For the year of 2016, I embarked on something new in regards to my reading prowess. I decided that I would do a reading challenge. I am reading PopSugar “Ultimate Reading Challenge “, where you are read 41 books over the course of 2016 in various categories. I read almost 30 books last year with some over 800 pages or more so I figured that although 40 books was going to be quite the challenge, it would stretch me to read some new material at least and if I completed the challenge, that would be an additional bonus.
I started January and February very fast out of the gate, carefully picking quicker reads, predicting that I should take advantage of my “new motivation” for this challenge and get as much done as possible as I eventually would slow down to a crawl in my reading due to spring/summer coming; setting aside less time for reading to pursue other outdoor activities and the like.
Currently, as of 3-12-16, I am on my 15th book of the reading challenge, “The Count of Monte Cristo (unabridged version, coming in out a whopping 1275 pages). I’ve have stalled out some in reading this book due to length obviously, but also because I enjoy the story so much that I am wanting to savor it instead of blazing through it as one might typical do. This of course comes at a cost in my progress for my challenge but a risk I am willing to take since I am still on the front end of the year in my reading and can afford the luxury of such a vast novel, hopefully recovering my progress with shorter books after The Count of Monte Cristo.
Below are a couple of reviews of books I have read so far in this reading challenge; as I will select my greatest disappointment and my best surprise so far. Please feel free to comment whether it maybe a reading challenge of your own, strategy for your reading challenge, agreement or disagreement with my reviews or anything in regards to book reviews/discussion you like.
Thank you for your time in reading and I hope you enjoy and continue to read my other book reviews, categories, etc if you desire to read more.
My Greatest Disappointment Book of 2016: Blindness by Jose Saramago
It cannot be wise I suppose to knock a writer who has won the Nobel Prize for Literature, which essentially means he is light years above my writing skill and has reached an audience so few writers get to reach and gain the notoriety that will extend beyond lifetimes, cementing himself in the annals of history. Obviously, I appreciate the respect given to him worldwide by finer minds greater than my own, but I cannot get behind his writing style and more than likely will not attempt another book by Jose Saramago.
This is my Goodreads account short review of the book, which I will expound on some:
“I will say this is my first Saramago book and most likely the last I will read. Clever idea, really looked forward to this read but I am so disappointed overall.
Could not get over his writing style and such focus paid on repetitive subjects. I worked to finish due to a reading challenge but like The Dentist’s wife, I was alone in carrying this book to completion.
The Dentist’s Wife is the only character I could sort of get behind in liking. She was tough and loyal to a fault it seemed.”
That being said, I will briefly give a synopsis (spoiler free) and continue from there.
Blindness takes place in modern society but before smartphones and before the “Internet Age” of 2000s-and on. A man driving in a car randomly goes blind in middle of driving in city traffic, causing confusion and returns home by the aid of another person. His wife comes home, goes into shock at the discovery of his blindness; takes him the eye doctor to see find a cause for this “onset blindness”. There is no cause of the blindness that the eye doctor can find. More random, one -off cases of this blindness start occurring throughout the city.
The government sees the blindness as contagious and decides to quarantine anyone blind (currently afflicted or already blind previously). People are rounded up by the military and placed in abandoned hospital former used as an mental ward/asylum. Most people quarantined are completely new to blindness so they much difficulty find their barrings, getting used to this most shocking transition of living without sight and being somewhere completely foreign with a bunch of strangers who have the same problems as them currently.
So chaos inside the hospital erupts in several ways; local gang sprout up to bully others, rationing of resources, sanitary conditions greatly decrease for reasons vividly described in the book, people losing faith/hope-acting irrationally, etc.
The story really focuses around a small group of people inside the hospital who are staying in the same room, have a connection to one another pre-Blindness and endure hardships in order to survive this New World that is evolving (more like de-evolving around them).
I will stop right there in the book summary to avoid giving away too much and hopefully provided a gist of what it is about.
My take on this book: Continuing from my Goodreads review, yes, I thought this was a clever idea on a story. It was very well reviewed and it seemed like if I had to read something of a dystopian nature, this would be a different spin than my past reads (Hunger Games Series, Brave New World, The Host, to name a few)
The writing style bothered me right away though. Saramago purposely doesn’t space dialogue in the traditional sense where you know what Character A said and then this is what Character B said. It makes it more difficult to read because you are reading at a slower rate, reading at times due to confusion and I am not sure what is to be gained by this formatting style. If this is something he typically does, again, I only read this one book of his but I’m not a fan of this writing format.
Saramago seemed to fixate on repetitious subjects to the point it was almost humorous because it just lost my connection, my imagination of the characters in their current plight; which is easier to do when you talk about how much fecal matter is around the hospital, people not going to the bathroom where they should, toilets clogging, etc. It is gagging to think about and most likely very realistic (if such things ever occurred in reality), but does it need to be repeatedly pointed out to the reader? I don’t think so at least because it takes away from the more important aspects of the story and creates an unnecessary distraction.
The Dentist’s wife was the only redeemable character in the entire story. She was strong, loyal and your heart really went out to her for all she went through, but she carried so much of the burdens in the story line itself. She unfortunately cannot carry the overall quality of the story to a redeemable state.
Overall what I got at this book is, “When society is thrown a major curveball, chaos gets compounded because people by nature suck and are self-serving. And there is only a very, very few people that strive to live by another sort of moral code because it becomes Dog eat Dog kind of world otherwise.”
I am not saying that is right or wrong but if you read to the end of the book, you will possibly see my point and wonder, ” Why did I read this? What is redeeming about this book? What was the point of everything that just transpired? Among other questions I’m sure too.
Lowest official rating I have every given:
My Biggest Surprise Read :TBD