Thursday, 11 July 2013

Book Reviews feat. Jonathan Safran Foer

Hello everyone! I thought it was about time that I reviewed the books that I featured in June's To Be Read pile post. I read Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer, Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro and I also managed to read The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. With each review, I've given details of the editions that I own before giving a brief overview of my thoughts along with an individual star rating. Aren't I bloody brilliant?! I've got lots of book related posts that I'd quite like to try out so do let me know whether you like the sound of that or not. I don't want to bore people to tears any more than I already do! Please let me know what you thought of these books in the comments below because book discussions are good for your health maybe


1 vivatramp book reviews blog lifestyle uk2 book review uk blog lifestyle vivatramp
3 lifestyle blog uk vivatramp book review everything is illuminated

everything is illuminated by jonathan safran foer

p.s i have yet to see the film
pages: 276
publisher: penguin
isbn: 978-0-14-100825-7

Everything Is Illuminated is Jonathan Safran Foer's debut novel, which makes it all the more annoying that it is really bloody good! I said in my 'To Be Read' post that I was hoping to be taken on a 'hilarious adventure' but one that would be 'hugely emotive and extremely sensitive to the horrors of war', and this novel exceeded those expectations. Foer is stunningly imaginative without straying too far from, and all the while paying tribute to, human experience, human emotion and human sacrifice. The novel is so extremely fragile with regards to the things that it explores, such as relationships and identity under conflict, yet Foer manages to expose the power behind this fragility. Safran Foer's multilayered storytelling was seamless, with the elegantly woven narratives echoing one another throughout. However, as a result of this, I would suggest that you try and read it in as few sittings as possible in order for these shifting narratives and perspectives to be a little clearer. There were moments of heartfelt prose, yet there were also moments where I couldn't help but laugh due to Foer's clever character development, particularly through the character of Alex with his interesting grasp of the English language. All of the characters felt real and believable and I actually felt grateful  to have 'met' them. It was also a pleasure to explore worlds far removed from my own through the older narrative and the folklore that Foer intricately wove into the modern day. 


It's an extremely bold novel and, admittedly, I had to take ten minutes out after reading it in order to fully comprehend the enormity of what I had just read. I left Everything Is Illuminated with new levels of appreciation for story telling, from both a reading and a writing perspective, and with a shit ton to learn from. I will definitely be picking this up again because I think it is one of those narratives that will continue to show different parts of itself upon each read. I have already read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close but I definitely think I'll be adding Tree of Codes to my ever expanding online shopping basket! 



stars i'm awarding: 4 out of 5 (I really liked it)



4 book review uk lifestyle blog never let me go vivatramp

never let me go by kazuo ishiguro

p.s i have yet to see the film
PAGES: 282 
PUBLISHER: faber and faber
ISBN: 978-0-571-25809-3

I had heard so many good things about this novel so it's safe to say that I was full of expectation! I opened the first page having not read anything like it for quite some time, nor had I read a great deal lately that featured a female protagonist, so it felt pretty refreshing. Despite its dark themes, I found Never Let Me Go to be quite an easy read, and one that I could get through quickly due to Ishiguro's ability to captivate the reader very early on in the reading experience. It is due to this why I would suggest that it's also a pretty good read to just dip in and out of if you don't have a lot of time. The novel had such an interesting premise, made all the more haunting by the childish interpretation that the protagonist and her friends offer with regards to the dark subject matter. I do not want to give anything away with my review, so all I shall say is that my mind constantly see sawed between really appreciating that the BIG THING was so easy to decipher, to feeling a little disappointed that it was so obvious so early on. Thankfully, this deliberation didn't ruin it for me. There were some really beautiful and extremely fragile moments in the book but the thing I most liked about them was that they didn't necessarily come about in the things that were said, more in the things that weren't. This made for an extremely personal reading experience, and made the anguish of the characters all the more tangible. The curious cat in me sort of hoped that Ishiguro would delve deeper into the world that he created for his readers, but I think I perhaps appreciate the novel more because it doesn't do these things. It will gladly dip into the world for us on occasion, but it certainly won't spell everything out for the reader. 


Needless to say, I left this book with a very heavy heart. I felt that if I could carry on reading, the characters would still have a chance at the things that I have and hold dear, and would therefore still have a purpose. I had to have ten minutes or so to have a think about things before I could return to life. If you're looking for a book that will make you contemplative about existential issues, and of love and acceptance, this may be what you're looking for. I really liked it! I was gifted The Remains of the Day by a friend so I'm looking forward to being able to pick that up and see how it compares! Do you recommend any other Ishiguro works? 


stars i'm awarding: 4 out of 5 (I really liked it)



5 vivatramp the picture of dorian gray book review uk lifestyle blog

the picture of dorian gray by oscar wilde

p.s i have yet to see the film but i have watched 'wilde'
PAGES: 231
PUBLISHER: penguin (penguin english library edition)
ISBN: 978-0-141-19949-8

I've always been fascinated by Oscar Wilde and his tumultuous life, yet I had never got round to finishing The Picture of Dorian Gray. After finishing the other two books for last month prematurely, I thought I'd dust off my classics shelf and give this novel the care and attention that it deserves. The novel essentially tells the tale of a man, Dorian Gray, who is as corrupt as he is beautiful. One day, drunk on the power of his youth, he wishes for his beautiful portrait to bear the brunt of his depravity. Naturally, this horrific secret begins to eat away at him, particularly when the portrait begins to age so rapidly, and all sorts of hideousness begins to unravel because of it. 


It goes without saying that the prose, as expected, is insanely rich but at the same time it is also absolutely beautiful. My copy, as you can see, is littered with fluro post-it notes marking passages that I wish to return to for one reason or another, or passages that I forever wish to be reminded of. Wilde's knack for finding great beauty in the disorderly and the rather quite tragic is hugely endearing, and this is perhaps best captured in the characterisation. I greatly admire the way in which Wilde handled the fragility of the protagonist during the latter part of the novel,  tenderly tending to the overwhelming power that the human conscience has upon the individual in such a way that it was impossible to not feel for Gray. It almost felt as if the novel had three invisible parts, each adopting a different tone but, nevertheless, each one as equally engaging as the other. Admittedly, I did pop this book down a few times, for tea breaks and such, because it can be ever so easy to find yourself becoming a little overwhelmed with the intricacy of Wilde's prose, and the intensity of Victorian literature in general. However, this does not take away from my overall enjoyment of the book. The Picture of Dorian Gray was delightfully dark and, interestingly, quite philosophical. I am definitely going to re-read this again and again, and I am definitely going to purchase some more of Wilde's works. If you're interested in reading more classics and / or don't have a lot of time in the day to dedicate to massive tomes, I suggest you pick this up and give it a go. 


stars i'm awarding: 4 out of 5 (i really liked it)



If you'd like to scroll through all of my book blog posts then you can. Or, alternatively, you could just flick through my book reviews instead.

 TWITTER INSTAGRAM | TUMBLR
VIVATRAMP@GMAIL.COM

The vast majority of my book collection has been bought with my own money. Sorry, bank balance! However, sometimes I'm sent books to review. These books are marked with *. Handy, eh?! This page also contains affiliate links. If you buy the books through the links I've so lovingly provided, I'll earn a tiny commission to put towards books in the future. If you've used my link to buy books, thank you! You're a good egg.

Share:

23 comments

  1. Great reviews, I really love the sound of The picture of dorian grey, I've wanted to read it for a while and now I'm definitely going to have to get it! x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You should read it! It's really bloody good.

      Delete
  2. I've only read Never Let Me Go out of these, but I loved it. I agree with you about how it could've delved a little deeper into 'their world' but it didn't, and i liked it that way x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah! In some ways, it'd be nice to know a little more, but I think it'd lose some of its 'charm' if it did.

      Delete
  3. I read Never Let me Go a couple of years ago - so full of emotion and so well written. Nice reviews - shall have to get the other two books soon! x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I hope you'll like them :)

      Delete
  4. I did enjoy Never Let Me Go (you know, in the way that you 'enjoy' dark books) but I did find the narrative a little clunky in parts. It frustrated me when the narrator told me what she was going to tell me before she told me - if that makes sense. That is still my over-riding memory of that book, which is a shame - although the part where the teacher cries at the children's art does stand out as a particularly poignant moment.

    Also, Oscar Wilde is just pure genius - I can't believe he didn't get 5/5! The Picture of Dorian Gray is simply stunning. If you do want to get a bit more Wilde in your life, try and find a performance of The Importance of Being Earnest (if you haven't already seen it). Wilde was a perfect playwright, and the warm comedy of that play, the endless puns and witty double entendres are just delightful. The acting wasn't sparkling on one occasion when I went to see it, but Wilde's words still shone.

    Gosh, I sound pretentious! I swear I'm fun - I'm just really enthusiastic about Oscar Wilde! xx

    ReplyDelete
  5. I love never let me go, I haven't read it in a few years so I need to dig it out again. The other two books sound really good, I've been meaning to read The Picture Of Dorian Gray for a while :D

    Elanor xxxx

    http://blueeyedgirlstrikesback.wordpress.com/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Always good to have a re-read! You should read it - I really enjoyed it!

      Delete
  6. i've read 2 out the 3, Never let me go & Dorian Gray. Never let me go, as you say, was so incredibly sad and made me unable to think about anything else while reading it. I thought the movie really didn't manage to capture that quite as much, although it was interesting to watch. I agree also about Dorian Gray, the writing can become a little stifling but it was definitely an enjoyable read. i love your book reviews so much!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aww, thank you for being so kind! I might watch the film adaptation, I'm not sure. I wouldn't want it to ruin it all for me!

      Delete
  7. really enjoyed reading your reviews!
    i felt the same way about oscar wilde, so beautifully written but quite heavy going at the same time.
    i KEEP meaning to pick up everything is illuminated, and i really have no excuse now i've read your glowing review!

    sophie / sophiesbookshelfblog.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you very much!

      Yeah, Victorian literature tends to be quite dense but I love it. You should pick it up - I hope you'll like it!

      Delete
  8. I've got the complete works of Wilde at home and haven't picked it up yet, you've inspired me to push it to the top of my 'to read' list x

    ReplyDelete
  9. Awesome reviews Bee!

    I will admit only seen Everything is illuminated and Dorian Grey the films and I enjoyed them both a great deal. But your reviews make me want to read the books now too!

    Hope your having a lovely summer! xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you :)

      You should totally read the books too! My summer is quite nice so far. I hope yours is awesome!

      Delete
  10. Really enjoyed reading ur book reviews!! Now I'm interested in reading, The Picture of Dorian Gray :)
    www.speakstyleandrock.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you very much!

      It's a really great novel. I hope you'll like it!

      Delete
  11. Loved the reviews! I really liked never let me go. It made me feel that nostalgic-empty-hollow-yet-heaby-hearted feeling as I reached the end of the book. (If that makes any sense!)

    ReplyDelete
  12. I enjoyed Never Let Me Go but like you I had high hopes and was surprised at how obvious the big plot twist was - frustrating but great writing. I'd recommend the film if you haven't seen it. x

    ReplyDelete
  13. I'm halfway through reading The Picture of Dorian Gray and I am really enjoying it, it doesn't feel like a classic at all! - great read! http://ruthhannahsmith.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/classics-2-oscar-wilde.html

    ReplyDelete

© VIVATRAMP | All rights reserved.
Blog Layout Created by pipdig