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: 1984 vs Brave New World

1984 by George Orwell | Rating: 5/5

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley | Rating: 4.5/5

Warning: This review is full of spoilers.

1984 and Brave New World are two dystopian novels which have always been compared to each other. Questions such as which book represents the current world rise frequently.

I believe George Orwell’s book was a nightmare written about the present. On the contrary, Aldous Huxley’s book was an exaggerated version of society in the future. In fact, 1984’s Appendix could be considered as the future; a future where humanity was saved.

Writing Styles

Brave New World had some extremely interesting ideas, however, Huxley’s writing made it difficult to connect with the characters. But I found it interesting that Huxley, being a poet, wrote some sentences which read like a piece of poetry.

The light was frozen, dead, a ghost.

High spurts the fountain; fierce and foamy the wild jet.

Huxley’s words were chosen to depict a happier yet unsettling world. If the reader wasn’t aware of life outside of World State, they would never know what a nightmare they lived in.

In contrast, Orwell’s writing was effortless, sinister and powerful. He allowed his words to show a glimpse of hope only when necessary. In my opinion, it was definitely better than Huxley’s:

If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever.

Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be understood.

But once again, if the reader never knew about life before Big Brother, they would accept the world without hesitation.

Forbidden Love

Both worlds forbade people from falling in love with one another. Almost all dystopian novels follow a similar outline.

Love, although an abstract emotion, has the ability to disrupt one’s life. So, it makes sense for totalitarian governments to be scared of love. To be scared of the longing of love as well as the promises made to break any rules for love.

Stability vs Hatred

Huxley’s World State focused on stability — if humans are content with their life, the economy will flourish. Rightfully so, problems arise when people realize they deserve a better life. When they realize they deserve happiness, along with a financially stable life.

But the concept only makes sense if you stay away from the how’s and why’s. How else would you justify creating a drug-addicted society, where children are born through unnatural means, and forced to love their lives by brainwashing them. This is why, our sympathies lie with the savage, John, when he is unable to talk sense into anyone living in the state. In the end, he has no option but to kill himself.

Orwell’s Oceania focused on hatred — if humans are able to take out their rage on a specific individual/group, they will be controlled. Here, nobody cares about the economy. The survival of Oceania, along with the other two states, relies on a broken world.

The outside world is known to be so terrible that people would rather love Big Brother. They would rather give up their privacy and happiness, then fight back. Orwell makes us root for Winston and then shows us his chilling transition from hatred to love. He is broken down slowly, and so are we.

Thus, both the worlds rely heavily on two extremes: happiness and hatred.

Controlling the Mindset

In 1984, the concepts of cognitive dissonance ‘doublethink’ and Newspeak were brilliant. No one really understands the importance of language until they are told that they have the freedom to think as long as they have a medium to express it in. To communicate even with oneself, one needs language. Which is why, when you get rid of the freedom provided by language, you control the way people think.

Another interesting concept was the norm of rewriting history while making sure no one bats an eye. Thus, Big Brother made sure his people bore similarities to robots rather than humans. Unlike Huxley’s world, where offenders were sent to an island as a punishment, Big Brother continued to torture his people until the day they died.

In Brave New World, artificial wombs and conditioning were used to force people to accept their lifestyle. Soma was used to help them overcome their struggles and depression. These people weren’t controlled by the Thought Police, but they still had no thoughts of their own.

I do believe the world nowadays bears more resemblance to the World State. People all over the world are distracted from the bigger issues in life by mere distractions such as reality shows and viral challenges.

The most interesting part of these books is that you can analyze them a hundred times and still come up with different explanations.

Our future generations will read these books because they will always remain relevant — this is the beauty of 1984 and Brave New World.

Before I conclude, let me share a few questions I wrote for our book club meeting:

  • Which novel do you prefer? Orwell’s or Huxley’s?
  • Which world would you rather live in, Oceania or World State?
  • How accurate were Orwell’s & Huxley’s version of the future when you look at the world now?
  • If everyone is happy with their lives in Brave New World, then what exactly is the problem?
  • Do you think 1984’s Appendix proves that somewhere in the future, the world was ‘saved’?
  • What do you think Winston’s dreams meant?
  • What did you think about the Reservation? Were their lives truly better than people living in the World State?
  • What are some of the similarities in the novels?
  • What influenced Orwell & Huxley to write these novels, and in what ways do they introduce these ideas into the story?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below!

Book Review: The Girl With All The Gifts

The Girl With All The Gifts by M. R. Carey

Rating: 4/5

Warning: This review is full of spoilers.

Even though I enjoy watching zombie movies and TV shows, I had never read a zombie book before The Girl With All The Gifts.

Fortunately, this book proved to be quite entertaining.

Carey begins the story by showing us a mysteriously-infected world from Melanie’s (a hungry child) perspective.

Throughout the book, Melanie struggles to suppress the urge of feeding on humans. Her love for her teacher, Miss Justineau, helps her in overcoming these desires repeatedly.

Majority of the storyline is similar to other zombie apocalypse stories. It includes a hunt, a desire to find a cure, and a journey that shows us what remains of the outside world.

However, it is the twist at the end which makes the story worth reading.

It’s always interesting to see how well a book handles end-of-the-world situations. As humans, we tend to believe that only we can save the world.

The Girl With All The Gifts uses that concept cleverly — we are convinced that, surely, there must be a cure to this world filled with hungries.

But sadly, there isn’t. For once, we must put down our weapons and accept defeat. We must let nature carry on with its work.

You can’t save people from the world. There’s nowhere else to take them.

In a way, the ending leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Should we be happy that Miss Justineau is going to help these children? Or should we mourn for her life, because apart from teaching the hungry children, she is eventually going to die?

And what about civilization? What about all these years spent in creating a world, only to watch it collapse right in front of your eyes?

Sadly, we are left to answer these questions on our own.

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

Welcome To My Blog – A Warning In Disguise

It took me 23 years to create my own blog.

23 years.

You see, I do write blog posts. I write them for my clients. I have always wanted to create my own website, but I was waiting for the right time.

Spoiler alert: there is no right time.

I thought that since my work was already on the internet, I could wait a really long time before starting my own blog.

I was wrong, of course.

Let me give you a little background here: I have loved reading books ever since I was a child. I started writing when I was around 7 years old.

Sometime around 8th grade, I discovered that I was a poet as well.

I pride myself on my poetry skills. However, poetry is a truly magical place for me. I say that because poems literally dawn on me once in 2-5 years.

But that is a story for another day.

In 2007, I joined online writing communities like Wattpad and Figment. And since I was a teenager, I chose an extremely embarrassing pen-name: BoltFromTheBlue.

Yes, you read it right. I used to think the name made me look super cool.

Anyhow, I kept writing and deleting, and then writing again. I even became a finalist in a writing contest on Figment.

But all of it came to a stop when I started university.

University took four years of my precious life, turned me into someone who was constantly moody/lazy/annoyed, and finally gave me an Electrical Engineering degree.

I graduated in 2016 and four months later, I realized I couldn’t just sit and wait for a job in an engineering company. I had to do something before I got stuck in this practical life they speak of.

I have been unsuccessfully unemployed since then. But let’s not talk about this cruel subject.

Moving forward, I decided to start working as a professional writer. I began using websites like Upwork to find freelance work and soon enough, I was happily employed by many clients.

Which brings me back to why I started this blog.

Waiting for the right time made me realize that my clients usually have to browse through other client’s websites to look at my work. And even though, it works perfectly well, I still write under certain restrictions provide by said clients.

So, by starting this blog, I will not only enjoy writing posts, but it will also serve as a portfolio of my personal writing style. It will be a space where I will have no restrictions.

So, there you have my simple yet very, very long answer to the question.

Once again, welcome to my blog! My unhealthy habits include procrastinating, eating, sleeping, and binge-watching TV shows and movies.

Fair warning: All of this will be reflected in my future blog posts.

Happy Reading!