Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Review: Gathering Blue

Gathering Blue (The Giver, #2)Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I can genuinely say that this is one of the worst books I've ever read in my entire life. A companion to The Giver, my butt. This is about as close to The Giver as Big Trouble in Little China is to Buckaroo Banzai, which is to say not at all except in maybe the author's mind. The whole story, you're wondering when is this book going to actually pick up? And by the time you reach page 200, you realize that it's not, and you feel cheated. And rightfully so! The Giver was so good, and this is a boring slog. It starts out with genuine conflict, but it gets resolved in about the first 20 pages, and the rest of the book meanders. This novel is a complete waste of time. I won't be reading the next two books. I'm done with this series.

View all my reviews

Monday, May 29, 2017

Review: The Last Battle

The Last Battle (Chronicles of Narnia, #7)The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I never read the Narnia series as a kid, so I have no real nostalgia for it. But as an adult, I can say this-It's no Harry Potter. I can also say this-It's religious claptrap. This final book goes way overboard with the Christianity, going as far to say that other religions (mostly followed by "darkies") Are wrong, and Christianity (Though never named and followed by white people) is right. And to add insult to injury, as many of the reviewers on here have already stated, not everybody gets to go to the "true" Narnia, namely one of the earlier characters in the series who, while annoying, definitely didn't not deserve to get into Heaven, er, Narnia. As for the story itself, it has some interesting stuff early on about believing in false gods and Paganism, but it all falls apart in the last act or so, which goes on FAR too long. In the end, I'd say that The Horse and His Boy and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe are the only two genuinely good books in the series, and the rest feel like a waste of time. I'm glad to be rid of Narnia.

View all my reviews

I'm a Teacher and I've Watched 13 Reasons Why. Here Are My Thoughts

(Image taken from: The Gospel Coalition Blog)

A lot of my students love the Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why, and it's understandable. There's a lot of drama, and it's one of those The Catcher in the Rye kind of moments that just SPEAKS to kids of a certain age. Like, it's so profound, man. Totally. Many of my students even go the length to say, "That's my show," when they talk about it. But after watching the 13 episodes of the first season, I've come to the conclusion that it's not the kind of program you say, "That's my show" to. It's not like The Walking Dead or other escapist programming that you can like for all its gory details, or its interesting characters. It's more a brutally honest show about cyberbullying, and how it could lead somebody to commit suicide. Let it be known, this show doesn't glorify death, which I know some teachers and parents are worried about. Instead, the actual suicide is very hard to watch, and what the victim in question has to go through (I won't spoil it here) plays out in such a horrific way that you're never really enjoying it. In fact, I actually dreaded watching every episode (Though I was certainly compelled) because I didn't want to see such horrible deeds being done to the girl in question.

That's not to say that it's not all very engrossing. In fact, it was difficult to watch the show in intervals since I greatly wanted to see how it all played out, since the story is told through the lens of a likable protagonist who himself is suffering. But none of it is actually enjoyable. If anything, it's probably the best cautionary tale I can think of for why young people shouldn't bully others at this very critical time in their lives. Sure, there's a lot of cursing and drug use and even sex. And would I want my own children watching it if they were old enough to understand it? Well, not without me present in the room, which I'm sure would taint the show greatly for them. But I definitely think it's the kind of show that every young person should watch. Do the adults and teachers seem aloof to the suffering of the girl who killed herself? Sure. It certainly doesn't paint a pleasant picture of parents or guardians. But I wouldn't say that it's inaccurate.

What the show (And probably the book, which I will read soon) gets right is that teen brains and adult brains are vastly different instruments. You don't feel like the parents in the show could have done more. The story is mostly insular to that of a few individuals, so you never feel like the adults don't already have enough on their plates. In fact, that's what makes the show seem so distant from being enjoyable as an adult, and why younger people might like the drama on the show. They don't see how helpless the adults truly are with their busy schedules and lives. In that way, I think the show is majorly successful in showing how all these cues might go unnoticed since what's important for an adult is not necessarily as important for a teenager, and vice versa, even though all adults were once teenagers.

For that reason, I think all teens should watch 13 Reasons Why, even despite the questionable (Really questionable toward the later episodes) material. I liken it to The Last Temptation the Christ. The Catholic church banned people from seeing the film or reading the book, but in truth, the book is probably the most spiritual thing I've ever read outside of the Bible itself. I think a lot of people didn't even read the book before they decided to ban it, and I think the same can be said of 13 Reasons Why. Adults are telling other adults that their children shouldn't watch it, when they actually should. The message is clear and one that teenagers can understand perfectly--Everybody hurts, and abuse occurs in high school, often from ones own peers. Look for the signs of depression and take action. Nobody wants to end up with a dead teenager because nobody was watching. That's a cross nobody should have to bear.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Review: The Silver Chair

The Silver Chair (Chronicles of Narnia, #4)The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book sucks. It's little wonder that Lewis would spend the next two books going backward rather than forward before he reached his conclusion because you could really feel that he was running out of steam with this one. The characters are either annoying or bland (Though, there is a scarecrow-esque character who provides some welcome humor), and the journey seems even more unnecessary than the last few. Maybe I'm just reading these books in the series too closely together (separating each book with just one non-Narnia book), but the charm is wearing thin for me. Harry Potter this isn't.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Review: Around the World in 80 Days

Around the World in Eighty Days (Extraordinary Voyages, #11)Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is certainly a book of its time, and by that, I mean it's incredibly racist. Its depiction of Native Americans is downright disgusting. That said, despite its yucky racism, this is a pretty exciting book. Especially when you put your mindset in the time period. The story is a fun one, and it holds up. An Englishman makes a bet that he can travel around the world in 80 days, and calamity ensues, most of it caused by his silly sidekick. The ending is also pretty satisfying, which helps. I love Jules Verne!

View all my reviews

Friday, May 12, 2017

Review: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Chronicles of Narnia, #3)The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I know many consider this their favorite Narnia book, and I guess I can see why. It's probably the book that feels like the grandest adventure, but to me, it feels more like a lopsided series of vignettes, with some working, and some not working. As a whole, I think the trekking from island to island is interesting, but only from a surface level. It doesn't really hope my interest like The Horse and His Boy or the first book. Overall, a decent book.

View all my reviews