Tag Archives: Novel

JUST FINISHED: A Clockwork Orange

Author: Anthony Burgess
Genre: Dystopian Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

O my brothers, what an interesting read.  A Clockwork Orange is a dystopian novel about a young teen named Alex set in England. The world is quite different from the one of today with many young people, who refer to their gangs as “droogs,” running amuck in the night hours and committing violent crimes. Alex appears to not have any moral compass and has created for himself a life of “ultra-violence” and an imagined superiority amongst his fellow peers. This novel explores his exploits and the consequences that come with them, should he ever be caught.

There were two standout themes that I found unique to this read. The first is the slang that Burgess created for the young teenage characters which is referred to as Nadsat. According to some light research, he created it from a Russian-influenced English. Now when I first started this book, I was a little discouraged that the heavy use of this ‘made-up’ language was a little much for me but I realized by the time I was into the third chapter that I was reading it just as smoothly as regular old English. And it actually became quite fun. I would even read a few paragraphs to some friends out of the blue just to get their reaction and then continue on. I’ve also gotten into the bad habit of saying viddy instead of saw…but I’ll work on it : )

**SPOILER ALERT**

The second theme that stood out was when Alex was captured by the rozzes (police) and imprisoned. He was able to get the early release by agreeing to a new special treatment. This treatment basically rewired his brain to immediately feel sick and in pain when he either thought, saw, or tried to commit a violent or immoral act. Essentially, it was the government’s way of eliminating crime altogether. But what they created was person who no longer has a choice to act in the manner they choose. The elimination of free-will. That then begs the question: if one cannot choose to act to their own will, are they even human? What is a human without error? The other thought-line I enjoyed out of this was how did this government decide what was right and wrong? What governed that standard and who was to say that was correct?

**END SPOILER ALERT**

Oh – and I can’t forget the irony in Alex’s character for having a hysterical passion for classical music. Most people would never think a person that cherished such a fine art form could also perpetrate such vehement cruelty.

I do want to put a warning for the weak stomachs out there as this novel will delve into violence with full force, even if it is in the Nadsat slang. However, do note that Burgess is not promoting violence in the novel, but using it as a vehicle to pose the thematic questions and shape the characters.

If you are in the mood for a book with creative language that questions the limits of free will, this once is for you.

JUST FINISHED: Flight Behavior

Author: Barbara Kingsolver

Genre: Fiction

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

So I was in the mood for a decent good book and couldn’t resist picking up one by my favorite author, Barbara Kingsolver. Flight Behavior deals with a young woman, Dellarobia, going through a trying period in her life.

The novel begins with Dellarobia on her way to ending her marriage by means of an affair. To not expel crucial details, Dellarobia’s life is one that leaves a rushed, trapped feeling. Living in a small town infatuated with the show of religion, the main character was forced to marry her husband in high school after realizing she was pregnant. Like a true gunshot wedding, her in-laws immediately tied them together and even built them their own house on their land.

Fast forward some time and now they have two children and are living the average low-income life in small-town America. She has a husband who cares because it’s what he’s supposed to do, a mother-in-law that can never be pleased, and one friend who is the only person she is able to relate to.

Dellarobia’s life takes a major turn when she discovers a community of monarchs residing on a small mountain that is on their land. Seeing something so amazing and full of life makes her reconsider her own situation and what she can do about it.

Being from a small town myself, Kingsolver’s depiction of the people and their line of thought was spot on. When you live in a community that small, everybody’s business is everybody’s business. Gossip is like wildfire, being different is frowned on, and the only immediate concern of the future is the high school football team’s possible winning status. Most people live day to day in terms of income and life beyond the town limits is just a dream.  It’s a tired cycle that needs to be broken and, as Kingsolver and I would agree, education is the key to breaking it.

Kingsolver even takes on the heavy topic of climate change in this novel. She puts a forthright opinion on the severity that we have dealt to the planet through carbon monoxide to logging. She goes on to explain how these items are causing fundamental changes in the Earth’s ecosystems, causing strange weather patterns and natural disasters previously unheard of.

She twists the knife even further on this issue by blatantly stating that the damage is done. The changes are already in process and what we do now can’t help. We can only study it and try to predict the outcome. And the outcome may be a bad one.

This novel also tenderly delves on the issues of a broken marriage. Kingsolver does a spectacular job portraying the wave of feelings and erratic thoughts that a person can experience when trying to consider if this is how they want their life to continue on. There are very substantial questions that an individual has to deal with when really examining themselves spiritually and mentally. Kingsolver takes these questions head on in this book, giving Dellarobia realistic character growth and making her very human.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. If you’re in the mood for a well written personal and internal drama, you will too.