Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Blackbury
Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks
My copy: Unabridged Audiobook

Fahrenheit 451 is set in a grim alternate-future setting ruled by a tyrannical government in which firemen as we understand them no longer exist: Here, firemen don’t douse fires, they ignite them. And they do this specifically in homes that house the most evil of evils: books.

Books are illegal in Bradbury’s world, but books are not what his fictional — yet extremely plausible — government fears: They fear the knowledge one pulls from books. Through the government’s incessant preaching, the inhabitants of this place have come to loathe books and fear those who keep and attempt to read them. They see such people as eccentric, dangerous, and threatening to the tranquility of their state.

But one day a fireman named Montag meets a young girl who demonstrates to him the beauty of books, of knowledge, of conceiving and sharing ideas; she wakes him up, changing his life forever. When Montag’s previously held ideology comes crashing down around him, he is forced to reconsider the meaning of his existence and the part he plays. After Montag discovers that “all isn’t well with the world,” he sets out to make things right.

* * *

There were several times when my bookish friends and I would joke around about burning some books that we don’t like, especially that vampire series that just doesn’t seem to want to die (or well, I think other books are replacing it now?). It’s really all just a joke, because for the life of me, I can’t imagine myself burning a book, no matter how much I disliked/hated it. I remember this one time where I heard of a book being torn in front of some people in school — some hater getting at it at the face of the authors — and even if I didn’t witness it first hand, my heart hurt just a little bit at the thought of a book being damaged like that.

in Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, doing such things to books are a commonplace. Books are illegal, and firemen go around hunting for books (and houses of books) to burn. Everyone’s focused on television and other seemingly mindless things, and anyone who thinks otherwise are considered dangerous. Guy Montag is a fireman, and he has lived with burning books, until he meets his neighbor, Clarisse. Clarisse makes him ask questions about his life — his wife, his job and all the question about books. He slowly realizes that maybe his life wasn’t really what he wanted it to be and sets out to do something about it.

It’s been a while since I read a dystopian book, so it took me a while to adjust to Fahrenheit 451‘s world. Since I was listening to this on audio, it took me an even longer time to really get into it. I liked the premise of the book, and as a book lover, Montag’s world felt depressing. I didn’t want that, and when I got to the chapter where Montag and his firemen buddies burned a house of books, I was wincing all the time. Ack. Perhaps there’s also something about the way Bradbury writes (and how the book was narrated) — the rhythm of his words felt almost hypnotic. I suppose it helped that I listened to the audiobook, because I thought the narrator had a very fitting voice for the story.

I liked Fahrenheit 451, and I think that it’s still quite relevant now. Bradbury wrote this book as a statement about how “…television destroys interest in reading literature,” and while that is still true, I think that there’s another competition that’s really taking everyone’s interest: internet. I mentioned during our book discussion how everyone’s so attached to being online now — myself included. I remember reading this story about the mom who gave his teenage son an iPhone for Christmas but with a contract, and this particular line in the contract got to me: Turn it off, silence it, put it away in public.  Especially in a restaurant, at the movies, or while speaking with another human being.  You are not a rude person; do not allow the iPhone to change that. (Source) I’m very guilty of this, and I’m trying to get rid of this habit, and I realized that our attachment to our smart phones and internet is another way for us to lose interest in reading. I mean, I haven’t lost interest yet, but how many times have I ended up playing with my phone, going online in all my social media accounts on the times I said I would be reading? How many times have I chosen tweeting over making an effort to make actual conversation? Those kinds of things. It’s a bit disconcerting to think about it, but I guess that’s the point of this book, anyway. It’s definitely something to think about.

I just wished there was more to Fahrenheit 451‘s ending. I wished there was more to know about the people who memorized books so no one would ever forget them, and that it didn’t simply feel like an afterthought to the story. The ending kind of reminded me of The Giver — a bit open-ended, but good enough to leave the reader asking some questions. Especially questions like, If I can only memorize one book and one book alone, which would I pick? I do not have an answer to that question. Do you?


Required Reading: January

Other reviews:
Book Rhapsody


Insurgent by Veronica RothInsurgent by Veronica Roth
Divergent # 2
HarperTeen, 525 pages

One choice can transform you–or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves–and herself–while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris’s initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable–and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

I didn’t really love Divergent when I first read it, but I liked it well enough to get the second book in the series. I must admit that I’m really more into it because of the covers because it would look nice on my shelf, but as for knowing what happens next, I wasn’t in a hurry to read it anytime. Call me ambivalent, I guess. That, and I may be one of the few readers who don’t have a fictional crush on Four.

But anyway, Insurgent is the second book in the latest dystopian YA series taking readers by a storm. This book picks up immediately from where the first book ended, so I had to check the last parts of the first book before reading through this one to remember how things ended. The action was there at the start, and I was really interested in knowing what would happen to Tris and Four and the rest.Thing was, I actually forgot who the other characters were, so I kind of groped in the dark as I read on.

I think my favorite part of Insurgent is really getting to know the other factions more. I liked their “field trips” between Amity, Candor, Erudite and even the Factionless. I liked seeing how the other factions worked, and how they supported how their world lives. My issues at how the world like this can exist that I mentioned in the first book still remain, but I guess I’m more forgiving this time around because I was curious about how their world operated. We see more of the villain and how cunning she is…but also, she didn’t give much dangerous vibes than I expected. She’s just…smart, but dangerous? Nope, didn’t feel like it. There were a lot of betrayals in this book though, and it was hard to know who to really believe in as the story unfolds.

My main issue with Insurgent is really its length. It felt so long, but there were too little things happening! Divergent had me glued to the pages with all the exciting things, but the sequel kind of fell flat with that. I felt that it went on too long when some scenes could have been cut, or shortened. Perhaps it was written that way to show more of the world that Tris lives in, or fine, to give way to introduce the factions more, but I think it could have been made shorter. I remember coming to a point where I was almost skimming the pages because I wanted to get to the exciting parts. While I did like knowing more about the factions, I can’t help but wish it hurried with the action scenes in the end. Case in point: this was my favorite part in the book, but see that it happens in p. 440, where one would normally expect more exciting things to be happening in a 500+ page book:

Of course, this lukewarm reaction could be because I was reading an equally long book while I was reading this one, so I could be just in the middle of a slump and I was feeling impatient.

I did like Insurgent‘s ending though, and it had that second-book-in-trilogy-cliffhanger ending that I kind of expected, like how Mira Grant did it with Deadline. The ending feels like a game-changer and I am curious with how Veronica Roth will run away with this one. Overall, I liked Insurgent but not as much as I enjoyed the first book. I will still read the last book, just to satisfy my curiosity…but I think I’ll just borrow the next book instead of just buying one for my own. Unless of course the cover convinces me otherwise, that is.


My copy: hardcover, bought from Fully Booked

Other reviews:
reading is the ultimate aphrodisiac
The Book Smugglers

Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Publisher: Random House
Number of pages: 509
My copy: paperback, bought from Fully Booked

A reluctant voyager crossing the Pacific in 1850; a disinherited composer blagging a precarious livelihood in between-the-wars Belgium; a high-minded journalist in Governor Reagan’s California; a vanity publisher fleeing his gangland creditors; a genetically modified “dinery server” on death-row; and Zachry, a young Pacific Islander witnessing the nightfall of science and civilisation—the narrators of Cloud Atlas hear each other’s echoes down the corridor of history, and their destinies are changed in ways great and small.

In his captivating third novel, David Mitchell erases the boundaries of language, genre and time to offer a meditation on humanity’s dangerous will to power, and where it may lead us.

* * *

If you asked me a year ago if I knew who David Mitchell was and if I have plans of reading any of his books ever, I probably would just give you a blank stare and then shake my head. I had no idea who he was, and his books weren’t really my type of books. So when my friend Monique reviewed Cloud Atlas early this year, I liked the review but I didn’t think that I’d go and get it because it felt like a “serious” book and I was still attached to my YA.

Then…I don’t know, peer pressure? Word of mouth? Hype? I see more and more of David Mitchell’s name on Goodreads, and more and more people raving about him and so I wonder — what’s the deal with him? Is he really that amazing? Will I like him too? Curiosity won me over, so I decided to finally try a Mitchell book. Since Cloud Atlas seemed to be the most popular, and the fact that its movie is coming soon, some book club friends and I set up a reading buddy session with the fans eagerly eavesdropping on our mini-discussion.

Cloud Atlas contains six stories that span across different eras and set in different places all over the world with completely different characters and story lines. At first it seems that each story is independent from one another, until after I finished the first chapter and I was all, “Huh?”. As it turns out, the six stories were structured in a way that each is connected to the other despite the differences in settings, characters and genre. Yes, genre. Curious yet?

We start with The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing, a journal of an American notary from Chatham Islands back to California set in 1850. From Adam we meet Robert Forbisher in Letters From Zedelghem, who writes to his friend Rufus Sixsmith about his time as an amanuensis to an old and blind musical genius, Vyvyan Ayrs, who can’t distinguish a piano hinge in his condition, but can talk and make good music despite it. Decades later, in Half-Lives: The First Luisa Rey Mystery, there’s Rufus Sixsmith again, and he meets journalist Luisa Rey who attempts to blow a conspiracy wide open. After we are left hanging with Luisa Rey, in comes the British Timothy Cavendish, a publisher who gets in all sorts of scrapes which he thinks could form a movie on his life entitled The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish, if he can get out of it alive. Even more years later, in An Orison of Sonmi~451, we are transported into a dystopian world set in a new Korea called Nea So Copros, and clones called fabricants are employed to do all sorts of dirty work for everyone. Sonmi~451 is a clone who is up for execution and she is given the chance to tell her stor before she goes to the Litehouse. Finally, set into the very distant future, there’s Zachry and the story of his tribe in Sloosha’s Crossin’ an’ Everythin’ After. From there, the story goes back to Sonmi~451, Tim Cavendish, Luisa Rey, Robert Forbisher and finally back to Adam Ewing.

Here’s the thing about Cloud Atlas that made me realize that I will like it: it’s like a novel of spin-offs stories. And I like spin-offs. I liked how Mitchell surprised me in every story, and I wasn’t sure what to expect every time a chapter ends (and more often than not, I’m left wanting more with every chapter because it just ends). I liked how he stretched my imagination with every story, I liked the way he writes and how the novel switches from one genre to another seamlessly. By the third story, I knew I would like the book — the question is how much I would really like it. As I read the last few chapters, I thought this would just be a four-star book…and then I got to the end. You know how you don’t want the book to end, but you want to keep on reading because you want to know what happens? Then when you get to the very final line, the chills just come? And they were awesome chills? Really awesome chills? And then you want to read the book all over again? That’s what Cloud Atlas did to me.

I know this review is being a bit vague, but this book is not the kind of book that you’d want to be spoiled when you read it. The structure may seem like a gimmick, but I think for this story, it’s an effective way to tell the story and make connections. As a whole, I think Cloud Atlas is a book that deals with connectedness. Each character’s story can stand on their own and can be taken as it is, but once you start putting them together, we see that their stories become richer, more meaningful in several ways. It’s just like how each of us has our own story and we can live with just that…but once our lives cross with one another and our stories touch…everything changes.

To summarize: I loved Cloud Atlas. I loved it, I loved it. And from how my friends have raved about Mitchell’s other books, I am now looking forward to reading the rest of his works. Especially if his other characters make a cameo in his other novels! :) I think that’s the best part of this Cloud Atlas reading experience: discovering a new author whose works will make you just want to read more and more and more.

Oh, and I am definitely looking forward to the movie. Have you seen the five-minute trailer?

YouTube Preview Image

Awesome, awesome chills. :)


Required Reading: September

Other reviews:
Book Rhapsody
A Thought On Each Page

Monsters of Men

Monsters of MenMonsters of Men by Patrick Ness
Chaos Walking # 3
Publisher: Walker & Company
Number of pages: 603
My copy: paperback, bought from Fully Booked

In the riveting conclusion to the acclaimed dystopian series, a boy and girl caught in the chaos of war face devastating choices that will decide the fate of a world.

As a world-ending war surges around them, Todd and Viola face monstrous decisions. The indigenous Spackle, thinking and acting as one, have mobilized to avenge their murdered people. Ruthless human leaders prepare to defend their factions at all costs, even as a convoy of new settlers approaches. And as the ceaseless Noise lays all thoughts bare, the projected will of the few threatens to overwhelm the desperate desire of the many. The consequences of each action, each word, are unspeakably vast: To follow a tyrant or a terrorist? To save the life of the one you love most, or thousands of strangers? To believe in redemption, or assume it is lost? Becoming adults amid the turmoil, Todd and Viola question all they have known, racing through horror and outrage toward a shocking finale.

* * *

So it took me a while to write a review of this book, for several reasons. First is the usual excuse that I am just busy (I still have a huge review backlog), second is that I don’t know how to start the review, and third is because I’m just not sure how to really rate this book.

Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness is the final installment to the Chaos Walking trilogy, and it is all about war. And it’s not just the kind of war that we’ve read in The Hunger Games trilogy, but a bigger, badder and more intense kind of war that kind of exhausted me when I was reading it. Wait, scratch that — it did not just kind of exhausted me but I really got exhausted.

I’m not sure how to write about the plot of the book because I’m afraid my words won’t suffice. Even the summary I posted above doesn’t say much about the everything that’s happened in the book. It was intense, but I loved the intensity it carried – it starts out with a bang and pauses and then brings it back all over again. The stakes are higher, and there isn’t just two sides in this war. You’d find yourself wondering just who really is the bad guy in this, and if the actions of the “good” people would be justified because of their intentions. I felt torn over the motivations of the people, and somehow, reading about them as they were revealed made me sympathize even with the most unlikely characters. Yes, even the Mayor — I think he had some of the best moments in this book and I can’t help but feel a bit sorry for him. He’s such a complex villain that it’s not easy to simply just  hate him for all his supposed evilness.

It’s exhausting. But it’s also gripping. And as with every Patrick Ness book, I shed tears, because he can do that with how he deals with his characters. The writing is simple and definitely way easier to read compared to the first book, and it’s in this simplicity that makes the message shine. War makes monsters of men. Is there ever any way for us to avoid this kind of war that ruins people? Perhaps.

I honestly had a hard time rating this at first because while I thought it was very good, I also felt that maybe I was giving it that rating because of the hype and the good reviews of all the people who has read this before and has read this with me. But now that it’s been more than a month since I finished it, I realized that this book deserves no less than my current rating. After all the tears and time I have invested in this series (I read this in the span of 3 years because I had to rest in-between the books!), I must say it is truly one of the best series for young adults out right now. Monsters of Men is an excellent ending to an excellent series and I am so, so glad that I was able to read this. :)


Other reviews:
reading is the ultimate aphrodisiac

Reviews of other Chaos Walking books:
# 0.5 The New World
# 1 The Knife Of Never Letting Go
# 2 The Ask and the Answer

Minis: Alternate Endings, Award Winners and Love Stories

I feel this counts as cheating, but sometimes, I read some short stories and books just to up the number of books I read. Is that bad? They can’t really be books since they’re super short sometimes, but they count as one because they’re stories. Right? Or I’m just making excuses?

But anyway, I am still reading every-so-slowly and I really don’t know what’s up, but I will stop worrying about that. And I will “cheat” anytime I want to, so there. :P Besides, cheating means more Mini-Reviews posts, right? :D

Fed by Mira Grant Fed by Mira Grant
Publisher: Orbit
Number of pages: 53
My copy: ebook

An alternate ending to the first novel in the Newsflesh trilogy, Feed.

* * *

So I actually wrote a review on this on Goodreads as soon as I finished reading it because I was so overwhelmed. Here’s the short review in verbatim, and right now I still stand by this. Mira Grant, you are an evil genius.

If you haven’t read Feed yet, don’t even try opening this. Read it first, digest it, and then come back for this when you’re ready enough to do so.

Well if you think having your heart broken from Feed wasn’t enough, try this alternate ending. I never thought it could happen this way, but when you think about it, this seemed like the way it could and would happen.

Of course, if you’ve read Deadline, questions will pop up about how this ending happened. But that doesn’t make this less heart breaking.

Mira Grant, I am in awe.


The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu
Publisher: The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction
Number of pages: 15
My copy: ebook

A gentle fantasy. Love, paper tigers, mail order bride, culture clash.

* * *

I wouldn’t have heard of this short story if it wasn’t for my Goodreads friends who started reviewing it on their profiles.The Paper Menagerie is a short story about a boy whose mom was a mail-order bride from China who can barely speak English and can make magical paper origami. The boy had a collection of moving paper animals from his mother as a kid, and it was their odd but sweet means of communication. However, as the boy grew up, he had to deal with his friends who don’t understand their family set-up and eventually, he started drifting apart from his mother.

This short story reminded me of all those stories that I used to read as a kid, the ones that make me feel guilty and inspired at the same time — guilty because I know that I can be like the kid who push away her parents because I am starting to have my own life, but also inspired because it makes me not want to have the same fate as the kids in the story. The fantasy elements in The Paper Menagerie were indeed gentle, and at first I wasn’t sure if I read it right. It made me wonder for a moment if origami paper animals were really supposed to move and I’ve been doing the things I used to do wrong.

This is short and sweet, and it would take little time to read it. It left me with a feeling that…well, I don’t want to end up being like the boy in the end. It’s not the kind of regret that anyone wants to have, for sure. You can read The Paper Menagerie here, or listen to the story here.


Comic Stories About Love & Heartbreak Comic Stories About Love and Heartache by Various Authors, edited by Elbert Or

Comic Stories About Love and Heartache by Various Authors, edited by Elbert Or
Publisher: Psicom
My copy: gift from KD

The long-awaited anthology contains eleven stories exploring characters who have loved and been loved, have broken hearts and had their hearts broken and still love (or long to be loved).

* * *

Here’s my theory about love stories, or at least, anything romantic: my appreciation level in the story is directly related to the state of my heart while I was reading it. Wow, look at that, me using that phrase state of my heart. But it’s true, isn’t it? It’s easier to appreciate happy love stories when you’re happy, and heartache stories resonate more when you more or less share the same state, or have been in that state before and you can relate.

So how exactly did I find this comic book? Well, if the state of my heart was any indication (and I am probably digging a grave for myself by writing this), I liked it. Maybe I’m just really a romantic at heart, or I’m just a generally happy person, or there’s something else, but I thought this book is pretty sweet, despite it being “stories of love and heartache”. I’m no expert at art, but I appreciated the comics, especially the cute stories in between each major story.

I guess this is one of those books that show different facets of love, and how things can work out or how things may not work out. It’s a very quick read, and I finished it in one sitting, but I didn’t feel as if I wanted more. Perhaps the reading was enough to satisfy the state of my heart then.

My favorite part in the entire anthology is the last story, Red String, about a man who has been looking for his soul mate by looking for whoever was tied to the other end of the red string on his finger. I don’t know about you, but I found the last part quite…hopeful.

The Red String

Okay, maybe I am just a happy person. :)