Quick fire round up of the four (yep, just four) books which I managed to get through in February. I’m blaming the shorter month for my lack of reading…
Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
I didn’t expect to like this at all – having read 1984, I was put off reading dystopian novels for a good while. But how different this is! The underlying bleakness and dissatisfaction of a seemingly perfect future society is still there, but so are in-depth characterisations and a dose of reality. Even when events have no bearing on our experiential knowledge, they come across as realistic. They’re possible, viable. I also don’t think I’ve ever hated a protagonist as much as I did Bernard! Considering when Huxley was writing, this is a fascinating glimpse into a possible future, and definitely a worthy modern classic.
Letters to the Lady Upstairs – Marcel Proust
This is a reissue of Proust’s letters to an upstairs neighbour in Paris, over a number of years. I’ll start off by stating that I’ve never read any Proust, but I do have an interest in the lives of writers – they tend to be fascinating people. This gives a brilliant insight into Proust’s mind, his inability to concentrate, and the reader gets a sense of how heavily his life seemed to weigh upon him at times. There’s also an amusing element here, in hearing Proust’s discussions about building work and all manner of mundane considerations, in such a lovely prose style. This is a quick read, but it’s certainly short and sweet.
The Cactus – Sarah Haywood
I didn’t expect too much from this book. I got my copy as an ARC from an event, having not actually heard the author talk about it. But I completely loved this! The characters are so lovable and so well-written, and by the end even the good in the worst character was visible. Almost all of the characters go through some kind of transformation throughout the novel, but Haywood ensures that this doesn’t become fake and unbelievable. They are just genuinely becoming better people. The plot is a little predictable, but no less heartwarming for it. And it really emphasises the importance of communication, and being honest with both yourself and others, not trying to be something you aren’t. Comfort reading at its best.
Insurgent – Veronica Roth
This is the sequel to Divergent, which I read in January, and is the second in the trilogy. This is possibly a slight favourite over Divergent for me, but it’s even more different when compared to the film of the same name. The story is absorbing, but not gripping. I read this at a quick pace, eager to continue, but whenever I put this down I didn’t have much desire to pick it back up again. As with Divergent, Tris and Four seem so much younger than they are portrayed in the film, and although I knew this was YA, it still threw me off a little. I think the series as a whole is worth a read – although I think I’ll have to work my way up to reading the third and final book – but it’s not the best YA/action/dystopia out there by far.