There Are Worse Prisons Than Words

Contains spoilers

When I finished The Book Thief for the first time, I swore to myself that I would never find a book like it in all my life. I don’t know what I expected, because I did not stop reading and people did not stop writing, and it so happens that I have found another Book Thief.

I got The Shadow of the Wind from a friend. It follows the story of Daniel, a boy who stumbles across a book which also happens to be called The Shadow of the Wind. The book is by a mysterious and now apparently defunct author, Julian Carax, and is the last copy in print. Just to add to the ambiguity, a sinister and faceless character is known to devote his life to burning copies of Carax’s work. After becoming enthralled with the book, Daniel finds himself on a harrowing quest to find out what happened to Julian Carax, and is soon tangled up in the poignant stories of the people who Carax left behind.

As it always is with truly good books, that brief summary does not in any way do it justice.

I have never read a book before where the stories of two sets of characters are so closely and cleverly intertwined. The life of Daniel and the life of Julian appear to have come from the same set of blueprints – and as i observed Daniel’s slow discovery of what Julian has lost, the ending of the book and Daniel’s fate loomed with more and more dread. Carlos Ruiz Zafon made the reader believe that Daniel was Julian, right up until the very end – at which point Daniel is shown to save what Julian was always condemned to lose.

This was a clever, harrowing and at times terrifying book, but more so it was a poignant one. I have always thought of literature as being a constant, a permanent. Part of the reason why I write is to add substance to memories or feelings that I don’t believe will be around forever. The thought of a writer being so horrified with the place that writing has lead him to that he would be willing to devote his life to burning his work is one which really held resonance with me. What I loved most of all was that fire was presented as the metaphor for hatred. Julian is burnt in the fire and physically scarred – an accurate representation of how hatred has destroyed the person he used to be. And that beautiful moment when Daniel walks into the mansion to find Bea, and she addresses him as Julian. Because what is Daniel if he isn’t the Julian who never needed to write?

This book might not count as a classic piece of literature. I doubt this jumbled set of paragraphs even counts as a review, as I am forever plagued with an inability to write critically about books which I adore. But I am going to post it anyway in my Classic Lit tag, because I think that The Shadow of the Wind deserves to be there.



So, I Finally Read Fifty Shades of Grey

by Rebekka Roderick

Meh. That about sums it up. This is mainstream smut, erotica, and really nothing more. Hardly a ‘book’ itself.

I’ve questioned the author’s writing skill and if her publishers decision to publish a book that began as fan fiction was wise or not. Was the book badly written? No, but it was rough. E.L James is not a bad writer. She has bad habits that could have been fixed with a good editor.

The first page was probably the worst page in the whole book. Never EVER start a book with a character staring in a mirror brushing her hair. Why? It’s fucking boring. And it’s a poor way to describe their appearance. It’s called telling not showing. The book is written in first person. Ana is telling the story. Ask yourself this: how often do you focus on your own appearance in your head and think to yourself “Oh, my shoulder length brown hair is being uncontrollable!” You don’t. This is something I’ve learnt in writing. Yes, describe your character’s physical appearance. But ask yourself this: one is it really important to the story and two how can you do it in a way that doesn’t come across as boring and cliched?

James repeats a lot of words and phrases throughout the book. This is an easy thing to slip into when you’re writing. Writing is hard and despite what some stupid TV programs might say, not everyone can “do it” like there’s no skilled involved. When you write a 300 page novel you will repeat certain phrases and sentences. You will probably not even be aware that you are doing it. A good writer will go back in edits and notice these mistakes and delete them. James did not and all of those “Holy craps!” and “Inner goddess” moments got really, really tiresome.

The plot. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book with a thinner plot before and I read Mary Janice Davidson’s “Undead” series. The “plot” of the book is Christian Grey tries to convince Ana to sign a contract allowing him to engage in rough sex. That’s it. In between the pages and pages of fucking he slowly takes over her life and this is what i found most disturbing: started to frighten her. Christian Grey reminds me of a guy that was fucked over by a once-loyal girlfriend that turned into a raging lying, cheating slut, and he’s turned into a power freak from the effects of what she did to him.

Yes, that’s right, Grey is so controlling, his temper so thin, that in several scenes Ana is actually afraid to be around him and is brought to tears a couple of times. He doesn’t just like rough sex, he wants to control her entire life and beat her when she displeases him not for sexual pleasure but to make him feel good as a control freak.

This was the biggest problem I had with the book. People are calling this a romance. Fear should not be in a romance novel. You should not FEAR the man in your life. You should not have to ask him NOT TO BEAT YOU.

This book has outsold all 7 of the Harry Potter novels. On one hand I want to go “Hooray! People are reading! This is good for erotica!” (I love erotica, but I prefer Literotica, Lush Stories or XNXX, honestly), but mostly I just want to sigh, shake my head and throw the book away.

This book is not worthy of the height of fame it has achieved. It is not terribly written but it is not great either. JK Rowling’s books were a master piece and deserved every penny they earned. E.L James has been lucky. Her book still reads like a piece of fan fiction. A good piece of fan fiction…yes…but still fan fiction. It is popular for one reason only: that it began as Twilight fan fiction.

It is a freak show. People are buying this book not because it is well written but because it has become so popular and they want to see what it is all about. In twenty years time what books do you think I’ll still have in my bookcase? Harry Potter or…this?

For the whole factor of the BDSM thing is a damn joke. That is NOT BDSM at all. It’s just a little kink in the bedroom!!!!

For the fact its three books is a joke, because this is all written in the mere matter of months, and all this happened is stupid. You meet a boy, you like a boy, you submit to boy, top the boy, kick the bdsm out all together, break up, get back together, fight, ignore each other, car chases, kidnappings, attempted (unspeakable), crazy exes, overly rich man, blue collar girl, let’s not forget she’s a virgin, of course. The sex isn’t bad, but the odds of a couple orgasming together every single time together at the same time, is impossible. Everything was Oh my, Oh god. That was also a bit dumb. And very comical.