2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clark - This is quite simply a classic of science fiction literature. The book follows a space expedition in search of the truth of a mysterious monolith discovered on the moon in the beginning of the 21st century. The book is based on the film co-written by Arthur C. Clark and Stanley Kubrick, and frankly reading the book after seeing the movie helped me understand the events going on much better. The book is easier to understand, much more linear, and more exciting. It is simply written, so most levels of readers should be able to at least understand the events occurring, but may not understand the many underlying lessons about humanity as a whole. The book is really a rather large opinion on human life and where we stand in the scope of the cosmos; Clark's opinion seems to be that we aren't very high. Completely enjoyable and easily read, 2001 comes highly recommended. 8.5/10.
Added July 19, 2000.
Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
- This is one of the best books I have ever read. It follows the story
of Holden Caulfield as he tries to find a place for himself in the world.
It is an incredibly realistic and emotional probing into the mind of this
one young man. It is fast paced, with plenty going on all the time; you'll
always be wondering what will happen to Holden next. However, like most
books considered classic, if you just read it quickly and for pleasure
you may miss out on all the hidden lessons that can be gleamed when you
probe the book deeply. If you have any interest in reading a book that
may make you think a little more than usual, is considered a classic of
American literature, and is entertaining do yourself a favor and pick this
one up. 8/10.
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre
Dumas - I had read this 5 years ago in an abridged form, so I decided to
tackle all 1500 pages this time. I was not disappointed. While
I do not recall what exactly was edited, to take a 1500 page book to 400
pages much must have been lost. What I read this time left little
to be desired. The story of Edmond Dantes, his tribulations, and
eventually his triumph is grand in scope and easily one of the best historical
romances I have ever read. Despite the length of the book, I found
it an easy read. Dumas knows how to grab the reader and never let
go. However, due to frequent name changes, the story can easily become
confusing and I found myself referring to previous chapters to figure out
what was going on. Overall, however, if you read it with a clear
head you will find a book that will not disappoint anyone. 9/10.
Dune by Frank Herbert - Easily one of
the best science fiction books I have ever read, Dune will grab
you and not let you go. This is no simple science fiction story either;
comes complete with many, many underlying themes and story arcs. I even
managed to write a complete research paper on this book; I spent months
on the paper, but I didn't come close to truly scratching the surface.
The story follows Paul Atreides and his place in a messiah legend. Originally
a pulp story, written in installments, the book features incredible build
ups of emotion throughout, eventually building into an excellent, but surprising
climax. Also, the story is written in such a way that the reader can get
the most, or the least out of it, yet still find it incredibly enjoyable.
It doesn't use difficult language, but its hidden meanings will elude many
the casual reader. If you like science fiction and you haven't read this
one, what are you waiting for? 9.5/10.
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card - In
the introduction to this very entertaining sci-fi story, the author states
that he purposely avoided any true literary techiniques so that anyone
can pick up the book and understand it fully. Well, he succeeded.
Anyone above the age of 13 will find Ender's Game to be an extremely
basic, albeit enjoyable, story that cannot hold a candle to anything by
Robert A. Heinlein or Frank Herbert. While the points that Card raises
are interesting and valid, they are so shallow in the plot that most meaning
they have become lost. The plight that many gifted children are placed
in and the danger of overpopulation are incredibly relevant topics, but
their real depth are not truly explored here, just alluded to. However,
if you read this book just for an interesting story with some unique (although
often predictable) twists you will probably enjoy the work fully.
I honestly haven't read something this much fun in a long while.
Which is the saving grace of the book. If nothing else, you will
have fun reading it. 6.5/10.
The Past Through Tomorrow by Robert
A. Heinlein - Heinlein is easily my favorite
science fiction writer. His worlds always seem to have an incredible amount
of depth to them and his stories are always entertaining, yet deep at the
same time. His problems always lie in the characters, as they never achieve
the realism you can see in Dune or one of Tolkien's books. However,
his characters are, once again, entertaining, and the dialogue between
them is always strong. These traditions all carry through every story contained
in The Past Through Tomorrow, a collection of Heinlein's future
history stories. The stories range from the purely entertaining ("-We
Also Walk Dogs") to the purely brilliant (The Man Who Sold the Moon
and Methuselah's Children). My personal favorite is "If this
goes on-", a story about religious fanaticism in a post constitutional
America. Even those of you who don't particularly enjoy science fiction
will enjoy this book. 9.5/10. Only available in hardcover from the Science
The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
- This is just a great book. It has a little of everything; love action,
conspiracy, and drama. If you're looking for it The Three Musketeers
most likely has it. Most people know the general story through one of the
many movies based on the story. None have any chance of doing it justice.
While it depends slightly on the translation you may be reading, Dumas
has a unique way of building events into an extremely exciting mini-climax,
which all builds into a huge ending. The many underlying plot lines all
are interesting and make the rather long book a fairly easy read. While
this may seem like a short review, I can think of nothing more to say about
this excellent read. 9/10.