In the past few months, I've had a pretty great run of enjoying the classic novels I've read. First, I reread Catch 22, a book I read in high school and still remembered fairly well. The book was even better than I remembered it.
I also read One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Wow! I can't believe I hadn't read this before. Definitely one of the best books I've ever read. The voice was perfect, the characters were rich and complex, and the humor was spot on. The only drawback was the outright misogyny of the book, since all the female characters are either evil castrating control freaks or saintly whores who sleep with men and expect nothing from them but a good time.
One of the worst books I've read, hands down, has to be Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde. It's told at such a distance, from the POV of a not particularly close friend, that anything interesting in the novel is kept from actually happening before the reader's eyes.
So, it was with some delight that I moved on to Treasure Island by the same author and discovered that it was fairly awesome. Fast paced, lots of immediacy, interesting characters, an actual plot, and the writing felt crisp and sharp, something that could be published today. The flaw of the book is that Long John Silver is kind of an incompetent dud. He loses his ship, loses his treasure, and basically escapes by being a sniveling boot licker.
Another old book that surprised me way Jane Eyre. Wow! I was indifferent to Pride and Prejudice, mostly disliked Wuthering Heights, but Jane Eyre really drew me in. I liked that she was working class for most of the book. While the book ends, of course, with her marrying the rich man of her dreams, I thought he journey to the happy ending was really interesting and that the characters paid a big price for their final happiness. The only thing I didn't like was Jane inheriting a fortune from a long lost uncle. I always wondered where that cliche came from! But, the book would have worked if she hadn't come into a fortune. And, Jane did nothing to earn her fortune, it was pure luck that she wound up with the money. These gripes aside, it's definitely my favorite romance novel to date.
War of the Worlds: Just finished this and was impressed by how plausible every thing seemed even given how much we now know he was wrong about Mars. Not quite as gripping as Island of Dr. Moreau, but much better than the Time Machine.
Finally, I also read Murder on the Orient Express. Meh. I know all mysteries are contrived to some degree, but this was kind of ridiculous. Still, I did appreciate the pacing and the handling of the various characters.
I'm probably forgetting something... I shouldn't wait two months to update next time! Coming up: The Invisible Man, Kidnapped, and Journey to the Center of the Earth.
Welcome to my worlds!
I'm James Maxey, author of fantasy and science fiction. My novels include the science fantasy Bitterwood Saga (4 books) the Dragon Apocalypse Saga (4 books), numerous superhero novels including Nobody Gets the Girl and the Lawless series, the steampunk Oz sequel Bad Wizard, and my short story collections, There is No Wheel and Jagged Gate. This website is focused exclusively on writing. At my second blog, Jawbone of an Ass, I ramble through any random topic that springs to mind, occasionally touching on religion and politics and other subjects polite people are sensible enough not to discuss in public. If you'd like to get monthly updates on new releases, as well as preview chapters and free short stories, join my newsletter!