Carrie, by Stephen King

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​From the skilled hands of its world famous author, Carrie spins a dark tale of youthful cruelty and sorrowful revenge. Bearing a simple yet effective premise for a horror novel, known now by many from its multiple film interpretations, this is a short and entertaining classic.

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Carrie centres around its namesake, a teenage girl who after a lifetime of bullying and trauma is brought to her limits in the run up to her senior prom. As the novel progresses, the supernatural gradually becomes all too frightening and real, and a terrifying retribution soon unfolds upon a small town in Maine America.

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Whilst a little cliché at times, the same can largely be said of all teenagers. King soon moves beyond the realms of youthful stereotype however, drawing upon much darker themes. Carrie engages the brutally honest inner emotions of its characters, offering their raw, primitive thoughts throughout. The effect of this is an intrinsically human perspective on a savage, wounded time for a young damaged girl.

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The general style of the novel is rather different to a typical horror novel. It is certainly interesting to consistently remind the reader of the novel’s end for example, a typical cardinal sin in most narratives. By frequenting numerous article segments and scientific considerations concerning the ‘Carrie phenomena’ throughout however, King adds a sense of impeding and inescapable doom. In this way, the slightest actions are therefore emphasised with a constant sense of inevitable consequence.

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Carrie is the classic tale of youthful hardship and woes, escalated beyond proportion by a horrorful nature that seeks retribution for all the sorry young wronged.

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Length: 242 (BCA)

Overall Rating: 3.5 stars

The Time Traveller, by H. G. Wells

A short yet delightful classic, written with all the civility expected of a victorian gentlemen, The Time Machine is science fiction at one of its earliest beginnings. Though the novel could certainly have been longer, there are still enough philosophical thoughts and strange imaginings to provide an enjoyable few hours of entertainment.

 

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TransAtlantic, by Colum McCann

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Human nature transcends time, ever offering violence upon the innocent, cruelty bred from war. Following a number of timelines and characters, Transatlantic explores the strifes of humanity, which echo on throughout history.

McCann’s subtle links and recurring themes underlying his plot certainly make for an interesting read. As the novel progresses, what at first appear seemingly unrelated stories become delicately intertwined, passing down through generations. TransAtlantic delves through history, shedding light on the unchanging nature of life for all our past ancestors, from violence to love, and hope to woe. Under the backdrop of an ever aggrieved Ireland and the fragile promise of America, McCann skillfully relates the hardships of humanity from a variety of characters, whose lives merge into one another’s in the slightest of ways.  

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The White Tiger, by Aravind Adiga 

Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2008, The White Tiger tells the sorry truth about life for the vast population of India living in poverty. Through the relaxed and often humorous voice of its irreverent narrator, Balram Halwai, or ‘The White Tiger’ as he so aptly names himself, this novel traces the powerful and shocking revelations that shake one man’s very existence to the core.

From corrupt politicians and policeman, to the unrelenting nature of work for any who are even lucky enough to find it, The White Tiger looks beneath the shining buildings and growing economy seen by the rest of the world. As history has often shown, prosperity feeds off of poverty, a terrible aspect to life, but one which is certainly apparent in the brutal caste system of India.

 

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The Marble Collector, by Cecelia Ahern 

41qOJGK32EL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_ (1)Ahern’s twelfth novel, The Marble Collector is overall a light but enjoyable read. Ahern skillfully interlinks differing timelines and narratives, maintaining a level of intrigue throughout. What I found to be of particular enjoyment was her reflections on an Irish family living in near poverty during the 1970s. Ahern lends an interesting insight into a typical family filled with boys, where fighting and violence is abundant, but ever underlined with love.
The impressive levels of detail into marbles within the novel is also surprisingly interesting. In place of the modern-age technologically driven children’s toys, is a world of beautiful simplicity, offering a myriad of games, collections and enjoyment. From bloodies to Czech bullets, it’ll soon have you rooting through old drawers and putting those glass balls to some use other than a potential ‘Home Alone’ burglar trap.

 

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American Gods, by Neil Gaiman 

This is a strange but immersing novel, which pushes the limits of reality in a mesmerising way. Gaiman’s style is certainly fast paced, flitting from one peculiar yet absorbing scene to another. Whilst at first it is somewhat of a struggle to keep up, the very atmosphere of the novel keeps you yearning for more.


As is often a point of inspiration for Gaiman’s works, Norse mythology plays a prominent role in American Gods, alongside a plethora of historical myths from across the ages. This will leave any historically inclined readers eager for more. Gaiman intermixes the modern with the mythological in a truly compelling way, leaving no doubt that a God should be wolfing down a hamburger at a roadside restaurant, or conjuring a storm before the unseeing eyes of humanity. He lends a plaintive sincerity concerning the mythical and other-worldly that is both simultaneously confusing and compelling.

 

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In The Miso Soup, by Ryu Murakami 

 

Set in the dark night of Tokyo, In the Miso Soup is a short but disturbing thriller which will make you question the morals of humanity. The novel follows a relatively simple narrative, in which Kenji, a guide for tourists to Tokyo’s red light district, takes on a strange and unnerving new client, Frank. As tension gradually builds, Murakami truly immerses his reader into the gritty streets of Tokyo city.

At first, what did feel like a drawback to the novel was its apparent lack of much intuitive subtlety, with major plot points heavily emphasised and lingered upon (a style I usually find attributed to much of Japanese anime). However, as the novel progressed, another aspect to it became apparent, one which certainly intrigued and proved to provide substantial content for contemplation.

 

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