We’ve had some quite ridiculous and wonderful things happen in February. There were strange new immigration laws rolled out in the United States, the announcement of the discovery of seven new earth-sized exoplanets, and my hometown have two minor earthquakes within a week of each other. Like some things in this world, my reading this month was quite strange. I did something for the first time since starting Book Talk back in October 2016: I didn’t read a single short story. This month I was too preoccupied with reading longer books to get around to the shorter works. So with no further delay, here’s what I read this month.
11/22/63 by Stephen King
For more information on this title, see my Book Talk January 2017 (Part One) post here.
I had doubts that I would finish this book by the end of the month, but it turned out I read it faster than expected. This was caused because I came to fall in love with this book, and found myself unable to put it down. I loved the character of Jake Epping and enjoyed his many fish out of pond moments; including him singing ‘Honky Tonk Women’, a 1969 Rolling Stones song in the early 60s (1961, I think). Most of all, I thoroughly enjoyed the romance between Jake and Sadie Clayton, something that made the time between his arrival in Texas in 1960 to the titular date seem to fly by. I also loved all the little nods to King’s previous works; including characters from It (1986) and the red 1958 Plymouth from Christine (1983).
If I were to say one bad thing about this story that would be close to the end. I won’t spoil it here, but those who’ve read it previously will know. (Hint: Earthquakes and Vermont Yankee).
Overall, 11/22/63 is one of my all-time favourite books, and one I certainly recommend to anyone who enjoys reading. I’ve also seen part of the TV series from J.J. Abrams and I now want to watch more of it because of this book.
The House of Glass by Paul Tobin and Joe Querio
I don’t normally talk about graphic novels in Book Talk, but this one is an exception. I’m a huge fan of the video game The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt and it’s up there as one of my all-time favourite video games. I’ve also previously read The Last Wish, the first book in the Witcher series, and thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s because of my interest in the Witcher franchise is why I came to pick up this graphic novel.
I’ll start by saying that this isn’t written by Andrzej Sapkowski, creator of the series. Instead, this has been created by Paul Tobin and Joe Querio, which made me slightly nervous due to them not being known to me. However, what they’ve created is a fascinating story which stuck true to the Witcher series.
The story follows Geralt, who comes across a widowed fisherman by the edge of the Black Forest. This meeting has him travel through the Black Forest, where he comes across an old house within it called the House of Glass. It’s here that Geralt battles supernatural creatures and uncovers the secret on why he was brought here.
I loved the horror fantasy blend in this story, as well as I got creeped out with some of the creatures Geralt encountered. The ending too was interesting, and a little unexpected, which is what I like in any good story.
If you’re like me: love The Witcher 3, graphic novels, a good horror fantasy, or all three together, then this is a story for you. If you’re curious about a non-Sapkowski entry in The Witcher series then give this a check out as well.
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
Imagine a world where you’re watched constantly, divisions between the rich and the poor have grown considerably, and a government who say all kinds of lies to its people. Sounds familiar? No, I’m not talking about contemporary life; I’m talking about George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. This book and its content has divided people since publication in 1949 and continues to do so even as you read this sentence.
I can certainly say now that I feel embarrassed that I didn’t read this earlier (thank you younger me). So much of this book is relevant to what’s going on in the world right now. What Winston and Julia experience in their world is just terrifying, but unfortunately is seen quite a bit in society today, particularly with anti-terror laws in some countries.
Sorry if I’m getting too political; it’s hard not to when discussing this book. I guess that’s why it’s endured for nearly 70 years, because of the amount of political stuff that’s within here, and with how relevant it is.
If I’m to down this book in anyway it’ll quite simply by this: parts of it bore the living shit out of me. I became very uninterested in all the long explanations of what the world’s like, and particularly the really heavy political parts. These made the book feel more like Orwell’s personal essay rather than one that I can sit down and enjoy.
Unlike other books I’ve discussed in previous Book Talks, I really can’t give an entirely accurate final thought on Nineteen Eighty-Four. I will say this though: if you’re looking for a dystopian book with engaging characters and an interesting story then this isn’t the book for you. If you wish to start political debates, question the ways the contemporary world is working, or want to envision a horrible future then read this.