Death Before Adaptation

You either outgrow it or it wears you out

And I’ve grown weary with apprehension

The non-adjuster; Death before adaptation

Can’t change and seems I never will

I’m a skilled warrior but I fight a battle uphill

And it’s a war that I will never win

Internal change is a thing I can never spin

Now grasping another rung on the ladder

Leading to the pinnacle of my fight

Another milestone crossed, but I’m sadder

Along this journey that’s only measured in loss

The spokesperson for uninnovation

The changeable remains unaltered

The non-adjuster; Death before adaptation

Stuck in a constant state of wondering

When this will all be over

by Jacob Fite

The Next Induction

And the cycle continues

An infinite relapse of rationality

I’m on my highest horse loving the view

And then something so small destroys it all

And the cycle continues

Milestones marked by the next anxiety

The baseline of mood measured by stress

A look inside to which deity rules me

Irrational fear, he casts a shade on my happiness

He looms, and I look forward to the next induction

by Jacob Fite

Jonathan Lethem’s Girl in Landscape Review

As I read Girl in Landscape I wasn’t exactly sure what to make of it. I was enjoying myself while reading it, but I didn’t know what the destination was. And, I don’t think that feeling ever went away, but I kind of like that. There really never was an endpoint. Girl in Landscape is a snapshot of a point in time on the frontier. That frontier just happens to be on another planet.

Girl in Landscape follows the Marsh family, Pella Marsh in particular, as they move from Brooklyn, New York to a place called The Planet of the Archbuilders. The planet seems to be a relic of a civilization that has since moved on from it. There are remnants of the civilization such as crumbling buildings and towers. But there are also left over Archbuilders too. They have names such as Truth Renowned, Hiding Kneel, and Gelatinous Stand.

We follow the Marsh’s as they set out on this journey to sort of colonize this new settlement on the planet. This unknown frontier feels very much like something from the wild west United States. Each of the Marsh’s are mourning a loss in a different way and seeking escape out in this new world.

When I say that there isn’t ever a destination in the story, I say that because there really never is an overarching plot point other than how these people are dealing with loss and how they are trying to build this community. There really isn’t ever a huge conflict other than one’s you might expect when a new settlement is trying to be formed. I don’t really look at that as a bad thing when it comes to this book, though. I very much enjoyed living in these people’s lives as they navigate their feelings and the relationships they have with the other colonists.

It honestly wasn’t until the last 3 pages that it just kind of clicked with me that there never needed to be anything more in the book other than just hitching a ride on these characters’ backs and see where it goes. This is very much a western genre book with a science-fiction backdrop and I love that about it. In fact, if there weren’t Archbuilders or creatures called “household deer” then you would never know it wasn’t a western.

Takeaways:

Plot: Like I said before, I would call the plot “light”. If I’m remembering the difference between story and plot correctly then I would say the plot is light and the story is heavier. If you were to jot down the plot points it may seem like not much happens in the story, but the story is more about internal battles and outward struggles. I really enjoyed it.

Characters: You mostly follow around Pella Marsh who is around 13 years old. You also follow around her brothers and the other kids that are in the settlement. Pella is a really great character that Lethem wrote really well. I could really feel that she was too old for the young kids, but sometimes too young to be taken seriously by the adults. I like how Lethem worked that stuff into the story and how that made her feel.

Overall Score: 8/10

I really enjoyed Lethem’s writing style. It was all substance and no fluff. If you recommend anymore of his stuff let me know!

Thanks for reading!

Tints of Red

At war with myself

Only one will win

Whether from loss of will

Or loss of wit

I’ll confront myself in the field

With the haze of a new day; my shield

The coming of the light; I wield

Slashing through the night I fight

With my mind I kill this kind

Of negative thought which plagues my brain

And I’ll take the blood from half

My mind from which it’s bled

And paint the doors of my soul

With tints of red

By Jacob Fite

M. R. Carey’s The Book of Koli Review

The Book of Koli is the first book in a trilogy called The Rampart Trilogy. It takes place in a far distant future somewhere in the U.K. Due to humanity almost being wiped out and separated into small villages the gene pool has become…let’s just say…it’s not ideal to reproduce since everyone is pretty much related to each other now somewhere down the ancestry line. At least within those villages.

In Koli’s village, the people in power are called Ramparts. These are people that are able to use old salvaged technology, but the Ramparts suspiciously always seem to be from the same family. The rest of the story follows Koli on his journey within his village and also outside the walls among choker trees and the shunned men.

I was really hooked throughout the first half of this book. I loved piecing together the world that was being built and the mystery of the technology and how only some people got to use it. This book is an interesting one because, while I was enjoying the world and the story throughout the whole book the introduction of one particular character almost ruined the whole book for me. The second half of the book was me just trying to finish even though I was reading at a much slower pace. I would like to continue with the trilogy, but I’ll have to think on it.

Takeaways:

Plot: The plot of this book is decent. It doesn’t necessarily do anything new. It’s a post-apocalyptic journey in a savage world, but it’s the way that it is told that makes it unique and really hooked me from the first page. It is all told through first person past tense as if Koli is sitting around a campfire telling you his life story. And his voice is so unique that it really does elevate the story to greater heights.

Characters: Rant time – Ok, so I liked pretty much all of the characters in the story….besides one which I almost despise. And that one is Monono. Without giving away any spoilers, she is just so different from the way anyone is in the world that it just takes me out of the story. She constantly calls Koli “dopey boy” which is just weird to me. And, not that this is necessarily Monono as a character, but it has to do with her: she plays music for Koli, but it’s not like generic music it’s literally Enter Sandman from Metallica or Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen. If I’m reading a post-apocalyptic book that takes place hundreds of years from now those are the last things I want to be reading about. If anything he should be listening to music that has came out within the last 100 years not the past 2 or 3 hundred from Koli’s current time. I don’t now, that just makes no sense to me and it just seemed like Carey was like “Hey, I like these songs.” Also, the reader literally gets rick rolled at one point in this book. I have never cringed so hard in my life. Just completely took me out of the story. End rant.

Setting: Like I said before, the setting isn’t anything ground breaking, but the way that the setting is used and the eyes that the story is told through really elevates it. The suspense behind some of the things going on in this, dare I say, cliche world really had me hooked for the first half of the book.

Final Score: 7/10

If the story and everything about the book was the same, but the character Monono and her plot was taken out then this could have easily been a 9/10, but I would literally cringe or have eye roll moments that made me dread reading the book. I almost stopped reading with 100 pages left just because there were times when I didn’t care anymore.

It seems like I’m shitting on the book, but I did like it. It’s just everything to do with that character sticks out like a sore thumb to me in this setting.

Is it just me? Let me know what you think.

Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun Review

WOW. That’s all that needs to be said about this book. Actually…no this book is so good that a lot needs to be said about it. This is probably my favorite book that I have ever read. (I’m still in the beginning stages of my reading hobby).

This is going to be a spoiler free review because everyone should go into this book blind.

Klara and the Sun is about an AF, or artificial friend, named Klara and her journey from the store to her owners home. But it is about so much more than that. The way Ishiguro puts the reader into Klara’s mind and explains how she thinks was done perfectly IMO. Everything from the way she uses character names to her innocence and how that shapes her view of the sun’s affect on humans.

The book is a slow burn, but I think that helps you get to know the characters and get to know Klara. Throughout the book there are times when little things happen and you go “something isn’t right here”, but then for several chapters after that everything seems fine and, at least for me, you think “well, maybe nothing weird is going on after all.”

I think that is part of the genius of this book because even if there is something weird going on the reader doesn’t notice it outright because Klara doesn’t know what the hell is going on either. Her innocence puts a kind of rosy shade over the readers eyes that makes you think everything is ok, until something obviously isn’t ok.

I was sitting at around a 9/10 about 3/4 of the way through the book and knew that the ending would decide my final score. I kept wondering how it would end and worried that the ending would just be some sub-par, run-of-the-mill ending, but I am so glad I was wrong.

Touchstones

Score: 10/10 Amazing

Plot: The plot is a slow burn, but I never got bored with the story because Klara is always so enamored with the world and taking in her surroundings. There is also little sprinkles of “something is fucked up” ever so gently placed throughout the story that I couldn’t tell if I just wanted there to be something fucked up going on or if there actually was something fucked up going on.

Characters: The story is told through the eyes of Klara, an artificial friend, who is purchased by a mother and her daughter named Josie. Klara’s outlook on the world is so special and done so well. Sometimes stories with robots can go over the top, but here it is done so subtly that there are only certain little things in the way that Klara thinks or talks that gives her away as a robot. Instead of her saying “How are you doing today, Josie?” Klara instead says something like “How is Josie doing today?”. I just think something as small as that makes so much difference when dealing with how a robot might think in real life.

This is the first book I’ve read from Ishiguro and definitely want to check out more. Which ones should I pick up?

Thanks for reading!

Susanna Clarke’s Piranesi Review

Piranesi is an interesting book. I would almost venture to say a one-of-a-kind book, but who knows? We are dropped in the world of Piranesi. Piranesi is a man that lives in a world that he calls “The House”. It is a vast, seemingly never-ending building of hallways and vestibules. Within these halls are a multitude of statues depicting different figures or things on them and as Piranesi has walked through the halls he has picked out his favorite ones.

Within The House, there also lives another person. Piranesi calls him “The Other” and meets with him twice a week to discuss a plan to find a secret knowledge that is hidden somewhere within The House. All goes to plan until Piranesi believes there to be a third person among them somewhere in the halls of the vast House. After that, his world is turned upside down.

Touchstones

The Plot: I thought the plot of Piranesi was very smooth for the most part. I will say that around the 50 page mark I was wondering where in the hell the story was going, but not too long after that some things happen that really peaked my interest and it never really let up from there. I think the setting and the world are AMAZING, but it had me wanting a different type of ending. I’m not disappointed by the ending or saying that it was bad, but the ending was more grounded than I anticipated.

The Pacing: Like I said above, the only part that was a little slow for me was the first 50 pages, but I think that is kind of needed to get used to the way the story is told. It’s told through journal entries that Piranesi writes down and explains what all he did each day. It’s fun to piece together the story as he does this.

Overall Score: 9/10

Weird fantastical books like this are some of my favorite. I love the way it is written in journal entries and the way that Clarke conveys the world such as having Piranesi number each hallway and which direction it goes. When Piranesi is talking about some 190th hall you really get a glimpse at how big this house is.

The only thing keeping this from a 10/10 is the ending. I liked the ending don’t get me wrong, but with the setting of the book and how fantastical the world seemed to me I was expecting some kind of ending that was really bizarre or fantastical in itself. I do like the ending though. It’s a good, solid ending.

This definitely has me interesting in looking out for more of Clarke’s books. I know Oryx & Crake (I think that’s what it’s called)* is super big so that has me a little intimidated, but I’ve heard it’s supposed to be good. I may have to pick it up at some point!

Thanks for reading!

*Edit – Nope, that’s Margaret Atwood lol. Her other book is Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.

George Orwell’s Animal Farm Review

Animal Farm is a short book which I don’t think I can talk about in any sort of depth without giving spoilers, so:

Spoiler Warning!

Animal Farm tells the story of a group of farm animals forming a rebellion to overthrow their farmer master. The story is simple enough, but it is the level of detail and realism put into the politics of the story that make it so compelling.

The rebellion starts off well enough. A new free society is formed with a set of seven commandments. These commandments read such as “No animal shall wear clothes” or “No animal shall sleep in a bed” or “All animals are equal”.

With the rebellion in place, the animals hold dreams of one day living in a world where there are no humans to control them. They tend the farm themselves, sing songs of freedom, and hold meetings to discuss decisions that will be made on the farm. That is, until two pigs beginning debating at each meeting and holding differing opinions.

Eventually, a pig named Napoleon drives out the pig with the differing opinion and assumes command over the farm. Though, not in a blatant way. He has to be slow about it. He feeds the farm propaganda that the other pig, named Snowball, is the source of all of their misfortunes. Or that Snowball was a spy for the humans.

All of this goes on for years. Generations come and go and now the farm is full of animals that weren’t around for what life was like before the rebellion. Life is just accepted the way it is and the farm animals are grateful for the life they have. That is, until the pigs are seen breaking the most important commandment: “Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.”

The pigs had slowly been making themselves the new tyrannical leaders of the farm, simply taking place of the humans. While the animals worked, the pigs sat in the farmhouse and drank beer. Then, as they walked on two legs, commandments had been scrubbed from the barn door and replaced with “All animals are equal. But some animals are more equal than others.”

The story ends with the pigs and humans playing cards in the farmhouse with the animals watching through the window unable to tell which are human and which are pig.

______________

George Orwell sure does know how to write a dystopian novel. I read this in an afternoon and by the end of it I noticed that I felt a hint of guilt as I told my cat “No!” at something she was doing (biting my plants). But, in all seriousness this story shows how even in the aftermath of a rebellion a people can be enslaved easily. The animals weren’t one year removed from breaking chains from the humans before they were already beginning to be controlled again. It was slow and methodical, but only a few years later and their history had been rewritten. The young animals knew nothing of the rebellion, memorials and flags from the start of the rebellion were gone and snuffed out. And even the name of the farm went from Animal Farm back to its original name of Manor Farm. The whole farm came full circle with only a couple of animals left who have small memories from before, but once they are gone all would be forgotten.

The Final Thought

Score: 10/10

It really makes you think about today with statues being torn down, mass media telling the world what to believe, alternate history projects (1619 Project). It shows that even the freest of people can be controlled easily as long as enough people believe it.

Animal Farm is an amazing book that gets straight to the point and what a relevant point it is!

Frank Herbert’s Dune Review

Frank Herbert’s Dune is one of the most famous science fiction novels of all time. I believe it is also the highest selling science fiction novel of all time.

Touchstones – No Spoilers

Dune takes place in a universe ruled by the Padishah Emperor. He is the supreme ruler, though he relinquishes rule of individual planets to appointed governors in a feudal type society. The story begins with the Atreides family taking up the fiefdom of Arrakis, a vast desert planet with lush culture and ecology that the Atreides must learn in order to survive on the planet. The Duke’s son, Paul, is the son of a Bene Gesserit, a guild of women trained from birth with heightened senses and abilities. Paul shows signs and characteristics that lead many to believe he may be more than the son of the Duke and he must travel the lengths of the deserts on Arrakis to find the answers.

Plot: Simple plot with the “chosen one” story line. Not a bad plot, but simple. I think this is probably one of the weaker parts of Dune. The simple plot is elevated by world building and the lore that surrounds it.

Characters: I love the characters in Dune. There are around 15 or so major characters and I like how each person feels when reading them. They may not be the most fleshed out characters, but again I think the world that they inhabit elevates them. I’m only a couple of hours removed from finishing the book so things are still fresh, but I think Stilgar might be my favorite character. I think the time spent with him in the mid-portion of the book is also my favorite part.

Pacing: The pacing of Dune is admittedly a little slow, but I was fine with that throughout the entirety of the book. And that’s saying a lot from me as I’m still a pretty new reader. I was never really bored for long spans of time. There may have been some spots of boredom but it was always quickly turned away by something interesting happening in the world.

Payoffs and Decision Making: This one is a little weird. I think that the payoffs that you think will be gratifying, aren’t really. For example, major character deaths are kind of just something that happens and most of the time aren’t made into a big thing. But, other things that you wouldn’t expect end up being really awesome payoffs. For example, some parts of Paul’s rising through prophecy. The payoffs that you expect may seem like a little bit of a letdown. They do to me right now only hours removed from finishing the book, but maybe that’s not the point that Herbert was trying to get across.

Overall Score: 8.5/10 – This may change the more that I get to live with the book, but that is my gut score right after finishing.

Some Spoilers Ahead (Heads up – I ramble)

Dune is about Paul Atreides growing from boy to man…among other things. His father, Leto, is given fiefdom over a planet called Arrakis. Arrakis is a vast, desert planet with a valuable substance called melange, or spice. This spice is the most valuable substance in the universe due to its faster-than-light travel granting abilities. This also makes the fiefdom of Arrakis a sought after title.

Another house that seeks this title are the Harkonnens. Shadowy, treacherous figures headed by the Baron. The Baron seems to be so fat that he needs suspensors (which I believe are like little anti-gravity devices) to hold up his fat and allow him to walk around with ease. And, these Harkonnens plan to steal the fief of Arrakis from the Atreides family.

There are a ton of other things going on. Some of which I’m not sure I fully understand. I often wondered why the Emperor gave the fiefdom to the Atreides to then turn around and supply troops to the Harkonnens to help them take it over. It seemed to be answered by the fact that Duke Leto had amassed a strong enough army to challenge even the Emperor’s Sardaukar troops, but I thought this was kind of glossed over in almost one line. Can’t the Emperor just take the fiefdom away from the Atreides? (I’m sure there are some political reasons that I’m not grasping as to why he can’t or won’t.) Or why not just give it to the Harkonnens in the first place?

I’m kind of rambling there, but with that being said I loved the world of Dune. I love those sort of science fiction stories that take place in a vast world, but you only get to see a glimpse of it. I think that is the best way to world build.

Here is a world in Dune where numerous factions float around in the galaxy and universe, but we are confined to Arrakis. Some people may not like that, but I think it actually aids in world building. We hear of things such as the butlerian jihad. We hear about and read passages about this presence of the Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV.

While all of this world is being built we get to travel the planet of Dune/Arrakis with Paul Atreides who seems to have every prophecy and foretelling pointing in his direction. Muad’Dib, Kwisatz Haderach, Lisan al’Gaib, etc. He is almost forced into fulfilling these prophecies at the beginning but as the story goes on he seems to grow into the rolls that have seemingly been laid out before him as he goes through his journey.

I would say my biggest problem with Dune is the fact that there’s almost no surprises. At least to me. When the prophecies are told to the reader and then the prophecies keep coming true it’s almost like you as the reader know what is going to happen before it does. And so, if Paul is in some sort of conflict or predicament, you know that he will prevail in the end and fulfill the prophecy. It’s not necessarily a big complaint for me, because in the end, that’s what Dune is meant to be about. It’s about Paul going on his journey to become Muad’Dib. I just wish maybe he had some pitfalls along the way to make me think “oh, maybe he’s actually not who everyone and their mom thinks he is.”

Another small nitpick, because this book was great, is that sometimes we seem to skip large amounts of time within the plot. And, I’m not even talking about the 2 years between the end of “book 2” and the beginning of “book three” within Dune.

There was one chapter where all of the sudden Paul has been in a coma for 3 weeks. I think maybe it could have been cool to see the actions that put him in the coma, because apparently he was poisoned. Unless I understood that wrong. It would have also been nice to see a little of Paul with his son. I honestly didn’t care that much when he died. But, then again, maybe you’re not even supposed to? I’m sure if Frank Herbert wanted the reader to care he would’ve given more time to that.

Another nitpick is I wish we could have seen the battle at the end when the Fremen are retaking Arrakeen from the Harkonnens and the Emperor. It would have been awesome to get some line-by-line action of that.

One small, tiny nitpick (if you can even call it that) is that it just seems weird or funny to me to picture a 4 year old girl out on the battlefield stabbing Harkonnens to death. I know she’s supposed to be super smart and stuff, but I mean…4 years old? Is she even strong enough to hold a blade? But I’m really reaching for stuff now.

Also, I will mention the fact that everyone says Star Wars copied Dune. I will say there are some things that Star Wars seemed to take from Dune. Like, the Jedi are pretty much Bene Gesserit except for the fact they have way more powers. The Bene Gesserit basically can sway people with their voice and have enhanced senses.

Tattoine is similar to Dune. Luke Skywalker is a form of Paul Atreides though I feel like Paul actually fulfilled the prophecy where I don’t even know if Luke did.

Also, it kind of seemed like Paul turned into Bran Stark there at the end with no emotion or anything towards anyone. Maybe that’s just me. Anyways…

The Final Thought

Score: 8.5/10

I feel like with how much hype that this book has around it that it is really hard to live up to those expectations. I get that the Dune is more about philosophy over action and that’s fine. I liked the action that we did get. I loved the sandworm riding scene. That was awesome. I guess maybe the end was a little anticlimactic in that what everyone already knew would happen happened. If that makes sense.

It also threw me off that Paul was so concerned with getting the throne at the end. I’m assuming he’s doing that so he can use his power for the better of Arrakis. For a moment at the end it just seemed like that’s all he cared about. And Gurney kept noticing how he didn’t care about people dying and only about the equipment they were losing. Anyways, I’m rambling again.

I really liked the book and I plan on reading at least up until God Emperor – possibly even the last 2 Frank books, but I’ve heard mixed things. We’ll see.

Let me know your thoughts because I’m sure some things were explained and I didn’t quite grasp them. I’d love to talk about it!

Matthew McConaughey’s Greenlights Review

“Just keep livin…lowercase because life is nobody’s proper noun, and there’s no ‘g’ on the end of livin because life’s a verb.” – from Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey

Matthew McConaughey’s Greenlights was my first experience with a book that could be labeled “self-help”, but I don’t really see it as that. It’s more of a collection of selected stories throughout his life and how how he navigated through those times.

Greenlights is about noticing when life gives you opportunities or maybe refrains from doing so. McConaughey says that sometimes life will give you a “red light” only for that red light to make way for a “green light” later on. How do we recognize these red lights and green lights throughout life so that we can make the most of them when they come?

I don’t consider this a self-help book because McConaughey doesn’t give us the answers to this question. Every life and person is different so it makes sense that one answer would not be a one-size-fits-all. McConaughey instead just gives us his experience and how he was able to navigate those red lights and green lights. He may not have always been happy with the red lights, but when looking back on them he realized that they opened up better opportunities for him.

He talks about family life at a young age and the sometimes tumultuous relationship between his parents. As a college student, he studied abroad in Australia and lived with a local family there. He also talks about navigating Hollywood while trying to navigate his new found fame.

One of my favorite parts of the book was when he talked about how he landed the now famous role in Dazed and Confused. Another great story was how he spent one summer as a kid building a 13-story tree house in the middle of the night to evade his dad’s notice.

The Final Thought:

Score: 9/10

This isn’t usually the type of book that I gravitate towards, but I think McConaughey is a respectable man and brings that southern DIY type style to living life that I also strive for in my own life. I’ve often thought about this book even after reading it. Even if I am just sitting at a red light or catch multiple green lights in a row, I always think back to this book and how that concept can be applied to life.

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