Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Book Review: Bloodline by Claudia Gray

Bloodline (Star Wars)Bloodline by Claudia Gray
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've been on a Star Wars kick lately, consuming everything new in the Star Wars universe--the new movies, the Rebels cartoon, the new comic books. So, I decided that I would give another Star Wars novel a try. I have problems with Chuck Wendig as an author, but this one had pretty good reviews. Overall, this was a very fun read.

People around me are hailing Wonder Woman as the must-see movie of the summer. Not just because it is good, but because it is meaningful. They say that this movie is so important because finally, we have a strong female lead in a superhero movie. I would echo that about this book. Going in I was skeptical about how much I would like a novel focused on Princess Leia, but it was a really fun romp. Yes, there are parts where we are detailing the political process within the Republic Senate, but Leia is a very engaging character with a wide range of emotions. I learned to respect her more and really grew to enjoy her. So much so that I started to not care as much about the other characters in the book and would rush through their parts.

Like I say in most of my reviews, Gray is no Faulkner. The write was fine for a fast food novel, but this doesn't have the type of deep, substantial, beautiful prose that is going to satisfy a literature lover like me. The book has a job, tell a story, and it just does its job without being overly flashy. It's fine.

I did enjoy the connections this novel made between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. I don't want to go into too much detail, but it did fill in some plot holes and answered some questions that I had after viewing TFA. I thought this book did an admiral job in that respect.

This book features characters that you know and love, Leia, C3P0, Han Solo. But also introduces you to some wonderful new characters. My favorite being the brash young pilot: Joph Seastriker. I mean come on, that is a Star Wars name if I have every heard one. Seastriker!? Sounds like Skywalker to me. And instantly I knew this character would be similar, a dreamy kid looking to get into the action, to go on adventures.

There is a lot to enjoy here, thus why I gave it four stars. I like it. I had fun reading it. I don't know if I will seek out more novels in the new Star Wars universe, but it was enjoyable to continue to hang out in this universe.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Book Review: The Sound and the Fury

The Sound and the FuryThe Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Most reviews of books begin with a brief discussion of the plot. This proves difficult for The Sound and the Fury because it doesn't really have a plot. Yes, there is a story that is going on within the pages of this novel, but the interesting thing here is that the story is happening in the background. The major plot points don't actually happen within the pages of these chapters. These events are mentioned and hinted at through the four different points of view, but are not what we, as the reader, are primarily concerned with.

What then, you ask, are we supposed to be concerned with? And I believe that Faulkner wants us to consider point of view and how limiting it is. Each chapter of The Sound and the Fury is an exploration of a different point of view and as we read this novel we experience this world through four very different sets of eyes. Each chapter the reader has to spend time reacquainting themselves with the world and getting settled in. Each chapter we learn something different about human nature and how we look at the world around us.

This is why this novel is heralded as a masterpiece. Faulkner is playing with the convention of story to show us something about ourselves. It certainly is a radical idea and one that probably turns a lot of readers off to this novel. But the struggle is worth it, people. This book has endured for a reason and totally worth your time. I absolutely loved it and it rekindled my love for Faulkner and desire to read more of this master.

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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Sound and the Fury: Helpful Tips

The Sound and the Fury, by William Faulkner, is a very difficult book. But don't let that detract you. It is worth the effort to read and study. In my own study of this novel, I found the following to be quite helpful...

Family Trees for the Compson and Gibson Families
This family tree goes back several generations in the Compson family.

This one I added primarily so you can see the Gibson family tree as Dilsey's family is important as well.

Chronology of the Novel
One of the things that makes The Sound and the Fury difficult is the fact that the story is not presented linearly. Faulkner is once again playing with time. So, it really helps to understand the timeline of the book, in chronological order...

Chapter 2 happens first. This chapter happens 18 years prior to the other three chapters--June 2nd, 1910. 

Chapter 3 happens next. This chapter takes place on April 6th, 1928.

Chapter 1 happens next. This chapter takes place on April 7th, 1928.

And finally, chapter 4 happens next. This chapter takes place on April 8th, 1928.

Viewpoints in each Chapter
Faulkner is at it again in this novel. Similarly to As I Lay Dying, The Sound and the Fury has different viewpoint characters in each chapter. This can also be confusing because Faulkner doesn't spend time explaining who is speaking in each instance, you kinda just have to figure it out for yourself.

Chapter 1 is narrated by Benjy Compson the mentally handicapped son. The thing that is confusing about Benjy's chapter is the fact that Benjy doesn't experience the world like we do. Time is fluid for Benjy as well. He cannot distinguish between what is happening in the present and what is happening in his memory. Which makes for some incredibly difficult reading. Not to mention the fact that many of the Compsons are named after parents or grandparents and Benjy doesn't help us distinguish between these characters.

Chapter 2 is narrated by Quentin Compson (the boy) on one of his last days in college. Quentin's chapter is difficult because, while he isn't mentally handicapped, he is about to commit suicide and that is affecting his mind. He, once again, frequently jumps in time to events that happened previously and then right back to what is happening right now without any transitions.

Chapter 3 is narrated by Jason Compson. The chapter is more linear in its story, but Jason is a total jerk. It is difficult to be inside his head because of how despicable a person he is.

Chapter 4 is narrated by Dilsey Gibson. This is the breath of fresh air that we have been waiting for. We get those beautiful Faulkner sentences that have been missing for most of the novel and we get into the head of the Compson's servant. This chapter is very linear as well, which is nice. The only difficult thing about Dilsey's chapter is her dialect. Faulkner writes her and her son's lines phonetically so you read it with a southern accent, but sometimes it is really difficult to know what word Faulkner wants.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Yet Another Hiatus

Well, realistically, I've been on hiatus for a few weeks already. I thought I would pop on and just explain before going on "real" hiatus.

The school year is nearly over again and that means summer and taking a much-needed break. During that break, I will not be posting regularly on Mr. Barbaric Yawp Blog. But worry not. I will continue to read and study and will continue in the Fall with more literature analysis and discussion.

Enjoy your summer!

~Mr. Barbaric Yawp

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Review: American Gods, by Neil Gaiman

American Gods (American Gods, #1)American Gods by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My tip for anyone wanting to dive into this book is that you have to give this one time. This was my second attempt in reading American Gods, the first being unsuccessful, but I saw the trailers for the new TV show and they looked so cool and I figured that I needed to read this one before the show. You have to stick with this book, the first 100 or so pages move slowly. Characters and relationships need to be established, the mythos of the world needs to be explained. And once it has been, once you're there this truly is a wonderful, wild ride.

Gaiman never disappoints. The man is a genius of world building as well as sentence crafting. Although, this was not my favorite Gaiman novel. I much prefer The Ocean at the End of the Lane or Neverwhere. This book isn't bad, just different from those two. And I do appreciate that Gaiman tries something different every time he puts pen to paper. He doesn't do these long series because he knows they will be a sure thing.

The thing I liked most about American Gods was the mythos, the idea that gods are brought across the ocean with the people who traveled to America and then lose power and eventually waste away from lack of worship. That idea is fascinating. I also really enjoyed the characters of Shadow and Wednesday--what a great pair! They will go down as one of the great literary relationships of all time.

But, and there always has to be a but, the book does move slowly at times. There are vast expanses of pages where not much is happening. It feels like everything is growing to a massive event, the storm is building, and then we have these sections where we leave that anticipation for walking around a quiet town, waiting for Wednesday to call. It became a bit frustrating. The Shadow as Christ figure part got pretty difficult to conceptualize too. Finally, there are so many gods in this book and it really helps if you know a little bit about their background. Who they are. Names are going to be flying by your head and you really should do yourself a favor and look them up while you are reading. It helps with the enjoyment of the book immensely.

Overall, a pretty fun read. And now I am prepared to watch the TV show. Here to hoping it's good.

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