Book 11/196: Thailand

I bought ‘Many Lives’ while I was in Thailand as thus it serves as the Thai contribution to my reading the world project. It is written by a prominent Thai writer Kukrit Pramoj and translated by someone equally prominent, Meredith Borthwick. They shared a friendship and even the princess of Thailand meant that this book was important, in telling the story of Thailand to the world – it is a modern classic.

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Summary:

In this literary piece we follow the lives of 11 very different people, who all have one thing in common. They share fate in death, which is no spoiler in itself. In Thailand, where Buddhism is an important religion in many ways, the events leading up to these peoples’ shared death, is what the story is all about – what does death mean to the individual, and is it a justified death? Who will we meet, princes, bandits, doctors and daughters. How will they be known, when their bodies are all that remains.

Verdict:

I acquired this book when I was in Thailand in early 2017 and basically read it within two days, while at the beach. I didn’t get too much sun, because I could not put that book down. It had me immediately intrigued by the questions it posed, the story behind it and the reason for it coming together as it did. An accident occurs, people drown and we then trace the footsteps of some of these people and follow them up to their final moments, listening to their final thoughts and it is beautifully told.

Manylives_thailand_IG.jpgAll through the book, I was amazed at how it was catered to a non-Thai reader, without being too obvious about it, explaining titles, names and customs, making it seem very natural – and for me this worked especially perfect since I was right there when I read it, eating Thai food, listening to Thai people speak, seeing Buddhas all over the place. I suddenly, through this book got an even deeper look into the culture and thus it made it the perfect choice for my “read a book from every country” – challenge.

We follow 11 very different people with different outsets on life, different perspectives, circumstances, goals and personalities – each one is so intimately described and they instantly seem believable, yet not all of them likeable. This book depicts what is good and bad and okay in life, via short chapters, 11 lives and 1 death. It tells of a culture with deep roots, the afterlife, the religion and the modern take on the Thai culture as well as bringing the history of Thailand into it, through the characters lives.

I cannot get my hands down over how amazing this book is – I don’t even care about the cover, which, I think, isn’t exactly doing the contents justice (it’s not a pretty cover).

A Thai woman recommended me this at a bookstore in Pattaya and I can recommend this book to literally everyone who likes to read. It has everything I like as a reader. Stories, relatable characters, action, drama, deep thought, philosophy, culture and history, relations, love and death. It is exciting, enticing and what is most impressive – it’s only 226 pages!?

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Read it. Go. Seriously, you should read it, it will give you a better view of what Thailand is about, than sitting in a beach chair for a week, surrounded by Russians, semi-drunk Scandinavians and yelling sellers walking up and down the beach.

Bookreview: Jack The Ripper – Myths and mysteries

This review will be in Danish, because I received the book from a Danish publisher

*Jeg modtog et eksemplar af bogen, I bytte for en ærlig anmeldelse*

“Myter og mysterier – Jack the Ripper” af Jesper W. Lindberg, er fra Forlaget Tellerup og handler om Jack The Ripper, myten og manden samt mysteriet der den dag i dag omgiver de hændelser der fandt sted i 1888 i Whitechapel, London.

Resume:

Denne bog gennemgår facts og fortællinger omkring myten der omgiver Jack The Ripper, seriemorderen fra London i 1888. Vi følger begivenhederne efterhånden som det griber om sig og i kronologisk rækkefølge. Alle nøglepersonerne bliver introduceret løbende og vi får informationer om politiet, hvordan arbejdet skrider frem samt om befolkningens reaktioner på mordene. Vi får også præsenteret mange af de mistænktes profiler og der lægges op til at læseren selv kan forsøge at svare på spørgsmålet; Hvem var Jack the Ripper?jacktheripper

Anmeldelsen:

Da jeg først havde åbnet for bogen fik jeg den faktisk ikke lagt fra mig før jeg havde læst den færdig. Jeg havde lidt svært ved at holde styr på alle navnene og deres funktioner og tilknytning til mordene undervejs, selvom jeg nu ikke plejer at have svært ved den slags, så det kunne have været rart med nogle opsamlinger undervejs. Som ’let fagbog’ til de større børn, synes jeg den veksler passende mellem myter og fakta, eller hvad der i hvert fald er blevet nedfældet som fakta. For en der ikke kender sagerne så indgående var det i den grad informativt men samtidig spændende, da man fik lov til at følge sagerne kronologisk. Det virker rigtig fint at der undervejs er kort over Whitechapel, så man får illustreret afstande og bedre kan forestille sig gaderne handlingerne udspillede sig i. Kortene bliver dog ikke rigtigt brugt i forhold til hinanden, men er der bare som en henvisning. Det kunne have hjulpet med ‘opsamlingen’ rent visuelt og have gjort bogen mere gennemført som et samlet værk.

Det var en fin bog rent grafisk, men det havde været helt i top hvis det var mere konsekvent med, hvornår man brugte hvilket layout – det virkede mere som en effekt. Men de mørke sider gav en god ramme til indholdets dystre toner.

Der bliver lagt op til at man selv kan tolke lidt på, hvem Jack var og hvordan tingene egentlig er foregået, men som voksen læser føler man sig alligevel ikke helt overbevist om at det er så åbent til fortolkning som det måske var hensigten. Vi finder aldrig ud af hvem der gjorde det, men bogens afsender har nogle klare favoritmistænkte.

Bogen fanger virkeligt pøbelens mentalitet og egenart, og beskriver levende de begivenheder der leder op til de enkelte mord. Der lægges ikke skjul på, hvilke typer folk der begik sig i Whitechapel dengang og det er forfriskende.

Alt i alt en spændende lille ’fagbog’, hvor nysgerrigheden og den indre detektiv bliver vakt – for man skal være vågen hvis man skal følge med her, hvor selv politiet skøjter rundt.

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Bookreview: The Chimes

“The Chimes” by Anna Smaill, is a futuristic sci-fi/fantasy novel, about Simon, a boy living in a world where memories are just a concept, music rules the world and everyone should stick to what they know. The cover art is beautiful and the preview on the back really sold me the book.

Genre: Fantasy/Sci-fi

Summary:

Simon is on a journey to London, and all he has with him, is a bag full of memories and a tune to help him find what he is searching for. He ends up joining a pact in the London underground, living with Lucien and the others and together, they form the group of the Five Rovers. Lucien keeps asking Simon questions and as time goes by, Simon realizes how the world is really put together and who he is and what he himself should be capable of doing. It’s not exactly a “the chosen one” type story, but it’s about a boy who struggles to learn the truths of himself and the world surrounding him.

Verdict:

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First of all, the language used in this book, takes a lot of its words and phrases from the world of music, and it took me a little while and a lot of mind to get used to, as I am not educated in reading music. It’s not a huge obstacle for those of us not use to the words, but it is however nice to be aware of, before plunging into the book. With that said, it gives the book an otherworldly sense, and it is believable that the language itself would be different, when the surrounding circumstances indeed are different from what we experience in real life.

The main character, Simon, feels rather like a somewhat flat protagonist, as he is neither not-likeable or really likeable. We gain sympathy with him, because he is the one whose thoughts we gain access to, but he feels no different from anyone else in the book, which actually serves as a positive thing in this matter for me, as you get the sense that we are being dropped into this world sort of at random, and happen to come across this particular boy.

The plot evolves quite nicely and is explained throughout. The universe itself seems finished and believable as well as interesting, without ever getting the chance to really unfold into all it could be – this book might have been a splendid choice for a trilogy, for the plot to come to its right. But that being said, I also like the fact that it is all contained in this one little novel, and that we don’t have to follow these people for several hundred pages before the protagonist and the love-interest get their eyes up for one another.

Speaking of love interest, for the better part of the book, romance is hardly relevant, mentioned or even displayed as an opportunity for our characters – it is not really a thing worth dwelling on it seems, and I for one enjoyed reading a book seemingly with better things to portray – and then, out of pretty much nowhere, a probably romance spurred and was flung into the plot.

It did not have me convinced, and at the final turn of the page, the ending that seemed to be the only possible ending to this book, came far too easy, because of that specific romance, which I will not reveal here because of spoilers. But let’s just say, that the book could’ve easily lived without, and might even had been more substantial, especially with regards to the ending, where one key character sadly, ends up dead. In my opinion, there is no real reason other than the before-mentioned romance, but it doesn’t seem realistic with regards to the events that lead up to it.

Anyway, the ending is actually very lovely, and I liked the book so much, that I read it in basically one sitting.

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Bookreview: Fortunately the milk..

Written by Neil Gaiman, the author behind Coraline and many other works, and illustrated by Chris Riddell, this book is an illustrated, wacky story told by the father of two, explaining his way home from the store. It brings everyday-life to new levels, and puts the dad-stories in the center of attention.

Genre: Illustrated Sci-fi

Summary:

themilk.jpgMum is away and dad is in charge of the kids – there are post-it notes everywhere, and the meals are all taken care of. It should be a no-brainer, but dad forgot to buy milk for the cereals, so he is off to buy some, but gets held up on his way home by aliens, pirates and a professor – will he ever return with the milk, and will the kids be okay?

Verdict:

This was very, very fun to read – first of all, I really enjoyed all the illustrations as they are detailed and fits extremely well with the story, especially the way you’d imagine the kids reactions as well as the dads – they are depicted wonderfully. Moreover, the story seemed a bit basic at first but that made it all the better, it made me think that it could’ve easily been my own dad, telling this story, except he is actually good at cooking by himself.

Anyway, the story continued to surprise me on several levels, and what I really enjoyed in particular was the fact that all the gender stereotypes we have are both represented in their stereotypical form, as well as turned upside down, when the dad meets new creatures and people on his way home with the milk.

It also depicts a time traveling situation, well, several in fact, and it is explained so simple and elegantly that it becomes just as easy to follow as the rest of the story, whilst at the same time making it just confusing enough that you know it wouldn’t quite make sense. But, depending on which time travel theory you are into, I think this will be entertaining none the less.

It is a really fun, light read and I would definitely recommend it for younger readers as well, as it is not just an easy read but it is fun, action packed and relatively kid-friendly, even for reading aloud to smaller children.

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Bookreview: Skyworld 2

“Skyworld – The Collector” is the second novel in this pre-teen sci-fi/fantasy series by Danish author Christian Guldager. I don’t usually read pre-teen books, but I do have a thing for all things piraty.

Genre: Pre-teen sci-fi/fantasy

Summary:skyworld-2-samleren

In the second book in the series, we find our friends on a quest. The sky pirates have been
attacked and that leaves us in the company of the main character and two allies. They have to go to a very filthy island filled with shady people and other beings, to find a lead that will bring them further in their mission to free the kingdom in the skies. They encounter a few thieves and a giant monster, who collects precious items and rule the filthy island.

Verdict:

This second book was much more vulgar and bloody than the first. Here we can really see that the author seems to think that a slight bit of swearing as well as death, decapitation amongst other dangerous items, are fun to write about. Our heroes come across a very wide variety of traps, dangerous situations and beings and they lose a few helpers on their way, which was a little shocking at first. The characterization is still quite 1 dimensional, apart from the pirate-princess Hira, who, despite her temper, is my favourite character so far. It feels very cliché albeit I must admit that it has a certain something to it. But all in all it’s a very rough and fast-paced, violent piece of tween-lit that I’m not exactly thrilled about. I don’t think it’s just that I’m ‘too old’ it just seems like it’s all a bit too easy or too much. All the vehicles in the book are well described but everything else lacks a depth, that even tween-lit should have.

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But with that said, I’m sure some tween-boys will enjoy this series a lot, if they’re into violent stuff with fart-jokes. I’ll probably read the third book, but I will likely give them to someone who might like them afterwards, since I can see the potential in them even though I do not find it to be that innovative or interesting, on the contrary it seems a bit basic.

 

Bookreview: Skyworld 1

“Skyworld – Skypirates” is the first novel in this pre-teen sci-fi/fantasy series by Danish author Christian Guldager. I don’t usually read pre-teen books, but I do have a thing for all things piraty.

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Genre: Pre-teen sci-fi/fantasy

Summary:

A slaveboy called Sirius is used by skypirates to lure flying fish-creatures into captivity. The skysailors are pretty tough on Sirius and one day, when the skypirates hit their boat, Sirius finds himself in a whole new context. No longer a slave, he slowly learns how to act like a proper pirate and we learn of magic, how the kingdom is currently corrupt and how dangerous it really is to be a skypirate. Sirius and his newfound friends, including the pirateprincess Hira, are determined to free the kingdom.

Verdict:

As mentioned, I do not often read pre-teen litterature, but with that said, I often find that there are several worlds to become familiar with and there are some real gems in the midst of all this. This one had my attention because it had “pirates” in the title (and it was very cheap. Incredibly so) So I figured it wouldn’t harm, and I could always gift them to my 13 year old cousin.

I read this first book in one sitting, because it’s a light read for me but also because I enjoyed it one several levels. It’s very fast paced in contrast to the books I usually read, and there is not a lot of descriptive smalltalk. It’s action, just enough information to keep the interest going and the knowledge about the plot updated and it works well. I was entertained and I can see why kids would love it. It has a pirateprincess, a cool piratecaptain, a wizard type being and the main character is instantly relatable.

The universe reminds me of a branch of the steampunk movement, with ships in the skies and modern guns and magical people. I think it’s an exciting little read, and I’d like to know what the target group thinks of it, except I do imagine that they’d love it.

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25 year old reading Skyworld and enjoying it
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How I imagine a pre-teen would rate this book

Please note that I’m giving it a 3/6 because it wasn’t really challenging or innovative in either worldbuilding or language (I know I’m not the targetgroup, but I would still consider it a fairly easy, fun and actionpacked read). It’s not a bad or lukewarm review, but seeing as I know some pre-teen and children’s litterature to be very or even exceptionally good, poetic and wellconstructed, this is considered light and enjoyable entertainment in my eyes.

 

Bookreview: Duality

*I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review*

Duality is the third book in The Enertia Trials by J Kowallis. The series is centered around a few people, each with their own background and connection to the post-war world, in a not so far off future, that surrounds them.

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[From November 17-18 YOU can get a free copy of the first two books in the series, Afterimage and Encender – just follow this link to amazon.com where you can download them]

Genre: Dystopia

Summary:

In a post-war society on the verge of rebuilding into something new, we follow the rebels of this world from where we left them in “Encender”, the previous book in The Enertia Trials. Here, some of the main characters are divided and tries to take on one of their most ambitious and dangerous tasks yet. One is taken captive by The Public, an institution that prides itself in perfecting the human species by altering DNA, brainwaves and other such cool and technical stuff that messes with free will. The Public either takes prospects by force or lure them into believing that they’re being offered a better life. resources outside The Public institutions scattered around the world, is scarce, so naturally – it’s everyones game.

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Verdict:

First of all, I really like it when authors take the world and imagine it into something else. Like Hunger Games, Maze Runner, The 100 and all those post-apocalyptic, new-world creations, this series is re-telling the story of mankind and our future. So naturally, I’m sceptic when I’m introduced to a ‘new’ take on the world and it’s systems and mechanisms. I have formal training in dramaturgy and so one should think that I hold some qualifications within consistency of world-building through art and words. It’s one of the things my dear mother and sister dislike, when watching movies with me, because I constantly question the plot if it isn’t strong enough.

The very first thought I had about this series, was that it would do incredibly well as a film-series, and with Duality it rings even more true. I enjoyed the build up, from book to book, but also within the separate books. The plotlines are great and well executed, there are enough of them to make an interesting story unfold, without having too much to worry about. The characters are sound and well-grounded, they are not one-dimensional and better yet, I can identify with most of them, and the sympathy shifts from character to character, throughout the books, including within this one.

Roy.pngIn Duality, you see some of the relationships really unfold, some things that were merely hinted in books one and two, is now in full-blown scale and the tension keeps building. The plot is very elegantly put together, interchanging action packed scenes, with emotionally challenging outlets and sassy, funny moments throughout. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Duality, and I had wanted to return to this world, since reading Encender, to see what on earth would happen next. This one is by far the darkest one yet, and it actually had me a bit paranoid on behalf of the characters. I will say, on a more dramaturgical note, that some events throughout this book especially, is being foreshadowed so many times, that it kind of takes away some of the suspense and tension. I would have liked if some thoughts weren’t presented to the reader, so we could keep speculating on events even longer – but this seems to be the only ‘negative’ thing about this work.

I’m not going to spoil the fun, but will say this – if you like any of the stories mentioned in the first two paragraphs – read this. You will not be disappointed. The language is easily flowing, characters are believable and the plot keeps twisting you around, just like any good book of this kind should.

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I’ll definitely be looking forward to the fourth book in the Enertia Trials, and I feel lucky for having the privilege to read these books, and especially Duality, before it’s even out – I don’t think I could’ve handled the waiting time that well!

Book 10/196: France

“The reader on the 6.27” by Jean Paul Didier-Laurent is the French contribution to my project: Reading the World and is thus the 10th book in this context. I picked it up in an English small-town bookshop, because I liked the cover and found the plot interesting – it was also compared to Amelie, which is a form of storytelling that I enjoy.

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Genre: Fiction

Summary:

thereaderonthe627_cover“The reader on the 6.27” is about a man who commutes to work and every morning, he brings with him scraps of paper with writing on it. Scraps he has saved from the big monster machine at his workplace, where books are shredded, dismembered and incinerated. It doesn’t matter to him whether or not he has an audience and it also does not matter what he reads and that it is only parts of things like recipes, diaries, fiction, poetry and schoolbooks etc.

One day he finds a memory stick containing journal entries and he proceeds to read a part of the journal, written by a young lady, and he suddenly finds himself with a new purpose, on a mission to find her. She works at a shopping center, tending the public bathrooms. Her existence is much like his and he finds comfort in reading about her daily life. With the help of his, limited, friends the search begins and new hope for a more diverse and exciting life is born.

We learn of the struggles of the people he encounters, and I shall not spoil it all here, as some of the stories are indeed moving.

Verdict:

The characters in this book are some of the most well-rounded I have encountered in literature. At first they seem odd and one-dimensional but you really get a feeling of who they are and it didn’t take me long to envision them as fully fledged people with hearts, minds and dreams. The universe in itself seems monotone yet has a strange melodic harmony to it when you read it. It is well orchestrated with high and low points throughout the plot and it weaves the actions and characters together in a profoundly poetic way, although it is slightly tragicomic in a romantic way.

The contrasts between the workplace and the love of reading and books in general is simple yet brilliant. I appreciated the aesthetics in this book, despite it not being ‘too artistic’ as I would still consider it to be a light read. The many stories within the plot, serves a higher, common purpose, which is to tell the reader, both the man in the story, those he reads for and the readers outside the book, us, about one simple yet astoundingly complex thing – love. Love, not as a grandiose and gigglefilled experience, not as intercourse or lust, not as being in love necessarily but love as a means of being the fullest version of yourself, either in combination with others or through other means. This love, described here, is a somewhat melancholy feeling of missing something, loving something at a distance and working towards fulfillment. Not having it, is in the end what gives us hope and this, for me, is one of the important lessons in this book. We all need something to dream about and look forward to, be it the morning commute, the next book, the lunch break or meeting our beloved.

One of the characters speaks only in verse and this was incredibly hilarious on several levels as I could both identify with him and at the same time I could not. It gave the story even more depth and the great thing about this character was, that you could either choose to read it searching for those references, or merely read it for what it was.

This is a funny, romantic and simply beautiful book and it gave me immense joy whilst reading it – I can only recommend it, especially if you like Amelie or anything similar to that.

French simplicity of complex storytelling at its finest!

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A Book Box Delivery

In September I received my first ever book subscription box. A book subscription box is basically a box delivered to your door, like most internet shopping, where the main content is one or more books along with paraphernalia and bookish goodies and maybe a candle.

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I chose the My Bookish Crate box and received it in September 2016 – the theme of the month was Harry Potter House Pride, and since I consider myself to be a Ravenclaw, I chose the blue box. I was waiting anxiously as I was incredibly excited to see what wonders this box would bring me.

When I finally received it, I was thrilled with the thought of all the Ravenclaw stuff I was about to unpack, but I was slightly disappointed to find out just how little Ravenclaw was actually in the box. Nevermind that I thought, it is just a theme after all, and there were some cool things with it.

The contents were:

  • Harry Potter and the cursed child, the British hardback edition
  • A tote bag with a unique Ravenclaw design by @tjlubrano
  • A little Dobby mini Funko Pop
  • A scented candle
  • An acceptance letter to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, with my name on it
  • A picture with a quote by Luna Lovegood
  • A little cut-out of the Ravenclaw crest (which I now use as a bookmark)

instagram2.jpgAll in all I was pleased to see so many House themed objects. But to be completely honest, I have no use for a card with a quote on it, as I don’t use such things for decorative purposes, and so I’ve featured it a couple of times on my Instagram account instead. It’s a nice quote and all but it felt like filling to me. The cut-out of the crest is at least useful as a bookmark, but the quality of the print was lacking and not really a gorgeous end-product, it would have been nice to have the image be clearer as the pixels are quite visible, and that’s a shame, also for the artist behind it. The same goes for the acceptance letter, that seemed to have been made fairly simple, on a computer and with a few minor errors. Seeing as the box was a bit delayed, this should have been avoided – it was of course, wonderfully thoughtful and nice to include it but I had expected a little bit more when you know the box will include a ‘personal item’ – the price didn’t match the effort for me in this matter.

The book was in really good shape when it arrived – they know how to package things, that’s for sure!

The tote bag with the Ravenclaw baby-animal on it is nice – good quality, great size and the print is so cute and printed in a good quality as well, so it’s very clear and easy to see. Thumbs up, I use it frequently and I feel a bit special as I know they were for this box only, which means that only those who purchased the Ravenclaw box, will have one similar to mine.

The Funko Pop and the scented candle, I’m guessing, are the other two more expensive items included, apart from the book itself. The Funko Pop figurine was a surprise and was randomized throughout boxes – I got Dobby, which I’m okay with because I like the character. It is my first (and only) figurine of such, and I intend to keep it, although I really have no idea what to do with it, except I’ve included it in some of my Instagram photos that include books. Hence why it felt very “teenage” to me, as I haven’t collected things like that and I suspect the younger audience would have appreciated it more. I just didn’t need it. The candle smells nice, if you’re into scented candles, and it’s even blue and had glitter on top of it when I first opened it. I like candles that give off a pleasant smell, and it’s being used frequently – although it doesn’t exactly smell like I imagine the Ravenclaw Tower to smell like, but that’s up for interpretation really.

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All in all, it was a fun experience, and I really liked the box and the contents, but next time I’m buying such a box, I might go for one with a different set of contents that are more targeted towards adults – without funko pops and other such decorative stuff. Maybe just some good tea, more than 1 book, a pretty bookmark or 2, some book-paraphernalia like a piece of jewelry or a scarf/bow and a facial mask. That might be more my thing.

I recommend trying a subscription box if you are into surprising yourself with a gift in the mail, but make sure the contents in general are up your alley, as you don’t want to pay for things you don’t need/want – I was happy with My Bookish Crate overall, as they were good at keeping contact and establishing trust with me as a buyer. So thumbs up for good service!

Bookreview: Never let me go

“Never let me go” is a novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, award-winning author. I bought it in a thrift store because I thought it looked like a decent read, and I’ve been reading it during my breaks at work.

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Summary:

neverletmego_kazuoishiguroWe follow Kathy, aged 31, in her day-to-day life where she tells us stories from her childhood and growing up. We hear of Hailsham, the boarding school in which she grew up amongst others of her kind. We hear of her youth in the cottages, a place where her kind and others can live, provided they mind themselves. We hear of her life as a carer and we learn of a organdonation system, that will influence everyone we encounter in this story, somehow.

Verdict:

This book is very slow in handing out important plot details and from time to time I felt like it was mostly just dragging out what the reader already knew, and thus it became slightly annoying instead of keeping suspense. It was not well written, nor bad either – simply text on pages that allowed me to sink into it’s universe. The universe itself was thin at best, handling one of the bigger moral questions of modern life very lightly in terms of not leaving it enough space on the pages. It seemed merely a plotdriver and not exactly an exploration of the big question. It was just a setting within which the lives of Kathy and her friends could unfold.

It is however, an interesting perspective, in terms of the moral debate, that we follow the subjects instead of encountering those who initiated the concept and procedures. The characters are likeable to an extent and Kathy herself seems dull and uninteresting yet I felt empathic with her. Scattered throughout the book are real gems of storytelling, where the characters are confronted with life-decisions and how to handle youth and growing up and apart – these situations are where the book gets really interesting, and you can feel the tension, awkwardness, anger, hurt and joys.

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All in all, the book is good, but I’m not incredibly impressed with it either – it’s like a good blockbuster read, when it doesn’t have to be a crimesolving mystery or a romantic novel, this is a light read for those of us who seek something else, yet still not too complicated.