last or not. His Lebanese best friend, Hassan, accompanies him on a roadtrip that will prove whether his theory on relationships would really work.

I was annoyed with Colin the whole time while I enjoyed Hassan's character. So there, based on my diagram on Green's novels, Katherines is the least of them all. Green maintains the relaxed ambience of storytelling but the story itself wouldn't really fly. I even thought the anagrams would be something I'll enjoy but it didn't figure much on the story, so no. Or maybe I'm just plainly annoyed with Colin. Hehe. Anyway, read on. You may find it interesting.


2.5 out of 5.

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