Sunday, 19 July 2015

Book Review | Paper Towns. John Green

Paper Towns by John Green
My rating ★★★★☆

With the movie coming out this month, I’ve decided that it’s high time to read Paper Towns by John Green. I’ve mentioned before, that I have a book abandoning problem, but I don’t hesitate to give a book a second chance, if I know that it’s gonna be worth it (or if I just want to have it done and off my list). I shamelessly admit that I had to give Paper Towns two or three chances, before I finally got into the story and loved it! I don’t know why it was so hard for me to get through the very first “adventure”. In the end I found the story very enjoyable.

The prologue gives us a glimpse at a past event, that was like a loose string hanging all throughout the story, but conveniently tied itself up into the plot in the last chapter.

Q and Margo were next-door neighbours and  childhood friends. Once grown up, they end up in different school cliques and don’t have anything in common, except for that one time, when they found a dead guy at a park. Margo is cool and eccentric, and at the same time enjoys her top spot in the school hierarchy. Q is a nerdy guy with perfect attendance and band geeks for friends.

One night Margo appears at Q’s window, asking him for a favour. They go around the town, breaking into people’s houses, spreading justice. Margo feels betrayed by her friends and wants revenge.

The next day she disappears.

The rest of the story is spread over the course of two or three weeks. Q tries to maintain his perfect attendance and at the same time find Margo, who has left him a string of clues. At some point he is sure, that his old childhood friend is dead, and that he’s actually looking for her corpse. The worst thing being, that Margo intended for him to find her like that. A lot of the story is Q analysing the clues, going to school or driving around, sneaking into abandoned buildings. And when he finally thinks that he’s solved the riddle, he and his friends go on a road trip to the place where they hope to find Margo.

John Green is known for his pretentious writing, and that’s why I sometimes have a hard time liking his books. It’s just too overwhelming. But after I got over the first bump, Paper Towns turned out to be quite an enjoyable read, with a satisfying ending.

I won’t give away any spoilers, but I’ll say that the whole point of the book could be summarised in the quote.

 What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person.

Q states that he was in love with the Margo, that only existed in his imagination. This makes me think of a story I’ve read somewhere on Quora. Someone asked, how he could teach himself to think like Sherlock Holmes. One of the best answers was from this guy, who once deduced a perfect sequence of events and guessed that his friend was playing music with some other friend the night before. The funny part was, that all of the perfect sequence turned out to be false, because real people don’t always fall into logical patterns and sometimes do things for no good reason at all.

Friday, 10 July 2015

What I dreamt of last night

I woke up somewhere around 6 a.m. today to the weirdest dream ever. I wasn’t going to share it with anyone at first. But then I scribbled it down in my journal, and it turned out to be quite an interesting, weird and a bit disturbing dream.

So here it is.

It was late at night. I was waiting for a bus. The driver for some reason gave me a chair (just like one of those we had in school). He called for us to get on the bus, but it was farther down the street. As I was running with this chair, a guy started talking to me. At some point he offered to help me. As we were approaching the bus, he said that I’ll have to pay him. I was expecting that, ready to give him a twenty. But he said that I owe him something like “twenty… or one hundred thousand, or ten thousand. If you don’t have that much, then a thousand would be enough.” I said that I don’t have that kind of money. He said, that it’s my problem, pulled out a gun and shot me in the head.
I remember falling to the ground and feeling funny, as if all the air was suddenly pushed out of my lungs, and I flew away with it. And I was thinking “This is it. Now what comes next?”.
I was expecting my consciousness to switch off. I was waiting to die. I actually thought “So this is what it feels like to die”. I felt myself die in this dream.

I tried googling dream interpretations. Not that I believe in that. I was thinking more about the psychological side of dreaming. The interpretation (here) said something along the lines, that I feel victimised or hurt by someone, who forces on me responsibilities that I don’t like and/or need. I’m afraid that I’m not meeting someone’s expectations. I struggle for survival in my lifestyle, social status and career.

I've also read, that people actually often dream of dying. I sometimes have weird dreams, but nothing too bizarre. So this time I woke up a bit shaky, thinking what's wrong with me? What is my brain trying to tell me?

I don't have dreams every night. In fact, the last few times that I've dreamt of something, was during naps. It could be that I wasn't ready for the night's rest yet, so my brain just continued processing information on his own pace, giving me these dreams.

If dreams are just our brains dealing with excess information, that was absorbed during the day, that would explain why I dream so rarely. I overthink everything. I usually sort out my worries during the day, by constantly running them through my head. Writing and journaling also helps with information overflow. And that is exactly what I failed to do yesterday. I just didn't feel like dealing with my worries, so I stuffed them into the back of my consciousness. And they found their way out through a dream.

Now I've started reading the Dream wiki page, and just look at all the theories about why we dream! I'll have to read more into it.

How often do you have dreams? What was your weirdest one? Tell me in the comments. <3

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Book Review | Ready Player One. Ernest Cline

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
(on Goodreads)
My rating 

It took me way too long to finish this book, and I really don’t know why, because it was such a fun read. There were many parts, where I rushed through the pages, just to find out, what was going to happen next. And then there were days, when I would completely forget about it and read something else instead.

Ready Player One is a dystopian novel, which shows us the world of 2044. In this world computer technologies and virtual reality have penetrated every aspect of human life to the point, where people no longer care about the real life. And why should they?  The whole world is drowned in poverty, overpopulation, pollution and lack of resources. James Halliday, a computer nerd and genius, has created a global computer simulation, known as OASIS. People use it to study and work, but first of all it’s a multi-player online computer game.

The book starts with a shocking announcement, that disrupts OASIS. James Halliday has died and left his whole fortune to one lucky player, who will complete his final quest. The player has to find three keys, open three gates and finally get the Easter Egg, hidden somewhere in the OASIS. Halliday has left riddles and hints that lead to the Egg, which all have something to do with his favourite games, movies and books from back when he was a kid.

After the prologue, we fast forward five years since the start of the hunt. Wade Watts spends all his time in the OASIS, trying to escape the morbid reality and find the Egg. This proves to be almost impossible, since he’s too poor to go anywhere in the game world, except for the planet, where he goes to school. But I don’t think, I’ll spoil you anything by saying that he indeed gets the game going and finds the first key (he’s the main character, of course he’ll eventually find his way to the big prize). And so the game begins!

The story had many intense sequences and I actually really enjoyed the final battle. At times it seemed that Wade was too lucky or over prepared, when he had to crack yet another riddle, and “immediately knew what it was all about”. But then again, he’s a nerdy recluse and he has dedicated his whole life to this game. These moments of his brilliantness were somewhat annoying, but they’re at least partly justified. I was quite happy with other gunters (egg hunters), except for a few times when they acted a little out of character. Thankfully they were brief enough, so I didn’t let them disrupt me from enjoying this book.

I’ve seen a lot of negative reviews, saying that this book is like nostalgia porn, and only people who’ve experienced life in the 80s can truly enjoy it. But this was never an argument for me. I grew up watching foreign TV shows, which weren’t even close to what my everyday life looked like. Even now what most people have in the first world countries, is completely alien to those living in second, and I don’t even mention third world countries. Even the most basic things. Still this doesn’t mean, that they won’t be able to understand it. Besides isn’t this what fiction is for? Experiencing things, that you don’t get to see on a daily basis.