The 100 by Kass Morgan

The 100 by Kass Morgan

I stumbled upon this Young Adult Science Fiction novel through Netflix. After binge-watching 2 seasons of the show, I decided to act on the line displayed during the introduction for each episode, “based on the novel by Kass Morgan.”

First I looked it up on the usual sites: Amazon then Barnes and Noble. The book is a trilogy and averages $8 each. Not so sure about the quality of writing, I hesitated to pull the trigger. I don’t even remember how the idea came to mind, but I ended up checking the library to see if they had it. Lo and behold, the first book was available. This series led me to rediscover the beauty that is the public library! After 10 years of being inactive, I finally got a new library card. How exciting is that??

I quickly re-learned the whole book check out process. If it’s not available in your local branch, you can request it and it will be transferred to your location for pickup at a later date. So convenient! You can also sign up for a waiting list for books or dvds that are currently checked out by other people. Through this process, I signed up for the rest of the trilogy.

I made my way home after the library trip on my lunch break the day before Thanksgiving. I finished work early and started reading. I didn’t stop until I finished. One book, one sitting, approximately 4 hours and some change.

I can’t really comment on this book without comparing it with the tv series because so much of the world this series belongs to is informed by what I initially saw.

For the most part, the characters are the same. The style is written kind of like Lost, where each person has their history and background story that the reader is exposed to through flashbacks and memories. The timeline constantly jumps from the present, on Earth, back to the space station.

The most notable thing about this and the series (I won’t make separate posts for each book) is that the characters stories are sometimes blended together for the tv show. I am increasingly fascinated with these editorial decisions (see post on Walking Dead where I also talk about this a bit) and am starting to appreciate some of these changes.

In The 100 there is a character named Glass who is in a relationship with Luke. This relationship addresses a social class issue as Glass is from the privileged social heirarchy and Luke is not. In the series, this storyline is merged with Clarke, and introduced with a new characters, Raven and Finn. The dynamic between Clarke, Raven, and Finn is some sort of amalgamation of multiple storylines. Oh yeah, and nowhere in the tv series is Bellamy a love interest of Clarke. They definitely show the struggle of trust between the two, but it is never romantic. I think this is as far as I’ll go comparing the books and the series. It becomes two difficult to show exactly how the plot and character dynamics have converged.

Let’s just say the show’s use of each characters’ storyline is much more intentional with a stronger narrative arc. The introduction of grounders and mountain men to create 3 distinct factions in the tv series is a bold and welcome move. This allows the treatment of politics in a new world to become a major driving force, as well as allow the examination of values in different cultures. This reminds me much of the effects of colonialism as well as Game Theory.

While the tv series is successful in portraying a transformation from mere teen adolescence into adulthood and true responsibility, the book series falls a little flat. Part of the reason I think this is the case is because it focuses too much on romantic relationships for my taste. Similar to Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, I kept thinking “why does snogging seem to be on everyone’s mind when the Dark Lord is about to attack!” In this way, it is very much young adult fiction and I completely understand why the story is written this way – the audience.

All in all, it was an entertaining read. I am glad I borrowed the books from the library because I wouldn’t go back to read them again. Interesting plot, but I am more eager to see how WB treats the fertile ground of characters and foundational storyline that Morgan created.

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Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig

Why did it take me over a year to finish? This is a book that requires substantial amounts of uninterrupted read time. The latter half of the book moved much more quickly for me, partially because I had more concentration and brain processing power available.

I love the discussion of rhetoric and the classics. It made me nostalgic for school and my studies and reminded me how much I love literature and the study of discourse; how the studies of history and philosophy are inexplicably (okay sometimes explainable) linked to the world of English.

I found his description of his time at the University of Chicago very surprising. I never had the experience of professors seeking to verbally spar and/or berate students in order to fulfill their own academic agenda. However, I might have been too young at the time and simply not have recognized it.

The style of writing in itself is something that you don’t run across every day. Pirsig blends the narrative of a cross country cycle trip with his inner thoughts or chautaquas concerning matters of reality, values, existence. The flashbacks to his time at University are initially a bit jarring and confusing. I found myself scrambling to put the pieces together to form the whole picture, but given one piece at a time it is hard to orient. I think part of that makes completing the book so satisfying.

I really enjoyed the afterword and the foreword. When I read the foreword before starting the book, it didn’t really make that much sense to me because I had no idea what he was referencing. I remembered him mentioning two adjustments and one had to do with Phaedrus. After finishing, I went back to read what he had to say and found a new appreciation for anniversary edition books on top of author’s notes. I am the type who used to skip the jumble in the front and dive straight into the piece. It’s curious how even the smallest of tendencies change over time and reveal a certain growth in personality and perspective.

In the afterword, Pirsig mentions that many people claim the ending to be a Hollywood ending: shocking, disconcerting. I would have to agree on the shock part. There is so little in between, no deeper dive into the dynamic between author and character, Chris, before his death. I think this section could have had more time allotted to its development to figure out what Pirsig actually wanted to say about Chris.

In the same note from the author, he talks about his book being a culture bearer and that it soared into popularity because of what society has been dealing with at the time – struggling against the idea of materialism as an indicator to success. I find this still to be the case with the rise of the millenials and the struggle this generation also has.

I would love to revisit this book again a few years down the line. There is so much I gathered from it, yet so much I missed at the same time. It’s so frustrating knowing this is the case, but not be able to point to what it is exactly.

The Walking Dead Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore

The Walking Dead Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore

(spoilers below!)

My friend bought me this book from a comic convention that isn’t the San Diego Comic Con. I think he gave it to me RIGHT before AMC aired its first episode of The Walking Dead. At that point Season 1 followed the story line faithfully.

I recently decided to go back and re-read this to see how far the show has come. I know that as movie franchises and TV shows gain popularity, the writers, directors, and producers always have the option of inserting their own plot into the mix and exercise their “creativity.” The other option is to again, stay true to the original. When filmmakers choose the latter route, I’m so appreciative. I understand there are certain qualities that work well with the screen which are needed to portray something else in the book that would otherwise go unnoticed. As I see more and more examples of this, my appreciation for book adaptions grows.

Now back to the graphic novel. The illustrations are great. The dialogue is raw. One scene always sticks out to me – when Rick rides into Atlanta on the horse and gets surrounded. The panel showing the horse being overtaken by walkers is realistic but not too gory.

The first time I read the book I didn’t read the introduction/letter from the author. I thought it insightful. He states that while zombies are cool, the series is meant to focus on the people, relationships, reactions to an extreme situation. I feel as if he achieves his goal. Each of the characters reflect on their thoughts to the group. They make themselves vulnerable.

I totally forgot that Shane is shot right outside Atlanta at the campsite. By Carl. Despite how far TWD has gone on AMC, I’m intrigued to read the rest. I’ve ordered Compendium 1 and 2 for that purpose. More then!

…and we’re back!

I logged into my alternate email at a friend’s bachelorette for some reason or another and stumbled upon all the notifications for this blog. It then led me to read all my previous posts (yikes! Never a pleasant experience.) My mind races with edits and criticism, “look at that syntax. You’ve always had a problem with syntax. Ugh there’s another run on sentence.” However, in the end, 2014 me did way better than 2015 me by a long shot. I’ve finished 27 books this year (according to goodreads) and I’ve written nothing on them. Zip. Zero. Nada. As I scramble to even make my 50 book reading challenge, I’m going to try to recap everything I’ve read to boot. Good luck to me. 23 books in 1 month is very very optimistic. I have been accused of such optimism in other areas of life as well, mainly time estimates.

On that note, happy Thursday. Can’t wait to jump on the train to write my first review of the year.