The Chronicles of Narnia # 7: The Last Battle

The Last Battle by C.S. LewisThe Last Battle by C.S. Lewis
The Chronicles of Narnia # 7
Publisher: Scholastic
Number of pages: 224
My copy: paperback, bought from Scholastic Book Fair

The conclusion of the saga that began with The Magician’s Nephew.

NARNIA…where you must say good-bye…and where the adventure begin again.

The Unicorn says that humans are brought to Narnia when Narnia is stirred and upset. And Narnia is in trouble now: A false Aslan roams the land. Narnia’s only hope is that Eustace and Jill, old friends to Narnia, will be able to find the true Aslan and restore peace to the land. Their task is a difficult one because, as the Centaur says, “The stars never lie, but Men and Beasts do.” Who is the real Aslan and who is the imposter?

* * *

So right after reading The Magician’s Nephew, I jumped straight to the last book of The Chronicles of Narnia. Given the choice, I wouldn’t really have done that just yet — I tend to let the last book of any series linger a bit longer on my shelf, because I need a certain mindset before I say goodbye to any series I have loved, or at least, invested in. But I was on a little time pressure here — I was determined to read this book for Holy Week, and it just so happened that my reading The Last Battle was also on Good Friday.

Perfect timing, you think?

In The Last Battle, there is trouble in Narnia. As a reader, I was immediately introduced to this trouble, and I already know that the Aslan parading around Narnia is false one. I think C.S. Lewis did that on purpose instead of putting the readers in a state of the unknown like the other Narnians. For the first time since reading the series, I was really and truly scared for Narnia. How could they believe that this Aslan is the real one they know? How can they believe that so easily? How can they lose all that hope so easily, too? With all this trouble, Eustace and Jill came tumbling down Narnia, to help out and save them — but the question is, do they even want to be saved?

Like I said, it was the first time I was truly scared for the things happening in Narnia. I don’t know if this is investment in the series, or I was just…well, scared. Aslan is hands down one of my favorite characters, and possibly one of my favorite representations of God in literature, so seeing someone parade as a false one is scary. But in a way I can’t blame the people for acting that way. I’m not saying it’s right, but it just wasn’t surprising. Aslan being gone for a long time and with only his believers passing the belief down from generation to generation is bound to make some people question him at some point. I can’t help but think of how it is here in the real world — how people can just believe anyone and anything, and how, when disappointed by that, can make them not believe the one who should be believed in in the first place. It’s a messy, messy, thing. The Last Battle reminds me a bit of Prince Caspian, where the characters’ faith in Aslan was challenged so much that it was almost too late before they finally realized that they were wrong.

The Last Battle has a darker tone compared to the other books, and perhaps it also has the most bloodshed too. There were a bit too many battle scenes in this book that I can hardly think that this is a book for kids anymore. Reading The Magician’s Nephew before this was a good idea, I think, because there were a lot of details mentioned there that was mentioned in this book. The final scenes were a bit confusing but I liked how they brought all the characters back together.

I wasn’t planning to mention Susan in this review, but I guess I kind of have to. I think the Susan aspect is what makes The Last Battle a little dated. I mean, I understand what C.S. Lewis meant about it, and I guess it just so happened that Susan is that character who didn’t go the way the others chose to. It might not sit comfortably with other people, though, especially with how it was explained. I think readers should be careful to remember the time when this book was written to put the Susan thing in the proper context.

Nevertheless, I think The Last Battle was a pretty good ending for a beloved series, even if it is one that can spur new questions, not about the book but about what the author intends for it to represent in real life. If anything, I think The Last Battle is the Narnia book that dealt the most about faith and its nature, and how it is really a matter of choosing to stand up for what you believe and for who you believe in, even if everyone and everything else around you is saying otherwise.

So long, Narnia. It’s been a wonderful ride. One thing is for sure — wherever I go live in the future, there will always, always be a copy of the seven books of The Chronicles of Narnia. :)

But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at least they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.

Rating:

Required Reading: April

Other reviews:
Dark Chest of Wonders

Reviews of other Narnia books:
#1 The Magician’s Nephew
#2 The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
#3 The Horse and His Boy
#4 Prince Caspian
#5 Voyage of the Dawn Treader
#6 The Silver Chair

The Chronicles of Narnia # 1: The Magician’s Nephew

The Magician's Nephew by C.S. LewisThe Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis
The Chronicles of Narnia # 1
Publisher: Scholastic
Number of pages: 202
My copy: paperback, bought from Scholastic Book Fair

The secret passage to the house next door leads to a fascinating adventure

NARNIA…where the woods are thick and cold, where Talking Beasts are called to life…a new world where the adventure begins.

Digory and Polly meet and become friends one cold, wet summer in London. Their lives burst into adventure when Digory’s Uncle Andrew, who thinks he is a magician, sends them hurtling to…somewhere else. They find their way to Narnia, newborn from the Lion’s song, and encounter the evil sorceress Jadis before they finally return home.

* * *

How many times have I tried reading this book and stopped? Twice, thrice? I can’t remember. But I am kind of glad my reading ADD got me to push this book deeper down my TBR until I decided to do the right thing and read The Chronicles of Narnia in publication order.

But if you noticed, I didn’t really read them one after the other. They say Narnia books are best read at a specific time of the year, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe being best read during Christmas, while The Last Battle during Lent. Since I want to have a dip in the Narnia world before going through the final book in the series, I decided to let The Magician’s Nephew wait a bit more after I finished The Horse and His Boy, bundling it with the last book for a Holy Week read.

The Magician’s Nephew is said to be a prequel for the series, but how much of it as a prequel is something I know nothing about. I remember being confused with who Digory and Polly were, especially since I really only knew and care about the Pevensie siblings. Digory and Polly were two friends living in London who were, well, quite bored. One day, they decided to do some exploring and somehow landed in Digory’s uncle’s room, who he was quite scared of because of his strange experiments and crazy antics in their house. His uncle made them a subject of his experiment, landing him and Polly in a strange new world — another dimension, with only some rings to guide them. In this world, they meet a woman who is not who she seems, and a majestic lion whose song and breath can bring things to life.

I wasn’t expecting to love The Magician’s Nephew because of my previous reading ADD experiences, so I was pretty surprised at how I reacted to the end. I loved it in the same level as how I loved The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Silver Chair. It was written in the same children’s book way as the other books, but I guess the back story and the idea of “where it all began” fascinated me — we see exactly how Narnia was created, from lands forms to water features and all that. There was enough adventure and fun in the story to keep me invested in it (and mind you, I was reading this on a long Maundy Thursday, so there were other books that I could easily pick up over the weekend to replace this). Even if the Pevensie siblings weren’t there, I was interested in the characters, particularly Digory and Polly. I thought Digory’s story with his mom was sweet and a bit sad, but I was glad it turned out well in the end.

The Magician’s Nephew is a great example of creating a rich back story for a series, and even if it has been a while since I last read a Narnia book, the details came rushing back just as clear. This may be cheesy, but maybe it’s because a part of me has started living in Narnia when I first started reading it? I like how this ties everything neatly, and I honestly think that making this a penultimate read in the series is the best way to read it, because it makes me want to go visit the previous books to check the other details. My friend said that reading this as the first book might lessen the wonder of Narnia come second book, and I must agree with that. Of course, I’ll never know now given that I read it in a different order, but if you haven’t read any book yet and I may recommend? Read The Magician’s Nephew second to last. :) It would make the reading experience a little bit more magical.

As usual, I liked Aslan’s presence in this book, and I liked how the final events were tied neatly at the end, explaining just exactly why some things happened in the next books. Oh, and if you’re wondering — the explanation of the lamp post is there, too.

Like I said, I wasn’t expecting to really like this, but I was glad those expectations weren’t met. This definitely made me more ready to read The Last Battle, and a little bit more ready to say goodbye to Narnia, a land that I’ve been visiting for the last two years. :)

Rating:

Required Reading: April

Other reviews:
Dark Chest of Wonders

Reviews of other Narnia books:
#2 The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
#3 The Horse and His Boy
#4 Prince Caspian
#5 Voyage of the Dawn Treader
#6 The Silver Chair

On Anniversaries and Book Discussions

My April has been pretty packed, if you noticed based on my online disappearance. It wasn’t as busy as my March was (come on, birthday months are always busy), but April had a different kind of thing. I’m actually a little bit overwhelmed when I realized that April is ending on Monday. What happened to my month.

April is a big month for me, in terms of bookish activities though. I haven’t been reading that much, or reviewing, but I assure you, I’ve been doing lots of bookish things with bookish friends. And those are the best things, right? :)

Happy second birthday, book club!

Two years ago, my book club was born. Okay, it wasn’t really — the club has been online for how many years but they only started meeting face to face on April 2010. I wasn’t a part of the book club then — I only joined the group on their second official meet up — but looking back, it almost feels like I’ve been with them from the very start.

So on April 15, we all met to celebrate our book club’s birthday.

Happy second birthday, TFG!

Continue Reading →

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Hitchhiker’s Guide # 1
Publisher: Del Rey

Number of pages: 216

Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.

Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker’s Guide (“A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have”) and a galaxy-full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox–the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod’s girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years.

* * *

When I was new with my current job, one of my colleagues told me about his favorite book, one that, according to him, made him laugh like a crazy loon by himself. I didn’t really take note of it, since our reading genres were very different, and even when he lent me a copy of the book, I still didn’t give much thought about it. When I first met my new friends at the book club, I saw one of them carry this big black book that looks like a dictionary…or a Bible, even. Just like that, I found myself encountering that same book again.

Of course, I still didn’t read it, because I just wasn’t interested. But ever since we started a 100 Favorite Books list in our book club, and ever since we all decided to discuss books face to face, I had run out of excuses. After years and years of not paying attention to the book, I finally picked up a copy and read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

How do I describe what this book without spoiling things, or without thinking everything I am writing is absolutely ridiculous is a bit of a problem, so I will just not write about that. Instead, I’ll write about what this book has: the end of the world. Oh, but not the Mayan kind with natural disasters. There’s also a poor guy who just happened to be at one place at a certain time who may not be so poor now because he practically becomes the last human being everywhere. And then there were aliens. Spaceships, too. And finally, the Ultimate Question. Or, not.

My friend was right, though — this book was very funny. I found myself giggling every now and then to this book, often times while I was on my commute to work or some other place. I’ve always been wary about sci-fi stuff because I feel like my brain cannot comprehend much of it (except maybe it is has something to do with computers, even if they’re medical computers), but I found The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy quite readable even if it was absolutely absurd at some point. Maybe that’s really the point.

It’s funny, yes, but I didn’t really find it absolutely hilarious. It’s good, but I don’t really have the urge to get the next ones and read it immediately (although they did say it gets better there). I enjoyed it, but perhaps not quite as much as my friends enjoyed it.

However, I did enjoy discussing this book with my book club over breakfast. With questions about favorite characters, what we’ll do in case the world ends and if we’ll allow ourselves to have a babel fish (of course – very useful for travel!). Having a group of friends to discuss a book about in detail makes me like the book a little bit more, possibly because I tend to associate the memories with the book.

Goodreads Filipino Group -  Face to Face Book Discussion # 3 (Photo c/o Kwesi)

Goodreads Filipino Group – Face to Face Book Discussion # 3 (Photo c/o Kwesi)

And because it had to be commented: what kind of answer is 42, anyway?

Rating:

Other reviews:
Dark Chest of Wonders
reading is the ultimate aphrodisiac
Book Rhapsody

Minis: Letting Go and Promises

I think my reading slump is over, because I’ve managed to finish 4 books in the last few days. My Jane Eyre book discussion has passed, too, and it really doesn’t give me any more excuses to why I am not blogging. I thought I’d take it easy and write a set of mini reviews first before taking a crack at the longer ones. Just two books this time (and don’t you just love that title?). :)

Artemis Lets Go by Justine Camacho-Tajonera

Artemis Lets Go by Justine Camacho-Tajonera
Publisher: Lulu
Number of pages:  119
My copy: paperback, review copy from author

Follow Artemis Torillo as she learns to let go of her first love, Simon de Guia, and discover herself in the process.

* * *

For a moment there, I thought this was kind of a paranormal thing, because of the name of the main character. It wasn’t — it was really a story of how Artemis, also known as Em, found love in an almost unexpected place and then lost it just as unexpectedly. We follow Em in her college and working years as she struggled to let go, and as the short blurb says, finds herself in the process.

Artemis Lets Go is very readable, and it reminded me of my favorite time in my life — my college days. If I wasn’t mistaken, I would’ve thought the org that Em joined was my old org in college (one I did not stay in for a long time), because everything was just so familiar. The book had a general wistful tone at the start as we get into Em’s story, followed by a hopeful note when things started resolving for her.

That being said, though, I’m afraid I didn’t find much to rave about in the book. It was exactly what the blurb says, and there wasn’t much surprise factor in the book. I appreciated it because it was familiar and it was very easy to read, but I feel that maybe I would be the only one who would appreciate it among my friends, except if they happen to be going through the exact same thing.

Nevertheless, I thought it was pretty okay. Needs a bit more length and plot twists, but overall a quick an easy read.

Rating:
Avatar the Last Airbender Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Promise Part 1 by Gene Luen Yang
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Number of pages:  76
My copy: ebook from Netgalley

The wait is over! Ever since the conclusion of Avatar: The Last Airbender, its millions of fans have been hungry for more–and it’s finally here!

This series of digests rejoins Aang and friends for exciting new adventures, beginning with a faceoff against the Fire Nation that threatens to throw the world into another war, testing all of Aang’s powers and ingenuity!

* The continuation of Airbender and the link to its upcoming sequel, Legend of Korra!

* * *

I never really go to the graphic novels section of NetGalley, but anything Avatar: The Last Airbender related is an automatic pick for me. I loved the series, so reading this was a definite treat.

The graphic novel picks up immediately where the series ended (spoiler warning if you haven’t watched the entire series yet), where Aang and Zuko and the rest of the gang were working on bringing back peace in the world. One of the things they were planning to do was to return the Earth Nation land that the Fire Nation invaded back to its rightful owners, but trouble looms when resistance comes. Zuko experiences a personal crisis and asks Aang to promise something…something that Aang wasn’t sure if he can really fulfill. But a promise is a promise, right?

What. Fun. I loved this graphic novel, and it brought back fond memories of the series I loved. I love that it picked up where it left off, providing excellent continuity. I love that everyone was there too, and honestly, I could imagine the graphic novel all animated and their voices still rang in my head (Dante Basco!). The funny and serious parts were pretty balanced, and the “oogie” moments were hilarious.

It’s also quite apt that I read this a few weeks before I got to watch the first few episodes of Legend of Korra. If you’re a fan of the series, you really shouldn’t miss this. The only thing I wish is that it was longer, or, that I have part 2 with me already! And part 3! Please, NetGalley, please have it in your catalog? :)

Rating: