Saturday, February 26, 2011

Review: I Am Number Four (Lorien Legacies #1) by Pittacus Lore

I Am Number Four (Lorien Legacies)Title: I Am Number Four (Lorien Legacies #1)

Author: Pittacus Lore

Pages: 440

Source: Borrowed

Rating: 6/10

Summary (From book flap):

Nine of us came here. We look like you. We talk like you. But we are not you. We can do things you dream of doing. We have powers you dream of having. We are stronger and faster than anything you have ever seen. We are the superheroes you worship in movies and comic books -- but we are real.

Our plan was to grow, and train, and become strong, and become one, and fight them. But they found us and started hunting us first. Now all of us are running. Spending our lives in shadows, in places where no one would look, blending in. We have lived among you without you knowing.

But they know.

They caught Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.
And Number Three in Kenya.
They killed them all.

I am Number Four.

I am next.

My Two Cents:

I wanted to like this book a lot. I really did. As a diehard aliens kind of girl, and someone who gets really sick of whiny female narrators in young adult literature, I think maybe the bar was set a little too high for me.

My first major problem was that I just couldn't like John. It wasn't that I hated him or anything, he just didn't seem well-rounded enough for me to get to know well enough to like. Maybe it was because this book focused a lot on his forming relationships, romantic and otherwise, with human teenagers, so he was wandering around in the dark for a while, but he just seemed really one-sided.

As far as the other characters go, I also felt as if I just didn't know enough about them to form any kind of connection to decide whether I liked them or not. I really wanted to like characters like Henri and Sam (But I never wanted to like Sarah for some reason), but just couldn't get a feel for them.

The concept behind this book was great, and, aside from the flat characters, it was pretty well-executed. You've got an alien teen (As if all teens don't feel like aliens at some point) just trying to blend in on Earth, but always running for his life. Then, things start happening that he can't explain, and he's in for the battle of his life. It works really well as a whole concept, and I really did want to know what happened next. I'm just not sure how the author will extend it into the remainder of the series.

This wasn't a bad book, by any means, nor would I dissuade anyone from reading it. It just wasn't the book for me.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Review: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Stories by Washington Irving

Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Stories (Penguin Classics)Title: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Stories

Author: Washington Irving

Pages: 190

Source: Personal library

Rating: 8/10

Summary:

Washington Irving is one of the most read and the most unread of authors. In his own day, of course, he was very widely read both in America and England. His writings caught the current fancy for romanticism, for local color, for sentiment, for nostalgia, for humor. In spite of this past popularity, it is doubtful how much of Irving's writing is still read today. Dust-covered sets of Irving's complete works probably appear in the second-hand bookstores as often as do those of Longfellow of Lowell, or any of the other traditional classics of American literature whose reputations have been revised downwards in recent years. Yet a few of Irving's writings, above all "Rip Van Winkle" and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," are still very widely read. It is a rare general anthology of the short story that does not contain one or both of these stories, but it is an even rarer one that has anything more by Irving. A collection such as this one, which ranges more generously over Irving's whole work, may not only teach us why Irving was once so popular but may suggest that Irving has more to offer a modern reader than just his two most famous stories.

My Two Cents:

I've grown up hearing "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle," but never read them in their entirety. It's very obvious that, in the telling and re-telling, things get a little twisted from the originals.

I liked the two most popular stories well enough, but there are several great stories in this short anthology. Irving wove many different types of tales, from suspenseful thrillers to stories of early American life.

My favorite probably was "The Specter Bridegroom," which tells the story of a young woman's plans to marry a soldier who is engaged in battle on his wedding night. I won't give anything away, but, even though the ending is somewhat expected, it is still a suspenseful and well-written story.

I can see why Irving isn't as widely read as he used to be. His language and writing style certainly are archaic and don't appeal to a very broad modern audience. But, once you're able to get past the fact that he wrote nearly 200 years ago, you will find some enjoyable, original stories from one of the first masters of American literature.
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