Faves of TwentyEleven: The Characters

From books, we go to characters! Today is the second day of the Faves of TwentyEleven series hosted by Nomes of inkcrush. :) Characters are my favorite part in a book, and sometimes I think they may even be more important than plot. I believe strong characters can revive an overused or boring plot, so I always pay attention to them. Here are some of the characters that stood out for me in the books I read in 2011. :)

Day Two: The Characters

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Faves of TwentyEleven: The Books

I remember making my own set of best-of lists for last year, but this year I don’t have that same gimmick, so I’ll ride on other bloggers’ gimmicks instead. Ha. Here’s my first post for the Faves of Twenty Eleven hosted by Nomes of inkcrush! :)

Day One: The Books

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Reading Buddies: A Monster Calls (3)

Part 1 | Part 2
Possible spoilers below.

Part 1 – From Americans Don’t Get Much Holidays to No Tale

1. In the monster’s second tale, the parson’s home was destroyed. Do you think it was the right thing for the monster to do, given his explanation?

I think we’ve already established from the monster’s first story that he likes gray areas, and it’s the same for this one. I don’t really feel that the parson’s house should have been destroyed — I found that it was too cruel. But if you’re willing to give up everything, then you should also be ready to lose everything, too — after all, you’ve given them up. Sometimes, we just don’t know how much that everything is.

This reminds me of one line I read from a YFC conference: If you don’t stand for anything, you will fall for everything. In this case, everything fell for the parson because he let go of all he stood for.

2. Why do you think people find it easy to give up everything they believe in when times are harder?

I think it’s because people want something concrete to hold on to in times of trials. They want some surefire solutions for their problems, or at least, something that will tell them that it will be okay. Beliefs are usually abstract, something that requires faith, and faith requires you to believe even without seeing or knowing if it will be okay. It’s not easy to surrender and trust that everything will be okay so people will grasp anything that comes their way, regardless if it’s for or against their beliefs, if it means ensuring everything will be fine.

3. “Belief is the half of all healing. Belief is the cure, belief in the future that awaits.” Do you think Conor had this kind of belief?

No. Not yet, anyway. He wanted to believe it, I think, but at the back of his mind, there are still those doubts. I’m sure we’ve all had this moment — wanting to believe that things will be okay, but also preparing ourselves for things to not go well in case it doesn’t.

4. Why do you think his Grandmother reacted that way to Conor’s actions? What about his dad?

Like what everyone else in the discussion said, I think his grandma is also just trying to be strong. You know how when want to cry but you stop yourself because you can’t cry yet for some reason? But then when someone else cries, or when someone hugs you, the tears just come? I think it’s the same situation with Conor’s grandmother — she’s been trying to be strong for her daughter, but when she saw her grandson lose control, she finds permission to do so, too.

As for his dad — like I mentioned in the last post, his relationship with Conor is already strained, and I don’t think his dad knew how to really talk to Conor. It doesn’t make it right, but I don’t think it’s wrong either. It’s just sad — sad to be strangers with someone you’re not supposed to be strangers with.

 


Reading Buddies: A Monster Calls (2)

Part 1
Possible spoilers below.

Part 2 – From The Wildness of Stories to Champ

In the next chapters, the monster tells Conor his first story. We read of a tale of a prince, a witch and a farm girl, of a villain who isn’t quite what she seems. This first tale surprises Conor in such a way that it leaves him more confused.

Conor’s dad from arrives from America, and he wishes for him to be more approachable. But Conor’s dad is estranged and offers little comfort to his son.

1. Who is the hero in the monster’s first tale? Who is the villain? How does the story keep surprising Conor? What does Conor hope to learn from the story? What does he actually learn?

When I first read the story, I expected the same thing as everyone who’s read it: that there is a clearly defined hero and villain. So color me surprised too when the story was twisted. Like what everyone else had said in the discussion, Conor was expecting the monster to provide him straight answers, but the monster doesn’t work that way.

This tells us that life is rarely in black and white. People are rarely ever plain good or simply evil — we are more complicated than that. In every “evil” person there’s some good and in every good person, they have junk, too.

2. While the monster was finishing the story, Conor asked him, “So how is that supposed to save me from her?” The monster replied, “It is not her you need saving from.” If it wasn’t Conor’s grandma, then who do you think the monster means?

I think it’s pretty obvious that Conor needs saving from himself. While Conor knows that his mom was sick, I don’t think he’s ever really accepted that. Denial is a strong defense mechanism and I think it tends to keep people in a cage, or at least, blind them with what they need to see. I think Conor needs to see that he needs to save himself from his denial, and not from his grandma.

3. Describe Conor’s relationship with his dad. Do you think it would have been easier for him to go through this if his parents weren’t divorced?

Their relationship was awkward. I do think Conor wanted to get to know his dad even if he wasn’t close to him — there were those moments when Conor seemed to want to talk to his dad more, especially now that things were starting to get worse.

I’d like to believe that their strained relationship is an effect of the divorce. I’ve always believed that quality time is one of the things that builds relationships, and that’s what Conor and his dad lacked. As for making it easier, I think it would still depend on how his dad would handle the ordeal. I don’t have any experience to speak of (and I pray not to have that), but from what I’ve seen and read, people react differently to diseases, especially with cancer. However, I know that with whatever challenge, it’s always better when you have someone by your side.


Reading Buddies: A Monster Calls (1)

You’d think I would have had enough of A Monster Calls after I sung praises to it when I reviewed it, and then sang more praises to it after I saw the trailer. And truth be told, as beautiful as the book was, it’s really not a book that you’d want to reread immediately. Okay, I would reread it for the writing, but not really for the story, especially because I think it has that The Passion of the Christ movie1  effect: you only want to read it once, but it’s not the kind of book you’d read again for pleasure. Unless you’re looking for a good cry.

But that doesn’t stop me from pushing it to people, of course. And push I did, especially when I saw a copy in Fully Booked. Anyway, long story short, Aaron and I convinced Ariel to get this book (And I quote: “It’s Patrick Ness. Of course it’s auto-buy.”). Ariel caved in, and got so excited about it after2 that he roped me and other friends to read the book together. And since I’ve read the book already, I was the default discussion leader.

And so here I am again, reading the book for the second time, and this time, paying more attention to the details because I had to ask some questions. This time, though, I’m more prepared — I have tissues with me all the time. :P

Anyway, so I’m hosting the first blog-based Reading Buddies discussion in the Goodreads Filipino Group. Basically, we’d read the book together, the leader would ask some questions, and we’d answer it on our blogs and discuss further in the thread. I know there’s a lot of channels with this, but think of it this way: more people can participate, even those who are not a part of the group (this means you, whoever you are who is reading this).

For A Monster Calls, we divided the book into five parts, based on how the story goes. Since there are no chapter numbers, we just used chapter titles:

Part 1 – From A Monster Calls to Grandma

Part 2 – From The Wildness of Stories to Champ

Part 3 – From Americans Don’t Get Much Holidays to No Tale

Part 4 – From I No Longer See You to 100 Years

Part 5 – From What’s the Use of You to The Truth

Each part will have about 3-4 questions which we will answer on our blogs and I will round up here. The discussion will run during the month of October. If you haven’t read the book but would like to, you can join us by writing a post on your own blog, or just leaving a comment. If you do decide to write a post about it, you can leave a link to your blog on the widget below so we can drop by and read your answers, too. :)

So! After that long introduction, I’ve got the first set of questions and my answers under the cut below. Disclaimer: Some questions were taken from Candlewick’s discussion guide for the book. Slight spoiler warning for those who haven’t read the book yet. :) Mister Linky widget is waaay below, scroll down if you want to just leave a link.

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  1. Hold your horses! I’m not saying that this book is religious or I am comparing the story to Jesus’ and all that. I am merely using the movie as an analogy. Because I really liked that movie, but I cannot, for the life of me, ask my friends to watch it with me again because it hurts to watch it. []
  2. This might be my fault, with all the “I really think you will like this!” I said to him. []