Banned Book Reviews: ALA #87: Tiger Eyes, by Judy Blume

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Reasons for Banning: Sex, Alcohol (used in an entirely negative light, I might add; I don’t get the reasoning), Violence, Death, Religion (Again, negative light, but there I can at least see the logic.)

Hello, nobody in particular! This is my second post since I said I would start making independent Youtube videos, and I’ve made a grand total of 1 such video. And it was an intro video. Fail. Anyway, how about we get down to business? (Rhetorical question is rhetorical.)

Tiger Eyes (I really should use the book titles more often) is a novel about a 15 year old girl named Davey Wexler whose father was murdered (great start). Her mother decides to move from Atlantic City (Which I actually had to look up the location of – it’s in New Jersey), to Los Alamos, in New Mexico. They stay with relatives there, and the rest of the book is about Davey’s recovery from her father’s death and her adaptation to a new environment.

Alright, so what do I think of this book? Well…let’s get the positives out of the way, because that will be shorter. Ok, first of all, I do have to give credit to the author for tackling such a touchy subject. It can be really difficult to tell a story about such a sensitive topic as death, not to mention making it marketable, and while I don’t think that the author necessarily rose to the challenge all that well, she gets an A for effort. The other big thing for me was that the beginning was handled very well. It seems little, but for me, the most important parts of a story are the beginning and the ending. If the ending is bad, I’m left with a bad taste in my mouth when the story’s over (trust me, that will come back later), and if the beginning is bad, then I’m probably not going to read the rest of the book. In Tiger Eyes, the beginning is very competently handled. It briefly and effectively establishes the main characters, the setting, and the conflict, without ever losing my interest or patience. That’s actually something that’s very hard to do in writing, and something that a lot of books don’t do.

Unfortunately, a plot doesn’t just consist of beginnings. There also has to be a middle and an end, and that’s where the book falls short. The middle is unmemorable, and the end pisses me off. Let’s talk about the end, because there is, by definition, more to talk about. Like I said, the end of a book, if it’s not done right, can give you negative feelings towards the whole story. And the ending of this book made me want to BURN the thing. (OK, it wasn’t quite that bad, but I was still angry.) The problem with the ending is that towards the end of the book, everyone suddenly starts being a complete asshole. For some reason, the author decided that she needed to end the book by draining away any likable, friendly, or enjoyable character traits that anybody had, and make them all be dicks to each other. I won’t go into any details to avoid all out spoilers, but it is ridiculous how mean and cruel (redundant adjectives are redundant) the characters become at the end, just for the sake of having tension. Given, most of the characters weren’t exactly likable to begin with (I can literally count the number of characters with any fleshed out positive character traits on the fingers of one hand), but that doesn’t excuse the issue. Also, it rushes Davey’s recovery. Horribly. In a good portion of the second act, she seems to forget that she’s supposed to be recuperating from the death of a loved one, so we don’t really get to see her go through the process of recovery and renewal. She just has one big revelation in the third act, so now she’s fine. And the final thing that really bugs me: What’s the point of Wolf, again? He’s emphasized so much – the title makes reference to his dialogue, the back blurb devotes a paragraph to him, the main character’s narration constantly mentions him – but he doesn’t really have that great of a role. He’s just another character. I think there are 4 scenes with him in it. There good scenes, I guess, but there’s very little in them that sets them apart from any other scene with any other character. It’s not quite as big of a problem as the other ones I’ve mentioned, but it’s still a problem.

Overall, I give it 3 stars and 1 heart. Technically speaking, it’s not that bad of a book, but the ending irritates me so much that I just end up hating it. Next book could be one of about 8 books that I’ve got checked out from the library; until next time, read more books!

Banned Book Reviews: ALA #93: Bumps in the Night, by Harry Allard

Reasons for Banning: supernatural elements

Hello, nobody in particular! I’m experiencing difficulty with the new WordPress format, so if you briefly saw a post with nothing but a title, that’s why. Anyway, I have absolutely nothing interesting to say about this entry. It’s a book for little kids, nothing more, nothing less. It isn’t “good” per say, but there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s just a picture book. 2 stars and 2 hearts. The next review will be #87, Tiger Eyes, by Judy Blume. Until then, read more books!

Banned Book Reviews: ALA #23: The Giver, by Lois Lowry

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Reasons for Banning: Sexual Themes, Fantasy Elements, Dystopian Novel

Hello, nobody in particular! Sorry for not uploading every day. I’ve recently started playing Team Fortress 2, and have also been having fun with some games that I got from the Steam summer sale. (I should probably stop using Valve trademarks before they sue me.) Anyway, to make it up to you, here’s a review! Surprise! I actually read this one a while back, and I didn’t realize how high it was on the list at the time. Once I realized that it was #23, I decided to save a review of it for a time when I have nothing else to review. So since I’ve had a lull in activity, especially reviews, I’ve decided to just go ahead and review it. So, having said that, let’s get going.

The Giver is a dystopian novel (another one) that follows a boy name Jonas. He lives in a village in which everything has been standardized and regulated; jobs, families, and even birthdays are assigned to individuals by a Council of Elders. As the story progresses, we also see other changes. Automobiles no longer exist; instead, everyone rides bikes. People always use specific, politically correct language. Color vision has been mostly bred out of the people in the village. And, most intriguingly, emotions have been reduced to shallow, simple feelings, with no compelling force behind them. In the context of this village, Jonas is selected to become the Receiver of Memory, the person required to hold within their mind the memories of all the people who have ever lived in the village. (At this point, I went and watched the trailer for the upcoming movie. Not sure why. Movie doesn’t look that good. I’m probably going to see it anyway. Getting back on topic…) These memories are passed to him by an old man called The Giver. Throughout the story, Jonas discovers the problems with his society by comparing it with the memories of those who came before, eventually (Spoiler Alert) leaving the village for good.

What’s good about this story? A lot. Honestly, I have nothing original to say about it, so here’s a link to a video in which someone else (whom I have only ever communicated with through Youtube comments, so no, I’m not being paid for this or anything) talks about all the things I’m talking about in more detail: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=duPC–wH_T4. (By the way, check out this guy’s other stuff. I love it and you should watch it.) Back to what’s good about this story, aside from the usual plot, characters, writing, etc., the main draw of the Giver is it’s dystopian society. It is hard to write a dystopian children’s novel, but Lois Lowry pulls it off. It’s incredibly interesting to read about the way this society has developed. The village is focused around the idea of eliminating all strong emotions or passions. So pain, anger, fear, and other, similar feelings are, for the most part, eliminated, at the price of also eliminating pleasure, joy, love, etc. This is maintained not through fear or pleasure, as in most dystopian novels, but rather through ignorance. It’s a really fascinating idea, and one that is fairly applicable in our lives.

Overall, this is a very good piece of children’s literature that you should all read. It gets 5 stars and 5 hearts. I have no idea what the next review will be, but in any event, until next time, read more books!

Banned Book Review: ALA #69: Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury

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Title: Fahrenheit 451

Author: Ray Bradbury

Reasons for Banning: This book is the dystopian embodiment of everything book banners hate and everything I fight for on this blog. Enough said.

Hello, nobody in particular! I don’t feel like wasting time on an intro, so let’s jump right into the review.

Fahrenheit 451 is a dystopian novel in which books are burned and pleasure is placed above everything else. Guy Montag is a fireman in this society, whose job it is to burn any objectionable material, especially books. One night, he has a conversation with an odd 17 year old girl, who believes in long, quiet walks and thoughtful conversation, both of which are ideas that have long since been removed from the public consciousness. Before Montag knows what he’s doing, he begins stealing books from his own fires, reading them in secret. Soon, he begins to realize that he isn’t happy with his life, despite the entire society being based around pleasure. So, he begins trying to change his society, and that constitutes the plot.

So what do I like about this? It has some of the most interesting and applicable themes of any dystopian novel I’ve read so far. The most obvious theme is, of course, censorship, which I’m actually not going to get into right now because it’s pretty obvious, and let’s face, you hear me go on about censorship enough. No, the really interesting themes in this novel are the ones that show what comes about because of it. It shows how people, without something to think about and mull over in our heads, become pretty stupid. This is shown everywhere in the book. Like how the world has become so materialistic that they have advertisements fed into their ears constantly or how the only shows on television are sit-coms without scripts, or how Montag’s wife almost dies because she overdoses on sleeping pills. More importantly, though, people have become apathetic. One of the amazing things that literature does for us is that it broadens our empathy – when we read, we’re allowed to see through others eyes: those of the writer, and those of the characters. Books can allow two people to interact across time and space, without any knowledge of each other. Take them away, and suddenly, those links are gone. People live completely in the here and now. They don’t think about the past or the future, and they don’t give a damn about anyone else. All that matters is that they are happy now. As you can imagine, this leads to some dire consequences. For example, when aforementioned 17 year old girl dies in a car accident, our main character doesn’t learn about it until several days later, and when he does find out about it, it’s just said out of hand, because the person saying it doesn’t care. Can you imagine if someone in your neighborhood died suddenly, and you didn’t learn about it for several days? Yeah. The books ending, which I won’t spoil for you, also demonstrates this well.

So that’s the main thing that’s good about it, but are there any problems? Well, yes. Some of the dialogue get’s a bit long winded, and it kind of seems like preaching to the choir to write a book about how much we need books. It gives excellent analysis in that regard, but it’s still kind of silly.

So overall, I think this was a very good book with very good themes and a strong story to back it up. I give it 4 stars and 4 hearts. I’m not sure what the next review will be, but in any case, until next time, read more books!

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