#ReadingRush 2019: Update 2 & Review

JUST FINISHED: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.

A fervour of scientific curiosity leads Victor Frankenstein to try his hand at creating life, but when he succeeds, he is consumed by fear and regret, and rejects his creature – who, in anger and loneliness, seeks his vengeance.

Frankenstein is an interesting read; Frankenstein’s tale is gripping, his fear and torments startlingly portrayed, his monster makes an incredibly sympathetic figure, driven to malice rather than born to it, and I thought the ending was really well-executed. But while I enjoyed the parts of the story that were narrated by Frankenstein, I feel that the real heart of the book is in its middle section, where the monster tells his side of the story – which seriously set off my nit-picky side. 😓

This part of the tale is all about the isolation that Frankenstein’s monster feels, and is an important part of his character development, but I found myself frequently rolling my eyes over how extremely eloquent he is – especially given that he apparently learnt to speak (and, more unbelievably, to read) over the course of a year, just by spying on a nearby family. I realise that an 18-year-old in the early 1800s would not necessarily understand how learning works, but it bugged me nonetheless.

THE FILM:
The only adaptation of Frankenstein that I was able to find on short notice was the 1931 version starring Boris Karloff, so naturally that’s what I watched, and I found it quite charming for what it was – a campy, old-fashioned horror film – but sadly it lacks a lot of the heart of the original novel, exchanging the intense character drama for a lot of cheap thrills… and thereby missing (or deliberately ignoring) the point of the book. However, despite the divergence from the source material, I liked Karloff’s portrayal of the monster, and the altered version of Frankenstein’s father was a brilliant addition to the film’s narrative (though he would have felt very out of place in the book); it’s easy to see why this has become such an iconic film.

MY READING RUSH PAGE

CURRENT READATHON STATUS: Happy to have finished my first physical book, & looking forward to reading the next – which will be The Song of Achilles. This book counted for three of the readathon challenges: a book with a non-human main characteran author’s first book, and a book-to-movie adaptation… Or at least it will count for that last one; my efforts to watch the film have been delayed slightly by my family’s desire to watch with me, just not today. 😓 So I’ll be updating this post with a note about the film when I’ve seen it.

Books Completed: 2.5
Pages Read: 191
Hours Listened: 16:08
Challenges Completed: 5/7

[EDIT [29/07/19]: Saw the film last night, & so added my impressions.]

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#ReadingRush 2019: Update 1 & Review

JUST FINISHED: Emperor Mage by Tamora Pierce. [AUDIOBOOK; Narrators: Tamora Pierce & the Full Cast Family]

[Warning: This review may contain spoilers for the previous books in this series, Wild Magic and Wolf-Speaker.]

Daine joins the Tortallan delegation as they head to Carthak for peace talks with Emperor Ozorne, but she’s not just there to take in the sights; Ozorne’s beloved birds have come down with a mysterious illness, and her new countrymen hope that, if she can heal them, it will help the talks to go a little smoother. Sick birds are far from the only problem in Carthak, however, and between politics, conspiracies, and angry gods, Daine will be lucky just to make it home alive.

This was a re-read, so I’m sure no-one will be shocked to hear that I love this book. When I first read it (maybe about 15 years ago) The Immortals was my least-favourite of Pierce’s series, but each re-read since has given me more to appreciate about it, and while it’s still not my absolute favourite of her works, I now consider it to be one of the very best parts of the Tortall universe. And as things currently stand with me memory-wise – I’m not super-clear on the plot of the final Immortals book – I think Emperor Mage may be the best book in this quartet. The plot is gripping, the new characters are multi-faceted and compelling, the returning characters have some great development (and face some shocking revelations), and this first foray into the Carthaki Empire paints a vivid picture of Pierce’s world beyond the borders of Tortall itself.

As regards the audiobook, which this was my first time experiencing, Pierce narrates her stories very slowly, which can be slightly jarring when compared to the speed of the actors who read for each of the characters, but after three books I’m used to it, and I do enjoy knowing that the pronunciation and emphasis is all exactly as the author intended it to be. The rest of the cast all gave fantastic performances (though I’m noticing that the badger god seems to get more and more gravelly in every book 😉).4 stars

MY READING RUSH PAGE

CURRENT READATHON STATUS: I’ve been mostly audiobook-ing things so far, as my hands have been busy with knitting, so I’m a little surprised to have already finished a book and a half – I usually take audiobooks much slower than this… Since I didn’t get around to posting my TBR for this readathon, I’ll let you know here that this book ticked off two challenges, read a book with purple on the cover, and read a book in the same spot the entire time (a nice comfy spot at the end of the sofa). The aforementioned extra half-book was Keeper of the Lost Cities, but I don’t think I’ll be officially counting it as one of my readathon books, as I was most of the way through it before the Reading Rush started. (I do have things to say about it, however, so you may be hearing more about it in the not-so-distant future.)

Books Completed: 1.5
Pages Read: 13
Hours Listened: 13:23
Challenges Completed: 2/7

[EDIT (31/7/19): Changed rating from 5 stars to 4, as I am in the process of re-assessing my ratings.]