The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

This book is really long but also really good.

It’s about Theo Decker, who loses his mom in a museum explosion when he’s thirteen: it’s about him after this happens, and a painting called the goldfinch (that actually exists in real life), and you’ll be hooked from the first few pages. You’d expect it to get boring quite quickly after what you’d assume to be the most climatic event in the book happens so soon, but the 800 pages are filled with very, very gripping writing.

It takes a while to read: there are lots of characters and lots of different sections and a fair amount of tragedy. Well, a more-than-fair amount of tragedy: Decker goes through a lot. You end up quite attached to him and all the supporting characters as well, because in a book that long you sort of get to know and love them…some of it is a little bit draggy but it’s minimal. Generally the whole thing was just wonderful, I loved it. Donna Tartt has really addictive writing and the book looks a bit daunting at first, but you just sort of fly through it once you get started.

It’s aimed at older readers, but I loved it – I’ve recommended it to basically everyone. This has definitely earned a spot on my favourites list!

 

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The Martian by Andy Weir

So, you probably know the movie for this book came out recently, and I’ve been meaning to go see it – I figured I’d buy and read the book first. It wasn’t really what I was expecting, but I enjoyed it anyway. (Most of the time.) (Some of the time?)

The plot, basically, revolves around how main character, astronaut Mark Watney gets left behind on Mars after being presumed dead because of a freak storm – he’s left alone and the book is about him trying to get home. It’s very science-y at times and some bits just went straight over my head but generally I liked the idea of it.

It could have been great, but the writing let it down…the premise is decent and it should have made for a fun read, but Watney is quite possibly the most horribly characterised fictional character I’ve ever come across. He’s totally one-dimensional and has the vocabulary of a thirteen-year-old boy, with a sense of humor to match. You’d think, being stuck on Mars, you’d end up having at least one moment of depression or just the slightest moment of unhappiness, but he’s so, so cheerful, and eventually all the “yay!”-ing got to me — since most of the book is written in the form of log entries, in first person, I ended up skipping several pages at a time to get to the good bits. Also, the final solution required a fair bit of imagination-stretching; still, that’s forgivable, it’s fiction. The writing was my main problem, but otherwise, it was mostly decent. I’m hoping the movie will be better, since we won’t have to deal with the awful first-person writing – reviews I’ve read say it’s good, so fingers crossed!

 

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