Monday, 6 December 2010

Book Review - Carrie


Carrie by Stephen King has to be the most terrifying horror novel I have ever read. No, I didn't read this at night, under the cover of my duvets with a torch, listening to the silent house around me. Well, I did, but that's not why it's scary.

Let me pose a question you, dear reader: have you ever known someone who has been picked on? Of course, we're all bullied or made fun of at some point on our jolly course of life, but have you ever known someone who has been picked on so much that they seem to be the target of every prank? Have you ever known someone who's been jeered and scorned at simply for being different from everyone else? Not just a little bit different, but weird different. Has that person endured such horrid things like having their heads stuck down toilets, been tripped up in the corridor, the "Kick Me" sign on their back or the piece of gum on thier cheek? Have you ever done something to that person, something that makes you feel secretly guilty, like laugh at a mean joke directed towards them?

Nope, me neither.

But if you do know someone like that (school, work, whatever), you will immediately recognise Carrie (the titular protagonist) as being the laughing stock of not just her school, but her whole town. Daughter of an abusive, religious extremist who doesn't even tell her what a period is, Carrie suffers so much torment she eventually develops the supernatural talent of telekinesis (I surely don't need to remind anyone what that is). One day, she's invited to the school prom out of pity. She's delighted, of course. Little does she know that a humlitating prank is waiting for her there. This prank pushes her over the edge. And all hell breaks loose...

*gulp* She's gonna make us hurt, ain't she?

This novel is exceptional in so many ways. First of all, most debut novels normally feature a protagonist the same sex as the author. You know, cos it's easier that way. :P Carrie, as a female protagonist, was not only written well but whilst reading it, I was seriously convinced she was written by a woman. Only partly though. It still has King's style, which gives it away but is nonetheless very impressive. Or maybe his wife wrote it for him. I dunno...

Second, the idea of a regulary teased individual being driven over the edge is not farfetched. That's what makes it so frightening. Sure, the telekinesis is unlikely. But anyone can get hold of a weapon of some kind. Makes you think, doesn't it? And this has happened before. So you better think twice before you join in on a prank being played on somone who's treated like poo by all their peers.

And third, the build-up to the climax is perfect. It is so well done that when it comes, you're like "yeah, I knew it was coming but sh*t, I didn't expect that!" The pieces and clues are put together in the narrative almost in a scrap-book sort of way, making it seem almost like it really did happen. This, all the more, makes it creepier.

The character psychology is also pretty damn decent. You understand why they do what they do, making you feel a fiery hatred or an extreme pity towards them. Surprisingly, none of the characters, despite being in a typical American "high school" setting, weren't the normal stereotypes you'd expect to find. Except maybe Christine, who's the typical spoilt princess/cheerleader/shallow type of girl you'd just love to stab with a very... blunt... spoon...

"MY DADDY'S A LAWYER!! I'M GONNA SUE YOU SH*TLESS!! I WANNA A PONY!! GIVE ME A PONY, NOW!!"

Okay, maybe she's a bit old for ponies, but still, pretty stenciled if you ask me.

Other than that, I have no solid criticisms. Some people complain (I think they do anyway) that the book is too short, whilst works like It and The Shining are longer and therefore better. Bullcrap! The book's length is perfect. If it was any longer, the story would've dragged. Remember kids: quality not quantity.

Overall, Carrie is a chilling read and a deserves a very solid:

A

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Book Review – Changeling


Well, it has been a long time, hasn’t it? But, never fear, the Writer is here! Tonight’s review will be for a book named Changeling, by Steve Feasey (get it, faeces, lol), published in 2008. This book is a first in a series of a trilogy, so far, based around this kid called Trey Leporte, a kid who’s actually a werewolf who basically meets this vampire who tells him who he is, falls in love with the blood-sucker’s daughter, is hunted by demons, etc, etc. It sounds like a clich├ęd plot, and to some extent, it is. I would go as far to say that this is kind of an effort to fit in with the current “dark romance” trend that’s invading bookstores, but doing it in a boy’s point of view. That’s probably why it’s nothing ground-breaking.

The main character here is Trey, a kid who lives at an orphanage and wakes up one day to find his room completely ruined. (Legasp!) He thinks it is burglars, but it’s fairly obvious it’s him who’s become a werewolf during the night and... Oh, you’ll know what I mean when you read it. Then, we have Lucien Charron, a vampire who comes and collects him from the orphanage. Is it me or all head vampires called Lucien? Oh no, wait, that’s lycans! (Underworld reference, FTW!) But it’s nice to see that werewolves and vampires aren’t at each other’s throats for a change. But wait! The main baddie is Lucien’s brother, an evil vampire, who we don’t meet until the last chapter and he looks uncannily like Nosferatu . o.0

So, good bits: very strong beginning, it had me hooked from the first sentence. :D Straight to the point as well, which I always like in a book. If it just drags on and on, then I just lose interest. The action was okay, like the fight in the London Underground (oh no – spoilers!!) and the overall idea was kind of creative, certainly with today’s market. However, Steve Faeces (whoops, I mean... Feasey) kind of lost heart in the middle of it. I mean, the story slowed down considerably and got a little boring after the middle of the book. He must’ve got writer’s block, couldn’t be bothered to finish it, so sort of rushed the ending a little.

Unputdownable? Not really. I have to be honest. It’s okay, but it isn’t great. I’ll give it a grade of about:

D


That’s all from me, until next time we meet: adieu!

~The Writer

Friday, 1 January 2010

HAPPY NEW YEAR!! :D

Hi, all, hope you've had a good Crhistmas/Hunaka/Eid or whichever holiday you celebrated.

Wow, 2009 has come and gone so fast. And now we are in a new decade. (Whoop!) Let's hope this year is better than the last. :) So what are people's new year resolutions? My main one is get to university. But since that's not really a personal imporvement, I guess that doesn't really count. Well, I hope to finish my novel I have been wrting since June 2007, get it published and you all can read it.

Hope you have a fantastic year and I wish you all the best!

~The Writer

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Book Review - The Joshua Files, Invisible City


Hi, the Writer here, folks! I am back for a second review on this blog. People are probably tired of me doing positive reviews. I haven't done a proper negative review yet because they're not many books I truly dislike. Honestly, there aren't! So I thought I'd balance it out, with a book which I thought was 'ugh!' after closing the final page. Today's victim shall be Invisible City, the first in a series of books called 'The Joshua Files', by M G Harris. *grumble*

Why did I grumble? Because the title mislead me, that's why! I thought it sounded cool. And when I picked it up and read the blurb, the story sounded intriguing. A boy who lives in Oxford, 2012, finds out his father had died in the jungles in Mexico. There were also reports of UFO sightings near the sight of the plane crash which had killed him. I was immediately wanting this story to read. I know this sounds a little shallow, but I also loved the cover. It has this weird, nylon coating thing over the actual book itself, as you can clearly see in picture. If you can't see that, get an appointment with the opticians, post haste!

That's the last time I ever judged a book by its cover, or by its blurb for that matter. It was awful! I knew there was something fishy when, at the bottom of the back cover, it tells the reader: READ PAGE 37. The reason why they did this was because it's the only exciting thing that happens in the whole bloody book! And the publishers must have known this. I mean, since when did a book tell you what page to read? Aren't you supposed to start then read more of it to find out what happens? Even so, the preview sucked monkey balls! Just Josh walking into his house and getting attacked by a burglar. Where were the UFOs that were promised? I thought this was going to be some great sci-fi mystery/thriller thing. Nope. That plot point was explained in a nutshell - all the UFOs aren't aliens but Mayan technology. The Mayans had technology? Are you joking?

Okay, Josh Garcia is the protagonist here, folks, and, seriously, could I ask for a protagonist whinier, brattier, more cowardly and treacherous than this dude? Honestly! I know characters aren't meant to be perfect, but really, they have to be likable. What on earth was going through M G Harris' head when she wrote that? "Hmm, abandoning your friends and condemning them to a deadly secret agency to save your own skin is a good idea." With Josh, it was all about him - how he was depressed cos his daddy died. Oh, wahh, wahh! Parent's dying is not a funny issue, but the character in my book has both his parents die and only mopes about it for, what, a couple of pages? At least seven chapters were devoted to how sad he was now because his dad's GONE! Oh, like you saw much of him anyway, he was a freaking archeologist, traveling all over the world most of the time.

So what was it about? I pretty much covered the first part of the book in the last paragraph, the next revolves around Josh and how he has become obsessed with whether his father's death was an accident or not. This would've been a good thing, except it was executed horribly. It seemed like he did it because he had nothing better to do, not out of curiosity, not because he thought it sounded strange. So, he travels to Mexico to investigate. I was hoping this would be the pivotal moment of the book where things finally start to pick up. Err... Did I speak too soon? Once he gets there, he finds out he has a half-sister who he never knew about (apparently his dad liked to sleep around a bit, the cheeky devil!). Don't know about other people, but when I find out I have a half-sister who I didn't even know existed, I would need a time out to mull it over. Josh's biggest reaction is: "Oh, really? Never mind. You can help me on my little adventure!"

All right, you're probably wondering what were the good bits in this book? Erm, apart from the chase along the motorway near the mexican jungle you mean? Well, no. Good parts are virtually non-existent in here - in my opinion. At the bottom of the swamp was disappointing too! In Crocodile Tears, Mr Horowitz describes a sequence trapped underwater perfectly. In Invisible City, it was just: it happened. Full stop. Not to mention Josh left his sister to drown! How selfish! Actually, I think she was already dead. Not sure, I haven't read it in months, but I refuse to read it again.

And here we come to the weak moments. Ughh, so many! This story could've been SO much better than it was. The entire plot just felt like a half-baked idea. Although, a clever take on the 2012 apparent 'doomsday' event was interesting, but not really developed. The writing was also flat. Not many similes or metaphors. Any in there are somewhat not very creative or broad: "He swept down the staircase like a hurricane." Wow, that fast? The worst part - everything was serious business. No humour at all! In every book I read, I expect myself to crack a smile at least once, especially since it's a children's book. It lightens the mood a bit, even if it's a horror novel. Jesus... is it too much to ask for Josh to crack a joke now again, even if his dad had just died? My main protagonist manages to do it.

The other characters just seemed to be there for no particular reason. Just some random people Josh had met on his online blog account (wait, what?) and met up to help him solve his little controversy mystery. Thank God the girl told him he was being a git! Like he decided to listen anyway. There isn't a single unselfish thought in his head which could possibly do that. I really despise Josh, even more than the supposed 'villain' of the book, which really confused me. We're told (by Josh, as he is, unfortunately, the narrator) that he is the bad guy at the start. Then later, Josh is like all surprised when the bad guy is 'revealed'. ... I'm getting a migraine here from trying to work out how that one works. Maybe, just maybe, Josh's character changes in the next books. Well, I don't care, cos I'm not reading them.

Unputdownable? I struggled to not put it down, to be frank. Yet, there are people out there who LOVED it. o.0 If you do like it, I don't mind, this is just my reflections on Invisible City. Comment if you think I'm wrong. I'm sure M G Harris is a nice woman, she seems to be, just her book isn't very good. Sorry. What would be a WAY more interesting plot twist is that Josh's dad was in fact kidnapped by aliens, who want him because he holds the secret to commanding the human race telepathically. His death is faked, the body being replaced by a replica and the aliens told the Mayans that the world shall end on 22nd December 2012 cos that's the day they execute their plans. Hmmm, not a bad idea...

Overall, I'll give The Joshua Files, Invisible City an:

F

Check out my YouTube page to find out what these grades mean. I'll give you a hint: it means GO BACK AND DO IT AGAIN! Here's my question for the day: apart from those in Twilight, which fictional character(s) would you just love to strangle? Me? Obviously, it's Josh Garcia.

See you in the next blog! Toodles!

~The Writer

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Book Review - Crocodile Tears


Hi, folks, the Writer here! Been a long time, hasn't it? Well, I've been busy. Anyway, welcome to my first blog review. Today's book I shall be reviewing is the latest book in the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz (best author ever) and you may remember me doing a video review about the rest of the series which can be seen here:

http://www.youtube.com/user/WriterfromNowhere

Now onto the review. I just finished reading this book last night and when I put it down, I was speechless. I mean wow. Best... book... EVER! I am not joking; it was so brilliant that I am having a very hard time right now putting it into words. Crocodile Tears is the 8th instalment in the Alex Rider series and Mr Horowitz most definitely gave it his all. I shall explain why in a minute.

The Story:
Crocodile Tears has just come out so I won't be revealing much about the story. All I will say is that Alex is taken to completely new heights and levels here, starting at a New Year's Eve party in Scotland, going to a research centre in Wiltshire then finally to a dam in Kenya. Action packed and thrilling, the plot will always keep you entertained. Plus the author raises a very alarming issue to do with GM Crops (genetically modified food like strawberries the size of watermelons and such) which really does raise the question: can I has more food, please? :3

Characters:
Alex returns as the main character once again, equipped with a new set of gadgets. No, this time he hasn't been drinking Red Bull. He's got off that addict now. All the others are in it too: Blunt and his moustache, Mrs Jones, Jack Starbright and Sabina, who adopts quite a role in this one. The main baddie is Desmond McCain, a converted reverend who has an annoying habit of quoting Bible verses at the most inappropriate moment.

Pros:
I liked almost everything in Crocodile Tears! All of it was simply perfect. The plot was fast-paced, full of action, the research gone into it was outstanding, making every realistic detail plausible and the suspense nearly killed me. I mean, I lost sleep because I was so stuck into reading this late into the night.

Cons: What cons? There were no weak bits in Crocodile Tears at all. It is literally flawless. The amount of effort gone into it was startling. Mr Horowitz certainly did his homework. Everything, from how GM crops are grown, to the tiniest details of a Crocodile's eye had been researched. This is what real authors have to do people!

So, is Crocodile Tears unputdownable? Are you joking? The book was literally magnetised to my hand. That extremely creepy black and red eye on the cover was staring right at me, as if hypnotising me to keep on reading (or else...). I really, absolutely, positively recommend this book to ALL. I don't know how you do it, Mr Horowitz, but your works never fail to impress me. I cannot wait until Book Nine in the Alex Rider series nor till Book Five in The Power of Five series - that review will be up on YouTube soon. ;)

Overall, I give Crocodile Tears a well-deserved grade of:

A*

Check out my YouTube page to find out what these grades mean. I wish I could've given you higher, Mr Horowitz! And here is my question for the day: if you won a million pounds (or dollars if you're from the US) in the lottery, what would you spend it on? If I could, I would use it to bribe the publishers into publishing my book. Mwhuahahaha!>=D

That's all for now, see you in the next blog! =)

~The Writer

Friday, 20 November 2009

It begins...

Well, hello there. I am known as the Writer. Welcome to my blog. You've probably seen some of my videos on YouTube (where I drone on for about six or so minutes about books I've read). I have decided to set up this blog account to serve as my secondary area for reviewing books. Because I am now swimming in coursework and UCAS applications, I have little time to actually make videos. The free time I do have is spent reading books that I review or writing some of my own books. I have a life you know! But anyway, you can watch this blog space (I believe that's what they call it) for updates, whether you want to know what my next review is going to be on. If you have a special request for books I should read, leave a comment and I'll add it to my list. Be prepared for these titles to be my victims in the coming weeks:

Crocodile Tears by Anthony Horowitz (Done)
Power of Five by Anthony Horowitz (Done)
The Joshua Files: Invisible City by M G Harris (Done)
The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring by J R R Tolkien