The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King

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3/5 stars.
Paperback, 336 pages.
Read from May 07 to 26, 2015.

I’m not sure how to classify this book. I guess it’s a history book  of the Indians of North American that also discusses their past and current social and cultural issues. The difference being the style of writing that King has chosen to portray this information. King writes this book like he is having a conversation with you, literally. He even adds tidbits of what his wife Helen would have suggested for certain portions of the book. It’s a bit jarring at first but once you warm up to the style it actually makes for a pleasurable and potent read on some very relevant and important topics.

This was the last book out of the five that I’ve read  for Canada Reads 2015, I will make a post discussing all five of the books next week.

As a white person, I feel that this is a very important book. Growing up in Canada you get your fair share of Native American history throughout your schooling, however I can tell you now after reading this book that the history comes from a very biased, and white, perspective. The history taught in Canadian schools doesn’t touch the half of what has really occurred to the Natives in this country.  This book is important because King gives a voice to the hushed Native Americans of North America and lays out exactly why  the ‘Indian problem’ is still very relevant in today’s society. I think that many non- Natives don’t understand complexity of Native history and why some reservations today are often times filled with Natives that cannot ‘integrate’ into society. King does a phenomenal job of laying out the neutral facts and realities that face may Natives today by detailing their histories that brought them to this point, and why some of the long standing issues that they have to deal with are still not solved.  King’s neutral and relatively pleasant style of writing allows to the reader to approach the  content without getting defensive, for both Natives and non-Natives.

In terms of Canada Reads, I can see why this book was cut first. In comparison to the other books, this one just didn’t hit the theme as much, which is books that break boundaries. Don’t get me wrong this book does break boundaries with it’s writing style and by discussing the Native issues that many try to ignore but in comparison to the other books in the challenge, this one wasn’t as  strong.

Just based on King’s writing style in this book, I am interested to read more by him. He is a captivating writer and I imagine his fiction would be quite good. Overall, I think that any non-Native person born in North America would benefit from reading this book in order to get a greater understanding and appreciation for the groups of people that were here long before us.

 

A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin

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3/5 stars.
Paperback, 1123 pages.
Read from February 17 to May 05, 2015.

George, listen, you have phenomenal ideas, stories and characters but for the love of God, please allow your editor to do his/her job. Your books are now just unnecessarily long. I’m all for big books when they’re warranted but I felt like this book was allowed to be long for the same reason the Harry Potter books got bigger and bigger, they’re immensely popular and can get a way with it. I mean, these books practically sell themselves now.  Bigger does not mean better. I know that die-hard fans will disagree with me and probably loved that they were able to read a few hundred pages more in their favourite realms with their favourite characters, likely because they knew that the next book wouldn’t be out for a while, but it’s unfortunate as I feel that the quality of the book suffers. I didn’t feel the the intensity of the plot in this one as I did with the first or the third book in the series because the scenes were so drawn out and the book ended becoming such a large commitment. I think that’s why we’re seeing the TV series starting to divert away from the plot of the books so drastically now as George’s writing has become less concise and cohesive as the series progresses.

The Seven Kingdoms is still in unrest and its fate and who will rule it is still being fought over. Tyrion finds himself across the sea in an effort to see Daenerys and to stay away from Ceresi’s wrath. Daenerys’ enemies begin to grow as she realizes that she will have to make a decision that she personally does not want but will be good for her people. On the wall, Jon Snow is living with the stress of being the Lord Commander and is making historically remarkable decisions, choices that are necessary for their survival and preparation against the white walkers, however,  it’s causing tension with other members of the Watch. Arya is unraveling the mysteries of the Seven-Faced God, while Sansa is learning to be strong alongside Littlefinger, however, his personal motivates are still unknown.

There are a few scary scenes in this book where you believe 3 of the main characters to be dead. One of them may be for sure, but I really hope not.  While I’ve already voiced my frustrations with the book, the plot twists in this book are still really good and the book is still pretty darn awesome, I just couldn’t get through it all that quickly as my interest wavered between the interesting plot points. The ending, well, the ending of this book rivaled the ending of the very first book and was absolutely fantastic. Thank God for the sneak preview into the next book or I might have been losing my shit over the ending. I’ll just say that involves Daenerys again, whom is my all time favourite character. The ending almost made up for the areas of the book I lost interest over. The last 300 pages were worth pushing through for.

I’m really enjoying the direction that the TV show is taking. I feel that the show is more of the concise and intense story I was hoping to read from George. For once, I actually enjoy reading the books alongside with the TV shows as usually my favor is towards the book but I think that the TV show does the series justice and provide insight into the story where the books were lacking.

Ultimately, this book is still remarkably better than the last book and I will still pursue the series, provided that Martin does decide to end it at some point. George is getting older and is notorious for taking ages to write his books. I hope that he can end the series how he sees fit and that it doesn’t have to be taken over by anyone else. Onwards to the next book (which will hopefully have a release date soon)!

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

 

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4/5 stars.
Read from February 25 to March 05, 2013.
Paperback, 239 pages.

Throwback review to when I read Warm Bodies. Yes, the book is exceptional and better than the movie.


Confession: This is my first zombie related novel and if the rest of the zombie plotted books are like this one, then I need to read more.

I feared for the worst with that novel; that it would be cliché and that the plot would come off as ridiculous. I mean, really? A zombie romance? I thought to myself that there was no way that this could go well but Marion, happily, proved me wrong. The plot is gruesome, elegant and highly entertaining.

R is just zombie who is tired of his zombie life. He seems to process and think a bit more than his fellow zombie comrades. After saving a young woman named Julie, things begin to drastically change for R. His dead heart seems to start to feel again. Terrified Julie doesn’t know what to make of this strange zombie that is protecting her instead of eating her but the situation makes her reevaluate the outbreak and how the small groups of remaining humans are currently dealing with the zombie situation. Both Julie and R have no idea just how much their interactions will change things forever.

Marion has given a whole new definition to the idea of zombies and I like that. Zombies are always portrayed in movies and TV as lifeless beings that have lost all touch with anything that ever made them human. The idea that there is still something worth saving is inspirational and adds a whole different dynamic to how zombies could be written and described. I think that Marion took a lot of risks writing on a genre that is so insanely popular right now. He gave it his own innovative spin and I would say that the risk has definitely paid off. I hope to see the movie now that I have finished the book.

For me, the defining points in this novel are ***SPOILER***how the zombies not only eat brains to feed themselves but to relive the memories of the person that they’re eating because it makes them feel, well, alive. The integration of Perry’s thoughts and memories with R’s and how deeply he was affected by them (and ultimately how it changed him) ***END SPOILER*** were really well done and were some of my favourite chapters in this novel. Also, Marion answered some of the questions that other zombie works skim over: he went into detail about how the zombies collaborated, how their bodies and brains worked and that they were capable of thought.

The scene that shook me the most in this novel has to be ***SPOILER*** near the end when Julie and R are trying to revolutionize change; the last encounter that they have with Juile’s dad… when he just gave up after seeing Julie side with R and then just let that lead Boney devour him without fighting back. The emotional states of all the characters were so well described and detailed that I believed this is how a zombie invasion would actually feel like. It was heart wrenching to envision this scene. Juile, losing both of her parents because they inevitably gave up and could not go on after fighting for this long against all odds. Julie’s resilience and push to strive for more and keep hope was impressive all considering what humanity and herself had faced. Her hope outlasted in the end to bring around a cure with the help of R ***END SPOILER***. ***ADDITION*** Having now seen the movie, I was both relieved and disappointed that they changed this ending with film.***

Marion does have a prequel to this novel which focuses on Julie, Perry and Nora’s story and I’m currently trying to get my hands on a copy. It’s called The New Hunger.

I would highly recommend this novel for anyone looking for something different.