I don’t know, you guys. I’m starting to run out of clever/cutesy intros for my book review posts. Just how important is an intro? ‘Cause if I can get away with it, I might start launching straight into the reviews. That’s what we’re here for, anyway, right?
Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace
Strange to say of a 600+ page book, but I wanted there to be more. The settings and historical context are vividly portrayed. The character backgrounds are more sparse. The animosity between Judah Ben-Hur and his sworn enemy Messala would feel more poignant if we had actually been shown their childhood friendship, instead of just told about it.
Of course, this is the perspective of a 21st century reader who values character development above everything.
This IS great story. Not always told in the greatest way. But a great story.
Side note: The chariot race is cooler in the movie. Given that the chariot race is one of the most exhilarating segments in the history of cinema, however, I hardly count this an insult to Wallace’s depiction.
…And here that scene is, because I couldn’t help myself.
Mark of Four by Tamara Shoemaker
“Mark of Four” is an exciting, futuristic YA yarn that struck me as familiar and unique in all the best ways. Shoemaker incorporates a heroine who faces struggles any girl can relate with into a captivating fantasy world. Not to mention a mysterious plot that kept me guessing to the end, and an ending that left me itching to find out what’s coming next.
Lovers of the genre need look no further for the perfect summer read. “Mark of Four” has all the elements* we crave.
*Pun retroactively intended.
P.S. I don’t know if it’s a thing, but if it is, I’m 200% on Team Daymon.
The Lost World by Michael Crichton
I know, I know. This is hardly high literature. What can I say? Sometimes a girl just need some dinosaurs in her life.
If you enjoyed the movie version (I did), this is even better. Unsurprisingly, the t-rex unleashed on San Diego bit was pure Hollywood. So was the big-game hunter invasion of dinosaur island. The female lead is 100% less screaming and running, 100% more hard-core heroine. The kids and secondary characters are more interesting, too.
The scientific claptrap isn’t my cup of tea, but that’s hardly the draw of the book. If we’re being honest, nobody is reading the Jurassic Park series as a scholarly pursuit. I came for the velociraptors, and velociraptors (in all their ravenous glory) are just what I got.
Vivir El Dream by Allison K. Garcia
Having passed my whole life in a small town with a significant Latino population, I was not a complete stranger to the challenges undocumented immigrants face when coming to the US. In Vivir El Dream, a story about one undocumented college student and her community, this struggle is depicted through a passionate and humanizing lens.
Garcia does a wonderful job, not only of shedding light on important issues, but of making them personal. She tackles a divisive subject with a light touch, making for an easy read that also fully invests you in the lives of her characters.
The ending lacks resolve, which I usually loathe. In this case, though, it was perfect. There’s a lot of injustice going on here, folks, but there’s also hope. And that’s the lifeblood of Vivir El Dream.
Recommended for anyone who cares about immigration, and/or those who want to learn more about the real faces of the controversy.