Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

There's something about Autumn that brings out the spook in all of us. Perhaps it's the smell of dead and decaying leaves, or the crunching sounds they make beneath the feet of our children when they race to school in the early mornings, blowing circles of frozen carbon dioxide from their mouths in round o's.

But at the same time, Fall is one of the most beautiful and colorful times of the year. Bold reds, yellows and golden browns give one last blast of fireworks before a change occurs from life to death, almost overnight. We expect it. We know it will happen besides. Maybe that's why we're so easily able to allow a little of the scary in, the supernatural. Or even the wicked, into our lives. Reminded a bit of our own mortality, our darkest fears hover a little closer to the surface. Waiting to be exploited.

We all worry about different things, every day, like money, health, what to make for dinner, etc., but our most primal fears I believe remain the same for all of us. Fears of growing older, fears for our children and their safety, and almost always, regret. Guilt. These things haunt us all don't they? Such is the theme of Bradbury's timeless classic -


Taking place within a slice of Americana in the 20's or 30's, our story begins with two 13 year old boys, Will Halloway and Jim Nightshade. Born within minutes of each other at the end of October, these two are perfect mirror images of each other, not the same, but identically different. You can't have one without the other. They know this and love each other for it.

It's one week till Halloween and a mysterious autumn carnival has come to town, but this in no ordinary carnival. It feeds off a town full of fear, regret and chaos. What I found funny is that the boys, and even most people in the town sense this, yet still they can not stay away. What the boys see while there frightens them, a mysterious merry-go-round that can reverse age, or increase it, as it circles around. The side show acts, like the Human Skeleton, the Witch, the Dwarf, and most especially, the Illustrated Man, Mr. Dark, all scare the boys out of their wits.

Will's father, Charles, a man haunted by his own demons of getting older and wanting to be young again, his regret already continually eating away at his ever growing loose skin, discovers the truth about what's going on. That the carnival means to feed off the town's regret, fear and greed, as they have done for centuries. A battle ensues where in the end, Will and Jim, and most especially Charles, must battle their own demons to overcome the temptation to have what they most desire, for what is right.

This is my first Bradbury novel, and I loved it. L-o-v-e-d it! Long before Stephen King became a master of greed and the horror's that follow, Bradbury brought us a classic tale of regret, desire and redemption.

Even though Disney made a pretty scary movie version of this, it's not a children's book. In fact, I would agree that the main character is probably Will's father, Charles, and the main point being the life's lessons he learns about what's really important for true happiness in this life. I couldn't help wondering what Bradbury's age was when he wrote this. Was he going through a mid-life crisis as well, looking for a way to cope?

Thanks to the Good Books Club for recommending it.
Despite the creepy nightmares it gave me, this is an excellent book.
4.5 stars


Monday, November 16, 2009

November - What are you reading Mondays?

November is marked by half! This month has flown by. I've not turned too many pages this month, too distracted - holidays, children that demand to be fed, other pursuits, future hand modeling career, you know, basic stuff.

But I did manage to finish this last week -

A classic horror -
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

A brilliantly etched, gripping novel -
Something Wicked This Way Comes - by Ray Bradbury

And a current cult hit -
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - by Stieg Larsson

These were some entertaining reads. I feel thoroughly philosophised! But on to new ventures!

I just started a book mailed to me by the author that I'm really looking forward to -
Intimations of Austen by Jane Greensmith

And continuing on my young adult kick -
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
Witchchild by Celia Rees
But what are you reading this month?
Be sure to check out others at J Kaye's book blog!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Speaking of Frankenstein - Meet the Franks

I tried to embed this but I could only post the link here.

You're right Suzette. This was extremely funny.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


By Mary Shelley

Even if you’ve never read Frankenstein, you know its story: man uses science to create something, then that creation runs amok. You’ve seen it over and over again, too, in the Terminator movies, in Jurassic Park, in The Matrix (and its abominable sequels) and I am Legend, not to mention the numerous Frankenstein movies including my favorite, Young Frankenstein. There are few books that have had such a far-reaching and lasting influence.

In spite of this, the book was a constant surprise. Most noticeably, there is no triumphant, “It’s alive!” moment in the book. On the contrary (spoiler ahead), Victor Frankenstein flees in terror the moment his creature takes its first breath, setting in motion all the tragic events that occur thereafter.

Therein lies my problem with this book, the reason that I did not give it five stars. The truth is, Frankenstein is a selfish coward and a hypocrite and I despised him throughout the book. The book was difficult for me to read, let alone enjoy, because I was struggling with anger and disgust almost from beginning to end. (If you want to know how I think Frankenstein should have behaved, simply watch Young Frankenstein!)

In spite of this, it is clear to me why Frankenstein is a classic. I’m no philosopher, but even I found myself considering some big questions. What makes us human? What is our relationship with God? Is science evil, or only when scientific advancement is pursued recklessly with little thought of morality or responsibility? These are issues that resonate with all of us.

Frankenstein's relevance, longevity, and influence definitely make it a five star classic, but it was a four star read for me.