Requiem

08/30/2014 at 2:25 PM (Books) (, , , , , )

Requiem brings the long awaited resolution to the Delirium series. All the loose ends lingering from the previous books are neatly resolved. 

Requiem

Lena has now become a fully-fledged member of the resistance and is trusted to take on roles that require leadership skills. The rebellion in Pandemonium was only a stirring of unrest. Now a full-scale revolution is underway and the government can no longer afford to turn a blind eye to the protests of the resistance fighters. This means the government starts to look at the Wilds as a threat to their order and structure and it ceases to be a safe haven. Regulators come past the border to combat the resistance head on. While the former have strength in numbers, the latter know how to put up a fight that does not require assistance from bombing planes. 

While Lena makes a stand with the resistance, we also learn of the fate of Hana – Lena’s best friend from Delirium. From Hana’s perspective, we learn she is the fiancee of the mayor’s son, Fred Hargrove, her assigned partner.  Hana quickly learns Fred is not what he appears to be on the surface and takes refuge in helping Grace, Lena’s cousin. What Lena and Hana don’t know is that their stories are going to collide.

What I haven’t pinpointed in the above plot is the love triangle of Julian-Lena-Alex. I think the entry of Coral as a nemesis for Alex gave the story a bit more bite but it was obvious Alex was still having feelings for Lena even if she was not able to see that. I felt sad for Julian because he quickly adapted to the Wilds after being torn from the life he had known but was only a source of secondary comfort for Lena. The decision she made to hook up with Julian in Pandemonium after Alex sacrificed himself for her was truly baffling but it did allow room for intense, seriously emotional cliffhangers.

The end felt somewhat curtailed but ultimately the series seems to have achieved its purpose with its depicted culmination of events. 

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Pandemonium

08/29/2014 at 2:25 PM (Books) (, , , , , )

Pandemonium is the second instalment of the Delirium series by Lauren Oliver. It continues Lena’s story after she escapes through the border fence separating the city from the Wilds.

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Emotionally distraught at losing Alex and trying to put her nightmares behind her, Lena puts her heart and soul into helping the resistance group that rescued her by infiltrating the protest group DFA – Deliria Free America. The mascot of the group is Julian Fineman, the protest group leader’s son, who is willing to martyr himself for the cause. Lena’s assigned job is to keep an eye on Julian but the resulting adventures after they are captured by Scavengers creates a shift in the dynamic of the relationship between them. So when a place of shelter is raided before they make it to safety, Lena makes the decision to rescue Julian rather than subject him to the cure which could potentially kill him. In this story, Lena does for Julian what Alex did for her.

Later on Lena learns there were things that played out which were planned for her but realises she wasn’t taken into confidence about them. While she feels betrayed and used, she ultimately receives support she needs when she makes a strategic plan of her own. She is also rescued by a freedom fighter in the  top ranks with whom she has a connection. But before she can even come to terms with that discovery, the final chapter brings with it a massive twist in the tale. So all I can say is Requiem will be heart-wrenching.

I think the transformation of Lena from insecure, disgruntled, whiny Cinderella to assertive and capable character makes Pandemonium quite an interesting book to read. It is easy to fail to see that chapters shift in perspective between past and present. I did this so I was a confused for a while with the first few chapters. Because her characters have been established, Pandemonium is directed more by action rather than governed by emotions of characters but I felt that made the built world more concrete.

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Delirium

08/28/2014 at 10:03 AM (Books, Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

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I heard about this series in the books sections of an anime forum I tend to visit occasionally. The plot reminded me of Hunger Games and Divergent which I had liked so I decided to give Delirium a chance as well. Delirium was written by Lauren Oliver, who wrote Before I Fall, which is about death. She has claimed she wrote the Delirium series because she wanted to write about the concept of love as a disease and the idea came to her while watching a report on a pandemic. 

We learn civilisation is segmented to areas which had survived bombings of the past and travel between cities is restricted. Electric fences enclose the population to protect them from people who have escaped without undergoing the procedure for the cure – the cure which prevents all over the age of eighteen contracting amor deliria nervosa which used to be called love. Beyond the perimeters of the fencing is the unregulated territory known as the Wilds.

The established government teaches, through the Book of Shhh, love is a disease often referred to as “the deliria”. For citizens over 18, the surgical cure for the deliria is compulsory. The fate for those that fail it or even families with a connection to someone uncured are not pleasant. The main character in the story, Lena Haloway, is eagerly awaiting the cure so she can forget the pain of her past and move on. Then she meets Alex, an Invalid (a name given to people who have not taken the cure  and who live in the Wilds) who is part of the resistance and succumbs to the symptoms of the deliria herself. Alex starts to shows her that love is beautiful and erases her initial reluctance and doubts.

When Alex suggests a means of escaping the cure by going to the Wilds, Lena undergoes some inner turmoil at the thought of leaving some close friendships but ultimately finds the idea not unpalatable. Unfortunately for the couple, someone has informed the regulators about plans  they have made for the impending flight and Lena is trapped against her will so she can be cured early. At the last moment, her best friend, her little cousin and Alex all contribute to her rescue .

Alex and Lena come to the borders of the electric fencing but alerts have been put out regarding their attempted escape. As a result, only one of them can make it into the Wilds. But Lena’s tale isn’t over yet because it continues on in book two of the trilogy Pandemonium.

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The Rosie Project

08/21/2014 at 9:37 AM (Books) (, , , , , , )

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The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion is my newly assigned book club read. Love finds you is the defining message in this marvellous tale full of hilarity which is narrated by the character of Don Tillman.

Don Tillman is an awkward and socially incompetent genetics university professor who decides to get married. Unfortunately he is extremely fussy and designs a sixteen-page questionnaire to eliminate undesirable candidates from the get go. This way he can ensure his potential wife is not a barmaid, a smoker or drinker and is always punctual.

Rosie Jarman is asked out by Don Tillman and she accepts. He finds out to his chagrin she fits all his undesirable criteria. To gently let her down, he offers to assist Rosie in finding out who is  her biological father. After all, he does have genetics lab facilities at his disposal.

While he spends time with Rosie, Don starts to find out the nuances of social cues and how to fit in properly. He starts to see how accepting Rosie has been while he has been discriminating. He even manages to get a second date for the first time in his life and avoid ice-cream taste issues. Perhaps Rosie Jarman fills the Wife Project candidate criteria after all?

We also are given insight into the life of Don’s best friend, Gene. His project is to sleep with one woman from every country in the world. Don’s understanding of social constructs or lack of it hinders him from understanding Gene is a jerk. Exposure to Rosie changes the way he observes the world and reacts to it.

In the Rosie Project, Don Tillman ultimately learns love is a master that you can’t fight with objectivity because it can deprive one of reason when it chooses to find you.

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The Wild Girl

08/14/2014 at 11:33 AM (Australian Literature, Books, Romance) (, , , , , )

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Kate Forsyth intrigued me once with her spellbinding retelling of Rapunzel in Bitter Greens. When I saw she authored The Wild Girl, I did not hesitate. This time, she explores the story of Dortchen Wild who is credited as having told many of the fairy tales belonging to the collection of the Brothers Grimm.

Set against the backdrop of the German kingdom of Hessen-Kassel in the early nineteenth century, we learn about boy next door Dortchen fell in love with the first time she saw him, her best friend’s brother, the poor but handsome scholar Wilhelm Grimm, who has returned from Marburg. War interferes in their newly budding romance because Napoleon’s army conquers their kingdom, takes over the palace of the Kurfürst and begins an oppressive regime setting French decrees. So the Grimm brothers embark on a mission to preserve the folk tales of their heritage and publish them in a book.

Dortchen, having grown up in the care of Old Marie, knows several beautiful old stories. These include Hansel and Gretel, The Frog King, All Kinds of Fur and Six Swans. She has to tell them to Wilhelm in secret as her tyrannical father opposes her plans to get married to Wilhelm and as the story progresses we learn it is for the darkest of reasons. Although their ardour deepens, Dortchen has to guard a dark secret but Wilhelm remains mostly oblivious even when she tells him the truth in the guise of a story. For Dortchen, as time passes and all of her sisters find husbands, marriage to Wilhelm seems an unlikely outcome.

Does this teller of fairy tales who has her heart trampled and spirit wounded get her happy ending? You’ll have to read The Wild Girl to find out. This may be a darker forbidden love story but both the protagonists have better fates than Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

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The Light Between Oceans

08/08/2014 at 8:15 AM (Australian Literature, Books, Historical) (, , , , )

The Light Between Oceans was a heartbreaking story about the consequences of a momentous decision made in the throes of grief and haste. Tom Sherbourne is a lighthouse keeper living on  Janus, a remote island off the West Coast of Australia together with his wife Isabel. He harbours Lucy, a baby who washed up on to the shores of the island in a boat, because of guilt over his wife’s miscarriage. However when a chance encounter with the mother of the child preys on his conscience, he can no longer keep silent. When his wife learns of his betrayal, they drift apart while Lucy tries to acclimatise herself to the stranger who keeps calling her Grace and makes a claim that tears the fabric of existence she has hitherto known.

The decision the couple makes to pass the child off as their own has heartbreaking results. Lies quickly unravel, unflattering truths come to light and a lot of pain and hurt is felt. In the middle of this, Lucy navigates trying to find her true identity while locked in a battle of two mothers vying for her custody, one with a legal claim who had never seen her since she was a baby and one with no legal claim but one who raised her in her formative years. M.L. Stedman’s poignant, riveting novel received several literary accolades and awards and since then Hollywood rights have been acquired for film production by Dreamworks.

Three characters stood out to me in this novel because of the internal conflicts each faced and weathered. Isabel struggles to cope with the loss of her baby but the arrival of Lucy changes her life but by the time she is willing to admit the truth, it is too late to not hurt anyone which nearly made a villain out of her to me due to her selfish desires. Meanwhile Tom is guilt-ridden because he feels survivor’s guilt after escaping physically unscathed from the war. This is why he goes against his straight-laced ethics when he decides to omit details in his logbook to keep Isabel happy. Hannah is sympathetic as the mother who thought her child was literally dead but has to fight an uphill battle to convince Lucy of the truth of the situation. The Light Between Oceans plot is complex as it encompasses a moral dilemma and it is possible to be empathetic to both the female leads but as the story unfolds, it shows justice for one party can lead to tragic loss for the other party. The conclusion however just might surprise you.

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Sand Sculptures – Storyland

08/02/2014 at 4:58 PM (Art, Books, Photography) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I attended the annual sand sculpture exhibition in Frankston this year too which was themed after Penguin book titles for kids.

The sculpture below greeted me at the entrance letting me know I was entering Storyland.

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As I walked around, I saw the sculpture below of Postman Pat and his van. Although Postman Pat started as a British animated television series for children, over 12 million books about him have been sold. Postman Pat is about the adventures of the postie as he goes about delivering mail.

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Next there was a sculpture of Charlotte’s Web. It is a novel for children written by E.B. Williams and illustrated by Garth Williams. It is a story about a pig called Wilbur and his friendship with an intelligent spider called Charlotte.

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Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

The sculpture below was unfamiliar to me but I thought the design was spectacular. It depicts the Flower Fairies, based on the books and illustrations of Cicely Mary Barker. The children in her illustrations are modeled on students who attended her sister’s kindergarten.

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Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

I was familiar with the below sculpture as I had previously owned a Little Miss Sunshine T-shirt. The sculpture is a tower of Mr. Men and Little Miss characters. All of them have self-descriptive personality traits.

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Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

Below is a sculpture of Where the Wild Things Are which was originally written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak. If you’ve not yet read the book or seen the movie, it is about a boy called Max who retreats into a world of imagination after he creates havoc at home and is sent to bed.

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The sculpture below is of Ferdinand, the bull. This bull prefers to smell flowers rather than fight. The children’s novel about him was written by Munro Leaf and illustrated by Robert Lawson.

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Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

The next sculpture made me feel sentimental because I used to watch Angelina Ballerina cartoons having once been a ballet kid. Angelina Ballerina was created by writer Katherine Holabird and is illustrated by Helen Craig. It is about the adventures of a mouse who dreams about becoming a prima ballerina.

AngelinaBallerina

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

The interesting sculpture below pays tribute to The Discovery of Dragons which is authored and illustrated by Graeme Base. It is written as a series of tongue-in-cheek letters from “discoverers” of dragon species in the world and features European, Asiatic and Tropical dragons.

DiscoveryofDragons

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

The picture below features several characters you might recognise from the books of Beatrix Potter including Peter Rabbit. He was named after a pet she used to have called Peter Piper.

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Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

The quality of the picture below is not up to par so I apologise. It features the story written and illustrated by Eric Carle, about The Very Hungry Caterpillar who ate his way into becoming a beautiful butterfly.

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Next we see homage has been paid to the tales of Pippi Longstocking, the children’s series by Swedish author Astrid Lindgren. Pippi is a feisty nine-year-old girl with unconventional ideas and superhuman strength who takes her neighbours on adventures.

Pippi

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

The sculpture I came to next brought Narnia to life through the medium of sand.  Here we see a representation of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the fantasy novel by C.S. Lewis.

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The next exhibit had me puzzled until the display informed me this showed Hairy Maclary. So it turns out New Zealand author Dane Lynley Dodd writes a children’s series about a fictional dog and his exploits against an opponent cat.

Hairymclary

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

The sculpture below portrays Jumanji. Before the movie, there was a book which was written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg. For those not in the know, it is about a magical board game.

Jumanji

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

The sculpture below should be easily recognisable to anyone who watched the cartoons about him. It shows Spot the Dog and his friends. The books about Spot were written by Eric Hill.

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I loved the next sculpture because it showed a book I loved and adored as a child, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory which was written by Roald Dahl. The story was inspired by the writer’s experience of chocolate companies during his schooldays.

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Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

The next sculpture was interesting as it was based on a video-game rather than a book. I guess Angry Birds represents the childhood of the present.

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Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

Fortunately the next sculpture was more in my element as it was based on a fantasy book loved by children and adults, the story of the bespectacled boy wizard, Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling. The level of detail in the caricature of the characters was amazing.

HarryPotter

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

Harry Potter

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

Harry Potter

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

Having seen the exhibitions for Toytopia, Creepy Crawlies and now Storyland, I can’t wait for the upcoming theme for the sand sculptures next April: Friends, Foes and Superheroes.

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