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Let’s cut right to the chase:1.
Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood
*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.*
Hag-Seed is a modern-day retelling of Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest. Margaret Atwood is one of my favorite authors, so as soon as I found out she was coming out with this new book, I re-read The Tempest. I also decided to cash in on a blogger perk, and I requested this book from Blogging for Books so that I could get it as soon as possible. It’s the first free thing I ever got as a blogger and I feel good about it.
Felix has been fired from his role as a theater director by the people he worked alongside with. Too wrapped up in his work in the theater, he never saw this coming. Devastated without his job and still grieving over the loss of his three-year-old daughter, he moves into a small cottage and spends years planning his revenge on those who conspired to fire him. Eventually, he ends up working in a prison, where he helps the inmates put on their own version of Shakespeare plays every year. As his obsession with revenge grows, he imagines himself as the real-life version of Shakespeare’s protagonist in The Tempest.
While I found some aspects of the book hard a bit unrealistic, such as the freedoms the inmates have in the prison, I was able to put it aside for the sake of propelling the story forward. I loved this book for a few reasons. First, I enjoyed the chapters that took place in the prison. I know that Margaret Atwood did a lot of research on prisons and programs in prisons, even though she says there is no program quite like the one she creates in this book.
Second, I loved the way that she retold The Tempest. Even though I had read Shakespeare’s play, Atwood kept me guessing. Third, I thought that she did a wonderful job showing the psychological toll that Felix’s obsession with revenge takes on this. You see his progression and his obsession and you don’t necessarily like him or root for him. I think that it takes a lot of skill to create such an unlikable character that you continue keep reading about for hundreds of pages and Atwood is certainly that skilled.
I will say that while you don’t need to have read The Tempest to understand this book, I think it helps. If you want to read Hag-Seed, but don’t want to read The Tempest, Margaret Atwood has written a very concise summary in the back of the book. If you read that first, you will be good to go.
The Tempest by“William Shakespeare
I love this play. Prospero has been cast out from his rightful role as Duke of Milan. Too concerned with practicing his magic to see what was being plotted right under his nose, he has been exiled and now lives on a deserted island with his daughter. When he learns that the people who exiled him are on a ship, he summons a tempest to strand them on the island with him so that he can get his revenge. I love this play. It has magic, songs, fairies, mystery, and, of course, it is beautifully written. If you are a Shakespeare fan I would say this is definitely worth a read. I would love to see it performed one day.
Looking for Alaska by John Green
I read this book because when I was doing my research on National Banned Books Week, I found out that this was the most challenged book of 2015. So naturally, I wanted to see what all of the fuss was about. This book does deal with hard issues. But aren’t teenager going through hard things? Don’t they have to deal with hard issues? We can’t shelter them, and I felt like Green did a great job of dealing with those issues in a realistic way. If we don’t talk about the things that affect teenagers, they won’t have any way to deal with them. I loved this book and I think that it is a must-read for young adults.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
My friend and blogger buddy Christy from Planes, Trains, and Running Shoes sent me this book when I first moved to Hawaii and I am so grateful she did! It is about a literary society that developed during WWII. It takes place after WWII, which I liked because it dealt a lot with how people went about picking up the pieces from this devastating war. It is written as a series of letters as the main character writes to the residents of the literary society to find out how they survived the war and how reading books changed their lives. In their letters to her, people who never read books before the society was created tell her how reading and the society changed their lives.
I think that this is a book lover’s book, and it was written by a librarian whose dream it was to write a book one day. If you love books and are interested in WWII, I recommend this. I enjoyed it a lot.
5. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
My book club in Hawaii decided we wanted to read something that would really get us talking, so of course we read Lolita. While I absolutely loved the language and word play, I felt like the story moved too slow for me to really feel engaged in it. Lolita is about a man named Humbert Humbert who is writing his confession from prison. In it, he details his obsession with young girls, how he came to fall in love with Lolita, and how he abducted her and forced her into a “relationship” with him.
6. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
I already write a review of this book here but let me just say again that this is a must-read book. If you read one book this year, I think it should be Homegoing.
What’s on your list?