The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by R.L. Stevenson – Book Review

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A classic work of the Victorian Era, this book exhibits the moral hypocrisy which was a characteristic of this period. It is about a London lawyer, Mr Utterson who investigates strange occurrences between his old friend, Dr Henry Jekyll and the evil Edward Hyde.

Review: The writing style is attention-grabbing and flows very well. The story is concise in a masterful way. The author does not add irrelevant details to the plot. Stevenson does a better job than Shelly, in my opinion, in showcasing moral degradation and abandon. The writing did not hamper the pace of the novel neither did it drag it out, making it easier to engage with.

The allegorical portrayal of Victorian society was enlightening. Drug use, violence/ criminal behavior, degradation and good vs evil are the main themes of this book. This book seems to show the darker side of moral pretense and the ending is heavy with Gothic elements. The book maintains that the battle with one’s darker side cannot be quick and the adverse effects of taking such routes are shown explicitly.

Being under 200 pages and written so well, one flies through it. I rated it 3.5/5 stars. The reason for docking 1.5 stars is the explanation of the ‘downfall’ element of the main character during the end of the book. This is a trope I do not enjoy at all and find rather hard to get through. It has been the reason for lowering my rating of other books dealing with morality and good vs evil.

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde on Amazon: https://amzn.to/30TMWRB

A Collection of Gothic Fiction on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2EH1sm9

~ Saadia

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Frankenstein by Mary Shelly – Book Review

20190521_202927.pngBelieved to be the 1st attempt at science-fiction, Frankenstein by Mary Shelly is a Gothic novel that starts off with Dr Victor Frankenstein’s creation of a human turned monster and centers around the occurrences that follow this unnatural event.

  1. Title: The book was initially titled Frankenstein: the Modern Prometheus but the subtitle was removed in later publications. This, in my opinion, has contributed to the misconception of the monster being called ‘Frankenstein’ when it was never named in the book. While the original title and subtitle together referred to Dr Frankenstein’s feat of giving life to an amalgam of body parts, usage of the title alone has led to a popular belief that it refers to the monster.  Of course, the adaptations of the novel in the form of movies and plays have played a larger role in doing that.
  2. Writing Style: Personally, I found the writing style to lack flow. The first 100 pages read like Victor Frankenstein was voicing thoughts as they came. This heavily retarded the pace of the book for me. However, the book begins to gain some pace after the 1st 100 pages with the beginning of the monster’s account.
  • Narration: All 3 narrators had the same voice, as pointed out by various critics. This made the book monotonous.
  • Characters: While there were really only 2 main characters, the side characters lacked depth and description. It almost felt like they appeared whenever necessary, to carry the book onward but the reader never got to know much about their stories, background or values.
  1. Themes: Science fiction, Gothic horror, guilt, ambition and its consequences/thirst for glory, the struggle against societal control, the contrast between isolation and society.
  2. Rating: 1/5 stars

Based on:

  • It took me a long, long while to get through
  • Didn’t gain much value from it
  • The story wasn’t absorbing at all
  • The ending fell short of the buildup of the last 124 pages
  • The downfall trope was heavy in Victor Frankenstein’s character
  • Uni-dimensional side characters
  • No description of the process that breathed life into the monster’s body

Frankenstein on Amazon: https://www.amazon.in/gp/product/0007350961/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=3638&creative=24630&creativeASIN=0007350961&linkCode=as2&tag=saadia-21&linkId=47ebefad7761b8325867d7883007bd83

~ Saadia

 

All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven – Book Review, Themes and Rating | Saadia Peerzada

ee05d628328a957ebe7a2e545cf26e89.jpgAll The Bright Places opens with two distraught teenagers wanting to end their lives. They find themselves atop the bell tower at school at the same time. The story progresses into how they wander together, mediate new highs and lows or fail to, fall in love and above all, see a silver of brightness in each other’s company.

Review: Niven’s profound understanding of mental illness translates into her writing beautifully. The portrayal of depression, both clinical and induced by loss and the ‘high highs’ and the very ‘low lows’ arising from bipolar disorder are written with such poise and honesty that the reader is effectively able to understand these illnesses. The element of dysfunctional family added to the multidimensional nature of the book and touched another lingering social issue.

The character building is so original and moving that you forget that they are fictional for a moment. Finch’s character was beautifully written, his struggle flowed through the words with ease. The writing is poetic and enchanting which is, for me, one of the main reasons that separated this book from the masses

This was one of the 1st and most important books that educated me about the personal struggle with mental illness and reflected my own struggle with it as I read this book during a dark time in life. This book has inspired me to write 2 poems, 1 of which is: https://www.instagram.com/p/Boq8YWKFitj/

I’d recommend this book to everyone. It is alluring and heartbreaking in equal parts and its absolute beauty amazes me every day.

Rating: 5/5 stars

Themes:

  1.  Mental Health & Mental Illness
  2. Exploration of Death
  3. Family
  4. Hope
  5. Exploration

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Get this book from Amazon: https://amzn.to/2LHRI0I

Other books by the author: https://amzn.to/2HnfNVn – Holding Up the Universe

Jennifer Niven’s website: http://www.jenniferniven.com/ and twitter: https://twitter.com/jenniferniven?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

Ig: https://www.instagram.com/jenniferniven/?hl=en

~ Saadia

 

 

 

 

Rent Party Jazz by William Miller – Book Review, Themes and Rating.

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Rent Party Jazz is a short book about a young boy Sonny Comeaux and his mother living in New Orleans in poverty and how an empathetic stranger helps them pay rent and stay in their lodgings.

Review: This book represents the conditions of African-Americans in the 1920s and onwards realistically. The elements of optimism, empathy and love within the community made this a heart-warming read. This book, within a few pages, shows how art can bring people together and help us be more hopeful in times of hardship and impending disaster. The illustrations by Charlotte Riley Web are a perfect fit to the story line.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Themes: 

  1.  African-American representation
  2. Poverty
  3. Responsibility
  4. Hope
  5. Community
  6. Empathy
  7. Art (Music)

Grab yourself a copy here:

https://amzn.to/2HoucRj

Or you can listen to it on YouTube:

~ Saadia

Heidi by Johanna Spyri – Book review, Plot Summary, Themes and Rating

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Heidi is a children’s book written by the Swiss author Johanna Spyri. It was initially published in 2 parts and written in German. It is one the best-selling books ever written about the childhood years of a girl living with her grandfather in the Alps.

Plot Summary: The book opens with Heidi being taken to the Alps to live with her grandfather by her aunt Dete. Dete has cared for Heidi since she was a baby as both of her parents had died under grievous circumstances but now she had a job offer and could no longer take care of her. The villagers are unsettled by this decision as Uncle Alp, Heidi’s grandfather, is known to be resentful and solitary and had renounced religion. However, after some initial reluctance, they form a close bond. Heidi loves living in the mountains and holds the beauty of nature and its vibrant colors close to her heart. She befriends Peter and his grandmother and brings joy to everyone she interacts with by her simple and unaffected behavior.

Aunt Dete appears after having left Heidi for a good while. She comes with the news of having found a job in Frankfurt for Heidi as a companion to a physically-challenged girl, Clara. Dete claims that this experience would be valuable to Heidi as Grandfather hadn’t  sent her to school or church. Heidi’s departure leaves Grandfather and Peter’s grandmother in dismay. In Frankfurt, Heidi learns to love Clara and Clara’s grandmother, who teaches her about the importance of prayer and submission to God. On the other hand, the forbidding Miss Rottenmeier makes Heidi unhappy. She starts missing the mountains quickly and grows more miserable by the day. Phantom occurrences are revealed to be Heidi in a state of sleepwalking because of her homesickness. A kind doctor advises that Heidi must return to the mountains to restore her health.

She returns to the ever-sprightly mountains and its people and brings more light into their lives while gaining happiness herself. Due to Heidi’s words and encouragement, Grandfather returns to religion and they go to Church together. He also renounces his solitary ways and makes peace with the people of the village.

Clara visits the Alps later and is nursed back to color with the help of Grandfather’s hospitality, the nutritious homemade food and the mountain air. She starts getting healthier and stronger by the day. Peter, being envious of her monopolizing Heidi’s time,  causes her wheelchair to break. Surprisingly though, with help from Heidi and Peter, Clara begins to walk. Clara’s father promises Grandfather that he will take care of Heidi when the old man dies.

Rating: 5/5 stars

Review: Heidi is written in a freely flowing, imaginative and well-paced style. The author has successfully portrayed a child’s character as unaffected and simple, yet kind and empathetic. The character building is effective and true to real life. Even though it is a children’s fiction, it can easily and competently be read by people of all ages with immense enjoyment. It stays snug within its genre yet manages to push the boundaries and become something more. This is the reason why it has become the symbol of Swiss folklore around the world and stayed alive for 138+ years. The language is lucid and immersive. The author intermixes humor and important, valuable lessons throughout the second half of the book.

Heidi’s character is relatable to anyone who has experienced homesickness/ lived away from home. Reading about her thought process and unending sympathy is refreshing and rejuvenating.  This book would be perfect for anyone, at anytime. It is incredibly relaxing and great for a weekday afternoon.

Scholastic edition: https://www.amazon.in/gp/product/9352755758/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=3638&creative=24630&creativeASIN=9352755758&linkCode=as2&tag=saadia-21&linkId=005328c94c32bd531287aa64c22441ec

 

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Themes: 

  1. The healing power of nature.
  2. Family and relationships.
  3. Empathy
  4. Religion (Christianity)

“I’ll always say my prayers… and if God doesn’t answer them at once I shall know it’s because He’s planning something better for me.”

“The happiest of all things is when an old friend comes and greets us as in former times; the heart is comforted with the assurance that some day everything that we have loved will be given back”

”It’s the sun’s way of saying goodnight to the mountains” he explained. ”He spreads that beautiful light over them so that they won’t forget him till he comes back in the morning.”

~ Saadia

Matilda by Roald Dahl – Book Review, Themes, Rating and Summary

20190504_230532.jpgPlot Summary: Matilda, written by Roald Dahl and illustrated by Quentin Blake tells the story of a very young girl who is an extraordinarily bright kid for her age, quick to learn new things but never appreciated, rather disregarded by her parents. She teaches herself to read by the age of 3 through newspapers and magazines. On finishing the only book in her house, she asks her father to buy her one, to which he sternly refuses. Her father believed in spending his leisure time watching the television and her mother played bingo every afternoon. Matilda sets out by herself to the library and over the course of a few weeks, reads all the children’s books in the library. In the following 6 months, she reads the works of authors like Dickens, Bronte, Austen, Hemingway and George Orwells. All of this happens without her parents’ knowledge who still think that she’s unworthy . She turns to to acts like gluing her father’s hat to his head, hiding a friend’s parrot in the chimney to give the impression of a burglar or a ghost and secretly bleaching her father’s hair, to get revenge on her parents for regarding her with contempt.

On joining kindergarten, Matilda befriends her teacher, Ms Honey, who is astonished by Matilda’s ability to recite tables and read long and complex sentences. She tries to move her into a higher class to guide her within a competition that was up to her cognitive abilities but is refused by the brutish headmistress, Miss Agatha Trunchbull. Miss Honey also tries to talk to Matilda’s parents about her intellectual abilities, but they pay her no heed. Matilda develops a strong bond with Miss Honey and watches as Miss Trunchbull terrorizes her students with over-the-top punishments to prevent parents from believing their children complaining. When Matilda’s friend, Lavender, plays a practical joke on Miss Trunchbull, Matilda uses an sudden, bizarre power of telekinesis to tip the glass of water containing a newt onto Miss Trunchbull.

After Matilda reveals her powers to Miss Honey, Miss Honey reveals that she was raised by an cruel, brutish aunt after the dubious death of her father. Her aunt is revealed to be Miss Trunchbull, who withholds her niece’s inheritance so that Miss Honey has to live in destitution in a shabby, insecure farm cottage. Preparing to extract retribution for Miss Honey, Matilda develops her telekinetic ability by practicing at home. Later, during a lesson that Miss Trunchbull is teaching, Matilda telekinetically raises a piece of chalk to the blackboard and writes on it, acting as the spirit of Miss Honey’s late father and demanding that Miss Trunchbull hand over Miss Honey’s house and wages and leave the area for good.

Miss Trunchbull’s house is later found empty with no sign of where she went. Matilda continues to visit Miss Honey’s now returned house regularly. One day  she finds her parents and her older brother in a hurry, packing to escape from the police, who are after her father for selling stolen cars. Matilda tells them that she wants to live with Miss Honey, to which her parents uninterruptedly agree. Hence, both Matilda and Miss Honey find their happy ending, and the school’s atmosphere improves immensely under Mr. Trilby, the new head of school.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Review:  The book is fast paced which makes it a really fun read. The intricate way of weaving important lessons into a story for children leaves a lasting impression on the reader. The writing style is simple, perfect for new readers. The expressions used by Roald Dahl are hilarious and perfectly fitting at the same time. The character building is masterfully done, the side characters add to the dynamic nature of the book. Every character’s values shine clearly through the writing.

Themes:

  • The child-parent relationship portrayed is much needed and true for many households. Such topics often get sidelined in mainstream literature.
  • Matilda has a small number of people in her life who truly stick by her side, so she is incredibly loyal to the ones that do.
  • The main character of this book is a young girl who is much smarter and kinder than almost all of the characters who are adults. This is an opposite of the usual portrayal of children vs adults.
  • Dahl perfectly shows how family can be found beyond blood as Matilda finds a home with Ms Honey instead of her parents.
  • The focus on value knowledge and learning.
  • Greed leads to a sour end.

Final Thoughts (source: Wikipedia)

“Why does a part of us not want to know what Matilda has become? Somewhere in our heart of hearts we never want Matilda to grow up – we want her to be like Peter Pan, eternally young.” ~ Cressida Cowell

Get this book for Rs 200 https://www.amazon.in/gp/product/0141365463/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=3638&creative=24630&creativeASIN=0141365463&linkCode=as2&tag=saadia-21&linkId=01d326d0755b70e1a93cf7bd3ac6bb40

Every Roald Dahl book for Rs 180 each https://www.amazon.in/gp/product/0141371331/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=3638&creative=24630&creativeASIN=0141371331&linkCode=as2&tag=saadia-21&linkId=ad8480719f1bde1dbbe918d77a28ae49

Quote pic Sources: Pinterest.

~ Crafted with love, always, Saadia.