Monday, February 1, 2016

MADDADDAM - Margaret Atwood






































This is the third and final novel in the "Oryx and Crake" Trilogy and I am very sad that it is finished. The bonus is that coming to it late means I've been able to read all three novels consecutively and not wait a decade for this last volume.

All the main characters from the first two books are brought together as the last survivors of the human race along with the "Crakers", the humanoids bred to replace humans.

To survive they must locate and destroy two killers, "Painballers' who are loose and will destroy the survivors if they have the chance.

The back story of this novel is that of "Zeb" who comes form a very dysfunctional religious family and has had to survive for many years with the help of his brother 'Adam'.

This back story, with the location of the 'Painballers" completes the story.There is more humour in this novel than the previous two but the quality of the writing is still exceptional  The ending is uplifting considering the circumstances.

Read the three novels together, they are all brilliant.




Sunday, January 31, 2016

THE YEAR OF THE FLOOD- Margaret Atwood






































This is the second book in the "Oryx and Crake" Trilogy.

This book take place in the same time frame as "Oryx and Crake" but is set out in the "pleeblands rather than the Corporate Compounds where the first book is set.

"The story begins in the present in Gardener Year Twenty Five- the year of the Waterless Flood, as the Gardeners call the plague."

This story revolves around two survivors, Ren who is in isolation in a sex club she works in, and Toby who managers to barricade herself in a spa she is working in when the plague hits.

Several characters from the previous book make appearances as the story of these two women is told in back story.

This like "Oryx and Crake" is brilliant and "unputdownable" , Atwood's imagination is stupendous and the story rolls along so quickly with its insight and humour that the book ended way to soon.

You could read this as a standalone book but its recommended you start with the first book and begin this journey.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

ORYX AND CRAKE - Margaret Atwood

























This is a truly remarkable book, from the time I started I didn't put it down apart from sleeping for the one night.

Snowman, the last human alive perhaps is living in a dystopian world that has been destroyed by 'the corporations'.  How this has come about is explained in flashback.   Crake is Snowman's life long friend and Oryx an ex-sex slave who becomes the lover of both.

This is a massive feat of imagination which I enjoyed more than The Hand Maids Tale.

This world our characters inhabit is bleak, ruined by man, a world the more pessimistic among us believe is inevitable.

I can't adequately describe this so read reviews by professionals but this knocked my socks off.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

BODILY HARM - Margaret Atwood



"Rennie Wilford is a young journalist on a seemingly innocent assignment to the Caribbean island of St Antoine.  With growing horror she is caught up in a lethal web of corruption, espionage and violence...".

She is also recovering from a partial mastectomy and the break up of a relationship.  The male in the failed relationship is a template from where young feminists get their ideas on misogyny.

She travels to the island to write a travel piece but the trip is more for recovery and escape purposes than the writing itself.

On the island she meets ex-pats who seem to be completely or partially involved  in Caribbean politics and relationships with different factions.

This novel has a very "Graham Greene" feel to it; characters that are not very likable and nobody is playing their part for laughs.

The most annoying thing for me regarding the Wilford character is her naivety; this naivety is deliberate as one other main characters remarks on it in the book, but in real life if she was this gullible she would own several bridges and palaces.

This is not a brilliant thriller but nobody contemporarily writes a scene like Atwood. She has you feeling the heat and the dirt as you walk around this little island. Margaret Atwood really is outstanding.


Thursday, January 7, 2016

IN SEARCH OF KLINGSOR - Jorge Volpi



"In 1946, Francis Bacon, a brilliant young American physicist, is pursuing research under the guidance of Albert Einstein, Kurt Godel and other great minds of modern science.  But because of a series of personal indiscretions he is forced to accept an altogether different, more sinister, assignment: uncover "Klingsor", Hitler's foremost adviser on the atomic bomb. But who is "Klingsor" and where might he be found?"

The reader is taken to Europe in a story narrated by German mathematician Gustav Links, who narrowly escaped execution as one of the plotters against Hitler. Then there is the mystery woman who attaches herself to this investigation.

Much of this book involves conversations with physicists such as Heisenberg, Schrodinger and Bohr which is the fascinating part of the story.  The history in the book is real when it comes to the race between the Nazi's and the Allies in development of Atomic weapons.

The book is " part mystery, part psychological puzzle, part spy story".......it fuses  " science, metaphysics, mathematics, philosophy- into a compelling narrative".

This is one of the most interesting book I've read in a long time, it never gets dull, the science is enlightening and the history fascinating.

The cover blurb compares this to "The Name of the Rose" - there is no comparison, this book is not that brilliant but similar in how it compiles its narrative.

The book has been around since 1999 so should be available second hand about the place.



Wednesday, January 6, 2016

THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY - Oscar Wilde



I've finally read this after years of seeing it referred to in books, movies and television shows and I enjoyed it.

Precis is, Gray wishes for eternal youth and his wish is granted with a portrait of him recording his physical and moral corruption rather than him physically.  He takes many people with him as he descends into a moral free zone.

Critics refer to it as a philosophical novel which it is, but for me what stands out is the British class system, it was awful.

It is easy to see why Wilde made himself so unpopular he can be scathing - " With an evening coat and a white tie, as a you told me once, anybody, even a stockbroker, can gain a reputation for being civilised."

Wilde was a walking epigram, this book is full of them, some you agree with,others you don't but most are very clever.

A good read and has filled a space in my reading knowledge.  The edition I've read is a facsimile of a 1931 edition and is a censored one, evidently there are some 500 words missing, but more recent editions have Wilde's full text.


Saturday, January 2, 2016

THE MARCH - E.L. Doctorow



" In 1864, after Union general William Tecumseh Sherman burned Atlanta, he marched his sixty thousand troops east through Georgia to the sea, and then up into the Carolina's.  The army fought off Confederate forces and lived off the land, pillaging the Southern plantations, taking cattle and crops for their own, demolishing cities, and accumulating a borne-along population of freed black and white refugees until all that remained was the dangerous transient life of the uprooted, the dispossessed, and the triumphant."

This is the story of those in this march.  There is Pearl , the freed slave girl, Arly and Will the Confederate prisoners,the surgeon Colonel Wrede Sartorius, Sherman himself with Grant and Lincoln putting in an appearance at the end.

This is beautifully written like all of Doctorow's work, putting the reader among the awful awful violence that the two armies wrought on each other. The fighting was brutal, the injuries horrific.

There are not too many happy ending for those involved in this novel but its a very, very good read.