dimarts, 8 d’octubre de 2013

Top Ten Tuesday - #6 Characters (and Literary Figures) That I'd Name My Children After


I don't expect to bring ten children to the world, but I do like to speculate about potential names I'd give my hypothetical children. If I had to choose them from books and/or literary figures, and not care about what the father has to say on this topic, these would be my choices. To make it fair, numbers 1 to 5 are girls' names and numbers 6 to 10, boys' names. I tried to keep it in alphabetical order.

GIRLS

#1 Aria (from Pretty Little Liars) or the variation Arya (from A Song of Ice and Fire). Aria means air in Italian and it's also reminiscent of arias in operas. I'm all for names that have a meaning. The variation Arya has a nice ring to it, I like the use of y instead of i. It has a more artistic flavour altogether.

#2 Eva (either from Eva Luna or from the Bible). This name means "life". Call me sentimental, but that's enough of a reason for me. 

#3 Hanna (either from Der Vorleser, or from Anna, Hanna och Johanna, or from Pretty Little Liars -take your pick-). Although the Hanna from Bernhard Schlink's The Reader (Der Vorleser in the original German version) and the Hanna from Sara Shepard's Pretty Little Liars have kind of horrible personalities and care way too much about what other people will think about them and because of that make poor decisions (especially the Hanna from The Reader), and that the Hanna from Marianne Fredriksson's Hanna's Daughters (Anna, Hanna och Johanna in the Swedish original) has a very difficult life, this variation of the typical and overused Anna is nice and closer to the Hebrew name (now that I mention it, I should also quote the Bible as one of the books where this name appears). I still like Anna, though. It's a tie, I guess?


#4 Lara (from Doctor Zhivago). No particular reason there. I like the name, it's short and international enough, and I don't know many of them so I guess it's not an overused name. Also, she has a very memorable theme song.

#5 Marina (either from State of Wonder or from Marina). It would be a sort of statement, like saying "this is obviously my daughter", my name being Mar and "marina" meaning "related to the sea". It would also be a bit confusing and unoriginal, but I like the name anyway.


BOYS

#6 Gale (from The Hunger Games). I'm starting to see a pattern with names that have windy/air themes. A gale is a very strong kind of wind. Also, I really liked the character of Gale in The Hunger Games


#7 Jordi, like Jordi Sierra i Fabra or Saint George, on whose festivity International Book Day is celebrated (Jordi being the Catalan form of the name). The only problem is that my brother has strictly forbidden me to call any son of mine after him.

#8 Marcel (from Les veus del Pamano). I like names that start by "mar", in general (nothing to do that my name also starts with that syllable). Although that's not really what it means, in Catalan Marcel sounds like the combination of the words "mar" (sea) and "cel" (sky).
 
#9 Mark (from Bridget Jones's Diary or like author Mark Twain or any of the thousands of Marks out there, real or literary), or the variation Marc. However, similarly to Marina, it's a name I like but wouldn't really make the list of potential names because it sounds too similar to my own name. That's why we discarded it for my brother. It's a very mainstream name, though, and that takes points off.


#10 Ragnar (from Anna, Hanna och Johanna). Ragnar's was Hanna's illegitimate son in this novel, and it has a certain Norse mythology flavour.


divendres, 4 d’octubre de 2013

Awoken

Before we begin, I knew of the initial idea behind this book and watched the videos about the creative process. If I hadn't known, I would have put it down before page 100 thinking that it was just another bad PNR novel trying to jump into the bandwagon of Twilight and such. Because that is what it looks like to the unaware reader.


The story is about Andromeda Slate, shortened to Andi because she agrees with me on the fact that her parents were cruel enough to call her that. She is a sixteen year-old who experiences the typical first world problems of every self-centered teenage girl with self-steem issues, and the author brings the parody of the trope to a point that it becomes ridiculous. The most recent tragedy in her life includes having had to move to Portsmouth, Rhode Island, because her parents got a better job there, so she's stuck in a new school with Bree, a girl who is seen eating in every single scene where she appears (I kid you not) and her obviously friendzoned, childhood friend Vik, who also happens to be the ethnic representation of the novel (he's of Indian ascent).

But Andi's life makes a 180º turn when the undescribably beautiful but mysterious Riley Bay appears in her life. She doesn't instantly fall in love with him but she obsesses over him because she dreamed about him. And, yes, you guessed it, Riley is not quite human. And now it's Andi's mission to avoid  the destruction of the world.

I was excited about this book. I looked forward to read this and my expectations where very, very high. I really wanted to like this book. I hoped for an Airplane! kind of thing, but it turned out to be what I kind of had expected Twilight to be when I read the back cover of Meyer's bestseller, minus annoying female protagonist. Which, in a way, is positive, I guess, but still I wanted more obvious references, even more exagerated tropes.

Speaking of, we need to talk about Andi. Self-centered, emo-ish girl? Check. Bad relationship with her parents because they forced her to move to the most boring place on Earth? Check. Describes herself as socially awkward? Check. Falls blindly in love at first sight with a stalker and is willing to give up her life for him, even if he's obviously no good for her? Bitch, please. Loves to read a piece of classic literature with star-crossed lovers as protagonists? Why, Phantom of the Opera, of course! With these ingredients, she becomes the perfect YA novel female lead, and the author manages to exagerate it so much that the author sees not only a rip-off of Bella Swan and co., but also a parody of these tropes. So positive points on that side.

Same goes for Riley. Thank Chtulhu that he doesn't sparkle and that his monstruosity is real and not an insult to all mythological creatures out there (here's looking at you, sparkling vampires). I enjoyed the character of Riley so much, especially because he won't stop speaking in perfect old English. Although Andromeda describes him as the most perfect man ever, it couldn't be more evident that he's the type of guy you don't want to have as a boyfriend if he had a sign with neon lights and the warning "DANGER!". He doesn't even try to hide it, as he spends most of his dialogue calling Andi all synonyms of "little" in the theesaurus. Well played, author.

But the real jewels of this book are the secondary characters: Bree, Uncle Neil, and Miss Epistola. Bree works most of the times as the channel for the audience's reactions, especially where it concerns getting romantically involved with Riley. Uncle Neil is a character that needs more screen time (chapter time?) or a book about only him and his adventures. I'd love to drop by his store and buy that diary of an orphan. Miss Epistola was a really interesting villain. It's a shame that neither she nor Uncle Neil get more character devolpment because we have to cut to Andi and Riley's romance.

The first part of the novel is a bit too slow for my taste, although at least the characters and their motivations (or lack thereof, in Andi's case) are introduced, and so is the "conflict". The second act is where the romance develops and where I almost gave up the book because I couldn't care less about New York City sightseeing and cultists. Finally, the third act was pretty action-packed and I thought that the whole scene at the theater was quite good. Actually, if this hadn't been initially a parody, it could have been recycled for a real novel.

Still, I don't feel completely satisfied with this. Part of it might have to do with the whole drama, which I will not address here (but feel free to leave a comment or send me a private message) but that left a bad taste in my mouth even before I had the book in my hands, and part of it is because of the high hopes I had before reading. While the idea is good and the author knows the frequently (ab)used tropes of YA/PNR literature and applies them perfectly, she fails to create a story original enough on its own and that feels like a parody even to those who are not aware of this intention.

dimarts, 1 d’octubre de 2013

Top Ten Tuesday - #5 Books I Read That Were Outside Of My Comfort Zone



Honestly, this was a difficult entry. I'm always for getting to know more books and I've seldom been afraid of trying new things (literature-wise, of course). Most of the books that appear in this TTT entry share the fact that it was my first time reading a specific genre which I'm not used to reading, but it's not necessarily the main topic of the book that made me get out of my comfort zone, which is kind of wide, as of now. As usual, the books appear in no particular order.



#1 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley. It was my first novel with a dystopian future and I didn't quite understand it at the time (basically because it was a compulsory reading for school so I kind of read over it without paying a lot of attention). I wasn't used to reading such novels.

#2 Speak - Laurie Halse Anderson. Apparently, this is a YA classic but I chose it from the bookshop out of  pure curiosity when I was twelve, without any sort of recommendation. I honestly wasn't prepared for what I found inside its pages because the books I had read until that moment were a bit more happy-ending-oriented.

#3 Els altres catalans - Francesc Candel. I'm not used to reading essay books, I've always prefered fiction.

#4 De oratore - Cicero. Another book we had to read at school, this one for Latin class. Although Virgil's Aeneid is from the same historical period (more or less), at least it's more "fictional". De oratore was really hard to read because of the way it is written and, again, I'm more used to reading fictional books and this is a veeeeery long essay on speaking in public.

#5 Ab urbe condita (History of Rome) - Titus Liv. And yet another book for Latin class. I had never read historical chronicles before.

#6 Eighty Days Yellow - Vina Jackson. I keep mentioning this book in every TTT entry xD. I had never read erotic novels with BDSM elements before.

#7 The A Song of Ice and Fire series - George R.R. Martin. I had failed to go further than page 120 of The Fellowship of the Ring, so when I got Game of Thrones, the first book in the series, I was really intimidated by it. I actually almost gave it up arond page 120 as well, lost in a sea of main houses and sworn houses, but I was reading in a train and I had nothing else to read. I'm glad I continued.

#8 Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card. This is kind of cheating because I already have read and enjoyed dystopian-future YA novels, and I'm not yet done reading this book. But this might my first time with actual science-fiction.

#9 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov. I'd never imagined a story about a pedophile could be written so beautifully to the point that you sometimes forget Humbert, aged 50, is talking about a 12 zear-old girl. I felt dirty liking his character and feeling kind of sorry for him after I finished the book.

#10 Anything by Haruki Murakami. Although I generally like his books, they don't always follow the scheme of introduction-development-conclusion in a "Western" sense or logic, so what I expect from the story always catches me off-guard.

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