Sunday, May 28, 2017

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler



                Everyone felt safer in the gated community. Here it was a real community. People came together to help each other. Night watches protected the streets. Families would go shooting together to stay sharp and seasoned. But outside of the community there was peril. The homeless outside of the walls were dangerous. No one would live the community unarmed. Lauren Olamina knew that they would only be safe for so long. That the walls that separated her family, from the hundreds of others outside of their walls, could come down. She never wants to be a slave to a corporation or lose her family but she knows she needs to prepare herself to survive. And she has Earthseed. The God of her father is not her God. Her God is Earthseed. Her God is change. With everything around her constantly changing. That’s all she can hold onto.
                This might be one of the most realistic dystopian fictions I’ve ever read. And I can’t tell you how incredibly disturbing that is! This book begins in 2024, only 7 years removed from where I am right now. The United States of America is in a free for all even with federal and state governments in place. There is a new form of slavery taking place around the country, where people are so poor that they are basically working for food and board with no chance of leaving. These gated communities are the only ones that have any glimpse of sanity or regularity but everywhere there is fear. The world building in this novel is incredible. It’s made very clear, very fast how dire the situation is by how Lauren’s family has to live. Lauren was an extremely well developed character. Only fifteen when this novel starts, she is extremely level headed, competent and knowledgeable. Her journey and the journey of those who choose to follow her is extremely fascinating and one in which I was wholly lost in.

                Parable of the Sower has the ability to take you by surprise, scare you, disappoint you and make you question the decisions you would make if put in a similar position. Butler’s well thought out and well-crafted dystopian novel has easily become one of my favorites in the genre. Written decades ago and yet still very compelling and very enjoyable. I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

This is Your Brain on Sports: The Science of Underdogs, The Value of Rivalry, and What We Can Learn from the T-Shirt Cannon by L. Jon Wertheim and Sam Sommers

This is Your Brain on Sports: The Science of Underdogs, The Value of Rivalry, and What We Can Learn from the T-Shirt Cannon by L. Jon Wertheim and Sam Sommers


                If this title is at all intriguing to you, then you are probably a sports fan and in that case you should definitely read this book. I am a huge sports fan and have been for ages. I have my teams that I am utterly obsessed with, teams (and players) that I cannot stand and I rave and rage at the TV during games. I thought this book could be rather interesting and boy was it.
                Wertheim and Sommers uses each chapter to take a look at different behaviors of not just sports fan, but athletes, coaches, and executives and examines them under the guise of science. They look at different studies conducted around the world, some of which were simple behavioral studies but others were directed strictly to sports, and used those results to explore the topics at hand. Each chapter is extremely interesting, well researched and thoroughly convincing in the way the information is conveyed.

                Beyond anything else I was entertained by this book. It wasn’t what I expected. With that title I honestly didn’t expect to get such a well thought out, well researched book about how sports definitely impacts our behaviors. This was really well done. If you aren’t into sports then this might not be as much of a pull for you because a lot of these behaviors won’t make sense to you. They won’t ring true. But if you are sports fan, you’ll see a bit of yourself or someone else you know within this pages. 

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin


                I’m not sure what I was expecting when I first picked up The Fifth Season but this definitely wasn’t it. I’ve never read a science fiction, dystopia like this before. And I loved it. From the very beginning of the novel, you genuinely feel transported. Very little is given away up front and trying to figure out the mystery of this world, while being sucked into the varying narratives of Damaya, Syenite and Essun is quite the experience. This is a world where so much time has passed and so many ends have come, that no one can be sure of what history is true. This is a world where orogenes can harness the power of the Earth as a weapon, where Father Earth is fighting back against the destruction happening on his surface and where people will give their children to the Fulcrum out of fear of what they are.
                I fell in love with this narrative. Within the first 30 pages I was hooked. The grave tone of the novel from the very beginning is one that I couldn’t turn away from. There was such despair and yet so much strength within Essun that I became fully invested. As we are introduced to the different characters and narratives you realize that these characters live in a world that has been in a constant state of change and fear, with unknown entities and a complex social order. Character and world development in this book were the keys to success and with both done so well, the plot weaves itself effortlessly through the alternating narratives.

                Hands down, this was one of the most original, interesting, entertaining science fiction books that I have read in a long time. It has so much going for it: diversity, an amazingly original plot, beautifully sculptured characters and a totally original world where anything is possible. This is first novel by Jemisin I have ever read, and just like that I am sold. This is the first in The Broken Earth series and I will definitely be reading more from here on out. I give this 5 out of 5 stars. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nahisi Coates

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nahisi Coates


                Intimate. Honest. Heartbreaking. Those are the first three words I think of after finishing this book. Put simply Between the World and Me is Coates speaking directly to his son, Samori about life. About what it means to be a black man in the United States of America. What it means to sit back and continuously see that you have no control over your body. What it means to continuously see bodies that look like yours taken prematurely and to see no one punished for the crime. Coates talks about his upbringing, about his parents, about his struggle and then about Howard, The Mecca. It’s as much about Coates trying to make sense of this world and it is him trying to make his son understand what it means to live in a black body.

                Talking about race with children is incredible difficult. I know from the experience of having to talk about race with my own child. It’s uncomfortable and it makes you confront certain truths that you would rather ignore. That’s what makes this book so amazing. Coates realizes that his son, who is fifteen at the time he writes this book, is old enough to hear the truth, regardless of how painful it may be. I loved this book for its honesty. I loved it because I could feel Coates pouring his pain on the pages and confronting what life has been like for him. But it isn’t just him. It’s everyone that inhabits the black body and he makes it a point to emphasize that. It feels personal because it is incredibly personal. I give this 5 out of 5 stars. I just finished this and I am filled with emotion. These instances hit too close to home because too many of these instances happen to people who look like me, honestly they happen to me.