Tag Archives: Novel

Animal Farm by George Orwell

Animal Farm
is like the barnyard version of the Russian Revolution. As the animals in Manor Farm (later renamed as Animal Farm) became more and more aware of the fact that they were capable of so much more than working like slaves for the Jones family, they started a revolution and chased the humans off of the farm. However, it soon became a revolution gone wrong as some animals became more equal than others.

The reason why Animal Farm is such a success because it focuses around animals, instead of human beings. And the characterization of these animals remind me of little children. They had a good intention at first, but somehow it turned into a society full of violence and tyranny. I believe that the basis for this is the inability of the commoners to determine truth, because most of the animals can’t read. Thus, Orwell is suggesting here than in any society where the commoners have no control over communication & media will bound to be controlled by those in power, because reality then becomes subjective concept and can be easily manipulated.

This book only took me three hours to read, but it was three hours well spent. I recommend this book to everyone who haven’t read it yet because the lessons in this book are worth remembering forever.


The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

A heavy subject matter, and a very familiar story. It has no cultural or time restraints. We see re-enactments of The Grapes of Wrath everyday. “‘I’m learning one thing good,’ she said. ‘Learnin’ it all the time, ever’ day. If you’re in trouble or hurt or need – go to poor people. They’re the only ones that’ll help – the only ones.'” Steinbeck successfully captures the horror of the Great Depression and the conflict between the powerful and the powerless. I can definitely see why it’s considered to be a landmark of American Literature.

The Grapes of Wrath tells the story of the Joads family. The dust bowl has made farming unprofitable, so the bank forces the Joads to leave their farm. They decide to travel west, because money and work are being promised there. As we follow along on their journey, we see the hardships and oppression suffered by migrant laborers which are very common during the Great Depression.

The character that I remember the most is not Tom or Ma or any of the major characters in the book. It is a minor character named Noah Joad (which is probably a biblical reference to Noah and the Ark, since both Noahs have not been very well understood by other people). He is the older brother in the family and is seen as being strange and aloof in the book, because he does not share the major values and goals of the society. As the family reaches California, he finds something in the cool and clear river, something he can’t find in the society. He then decides to live by the river and catch fish for survival.

My interpretation of this is that he does not want to become the people who make money out of other people’s misfortune, like the cheating car dealers or Willy Feely. At the same time, after hearing about the starving people, he does not intend to be ranked as one of them either. His thinking is that even if all the poor people supported each other, the rich will still get richer, and the poor will still get poorer.

He can’t do anything about it and he can’t change the people, so he decides to go with what he believes in and live by the river, where a “Fella can’t starve”. Perhaps this takes just as much courage as characters like Jim Casy, who tries to organize a strike to prove his point. I mean, it takes a lot to even think about living by yourself without anyone supporting you.

Ever felt like walking your own path and letting the people talk, hoping that one day they might understand you? I think this is how Noah felt.

I really liked how the book ends. As I was reading the book I kept wondering how it will end. I figured it will probably “just end.” But Steinbeck is such a brilliant writer. He made my mouth go wide open in amazement and awe. The ending was beautiful.

I will definitely read this book again. If I read it after several years, I will probably see it differently than how I see it now.

What are some books that you will definitely read again in the future?

Do You Remember the First Novel You Ever Read?

The very first novel I ever read was The Borrowers by Mary Beth Norton. It is a very cute story about a race of tiny people who lives beneath the floorboards. Unknown to the “human beans”, they survive by “borrowing” the necessities they need from them. I picked it up because we had reading classes back then where we just read for an hour each day =)

Do You Remember the First Novel You Ever Read? What is it about? I love hearing about people’s first time stories 😀

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

I’ve just finished reading all 509 pages of Cloud Atlas and my opinion of the book has changed. After I finished the first story, I realized that the writing style changes from story to story and the other ones are not as hard (though still difficult, but the first one is written in a sort of antique prose style). If you find this book not making sense at any point, just keep on reading please. You’ll be surprised at how everything just comes together like a jigsaw puzzle in the end.

This book consists of six interlocking novellas that are told in two halves, meaning that they will end abruptly and then continue later on in the book. You might not understand why it’s like this at first, but you’ll get it once you finish the book. He has a very good reason to do it.

The story starts out with Adam Ewing’s journal. He’s a notary who’s returning to San Francisco on a boat that is managed by a bunch of cruel men. His only friend is a doctor who is trying to treat the parasite in Adam’s brain. In the second story, the journal is being read by Robert Frobisher, who exchanges his musical talents for a roof over his head with a famous composer. His experiences are written in the form of letters. The addressee is his friend Rufus Sixsmith. In the third story, Luisa Rey meets the older Sixsmith. Luisa is a journalist who later almost turns into a detective because she suspects that something is wrong in the nuclear power station. You get the idea. I won’t spoil it by telling you about the other 3 stories. Once you finish the last story though, Mitchell takes you back to the second half of the other stories in reversed order, meaning that the journal will be the last one. I think this whole arrangement is really clever and atypical. It shows that there is a story behind every story waiting to be heard.

I pretty much agree with Bookpage: “Cloud Atlas is such an astounding feat that it’s tempting to think there must be several David Mitchells, each of whom wrote one part of this book.” You get a taste of everything. It’s amazing how Mitchell managed to get so many genres and literary styles packed in one book.

What’s the point of reading 6 totally different stories that somehow overlap one another? The answer is belief. Belief is what holds Cloud Atlas together. Mitchell has hinted many times throughout the book that although the main characters have totally different reputations, intelligence, attitudes, and personalities, they are actually one person. Traversing through time and space, he or she is repeating the same life in a sense. He is a seeker, she is a rebel. He is mixed-up, she tries to seek truth. But the reality they end up facing are all the same. Advances in technology and changes in time are merely deceits. The strong will always abuse the weak, turning these characters’ life upside down. As the novel comes to an end, all the suspense, all the uncertainties will have an answer. But seeing how the stories will end is not the point. The point is the belief they have left us with:

“He who would do battle with the many-headed hydra of human nature must pay a world of pain & his family must pay it along with him! & only as you gasp your dying breath shall you understand, your life amounted to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean!
Yet what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?”

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye tells the story of a teenager named Holden Caulfield who just got expelled from yet another school. It’s basically about the 2 days he spent in NYC before he returns home to face his family. This book is not big on the plot though, it’s really more about his attitudes and the signs of his mental disintegration.

I like this book because there is a bit of “Holden” in all of us. By that I don’t mean swearing and underachieving, but the fact that we want to be sincere in an insincere world, or the fact that we want to escape from the path that was laid out before us. What I like about him is that he didn’t compromise like the others. Instead of relying on them, he tries to make the change himself. He’s not perfect either. For example, he is hypocritical at times which he realizes but doesn’t know what to do about it. Now I am not saying that Holden is right and the society is wrong—but I do think that Holden is far more human than many of us. That’s what I like about him.

It’s hard to not think about Holden at times because he is so complex. Maybe Holden is crazy. Or maybe it’s the rest of the society that’s crazy. Maybe he doesn’t like anything. Or just maybe, he only likes the things that are truly worth liking. Nevertheless, this book is really relatable because everyone will go through a stage where you are stuck in between childhood and adulthood just like Holden at some point in their life. Salinger has done a great job describing the feelings of going into the society, finding out that it’s not what you expected, and eventually accepting the difference between your expectations and the reality of it.