Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Turtles All the Way DownTurtles All the Way Down by John Green
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Turtles All the Way Down Review

I read this just for John Green since I’ve read all of his works. So far, this has been his most insightful novel; not because of the overall message, nor the plot, nor even the story, but because he manages to discuss, in context, his perceptions on the self, on existence, and on the world. I [liked] Aza’s rather dreadful thinking that her self is based on circumstances instead of choices, because there’s a lot of truth in choices being highly situational. There are also more insightful thoughts thrown here and there, and that’s what I liked best about this book.

The book’s downside, however, is that John Green’s voice is everywhere. Sometimes, when Aza and Daisy or Aza and Davis talk, it feels like one person is talking to himself. This is one thing I’ve noticed from John Green’s writing—his voice overpowers his characters. A lot of them think things throughly and are intellectual and philosophical like him. I’d want to read a unique character’s voice, not John Green’s voice, since I know enough of him.

Other elements, like plot and characters, were not so bad. They weren’t predictable, but a lot of these could have been conceptualized better. Or perhaps not, because then again, YA books should be easy to digest. Which brings me to another point: I think John Green needs to start writing books with other genres. Sci-fi, mythology, or even adult. His insights have a lot of potential, and I can see them being applied not just to the YA genre. But then again, YA is his strength, I guess.


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The Vegetarian by Han Kang

The VegetarianThe Vegetarian by Han Kang
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Vegetarian Review

The Vegetarian is a narrative about a once-normal woman, Yeong-hye, who decides to become vegetarian after a particular dream followed by a series similar to it. Although being a vegetarian is not necessarily wrong, Yeong-hye decides to take this to the next level by being paranoid with the taste of anything but plant-based food, until she considers becoming “one with nature” in the end.

The story is pretty straight-forward and it does not have any unnecessary fillers—it begins with Yeong-hye deciding to become a vegetarian so that it sets the botanical, lunatic atmosphere all-throughout the book. As a thriller, this is a plus for the book since including only the relevant sub-plots make it fast-paced and compelling to be read. The book is also told in third-person, but in each of the three sections, there is a character that is followed by our narrator: the husband, the brother-in-law, and the sister. Personally, the first section is the most captivating because we see how Yeong-hye starts to develop an excruciated character while the other two sections develop this character, but by this time, we will have grown accustomed to it. This is why I don’t find the rest of the book as mind-fucking as other people would claim; Yeong-hye’s character already grew on me, and I guessed the path where she was headed.

In the end, The Vegetarian takes into account the critical and rare condition of a mentally-ill person, and it does its job well with the pacing and the shifts of the characters to focus on. It’s a good novel to read when you’re feeling weird.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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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S. by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst

S.S. by J.J. Abrams
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

S. Review

When two readers exchange notes through margins in an ambiguous book, they’re plunged into a world of mystery, threat, benefit, and a new relationship. The book, Ship of Theseus, is extremely enigmatic, and so is the author, but our readers are willing to embark onto the Straka world where they would give up most of what they have.

Ship of Theseus is V.M. Straka’s final novel that chronicles a mystery man with an unknown past who is shanghaied in an unordinary xebec ship of horrible sailors only to find out that he is a passenger with an unexplained but important duty: to eradicate an enemy and his followers. What follows is a journey of sailing to different lands, traveling though different periods of time, and meeting new people, but never immediately discovering who he truly was, and the first woman whom he talked to before he was taken.

Ship of Theseus is a mystery, but it’s also a fantasy that fits into worlds of impossible. Published in 1949 by an unknown author, it claims to have drawn interests from readers to scholars (in the Straka world). The story is interesting enough per se; it revolves around a political conflict between “capitalists” and their oppressors, involving a series of events that are thrilling and captivating. I liked how it gains momentum chapter by chapter as a war progresses, leaving our main character, S., with no choice but to fight in it. However, that’s the only thing I held on to—the rest of the book is terribly abstruse. Like I said, Ship of Theseus is a fantasy as well since it breaks a lot of the world’s natural laws, especially involving the ship, S.’s abilities (to be revealed at the end of the book), and what he sees around him. Also, there isn’t much explanation as I expected concerning S.’s past, the ship’s nature, and Sola, which I found disappointing. Consequently, Ship of Theseus can be then open to a lot of interpretations regarding the book itself and the writer, but personally I didn’t like how there were so many plot holes that Straka (or Dorst for that matter) covered through the use of unrealism. It’s just that the supposed to be realistic setting that he set in his story was ironically unrealistic that nearly anything could explain those plot holes, weather it makes sense or not. As a result I’m not looking any further in making sense of the blur that Straka (or Dorst) had left me with. It’s has a great storyline indeed, but covering flaws through fantasy in a world much better realistic leaves an impression that the author was too idle to leave a good explanation.

Once I finished Ship of Theseus solely, it was then that I proceeded reading Jen and Eric’s notes and inserts. Essentially I read them in order according to the colors of the ink they used: (1) blue and black as their relationship starts from Jen liking the book, (2) orange and green as they get to be closer and dwell more upon the Straka world, (3) purple and red as Jen and Eric become more intimate and are facing consequences of becoming obsessed with the mystery behind Straka, and (4) both black as the final notes they pass to each other.

I liked Jen and Eric’s notes and inserts because they make the Straka world more interesting. Their perspectives and analyses are critical and thought-provoking, considering Jen as a college senior and Eric as a grad student, giving the notes an erudite asset. But what I liked most about their notes are the stories they share and the relationship that grows between them. Without the chemistry that’s with them, the margins would have been blunt and boring—Jen with her spontaneous, quirky, and approachable personality and Eric with his controlling, honest, and witty character, not to mention Eric being hesitant about meet-ups but obviously showing a lot of affection and Jen attacking him with ambiguous hints. Honestly, I kept on wondering if they would hit it or remain in the margins forever, and I was satisfied with their ending. What’s also in their lives other than their relationship and their obsession with Straka are their connections with people that either benefit or endanger them, producing a gripping effect on the storyline itself.

But as much as I loved Jen and Eric, I couldn’t even get intrigued with the thoughts they share regarding the Straka world. The Straka world is too broad, and it takes a reader a lot of commitment and devotion to fully understand it. Maybe if Jen and Eric’s notes were in order instead of placed randomly I would have fully comprehended what they were talking about, but I don’t even know or understand a handful of people, events, and places up to this point since Jen and Eric failed to introduce a proper background on them. I guess the impact on this one isn’t really influential as I thought it would be.

Like I said, it’s obvious that Jen and Eric devote an immeasurable amount of time in solving the identity of Straka and the mystery that’s connected to him, but honestly I don’t feel “involved” with any mystery here. To repeat, the story is unrealistic and full of plot holes and Jen and Eric’s notes are unorganized and vague. Up to now I only have the faintest idea of who Straka is and those he’s involved with. In other words, it’s like the book is set up only for Jen and Eric’s notes while Jen and Eric’s notes are set up for the Straka mystery, which didn’t go so well for me. Ship of Theseus, Jen and Eric, and V.M. Straka are supposed to feel real, but unfortunately for me, they felt entirely fictional.

ALL IN ALL, S. is a seriously scholarly book for those who want to commit time and effort in comprehending and solving a mystery of an author whose existence is unknown. Readers who enjoy critical thinking, deep analyses, and further research would enjoy this book, yet it didn’t work for me very well because of all the vagueness, though more information (presented in the book, not online) would have captivated me. Readers who want to dwell on the mystery and try understanding it all would want to visit this website, though I’m not that attached to go deeper.


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