All great love stories must end in tragedy. I’m not sure where this thought originated but Shakespeare definitely drove the point home in Romeo and Juliet. “For never was a story of more woe. Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.” Tragedy can make even the most ordinary love stories into epic ones. I think it’s the counterbalance of the idea that love is forever with the idea that life is fleeting. Never Let Me Go is definitely one of these tragic love stories.
The novel begins in the present with Cathy looking back on her life at the boarding school Halisham in England. She presents her memories, from her point of view, on her life and what shaped it. In the present, Cathy is known as a carer, a person who works in hospitals helping donors through their donation periods. But she spends a good portion of the time thinking about Halisham and her friendships with Ruth and Tommy.
The story takes awhile to get going and you do have to slog through a bit of the beginning but it’s worth it. The further you get into the story the more you realize how important the beginning is to set up the events that will unfold. The beginning is almost the ending in a way. It holds the key to the story that you don’t get to unlock until the end. It fills in the missing pieces so that you can see the big picture. And the big picture is terrifying. The author poses so many questions about science and humanity. Whether it’s better to have known something bad all along or only find out in the end. And the negative effects of scientific discovery.
The whole story becomes a lot more foreboding once you realize exactly what’s happening. Especially in contrast to the beautiful love story that begins to form. Again, it takes some time for the love triangle to truly show itself. There’s a lot of backstory to the triangle and the relationships between the three people, Ruth, Tommy, and Cathy. Tommy and Cathy have always had a special kind of relationship where they feel free to talk about whatever is troubling them. Yet, Tommy begins to date Ruth, a beautiful and manipulative person. Ruth represents the basis of Halisham for me. How people have come to form a facade of the real world that the kids take to heart. They then begin to form their own facades and backstories, especially Ruth.
The whole time I was really rooting for Cathy and Tommy. They just seem destined to be together. But Ruth stands in the way for a good portion of the novel. Yet, the caveat is true here. All good love stories must end in tragedy of some kind. And this one does. Perhaps a bit more tragic than most. Every outside force has come against them from birth. The love was doomed from the get go and perhaps that’s why it’s so touching. The greatest loves often involve the greatest sacrifices.
Stay tuned for the next installment of Book Battle 2015. Happy reading!
Next up in Book Battle 2015 is a novel with a love triangle. I had a really hard time trying to find one that interested me and was a bit different than what I normally read. I love that this challenge has really pushed my out of my reading comfort zone to try things I would never have picked up before. I’ve found out like I like science fiction and fantasy more than I used to think I did, I’m reading more classic novels, and I’m browsing sections of the library I’ve never been down. If nothing else, this Book Battle has been thoroughly enlightening and it’s been amazing to share it with all of you.
But, I digress. Back to the book. The novel I chose is Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. The book centers on Tommy, Ruth, and Cathy as they go through Halisham, a private school in the English countryside. From the back cover, it sounds like this is going to be a coming of age story with a twist. I’ve heard that the twist is very good and I can’t wait to find out what it is. Many list the book as a science fiction/fantasy so I’m thinking the twist might have something to do with that. Apparently there’s also a movie with Andrew Garfield, Keira Knightley, and Carey Mulligan. That is going to have to happen after I read this novel! How I wish Blockbuster was still a thing. Now we rely on Redbox and Netflix which just don’t have everything you want to watch.
Stay tuned for the review of Never Let Me Go. Happy reading!
Have you ever wondered what a penwiper is? If you have the answer lies in this delightful novel. Set in 2057, time traveling Oxford dons are looking for lost relics from Coventry Cathedral for their boss Lady Schrapnell. It’s her mission to rebuild the cathedral because visiting the cathedral changed her great great great grandmother’s life. Sent to jumble sale after jumble sale, Ned Henry’s mission is to find out what happened to the bishop’s bird stump, the one relic Lady Schrapnell must have. His last drop send Ned into the hospital for sever time lag. Because of his time lag, Ned is sent to Victorian England in order to recover and complete a mission that might disrupt the time space continuum.
Verity Kindle is the reason Ned is sent back to Victorian England because she has done what no other time traveler has managed to do, she’s brought back something from the past. A cat to be precise. This cat has caused an incongruity that must be fixed or it could alter history forever.
This incongruity sends Ned and Verity on a delightful mission to right the wrongs done by bringing the cat into the future. They have to make sure certain couples meet, break up other couples, and get Lady Schrapnell’s great great great grandmother to Coventry Cathedral. But each time they try to fix the incongruity they make things even worse. That is until they find out that maybe the incongruity is fixing itself and their just part of the process.
To Say Nothing of the Dog is a love letter to literature. There are so many homages in this novel it kept me on my toes trying to keep up. From all things Victoriana, including Tennyson, hilarious Oxford dons, and spiritualism, to references to the Golden Age of mystery writer’s, including Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers. This novel has it all. Some of the best moments are when Ned and Verity are discussing the incongruity like Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane. They are trying to hard to piece the pieces together they fail to see the bigger picture. Willis took these beloved literary characters and gave them more human counterparts. I feel like Ned and Verity solve mysteries like any of us would. Looking at everything like it’s a clue and focusing on the minutiae trying to be Hercule Poirot.
With elements of science fiction, romance, and mystery, this novel can’t go wrong. It’s a great introduction into science fiction for those readers like myself who haven’t really read much in the genre before. You just kind of get your toes wet into the genre with the elements of time travel.
Rating: 5/5 Read it and try not to laugh at her sly look on literature.
Stay tuned for the next installment of Book Battle 2015. Happy reading!
The next book in Book Battle 2015 is a novel set in the future. Not having read many science fiction novels, I wasn’t really sure where to go with this category. I asked everyone I know who reads sci-fi and compiled some possibilities and then went browsing the local library. Funny enough, I didn’t end up choosing any of the novels that were recommended to me. I chose Connie Willis’s novel To Say Nothing of the Dog. I just kind of stumbled across the book while I was looking for another one and the title caught my eye. After I read the synopsis I decided that this was going to be the sci-fi book for me.
Set in Oxford, England in the year 2060, the novel is about a group of time traveling scholars who are looking for the Bishop’s Bird Stump in order to rebuild Coventry Cathedral for their patron Lady Schrapnell. The main character ends up getting something called time lag and then is ordered to take a break. To escape the demands of the patron, his team sends him to Oxford in the Victorian era to take a break. But apparently, there is boo break to be had as another colleague brings back an anomaly from Victorian England to the present that could destroy the space time continuum.
Needless to say, this novel sounds like a lot of fun. It’s got all the elements in it, mystery, intrigue, time travel, romance, humor. I can’t wait to get started. Happy reading!
“So they were trying to re-invent themselves and their universe,” says the narrator in Slaughterhouse Five. This quote sums up one of the main themes in the novel quite nicely. Trying to cope with his life and especially his experiences in WWII, Billy Pilgrim becomes unstuck in time. He creates a new universe where he can travel back in forth in time to escape the situation he’s in. His time travel lets Billy conveniently escape whatever situation he doesn’t want to deal with, like visiting with his mother in the hospital. When each time shift occurs, it’s interrelated to whatever Billy happens to be thinking about or experiencing. Billy’s thoughts are heavily influenced by his favorite author, Kilgore Trout. Billy even states the similarities between his time on Tralfamadore and Trout’s novels, in particular the novel called The Big Board.
Slaughterhouse Five was my first foray into Vonnegut and I have to say it was amazing. This novel really got me thinking and analyzing making my English major kick in big time. There were so many themes and symbols that were just beautiful in the novel, like the one above. The other symbol I really liked in the book connected to this theme of mortality. Billy is talking to the Tralfamadorians about why they chose him to take back to their planet. The Tralfamadorians explain that every moment simply is. Like being an insect trapped in amber. This was a perfect way to explain Billy’s experiences in WWII, forever encasing him and connecting him to the tragedy of Dresden.
The narrative style of Slaughterhouse Five presents itself like a stream of consciousness writing but is very cleverly mapped out. The narrator begins the story providing the background and then the novel jumps to Billy Pilgrim and his experiences, with the narrator interjecting into Billy’s narrative making the story more universal.
I won’t give away any more about the novel because I really think you need to go pick it up and read it. Vonnegut is an amazing writer with such a unique voice and command of his own style. After finishing Slaughterhouse Five, I immediately wanted to read more of his novels. Perhaps I’ll get to explore more of the fourth dimension. So it goes.
Stay tuned for the next installment in Book Battle 2015. Happy reading!