The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton book review

The Outsiders

The Outsiders

S.E. Hinton

Gang Violence/Realistic Fiction

180 pages

 

I’m sure many of you have read this book previously, but for me, this was a first time. And, I know there is a movie, and I plan to see it as well, but as of yet, I have not had the opportunity. One thing I thought was interesting that I found in the back of book in an interview from the author is that her publisher thought that people wouldn’t believe a girl could write this book, which was why it was published under the anonymity of S. E. Hinton. I couldn’t care less whether a book is written be a girl or a boy, and I thought it was a great read.

 

The novel doesn’t say an exact date in it, but it seems to take place sometime in the 60’s. It was published in 1967, if that is any indication. 14-year-old Ponyboy and his gang are in constant conflict and trouble with the Socs, a rival gang of well-off kids. The Greasers always seem to be on the losing end of the battle, and are the frequent victims of jumpings from the Socs. After a Soc is accidentally killed during a scuffle, Ponyboy finds himself on the run to hide out with just one other member of his gang.

 

Events lead them on an adventure that eventually returns Ponyboy back home, but now he faces new problems. Will he be able to stay with his two brothers or be sent to a home for orphans? The story reaches a climax when the Greasers and Socs get together for one final winner-take-all rumble. Will Ponyboy stay in the slums and be like the rest of his gang or will he rise above the odds and make something of himself?

 

I thought that it was really interesting to read about the gang life during this time period, although I’m sure things are very different nowadays. It kind of reminded me of the movie Grease, but without all the singing. Ponyboy got to a point where he could see the Socs’ point-of’-view and it changed the way that he looked at things himself. I think overall it would be appropriate for just about anyone to read, and it has been around for a long time, so it is a well-respected novel.

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Garden of Beasts book review

Garden of Beasts

Jeffery Deaver

Spy/Thriller

536 pages

I have had people suggest Jeffery Deaver to me before, but Garden of Beasts is the first one that I have read. I really enjoyed it. I thought that it was a well-written piece of fictional history that revolved around a unique hero in the story. This novel is set to take place in Berlin in 1936, a few years prior to the start of WWII. Hitler was working to rearm and build up Germany’s army secretly, so that he would be well prepared for another battle. The unlikely hero in this story is a previous war veteran who, through a series of difficult choices upon his return from war, ended up being a “button man,” or a hit man. Paul Shumann is picky with his hits though, and only kills men who he feel are evil and deserve it. The government secretly solicits his services to “touch off” a man who is integral to Hitler’s rearming Germany. In exchange, Paul will be paid handsomely as well as receive a clean criminal record.

Paul sets off for Berlin during the Olympics, using that as his cover. This book is filled with a lot of believable covert activities that lead Paul through his setting up to assassinate Reinhard Ernst. At the same time, it follows the path of a local police officer who is simultaneously and quite skillfully tracking Paul down. With the help of a friendly asset in Berlin, Paul gets ready to overcome the difficult odds and make the hit. Things continue to go wrong and get harder, but Paul is determined not to give up.

Of course, Paul meets a woman and has a romantic interest in Berlin, to make things even more complicated, and she doesn’t know why he’s really there. This book was full of surprises and it had some twists that I didn’t see coming. I really enjoyed it and I am excited to have found a new author whose books I believe will be able to keep me going for a while. Deaver reminded me, based on this book only so far, of Robert Ludlum and some of his better books. I am excited to continue on with more of his novels and see where else he will take me.

The Jester book review

The Jester

James Patterson

Historical Fiction/Adventure

470 Pages

 

I’ve read a lot of James Patterson books, but none quite like this one. This one had almost a The DaVinci Code or The Last Templar feel to it. It takes place during the Crusades, and begins in 1096 A.D. It follows the life of a simple bondsman, Hugh, who finds the desire to leave his wife and go fight in the Crusades. He promises he that he will return no matter what. He leaves and fights hard, learning to be a soldier and doing things he never imagined himself doing. Finally, one day, he decides that he can’t be away from his wife any longer fighting for a cause he’s not even sure he believes in, and he deserts his army.

 

He makes his way home, excited to see his wife again and show her the souvenirs he has brought back with him. However, upon arriving home, he discovers the terrible truth that his wife has been taken captive and everything he loves destroyed. Everyone in his town fears that she is certainly dead, but Hugh cannot accept this and sets off to find her and return her safely home. With the help of new friends he meets, he devises a plan to implant himself close to where he believe he will find her, and bring justice to those who have destroyed his life.

 

This book was exciting to read about, because although it is fiction, it was fun to learn about how things could have been during this time. These is a lot – and I mean a lot – of violence, and very descriptive acts of torture and murder. There was also a surprising amount of sex and sexually related content included, which I had not expected, so I would certainly not recommend this for younger readers. There was a lot of humor strung throughout the novel as well, which is not surprising considering the title. Overall, I found it to be a very entertaining book, although it isn’t my favorite of the work that Patterson has put out. Especially if you are interested in this time period, I think you will enjoy it!

The Kite Runner book review

The Kite Runner

Khaled Hosseini

Historical Fiction/Coming-of-Age

371 Pages

 

I picked this book up because I had seen a lot of people reading it which made me curious. It was not what I expected. The book is largely about a boy growing up in Afghanistan shortly before the invasion by Russian forces. His name is Amir and he lives in a house with his father, as his mother has passed away. The novel gets its name from an activity very popular at this time, a kite tournament. Amir’s closest companion is a boy named Hassan, who is actually the son of his father’s servant, and thereby the younger servant of the family as well. Although Hassan considers Amir his best friend and would do anything for him, Amir doesn’t even consider them friends. He is very aware of him importance and “rank” above Hassan.

 

When Amir enters the kite tournament, he desires to win to hopefully make his dad proud so that the awkwardness between them can end. His loyal companion Hassan is running kites for him and promises to bring the last kite back. As he is running to find it, his path is intercepted by some old rivals who have vowed revenge. The boys are abusing Hassan, and Amir finds him just in time to be able to intercede and stop them, but he is frozen with fear and does nothing. When Hassan finally returns with the kite, Amir is so ashamed with himself that he cannot even look at Hassan, and things between them are never the same.

 

This novel then follows the course of Amir’s life as he grows up and his life changes in ways he never could have imagined. He comes to America and his father, who was once a successful businessman struggles to make ends meet. He finds some happiness, but Hassan in always there in the back of his mind. He can’t help but wonder how things could have been different if he had found the courage to stand up for the boy that would have done anything for him that day. This is a sad story filled with drama and despair, but it is a good book. In the end, Amir is presented with a dangerous opportunity to possibly redeem himself, and it will take all the courage he can muster to face it.

 

There are definitely some situations and content that might not be acceptable for younger readers. This novel is a sad tale of things that you hope aren’t true as you’re reading it. It addresses topics such as bullies, courage, and standing up for others, with an overall good message in a powerful book that you will remember.