The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare

The Taming of the ShrewThe Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Did a really long review only to find out it hadn’t saved. Goodreads, please add an autosave function.

I don’t want to type all of that again, but basically my review boils into one thing: the play is to be taken ironically. Katherine’s transformation is an exaggeration to “Renaissance ideals” and “male fantasies”. In other words, they only exist in a play, hence, a comedy on how impractical men can think sometimes. Y’all need to wake up.

Loved this book because of how it made me chuckle and think at the same time.

5/5

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Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews

Flowers in the Attic (Dollanganger, #1)Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Flowers in the Attic Review

 

Love. How often that word came up in books. Over and over again. If you had wealth and health, and beauty and talent . . . you had nothing if you didn’t have love. Love changed all that was ordinary into something giddy, powerful, drunken, enchanted.

Of course, this isn’t a story about love. Far from it . . .

Cathy and her three siblings; Christopher, Cory, and Carrie; grew several years in a normal, middle-class family. However, after they lost their father from an accident, all of the responsibility had to be left to their “dear” mother. As a woman who depended on her husband, ignorant to the harsh realities of life, their mother decided to take them to her parents’ house. This wasn’t just any house, though. It was more of a modern palace: a mansion. But why hadn’t she told them this before? Why did they have to live in an underwhelming house when she had all the luxury? All these were explained as soon as the children had been brought to the attic on one evening, where they had been reasoned that they would only stay for a night — or a couple. Naively, the kids agreed, knowing just a few nights would justify all the riches they would have in the future. But how is trust reasonable when they knew that they would be locked up in the attic in the first place?

Flowers in the Attic was, in one word, haunting. It was a mix of everything: innocence, grief, hatred, greed, maturity, adolescence, and, of course, lust. The story progressed slowly, giving its readers a realistic perspective of how maturity can come with doubt, indifference with greed, and affection intimacy. Who could blame them, anyway? Locked away in the attic, the two oldest siblings, Chris and Cathy, had to act as parents for the young twins, Cory and Carrie. All the while, they did what they had to to keep them distracted — from decorating the attic to exploring new hobbies. But that wasn’t everything.

Aside from its gradual, thrilling progression, Flowers in the Attic was a win because of our narrator — Cathy. She may be annoying, but her menacingly pessimistic view sets the general mood of the book. I wouldn’t say it’s a horror, nor a thriller, but rather a mature young adult that exhibits emotion and narrative, like a classic tale. Because Andrews was a natural story teller, each chapter was exceptionally written in great detail. Amazingly, Andrews managed to keep me enticed through vivid imagery, intensity, longing, and the desire to know what happens to children left in a peculiar situation. But emotion surpassed all. Andrews’ characters delivered such emotion that can be felt with meticulous dialogue. Readers could feel giddy with Carrie’s chatter, compassionate with Cory’s pleas, inspired with Chris’ optimism, and ruthless with Cathy’s straightforward words.

As a reviewer, it bothers me to see only some flaws (or even none at all!) in the book, though maybe it’s only as exceptional as that. Granted, this book is not for anyone, but definitely worth the read.

5/5

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Room by Emma Donoghue

RoomRoom by Emma Donoghue

Room Review

First off, writing in the perspective of a 5-year old is tricky, but Donoghue managed to do it well.

This book took me quite some time to read. The thing about Room is that it gets to the specific little details within a day, especially on Jack’s daily routine in the room. Even his thoughts are surfaced to detail, because Jack is a curious little boy with an extraordinary mind. Because of this, Room is an output of the lengthy details in which Jack perceives, both inside and outside the room. What’s good about this, however, is that you don’t get tired of Jack. Of course, his situation with his mother is beyond normal, which is something to get used to as you read the book, but even after you get accustomed to Jack’s situation, being in his shoes is still pretty interesting. Donoghue was able to blend everyday life, innocence, childhood, claustrophobia, and horror, but the best thing she added was the experience of being a child — again. And not just an ordinary child, but a child who gets to learn about the world like no other; a child who has to forget everything he thought he knew and believe in what he perceives. What’s more special is that Jack has some ideas of his own about the Outside. He critiques it like a child, undoubtedly, but the way he does it gives readers a fresh perspective on adulthood and living in the real world (a very similar perspective with The Little Prince). Though Room is lengthy and maybe even tedious to read, reading the perspective of its little persona grants you a look on a childhood unlike most, which should be enough to keep you flipping through the pages.

A big thumbs-up to Donoghue for writing a full-length novel based on the eyes of what we used to be — a child.

3.5/5

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The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the TrainThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Girl on the Train Review

“On the way back down the road, he passes me in his car, our eyes meet for just a second and he smiles at me.”

The Girl on the Train has potential. It is built on a plot that, when delivered well, would shock its readers in the end. This is also why that it is fast paced, like a train; a page-turner, though I was, however, not overwhelmed in the end, because it was leading its readers all along to the expected.

It left clues. Identifiable ones. The ones that stick with you. The ones that you can’t just brush aside. To have a good thriller, the clues must still be there, but they need to be so underwhelming for readers to feel idiotic of not noticing them in the first place. My experience with the The Girl on the Train was triumphant; I stuck to the clues that Hawkins intended to leave and ignored scenes that were meant to mislead. And so, the shock value had continued to lessen as I neared the end.

Another downside of The Girl on the Train was the comma splices. Hawkins is fond of using commas to join clauses, and though it sounds all right in speech, it is a writing style error. Say, for example, [she wants to add a dramatic clause, she would use a comma]. Being the reader I am, I was slightly bothered.

Still, The Girl on the Train was worth the read. It was fun flipping over the pages and wanting to know whether I was right with my theories.

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El Filibusterismo by Jose Rizal

El FilibusterismoEl Filibusterismo by José Rizal
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

El Filibusterismo Review

El Filibusterismo is, apparently, less popular than Noli Me Tangere, but it was so much better.

El Filibusterismo was our only topic for our Filipino class in 10th grade, so we had to go deep. Each class, however, was worth listening to, thanks to my Filipino teacher. Unlike Noli Me Tangere, El Filibusterismo was much more profound; each chapter portrays one or more social issues that, even until now, still prevail.

Although El Filibusterismo is a story that revolves around several characters, they were not difficult to keep track on because of how Rizal molded each character. The events that circled around them were also very intense-sometimes striking or depressing, weird or funny, or gruesome or aggressive. Many chapters were notable, but the most notable one, for me, is Huli. God, I did not see that coming.

There is so much to say for El Filibusterismo. It is not only a story, but a depiction of what life used to be for the Filipinos. Rizal did a great job in letting its readers visualize a story similar to his own in the most vivid way. I’m truly inspired; can’t wait to read more of his works!

5/5

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Animal Farm by George Orwell

Animal FarmAnimal Farm by George Orwell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Animal Farm Review

Bold and pessimistic, Animal Farm is a neat allegory of the rise of Stalin and the Soviet Union that led to the Cold War.

Animal Farm is a direct and straight to the point fable of an important event in history, that has since opened the eyes of blind followers of socialism and its cause. It is a revolutionary piece against Soviet communism, though at the time it was released, people preferred not to hear his message. The message can be quoted from Benjamin the donkey’s motto, that “life would go on as it had always gone on – that is, badly.” Believe it or not, it is mostly true, as socialism did no better than capitalism. It was unstable, rigorous, laborious, and still unequal. The welfare of the animals can also be compared to the welfare of those in the Soviet Union – they believe they are working for themselves but they do not get the satisfaction they need.

Another often overlooked theme of Animal Farm is the concept of propaganda and deception. It is obvious in the novel that the pigs are much more smarter than all the other animals, and so they have a knack on getting what they want through persuasive rhetoric. This just shows that people can be dense and blunt most of the time, as if the thoughts they are supposed to think can easily be spoon-fed to them. On the contrary, it also shows how powerful someone in authority can be, that he can easily convince a mass of people through speech. It was satirical for me to read how the other animals cannot realize the treachery of the pigs to the laws that they have implemented in the first place, but also ironic to think that I, as well as any other person, can easily be brainwashed by those of authority.

Because Animal Farm is clear on its message, it is not that thought-provoking, but it is insightful to think about one of the biggest organizations (that is, socialism) that tried to make its way across the globe. It is also important to note that Animal Farm was an eye-opener to the Soviet myth, “a hierarchical society, in which the rulers have no more reason to give up their power than any other ruling class.”

ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL
BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS

4/5

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I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

I Am the MessengerI Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I Am the Messenger Review

Ed Kennedy is a hopeless, underage cab driver who isn’t the most motivated person in town. His life revolves around driving a cab, playing cards with his friends, and living with his dog, The Doorman. This life, however, changes when he somehow stops a bank robbery. He receives his first ace that gives him three different addresses, giving him a mission: to live beyond what he is capable of.

I Am the Messenger is one of the most unique YA books I have ever read. I know I mentioned this a lot in my reviews (i.e. *title* is not a typical book), but now I am writing this utterly. It is a book about helping and changing lives one way or another, and it is delivered in ways that are not so typical. Ed’s mission is to help people who “suffer” in their own ways, and even though it might sound ordinary, it will give you a different feeling when you read the book itself. The idea of Ed helping out people is simple, but somewhat captivating and rewarding to read. When Ed helps someone or a group of people and does his task, there’s always a feeling of accomplishing and giving that Ed gets, and that readers also feel. There are also points that get emotional, especially in the latter parts of the book. Characters unfold from one-sided to three-dimensional ones, which is challenging for a writer to do properly. I guess this is what I liked most, though: Ed delivers messages that can make you feel for characters and connect with them in even deeper ways, as if you yourself get the joys of seeing (or reading) them happy. (My favorite is Cat Ballou.) Each accomplishment is heartwarming, and it’s just wonderful how I can feel happiness for characters that don’t even exist. What’s also amazing is how Zusak can do this in a manner that is gripping and even thrilling, because behind this giving is a mystery of who’s behind the aces.

The mystery, however, it is where I am unfortunately disappointed at. I won’t spoil anything here, but let’s just say that the whole revelation in the ending was weak. It’s good for some readers, but it really just isn’t my thing. Personally, there are certainly better ways to end the novel instead of giving a “forced” ending. Heck, I’d go for a cliffhanger if necessary. I admit it was out of the ordinary, but I’m not really a fan of the “literary device” that Zusak used.

To add, it was rewarding whenever Ed accomplishes his tasks, but that’s just it: he accomplishes whatever he needs to do in such a smooth and nice way. There aren’t much hardships nor complications, which I expected from the latter aces. I know helping shouldn’t be a burden, but one thing I know about life is that even if you try to do good, there will always be something that will get in the way. For Ed, though, nothing really major got in the way from accomplishing his tasks; they were all too easy for him.

As much as I loved the entire book, the ending didn’t really go well for me, which is a downer. It’s still one of my favorites, though, and I would really recommend it. It has a really nice message, and if you have a good heart, it will definitely keep you up.

4.5/5

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