Under the Skin – Michel Faber

IMG_4255Under the Skin by Michel Faber was one of the books I had on my reading list this year, and naturally, it had to be read for mid-March but as it has potential of being on my final, I feel like finishing it mid-April is justified. I’m not entirely sure why it took me so long to finish this, most likely the need to do other things and as it’s not the most engaging text, I didn’t really feel all that motivated to get into it. Nonetheless, it surely is more interesting than a majority of book that I’ve had to read over the course of my time in High School and now University. I had the motivation to read it for the time it was supposed to be read, yet, did not manage to do so, and decided to result to watching the 2014 film adaptation, but only managed about half of that before I decided that it was not worth it, and would not exactly recommend the film to anyone.


Despite the book taking me quite some time to finish, I would recommend it. The protagonist of the novel, Isserley, may not be a character that readers would be easily be able to relate to. The novel as a whole gives readers something to think about, incorporating some themes regarding colonization and race, but with a science fiction twist. As known by some of you already, I’m not the biggest fan of science fiction; everyone has their own likes and dislikes when it comes to genres and sci-fi is simply just not my cup of tea. Despite this, I quite enjoyed this novel. The science fiction elements was not that great that it interrupted the overall plot and message of what the author was trying to communicate, so all in all, it was a rather easy and engaging read that didn’t feel like a chore.

All in all, to me, Faber does a good job of communicating issues such as otherness (that can be linked to race in recent times), class and capitalism, and consumerism with a sci-fi twist on them. This in turn, makes the novel more enjoyable and understandable, especially as it still is set in the current world in modern times.

Overall, I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.

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Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell

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Nineteen Eighty-Four was one of the requirements for me to read in one of my university modules; Modernist to Contemporary to Present Day Literature (a crazy title for a module, I know). After consulting a few people who had previously read this book, I was under the impression that it is essentially a classic and that within it, there are elements that are seen in society now. So, I read through the book, it nearly took a month (embarrassing), but I got there in the end. And to be honest, I was not that fascinated by it. Don’t get me wrong – it wasn’t bad, it just maybe wasn’t exactly my cup of tea. Naturally, there were moments that were less engaging than others, inevitable in any book really, but within 1984, there just seemed to be passages that, to me, just dragged on and on (see Part 2 of the book and the overly long chapters within chapters). Possibly, you just have to be in the correct frame of mind for such a piece of literature – and maybe I just wasn’t.

Now, the story is (obviously) set in 1984, which is what we’re told from the protagonist, Winston Smith, but whether he is a reliable narrator or not is not exactly for debate as we only get his side throughout the three part novel. He doesn’t exactly agree with what is going on around him – but with the overly strict society, it is impossible for him to rebel. After meeting and collaborating with a love interest, they embark on a journey to find out what true freedom really is and how to get there.

I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. Mainly because, though I really enjoyed it, there were moments where I felt the text dragged on and on or was just slightly too repetitive for my taste. Generally speaking, I knew that I wanted to read this book at some point in my life, and had I chosen to read it upon my free will maybe I would have found it more interesting and engaging, versus having it assigned to me for my course.

Some quotes from the text;
With those children, he thought, that wretched woman must lead a life of terror. Another year, two years, and they would be watching her night and day for symptoms of unorthodoxy. (p.28-9)
Their embrace had been a battle, the climax a victory. It was a blow struck against the Party. It was a political act. (p.145)
… As O’Brien passed the telescreen a thought seemed to strike him. He stopped, turned aside and pressed a switch on the wall. There was a sharp snap. The voice had stopped. … ‘You can turn it off!’ he said ‘Yes,’ said O’Brien, ‘we can turn it off. We have that privilege.’ (p. 196)

I Am Legend – Richard Matheson

This was a text on my reading list for university, but yet I only read it about a month after I was supposed to. I Am Legend was just not something I would ever reach for, maybe due to it’s science fiction genre and me not really being into that sort of thing it was not a top priority. The protagonist Robert Neville battles through solitary life on Earth as the only human being. Naturally, encountering multiple struggles and mishaps on his path. He is not exactly the easiest character to relate to, as no one shares his experiences. It is however quite easy to emphasize with him.

I gave this book 2 out of 5 stars on Goodreads

I was not that impressed with it. I feel like the start of the text was slightly dull, there was some action at the start, which did set the protagonist on a clear path, however the real issues, for me, started at the appearance of the dog in Neville’s life. The ending was not exactly something that I predicted and was hoping for, and maybe I was a little shocked at the outcome. Overall, it was not necessarily the worst novel that I have read, but more it was just a tedious read making it slightly unappealing.

I do recommend this book to readers that enjoy science fiction and possibly eerie quick reads – as there are engaging segments within and naturally others will engage with the protagonist more than I did.

1Q84 – Haruki Murakami

When I announced that this was going to be the next book I read, a friends of mine said “a tough start you found yourself”. I’m not quite sure why they said this, as it wasn’t especially challenging. I found it quite enjoyable actually.

The trilogy follows two protagonists, Aomame and Tengo. In the beginning chapters, it is unclear as to why these two people were chosen, however despite the different lives the two lead they enter a world only a selected few can go into and embark on a search for one another.

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

I think this trilogy was quite interesting, the second book by far has the most action hence making it the most engaging section. It was very pleasurable, as it grabs your attention from the beginning and makes you question plots and anticipate what the outcome of the characters actions will be. The satisfaction one feels at the end is indescribable, as all the pieces finally fit together.

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Quotes:
Good style happens in one of two ways … (25)
Once you start lying to the public, you have to keep lying. (38)
Risk is the spice of life. (75)
At the core of his brain was a mass of tangled threads. (136)
… once a gun appears in a story, it has to be fired. (463)
Some things can only be done in exchange for life. (670)
Her teacup and the Heckler & Koch were both where she could reach them. (741)
The human body is a fragile thing. (905)
Their faces were expressionless as they floated in the sky beside each other, like a precarious couplet in need of reworking. (1070)
Until I actually tell it to you, I have no idea how long it will be. (1076)
It’s very difficult to logically explain the illogical. (1258)

The Maze Runner – James Dashner

The Maze Runner by James Dashner, the first book of the Maze Runner series of dystopian fiction genre. It’s not exactly relatable, due to being set in a world different to this, yet reading this book does not take long for it is in fact very gripping. The movie is not a direct replica of the book and as well as simple fact changes, the general story line is slightly different. The character choices are however spot on due to the descriptions provided in the book. I do feel like the ending was slightly dragged on and there was not much description offered of the Creators which would have been a nice addition to it all. Overall it was an easy and pleasing read which I recommend for anyone of teenage years and up.

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

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Quotes from the text;
“his memory loss was baffling in its complexity” (44)
“…life had never that way in the first place.” (356)