Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Latest Three: Harry Potter Re-read Wonderfulness Part 4

The Latest Three is my reader's review blog series where I talk about the latest three books I've read and at least enjoyed to some degree. The policy is that if I feel the book wasn't totally pointless, which I usually do, then I discuss the things I liked most in hopes there will be something that intrigues you enough to pick it up yourself. But at the same time, I give honest commentary and discuss things I wasn't too fond of either so you can understand the best scope of the book in your endeavor to read lots of really great books! Obviously, these come in batches of three, but if you like my review style head over to Goodreads and follow me, Kateri Ransom. I post those as I read them.

(In regards to the "Harry Potter Re-read Wonderfulness" part of the blog post title, if you missed one of my previous posts wherein there was Part 1 of this reader review series, the update is that I'll be re-reading and reviewing the entire HP series front to back, but reading a different YA/MG/Adult book in between, like I usually do. Because, like many of us bookish fiends, my TBR pile is too big to ignore for too long. You understand, I'm sure.)

Coda, Emma Trevayne
This heavily-music-influenced-dystopian-paperback-debut was ALMOST a five star for me on Goodreads. Not that I'm going to waste time listing ways it could have been a fiver, because that's not important right now. Guys! What we have here is a GREAT under-the-radar book of 2013. Here's why:
Anthem lives in a world where music is both banned (like you-practically-get-your-head-chopped-off-if-you-hum-on-the-sidewalk banned) but also a drug of which the "Corp" uses to keep its citizens from rebelling, to keep them content and subservient. But Anthem is already a part of the resistance (even if unintentionally); he's involved with an illegal underground band.When shit hits the fan, Anthem does exactly what the Corp doesn't want him to do--he uses his music to fight back.
Perhaps so simply put, the idea of music as the sole means for a hard-core dystopian society doesn't sound convincing to you, or just a little...difficult to grasp, but believe me, Trevayne does an excellent job of immersing you in her harsh, un-lyrical world. It's confusing at times and the first two chapters make it hard to get into, but once you get past that, the book really sucks you in. Here's a list of things about this book that really stood out to me -- simply put, cause this is one of those books you could have a really in-depth book club conversation about.
1. The Music: obviously, but there's different forms of it. I mostly loved the way Trevayne explored and stressed the significance of music in our lives, through her depiction of it as an actual drug and as a means of liberation and identity, like a holding on your soul. 
2. The Love Relationship: It wasn't some angsty, we-can't-be-together-cause-we-might-die-anytime-or-you're-rich-and-I'm-poor-and-beneath-you-and-don't-deserve-you...OK, it was a little like that, but the characters start out in a relationship and their conflict in that relationship gives it the perfect amount of rising tension without overshadowing all the action of the climax. Plus, for it being a hetero relationship with a male MC, the chick is pretty damn bad-ass. 
3. The Main Character is Actually Bi-Sexual: This has very little to do with the main plot of the book. It's just there and it's who Anthem is. Word. 
4. The World-Building: There's a lot of it that didn't get explored, but it was done in a way that was ambiguous without being confusing. 
5. It is, I Believe/Hope, a Stand-Alone: Because the ending really just needs to end there, and I mean that in the best way if you love reading books as much as me, you know what I mean.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, J. K. Rowling
After re-reading this sixth installment of the HP series, I was surprised to discover that it was my least favorite of the series thus far. When I thought about it, I guess I realized it was the book I remember the least of from way back when I read it for the first time. However, upon re-reading it, it was also the book I had the most to say about. Here's a little compilation of some of my thoughts.
1. The Scenes on Voldemort's Past: I'm sure this is a favorite part for many readers of the series. It certainly was for me. I felt them more poignantly this time around, though I'm sure I did originally because the imagery from the scenes stayed with me for the most part. I find Voldemort's mother to be absolutely fascinating. I couldn't help but wonder how much of Rowling's self came through in writing her character. That obvious depression and feeling of weakness despite harrowing and nearly impossible realities, like poverty and familial abuse, both physical and emotional. It has a truly disintegrating effect on people and unfortunately it can get the better of us...does that make us weak? Yes, I suppose. But does it make us pitiless? ...I think Rowling wanted us to think about that when she wrote Voldemort's mother. 
2. Madame Pince: I was reading this "typical" librarian character and suddenly found myself disappointed. I suppose I just felt that Rowling had another solid opportunity to make yet another amazing female character, but she sort of fell short. Of course, it's totally possible she had a whole richly developed back story on the character and just never got to tell it because it didn't fit anywhere. I would expect no less of Rowling. Perhaps I'll just have to do a little perusal of the internet and see what I can find. 
3. How Friggin' Awesome Ginny Is: I don't think my 14 year old self had nearly as much appreciation for Ginny's character development, especially in this book, until now. She really becomes a feisty force to be reckoned with. She stands up for herself. She loves who she loves. Openly. Shamelessly. In fact, the character she reminds me of most is Harry's mother. WHICH IS EXACTLY WHY I THINK IT'S PERFECT THAT SHE AND HARRY END UP TOGETHER...but more on that later. (Sorta spoiler) 4. I Love When Harry Inadvertently Compliments Snape's *Singing Abilities: That is all.

The Road, Cormac McCarthy
I won't say what this book is about because I explain all you need to know in one of my points. Overall, I had issues with this, but still, at the end, felt it was exactly the book it needed to be. It was more about the effect it had on me and the way it made me feel after it was over than the enjoyment of reading it. If you consider yourself a dark person then you might enjoy reading it, but not me. This book is, by definition, un-enjoyable. But at the same time, it's entirely amazing.
1. I Can See Why People Wouldn't Like It: Let's just say it's not an easy book to read. And I don't mean that like it's complicated or confusing. It's just hard. Like a journey is hard. Like surviving is hard. Which is exactly what the book is about.
2. I was Told it was About Hope, and it Is: I'm not going to say what kind of bearing this has on the ending except that it's a big one, and it was one of the best parts about the book.
3. It Didn't Feel Very Dynamic (aka: lack of plot) There is definitely next to no plot. It's literally just father and son after the apocalypse trying to get some where safe, somewhere where they won't have to run for their lives all the time. Always travelling on one single road. The rest? You'll just have to read it and find out.
5. It Would Make a Great Book-Club Book: If you have a book club that hasn't read it then I recommend you give this one a shot. There are so many things to be discussed in this one. So. Many.

*The word "singing" being a word of which would be too spoilery if replaced with another more informative word.

I'm starting this new, more simplistic approach to reviews, wherein I provide more of a list of my favorite aspects about the book, in no specific numerical order. Ya like?

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