Sunday, December 27, 2009

Book Review: Clan Of The Cave Bears, Handmaid's Tale & Island Of The Blue Dolphins

With big snow storms and holidays I got into the groove of reading again this past week... in fact I plowed through all three of these awesome books - all of which had a unifying factor I happen to love in a novel. A female character who changes her life, learns skills to cope with life as is, yet also effects great change in the process... freeing herself. This is the theme which never seems to stop thrilling me and whenever I am asked what kind of book i want to read i always say "about a girl who changes her life".
Thanks to the peeps who gifted me these cool books! Here's my review::::

Clan Of The Cave Bear : It wasnt just the beloved girl changes her life plot that made this book rock, but it was the vast amount of research of flora and fauna knowlege, the primitive interptations, the cultural and DNA difference over time - which all sucked me in like lips on the straw of a chocolate milkshake. This book takes ya back in time while somehow unifying and defying time all at once. It is apparently part of a 5 part series, so the only flaw is the end leaves ya hanging bit. Even though it has dragged you through more detailed description then most human minds could ever think to plot on paper- you want more, you feel like if the book ends maybe you will too.

The Handmaids Tale : This is one creepy freaky, terrible tale which still has beauty in the sick and mundane. Maybe lots of grotesque things happened in this story, but somehow it is described in such a way that you are only moved as much as the main character is moved. It is not entirely apocoplytic, but somewhat of a disintegration of society as we know it- and for this I find that I like it's offshoots and reasoning as to why things have become a little bit like Pink Floyd's THE WALL meets Hilter meets The Stepford Wives for the people in America. OF course the main character is a woman, and oh hell does her life change and then change some more. This book is not cheery and is good for a day when you are depressed and wanna stay that way, or would enjoy thinking of all the ways things really could go wrong and how simple it would be for the government to control us like frightened sheep.

Island Of The Blue Dolphins : This book fascinated me because it is based on the true story of a women who ends up living on a island for a looooooooooog time all alone. Like Clan of the Cave Bear, this book has cool survival elements to it, where I felt like i was learning more then just the story of her life- but about how humans come to survive any situation we are in, our adaptability and our willingness to continue on in the face of bad odds. It is compelling, lonely and creative- and includes animal enemies and animal friends (which i happen to love that stuff in stories!) It's not a long book, it does not drone on, nor is it filled with plotted fluff - it's a simple read with a simple ending.

Do you know of any books with these kinds of story lines that I might also like?!? It can be about a guy who changes his life too ;) !!



Lou Cheese said...

One of my favorite books is "A Confederacy of Dunces", by John Kennedy Toole. It's a comedy about an incredibly intelligent but somewhat shut-in man who only leaves the house when the circumstances absolutely require it, and the story is about his daily trips to the outside world.

Because nobody he meets is able to match his intellect, he both jokingly and semi-seriously sees the world as a confederacy set out to oppose him. Nobody is safe from his scathing critiques which he is completely unafraid to deliver right to a person's face, which often causes him to go from job to job.

Best of all, the story is set in New Orleans and the book is recognized for its portrayal of city life and dialect in the French Quarter.

And like somebody else I know, the main character doesn't like to travel on any form of 4 wheel motorized transportation and avoids it at all costs.

The lead character grows and overcomes his faults in a way that doesn't compromise his beliefs, and he gets the girl in the end.....of the book, that is.

Gratuitous said...

My first exposure to the appealing survivalist genre was probably "My Side of the Mountain" and followed by the classic "Robinson Crusoe," but indeed many stories have had or touch upon this theme. Science Fiction abounds with this particular and peculiar type of romance, and I recall "Farnham's Freehold" being one of the moving early epics. It comes as no surprise, really, given that biologically we are meant to live in fairly small but extended communities, and have for tens of thousands of years, with modern supercities being the antithesis of all that was right and somehow manageable in scope and scale of human and natural interaction. So the apocalypse that cleanses the earth and allows the fortunate few to live and grow on their own terms speaks to the very heart of the introvert, the dreamer, the lonely embracer of nature. It's like we want to live once again in the "Brave New World," with us in the starring role (O Ego).

Oh, for a simpler time... as long as we get to know then what we knew then...

Leslie wears organic clothing and plays in dirt said...

Mr. Cheese-
OH, i might love that... also I am certain it will make me home sick for the funky New Orleans culture. BUt that's ok, anytime i get homesick it just reminds me to keep spreading the dark humor and joyful culture i grew up with all around.
I am drawn to the fact that the main character doesnt drive.... that is something i can relate to and you dont read about often :)

Embrace the ego and the dreamer! ha... i had a time period where i only read healing and spiritual books, it lasted a few years in my early 20's. I was not driven by the usual religious searchings, since i had not too much curiosity to break into the code of mystery...but i was very sick and was possibly going to die, and thought i better find out every stinken' thing about how to heal, how to be at peace, how to navigate this world as much as possible. I found that during all this reading there was bunches of talk about the "ego". Of course, the sassy in me (which over rules most other parts of me most of the time) was like WHAT an EGO it took to write about banishing the ego, when DUH, it's part of our thinking process and who we are. SO maybe it's a little jumbled due to modern life- but geez. Embrace it, and it wont be a monster.
In the end, i like to tell myself what a random Jamaican man walked up to my friend standing alone at a bus stop said to her "love your damn self stupid"!
ok- i got off track... i think maybe i should read the Robinson Crusoe too, the Island of the Blue Dolphins books is based on the true story of the woman they pick up in that story (or so i read).

NOTE: I have a friend ,Mara, who swaps books online - since i dont tend to read a book more then once unless it's instructional - i think book swapping is a cool idea ---> i will ask her for the link! She uses the service regularly and loves it. :)

linda said...

"A Confederacy..." was one of my favorite books before MCS, now I don't even remember it or the others... hmm....

Now I like 3 short paragraph long stories so I can remember what is going on in them.

Leslie wears organic clothing and plays in dirt said...

Linda! Maybe poetry would be good, e- poetry that is...
i like to follow e-stories online. There was one I really loved called "Denver Cereal", where only a small piece of the story is revealed each friday! Following something like that might be easier, when you have trouble concentrating or remembering.
I had alot of reading comprehension problems growing up and was actually diagnosed with learning disabilities in that area when i was about 21 years old...that and math. But now I can read alot better then i could back then - i think health plays a huge role in these things.

Gretta said...

I really loved "A confederacy of Dunces" too. Very funny in a twisted way. I have to say I love an F'd up story and no one can write them like Margret Atwood. If you think you can handle more depressing lit check out "she's come undone" by Wally Lamb.

Leslie's Gone Oko said...

Hey Gretta!
NO no, nod depressing lit!! lol... I read that book "Fall Unto Your Knees" you had loaned Nikki and she loaned to me...
It made me want to gouge my own eyes out it was so terrible! I mean - terrible as in most depressing weaving of a dysfunctional tale! Well written, but leaves you feeling like the world is a lost cause.

I need some happy endings!

Gretta said...

ok so don't read "the Road", I'm reading it right now and man o man it does not leave a warm fuzzy feeling.

Stephanie said...

Holy moly - Island of the Blue Dolphins! That's it! This was one of my favorite books when I was around 11-12, and years and years later I could never remember the name and have been trying to figure it out. Yaayy!

Oh yeah, and this is the first time I've been back here in a while since I was traveling in December - guuurrrrl. The possum skinning episode... hahah. You're brave.

Stephanie said...

By the way, The Handmaid's Tale is one of my most favoritest books ever and I guess most of the books I like are dark, so I can't think of any non-depressing book recommendations at the moment. I am currently reading "Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norrell" which is fun, and "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" is next.

Leslie's Gone Oko said...

Yay Stephanie!
You came back to asheville for the worst week of weather in recorded history!?! lol
So glad you got to remember a childhood favorite - i was like that for YEARS with a Peter Schilling song... i knew the song chorus but had no clue who sang it and no one else seemed to remember... they would mix it up with "the final countdown"....
here is the real song i finally found it!

PS- if you do think of any not heart smooshing books, let me know!