Book Review: Ode to Kirihito

Ode to Kirihito by Osamu Tezuka
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Interesting...

That is how I would describe this work. This is a strange story about a doctor who is researching a disease. The story then unfolds with betrayal and corruption in the medical world of Japan. At the same time our main character is taken on an emotional and physically brutal trip through several countries enduring the bigotry of the disease he has caught.

The cultural sentimentalities come across strange at times, dated even. There was a passage early on in the book where a female lead character is raped and no one seems to care. The perpetrator, whom she knew, just walked away and she gave into it as if she was supposed to. It was odd to me and actually unbelievable.

The artwork was extremely well done though and at 800 pages has to be one of the longest graphic novels I have ever read. I won't put myself in the camp of "masterpiece" as others state, but it was a good book.

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Book Review: The Golden Compass

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well, I don't know quite how to rate this book. There were a lot of things I liked but there were also a number of things that pulled me out of the story.

Audiobook
Let's start off with the audiobook itself. The audiobook was really well produced. It was read by Philip Pullman and fully cast with actors, resulting in a pretty immersive listening experience. Some of the characters in the book came across better than others, but most were quite good.

Philip Pullman also did an excellent job as the narrator and he has quite a good reading voice.

The Story
The story left me a bit mixed. I felt that there were too many instances of the narrative had to be resolved by a "deus ex machina", where Lyra just happened to have the right tool, or set of words to get her out of a situation. The alethiometer was a really cool device in the story, but often times was just too powerful of a plot device for Lyra.

Lyra's character also really left me mixed at times. I liked that she was portrayed as a strong female protagonist, but she sometimes swung from a helpless child less than her age, to someone who had the intelligence to outwit most of the adults around her. I was able to believe the latter, but the former felt out of place for the character that Pullman developed.

Most of the supporting cast I truly enjoyed. They were well developed and people you could love our hate truly based upon their character. Lyra's parents we come to find out are absolutely crazy. I enjoyed their insanity, but I did have a bit of trouble trying to understand how they fell in love to begin with. Their personalities seemed so far apart and they were insane for different reasons.

This was a pretty solid book, but I wasn't quite "wowed" by the hype that has proceeded it. I am not sure if I am going to go onto the second book in the series.

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Book Review: The Children of Hurin

The Children of Húrin by J.R.R. Tolkien
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

They don't write them like this anymore. The Children of Húrin is a work completed by J.R.R. Tolkien's son, Christopher. The story reads like a Greek tragedy or legend, as if it was being told around a fire.

The story follows the life of Túrin, son of Húrin, covering his entire life, and focusing brief passages on his key adventures and misadventures. The book does not give you an in depth "play by play" of everything that occurs and it will summarize years passing in a paragraph or two.

What you get are broad strokes about the feats performed by a single man and the tragedy of his life. Rather than a book written for us, this almost reads like a book written for the denizens of Middle Earth, shared with its inhabitants about a tragic hero from the first age.

The readability this book rates high compared to some of the other incomplete works of Tolkien. This is by no means as easy as the Hobbit or LOTR, but it is much more digestible than any of the Unfinished Tales. The stories will be easy to follow, but the locations and names of many of the characters will leave you confused. The book assumes that you are familiar with the locations of places in the world, (again, perhaps it is written for the people of Middle Earth) and doesn't give you much reference.

Christopher Tolkien does an excellent job providing detailed annotations and notes on his father's work along with background information about how he pieced partial manuscripts together.

Overall, this is a great story for anyone who is a fan of Tolkien. If you have read The Hobbit and LOTR and you are looking for a story to make the jump before getting into the difficult ocean of the Unfinished Tales, this is a great bridge book that will give you a good story and also give you the background information about how the world was created.

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