Thursday, January 3, 2013

Reading: The Classics

          Not really literature. Three words that almost perfectly describe what I read. I feel like I've read almost ever book out there, but very few of the books I've read were published before 2000. I read vampires and mythology, steampunk and the paranormal. All the "Great Literature" and "Classics", I never spare a glance at. So, I've decided to try them out. Granted, not all the classics I've read were particularly enjoyable. All of the "classics" I've read were required school reading. Charles Dickens' "The Tale of Two Cities" was like reading, well, Charles Dickens! When a book begins with something like "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the time of war, it was the time of peace..." (or something like that - it's been a few years), and somehow I'm supposed to understand that....Then, I had to read "The Night Thoreau Spent In Jail" as well as "Antigone". "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" was surprisingly fun, and "The House on Mango Street was not too bad either. But otherwise, I've never willingly picked up a "classic" and read it. But what would that do for my reputation? The girl who thinks she's a book lover never once read Pride and Prejudice? So, I recently downloaded a number of books for my kindle, among which are Pride and Prejudice, Withering Heights, 1984, and Frankenstein. The website Project Gutenberg offers so many classics for free download in whatever format you want - epub, kindle, pdf...and so that's were I got my books. I realize probably every person out there who harbors a love for reading has read "Pride and Prejudice", and there's been more than a couple of references to it in other more "modern" books I've read. Mr. Darcy, here I come! 

          I've just finished reading Variant by Robinson Wells. It's about an orphan boy, who's been moving around for as long as he can remember, and when he applies for a scholarship at a high school, he's immediately accepted. There's nobody that would miss him, he has no friends or family. He's originally from Pennsylvania, but the school is in New Mexico. The school is a secluded area surrounded by a massive brick wall, which in turn is surrounded by an even larger steel fence. Nobody is allowed to go out. Any contact with the outside world is prohibited. And even then, who would he all? Friends or family? He had nobody. And that was how you got into the school. By having nobody. The school is ruled by students. There are no teachers or adults. The students do the teaching, the janitorial work, the cooking. But there are rules. And there is detention. And those in detention are never seen again.  The author is Robinson Wells, Dan Wells' brother (author of Partials), and  I have the same problems with Variant that I had with Partials. The characters are not built up enough, leaving the reader feeling disconnected from the characters. The plot makes up for it, but I still would have preferred more focus on a few characters instead of a name and occupation thing for each of the kids in the school. Overall, a very enjoyable read, and I'm looking forward to reading the sequel (after, of course, I'm done with my "Classics" list.) A must read for anybody.