Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Two so-so books that others have rated highly...

Ever pick up a book that others have said is 'great' a 'must-read' and just gone 'err?' I read two books like that so far this week.
The first is the graphic novel Pyongyang by Guy Delise. The French animator is placed in North Korea for a 2 month stint in which he has to check editions of cartoons for French TV. The graphic novel is sold as 'a journey through North Korea' but is actually a single-minded mans view of a small part of North Korea. Now, I'm not saying that North Korea is amazing or politically correct, in fact I know so little about the place that I couldn't make an educated comment on the country, but I can say that Delise is negative about the place from the opening to the end of the book. He never says a single positive thing about the country or the people that he meets, instead he mocks their views, behaviour and culture. Surely if you visit a country you must find something nice to say. Anyone else read this? Have a different opinion?

Graphic Novel Challenge 3/12
A-Z (Title)
In Their Shoes 2/4
Lost in Translation 2/6
The Well Seasoned Reader
My Year of Reading Dangerously 1/12 (Banned

The second disappointing book is sold as 'an American Classic'. The Wonderful O is an extremely short book, which is considered to be one of the 1001 books to read before you die. The simple story is about a pirate who hates the letter O, he travels to a small island where he decides to ban the letter O and all things with that letter in its name. I liked the concept of this but never understood why the people so willingly let this stranger change their world, smash up and ruin their belongings. I liked the rhyming sentences and the amazing amount of things he could ban, and also he ludicrous ways of getting around things ie, you don't have to destroy Cows if they are part of a herd, but it was never gripping and I was happy when it was over.
A-Z (Title)
999 (1001)
Decades Challenge (1950s)
Genre Challenge (Adventure)


Eva said...

I really enjoyed Pyongyang. The way that I saw it, he wasn't critiquing the North Korean people (because he was never allowed to meet them) but the North Korean government. And, personally, I don't have a problem with anyone mocking a totalitarian dictatorship that has brought starvation upon its people for the sake of bigger guns. But I can see your side too! :)

Melissa said...

I have that reaction to books all the time. In fact, I think my negative reaction can sometimes be directly correlated to the amount of hype. Which is probably bad. Still, I'm not sure there's anything happy about North Korea...