What I Read: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari (638 pages)
How it Starts: As this isn’t a story book but more a scientific and historical book, it doesn’t have a plot. However, the book does discuss the beginning of earth and the sproutings of all homosapiens and all its relatives that had died off mysteriously in a much, much older time.
How it Gets Started: The book then gets more complicated as it dives into how human society was created and why people act the way they do, why people are impressionable and how they get that way, and why they flock into groups. It courses through a chaotic split between history and science, a dabble of psychology. It’s truly interesting and blatantly riveting.
What I Liked: I liked the psychological explanations the author coated most of the inner workings of social cliques and commands of humans. I’m not one for science and I’ve gone over most of the history, (not as extensively, obviously,) but I do love learning about my fellow man and why he does the things he does.
What I Disliked: The book, although very interesting, was hard to understand at points. I know that this book was probably meant for the more diverse of mind and knowledge, but the author could have put it into an even more laymen synopsis for the less up there readers which I might identify with.
Recommendation: I’d recommend this for anyone who wants to learn about their society, not really the rules of it, but how, exactly, those rules came to be. It’s difficult to understand at times, but once you catch on it is a very good informational read. 3.5/5 Mongolian Red Pandas.
Source: Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, page 29
Quote: “They hate me, and that’s how it should be.”
Context: After Lena’s Uncle’s passing, it would be customary in this town for all her peers to be sympathetic, respectful and nice to her. In the previous book, all of these people were wickedly mean to her for no real reason other than her difference of style, appearance and views, and the fact that she just isn’t from their town.
This Makes Me Think: I would be so angry if certain people were nice to me after the death of a loved one, too. I don’t think there’s much wrong with being hated and it’s a natural part of homosapien life. I would hate the hypocritical people who act differently just because they think they’d get lashed out on if they didn’t. When you’re choosing the kind of person you are, you can’t suddenly change it because you think it’s gonna be rough for you. That makes you spineless and weak of character, and overall just a jerk who is too afraid to be themselves in hot spots. That later makes it impossible for me to like you or even respect you later on.
Source: Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, page 23
Context: “I’d heard Sixteen Moons for months before Lena’s birthday, a harbinger for things to come.”
In Their Words:
a person or thing that announces or signals the approach of another.
In My Words: Something that indicates the soon to come arrival of something the same or similar as the thing itself.
Source: Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, page 21
Quote: “I took a gulp of my chocolate milk and almost choked. Sugar was too sweet, and Amma was too quiet. That’s how I knew things had changed.
That, and the burnt waffles smoking in the waffle iron.”
Context: A close family friend of Amma and Ethan’s had just died, and Amma must have been closer to than him than she let on when he was alive.
This Makes Me Think: It’s funny how the very very little things can bother you and you can notice when there’s been a tragedy or a passing. Small things annoy you like the sweetness of a drink you usually love, the silence you normally would have relished but instead both things just irk you beyond belief. You notice the food that your housemaid but more like adoptive mother would have never slipped up on because suddenly, waffles don’t seem so important anymore.
Source: Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, page 19
Quote: “…my dad nearly jumping off the balcony, she called my Aunt Caroline.”
Context: The main character, Ethan’s father sort of went crazy after the passing of his wife and Ethan’s mother. They apparently called Ethan’s aunt to help him because it wasn’t in the social ok to get therapy in this part of the south, it appears.
This Makes Me Think: Because there are a lot of parallels between this series and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, this reminds me of when Atticus has Aunt Alexandria come and live with him. Now, there are a lot of differences as in this southern town is more modern and Macon is much less, it has magical elements and there’s probably not going to be a rape trial. However, it is sort of a race thing but not between humans.
What makes a good character? I think that a few things that need to be in place are things, 1. Motive (What drives them), 2. Flaws/Weaknesses, 3. Strengths. I think that this could be tied to a very vivid and clear belief window, if you’re familiar with the term. Your character should have friends, should have enemies, should have hobbies and interests that don’t feel forced. Your character can’t just go on an adventure without a reason why either, so your character has to want something and is has to eventually be disclosed why they want that thing. For an example, Gary wants a glass of water. Why does Gay want a glass of water? I’m not sure for now. What’s this? On his quest for a glass of water we discover that Gary’s dead mother used to drink glasses of water often and it makes him feel closer to her to do the same? Wow! He got the glass of water, what a great story! A good way to develop characters when you’re not good at it is base them off of people you know, maybe combine them, but don’t do that often once you’re better at it because I’d bet it gets unhealthy eventually.
Source: Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, page 16
Context: “Not a bow, but an awkward show of deference, which somehow seemed more honest.”
In Their Words:
humble submission and respect.
In My Words: Submission due to respect and not to fear.
Source: Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, page 14
Quote: Boo Radley, Macon’s dog, whimpered and flattened his ears at Lena’s feet.
Context: Boo Radley is the name of a dog in this book and is scared at the moment because there’s a storm that came out of nowhere.
This Makes Me Think: I wonder if the dog is named Boo for any other reason than his owner’s love for To Kill a Mockingbird, like if he might save somebody. I think that maybe he was named that because his owner, in many ways, was like Boo Radley and that’s who he took empathy with. His owner was a recluse, as the book put it, and the entire town hated him until he had died. He saved the main character in the previous book much like Boo Radley saved Jem and Scout in the Harper Lee classic.
What it is About: This book contains a tale of a young boy named Conor whose mother is struggling with cancer. But here’s the kicker: each time his clock reaches 12:07, he sees a big tree monster who wants to tell him stories, and at the end, demands Conor tells a story of his own.
The Big Ideas: I think the author might want the audience to consider what they would do and how they might feel if someone close to them was struck with a fatal illness and it certainly gets you thinking about your morals with the tales of the monster. However, I’ve got to say, some of those stories had unforeseeable messages.
What I Liked: I liked the realism in the way this book was written, a lot of the time it did feel like someone was telling me a story that genuinely happened despite all the unrealistic things that happened, (by that I mean a tree monster giving life advice), it really did feel real most of the time. The characters were rich with proper characteristics, like real people, some of them had highly debated flaws. No one here is truly evil just because, they all have reasons to act the way they were.
What I Disliked: I don’t really enjoy the loose ends the author left us with, like what time did his mother die? What happens after his mother died? Did the monster disappear? Does Conor see the monster for the rest of his life? Where does Conor end up living? What happens between Conor and Lily? It was just a very unsatisfying end for me. What happens between Conor and Harry? I didn’t really like the tales that the monster gave either, I mean I liked them story-wise, but all the unforeseen morals and lessons in them truly are backwards.
Why this Book Matters: This book doesn’t really matter all that much, but I suppose it could give a very important message to someone who needs it: It’s okay to want a bad situation to be over, even if it hurts people when it is because it’s bound to end eventually and that pain will inflict eventually too, but probably harder if not sooner than later.
I think Conor would feel better to be punished because he wants his mother to die, he wants this whole situation to be over and he pushes those who “see” him away because he feels he doesn’t deserve to truly be seen even though it’s all he really wants. He wants to be seen because he doesn’t want to feel isolated, and how everyone treats him so delicately infuriates him because it’s so delicate they don’t even bother to speak to interact with Conor. Harry recognized this and used it solely to destroy him, and the monster, I feel, is the thing that manifests and expresses the bad things for Conor. Being seen by many is not even a good feeling but being so isolated as Conor, I’m sure that anyone seeing you would feel good, even if it is for punishment. If you feel unseen, find someone who you think will see you and if they don’t keep searching, there is bound to be someone.