Getting through this book was a chore, and it’s not even that long. The whole thing weighs in at nearly exactly 300 full color cartoon and graph filled pages. Without all that other nonsense, I think it would barely be 200. That was one of the things that made it difficult for me to read, every few paragraphs the narrative is interrupted by some kind of info-graph, quote, or fun fact. Most are meant to be funny, but they fall short and add little or nothing to the discussion. Especially the uninformative graphs and vague statistics. The pages themselves are printed to look aged and dog-eared, I guess to resemble old propaganda. Ironic, since this is a new version of the same old thing. The premise is Glen Beck arguing with himself. One of his selves is dressed in powdered wig and breeches, and the other in a soviet kitschy uniform. My guess is that the latter is the idiot, though it’s hard to be certain. The paragraphs are broken up in a sort of question and answer format, in which silly questions or statements are rebutted with his usual prattle. It’s written in the same annoying rambling way that he talks, which could be soothing to some like white noise. Personally, it makes me grind my teeth.

This book was physically painful to get through, since I was honestly trying to understand where he was coming from. To read this book I decided I should see how good it really was at supplying the reader with arguments against things. This was a mistake, and only lead to headaches, delirious giggles, and angry outbursts. So in short, the arguments were not good. As an informative tool to get readers to agree with his ideals, it’s a failure. Even if someone reading it already agreed with everything, which I’m sure is the case for most people reading his books, using the supplied arguments would be pointless. For instance, while reading the book there would be statements or questions from the idiot version of Glenn Beck that I would agree were idiotic. I could not imagine a real life person saying such a thing. So I would think, this one’s easy, no way his argument against it will fail. And then it would. Sometimes he would even start off pretty good, and then bring in an example that would make no sense and ruin whatever point he was trying to make.

In the first chapter he talks about how Amtrak is badly run, and is losing money because their tickets are underpriced and federally subsidized. He says that if you break down how much plane and train tickets cost by the amount of time a trip on each takes, the train ride should cost more because it takes longer. This runs contrary to the idea that for a plane one of the things you’re paying more for is the convenience of shorter travel time. He points out that most train tickets cost less than it would cost to drive, which I always thought was the purpose of traveling by train. It takes more time, but costs less than most anything else. Of course Amtrak has problems, but this book didn’t grant me any new knowledge. In this book, even an argument with failed logic is a winning one, because the non-idiot character always has the last word. Want the discussion to be continued? Too bad, you’re out of luck. It would be inadvisable to try such a thing in spoken form, since the supplied arguments just will not hold up outside of the fixed print environment of the book. Though if the argument is with a wall, or a picture of someone you don’t like, I’m sure they would work out just fine.

Each chapter addressed a different political subject, and each seemed to make less and less sense. Maybe because I had progressively lost more and more faith in anything in this book being useful. I don’t even know where to start with my problems with the details of the chapters. Pretty much every one had something in it that was completely retarded and ruined any credibility I might have granted him. For instance, the chapter about energy was like a love letter to the oil companies. You know, those guys that are so nice as to provide us all with that wonderful liquid that gets us to and from work, so we can make money to buy the food and other things we need to survive. And that same fuel also gets the things we need to us from wherever they’re produced. They’re so helpful they even decided to share this wonder substance with us for free by spreading it all over the beaches and wetlands along the Gulf Coast. And also, apparently they pay a large and unfair amount in taxes which go to help our communities. Glenn Beck writes that Exxon Mobile’s total taxes in 2008 were $116.2 billion, which was more than twice it’s net profit. That’s not what Forbes had to say about it, but apparently they were just confused by the accounting when they reported that Exxon Mobile had paid no income taxes in the U.S. in 2009, and totally legally reinvest their earnings in overseas tax shelters. Sure income isn’t the only tax, but it’s definitely one of the biggest.

Other chapters about capitalism, economics, universal healthcare, and unions were similar in their love for big huge businesses. Apparently if you don’t trust that giant corporations have our best interests at heart, then you’re a communist socialist crazy-pants. In the chapter about education, he says that the idea that everyone deserves a quality education is like saying everyone deserves a brand new Mercedes. And that it sounds a little socialist to say that if everyone can’t afford something it’s not good or fair. I was unaware that being literate and functionally educated was such a comparable luxury. The economics chapter includes this graph showing that the group with the most income growth was African-American women:

George Bush Hates Black People: Real Median Income Growth, 1980-2007
Black Women       80%
White Women       78%
Black Men            34%
White Men            10%
All People             40%

He uses this to conclude that Kanye was wrong about institutionalized racism, and that it’s actually white males that aren’t making as much. However, he fails to also point out in the text that the growth for Caucasian women was almost as high. And that in the time period shown in the graph it was becoming more common for women to work outside the home. So really, any income increase from nothing is going to appear substantial. In the universal healthcare chapter he says that people without insurance are just too lazy to get it, because the insurance companies already offer affordable plans for everyone. Of course when it comes to insurance, low monthly payment almost always means high co-pays and thousand dollar deductibles. Which makes having insurance nearly useless unless you have thousands of dollars saved up to cover anything less than catastrophic. And if you still can’t afford it or don’t get accepted then there’s always a rich benevolent family member you can loan money from, or a charitable organization.

Basically, in the world of Glenn Beck, if you’re rich you’re obviously a wonderful hard working person and if you’re not, you’re lazy but might be able to get someone to help you. This sentiment is echoed in the discussion of the tax system and how it unfairly targets the wealthiest 1% of individuals. None of the percentages in the graphs made sense or matched up with what was written in the text, and thus failed to convince me that our government is victimizing the billionaires. The tired example he used to explain how we common folk benefit from our capitalist system (trickle down vs trickle up economics) was that it was like a mountain stream, flowing downhill so the peasants in the valley can drink it, and use it to cook and clean. Therefore we need to keep our mountaintop covered in snow and be happy peasants so that we can all benefit, because water can’t move uphill. But shit also flows downhill, and water can be absorbed up through anything porous. And neither shit nor water are money, which can move either way.

Two of the last chapters are a bit of a history lesson, for those who were unfortunate enough to go to school. In one he covers all of the presidents and how they were progressively progressive. There’s a lot of discussion about the horrors of government regulation in this book, but no talk of times when it’s been beneficial. For instance, one of his personal least favorite presidents was FDR, who he said created all kinds of useless federal agencies and acts that over-expanded the government and prolonged the Depression. He gives these unemployment percentages, says that the economy didn’t benefit from the New Deal, and that there was no recovery until WWII:

Unemployment during the New Deal and New Deal II
1933: 24.9%      1935: 20.1%      1937: 14.3%
1934: 21.7%      1936: 16.9%      1938: 19.0%

The numbers look like a steady decline in unemployment, I’m not sure how that means bad things. I guess it could have been better, and it was vastly improved by our entering the war, but these numbers aren’t enough to convince me that the New Deal totally ruined everything. Unless Glenn Beck has a way to look into alternate realities in which there was no New Deal and the economy got all better by itself in a year or so, which I really doubt. One of the many apparently useless things passed was the Fair Labor Standards Act, which included more detailed child labor laws. So I guess since the New Deals were an unjustified over-reaching of federal power, then child labor, and otherwise cheap labor, is good because it’s good for business. Although in the chapter about illegal immigration he writes that illegal immigrants lower the cost of labor (and also are to blame for nearly every other thing wrong with the country) by insisting on working for less than citizens which is bad. So I guess that’s one of the few times that more regulation is a good idea. I’m just trying to follow the logic, if there is any.

The final chapter is a sort of layman’s guide to the constitution, in which Glenn Beck uses small words and cartoons to explain what he thinks everything means. He seems to oppose the idea that the constitution is a living document, despite the amendments. Maybe now that it’s had 26 amendments added to it the thing is finally perfect? As usual for the book, the descriptions and illustrations don’t shine much light on the actual text. Though having snippets of it conveniently included was nice to read as a refresher from high school government class. Then there are the over 20 pages of citations, very nicely organized. A lot of them are web sites of varied credibility, and a large chunk of those from mainstream news sources are opinion columns. I can’t say I did more than skim though, so maybe the information from books was actually well rounded from a variety of sources.

Throughout the book Glenn Beck states that he’s not an expert on many topics, but that he’s a thinker. That contradictory ‘listen to me even though I don’t know what I’m talking about’ feature of Glenn Beck’s various shows has always annoyed me. I guess that’s supposed to be his humility but I find his double-talk inherently deceitful. Combine that with the numerous mentions of his former alcoholism, and all the times that he talks about how much people dislike him, and this book would make an awesome drinking game. Perhaps that would dull some of the pain of trying to read it. I believe that listening to and reading about views in opposition to my own is important, but I won’t count this as such an endeavor. It’s written as if the readers are slow witted children. Hopefully sometime in the future I’ll find political books to read that actually enlighten me to new ways of thinking instead of making my brain melt. Suggestions are welcome in the comment section.

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It was by complete chance, a random bit of serendipity, that I heard of this novel. While I was working on my computer, I was vaguely listening to the television in the background. It was on Current, my favorite randomness channel. Airing was a clip from Embedded about musical artist Zee Avi (whose music is pretty great), who was in a book store talking about her favorite books. One of them was The Unbearable Lightness of Being, which she quoted. It was the quote that caught my attention, as it happened to be just the thing to make me feel better at just that moment. So I decided that I needed to read the rest of the book, which was an extremely good idea.

The part that she quoted was, “What can life be worth if life’s first rehearsal is life itself?”, which is the basis of the philosophy of the novel. She added that to her it meant that, “…life isn’t like a science experiment; you can’t do option a, and then say ‘oh, I don’t like that’, and then go back and do option b… so whatever you do is just… that’s your outcome, that’s your result.’ After reading the book, I agree with her interpretation. The book’s philosophy posits itself in opposition of Friedrich Nietzsche’s concept of eternal recurrence and the weight that such a system puts on life. Instead, the book focuses on the opposition of weight and lightness, and which is the positive and which the negative. If life is lived once instead of repeatedly, then actions take on less meaning and relative weight. Paradoxically, this lightness brings about suffering because people want their actions to have meaning.

At the moment that this caught my attention, I was thinking about just that situation, and feeling that if I only had one life then I was doing a bad job with it. I felt that if I only had the one chance then my actions had greater weight, which was stressing me out. Every choice seemed extremely serious and life changing, even little things had to be analyzed carefully. The quote offered me another perspective that was new to me. Instead of reading the book and finding it at odds with my previous way of thinking I found that it offered an alternative view, one that was cautiously optimistic and ambivalent while leaving the possibility of uncertainty. I found it more relaxing to think that there was no certainty and that I wasn’t the first person to be bothered with whether my actions were light or heavy.

The novel itself is narrated by the author and follows the lives of two couples. Their relationships with one another serve to illustrate various arguments concerning weight vs. lightness. The main couple is Tomas and Tereza; Tomas loves Tereza but has a very light view of sex and his womanizing causes her much grief because her love and loyalty for him has great weight. One of his mistresses, Sabina, is a free spirited artist who has another married lover named Franz. Tomas and Tereza’s dog Karenin even serves as an illustration of love and devotion while being at one with the lightness of life. The life stories of the characters are intertwined in meaningful ways, as each has a different approach to life and an affect on another character.

The story is set in many locations, but is centered in Prague in 1968, at the time of the Russian invasion and height of communist rule. These factors also play a key role in the lives and actions of the characters, adding the aspects of outside circumstances and the influence of politics to their decisions. The storyline has a beautiful way of linking these varied approaches to life and environmental influences with cause and effect, which is complicated at times but not difficult to understand. As the different points of view are revealed, new motives and ideas are exposed, and different aspects of life and love are embodied.

Reading it was both heartbreaking and soothing, the balance of the two was a further illustration of the underlying philosophy. There was something familiar in each character, especially Tereza’s love of reading and seeing books as the password for a secret society of kindred spirits. By the end of the book I also realized that it had been referenced in a Bright Eyes song, Tereza and Tomas. I’ve listened to that song a ton of times and it was strange thinking that I could have found out about this book years ago, but didn’t. Also, if I had read it at that time I would have gotten a very different impression of it, because I hadn’t begun to think of my decisions as being either important or not. It seemed like a very timely realization; to find out about this book once my weighty ideas about life had formed. That way it could offer another way of looking at things. For that this book has definitely gained the lofty title of being my new favorite.

This book took me little over four hours to get through, but it’s taken me about three weeks to actually write about it. I’ve been avoiding it because I’ve been trying to think of how I can write a full review of such a short book. While the pages weren’t long, they were very full, giving the impression of a small house that seems much larger when you go inside. I hadn’t read a children’s book in a while, so I forgot about how they tend to cover a lot of ground with little exposition. I wasn’t expecting it to be in the children’s section of the library, it took me a while to find until someone told me the ‘j’ on the call number stood for ‘juvenile’. I had to wade through the waist high shelves and bright colors to find it, and I think managed to do it without feeling too embarrassed. I didn’t even hang out in the kids section when I was a kid, so it felt a little weird.

I actually think it was in the wrong category, because I had already read Coraline, which was in the far less embarrassing young adult section, and The Graveyard Book seemed to be about on the same level to me. It seemed weird being grouped with the picture books and first readers. I was glad that it was written in an intelligent way, as with Coraline I kept thinking that I wished there were more books like it for kids and teenagers. It was easy to read, but not stilted and over-simplified. There were big words, old words, accents, and as with other books by Neil Gaiman, it was a celebration of language and imagination. Unlike the version of Coraline I read, this one wasn’t a full graphic novel, but had pen illustrations at each chapter. I really liked them, because the style matched the subject but they weren’t extremely detailed. The font was also easy to read and fitting. The headings, font, and illustrations all came together very well to frame the story.

The basis of the plot is that a baby boy, by chance and wileyness, escapes the murder of his family and wanders into a cemetery near his home. The ghosts residing there decide that they should keep him with them safe from whatever danger was outside the gates. They name him Nobody and teach him some ghostly powers. Silas, a resident of the graveyard who is neither dead or alive, becomes his guardian and uses his ability to interact with the outside world to bring him necessities. Nobody grows up among the graves and ghosts, learning to read from headstones, and receiving an extensive education in history. Each chapter addresses a new adventure for Nobody and his ghostly neighbors, and the lessons in the various happenings weren’t overbearing. It was also a good example of simple fantasy, the paranormal and supernatural related universe first lays out its rules, then obeys them. The basic formula makes it believable and easy to follow.

In the afterward, Gaiman explains that he conceived the idea for the book while watching his young son play in a graveyard, and that he imagined writing a story like The Jungle Book set in a cemetery. I haven’t read it in a while, but it seemed like there were a lot of parallels between the two stories, and I think that The Graveyard Book is a fitting homage to the classic. There are adventures, lessons, creativity, and a believably happy ending. This story is definitely worth reading at any age, even if you have to endure sideways looks to retrieve it from the depths of the kiddie section.

About three years ago, I bought Moral Disorder because the cover art creeped me out, and I loved it. I couldn’t even figure out why, honestly there didn’t seem to be much substance the first time I read it. But I just enjoyed reading it and thought it was put together really gracefully. Since then I’ve been reading other books by Margaret Atwood, and admire her versatility. I read The Handmaid’s Tale while at the beach. Not exactly the typical beach book, I realized, but I was drawn into the craziness. Plus it gave me something to concentrate on after I was stung by a jellyfish and had quite enough of the ocean and it’s nonsense. I think I like Atwood’s speculative fiction novels the best. I really like historical fiction as well, and believe the future is also history so I like reading about futures that could happen in extreme circumstances. This book was a lot like The Handmaid’s Tale, but instead of dealing with out of control Theocracy, there is a marked lack of religion. Science is penultimate and everything else is just a means to a scientific end.

The story begins at the end, with the main character, Snowman, waking in a tree. He’s a lone survivor of some unknown catastrophe struggling to keep himself going. It’s been a few months, and he’s reviewing lists of words and trying to stick to a daily routine of evicting bugs from his baseball cap and pissing on grasshoppers. There are strange hybrid creatures roaming about. He’s also a sort of a figure of curiosity for nearby not-quite-human children. He refers to the almost humans as Crakers, and expresses a love/hate relationship with this Crake person. Snowman spends the first part of the book sitting around reminiscing, starting with his childhood in the OrganInc compound. Scientific corporations housed their employees in compounds isolated from the general population, leaving the rest of humanity much to their own devices and diseases. Climate change seems to be in full effect: plagues, famine, biological weapons and eco terrorism are the norm. OrganInc specialized in the pigoons, pigs designed to host a variety of human organs for transplants. They also developed a few other splices of creatures. Sometime after, Jimmy’s family moved to the HelthWyzer compound, which was primarily developing pharmaceuticals. Snowman explains he was Jimmy then, and that his only friend was Crake, who wasn’t Crake then. Then he was Glenn and they were strange teenagers together.

The strange teenagers were split up and sent to different colleges; Crake became a bioengineer and Jimmy a marketing expert. Crake manages to find Oryx, who may be a young girl Crake and Jimmy had seen when they were teens in a kiddie porn that had haunted their thoughts. He uses his position at a powerful compound to bring both Oryx and Jimmy into his Paradice project. The plan was based on pharmaceuticals of questionable toxicity and forced accelerated evolution. And from there things that were already pretty bad got out of hand. The word ersatz is used often in this novel. I never realized I didn’t really know what the word meant, since I hadn’t encountered it enough to care about it’s proper use. But now that I know, I think it’s fitting for the book. Jimmy is a word person, specializing in language, and the scientific community in the book are in the business of artifice. Snowman goes on a quest to recover more supplies from the compound he had fled, and also an introspective journey. Perhaps this is the first time he’s wanted to review his thoughts and how he came to be in this situation. Through Snowman’s memories the catastrophe’s causes are unveiled. The Crakers, the children of Oryx. Oryx. They’re all intertwined in the mythology that the Crakers are forming for their creation based on information gleaned from Snowman. Their idea of their creation is a sort of intelligent design. In fact, this novel is basically a parable of the dangers of genetic engineering.

The futuristic world in the novel is skillfully described, and mostly believable. There are references to present day things, leading me to believe this is to be a somewhat impending future. Some of the names for products and corporations seemed cartoonish, but most do of late. That just added to the feeling that these things could be at hand. When I start thinking about our regulatory agencies’ being compromised by corporate insiders, and the recent decision to remove the limit on campaign donations from corporations, I can see how the events in the book could happen. Given the technology and the right amount of willful ignorance, it’s unsettlingly believable. This novel ended on a bit of a cliffhanger, so I’m excited to read The Year of the Flood. And anything else I can find by Margaret Atwood.

This is the closest thing to a feel-good math book I’ve ever encountered. I decided to read it because I’m just terrible at math. Numbers don’t even register in my head the right way for some reason. And in my quest to be a well rounded individual I feel like I should at least master the basic math skills. Even though I’m pretty literate, I’m very innumerate. So I was surprised to find from the book that our mathematical ability stems from the same part of our brain that is in charge of language. In a way it made sense, I’ve always thought of sentence structure as a sort of equation. Especially when learning other languages. After learning that little tidbit I was even more confused about why math and I have had such a terrible relationship. But by the end of the book I was starting to realize we had just gotten off on the wrong foot.

I fell off of the math wagon at long division. I felt I was great at math until 4th grade, when I found long division incomprehensible. I had my first nervous breakdown in the corner of the kitchen while trying to do my homework. It was all over after that; everything was a struggle. Teachers just gave up on me most of the time, and even trying to decipher the text books was pointless. When studying art I realized how important math was in nature, and how prevalent. I was fascinated and started thinking that I needed to figure out all the things that I had barely learned and then forgotten. Unlike other math haters I never believed the common complaint that I’ll never need the skills. I always felt like I was missing out on something really important due to a long string of uninterested and maladjusted teachers. Well, until I was a senior in high school, my teacher that year was great. It was the first time I got an A in any math type class since elementary school. I agreed with a lot of the things written in this book, and enjoyed all the fun facts about animals. It was like reading Zoobooks for the first half. I especially enjoyed annoying whoever was around with the random things I was learning. For instance, how owl’s ears are offset and highly sensitive so that they can accurately triangulate the location of tiny prey. Scary!

The beginning covers how basically, each creature on earth is a specially formulated calculator for the few mathematical operations that it needs to survive. Also, the difference between natural math and school math was explained. How we developed counting and arithmetic in a difference sense than animals and plants but that the same theories are there. The ‘nature is math’ theme was then applied to various things we humans do. By the end of the book the subject that was closest to my experience was covered: how humans do math. While I liked the animal parts, the end chapters were my favorite. They pointed out how ingenious humanity’s invention of the numerical and mathematical systems were, and also how they’re flawed and hard for many to learn. But also how people develop their own techniques to perform arithmetic when they need to. Mostly in their head and with greater accuracy than on paper in test form. It made me feel less flawed and more average. It’s good feeling average. Plus it reinforced the things I had already thought were wrong with the way math is taught in school, by explaining that we never really understand math and numbers until they have meaning for us beyond well ordered squiggles.

The last chapter of the book includes helpful steps for improving ones’ personal relationship with numbers and math. Overall it made me think of how miraculous and awesome our capacity for learning the patterns of nature is. And also how silly it is to waste such a gift. I’m always and forever impressed by nature. This book just cemented the connection that I had already started noticing between nature and math. Hopefully it will all lead to me being successful in future attempts at math, and numbers having a bigger meaning for me. Besides my thinking that numbers have personalities, of course. That’s just weird.

This one was much easier to be interested in reading than the last. It still had it’s lagging moments, but I didn’t fall asleep once. Yay. I was especially excited that they didn’t drag out using that stupid bowl that they finally found in the last book. Overall the pacing was more even and I wasn’t left hanging wondering what people were up to as much. Well, besides Mat not being around at all and everyone just wondering what happened to him as a passing thought. Reading about how cold the weather is instead of how hot and dry was a welcome change as well. I was worried that even after they used the bowl, since the change wasn’t immediate then it would take a whole book for it to rain, but it worked out just the way it logically should. The quickest autumn ever followed by the extreme depths of winter.
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Since working in a book store, I’ve been of the opinion that we are on the verge of another dark age. Where no one reads, and everyone is more fluent in txtspk than even English. I realized more and more that I was living in a culture of functional illiterates when one teenager was disappointed that we only had 10 books on CD. Sure, he could have needed them to listen to during a long commute… but considering he looked about 15 I find it doubtful. Of course, I spend so much time online that I fall prey to the lawls now and then (I love me some lolcat) but it’s important to maintain a somewhat firm hold on literacy and good old fashioned grammar and spelling. And run-on sentences.

Reading this book was even more of a reinforcement, just making me feel like I was very alone in paying attention during English class in high school. Each chapter is focused on one literary device, or commonly used symbolism. I found something new to learn in at least part of each chapter, but most of it just made me feel like it was a review. The chapters are in order more or less from simplest to most difficult to grasp. It was about the 15th chapter that I started having the lightbulbs of realization. In that way it’s really a book directed towards the every day reader, which despite my complaints was something I was glad of. The conversational tone of the author and his use of both literary and pop culture reinforcing references made the book quick to read and easy to understand.

The last part of the book is a short story, which you’re meant to read and interpret according to the things you’ve learned while reading. I was pleased to get graded as a university English graduate student, despite my having attained a much lower degree at a technology college where I only had to take an intro English class. Then again, I do read a shitton of books. Also it could be proof that the topics covered in the book are as basic as I thought they were. This book is a valuable read in many ways, it will definitely help broaden the understanding of many books from contemporary fiction to classic literature for readers at various levels. I’ve also found that the things I’ve learned in this book apply to some movies, tv shows, and music. I didn’t previously realize there was such a direct link between them, which makes me feel really silly and a little extra stupid.

This one took all of a few hours to read, partly because it was pretty small but largely because it was amazingly natural. It was rambling but seemed just like some guy telling me things that happened. Maybe it was because it was written very much like I talk, tell stories or think. Since the main characters’ mental stability is somewhat in question from the onset, maybe that means I’m a madman too. Its honesty impressed me. I think it fits well into my current life theme of failure. I couldn’t have picked a better time to read this book.

Holden is an interesting character, I felt like I could relate to him sometimes. Other times I felt like he had a lot in common with my more annoying friends. A hypocrite hating hypocrite who has a bad case of the rich kid blues. Where they’ll spend hours complaining about phonies and then do the very things they were complaining about right after. And during rare times he reminded me of guys I’ve dated, someone I could fall in love with just because I find their thoughts and the inter-workings of their mind fascinating. I just want him to tell me all about what he’s thinking. Throughout the book he tries to find someone to talk to that’s on the same wavelength with him and I felt like I was there on it the whole time. Perhaps that makes him a near perfect every-man. He’s a mirror for the reader, a metaphor of forming adult character.

I found this book to be an awesome description of someone on the verge of a breakdown. The frenetic energy and fear and constant thought came across very well. At first I thought I had read the book before, and just forgotten about it but I think I had started it at some point and never finished it. I think I’m the only person in the country that didn’t have to read it in high school. But I’m glad that I read it now, I’m sure when I picked it up before it bored the shit out of me and that’s why I didn’t finish it. Like Holden’s observations about the museum exhibit that doesn’t change but is different each time because he’s different, this book was a lot better to me now because I’m different from the middle school me. For one thing, I stopped reading the Babysitter’s Club books.

In short, this book just killed me.

I just stayed up all night gripped by this book. I was convinced that if I went to sleep I would have nightmares, and just wanted to finish it and find out what happened already. For the last third of the book I had tissues ready, and couldn’t seem to stop crying. I was a mess. Maybe it was the lack of sleep, or pre-existing depression, or reading the whole book all at once. Only three other books (of many many read) have made me cry. Bridge to Terabithia when I was wee, Atonement, and The History of Love. In that order.

I was initially hesitant to read it, because right after it caught my interest I saw there was a movie coming out. And by the trailer I got the impression there was some very creepy Stranger Danger going on in it and it gave me the jibblies. Plus I was worried it would turn out like that time I was duped into reading The Notebook and wanted to drown myself in oatmeal. Cold oatmeal. Luckily my boyfriend chose for my by giving it to me for my birthday. I’m really glad I read it though. It exceeded even my lowest expectations.

It’s beautifully written, I don’t get to say that much. I think it’s trite to say but this was written in a really believable way, somehow you never second guess the science fiction elements. Plus the dialogue seems really natural and everything else is nearly lyrical. If anything I found the characters a bit too perfect, but they each had a quirk or two to balance them out. Through the main characters’ adventures in time and the literal unfolding of the story,  their character development is stark because there is a quite vivid comparison. Instead of meeting a character, and observing their growth you meet them in the middle and see how they were before and how they will be afterward.

This I think was one of the unexpected things that I liked most about the book. It set off just a tinge of philosophical thought in the back of my mind. All those what ifs about future past and present loves. Who doesn’t wonder what would have happened with a failed relationship if it had not been stopped? Sure you love someone in the present but if you had met them years earlier than you did would you have liked them the same? Would all involved parties be the same person? There was a lot of free will vs. destiny talk going on. The book was smart enough to leave it all pretty open ended, leaning more to a combination of both. It was like a really long and involved hypothetical question.

I found the ending to be very satisfying, another thing I was glad for. Based on the time travel guidelines set up on the book the story followed it’s path to it’s inevitable conclusion. Many parts of the novel relied on time travel as a literary device of sorts. Or a means by which to execute them. It’s used very nicely to foreshadow events. Because Clare’s life is chronological and Henry’s is somewhat random, he meets her for the first time years after she’s already met an older him. In this way they each know things about the other they don’t know about themselves. It also clears up the Stranger Danger creepiness of the movie trailer. Who wants their wife remembering them as the creepy naked guy in the field?

It’s all very touching, and cute at times, and devastating. Reading from the two different characters point of views was interesting and insightful, and reading their point of views from different ages was also very cute and sometimes funny. The characters also find humor in the insaneness of the situation, and it definitely adds to the aspect of feasability. I felt aged after reading it, an tired. Just plain worn out. And not just cause I didn’t sleep.

This book took way longer to read than I thought it would… about two weeks longer. Much like a painfully slow day at work, sometimes Robert Jordan has a way of writing that makes time seem to stretch and stop. I feel as if I’ve been reading this book forever, but when I think back I realize the beginning and end were much more readable than the murky dragging middle. I started reading it excitedly, thinking ‘Yes! Things are happening!’ and was totally let down by the middle of the book. The last ten or twelve chapters were quite eventful as well, so I suppose that makes up for it.

Since it’s book seven of a series, I have no choice but take previous books into account when I review this one. Which means that of course there will be spoilers!! So run away if you don’t want to read them. I think this book was very much more readable than the last. There were still quite a few parts where it lagged so much I couldn’t read it without falling asleep, but most of the time I didn’t wish for a quick death. So overall, I guess it was a good book.

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