Some Summer Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Non-Fiction

Since being home from college I’ve been a busy person. I’ve gotten two jobs and tried to catch up with old friends. I’ve also read five books since being back, which I thought I would review for you. They span a variety of genres and have given me a lot to think about since I’ve read them, which is why I’m sharing them for you to consider reading, too.

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Stardust

I saw the movie first, before I ever saw the book, and I can honestly say that both were done exceptionally well. The book does not read like the modern fantasy novels that populate the YA Fiction section of bookstores. It’s the story of a boy who loves a girl and decides to bring her back a star to prove his love, only to find out that not only stars, but everything beyond the wall, are not at all what they would seem. I enjoyed the added backstory and characters which the movie had excluded, although the book had a weaker ending, in my opinion. The movie ends neatly tying all the loose ends together after a dramatic climax, while the book slows down and ends in a gentler, more ordinary sort of way.

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The Maze Runner

I haven’t seen the movie for this one yet, and I had no idea what to expect from the book until I read it. It’s intense, with lots of action and foreboding mystery that made me want to finish it in breakneck speed. Be forewarned — getting to the end does not solve even half the answers. There are two more books that come after this one, so James Dashner leaves this one hanging off the end. The book follows the story of a boy who wakes up with his memory erased in a maze in which he, and the others which are trapped inside it, race to solve.

I enjoyed the thick tension and dynamic pacing of the book. Dashner created unique jargon that his characters use within the maze which was alienating at first, but eventually I could pick up on enough to get comfortable in the rhythm of it. I’m excited to read the other two as I have time, as well as eventually watching the movies as they come out.

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 Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Philip Dick has a unique, choppy style of writing that makes his sci-fi novels seem even more raw and bare than their ambitious storylines make them already. This book, which explores the question of what makes us human and, as humans, what rights we have over the non-human world, raised difficult topics and thought-provoking ideas. What do we hold as most important in our lives? How do we determine what is human and what is simply a machine that appears to have rational atonomy? And, in the end, what actually matters?

This book really threw me out of the realm of the ordinary and comfortable and faced me with questions that are becoming more and more relevent as the world develops technologically. Even though it was written in 1968 and projected a future somewhat unlike what we’ve developed today, it still hold relevence, even as a thought excercise, today.

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The Man in the High Castle

After reading Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? I was excited to try another novel by Philip Dick. This one didn’t impact me nearly as much and left me with a headache more than anything. The amount of sentence fragments made it difficult for me to read and I felt strained to understand much of what he was saying. The premise, which shows a world post-WWII with a victorious Germany and Japan, would have been interesting enough, but the difficult sentence structure and ambiguous ending left me feeling like I’d wasted my time.

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I am Malala 

I’ll confess that I actually haven’t finished this one yet. I’m far enough into it, though, to know that it is the best of the five I’ve reviewed and is the sort of book absolutely everyone needs to read. It is the true story of a Pakistani girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for education. She is not only a Nobel Peace Prize winner, but an inspiring writer and amazing individual. Her story has taught me so much about life in Pakistan and what it means to be Muslim to her. Her story is an important piece of history. I really encourage you to read it as soon as you can.

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