Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Bloggy friend shenanigans

So Nikki came down from Sydney to stay for a few days, which explains my absence of late. She's about to leave Australia, so it seemed only appropriate that I insist upon her visiting me before she does so.

ANYWAY.

We did a bunch of stuff together, and I figured I'd tell you about it in no particular order:

  • Played a LOT of Lego Hobbit on the XBox. Obviously, it involved accidentally killing each other a lot and generally being quite confused about what was happening.
  • Went to the zoo. It was absolutely freezing, and the red panda was awake but lurking at the top of the highest tree in his enclosure, the jerk. BUT there weren't many people there, and the rest of the animals were in a far more obliging mood, no zoom lens necessary:
  • Went down to Docklands to the Peruvian festival, which was being spruiked all over the newspaper. It turned out to be like five sad stalls at the side of the little theme park-y bit, which was rather disappointing, so we went out for lunch instead. 
  • Made a vlog. When I manage to edit it from just under AN HOUR LONG to something people will actually watch, I'll let y'all know about it. 
  • Went to see Les Miserables on stage. It was FANTASTIC, even though our seats were suuuuuuuuuuuuuper nosebleed-y and the people in front of us fidgeted for the entire three hours... I even enjoyed Bring Him Home, which is absolutely unheard of.
  • Made a friend on the tram due to the following conversation:
Nikki: The ticket inspectors in Sydney are really aggressive. One of them once asked me "Why are you here?"Me: Maybe he was just being existential and wondering about the meaning of life?Random girl: *snorts with laughter* I'm so sorry. I'm not eavesdropping, but you guys are hilarious.Me: Don't sweat it. I once spent an entire bus trip messaging my friends about the fact that the girl opposite me was excited to see an IHOP because "OMG CHRISTIAN GREY!!!"Random girl: YOU HATE THAT BOOK TOO???????? Nikki: You have no idea. [insert 15 minute conversation about everything wrong with Fifty Shades of Grey here]
  • Discovered that Kinder Surprise currently have a limited edition range of Marvel toys called Twistheads that require you to effectively remove the top of the toy's head, connect it to another toy, and then twist their bodies. It's as weird as it sounds, and they're all really creepy-looking. See?
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  • Ate far too much. 
  • Spent a lot of time on public transport. 
  • Got to hang out for longer than anticipated because Melbourne decided that immense amounts of fog were necessary yesterday, and that resulted in Nikki's flight being cancelled. YAY!
So. That's what I did when I wasn't here. What's news with you guys?

K xx

Friday, July 18, 2014

The best books of 2014 to date

So last night, the lovely Cait from The Notebook Sisters wrote a post about her best books that have been published in 2014 to date. I contemplated writing a thesis length comment in response, but ultimately decided that it was easier just to write a blog post of my own!

So here you have my published-so-far-in-2014 top ten!

1. Fairwil - Alysia Gray Painter

Okay, this one is kiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiind of cheating because it hasn't officially been published yet. But I beta-read it for Alysia, and OH MY GOD IT WAS SO FREAKING GOOD THAT I HAVE NO WORDS. It was the cutest, most squee-worthy thing ever, and I actually reached the point where my comments on the manuscript stopped being creative or helpful and were just links to gifs of Jeremy Renner bouncing excitedly in his chair.
Yup. That's the one.

2. The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet - Bernie Su and Kate Rorick

Okay, as a fan of the Youtube series, I was always going to love this book. And I think that it works very much as a companion to the videos, rather than as a stand-alone thing. But oh my God, I just loved it so much. There were so many little moments that we didn't get to see on camera that we got in the book, and so many characters - particularly Mr and Mrs Bennet - came into their own on the page.

3. The Assassin's Blade - Sarah J. Maas

I was honestly surprised that I loved a collection of short stories/novellas as much as I loved this. The stories all flowed together really wonderfully, and Celaena's backstory was incredible even when the reader knows exactly how things are going to end from the very first page.

4. Pointe - Brandy Colbert

This book was so dark and so creepy in a totally realistic way. It was really hard to read because of all the ick-tastic implications of the story, but it was so brilliantly written and Theo is such a wonderfully flawed character that despite how difficult it was to read, I couldn't put it down.

5. Since You've Been Gone - Morgan Matson

Admittedly, this one will leave you singing that irritating Kelly Clarkson song on an endless loop every single time you look at the cover, but it's totally worth it. The lists and the playlists and the best friend feels and the general adorableness of it all made it the perfect summer read. Even though I read it in the middle of winter. WHATEVER, I DO WHAT I WANT.

6. Cop Town - Karin Slaughter

I talked in depth about this one earlier in the week, so I won't go into too much detail here. It's hard to read at times because of the incredible amounts of prejudice shown towards pretty much EVERYONE EVER. But it's such a compelling story and features two awesome protagonists. Totally worth the read.

7. We Were Liars - E. Lockhart

I guessed the big plot twist in this story really early on in the piece, because I'm just that good. (I'm kidding. Mostly...) But it was still an incredible story. It's a really quick read, and the writing is quite choppy which I know has turned a lot of people off. But even if you guess the big twist, you don't know the how or the when or the why. Plus, how often do you get a book where the protagonist is totally unreliable and you know it from the get go??

8. The Impossible Knife of Memory - Laurie Halse Anderson

2014 seems to be my year for Reading Books About Real Life Problems. I read this one back in January, and it's stuck with me pretty well to date. It's such a heart-wrenching story and you can't help but have All The Feels for Hayley and her deeply problematic homelife. Definitely not one to read if you're in the mood for light and fluffy happy things, but still well worth reading.

9. Cress - Marissa Meyer

I love The Lunar Chronicles so much, I really do. The way Meyer ties the three stories together is really fantastic, and the relationship between Cress and Thorne is possibly my favourite to date. I read this in February, and I'm STILL not okay with how long I have to wait for the final installment of the series. I JUST WANT IT NOW, DAMMIT!!

10. The Gospel of Loki - Joanne Harris

How can you not love a retelling of the Norse legends from the perspective of a sassy yet massively unreliable narrator?? Loki is a fabulous character, and I loved everything about him in this delightful series of tales. The writing was gorgeous, and despite the fact that I'm totally not the type to highlight passages to go back to, I found myself doing so time and time again in this book (on my Kindle, it's okay).

What are the best books you've read that have been published this year?

K xx

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Let go of my pumpkin

In the hopes of actually remembering more of what the hell I was talking about the better part of six months ago, I'm going to endeavour to do a Charmed post every week for the next month. YOU'RE WELCOME. Or not. Whichever.
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Anyway, here are my thoughts on Charmed season 5:

  • AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA, MERMAIDS. 
  • "You must be Paige. You have a big underwater fanbase." What. 
  • Oh my God. Phoebe's Cinderella dress is the opposite of classy. I can't even.
  • MARK SHEPPARD. Is there any paranormal/sci-fi show this man isn't in?! 
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  • ...........Paige just orbed in the middle of sex and her boyfriend didn't notice. I...what.
  • EYEBALLS. WHY DID THERE HAVE TO BE EYEBALLS. 
  • Ugh. Haven't they vanquished Barbas like three times already? WHY IS HE BACK??
  • Ew, Cole. A demonic stripper who can shapeshift into Phoebe? GROSS. 
  • Wow. This 100th episode is a LOT like the episode of Buffy where Cordelia wishes Buffy had never come to Sunnydale. 
  • Okay, a creepy old man who walks into your room and delivers nightmares? NOPE.
  • Ahahaha, Piper's watching Passions
  • HARRY POTTER REFERENCES, YESSSSSSSSSSSS.
  • Phoebe is wearing a snood. A SNOOD. 
SNOOD. Also, source.
  • Right, because Piper would totally be wearing hipster jeans and a midriff top a week after giving birth. Okay, show. Whatever.
  • ERIC DANE. HOW HAD I FORGOTTEN ABOUT ERIC DANE?! 
  • Oh my God. Is that Pat Benatar??? IT IS. And a leprechaun just told her husband "I've already given you my best shot!". No. Just...no.
  • Ahahahaha, Zachary Quinto is a warlord!! And he's getting attacked by millions of cats. AMAZING.
WHAT. Also, source.
  • ........wood nymphs. Really?? And Susan May Pratt with blonde hair. I can't even.
  • Oh my God, Paige's boyfriend is Darryl from The Walking Dead
  • Okay, why is Paige doing charades when she could just WRITE THINGS DOWN??
  • Paige, honey. Don't walk out of the bathroom at your new boyfriend's house fanning the air, even if you DID just orb in from vanquishing a stinky demon...
"Yeah, I'd stay out of there for a while..." Source.
  • ..........Jason just gave Phoebe a Chinese-American dictionary. Did you know American is a language? BECAUSE APPARENTLY IT IS.
  • Ahahahahaha, it's Pintel from Pirates of the Caribbean!
  • Oh my God. The Alien Bounty Hunter from The X-Files is playing Chronos. Awesome.
  • CHRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIS!!!!!!! 
And more Phoebe snood. Source.
So apparently a lot of my thoughts had to do with guest stars this season. At least I was less baffled by the costume choices??? 

Do you get ridiculously excited over the guest stars of 15 year old TV shows?? Or is it just me?

K xx

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Review - Cop Town


Cop Town
Karin Slaughter
2014
Random House Australia

4 stars

I first picked up one of Karin Slaughter's books at the library on a whim, and it was basically love at first sight. First read? First something, anyway. While her books always have an element of the icky or disturbing about them, they're always massively compelling and filled with fascinating and deeply flawed characters, and I've yet to read one of her books that I haven't absolutely loved. So I was pretty freaking excited when I got an email saying I'd been approved for an ARC of this one.

About the book:
Cop Town is quite different to Slaughter's other books to date. For starters, it's a stand-alone which is pretty exciting because it means I won't be frantically refreshing her Goodreads page hoping for news of a release date for the next installment! But there's also more of an emphasis on police work in general than there is in any of her other books, which always seem to focus exclusively on one particular case.

Cop Town is set in Atlanta in the mid-1970s, and takes place over the course of about a week. Our protagonists are two female cops - Maggie Lawson, who's from a cop family and joined the force about five years earlier, and Kate Murphy, who's about to start her first day on the job, and who's woefully unprepared for it. Five police officers have been shot dead on patrol in recent months, including Maggie's older brother's partner, and it's believed a murderer known as "The Shooter" is responsible. Maggie's uncle planted evidence on a suspect months earlier which led to the suspect being found not guilty at trial, so the police are desperate to find the man responsible.

My thoughts:
It's not an easy book to read. As one might expect of a book set in the South during the 1970s, it's riddled with just about every type of offensive statement you could imagine. The female police officers - of whom there are only a handful - are treated with extreme misogyny by their male counterparts and, often, by members of the public. Despite the Civil Rights movement, the police force is effectively still segregated, and racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic remarks and epithets are par for the course. So it's not an easy book to read, despite its historical accuracy.

Where the ick factor in Slaughter's other books comes from the way in which the victims are murdered, here it's from the way anyone who's not a straight white man is treated. In addition to all the racist and sexist comments, we add a dose of police brutality. Every character has their own prejudices and every character is flawed, even if they have redeeming characteristics. As Kate asks her father and grandmother at one point, "How can they be so awful, yet they do these good things?". Because these characters, just like the real world, are massively complex.

Though the story is often difficult to read, it's also enormously compelling and I found myself unable to put the book down. The writing is incredible, bringing the world and the characters to life with ease. There were plenty of twists and turns, and a surprising amount of character development considering the story takes place over the course of only a few days. I could have done with a couple less chapters from the killer's point of view, because they became a little same-same-but-different after a while. But on the whole? It was a fabulous, if dark and gritty read.

Have you read any of Karin Slaughter's books? Does this sound like something you'd be interested in?

K xx

Disclaimer: I received a free ARC from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Cop Town is available now.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

TTT - Top Ten TV Shows

It's time to link up with the Broke and the Bookish again!

This week, just for something different, we're not talking about books at all. We're talking about our favourite movies or TV shows. And let's be honest - TV shows are far more fun to talk about because you don't have to pick something else to watch after two hours. You just move on to the next disc/season/whatever. WIN. 

1. Orange Is The New Black

A recent addition to my list. I've been hearing great things about it for the past couple of years, but never got around to watching it. I think I was hoping that it would air down here and save me the trouble of locating it, seeing as Netflix isn't a thing in Australia. But unfortunately it's only screening on Foxtel at this point, which I don't have. So I caved and tracked down a copy instead. And it is PHENOMENAL. Every single character is utterly incredible (except Larry, who's a douchebag), it's brilliantly written and brilliantly acted, and it's equal parts hilarious and moving. Not to mention being one of the most diverse shows on television. Basically? You should watch it.

2. Orphan Black
Same actress three times, yo.
Look, Tatiana Maslany is a freaking powerhouse, okay? She plays half a dozen completely unique characters, all with their own speech patterns and mannerisms and styles of movement. And sometimes, she even plays one of her characters impersonating another and you're able to tell that it's Rachel impersonating Sarah or Sarah impersonating Alison or Helena impersonating Sarah impersonating Beth. It's incredible. Plus, you know, great stories, great supporting cast, great writing. 

3. Veronica Mars

I wasn't so keen on the third season of VMars, partly because it ended on such a vague note, but the movie earlier this year made me fall in love with the show all over again. It's funny and sassy and heartbreaking and just really, really good. And yes, I ship LoVe like there's no tomorrow. 

4. Sleepy Hollow
Admittedly, there's only been one really short season of this so far. But I absolutely loved every second of it. I mean, the fact that basically only ONE of the half dozen major characters is a white guy is pretty incredible. It's fun and creepy and the acting is great. And there's so much attention to detail with historical accuracy - the way Ichabod stands, how he fights, what he wears, his terms of address is all historically accurate and it makes my inner historian so very happy. Plus, Orlando Jones is AMAZING at interacting with the fandom. 

5. Firefly
Yeah, yeah. I said recently that I was breaking up with Joss Whedon. Despite his problematic aspects, Whedon's shows are still massively entertaining. And Firefly, by merit of only having just over half a season worth of episodes, exists in its own little special bubble wherein Whedon didn't get too much time to do things that made me stabby. While it was a massive flop on TV thanks to Fox showing it totally out of order, it's now achieved cult status, and with good reason.

6. Fringe
I was a big fan of The X-Files back in my high school days, and this fabulous show fitted neatly into that hole. And it's an ideal show for marathoning - I really struggled to watch it on TV because there were so many wibbly wobbly timey wimey elements to keep track of from week to week, but when you marathon it, everything suddenly slips into place. The characters are amazing, there's more of that Tatiana Maslany playing-multiple-versions-of-the-one-character stuff going on for most of the cast, and it's surprisingly funny and moving for a show about supernatural weirdness and fringe science. 

7. Elementary
I've talked before about how I really didn't enjoy Sherlock and how I loved Elementary from the get-go, so it's probably no surprise that it's made this list. Despite it airing on TV here, I've been a bit forgetful of late and still haven't finished watching all of season 2. But Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu (and the supporting cast) are so fantastic that I couldn't not include it in my top ten. Plus, the credits are fabulous.

8. Community

Yes, it wavered during its fourth season when Dan Harmon wasn't involved. But this show is just so much fun. Amazing characters, hilarious scripts, and far more feels-tastic moments than you'd expect from a comedy. And so many completely amazing themed episodes. 

9. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Buffy and I have had a rough road recently, due largely to recapping every episode for Snark Squad and the crap that we dealt with in the comments. But I'm pretty sure that sometime in the relatively near future, I'll start to feel the urge to revisit some of my favourite episodes again. Because it's so much fun and there are so many incredible characters and storylines.

10. Doctor Who
This is at the bottom of the list because while I love it a lot, I've had a lot of issues with the way Steven Moffat's been running/writing the show over the past few years. There've only been a handful of episodes that I've enjoyed since David Tennant left, but I'm hopeful that Peter Capaldi and his ability to throw his weight around a bit more than Matt Smith could will help in the new season! 

So. What are your top ten TV shows??

K xx

Monday, July 14, 2014

Movie Monday: Sixteen Candles


Somehow, I managed to go until LAST YEAR without seeing this movie. Which is utterly ridiculous because I LOVE John Hughes movies. But I think I lumped it in with Pretty in Pink, which I didn't really enjoy (I mean, she takes two okay dresses and makes one truly awful dress out of them. Plus, James Spader as a heartthrob? PASS), and never bothered to follow through on seeing it. BIG MISTAKE. Because Sixteen Candles, unlike Pretty in Pink, is hilarious from start to finish.

Reasons why Sixteen Candles is awesome:
1. Molly Ringwald. She's fantastic.
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2. It's a John Hughes movie. Of course it's awesome.
3. Negligent parenting. It always makes for the best teen movies.
4. Michael Schoeffling as Jake Ryan. Perfection, despite his unfortunate love of sweater vests.
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5. The older it gets the funnier it gets. For example, The Geek complains about how expensive floppy discs are. BAHAHAHA.
6. Anthony Michael Hall. His character is a total creep, but he plays the part perfectly.
7. Cutting Caroline's hair off rather than just opening the door.
8. Long Duc Dong, possibly the best character name in existence.
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9. The music, complete with sound effects for certain characters.
10. John and Joan Cusack are in it, which is kind of fabulous.
11. LOL, pagers.
12. The conversation with her father.

13. The weights falling through the floor.
14. Breaking the fourth wall.
15. The iconic scene on the table at the end.
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16. Justin Henry as Mike. He's fantastic.
17. Ginny walking down the aisle. Hilarious.
18. Sam's dad giving the "Ooooh, NICE!" sign when Sam points out Jake.

Plus, the following quotes:
- "I can't believe it. They fucking forgot my birthday."
- "Unbelievable. You make someone a bridesmaid, and they shit all over you..."
- "I swear to God, this has got to be a joke. Grandparents forgetting a birthday? They LIVE for that shit!"
- "Can I borrow your underpants for ten minutes?"
- "Her monthly bill came early."
- "I can't believe my grandmother actually felt me up."
- "Thanks for getting my undies back."
- "And where am I sleeping?" "Sofa City, sweetheart."
- "Dad, she's got her period. Should make for an interesting honeymoon, huh?" "Where are you learning that stuff?" "School." "Good. I get my money's worth."
- "A lot can happen over a year! You could come back next fall as a completely normal person."
- "Take those ridiculous things off, okay?!"
- "Not many girls in contemporary American society today would give their underpants to help a geek like me."
- "Jake, I don't have a car." "Take mine." "Jake, I don't have a licence!" "I trust you."

So. Have you seen it? Do you love it? Or are you going to try and convince me that Pretty in Pink is awesome instead??

K xx

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Roadtrip = hiatus

Um, HI. I kind of took an unintentional hiatus for the better part of a week courtesy of a wee trip up to Canberra. 

So what did I do while I was in our nation's capital? 

- Went to precisely zero cultural institutions or attractions. I didn't even see Parliament House. It was kind of amazing.
- Hung out with two of my best friends an awful lot. 
- Spent a lot of time wiping snotty noses and grubby hands.
- Had mint hot chocolate at two different places. The Max Brenner one was spectacularly good, despite the totally weird-ass mug. 
WTF IS THIS. 
- Caught up with my friends LB (who's expecting a baby any day!) and Femaelstrom, who I hadn't seen in three years. So that was awesome.
- Ate a lot. 
- Cracked up repeatedly over things that Clapton and Bowie said. I'd show you pictures, but I feel a liiiiiiittle weird posting pictures of kids I'm not related to. 
- No, but seriously. I ate SO MUCH. Including my beloved and obligatory trip-to-Canberra Turkish food. Mmmmm, zucchini puffs...
- Marvelled at the awesome ridiculousness of the (sadly temporary) makeover that the Holbrook submarine has had:
LOOK AT THIS INCREDIBLENESS OMG.
- Had a two month old baby fall in love with me. Seriously, he would just stare at me for like 20 minutes at a time. It was a little weird. 
- Caught up with some of C's friends (who are also friends of mine) for the first time in a couple of years and marvelled at how terrifyingly grown up their lives are compared to mine.
- Read less than I have in approximately forever.
- Introduced a sixteen year old girl to the wonderfulness that is Clueless.
- Bought two new pairs of jeans that are actually long enough for a total of $60. MIRACLE. 
- Spent very limited time on the internet because the free wifi at our hotel was slow and crappy. I was torn as to whether it was a relief or really weird to be away from the internet that much. 

So. What's news with you guys?

K xx

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Review - Tales of the Hidden World

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Tales of the Hidden World
Simon R. Green
2014
Open Road Integrated Media

3.5 stars

Simon R. Green and I have a long running relationship. I first picked up one of his books - Shadows Fall - at the library in about 2002, and absolutely loved it. I went on an immediate spree, reading as many of his books as I could find, whether from the library or in bookshops. The love wavered a little after I read Deathstalker, which was a little too sci-fi for my liking, but it bloomed anew when I moved back to Melbourne and discovered that in the three years I'd been gone, my library had bought every book in The Secret Histories series.

All of this is a very long-winded way of saying that I love Simon R. Green's books, and I was insanely excited when I stumbled across this little gem on Netgalley a few months back.

Tales of the Hidden World is a collection of seventeen of Green's short stories. The majority of the first half are new (within the last few years) stories, while the second half features some of his earliest work. A couple fit within the worlds Green's created in his novels while others cover world building, character development and plot in a mere handful of pages. At the end of each story is a short note from Green, providing the reader with some additional information about what drove him to create that story or the significance of that story in his career.

For the most part, I really enjoyed these stories. If there's any one theme running through them, it's death. They all feature death in some way, so it can be a pretty dark read at times. But that's to be expected with Green's work! I absolutely loved the first story, which focuses on The Armourer from The Secret Histories series. The Armourer has always been a character who's had to deal with moral grey areas, given that he's in charge of creating the Drood family's weapons. So it was great to get flashbacks to his time as a secret agent and see that he struggled with the moral grey areas as much in his youth as he did in his role as the Armourer.

I must admit, I liked the recent stories a lot more than the older stuff. While still enjoyable, it was clear that Green's writing style has developed and changed dramatically over the years, meaning that some of the earlier stories felt unpolished. Green tells us in several cases that they were published in magazines and fanzines in the 1980s, and in some cases, it showed. Still, despite their unpolished writing style, they were still enjoyable to read.

I read this a few weeks ago now, and the fact that so many of the stories have stayed with me says a lot about Green's writing, and how masterfully he crafted all these worlds.

So why 3.5 stars? Several reasons: 
1. The final two stories in the book should be in the opposite order, as the way they are, the prequel comes second. Green states that he has specific reasons for putting that story last, but it did remove a lot of the suspense from the prequel, knowing that the characters would survive unscathed.
2. There were zombies, and zombies are my personal squick. This is less to do with the book itself and more to do with me, but the presence of zombies in a few stories did mean that I cringed my way through a couple of stories, expecting the worst.
3. I kind of feel like it would have been better suited to alternating between the newer stories and the older stories. I understand why it was organised the way it was, but clumping all the older, less polished stories together meant that I found the second half a little difficult to get through at times simply because of the writing style.

Final verdict?
There's a lot to enjoy for fans of Green's work. Touches of The Nightside, a new Droods story, and a sense of how far he's come as a writer. For new readers, this book will give you an example of what Green's capable of. Either way, it's dark but thoroughly enjoyable.

Have you read any of Simon R. Green's books? Does this sound like something you'd be interested in?

K xx

Disclaimer: I received a free ARC from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Tales of the Hidden World is available now.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell

Another month, another book crossed off the list for Classics Club! Seven down, fifty-three to go...

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I'm fairly certain that I read Nineteen Eighty-Four as a teenager, but I discovered over the course of the story that I had very little memory of it other than the BIG BROTHER EVIL GOVERNMENT CONTROL ALL THE THINGS aspects.

Written in 1949 but set in 1984, this is the grandfather of all those dystopian novels floating around the YA shelves today. The world is divided into three superpowers - Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia, who are constantly at war. In Oceania, society is ruled over by Big Brother, who exists mostly in enormous posters. Everyone is watched constantly, even in their homes, children are taught to spy on everyone around them, and hatred of The Other is par for the course.

Our main character, Winston Smith, is a member of the Outer Party, the middle classes. He's responsible for changing written history to reflect the present - changing production forecasts to make Oceania seem more productive than it is, removing those who've fallen from grace from the official news reports, altering records to show that they've always been at war with whichever of the other superpowers they're currently at war with. In doing so, Winston begins to question the Party and everything they do.

The world that Orwell created is a truly terrifying one, and very much a product of the post-war era. It's clear throughout that Nazism and Soviet Russia were pretty strongly on his mind while he was writing it. One wonders what Orwell would have made of the Cold War and the 1950s...

It's a hard book to review, because I'm kind of on the fence about it. So I'm going to go ahead and bullet point my responses instead of trying to be more coherent.

The good stuff:
- The writing. It grabbed me from the first sentence ("It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen") and didn't let go.
- The feeling of tension that came with reading about this awful society and the risks that Winston and Julia were taking.
- Part three. Yes, I can understand why a lot of people didn't like it. It makes you deeply uncomfortable. But let's be honest - it's accurate as hell.
- The admission that ultimately, it's about power.

The stuff I could have done without:
- Creepily evil children. Yes, the idea of children turning in their own parents is a big part of why the society is so terrifying.
- The insaaaaaaaanely long chapter in which Winston is reading Goldstein's book. Yes, it's giving us a whole lot of backstory, but that chapter is OVER FORTY PAGES LONG. And it was a lot like reading an "Intro to Dystopian Societies" textbook.
- The numerous references to Winston's varicose ulcer. Because gross.

The stuff I had questions about:
- The proles. Do they know that they're being oppressed? Or do they just realise that they've actually got it better than a lot of the Outer Party and keep their mouths shut?
- How and when the social change came about. There are references to the Nazis and their actions, so presumably some time in the 1940s? Which means that in the space of forty years, superpowers formed, society was completely overhauled, the government started watching people 24/7 and everyone just...went along with it? I NEED MORE INFORMATION.
- Were the Party intentionally manipulating Winston into some of the decisions he made? Because it certainly seems that way. But why put so much effort into it? If they knew years ago that he was having doubts - when he saw the photograph - why drag it out so long when others are being arrested for talking in their sleep??

In short: I enjoyed it (inasmuch as it's possible to enjoy a book about an evil government manipulating its population), but there was a lot that I just didn't understand. I guess this is why it's put on so many high school reading lists! Still, I would recommend it, despite my "WTF IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW??" confusion.

Have you read it? What did you think?

K xx
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