Book Review: The Shadow of the Wind

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Rating: 4.2/5

Warning: This review is full of spoilers.

The Shadow of the Wind is the kind of book that makes you want to read more mysteries. It’s filled with characters that develop in front of you, thus bringing you closer to the story.

We are introduced to ten-year-old Daniel Sempere who, upon learning about the secret Cemetery of Forgotten Books, picks up a novel which quite literally changes his life. Our protagonist vows to protect the book from disappearing as well as finding out more about the author, Julian Carax.

I was instantly drawn into the novel due to the dark and captivating setting of post-war Barcelona. Readers will also feel a connection to the book because the story is built on one element we all love: books.

Carlos Ruiz Zafón is extremely talented; when I was reading the book, I could imagine Daniel’s world as my own. Every little thing that came into Daniel’s vision, also came into mine. Although, the book is a little wordy, I felt that it made the mystery more interesting.

The similarities between Julian Carax and Daniel Sempere were quite obvious, but I enjoyed the way Zafón showed us Julian from different perspectives. Some people remembered him as an eerie child while others saw him as a charming young man.

The entire idea was dramatic, plain and simple, but it didn’t weaken the storyline. After leaving a trail of crumbs in the entire novel, Zafón revealed the mystery in a rather long letter. By that point, I had already guessed who Lain Coubert was, but the letter is the reason why I wasn’t able to enjoy the major revelation.

I also noticed that whenever anyone was describing Julian’s story to Daniel, everything would be explained in details. Considering the fact that Daniel wasn’t present in those scenarios, he wouldn’t have known explicit details of their surroundings.

I was also not a big fan of the love story between Bea and Daniel. It felt a little rushed and tame compared to Julian and Penelope’s tragic ending. But I certainly wasn’t expecting the latter to end up as siblings. That was definitely a disturbing surprise.

Other than that, my last impression of the book is similar to my first impression: the story seems unique and remarkable.

The Shadow of the Wind cleverly shows us that we never know what people are trying to hide from plain sight, and that we may never know what mysteries remain unsolved in our lives.

What did you think about the book? Let me know in the comments section below!

Book Review: Little Fires Everywhere

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Rating: 3.9/5

Warning: This review is full of spoilers.

Little Fires Everywhere is the kind of book where, while reading, you have to constantly remind yourself that this is a story filled with family drama. If you don’t, then you will be disappointed by the predictable twists and turns.

The story revolves around a mother’s love for her child, presented in three different sub-stories.

You have the kind-hearted Mia, rule-following Elena, and heartbroken Bebe. Each one of them is trying to do what they think is best for their children.

I have two sisters who are both artists and have always let their imagination become a part of their lives. So naturally, whenever I read the same old portrayal of an artist, I internally roll my eyes.

When it comes to movies and books, these people are always the ones who scoff at conformists. They are always the ones who are free-spirited and honest to their core. The problem grows when every author starts using these traits to define their ‘artist’. This doesn’t mean I dislike every artistic character. But I did dislike Mia.

Here, I have to add that I enjoyed Celeste Ng’s take on Mia’s style of photography. The way she captured and modified her images intrigued me. I am excited to see how it will be depicted in the TV series.

If you pay attention to the synopsis, then it becomes clear that Ng has made up her mind about people who follow rules. So, as soon as I read about Elena, I knew she was the one I would learn to hate. I use the word ‘learn’ because I didn’t find myself disliking her character. Sure, let’s talk about how Elena is selfish, and goes out of her way to make sure things appear the way they do in her mind.

But so does Mia. Why else would she run away with the baby when she had agreed and signed a contract with the Ryans? I understand that the love between a mother and her child is unimaginable. I understand that Mia, after losing Warren, didn’t want to lose her baby. But Ng took sides when it came to defining her characters: she wanted us to agree that Mia was right all along.

Moving on to other characters, the Richardson’s children were slightly unbearable. A jock, a cheerleader, a loser and an outsider; we have all seen this combination before.

I was also particularly interested with the way Mia dealt with Izzy. Think about it: if you knew a child felt like they didn’t belong to their family and had a history of getting into trouble, would you really give them vague advice like the one below.

Sometimes you need to scorch everything to the ground, and start over. After the burning the soil is richer, and new things can grow. People are like that, too. They start over. They find a way.

This quote left me wondering what Ng had in mind. If Ng’s intention was to show us a mother who knew what to say, then this advice was the exact opposite of what Mia should have said.

Overall, I thought the book was good. Ng is a gifted writer — I appreciated the way she unwrapped her story one by one. Even though every paragraph was written from a different character’s point of view, I didn’t find myself getting confused even once.

What did you think of the book? Let me know in the comments section below!

Book Review: The Kite Runner

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Rating: 4/5

Warning: This review is full of spoilers.

The Kite Runner has been a part of my bookshelf for over 8 years, however, this is the first time I read it.

Every single review challenges you to complete this book without shedding a tear. So, as soon as you are introduced to Amir and the kind-hearted Hassan, you expect the worst to happen.

I felt that the first half of the book was powerful yet heartbreaking. I found it difficult to accept certain situations, not because they were unbelievable, but because the story broke you down. Hassan’s character showed us how happily he accepted the good and bad things in life. Even though, it was becoming obvious that Hassan’s life would end in tragedy, I still found myself praying for his safety.

I also loved Khaled Hosseini’s writing – some of the sentences in The Kite Runner are so incredible that you will find yourself reading them again and again.

And that’s the thing about people who mean everything they say. They think everyone else does too.

Hassan and his father’s escape to America was also an interesting part of the story. I found myself disliking Amir earlier in the book, so Hosseini gave me reasons to understand him better.

However, the second half of the book is the reason why I took back one star from this review. An abundance of coincidences, followed by a slightly unbelievable ending left me confused. The ending tied all the loose ends and even brought back some characters. I am not sure what I expected from the rest of the story, but this was certainly not what I enjoyed reading.

However, I would recommend this book to people because it’s written beautifully. It introduces you to the Afghani culture and tells you the reason behind the importance of the words “For you, a thousand times over”. I will definitely be reading the rest of Hosseini’s books in the future.

What did you think of the book? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!