Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Yesterday I read Coraline by Neil Gaiman.

Young Coraline discovers a secret door to a house that’s identical to hers—or is it? In this house, her other mother and her other father want Coraline to stay forever. It’s far more interesting than her real house, but something isn’t right.

Maybe it’s the black buttons sewn onto other mother’s face where her eyes should be.

It turns out that other mother wants to love Coraline forever—and she wants Coraline’s soul. Other children have already fallen victim to this sinister creature and her imitation world.

Can Coraline save the souls of the other children—and the souls of her parents, who have mysteriously disappeared?

“When you're scared but you still do it anyway, that's brave.” – Coraline

An entertaining read. I finished it in a day. I’m so proud of myself because have a short attention span and I’m a slow reader. Someone give me a lollipop.

The writing style reminded me of Terry Pratchett. Very amusing. The villain with an imitation world also reminded me of Pratchett’s The Wee Free Men. I liked it.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Hunger Games, Hitchhikers, and Bromeliad Trees

I had to read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins because it’s such a big deal at the moment. I still haven’t seen the movie, but I’ll watch it eventually.

The Hunger Games is a post-apocalyptic young adult novel where a futurist North America is ruled by a totalitarian government. Twelve districts outside the Capitol are kept in check by the Hunger Games, a competition in which two children from each district must fight to the death on national television.
After her kid sister is chosen to fight in the games, sixteen year-old Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her place. She trains alongside a boy from her district, and both of them know they will have to kill each other if they come face to face in the ring.
The stakes couldn't be higher, but Katniss is determined to swing all the odds to her favor and win the games.

The book was an exciting and entertaining read, but the Kindle version that I read had a LOT of typos and formatting errors. That was annoying.

The first-person/present tense writing bothered me like crazy throughout the book. I almost threw it across the room a few times at the beginning—but since the book was on my Kindle, that would have been a bad idea. So I never threw it, and I forced myself to keep reading. It got interesting, I wanted to know what happened next, and I was entertained.

I read Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, as I mentioned in a previous blog post. The book was great. Hilarious and depressing. I would watch the movie again . . . but nothing matters anyway, so I don’t know if I will.

Why are people born? Why do they die? Why do they want to spend so much of the intervening time wearing digital watches?

Finally, I reread The Bromeliad Trilogy, which is simply marvelous.

Nomes, car chases, religious satire, social commentary, science fiction, humor, and profound thoughts on life (as always) from Terry Pratchett. And also there will be salmon.

Hundreds of nomes live in The Store, and they believe The Store to be the totality of all creation, made for them by Arnold Bros (est. 1905). Existential crises ensue when a nome named Masklin and his band of Outsiders enter the store carrying a mysterious black cube (helpfully named "The Thing").
The Thing tells the nomes that they are from another place, and the nomes should go home.
The instruction is timely, because the signs around The Store - given by Arnold Bros (est. 1905) say that The Store is about to be demolish ("Everything Must Go.")
So the nomes go forth to find their home.

I first read The Bromelid Trilogy back in 2008. Four years later, it was still great.

Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett are atheists, and it comes out in their writing. I am a Christian, so I disagree with the worldviews of both authors, but they still have things to say which I often find humorous and insightful.

Their commentary on religion (including Christianity) can be harsh, so do keep that in mind if you’re a Christian.

And those are my book thoughts for the day. Off to continue writing my second novel, which I started yesterday on 4.8.12.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Don't Panic, It's A Series of Unfortunate Events

I started reading A Series of Unfortunate Events last spring, and I got through the first four books very quickly.

The Bad Beginning
The Reptile Room
The Wide Window

I enjoyed the first three. The first two in particular had some profound thoughts about life, suffering, and human nature.

The fourth book, The Miserable Mill, was a formulaic repeat of the first three*, and although I read it in one afternoon, I was not entertained at all. It was the same plot and outcome with a different setting. I was annoyed. So I put down the series for a year.

*You would be right to point out that books 2 and 3 are basically formulaic repeats . . . perhaps I was just tired of it by book 4.

I finally picked up the series again, and this week I read books 5 and 6, The Austere Academy and The Ersatz Elevator.

Both of them were entertaining, and I finished each in two sittings. There's also a crucial plot twist in The Austere Academy that changes the pace and direction of the series. In a very (very) small way, it's comparable to the change that the Harry Potter series takes in The Goblet of Fire.

However, I was reminded of how frustrating Lemony Snicket’s writing can be. The things that charm me about his writing are often the same things that annoy me.

The plots and the characters (with a few exceptions, like the Beaudelaires and the Quagmires) are absurd, unrealistic, and farcical. The humor (and despair) of the series lies in the incompetence and stupidity of the characters, and particularly in authority figures. However, many of the events are so unbelievable that I almost felt insulted as I read them.

But then again, like Douglas Adam’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, we read these books for the absurdity and dark humor.

(I read Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy for the first time last month. I was greatly depressed and highly entertained.)

So if you’re caught up in a series of unfortunate events or you’re reading absurd fiction that destroys your suspension, just remember: DON’T PANIC.

Monday, April 2, 2012


We watched this documentary, Marwencol, in my art class today. The film is about how a man recovered from devastating injuries to express himself through brilliant model dioramas; in doing so, he rediscovers and recreates his identity.

The Marwencol Official Site.

I thought the movie was touching, inspiring, disturbing, uncomfortable, and worth watching. It was a visual and emotional experience.

It's available on DVD, Blu-ray, Netflix, and iTunes.