Sunday, July 17, 2011
First i read Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter. This is written by the guy who wrote Pride & Prejudice and Zombies, which i have not read but has gotten rave reviews. Basically it tells you the story of Abraham Lincoln's life, using extracts from his journals under the premise that he was secretly a vampire hunter. i LOVED this book. i was completely fascinated by Abe's life and the American history & politics of the time in which this was set. i never got taught all that stuff at school so i found it quite interesting and have found myself wanting to learn more about it. It's a very original.
Although the book has vampires in, it is not teen fiction. And it's quite gruesome in places, sometimes so graphic, i had to skim over paragraphs. It's not a mystery either, it reads like a real biography, written in the voice of Seth who is introduced to the story in the first chapter. The fictional character of Henry, a vampire who i was incredibly intrigued by, is also introduced in the beginning, which serves to remind you that this is a work of fiction.
The transition between fiction and history is seamless, using actual quotes and extracts from Abe's speeches and journal entries. Seth must have done an amazing amount of research on Lincoln. If you have an over active imagination like me and/or are able to suspend your disbelief then you'll start to get caught up in the story and believe that Abe was in fact a vampire hunter. It also has (photo-shopped) pictures in to support that vampires existed in that time. It's fun when characters from real life pop up in the story too. Not having a great knowledge of American history i'm not entirely sure which characters are real and which are fiction but i managed to pick out the more famous names.
If you know anything about Lincoln, then you'll already be aware that his life was peppered with sadness. i found the way Seth approaches the topic of depression somewhat refreshing. And it just makes Abe's accomplishments that much more inspiring knowing the difficulties he faced, both personally and politically.
One small disappointment, the ending is a tad cheesy and i was expecting better. It's not in keeping with what you are led to think Abe's beliefs are. But it does not lower my opinion of the book as a whole. i want to read this again and if it wasn't for my goal to read 25 new books in 2011 i'd do it soon.
Second up, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. i'm still not sure what to make of this book. This is written from the point of view of Bruno who is 9 & it's about his journey. Because of his father's job he is forced to move from a home he loves in Berlin, to a house in a new place, which he is very unhappy about. This happens to be situated right next to Auschwitz, but he is unaware of this and doesn't know who the people in the 'striped pyjamas' over the fence are. i can't figure out if his nievity is a wonderful portrayal of the innocence of youth or just plain ridiculous. i think most 9 year olds are more intelligent then that and kids living in Germany at that time would have to attend the Hitler youth. There are lots of discrepancies like this and it is quite a light take on the holocaust (besides the ending), which doesn't sit well with me. But overall, i did enjoy it, it's a quick read. It's last line is particularly thought provoking.