Mini Review: And Then There were None by Agatha Christie

And Then There Were None

And Then There were None, also known as 10 Little Indians, is a classic mystery novel by Agatha Christie. It’s my first Christie novel, and probably one of my first higher-level mysteries in general, excluding the infinite adventures of the Boxcar Children or Nancy Drew.

Ten strangers are invited by a mysterious host to an island. None of them have anything in common except for a past they don’t want shoveled up again. Each has been marked with murder in some way, and before the weekend is out, they will each succumb to a murderer themselves.

It’s hard not to like this book. It’s a classic murder mystery. It’s one of those books everyone has read and most everyone loves. The concept is simple, the mystery is complex, and the characters are all suspects. This book is the archetype for the mystery genre.

I enjoyed by time reading it. I can’t say that I was completely in love, though. I was a little frustrated by how slowly they figured some things out, and it did begin to get repetitive after a while. None of the characters are remotely likeable, and the back of the book completely gave away the ending. (Spoiler Alert: they all die).

I also think, because of the simple mystery concept, that it wasn’t my usual niche. Which is good and bad. It’s good because it pushes me out of my comfort zone. It’s bad because I didn’t particularly like it that much. The novel felt too plot based to me and seemed unrealistic. I know it’s not supposed to be realistic, but it’s hard for me to grasp unrealistic novels that aren’t fantasy or science fiction.

Otherwise, I enjoyed trying to find out who the culprit was and guessing everyone’s past and their deaths. I do think it’s a staple book, especially for people into mysteries.

3.5 Stars

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Mini Review: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

George and Lennie are migrant laborers floating through ranches to make ends meat during the Great Depression. George takes Lennie under his wing in an attempt to channel Lennie’s strength and simplicity and keep him grounded with fantasies of a settled life with a tiny house and garden of their own. The two jump to new jobs within a couple of months, fleeing whenever problems arise.

I’ve heard polarized opinions on John Steinbeck; it seems people either love or hate him. I actually really enjoyed this book. The characters followed very strong archetypes and had straight forward personalities, bordering on flat, but I think that allowed the story to flow easier. The classic sleazy, small, and cunning guy paired with his kind, large, and oblivious friend is the basis of the novel, which made me wonder if this is where these types sprung from.

The story is quick and simple, but the dry structure of the plot leave room for interpretation and symbolism hidden under the seemingly pointless events the two go through. It brings up questions of strength in mind and body, friendship, and moral decisions based on the greater good.

The only thing I didn’t like is the inevitable sexist portrayal of women. Another motif is the bond between men and strength in their brotherhood, and women were always the corrupting force. In their fantasy of their own home, a woman was not mentioned, and the tragic events in the book all stemmed or revolved around women. Maybe this interpretation of women made a migrant lifestyle without a family easier, or maybe Steinbeck is just sexist. Either way, I wasn’t necessarily offended because of the times and the situation, but I also didn’t feel like it was important to the novel to be that blatantly sexist.

Overall, though, I enjoyed reading the book. It’s a quick classic, so it’s easy to impress people with, but not too hard to handle. The plot is straightforward, but the themes dig deeper, and depending on how you read it, the story can really make you think.

4 Stars

Book Review: As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

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The Bundren family treks across the river to bury Addie, wife and mother of the group. The book jumps between the family, including Addie, and the neighbors in a story told in streams of consciousness.

I (again) am reviewing this book really late after I finished it, so it won’t be the most thorough review in the world.

I also am very confused about my feelings toward this book, so here goes a pretty circular review.

I enjoyed reading it, but I didn’t understand it.

First of all, there are a ton of characters and they get called different things by different people, so that was a little confusing. Then it’s written in streams of consciousness. And he writes in a very ambiguous tone and expects the reader to work to understand his scenes. So stir all that together and you have As I Lay Dying.

I kind of enjoyed the ambiguity in some cases. I thought Faulkner’s writing was beautiful, and while some criticize all his paradoxes, I thought they made the book sound more real because not everything can be in black and white. But I admittedly Sparknoted chapters after I read them. And I think that some scenes need to be concrete. If a person is thinking, then sure, make the writing mystical and complicated, because that is similar to a person’s conscious. If a concrete event is happening, just explain what’s going on or I will be sorely turning to Sparknotes. At some points I didn’t understand what was happening and what was being thought.

The different perspectives are confusing, but they are necessary to make it such an renowned book. But at the same time, it’s impossible to really get into so many people’s heads at once. If it focuses on three people, then the reader could practically become someone else with their thoughts and everything because of the stream of consciousness style. Since Faulkner wrote so many characters into his book, the reader has to trudge through the thoughts of different people and still be confused on their streams by the end of the novel.

My favorite part of the book was Addie’s perspective, and I think it’s partly because of the novelty of reading a dead person’s perspective. She bitterly talked about love and her coffin and her unfulfilling lifestyle, which I thought was all very interesting. I was able to relate to her better than anyone else.

If you can focus completely on the book– as in block out all thoughts other than the characters’– the book is almost soothing. I blew through some pages and chapters because the writing style flowed with the way I thought, and I loved the beauty of everything and the descriptions. Other things I read a couple times and still didn’t understand but moved on anyway.

It’s hard to give a comprehensive review since I liked some parts and hated some parts and remained mildly to extremely confused throughout the whole novel. I think it’s a good read, and maybe a good intro to Faulkner, but I don’t think anyone is missing anything earth-shattering if they decide stream of consciousness is not their cup of tea. I know all the blurbs and raving reviews call it emotional and brooding and the likes, but I think my confusion cut out all the emotion and just left a couple beautiful passages and thoughts and a couple nonsensical scenes.

3 Stars