Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Dogs of Christmas, W. Bruce Cameron

Cameron's latest novel published in 2013 veers off from his usual prose of narration which used to be from the dog's perspective. The dog, being the main protagonist in his two other witty novels are by no means bestsellers for several weeks capping off other works. Humans crave attention no matter who they are and Cameron, from his vast experience with dogs know this particular virtue that requires addressing and re-addressing from time to time. Two of his previous works remain my favourite and this one nails it right there to the third in the bookended shelf. I love The Dogs of Christmas despite its shift in perspective this time around to include a man.

Josh is a socially inept dude who lived in far up the mountains in Colorado inheriting a lodgepole hut from his father. Divided in his attention to his work and his socially depleted life, he regales himself in the pride of hiking, reading and the hut's upkeep most of the time. His life is about to take an about turn when his neighbour Ryan dropped in intrusively with a heavily pregnant dog, Lucy at his doorstep. Not so much of an obligation or rather by compelling nature to do something nice for his friend, Josh has got no choice but to accept the responsibility at hand.

The story took a brilliant tinge of heart wrenching event with Lucy having stillborns and Josh having been abruptly changed through a vastly new challenge that he has not adopted before. With his life taking a switchback course from the new responsibility upon returning with Lucy empty-handed off the brood, he found himself in a totally differing dimension of acceptance as he glanced down a box left unattended in the back of his pickup truck which turned out to be five German Shepherd puppies. Newly born and abandoned.

This new insight shoved right through Josh's life as he could only feel dumbfounded at the event unravelling right in front of his eyes. The hours of difference was all it took to give him a kickstart towards life, towards a new emotional turmoil, towards the real meaning of sacrifice, happiness, togetherness and retracing his steps towards his background with the help of his newfound friends.

Dogs will always remain as Man's Best Friend and this book enthused with eager vibrance and vivaciousness on the triumph of dog's kind personality and characteristics towards that of human. I loved the way Cameron filled the pages with witty humour, love, misunderstandings and some unexpected plot twists which is not so uncommon in our way of life. There are haters of animals and there are lovers of animals, and I stand proud I remain the latter. It is after all, the latter who will be giving a second chance to abandoned creatures needing so much attention and love.

This book is good for you, for anyone who needs softening of the heart in a way no man can do. Thank you Cameron!

A Dog’s Purpose, W. Bruce Cameron

If you are familiar with the book A Dog’s Journey by W Bruce Cameron, then you should also read its predecessor, A Dog’s Purpose. Written in the similar context that fans are by now comfortable with, it sparks the momentous journey of man’s best friend seeking out the true purpose of its life as it gets a chance to reincarnate several times to live up to the human life’s expectancy just so that he could fulfil his ultimate goal. Filled with witty points, clever humour and certainly some sad moments, I would recommend some preparation of Kleenex tissues before you make do with this emotionally hyped novel for those who owns a dog. Even those who don’t have pets would relate relatively easily with the points listed out by Cameron.

It would certainly strike a hot nerve with those who are familiar with the crimes of dog abuse and how it reels one to feel attached to the novel’s canine protagonist. Which is a point to consider out of focus on retrospect. Cameron did not only write a novel that is filled with wonderful unconditional love of that from a dog, but forces his reader to absorb the nature that dogs has to face - both domestic and feral. The dangers lurking out each corner and the anticipation welling up as you skim from sentence to sentence is more than sufficient to keep you sure-footed and remind one to think twice before hurtling a hurtful object to a living thing, and in particular dogs. Scenes are clearly made to liven up the poor condition of rescue shelters, doghouses and abandoned ramshackle huts aimed to help the poor souls out there, but not as long as we start to open up to our faithful partners, we will never sense the degree of how God once grant these beautiful creature to roam the earth just so to keep our sanity in check and balance.

I speak as an owner of my wonderful dog, Bruno, and I know at each juncture that I speak from the heart. Each points in these book related personally to me and I applaud the cleverness in reliving each moment of a dog’s life that I so cherish as a teenager.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Allegiant, Veronica Roth

Just when you thought things wouldn't get any worse, here comes Allegiant prowling around into the realms of purposeful creation of a world filled with haphazardness and confusion. The storyline is so utterly and totally bull that it kinda fails to deliver in all the aspects that it aims to fulfil. I retract my comments on the sound basis of a foundational work for the Divergent series after having only read the first volume earlier. Having completed all three books, I suppose I am qualified enough to have my own say with regards to the poorly plotted storylines filled with loopholes so big that it would make Bermuda Triangle pale into comparison. You've got a great bunch of uprising and rebellions fitted into a short span of time that to first plan one of those, you'd best be prepared to plan for another rebellion upon winning the first rebellion.

Somehow Roth seems to have lost herself in the whole scheme of things. Sorry, but I can't believe how this is a bestseller to start off with. It's just plain idiotic and it mocks my intelligence to the extreme. Now let's see how they try to make this into a film without confusing the audience who has yet to have the notion to read through slowly and grapple with the horror of getting heaved into utter disorientation. For those who yearns to read better books, discard the Divergent series. It's just plain dumb and is a waste of money.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Insurgent, Veronica Roth

Insurgent - the subsequent follow up to Divergent (a.k.a Divergent #2) picks up the pace from where Tris and Four (Tobias) successfully escapes from their Dauntless headquarters after having procured the data that contains the main control in authorising robotic submission of those who are injected with a transmitter device; thus allowing the controller to possess the full power in controlling the latter's mind. Come to think of it one pace or another, Divergent could be closely related to mind-control, the interesting psyche of the human brain, and Insurgent went into brief detail in explaining what the usurpers of the current governance are up to.

Insurgent is no better than Divergent. Utterly long-winded and draggy at the same time, the book is lapsed into a phase of indifference and predictable plot. Readers can chart a pattern of the increasing amount of physical and emotional connection between Tris and Four as the plot progresses and how the former starts to develop an erratic behaviour on account of her parents' death and her brother's decision to defect to the enemy as well as her direct involvement in killing her best friend's boyfriend (Will). The teenage romance chills me to my bone and I try to skim through as fast as I can whenever the plot seems to take a twist and suggests the inevitable. It seems likely that these sort of account would appeal to readers of a differing age group compared to mine, but having the episodes made redundant is on the contrary, a stimuli to initiate multiple sessions of upchucking.

The erratic behaviour and mood of Tris could be likened to that with a patient suffering from cyclic mood disorder and that would perhaps be the only thing that is rather unpredictable in the story-line of all the Divergent series. That said, for the clarification and confirmation of many, is not a good thing. The problem with Insurgent is the pattern of uncertainty that Roth treads on. And apparently she's gotten pretty good at it to be able to churn out 526 pages of nonsense filled with action, making up and breaking up between the two protagonists.

An independent book review that I read off GoodRead recently suggested the regular intervals of Tris wondering what to do followed up by making out with Four before lapsing back into wondering what to do and then making out with Four again. These repeats itself like the Ouroboros, finding no beginning and no end. It doesn't really surprise me that Roth's final intention of ending book two with a totally differing plot only comes directly on the last page of Insurgent. One wonders why it doesn't come any earlier, or without any hint of any to begin with... Please avoid this for something better.

Divergent, Veronica Roth

If you are familiar with the Hunger Games trilogy and have already read all the three novels by Suzanne Collins, then you would be by no doubt familiar with dystopian novels. The Divergent series/trilogy is much the same as any other dystopian faculty which comprises of a world so unique and far-fetched that an author really needs the capability to draw the audience's focus or lose them totally. The similarity with Hunger Games is almost uncanny with the typical trilogy being set out in three distinct phase.

Divergent #1, or Divergent per se, is the foundational grounds for a group of five factions that exist in the future Chicago city. Living up with their own set of skills, attributes, personality and characteristics, they each provision their own capabilities for the good of humanity; whatever that is left of the post war-torn apocalypse. Readers are not privy to any outside information of an outside world in the first book nor even the second. One only grasp the minute understanding that the possibility do exist and this provides a sound finale for the second book.

These five categories of faction are the Dauntless, Erudites, Candor, Amity and Abnegation. Those that couldn't fit into any or fail to become one of these five factions are outcasted and thrown into exile known as the Factionless. And within the grounds of Abnegation, there exists a subgroup of differing members that possesses capabilities and attributes that are not only confined to one particular faction, but coincides with two or more other factions. And the author would waste no time in introducing the protagonist - Beatrice Prior/Tris/Stiff from Abnegation as one of such special exemption known as the Divergent.

If these all sounds bull to you, then that's sadly where it only starts to begin. The concept although nothing new or fresh, is a sound one. One that possesses the true capacity to recreate a dystopian universe that could have a breakthrough story. Had it been any better to absorb and appeal to a larger population base, then Divergent would have been more than a success. Throughout the story, it is rather obvious that Roth suffers from the incapability to translate her vivacious imagination into writing which thus makes the novel not only dull but dragging. Her descriptive elaboration of a new world was a pain and to submerge these failures into omission, there comes the replacement of incredulous teenage romance that kinda creeps on your skin. Maybe that's because I've matured to a readership of much better authors or perhaps I'm being too mean on a debut novelist. But somehow the cacophony of word noises as well as the haphazard disorganisation of her thoughts are clear as crystal. And I suspect the reason why this would happen is that the main energy of her focus is thrown onto the protagonist while at the same time forgetting the rest of her supporting cast.

Though irksome to proceed from page to page, I force myself hoping for something better towards the progression of oncoming chapters, but Roth failed terribly in inciting that sort of childhood or teenage excitement in me to see within the realms of her fictitious world. These are grounds best left to the author of the Hunger Games.