Ender’s Game

Ender's Game

“To save mankind they need a hero, but are they creating a monster?”

Ender Wiggin is a child prodigy. Born into a futuristic Earth at a time when humanity live in fear of a second Bugger invasion from outer space. Ender is whisked away to Battle School as a small child where he must deal with low grav, stun lasers and a war that threatens to take away everything he loves.

Fast paced and  stomach lurching this classic sci-fi will not disappoint.

5stars PG

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The Two Bullies

 

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The distinctly Asian design and layout of The Two Bullies creates a sense of authenticity within Morimoto’s work.  Using an upright, calendar layout, allows The Two Bullies to retain vertical connection to the original Japanese script from which it has been translated. Within the picture book Morimoto explores the nature of fear and control and indicates that the appearance of power is often as effective as power itself. The use of subsequent zooming and low angle drawings accentuates the power of the two bullies and emphasises the dominant position they hold within their respective societies. By transforming a cultural myth into a picture book, Morimoto is validating the medium of visual text as a conduit for cultural construct.

G

4stars

Oryx and Crake

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Snowman, once known as Jimmy, sleeps in a tree with a dirty bed sheet and laments the loss of his beautiful and beloved Oryx and his best friend Crake. Seemingly the only survivor in a stark and terrifying post-apocolyptic landscape, the narrative follows Snowman as he lives in the present and remember the past. In the midst of his struggle for survival, with only the Crakers for company, Snowman is faced with the taxing questions of  whether he should have seen it coming and whether there was anything he could have done.

Margaret Atwood does it again (wait, have a written yet about The Handmaid’s Tale or The Blind Assassin?). Her post-apocalyptic world is stark and inventive, forcing the reader to ask some heavy questions about ethics and science and the what makes us truly human. Short-listed for the Man Booker in 2003, it is a bleak and twisted love story and a clever and chilling prophetic narrative about the not-so-sci-fi problems that face our real world modern society. A decipherable plot is unclear for most of the novel, which is instead driven by the reader’s curiosity to discover the cause of the collapse of society as well as the current situation of the protagonist, Snowman.

While it’s not my favourite Atwood, it is though-provoking, challenging and a good read.
4starsMA

 

Of Mice and Men

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“The compelling story of two outsiders striving to find their place in an unforgiving world.

Drifters in search of work, George and his simple-minded friend Lennie have nothing in the world except each other and a dream – a dream that someday they will have some land of their own. Eventually they find work on a ranch in California’s Salinas Valley, but their hopes are doomed as Lennie, struggling against extreme cruelty, misunderstanding and feelings of jealousy, becomes a victim of his own strength.”

One of John Steinbeck’s most famous and influential works, Of Mice and Men questions the culpability of the mentally unstable and forces readers to consider what it means to be human. Through the setting of the 1920’s Depression, Steinbeck’s tragedy wrestles with other themes such as belonging and acceptance, power, aspiration and judgement. Recommended for philosophical readers.

4stars

 

M

Slaughterhouse Five or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty Dance with Death

“Listen: Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck this time.
Billy had gone to sleep a senile widower and awaked on his wedding day. He has walked through a door in 1955 and come through another one in 1941. He gone back through that door to find himself in 1963. He has seen his birth and death many times, he says, and pays random visits to all the events in between.
He says.
Billy is spastic in time, has no control over where he is going next, and the trips aren’t necessarily fun. He is in a constant state of stage fright, he says, because he never know what part of his life he is going to have to act next.”
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Kurt Vonnegut’s most famous novel is a fragmented and ironic exploration of the often illogical and senseless nature of human beings through the events of the Second World War. As an exceptional example of postmodern literature and metafiction, it is jumbled, strange and at times disorienting as it skips from one life event to another in no particular order. After all, “there is nothing intelligent to say about a massacre.” The first-person narration through a minor character (seemingly the author’s voice) to relay Billy’s story is interesting and adds an element of reality to the sci-fi wanderings of Pilgrim, centering the plot around the fire bombings of Dresden. It is an anti-war book but with a strong sense of fatalism as “writing an anti-war book is like writing an anti-glacier book.” Vonnegut, despite the senseless disorder asks the postmodern questions about themes such as free-will, fate, the importance of unknowns in life, fatalism, belonging, the nature of reality and of course war.

It has been criticised for its irreverence and use of crass language (1968), but is (because of the dark humour and sarcasm in particular) a good introduction to Postmodern literature. It is not a difficult read.

3stars

MA

The Bell Jar

belljar_lSylvia Plath’s autobigraphical  novel The Bell Jar is ahead of it’s time.

This semi autobiographical novel will sweep you away in a torrent of relentless honesty which flows from the mind of a poet. Oblique metaphor and jarring simile will keep you pinned to the description of the mundane, while Plath’s haunting inner journey becomes more and more real in your own mind. This novel, Plath’s only one, would make an excellent related text for HSC students studying Ted Hughes’ Birthday Letters. Before self harm and suicide became sensationalised, Sylvia Plath came to terms with her own reality and had the courage to give expression to her emotion. Best read in context of the authors life, this book is a must read for anyone interested in confessional life writing and the broader Hughes/Plath saga.

4stars

MA