Book Review: The Time Machine

I’ve been on a science fiction kick lately and decided it was finally time to go back to how it all began—The Time Machine. This short novel by H.G. Wells was published in 1895 and popularized the concept of time travel. While I think our idea of time travel has changed a bit since then, it is definitely easy to see science fiction’s roots in this work.

I really enjoyed the beginning of the book and Wells’ explanation of time being a dimension, like physical planes. I thought it was a sophisticated and convincing argument for being able to travel through time, as you would through physical space. At the same time, I wish there was more explanation about the consequences of such travel—could you change the past? Determine the future? Grow older while living the same day over and over again?

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Book Review: Between Shades of Gray

No, this book is not related in any way to Fifty Shades of Grey (although perhaps it should have been given a different name). Between Shades of Gray is actually an emotional and traumatic tale of a Lithuanian girl living in a Soviet labor camp during World War II. It has all of the elements of a great YA novel, with the added impact of an important historical message.

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Book Review: The Handmaid’s Tale

Working at a publishing company means it’s never hard to get book recommendations, and one of the books that has been passed from cubicle to cubicle lately is The Handmaid’s Tale. I had never read anything by Margaret Atwood, but always wanted to, so I was excited when a coworker lent me a copy. Little did I know what I had been missing.

As I’ve mentioned several times before, my favorite books are ones that take me out of my own world while teaching me something about it. I love learning through defamiliarization because it challenges the assumption of normality in our everyday lives. It gives a different perspective on things we have become accustomed to experiencing every day—so much so that we don’t even notice them anymore. But authors like Margaret Atwood make us notice.

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Re-Read & Review: The Fault in Our Stars

In case you’ve been living on the moon for the past two years, The Fault in Our Stars is a wildly popular YA novel by John Green about two teenagers, Hazel and Augustus, who are living with cancer and falling for each other. It explores the awkwardness of young love, the “side effects” of dying, and the meaning (if there is any) of life. I first read TFiOS when it was published over two years ago, but I never wrote a review on it. With the movie adaptation coming out in less than a week, I decided to re-read the book and write down my thoughts on it.

I recently read Esther Earl’s posthumous book, This Star Won’t Go Out, and it definitely affected my re-read of TFiOS. TFiOS is dedicated to Esther, who died of cancer as a teenager and was friends with John Green. Her book is a compilation of letters and journal entries, which chronicle many of the same fears that Hazel and Gus struggle with in TFiOS. Esther was afraid of dying without having made a difference in the world, and Gus, similarly, is afraid of oblivion. Hazel worries what will happen to her parents after she dies, and much of Esther’s writing is concerned with how her illness affects her family. Hazel is clearly not Esther, as John Green has continually said, but the book is definitely inspired by her spirit and a tribute to her life.

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Book Review: City of Glass

Before Cassandra Clare’s City of Glass, there was Paul Auster’s. The first short installment of The New York Trilogy, City of Glass is both a mystery and an anti-mystery. The main character of the novel cranks out mystery novels like James Patterson, but admits that most such novels are poorly written and don’t involve the kind of higher thinking required with “literature.” They’re purely pleasure reading.

But City of Glass is both literature and mystery novel. As with all Auster novels, it is about more than its plot. Sure, there is a man named Stillman who locked his son in a dark room for most of his childhood and is now being released from prison. And yes, the main character, Quinn, is hired to follow Stillman in order to protect his horribly damaged son from harm. But these elements soon just become technicalities of the story instead of its meat.

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Book Review: Allegiant

I finished the Divergent series over a week ago, but it’s taken me awhile to write this review because I honestly don’t have too much to say. Unfortunately, Veronica Roth didn’t improve upon Insurgent‘s mistakes in Allegiant. While I didn’t hate the ending as much as most people did, I still felt like the whole book was just mediocre and didn’t live up to the hype started by the first book.

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Book Review: This Star Won’t Go Out

I never got to meet Esther Earl, but I feel like I just spent the past few days with her. Esther was an enthusiastic and loving girl who passed away from thyroid cancer at the age of 16. Before she died, she inspired people everywhere to make the world more awesome. One of these people was the author John Green, who wrote The Fault in Our Stars in her memory.

Esther dreamed of becoming a published author, and at the beginning of 2014 she finally got her wish posthumously. After being diagnosed with cancer, this strong girl decided to write extensively about her feelings. Her parents compiled Esther’s journal entries, letters, blog posts, and drawings into a book called This Star Won’t Go Out. It’s a very special book, and I’m going to try and explain why it was so touching.

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