Monthly Archives: August 2015

Classic Book Review: Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit451I read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury for the first time in middle school. I remembered it had a futuristic story and big meaning. Other than that, I didn’t remember much so I decided it was time to read it again. Especially after I picked it up at a book sale for $1. ūüôā

Futuristic Story

Setting novels in the future takes a lot of creativity but also a lot of knowledge. A great futuristic setting will be believable, with specific or vague science/theory to back up the created reality. Ray Bradbury certainly had the vision in 1953 when he published Fahrenheit 451.

Wall-sized, interactive TVs. Fireproof homes. Robot dogs. And of course, a society that limits the public’s ability to think freely.

Thankfully our society hasn’t stooped to book burning yet, but some of his imaginative predictions are not so far off.

Big Meaning

I remember Fahrenheit 451 having a strong affect on me in middle school. Growing up in a country where free speech is encourage at every corner and individuality is praised, it was strange to think of a world without those things. Thankfully, the magic of books helps us think outside our tiny little worlds.

Rereading the novel now, I was not impressed. I thought it lacked substance, emotion, and depth.

451

Overall

2.5 stars. Unfortunately, I found a lot of the characters to be dull. The pacing was inconsistent, slow and first then too fast at the peak of the action. That being said, I still believe this is an excellent book for middle age readers. It will open their eyes to a world different than their own without too much violence or depression. The reading level is also perfect for the middle school kid.

Interesting Fact: 

Did you know Fahrenheit 451 was originally published in a shorter version and titled The Fireman?!

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Life of Pi Book Review

2002 Yann Martel Life of PiI read Life of Pi believing it was a real story. And it was. It was so real.

Okay, okay, so a 15-year-old Indian boy didn’t actually survive on a lifeboat in the middle of the Pacific for 227 days with a full-grown¬†tiger but Yann Martel certainly makes it feel that way. Journey. Expedition. Adventure. None of these words quite capture the magic felt while cruising¬†the Pacific’s current with Pi Patel,¬†a zoo-keeper’s son who practices not one, not two, but three religions.

Pi Patel’s father decides to sell off the the remains of his zoo and move his family to Canada. As the Patel’s are¬†crossing the Pacific with dozens of animals being sold to America zoos, their ship¬†unexplainably sinks. Pi safetly¬†gets to a lifeboat,¬†only to find he shares it with a zebra, a hyena, an orangutan, and a Bengal tiger. Every one of the¬†next 227 days will threaten Pi’s life.

Although the book is often¬†referred to as “fantasy adventure” or “magic realism”, Life of Pi fights those bindings of genre. This is a story of love, faith, companionship, humanity, and nature. Its a story about believing what you cannot see, believing exactly that which is hard to believe.¬†Readers firmly planted in reality may have a hard time enjoying this novel. But to those who enjoy opening their mind to fiction will cherish it, as I certainly do.

***Check out my previous post for some great Life of Pi Quotes!

Life of Pi was included on Arts.Mic’s list of 11 Twenty-First¬†Century Books Our Kids Will Be Taught¬†in School.

Structure

Martel¬†structures the novel to encourage the story’s reality. It begins by the author, Martel, having a chance encounter with an old man who tells him about a story that will “make him believe in God.” After the old man tells the narrator about Pi’s story, he seeks him out and “interviews” Pi as an adult in order to write his story.

The middle and majority of the book is written in Pi’s first person perspective as he struggles to survive with a tiger on a lifeboat in the vast Pacific.

SPOILER AHEAD: The end of the novel also ends with an interview; Pi being interviewed by two Japanese men investigating the sinking of the ship. This creates the full circle plot as well as

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Theme

I don’t like to talk about theme in my book reviews because I think theme too often shrinks the imagination of the reader. To put a story in a neat, themed box (Example: The Harry Potter series is about how love conquers evil.) is too simple. Every novel has layers of meaning and every reader should be able to interpret it how they see fit.

So, without cramming¬†Life of Pi‘s theme¬†into a single word or phrase, it is about… Humanity. Peace. Storytelling. Faith. And how we¬†interprets these things. What we choose to believe and how we push away the improbable as impossible. Every reader should have fun deciphering¬†these themes¬†for themselves.¬†You may not discover the same things I did in this book, but I doubt you will come away empty handed.

The author of Life of Pi, Yann Martel, said the following was part of his inspiration for the story:

“The idea that life is an interpretation, that between us and reality lies our imagination, which shapes our vision of reality…” – Yann Martel in a¬†Q&A on¬†ABCnews.com

5 Stars!

Life of Pi will likely make my list of favorite books read in¬†2015. The inspiration and humanity this novel exposes feels as¬†real to me as¬†the keyboard I’m typing on.

Life of Pi Quotes

This entire novel is a good quote but here are a few I picked out that specifically pleased me. Enjoy! 

2002 Yann Martel Life of Pi“I wish I could convey the perfection of a seal slipping into water or a spider monkey swinging from point¬†to point or a lion merely turning its head. But language founders in such seas. Better to picture it in your head if you want to feel it.”

“When you’ve suffered a great deal in life, each additional pain is both unbearable and trifling.”

“…Hindus, in their capacity for love, are indeed hairless Christians, just as Muslims, in the way they see God in everything, are bearded Hindus, and Christians, in their devotion to God, are hat-wearing Muslims.”

“Ten thousand trumpets and twenty thousand drums could not have made as much noise¬†as that bolt of lightning; it was positively deafening.”

“I cannot think of a better way to spread the faith [than leaving sacred writings like the Bible where weary travelers might rest their heads]. No thundering from a pulpit, no condemnation from bad churches, no peer pressure, just a book of scripture quietly waiting to say hello, as gentle and powerful as a little girl’s kiss on your cheek.”

“It was as unbelievable as the moon catching fire.”

“At moments of wonder, it is easy to avoid small thinking, to entertain thoughts that span the universe, that capture both thunder and tinkle, thick and thin, the near and the far.”

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Beautiful photo taken from arunrajagopal.com.

“There were many seas. The sea roared like a tiger. The sea whispered in your ear like a friend telling you secrets. The sea clinked like small change in a pocket. The sea thundered like avalanches. The sea hissed like sandpaper working on wood. The sea sounded like someone vomiting. The sea was dead silent.”¬†

“Life on a lifeboat isn’t much of a life. It is like an end game in chess, a game with few pieces. The elements couldn’t be more simple, nor the stakes higher.”

“If we, citizens, do not support our artists, then we sacrifice our imagination on the altar of crude reality and we end up believing in nothing and having worthless dreams.” -from the Author’s Note

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