Book review: The White Tiger

In search of a new read I picked “The White Tiger” off our bookshelf in the living room. I couldn’t find the blurb to read but thought it looked interesting and so started reading, and interesting it was. Aravind Adiga won the Man Booker prize 2008 for this book, and it is no surprise.

Adiga uses the interesting narrative of a letter to tell the story of his main character in the book. The first chapter starts us reading along as “The White Tiger” writes a letter to His Excellency the Premier of China, and so we learn about the White Tiger’s life as he so wishes to tell us. We have no real idea where he is going with his letter, and no real idea who this man is and what we will be finding out about his life. What unravels is the tale of a young boy, trying to fight his way out of poverty and what society is dictating he should do with his life.

The book provides an unusual yet interesting insight into India and its culture. Through the main character, we learn of cultural rituals, they way people are brought up in India, the differences between the rich and poor. We learn of the hardship people suffer in India, of the poor living conditions and of corruption, and we learn of the differences that exist within the different parts of India itself. Through this letter Adiga succeeds in telling us the story of a nation that is on the rise, yet still has many faults. We empathise with the main character, even though part of us feels like we shouldn’t really. Adiga also manages to make us empathise with the second main character, even though he is a bad person who makes other people’s lives miserable. And yet, seen through the eyes of The White Tiger, we manage to feel sorry for this person.

Adiga tells us the story of the White Tiger in the order he sees fit, therefore sometimes leaving us in the lurch with a feeling of having been cut off half way through a very good story. But in the end, we find out everything we wanted to know and the book ends in a very satisfactory manner. No need to worry, this is not one of the books where you end up wondering what happened.

It is a truly excellent book and I recommend it to anyone who is looking for a new read, anyone interested in India, anyone planning to travel there and many more.

 

Book review: Harry Potter books 1-3

I hardly need to write an introduction to the now very famous story of Harry Potter, the boy who discovers he is a wizard on his eleventh birthday. Harry, who grows up in a rather un-loving family made up of his aunt uncle and cousin, is dreaming of a life far away from them, when his wish is granted and he gets whisked off to wizard school. There, he meets his two best friends Ron and Hermione, and together they go on rather dangerous adventures, nearly getting themselves killed but emerging as the heroes in the end. All along, we learn about the fantastic world of magic, wizardry and everything that comes with it, including quidditch and muggles.

J.K. Rowling has managed to write a truly enthralling story about magic, mixing in not only fantasy but also the ordinary lives of young children who turn into teenagers and the world surrounding them. She shows great imagination be it in the names of characters, in poems and songs she makes up, or the various existing beasts and plants the students are confronted with. Harry’s life and that of his friends can so easily be related to that it is a joy to read, and also easy to follow and start to feel real empathy (or hatred) for the characters.

Re-reading the books for about the 6th time, I am still rediscovering bits and really enjoying the read. It’s incredible how much one can forget over time, and particularly get stuck with what is shown in the movies, which is a little unfortunate. Although the films are good, they of course miss out a lot of important parts and details that can really only be found in the books.

Reading the books again, now knowing the ending, is also really interesting as you pick up on small details and clues throughout the stories, even in the very first books, which make you think back to the way it ends. I don’t know if J.K. Rowling knew the ending when she started writing, but the way she has managed to bring together and tie in all the tiny bits and pieces and details is very impressive! Re-reading the books also makes you remember details you may have forgotten, as for example how Harry finds out about the Chamber of Secrets in book 2 as I had. It is simply a joy to discover or re-discover all the characters in the Harry Potter books, from the most obvious ones like Dumbledore, to some you might have forgotten, and to think of the adventures that are to come.

If you have not yet read the Harry Potter books then I highly recommend them. They will provide many hours of fun, anticipation, sometimes frustration and sadness, followed by joy, and you probably won’t be able to put them down. Even if fantasy is not your favourite genre Harry Potter is easily accessible to everyone and to people of all ages. If you have already read the books, then I strongly recommend reading them again for all the reasons stated above. J.K. Rowling has succeeded extremely well with her books and I am sure they will be handed along through many generations.

Book review: The Dresden files

If you’re a fan of the fantasy genre as I am, then the Jim Butcher series “The Dresden files” are for you! On the hunt for a new fantasy book to read, I picked up the first of the series, called “Storm Front” not long ago.

Harry Dresden is a wizard and the only wizard in Chicago. He’s out of a job and a bit broke, but every now and then the Chicago Police Department call upon him to come and deal with  bizarre crimes they have no explanation for. In each novel (so far I have read the first three) Harry uncovers some magical force behind the unsolved crimes, and battles it out until near death, before triumphing.

It took me a while to get into the first novel, but the action is good and so is the magical/fantasy element. Admittedly, Harry’s powers are not the most amazing you will have come across, but the magical monsters he are up against are fun. You have some traditional vampires, werewolves and other beings, and some other less traditional ones that crop up in the stories. Although Butcher’s literary style is not always my favourite, sometimes weighing in with sentences like “excuse the pun” that I find unnecessary, his books are nevertheless catching. Once you start it is hard to put them down as you want to know what happens to Harry. Butcher builds upon certain characters which recur each book, making you want to follow them and their life stories other than Harry’s.  This also allows you gain in familiarity when picking up the next book in the series, taking up where you left off. There is a decent amount of action, magic and weird creatures involved, and even some romance.

I would definitely recommend the Jim Butcher series for anyone who is in search of light but gripping read in the fantasy genre.

Book review: Deliver us from Evil

Looking for a new thriller after the Millenium series, I happened upon this book “Deliver us from Evil” by David Baldacci.

The book is an excellent thriller, with a good and gripping plot. Not the investigative type, as in the Millenium series, but instead a story of revenge, hit men going up against dangerous criminals and merciless killing. The story is easy to follow, with two main characters whose stories intertwine nicely. A man and a woman are both sent to kill the same target, a dangerous and psychologically deranged man who is known to have killed and tortured many people in his lifetime without an ounce of regret. We follow our two main characters on their path to kill their target, and are witness to their encounter whilst on the job. Whether or not they are aware of each other’s mission is unclear, as is whether or not they will succeed. There is a good bit of intrigue and suspense, leaving us unsure of the fate of our two heroes until the very end.  It also contains some light romance, lightening up the atmosphere of the rather dark story, and making our hit men seem a bit more human as opposed to killing machines. Aside from a gruelling torture scene that I could not bare to read (I had to skip to the next section) this book is prefect follow up to the Millenium series and provides an easy but gripping read.

If you like a good bit of action and revenge, then this is definitely the book you would want to pick up!

La variation des voix

Today I have the pleasure to announce the launch of Jonathan’s book “La variation des voix”. For me it represents years of work and reflections that have all culminated in this collection of poetry/short essays. You can find it and order it here.

Aujourd’hui j’ai le plaisir de vous annoncer la sortie du livre de Jonathan appelé “La variation des voix”. Pour moi il représente des années de travail et de réflexions qui ont culminé en cette collection de poésie/nouvelles. Vous pouvez le trouver et le commander ici. Pour en savoir plus, voici la description qu’en fait Jonathan:

“C’est l’aventure de mon premier livre qui sera disponible le 20 Septembre dans différents points de vente. “La variation des voix” évoque une recherche entre l’écriture de fiction et l’oeuvre de poésie, sans détails de temps et de lieu, imaginant les histoires qui traversent les creux de la robe de Margarita, au bar de l’avenir, dans les profondeurs de mon imagination.”

Bonne lecture et n’hésitez pas à nous faire part de vos commentaires.