Classic

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Review by Shwetha H S

Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy, Horror, Fiction, Classic
ISBN: 978-0-553-21271-6
Imprint: Bantam Classic

Abraham Stoker, an Irish novelist known to the world as Bram Stoker, wrote short stories too. He is famous for his work Dracula, which was first named as The Undead.

The story is set in and written in 19th century. Jonathan Harker, a solicitor from England, goes to Transylvania to meet his client Count Dracula regarding new properties bought for the Count. Since the start of the journey until he reaches the castle, Harker is spooked by the strange things that transpire and the driver controlling the wolves. Once in the castle, the strange behaviour and looks of the old Count Dracula make him nervous. What scare him further are the ghosts that try to feed on him and his house arrest by the Count. While Harker is struggling to escape from Transylvania, his fiancée, Wilhelmina Murray also known as Mina, worries of not hearing properly from him in England. She spends her time with her friend Lucy Westenra in Whitby. Lucy starts behaving strangely at night after being found on lonely ground alone with tow marks on her neck. Lucy’s fiancé, Arthur Holmwood also known as Lord Godalming, and his two friends, Dr. John Seward and Quincey Morris who are also in love with Lucy, are worried about continuously failing health of Lucy. Dr. Seward also faces the issue of handling Renfield, a loon. Distraught by this, Dr. Seward invites his professor and friend, Abraham Van Helsing, from Amsterdam to come see Lucy. Van Helsing takes a look at Lucy and understands the reason to be a vampire. He tries to save her and succeeds to even do so, but fails when she throws caution into air. Dead Lucy turns into a vampire, but eventually gets killed. Things take a bad turn when the rescued and married Jonathan Harker sees a young Count Dracula in England. Mina and Jonathan form a team with the other four men to put an end to the haunting in England.

Dracula is written in the diary form. The day-to-day happenings are written in each person’s diary. Each and every minute detail is elaborately explained. Just like other novels written in this format, the story by Bram Stoker too bores the readers every now and then. Skip a few paragraphs and you will still be able to understand what’s going on. The reader will be desperate to finish the book. The only best part, from a movie buff point of view, is you get the origin of Dr. Van Helsing in this book. But we should applaud Bram Stoker for coming up with a vampire story back when people were still not into paranormal fantasy erotica.

Read this classic only if you have nothing better to do.

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Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Review by Shwetha H S

Genre: Sci-Fi, Steampunk

Robert Louis Stevenson is known for his works that are not with the usual stories. He is more famous for Treasure Island and Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

A new man in the town is being notorious and is instantly disliked by the residents. He is Mr. Edward Hyde. He has no regard for others. But what baffles Mr. Utterson is the link between his friend, Dr. Henry Jekyll, and this abominable man, Mr. Edward Hyde. Though the whole town hates Hyde, Jekyll likes him and this makes Utterson worry about his friend. Jekyll even writes his will in favour of Hyde. Meanwhile, Hyde murders a prominent person of the town and goes into hiding when everyone starts looking for him. With this turn of events, Jekyll revokes his own will and modifies it. He also detaches himself from his friends and refuses to see anyone. In a span of few days, the household of Dr. Jekyll is scared to the core and come to seek Utterson’s help in solving a mystery that turns out to be the shock of their lives.

As one of the firsts of its kind, Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson is a masterpiece in its own terms. Apart from a good story and the element of surprise, well, shock, the author has depicted diabolical nature of a human as well as his helplessness in the best way possible to cater to a reader’s mind. On the whole, Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a good one-time read. Maybe you will read again and that will be only for the diary part of Dr. Jekyll which is towards the end of the story.

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Review by Shwetha H S

Genre: Historical fiction, Classic
Imprint: Puffin Classics
ISBN: 978-0-141-32554-5

Charles Dickens. The name itself brings tirade of literary works to the reader’s mind. Out of such works, Oliver Twist, Christmas Carols and David Copperfield are few.

A Tale of Two Cities is about a civil revolution, one that takes the good and the bad alike; for personal vengeance leaving rationality, and for benefit of the public without rationality. Though it is supposed to be about two cities, the story takes place in London, Paris and Saint Antoine. There are people moving between these places to bring out the story that is so magnificent and greater than life that one cannot help but sit back and revel in it.

Doctor Alexnadre Manette is brought to civilized life back by his good old friend Jarvis Lorry and daughter Lucie Manette, and brought to London from Saint Antoine. She also aids in saving life of Charles Darnay whom she marries later. Charles Darnay and Sidney Carton, a lawyer and a family friend, are lookalikes. Due to circumstances that were unanticipated, Charles is imprisoned in Paris during the French revolution. Mr. and Mrs. Defarge, the couple who once helped Manette family, now are hell-bent on prosecuting Charles Darnay due to his aristocratic connections in France. How the doctor, his friend and Sidney Carton help in getting Darnay out of prison and escaping from France is the story of this masterpiece.

The outstanding characters of this story are Sidney Carton and Madame Defarge also known as Therese Defarge. The reader will pity Carton for being a loyal person who is in love with Lucie Manette, but little can be guessed about the role he plays in her life. Madame Defarge is a sinister figure who will give you chills even on a summer noon. All other characters are important in their place. There are too many characters in the story, but they are all justified. None of them is unnecessarily stuffed to make the story grow.

A Tale of Two Cities is an astounding book that never lets the reader down and never lets the reader put it down. So captivating is this story that you will regret for not having read it sooner in your life. Love, vengeance and loyalty are personified in the form of characters created by Charles Dickens. It might even turn to be an overwhelming read.

One should never judge a book by its cover, and one should never judge a book by its title too. I thought this must be another story of how two cities tried to be better than one another, but I was proven wrong. This is much more.

If you have not already read A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens as a part of your school curriculum, then this moment, right now is the best time to start reading it.

Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

Review by Shwetha H S

Genre: Fiction
Imprint: Harper Collins Publishers
ISBN: 978-0-00-735102-2

Jonathan Swift has many published works and out of them, he is known most for Gulliver’s Travels. The real name of this book is Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World. This book came to be known as Gulliver’s Travels because back then Jonathan Swift wrote in his pen name Lemuel Gulliver. His reason to use a pseudonym was that he was in politics. And his readers, they started calling his book Gulliver’s Travels, maybe because the actual name was too long.

Gulliver’s Travels is about Gulliver who is mad about travelling, sailing and seeing the world. This book tells his travel stories in first person. This book has four parts and each is about different nations. The first part has the author stranded on an island, Lilliput, which is inhabited by Lilliputians and all other things and living beings proportional to them. In the second part, the author is on Brobdingnag, an island inhabited by giants who are sixty feet tall. In the third part, the author is stranded on a floating and flying island Laputa which is inhabited by very intelligent people with varied interest. In the last and the fourth part, the author is stranded on an island which is inhabited and ruled by horses, Houyhnhnms, which are far intelligent and loyal than humans. Each part of the book is about what the author learns on each island and how he escapes from there.

There are no exceptional individual characters in this book apart from the author himself. Rest others are general characters.

Everything in this book is explained in detail. So much so that the author bores with his often mentioning about how he doesn’t want to bore his readers by giving more details. Gulliver’s Travels is supposed to be a satire but tires the reader before he or she gets to the satire part.

Gulliver’s Travels is recommended only if you are crazy about reading all the classics and for no other reason.

A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare

A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

Review by Shwetha H S

Genre: Humour, Drama, Play

William Shakespeare, known as the Bard, came up with original ideas for novels and plays to entertain people. Sometimes with historical real people and sometimes with fictitious characters. Nevertheless, the Bard teaches us a lesson or two while entertaining with the distinct characters that he created.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a humorous play by William Shakespeare. For a play, it has too many characters. You have a duke, Theseus, who is getting married to Hippolyta. Egeus, a noble citizen brings his daughter Hermia to the duke to get a justified judgement about her marriage. Hermia loves Lysander, who is not so well-to-do, but her father wants her to marry Demetrius, yet another nobleman. Hermia doesn’t like Demetrius. She and Lysander elope after telling their plans to her friend Helena, who loves Demetrius. Helena tells their plan to Demetrius, who hates Helena, and they go in search of the eloped lovers. In the jungle, Titania and Oberon, the royal fairy couple spend time with an Indian boy whom Titania has taken under her wing. Oberon asks his wife to give the boy to him and she refuses, and also says she will stay in the jungle of the mortals till the duke’s wedding gets over. Oberon wishes to play a prank on his wife and with the help of Puck, a fairy, casts spells on his wife making her fall in love with whatever she sees first when she wakes up. Meanwhile, he sees Demetrius and Helena quarrelling. When Puck returns, Oberon instructs him to cast the same love spell on the Athenian man Demetrius. But Puck mistakes Lysander for Demetrius and casts the spell on the former. Lysander opens his eyes to see Helena checking whether Demetrius has killed him or not, and falls in love with her. He leaves the sleeping Hermia and follows Helena. When Oberon learns of Pucks mistake, he asks the fairy to rectify it. So, Demetrius too falls in love with Helena and she starts thinking that both the men, who never even complimented her, are mocking her by saying they love her. On the other side of the jungle, Puck gives Bottom, an actor rehearsing a play for the duke’s wedding, head of a donkey. Titania, upon awakening, sees the donkey-headed man and falls in love with him. There, Hermia finds the men, who were previously head over heels in love with her, following Helena like puppies. What happens with so many mismatched people haphazardly scattered with those they don’t belong?

William Shakespeare is not of our era and did not speak the English language the same way as we do. Or doth. Hast? The usage of English language in its former version makes reading a little difficult. We are all so used to the English we speak and write nowadays that Shakespearean English will slow our reading. Also, the order of the words in sentences make you feel like Yoda. It might also happen that you will not understand a few lines. But, as usual, Shakespeare’s innovative classy abuses are commendable. Altogether, this story of the play makes it funny if you remember who is who and did what.

1984 by George Orwell

1984 by George Orwell

Review by Shwetha H S

Title: 1984
Author: George Orwell
Imprint: Adarsh Books
ISBN Number: 8187138378
Genre: Classic, Dystopian Fiction

The author of 1984, George Orwell, has many works to his name but was best known for the satire Animal Farm and dystopian novel 1984. His works are inspired by real life and politics around him and the world.

1984 is about the dystopian England called Oceania that literally controls the lives of every citizen. Oceania is run by the Party headed by the Big Brother. The Party controls the thoughts, food, activities, education and even the history. Newspeak, a retard of English, is used by citizens, and it is implemented to curb the thoughts of the people and avoid them turning against the Party. Sexual urges are curbed, natural instincts are cut, thoughts of betraying the Party is severely punished. Children are taught to turn their parents to the Thought Police if they find any clue of betrayal. The history is erased and rewritten as per the Party’s convenience to appease their current situation. Adults and children are fed stats made by the Party. Nobody knows what the real past is, what is happening to them at present and what will happen in the future. Among them is Winston Smith, a person who is living as per the Party rules but is able to remember and differentiate between the real and reel. He finds co-traitor in Julia with whom he also has a love affair. Love affairs are banned by the Party. Traitors are said to be with Emmanuel Goldstein and his Brotherhood, and against the Party and the Big Brother. Winston dreams of bringing down the falsehood. One day, O’Brein, an Inner Party member, talks to Winston and Julia of how to join the Brotherhood to help them destroy the Party. What happens next is both plausible and impossible.

Winston Smith is an above average guy who isn’t gullible. Julia is the cunning girl who rebels inwardly but is an obedient citizen in front to the world. O’Brein is the mastermind. Goldstein is never seen. There are many other fleeting characters that are used to emphasize on the iron grip of the Party.

1984 is a well written book. It takes your heart on a ride. A must read for every book enthusiast.

So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell

So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell

Review by Shwetha H S

Change is the only constant. We keep changing, but we cannot always accept the changes. When changes happen for bad, we don’t know how to undo them. In the process of finding the undo option, we might screw up things even more than initially thought. Such is the story of families of Clarence Smith and Lloyd Wilson, settled in the farms of Illinois, who were once the best friends who were struck by the change. The story is also of the narrator who was, yes was, a friend of Clarence Smith’s son, Cletus Smith.

The story is dipped in gloom initially and then blended with sorrows of the two families. Divulging the nature of change will let your imagination run and you might not read the novel. The author has shown you the grief of each member of both families involved and what they go through. It is not only the families that are affected, but also people close to them. He tells, through the narrator, that each person grieves in his own way and it is okay if you don’t understand some of them. But grieving is essential. This novel has a few major characters and a few that keep coming in and going out of the story. William Maxwell has shown what happens in all their lives in depth without elaborating unnecessarily. By the time you finish reading So Long, See You Tomorrow, you will be alive with a heavy heart.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Review by Shwetha H S

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë has all the ingredients to keep you reading without putting the book down; action, drama, romance, sorrow and your every other commonplace emotion. But what it lacks is a protagonist. One might argue that Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff are the protagonists, but when read and re-read Wuthering Heights you will know it has none. What this novel has is an anti-hero in Heathcliff. There are many other characters surrounding him, but no matter what one argues, they are all the supporting characters to Heathcliff. Catherine Earnshaw is a hot-headed bitch, who doesn’t make sense most of the time and doesn’t know what to do with her life. Edgar Linton, her husband, appears to be a grumbling young man, but in the later part of the story stands strong to protect his family. Isabella Linton ruins everything for everyone. Hindley Earnshaw falls prey to the anti-hero’s plots. Heathcliff’s scheme of revenge destroys the families of Earnshaw and Linton. The second generation characters that appear in the story are far better than their parents. Catherine Linton, if you really want a heroine for this story, is far removed from her mother and behaves like a human. Linton, son of Heathcliff and Isabella, is a pest and you will feel like killing him because he is so pathetic and would die anyway. Hareton Earnshaw, son of Hindley, is a surprise and you will love him with all your heart irrespective of his personality. And then there are Ellen Dean, our very own Nelly, and Mr. Lockwood who keep the story going.

A few points that don’t go well with the reader are that during narration, Ellen Dean gives the precise account of dialogues that take place between the conversationalists. Those dialogues were exchanged years and years ago. Using Ellen Dean to narrate the story is okay, but her exact recollection of the dialogues doesn’t go down very well.

There are no unnecessary characters to desperately try and keep the story interesting; the story is more than enough. Watch out for Heathcliff’s anguish and treachery. You will have to fight your urge to protect others from the bastard.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (Illustrations by Rajesh Nagulakonda)

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (Illustrations by Rajesh Nagulakonda)

Review by Shwetha H S

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is a literary classic every reader will swear by. The pride of Fitzwilliam Darcy and the prejudiced Elizabeth Bennet take you on a ride full of emotions that are justified. Different editions of this classic has come out with equally beautiful cover designs from many publishing houses. This review is not just of Pride and Prejudice, but of its graphic novel with illustrations by Rajesh Nagulakunda from Campfire Graphic Novels. The scenes seem to be taken from the movie version of Pride and Prejudice directed by Joe Wright. It is good to take inspiration, but it is necessary to have one’s own inputs. The illustrator has done his best to in bringing good illustrations to cater to your imagination if it is not good enough. But the downside of this graphic novel is the illustrations of the characters are not consistent. They look very different from on panel to another. The single worst part of this version is when Mr.Bingley finally asks Jane Bennet to marry him she is actually saying “Oh, Lizzy! Mr.Bingley has proposed to me! He has made me the happiest person in the world!” but the illustrations show her with lusty expressions with anguish. With an exception to this, the graphic novel version of Pride and Prejudice provides a good start to those who are not familiar with Jane Austen and her works.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Review by Shwetha H S

“When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his dreams.” This is a great quote from the book The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, and is the theme as well. This book, having inspired many people to enjoy their lives and go with the flow, has been interpreted in many ways. This was originally written in Portuguese and later translated into many languages from across the world.

A story of a boy from a well-to-do family becoming a shepherd to travel and see places instead of becoming a priest, and learning the truth about nature, The Alchemist is a soul-searching journey and a treasure hunt. The boy travels to the Pyramids from Spain in search of treasure based on his recurrent dreams. What happens next is what his journey constitutes of. Through the descriptions about reading the omens, the author encourages the readers to start trusting their gut instincts instead of others. The author talks about the principle of favourability, the Universe and beginner’s luck. The author also talks about how help arrives when required and not all the time. That is how he teaches “Ask and you shall receive.” As per the author, there is always a reward for going by your instincts and enjoying life as it comes. Apart from the reward, you get to be one with the nature.

The Alchemist is a story, which touches your heart, told in a simple way; way too simple that nobody misses understanding what Paulo Coelho wants to tell you. The descriptions are not excruciating and are just enough to give you an idea if you are good with imagination. Absolutely no nonsense. This book will be your go-to book sooner or later.