Book reviews!

2 Jul

I’ve been reading like a fiend lately! Anytime I have a few minutes to spare, I pick up whichever book I’m on. Last month I read (or at least finished in the month of June):

Audrey Niffenegger, Her Fearful Symmetry
Erik Larson, Devil in the White City
Stephen King, Carrie
Ned Vizzini, It’s Kind of a Funny Story

Wow. Three out of four of these books were great. I’ll give a little review of each!

Audrey Niffenegger, Her Fearful Symmetry
Goodreads stars: four

This book was very similar and yet very different from her previous novel, The Time Traveler’s Wife. I loved both, but this one was a little more playful. If my memory serves me correctly, I feel that this book is a little less sad than her previous book. There were times where I found myself giggling at the wit and temerity of the characters. It’s also set in England so I found myself reading most of the book in a British accent. Does anyone else do that? Just me? 🙂
Overall, it’s a great read. It was a little spooky at times, because, hey, it’s a story about ghosts. But the ghosts are coming into a new life of sorts and are figuring themselves out, as children would. It’s a bit endearing. It is not by any means scary, but the idea of the ghosts of your loved ones being around without you knowing is just a little big chilling to me.

Erik Larson, Devil in the White City
Goodreads stars: three

This was my least favorite read of these four books. It was very informative, for sure. But I felt like I was always missing something. Larson would allude to something but I wasn’t sure what. Or he would say things like “the fire was caused by something that no one knew at the time but later figured out” (obviously not a direct quote) and would leave me thinking “well… what was it? You know now, so tell me!”
I was also thrown off by the title. The cover and title itself imply that the devil would be the main point of the story. It felt like it was roughly 70% story about the 1893 World Fair and only 30% about the serial murderer who set up shop nearby. I’m not sure if I just misread or if I was misled but I was under the impression that the murderer, Holmes, had set up shop within the fair, when in fact he only erected a hotel nearby.
I think the whole novel was just too much. There were times where I felt that I was getting unnecessary information, and like I already said, missing something big. Larson interjects little side stories about other famous people that seemingly have nothing to do with the major story and overall just detracted from the novel as a whole. The details were informative, but overall, I felt overwhelmed with this book.

Stephen King, Carrie
Goodreads stars: four

This is a great read! I love horror and this one had my heart racing a few times. I’ve only read a few Stephen King books despite being a fan of most of the movie adaptations, so I’m trying to read more of them.
Carrie is a great quick read. The version of the novel that I have is from 1992 so I’m not sure if newer versions have a different intro, but in this edition, King calls it a “short novel.” It’s over 200 pages but those pages are small and there’s often a lot of blank space. King invents news stories, tales from other characters in the novel, and even some police reports.
There are a lot of differences between the movie and the novel, which is to be expected. I think they both work great independently but they inform each other as well.

Ned Vizzini, It’s Kind of a Funny Story
Goodreads stars: four

(I’m all about those fours aren’t I?) Another great story! Also another novel that has a movie adaptation. The movie version, just like Carrie, I saw before reading the book. Typically I like to read the books first, then see the movies, but I didn’t even know that this book was a book before I saw the movie! The movie is great; it stars Keir Gilchrist as the teenage boy who checks himself into a psychiatric hospital (he’s also the little brother in United States of Tara [GREAT show!]) and Zack Galifianakis as another one of the patients in the hospital. So of course, having seen this first, I was picturing these people as I was reading. The actors were perfect in the roles they played.
But, I’m supposed to be talking about the book! It starts out a little awkwardly. You can tell that the main character, Craig, is progressing throughout the book. The first few chapters are full of “like”s and awkwardly phrased sentences but as he figures himself out his phrases become more eloquent and he puts more meaningful words to use.
The story itself is about a teenager with depression who checks himself into the hospital unknowingly (how does that happen? read it to find out!). He stays for five days and works out his issues. It’s a funny read but also very insightful and it captures teenaged angst very well. The author actually spent five days in a psych ward himself so I think that’s why it’s so well informed. Definitely a great read, and it only took me a few days to get through despite how lengthy it might seem.

I would recommend any of these books. They’re all very different genres so read the one that speaks to you most! What are you reading now? Make some suggestions and check out my goodreads 🙂


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