Posts tagged ‘fahrenheit451’

May 6th, 2011

Learn from the Classics

by Madeleine Rex

We’ve read some very well-known books in my English class this year (many of which I’d already read). We began the year with Of Mice and Men, a book I’m a huge fan of. However, it wasn’t until I dug into it for a second time with the aid of my fabulous (or “rad” as one of my other teachers described her) English teacher that I realized just how spectacularly detailed Of Mice and Men is. There’s something that writers like Steinbeck have managed to do with word choice that gives their words layer upon layer of meaning.

There’s a passage in which Steinbeck describes Lennie’s and George’s physical features, such as the way they walk and the angles of their face. It’s mystifying. I’d never noticed before reading it in class that Steinbeck manages to write the sentences in a way that reflects the image he’s trying to create. The words he uses to describe George’s skinniness are, well, skinny words, and vice versa for Lennie.

Ray Bradbury accomplishes something similar in many parts of Fahrenheit 451. When we’d discuss the intricacies of Bradbury’s or Steinbeck’s word choice, I was almost exhausted by the very thought of putting that much consideration into the words I choose. Certainly, diction’s important to me and something I love to deal with, but I can hardly imagine creating something so complex. It’s far more fun as a reader to untangle the meanings of specific paragraphs or individual sentences of other people’s books.

In Les Edgerton’s Hooked: Write fiction that grabs readers at page one and never lets them go, he says:

…every word needs to count and to represent much more than the few syllables it takes to utter.

Some writers have truly taken that advice to heart and created magic. I aspire to be half as brilliant before I die. Leaning to play with words and create illustrious images is a process I’ve yet to master and likely never will. But isn’t it fabulous to read a paragraph in a book and simply gape at it? Stare at it for ten seconds, and then reread? I love it when I come across something so magnificent that I wish I could tattoo it on my mind and carry it around with me as a constant reminder of what words can accomplish.

Someday, I want to make someone feel that way. Don’t you? Let’s look to the masters. Reread those books you were forced through in high school because there’s a pretty decent chance you’ll learn more the second time around. Don’t analyze. Analysis is too cold. Savor. Enjoy.

P.S. I just got my 100th follower! Thanks, Vy! There’s a giveaway coming up soon! Goodness knows you guys deserve it for putting up with my irregular posts!

February 7th, 2011

Across the Universe by Beth Revis; Review

by Madeleine Rex


Title:
Across the Universe

Author: Beth Revis

Published: January 11th, 2010

Number of Pages: 416

Rating: 4/5

Quote:

These are two little lines of Elder’s that I love. The second I’d read them, I went back and read them again…

And that’s why I’ll neber be as good an Eldest as he is.

Because I like a little chaos.

Amy seems to inspire me to be all kinds of different.

Synopsis:

A love out of time. A spaceship built of secrets and murder.

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone-one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship-tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn’t do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed’s hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there’s only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming. [From Goodreads]

Review:

There’s been a lot of hype concerning Across the Universe, yet I haven’t read a single review yet. I had no idea what I should really expect from the book. And now, having read it, I’m certain that no one review could possibly touch on every aspect.

This book is full to the brim. If you blow on it, it’ll overflow.

As my friend Miranda pointed out to me, the stakes are incredibly high in this book. You know from moment one that whatever is about to happen will be B.I.G. You’ve got frozen people, a spaceship, a three-century-long journey, a dystopian society within the spaceship, and murder.

It’s pretty much the alpha and omega of young adult science fiction.

Told from two POVs, Across the Universe is both Amy and Elder’s story.

Life aboard Godspeed, the ship, is anything but surreal. Anything but the American dream of space-life. Sure, there’s peace, quiet, and efficiency, but there’s nothing that makes life worth living. Instead, Elder’s world is flooded with indifference and a total lack of everything that makes us human. The robotic, shells of people that wander the roads of Godspeed might as well have no minds at all. The people who are actually living life – who have imaginations and have the ability to think individually – are considered mad. This is the world Elder was born into, has lived in for 16 years, and will eventually lead.

Amy is the oddball. The freak of freaks. With her bright red hair and pearly skin, she disrupts the monoethnic, bland life around her. Not only is she stranded on this ship of horrors, surrounded by people who have no idea how poor and depressing their lives are, but there’s a murderer on the loose – someone who, apparently, wanted to kill her first. Somebody is drowning people in the very ice they were frozen in.

Though I suppose I was meant to relate to Amy effortlessly, I found myself more eager to read Elder’s chapters. Amy was ironically unremarkable to me, and Elder was fascinating. I appreciated Amy most for the role she played in opening Elder’s eyes, in pulling him out of the pool of ignorance he was drowning in. Elder’s journey as he’s forced to consider the fact that everything he knows is wrong and contemplate change is the one I read for. He was the character I pitied and sympathized with. My favorite part of Amy’s character was her love for her family, namely her parents. I could easily relate, and I’m always pleased when a teen protagonist isn’t at odds with her parents, as is so often the case.

The leader (or dictator) of the ship, Eldest, is exactly the sort of villain I love. He’s smart, cunning, and is entirely sure that what he is doing is what absolutely must be done. I love antagonists who believe their actions are justified. Suddenly they aren’t pawns, but people with belief systems and values, no matter the fact that those values are disgusting. I appreciate the thought that goes into fleshing out villains who aren’t simply out of their minds, but dementedly philosophical.

Across the Universe made me think about all the ways in which a society can be run. The easiest way out is not always the best. It is simpler to yank away people’s free agency and turn them into drones. It maintains order and keeps everyone in a constant state of blind contentment. But is it right? Can robbing people of themselves ever be justifiable? Of course, none of us believe it is. It was examining the other side of the argument and trying to wrap my head around Eldest’s mindset that fascinated me. There are so many opinions on how to run a prosperous society in this book. I happened to be (re)reading Fahrenheit 451 for my English class while reading this, and the similarities were shocking.

There were a few factors that bumped the possible 5/5 rating to 4/5. I never felt as emotionally attached to Amy as I wished to, which was a huge disappointment. I also felt as though the onslaught of issues in the book should have affected me more. I wasn’t as worried as I should have been, and I believe some of that has to do with how the events played out. There were certainly aspects that scared the heck out of me and left my stomach squirming, but in the end, I don’t believe the book gave me the desired feeling of satisfaction.

I’d like to point out that this is Beth’s debut novel, and that every single thing that disappointed me can easily be fixed. Across the Universe is amazing. I could never in my wildest dreams write a novel so jam-packed with everything imaginable. It’s like a fruitcake… but better. Beth Revis is probably choking on her own potential.

May 7th, 2010

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: Fahrenheit 451

Author: Ray Bradbury

Published: 1953

Number of Pages: 179

Rating: 4/5

Quote:

There must be something in books, something we can’t imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don’t stay for nothing.”

Review:

I was astounded by this book. It gave my so much to ponder and wonder at. The very idea of a world where books are disgraceful is mind-boggling in and of itself. Could it be that these things that writers toil over and readers love and hate ardently, both emotions being enjoyable in this case, could be so feared, so despised that we would feel the need to eliminate them? To chase down every last page and burn it to a crisp. I found the philosophy behind such a decision quite fascinating.

Guy Montag is a fireman. He and his co-workers work diligently to set fire to entire homes that hold books, any type of book. Non-fiction and fiction alike. He finds pleasure in watching the snowflakes of pages fly into the air on a rampage and flutter slowly and languidly to the ground as the words die.

He’s also satisfied with the half-life he lives in a city and world where happiness is forced upon people. Everything is normal until he runs into Clarisse, a 17-year-old girl who is crazy. She has ideas and thoughts that others wouldn’t consider dreaming or thinking of. She sparks Montag’s rebellious fire. Guy soon lusts after the truth, after a world that can think on its own.

The world Montag has inhabited all his life, is, in my opinion, one of the most screwed up and loopy worlds imaginable. The very concept of everyone “being happy” when so few can think seems illogical. I don’t know about you, but I enjoy thinking. I enjoy the occasional argument. I enjoy knowing the full story, learning, and siphoning more and more knowledge. Really, the dystopian world’s main problem is that it has virtually eliminated real growth. In addition, it has killed off all opposition. Anything that could cause unhappiness is rejected. Books, movies, and other material that could possibly cause someone to think and worry, or simply feel the need to fight back, is taken care of.

Ray Bradbury’s style kept me reading,vehemently stuffing the words into my eyeballs. I loved his clear, strong, and ever-present voice. I’m eager to read Something Wicked this Way Comes, another one of his novels. The clarity of his writing spoke of truth in a remarkable way. I can easily imagine being convinced by anything he said.

I loved the idea of fighting for the books, the knowledge, and preserving them. You cannot help but admire people who are willing to give up much and enjoy so little in order to ensure that the people of the next generations would not go without the necessities of history and the pleasure of reading.

I read Fahrenheit 451 for book club this month. The girls are meeting today to discuss it, and although I know that some of them found the book “boring” (really?!), I’m certain that a very gripping discussion will be held. The topic of the book was so controversial and extremely odd that differing opinions will abound.

This book is one that a majority of the world has read. Many high schools consider it required reading. If, however, you have not read it, I recommend picking it up. You can find it anywhere. A book about the preservation of books should never go out of print.

Hallelujah for books!