Sooo… I actually replied earlier but the internet gremlins devoured it again XD
It was really cool to hear your opinions on those books! I actually haven’t read any of them, but I want to read Oliver Twist sometime!
I haven’t been reading too much lately, unless you count school textbooks. I’ve learned a ton from my Western Culture textbook so far (about how to world-build and stuff), but…
LOL, know that feeling! I had Social studies last year and I still find myself using it in worldbuilding XD Trias Politica, who controls the punishments, etc., etc. It does make me think of some things I never thought of!
The biggest thing I noticed about this book was how funny it was. Something modern authors seem to have lost is the ability to be clever or even funny in their prose. The writing was just more intelligent than what is trending now-days.
Yes! I have several books I read only because they’re funny XD I really enjoy clever prose, and on that count, the Flavia De Luce books are brilliant! They’re remarkably witty, especially in the similies and imagery.
I totally agree with all of you! This was a great topic idea, Rose! I don’t think I’ve read any of these books y’all have mentioned (except LOTR), but I sure know which ones to avoid now! XD
Thank you! It’s really fun 🙂
Ooh, I actually read Ben-Hur too! (Multiple times actually. In my defense, I was bored XD)
The author sure did his research: the book really brings the ancient world alive in my mind, and I can picture things so clearly! However, it is a little wordy, as most books from that time are I think balance is needed with descriptions, and they ought to be immersive, showing rather than telling (of course).
I agree with you, the descriptions were very immersive, but I’d argue he rather overdid it. There’s a specific chapter I’m thinking of, (I think near the start of Book Second) where he spends the entire chapter describing the Jaffa gate in extreme detail, along with several people who pass through.
This wouldn’t be bad in and of itself, it was very well written and descriptive, but what bothered me was the payoff. We never hear about the Jaffa gate again, and we never see any of the people he described. That entire chapter is setting up for something that never happens.
Now, I realize this all comes down to Lew Wallace being a Victorian (TM) so his writing style was basically “I can describe a brick for fifteen pages,” Which is okay! It’s a style! That was how they wrote! Still, to me, a modern writer, it rather irks me that there’s so much superfluous information.
Also, it kinda made me laugh how white some of the characters were XD Mary being white with blond hair and blue eyes was a bit of a “??? Oh, yes. Victorian.” moment XD It didn’t actually bother me, I just thought it was amusing XD
One of my favorite things in Ben-Hur is the dialogue — although the Egyptian can be pretty wordy I totally agree books these days need more dialogue. Dialogue is how we communicate, and should therefore be how characters in a book communicate!
Definitely! I do agree that dialogue is important, but I’d also argue the Victorians had a bad habit of either info-dumping or emotion-dumping in dialogue. (I just coined that term XD)
What I mean is that the Victorians hadn’t figured out “Show don’t tell” yet, so many characters say exactly what they’re thinking or feeling. It both takes away from the realism and arguably makes it less interesting. I like it when characters tell half-truths or lie about their feelings, it adds depth and conflict!
Also, the speeches. I’m all for more dialogue, but it gets annoying when it’s an entire chapter of one character talking without being interrupted once. I learned a rule of thumb that a character shouldn’t say more than three sentences without being interrupted, and I try to stick to that, it helps me keep from info-dumping.
Judah, the MC, is also pretty good, but he’s sorta like every other hero out there, lol. However, I do sympathize with him because he wants revenge (and I really wanna see him get it!).
I see your point XD I won’t spoil anything, but what surprised me most about the difference between the book and the movie adaptations is the ending. (the older ones, not the new one that turned the story upside down) I won’t tell you what it is, but the movie changed a lot of things, mainly, the resolution of the character arc. And for once, I enjoyed that aspect of the movie more.
(LOL, I haven’t even seen the movie, but I know the plot and what they changed XD)
But the antagonist/villian! I want more Messala! He is so annoying and prideful but he is also so interesting and smart. From what I’ve read, he’s a great example of an antagonist: make them do something to the MC that affects them badly and always keep the antagonist a step ahead of the MC. But keep them interesting; give them multiple layers. Messala is a two-faced apple, and I think that is a great tactic.
YES! He was a brilliant villain and I loathed him, and I wish we had gotten more of him. Also, no idea if you’ve gotten that far yet, but Egypt/Iras is one of my favorite characters. She’s complex and interesting and conflicted.
Anyway, just a few of my thoughts on Ben-Hur. 🙂 Or, well, most of these apply to most Victorian authors. I like analyzing styles to see how they work XD
Rushed relationships (which is basically a growth on insta-love which I hate to death). The next thing that is terrible, you also mentioned: the characters are absolutely boring. I hate Four. The side characters are boring, and Tris gets worse and worse (she starts out fine).
Totally! Don’t worry, you didn’t miss anything, the books just get worse from there XD I’d say the only character who gets slightly more interesting is Four. I didn’t particularly like him and I certainly didn’t like their relationship. They’re honestly terrible for each other, they spend the entire second book lying to each other or arguing. Or kissing. In great detail.
But what made Four just a bit more interesting is that he got his own POV in the third book. His voice felt out of character (He had a very slow, descriptive, detailed voice, much more so than Tris, and it didn’t suit him) but we got some more of his thoughts and backstory.
It would have improved him a lot if it had actually gone anywhere, but instead, his narration just kept spinning around the same facts instead of actually doing anything or revealing anything interesting. (Honestly, would it have killed the author to write an actual character arc?!)
But the main reason I barely finished the first book (you liked the first book better than me, I didn’t even get to the sequels xD), is the antagonists’ plans were just boring. That is probably very subjective to me, but I just didn’t find them interesting. I would probably give the first book a 2.5/5 and the ending a -2/5. xD
Definitely. It was boring but somehow hit out of nowhere. It didn’t make sense and took the agency from all the characters. Nope.
I don’t think Roth knows what standing out really means. It doesn’t mean to go get tattoos so you’re different from everybody else, it just means to act according to your beliefs and not conform to everybody else. I don’t know if Tris acquires some sense throughout the rest of the series, but I hated the tattoo scene in the first book.
I think she might have been aiming for that, but she definitely missed the point. I totally agree with you, and I think she should have pushed the point (of acting according to your beliefs despite opposition) a lot further, by making Tris actually make choices and bear the consequences instead of kind of driving through the plot. I really didn’t like it.
I have not read Hunger Games, but I will say I find the premise much more interesting than Divergent’s (I watch the first of the four movies, it was decent, but I know, I know, don’t compare the book to the movie). However, from what I’ve heard about the love triangle that dominates the series I’m not sure how much I would like it.
And that brings us to:
Hunger Games (all three books) by Suzanne Collins. 6/5 stars.
I really, really love these books. They’re not necessarily fun, and they can often get really dark, but the author managed something that I haven’t seen often.
She wrote a book that confronts people and makes them think. This is especially rare in YA books, but she did an excellent job.
One thing she’s mastered is the art of making a point and getting a message across, and I think that’s what it taught me, more than anything else.
Every scene, every character, every decision, and line of dialogue was intentional. She did exactly what Veronica Roth failed to do, she thought about it really well and edited out everything that didn’t serve her purpose.
She managed to convey a lot of messages about separation of the classes, propaganda, government, rebellion, and war. It was fascinating since she has some excellent points that she makes very clear without saying it outright.
As for writing craft, it’s downright impressive. The characters and relationships are interesting. The pacing is flawless, and the plots develop in an interesting way. The prose isn’t remarkable, but it’s crisp and strong and gets the point across.
I was impressed with how well she wrote the romantic subplot. Now, I knew I was heading into love triangle territory (I don’t like love triangles, they annoy me) and I was dubious about it, but I was surprised by how much of a backseat the romance took to the plot.
This isn’t a romance. It’s a dystopia, first and foremost. The romance always stays in the background, and there’s way less “Oh, no, who should I choose?”-ing than I thought there would be.
Even the love triangle is deliberate and reinforces the themes and message, with Peeta and Gale deliberately being foils for each other and Katniss and representing opposite worldviews. Unpopular opinion, although I don’t particularly like it, I think it might have been the best fit for this story. (I just approved of a love triangle. Oh, horror.)
Anyway, that was a very long-winded way of saying I really enjoyed the books and heartily recommend them. I’ve never actually watched the movies. (I know how much violence there was in the books and even though they toned it down, I’m not watching that.) But I’ve heard they’re good adaptations, as far as they go!
Without darkness, there is no light. If there was no nighttime, would the stars be as bright?