Book Review: The Similars by Rebecca Hanover

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The Similars is a book by Rebecca Hanover on human clones.

The Similars is a thought provoking novel that gives you a glimpse about the possibility of human cloning. It strikes you with questions on science and society.

The story gives you a roller coaster ride on events. I must also compliment the development of the characters in the story because none of us can expect what they’ll be doing next.

The plot actually follows a usual sci-fi pattern: evil billionaire with a revengeful desire to take out his bullies from high school. I do hope the next books explain more of his side as I can’t just accept that this is all a childish plot, especially with the plot twist at the end. I also think that there is more to Darkwood’s history.

Throughout reading the novel, I have thought about human cloning and my side on it. I think, however the advancement we make on science and technology, that we shouldn’t play with genetics and create humans unnaturally as this would pave way to extreme enhancement that would make the gap between social classes bigger than it already is.

Technological advances are what keeps us moving forward as the human race as a whole, but maybe what keeps us human is our limitations. Are we still humans if we are allowed to surpass our standards and create abilities? Did we not hang people we were afraid of in the medieval times because of their difference, and because they were more than us? Perhaps now we are considering this option as we understand more, but maybe this will be our end.

I hope the next books explore more of the effect of cloning to the human race as a whole. I am excited to learn more.

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Book Review: The Handmaid’s Tale (Book 1) and The Testaments (Book 2) by Margaret Atwood

I try to steer away from the genre of books we were required to read for academic purposes because I read leisurely to escape the world- it’s quite a burden to be reading such materials that will expose the harshness of reality.

The thing about dystopian fiction is that there is a sliver of truth in each outcome. Everything is a possibility- whether it’s a civilization of aliens or robots, or a trip back to historic monarchies. The ideas of the plot are firstly outlined by the choices that we humans make this very moment. This is why the pull for reading it is strong; we relate to it closer that we do to fantasy fiction.

The Handmaid’s Tale is considered as a classic for modern fiction, and I never really had the desire to read it because of its status. However, such times requires us to expand our scope, and I must say that I do regret reading it because of the heavy feelings it gave me. The book, in general, exceeds my standards for writing and plot devising. The series starts with the story of Ofred, a Handmaid, whose sole duty is to bear a child for a couple of high standing in the society. Here, Gilead is a fictitious country formed in the America under the absolute control of a cult.

Imagine, the horror of such idea being paraded as a moral duty because of their ideals and religious beliefs. I cannot stress enough how each scene has made me shiver because of the possibilities they impose.

Why did I carry on to the Testaments?

The second book is a collection of testaments from subjects being studied from the old Gilead, now a destroyed country. It offers a glimpse into the rest of the world and what Gilead plays in it, and the starting piece on to how everything was brought down. It reminds me a lot about the situation of North Korea. I wonder how long will it be until we finally take action- but do we really have the judgment to do so?

Sometimes it makes you wonder if we indeed have the right to decide for other countries as a whole based on their status. We have seen how some of those decisions went, and most of the countries we have tried to decide for are now just war zones.

I am afraid. I am afraid that these books are indeed our testaments.

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Book Review: Foursome by Jane Fallon

I’ve decided to give Jane another try, and this time, I was not as disappointed as I was with the last book.

It is, though, of the usual story of friendship, middle crisis, and adultery. Honestly I am going to be so happy if Jane finally writes something out of these- but I guess some writers are just made that way. I liked the appeal with this book. Foursome is a book about four friends from college and how things have changed in time. It centers on Rebecca, who is fully contented with her life until it begins to fall apart starting with the break up of her two best friends Alex and Isabel.

Rebecca is a stagnant character. She’s not very noticeable at all, and the life of the book is ironically set on the other characters who revolve around her. I love the twists in the book even when they are a bit expected just because of how the characters carry out the actions. I think it also brings out the truth in most families and lives today, and that it justifies that sometimes, life is boring as well because that’s just how it is.

I do hope Jane writes something from a third person point of view, I think it was always her strength. I’d like to see more depth from the other characters who run the course of the story.

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Book Review: Strictly Between Us by Jane Fallon

Jane Fallon made me fall in love with her works when I first read Getting Rid of Matthew. She has a funny, witty, yet classy writing style. It’s a shame really how it took me weeks to finish this one.

Strictly Between Us routes on the usual retelling of adultery- just with a different scene. I honestly have yet to find a book of Fallon’s that diverts from this topic. This always seem to be the plot for literally all her books, so on the first chapter when it was described, I didn’t even want to continue with it.

All the characters are also pretty much the same. The protagonist is a woman, may be successful but lacking in the romantic department, or is a struggling middle aged woman who moans about her lack of adventure. The women in these books are starting to be depressing.

There is nothing much to be said about the main character, Tamsin. I found her to be very plain and quite boring. I also think that she is unfair to her best friend Michelle and should have just told her the truth. It’s all lies and we all know that never gets anywhere.

My dear Jane, this is the fifth book of yours I’ve read. Please give me some new material. It’s rather a pity- I really admire you as a writer, but the stories are redundant and there’s nothing fresh about them anymore. I’ve always thought you write rather well on Getting Rid of Matthew, even with the third person point of view. I loved Helen even though she was a cow in the story. Let us connect with your characters more.

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Book Review: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

The Iliad has always been my favorite, though not for the love of Greece but of Troy. The mighty Hector is close to my heart, and I pity his fate and of the Trojans who were only casualties from a war brewed by the senseless pride of the gods. I cannot stress enough how much I hated Achilles for killing Hector. Hector, my mighty Hector, tamer of horses, and the most pious Prince. I have loved how he was one of the champions in mythology who was often told to act for the greater good. The Greeks in the Iliad were mostly depicted as barbarians. I think the Iliad, although a tale of Greece, was always made to highlight the tragedy of Troy.

This book has surprised me. I must be honest that I do not usually read books with themes as such, but this.. this one I recommend to others like me who are fans of mythology.

I am sorry, Hector, but this has given new light to Achilles and of why he is considered as one of Greek Mythology’s mightiest heroes, next to Perseus and Heracles. It was told from Patroclus’s point of view, and it made me understand him better. The writing style is light and yet it takes you back to the old age when gods would interfere with mortal matters. I admire the storytelling involved. Most people shun books that use words that are not common and hard to comprehend, but I did not have trouble with this.

Miller has mastered how to connect with the readers. She has made Achilles is much more than how Hollywood depicted him to be on countless movies about him. He is a true Demigod. I love how this mighty hero cannot be wavered by all or anything but his love for Patroclus. I have felt how pure and genuine their love was for each other, how Patroclus is what grounds Achilles to his mortality. I also want to note that how despite of war they had tried their best to keep their dignities somehow intact. The character developments are exciting as they are spiral and they add spices to the story, even minor ones like the other soldiers in the war.

But of course, my opinion might be based on how Achilles was so much like Percy in this book. The bravery, the invincibility, the hubris, and of course, the loyalty to Patroclus- all traits of a great Greek Demigod.

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Book Review: The Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

The Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden is one of the highly recommended books to read. I was never really interested in historical fiction, because it makes me feel like I am reading for school work. Also, I thought this was based on true events and not fiction, and I am not the type to read biographies of such (except maybe the Diary of Anne Frank).

This book was written in a way that the fictional main character, Sayuri, a Geisha from Gion who migrated to New York, recounts her life to a Dutch writer who has become her friend over the years so he can write a book about her. It starts with a translator’s note from Jakob Haarhuis, a professor of Japanese History like the real author Arthur Golden. He briefly explains their tape recording sessions and of how Sayuri narrates her life. This genius move actually conditioned my brain to think that this was solely based on true events and not made up.

Sayuri was born as Chiyo to a poor family in Yoroido and was sold off to an okiya, a Geisha house when she was young, and her sister as a prostitute. Her mother was dying and her father was too old to care for them. Chiyo tries to run away but was caught, and therefore sentenced to being a house maid. However, circumstances gave way for her to train to become an apprentice under a successful Geisha named Mameha. The book reflects on her life during the 1930s and 1940s.

I was fascinated about the art of the Geisha from Golden’s point of view, as I felt like I was listening to Sayuri herself. I have to admit that some scenes would have made more impact if they were written directly, as Golden wrote poetically in the narrative. I think that was the whole point, though, since it is being told from a Geisha’s point of view, and in Japanese traditional culture women are not often direct. This has also made me realize that there is more to Geisha art than just entertainment, they have ceremonies for events that would have been otherwise not openly talked about in our society like the Mizuage, where wealthy man bid for the virginity of a Maiko (apprentice Geisha), or the taking of a Danna, where basically the Geisha is tied to a certain man who keeps her as his mistress.

Let’s get real here folks, you’d be looked down if this was something you practice, although it is apparent in our society. People lose their virginity like it is nothing, and there are many involved in a polygamous relationship. It’s not as if it isn’t done, we just have a different outlook on it. The Geisha, though, regards this as an art and when you read it from the book, it indeed sounds like art.

I personally did not connect with Sayuri. I think she was a flat character and grew boring over time. Chiyo is a different story, she is a little girl who views the world with open eyes. I think this has to do on how the Geisha life has affected her and molded her into one who cares about social standings and appearances. I also find the other characters, especially the men, just interested in taking her for their own but I guess that is just how their work is. In all fairness, a Geisha’s success depends on her clients and of how influential they are. Now that I think of it, I know Sayuri really loved the Chairman all her life but it doesn’t change the fact that she was still a kept mistress to him, while his wife took care of everything else.

I try to be neutral in this but I think my words are coming out wrong when I talk about the Geisha life, but I swear it doesn’t sound like prostitution when you read it from the book. It is rather best if you read it and share your thoughts to me.

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