Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka [Book Review]

Admittedly I hadn’t heard of this book until I walked into a taster lecture at UEA and found out we were analysing the opening, however the concept of someone waking up in the morning to find out they’ve turned into a cockroach, immediately intrigued me.

‘Metamorphosis’ is originally German however it’s been translated many times into English. Translation is something I’d never really given much thought to before but it’s actually really interesting how by merely using different synonyms you can create a completely different meaning.

So to put it short, this story is about a guy named Image result for metamorphosis kafkaGregor who wakes up as a cockroach and scares the hell out of his family. To be honest, I feel pretty sorry for him – he’s still himself, just in a different body – however his family, although they try to help, won’t treat him the same way. Thinking about it, this kind of correlates to society’s perceptions of others. We mostly live in a world where we are judged primarily on appearance – they say when you walk into an interview they have decided before you have even spoken – and how often you are treated differently depending on how you come across. It’s weird to think that by simply changing your appearance you are seen as a different person to others although inside you are inherently yourself. This is exactly what Gregor experiences in the novel – he is perceived as an animal and thus, a threat, however he is inevitably the same.

This mind vs body theme also made me think about the book as an analogy of the mind. Perhaps Gregor is not physically a cockroach or a beast of sorts but is perceived that way due to his mental state. He woke up one day, internally ill as such, and yet he is perceived as a beast for what his mind has caused him to do. There is undoubtedly a sense of hopelessness in the novel – he remains passive for the entirety of it – and I guess that’s to emphasise that we can’t control the thoughts of others. No matter how much we feel isolated or imprisoned or trapped within the judgements and actions of others we can do nothing but accept them.

I also read up this theory about the meaning behind the apple scene, wherein Gregor’s father throws apples at his back. It said that this could relate to the Fall when Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden. Eating the apple somewhat created evil in what was made a perfect world and so by the apples hitting Gregor’s back, it is the beginning of suffering for someone who had perhaps felt it undeserved. I just found this really interesting because whilst reading it, I hadn’t thought of it like this.

As a whole, ‘Metamorphosis’ is short and at parts felt slightly slow and unclimatic, however altogether I love the concepts behind it and I think that’s enough to get you thinking more about how it relates to society and the world we live in. Therefore, I definitely think it’s worth a read 🙂

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‘Flies’ by Alice Oswald [Poetry Review/Analysis]

After buying the anthology ‘Falling Awake’ a few months ago, Alice Oswald has definitely become one of my favourite writers. Poetry is something I’ve become fairly attached to – more so than I would have imagined seeing as I started off as purely a prose writer. Whilst poetry is also a lot quicker to produce and to read, I also find it pretty amazing that you can portray such an in depth message in so few words. Often I find poetry to be a lot more interactive because of this shorter structure; your mind can interpret the context and the rest of the story itself because not all of it is revealed. And I kind of love this mysterious element to it. We read to take away things but I also love to read to make up things and poetry, in my opinion, kind of amalgamates this.

Anyway, ‘Flies’ by Alice Oswald is my favourite poem and so I thought it’d be cool to write a review/analysis on it where I share my opinion on what I think it means and why I love it so much. I’d also like to know what you guys think so after reading the poem, please leave your thoughts below (unless you’re a hater of poetry in which case I have no idea why you’re still here).

Flies

 

This is the day the flies fall awake mid-sentence
and lie stunned on the windowsill shaking with speeches
only it isn’t speech it is trembling sections of puzzlement which
break off suddenly as if the questioner had been shot
this is one of those wordy days
when they drop from their winter quarters in the curtains and sizzle as they fall
feeling like old cigarette butts called back to life
blown from the surface of some charred world
and somehow their wings which are little more than flakes of dead skin
have carried them to this blackened disembodied question
what dirt shall we visit today?
what dirt shall we re-visit?
they lift their faces to the past and walk about a bit
trying out their broken thought-machines
coming back with their used-up words
there is such a horrible trapped buzzing wherever we fly
it’s going to be impossible to think clearly now until next winter
what should we
what dirt should we

 

Okay so the thing I love most about Alice Oswald’s writing is that it’s so metaphorical. And if you know me, you also know that I breath metaphors. All my writing is pretty much metaphorical and I think that’s why I have some sort of weird connection to any poetry that also seems to embrace this. I love the way that nothing is directly said and so you can apply your own meaning, which pretty much means that everybody is going to have a completely different perception of what is going on and I just find this really interesting.

To me, the flies are us. you. me. The poem kind of captures this sense of living or being haunted by the past, evident in ‘what dirt shall we visit?’ I kind of see the ‘window-sill’ as being the place of exposure; the transparent glass like a shield from the past – you’re safe from its direct effects and yet you’re still seen; you’re still visible. It’s this visibility that makes the past impossible to forget. You look into the past like you look out the window and you ‘fall awake mid-sentence’ because it prevents you from moving on with your present life.  The ‘curtains’ are reminiscent of a sense of comfort and yet falling from them enters into the realm of the past and a ‘charred world’.

From the way I read the poem, it seemed to me as if there was a recurring theme of being used up – ‘old cigarette butts’ and ‘dead skin’. The past is gone and yet it is claiming back life in what is meant to be used up – trying to create life in something already gone. I think that’s similar to the way we think sometimes – we look back on things we’ve said or done and we analyse them and wish we could have done things in a better way and yet it’s all useless, because it’s already used up, so why are we extracting non-existent energy from it?

And yet even though it’s clearly useless, we do it anyway. Sometimes it’s comforting to look back and this is evident through the questioning of ‘re-visit[ing]’ as if it is desired or is some sort of hobby – or maybe it just becomes an unstoppable habit. The ‘trapped buzzing’ is like this inescapable nature of what made us into who we are today but of which we ultimately see negatively – it’s all just ‘dirt’.

As a whole, I think this poem is so relatable; although we live in the present our minds are always partially trapped in the past and this poem definitely tries to embody this notion (and I think successfully at that). One of my favourite parts (although to be honest, the entire poem is my favourite part) is the last two lines. I love the way they’re set out as cut off sentences as if we become so consumed in the past we can’t even finish our life in the present. And I think it’s a reminder of how the ‘buzzing’ will perhaps always be there, but we can’t let it own us and make a possession out of our thoughts. Otherwise, we do become a fly with lost words and unfinished life sentences.

Thanks for reading if you made it this far! I think I can officially call myself an English student now that I’ve just analysed a poem for fun (I mean, who does that?! xD)

I’d love to know what you guys think about the poem so please leave your thoughts below, even if it’s to say you hate it! And maybe I’ll try a post like this again sometime 🙂

Nobody is Ever Missing [Book Review]

“No one likes to be unrecognisable. No one wants to be a stranger to someone who is not a stranger to them.”

nobody is ever missing‘Nobody is Ever Missing’ is a complimentary book I received when I underdid some work experience at a publishing house last summer. I hadn’t heard of the author. I hadn’t heard of the book. If I’d seen it in a bookshop the likelihood of me buying it would have probably been very low. So it’s safe to say I didn’t think it would be my kind of book. However, I was completely wrong.

I’m so glad I gave this book a chance because honestly it is just so full of feeling and I don’t think I’ve ever felt so connected to a narrator in a book before. The way it was written felt like you were within their stream of consciousness and whilst some may have found the lengthy sentences too much, I think they added to the confusion of her mind.

As a whole, the book reflects Elyria and her journey to seeking what is missing. Leaving her husband behind without even a single explanation, she boards a one-way flight to New Zealand and flitting between different people and different homes, she tackles with the ‘wildebeest’ of her mind; a symbolic creature which represents her internal pain. As she journeys along, she finds others who are messed up in their own way; suffering on their own accord and she comes to question why she can’t appreciate what she has, why she’s doing what she’s doing.

IMG_3350I love this book simply because I think it just felt so real. The storyline seems like it’s been overdone and lacking originality but I feel like the author’s voice itself is what makes it so original; if anyone else had written it I don’t think it would have come across in quite the same way. And only because there’s so much depth to the writing can it be enjoyed this way. One of the scenes I particularly loved is in the photo on the right, because it’s one of those concepts that’s right before your eyes but you never really think about it. And this book was one of those things that made me think about it.

I haven’t written a book review in ages because I don’t normally have much time to read whilst I’m studying however I started this one and I had to finish it; the fact that I finished it proves how much I loved it. So I’d definitely recommend giving this book a read! Especially if you’re looking for something different and real and to become a part of you.

Here are a few of my favourite quotes:

“Some people make us feel more human and some people make us feel less human and this is a fact as much as gravity is a fact.”

“…now the only thing that made sense was our shaking chests pressed together because when we were together we were alive and human in a way we had not found in other parts of life…”

“…I am a wildebeest. I am part wildebeest. Of course you’d say, That’s not true, you’re not a wildebeest, and you’d try to console me: We all have darkness, you’d say; but I know mine is darker and that it hides a whole herd of rabid wildebeests and I’m not like you, Husband, there’s no light switch in my darkness because my darkness is a midnight savanna on a moonless, starless night and all my wildebeests are running at a full, dumb speed but I couldn’t even tell you this if I tried because we haven’t really spoken in years…”

‘Echo Boy’ by Matt Haig [Book Review]

This is the second book I read on holiday and although slightly different to what I normallyecho boy 2 read, is by far one of my favourite books. Set in a futuristic world where robots dominate the land, a girl named Audrey finds herself surrounded by emotionless machines. When one of them malfunctions and kills her parents she finds herself questioning their safety and what brought about this event.

As a whole, this book created such a believable and yet terrifying world. It had all these machines and developed equipment that in all honesty could be possible in the future. People could travel to other countries in a matter of minutes, education happened within a pod inside your own home, robots followed your every instruction. I felt like I was in a completely different society whilst I was reading the novel and although it was fascinating, I was almost fearful of our future because I know that if I lived in a world like this, I would hate it.

The question that underlies the book is ‘what makes us human?’ Audrey is surrounded by robots and yet when she finds out that one of them is different, can feel emotions it shouldn’t and can disobey human’s instructions, she’s hesitant. Because if robots could be designed to disobey us off their own accord, surely they could obliterate the entire human race?

The story connects Audrey with the robot Daniel who tries to hide his emotions, but at first she doesn’t know how to react to him. Could he be classified as a human? Do emotions make us human or is there more to our classification? All these questions buzzed about this book and I just found it really intriguing to think about.

Overall, this book was beyond amazing. I can’t even tell you how much I loved it and to be honest, this review probably doesn’t do it justice. However I recommend you read it and see for yourself. Below are a few of my favourite quotes 🙂

‘A Monster Calls’ by Patrick Ness [Book Review]

This was the first book I read whilst I was on holiday. I’d been saving it to read because I knew it would be such a good book and it didn’t disappoint at all. a monster calls

It tells the tale of a boy named Conor who seems to be immersed in the life of his nightmares. His Mum is ill and he feels isolated from the world until one night a monster appears outside his window. It’s the typical story you’d hear from a young child except this monster is more than just a physicality, Conor’s mental demons a living creature before his eyes.

I found it so interesting having the monster act as a being apart from Conor and yet he was him. It seemed to reflect Conor’s clouded judgement and eluded sense of mind perfectly, and his inability to comprehend their unity and take responsibility for his actions; the monster’s actions, to him, wasn’t his doing. He refused to believe it because he refused the truth. And truth, I would say, is the main concept throughout the book. Conor finds it difficult to face this and that’s why he finds himself caught up in another world inside his head. He struggles with everything he has to fight it but really he’s afraid of letting it all go.

The illustrations to the novel by Jim Kay really add to the darkness surrounding the creature and it’s capabilities, the looming monster almost coming alive on the page. Without these, I don’t think the darkness would quite have been encapsulated in the same way. You felt part of it, within it, and I think that’s what it needed to be like to reflect Conor’s mind with accuracy.

Overall this book was dark and thoughtful and painful and a necessity. I really think everyone should read this, not just for the insight, but for the writing and the story behind it that I think deserves to be understood. There’s no doubt that this book deserves all the awards it received and if I were to give it a rating, I would give it five.

A Monster Calls. Patrick Ness.

‘Everything Everything’ by Nicola Yoon [Book Review]

I started reading this book this morning and after 4 hours of intensely staring at the pages wondering how the book could possibly end, I finished it. And wow. I can’t even tell you how much I loved this book!everything-everything

Besides the cover being beautiful, the book is wonderful itself. It’s about a girl called Madeline who suffers from a rare sickness called SCID in which she is allergic to the outside world. As a result she’s confined to the indoors, and hasn’t left the house in seventeen years.

Firstly, I can’t even imagine what this must be like, being stuck in a consistent cycle where you don’t really have any freedom at all. I already felt sorry for Madeline by this point. But as the novel continued and the new neighbour, Olly, was introduced next door, you start to think, how will she ever get a chance at anything; a chance to live and a chance to love?

But she does. In a different way, she does. And it’s honestly so painful going through the experience with her, especially when she’s frustrated at what she can’t have and frustrated when what she has isn’t enough. As the reader you want her happiness more than anything too.

And the connection between Madeline and Olly in this novel is kind of indescribable. It’s just full of everything it should be and yet it isn’t, because there’s still Madeline’s sickness hanging over their future. And Olly’s life isn’t all that perfect either. But as a whole the book was so real and the twist at the end completely took me aback. I recommend this book to everyone; alongside ‘More Than This’ by Patrick Ness, it’s probably my favourite book.

Here are two quotes I really liked (the second one might be a slight spoiler but this part in the novel killed me):

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‘It’s About Love’ by Steven Camden [Book Review]

I’ve just finished ‘It’s About Love’ by Steven Camden and it’s such a good book! It might seem sort of cliche from the blurb but it is far from it and is honestly so great.

The protagonist – Luke – is a guy who I guess book.jpgmost people can relate to at least in some way. He keeps all his thoughts to himself, thinks and takes in more than he lets on, and writes down all these quotes and thoughts and dreams in notebooks with the intention that one day they can be used. However on the outside he is this tough, strong guy who doesn’t want to be seen as someone so sensitive, yet he is affected so much by what is going on around him.

Something I really loved about this book was the theme. Being a media student, I found it really interesting because Luke saw the world through a camera. He’d relate scenes to how they would look through a screen and he’d write fragmented parts of scripts in his notebook, which you get to read every now and again throughout the novel. He’d take note of quotes from his Nan or something his friend said and he’d keep a record of it. Everything was important. And it should be. He seemed to appreciate everything others didn’t.

I loved that the characters weren’t typical in this novel. They all seemed to have a passion and something to strive them in life but it wasn’t exaggerated or what you would expect; it was just natural. Luke seemed to form a bond with his media teacher, who was in some ways similar to him, and that’s the one person who really saw him and understood him – I guess because he always felt so isolated from everything.

Obviously, being about love, a huge element of the story is him falling in love with someone but for me, it wasn’t just about love. Luke feels as though the past has defined him as a monster and someone who isn’t deserving of a kind of relationship and you see that he’s just a suffering individual trying to find his place in the world. It’s all about finding yourself and knowing where you stand and putting everything else behind you to get there.

I recommended this book so much; I really loved it, so definitely go check it out! 🙂

And I’ll end this with a quote from the book:

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