Sunday, February 14, 2010

Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief

I've been having fun reading the books Ella's been immersed in. She got a stack of new books for Christmas, and I've been borrowing them from her as soon as she finishes them. I grabbed The Lightning Thief off the top of the stack because Ella's been begging to see the movie, and I wanted to see what I was going to be in for if I took her.

It is definitely a fun book, and I can see why the kids like it. Like most kids, including my daughter, I went through a Greek and Roman myth phase, and the Percy Jackson books play right into it. Percy, or Perseus, is the son of one of the Greek Gods, but he find that out until he's 12. Until then, he has a pretty miserable life with a step-father he can't stand, problems in school, and learning disabilities.

But then he finds out who he is and is sent on a quest. It's a classic misplaced kid/adventure story, similar to the Harry Potter series. It's also funny, exciting and, most importantly, well written. I'm part way through the second right now. And I've promised Ella I'll take her to the movie. I'm looking forward to it, too.

The Women

I've been interested in Frank Lloyd Wright ever since reading Loving Frank two years ago. This novel, by TC Boyle, tells the stories of Wright's life with three women - Mamah Cheney, Maude Miriam Noel, and Olgivanna Milanoff. His first wife, the long-suffering Kitty Tobin, appears on the edges of the story, mainly as a bitter, jealous wife who is about to lose her husband to Mamah Cheney. Of the four women portrayed in the book, Kitty gets the worst portrayal.

But none of the women come across as very nice people. Mamah walked out on her husband and children to follow her feminist dreams. Miriam sought Wright out, pretty much stalking him, because she felt she was the only one to understand his genius. And Olgivanna traded one Svengali-like man for another when she took up with Wright.

Of course, this is fiction, told from the point of view of a fictional apprentice who didn't even know all the women. But still - it's an unpleasant cast of characters.

My mother started the book and disliked it so much that she never finished it. I found myself fascinated by it. I'm guessing the accounts of Wright are pretty close to his true character, which made me wonder why any woman would want to be involved with him. He was not a nice man at all.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Well . . . I don't know what to say about this book, mostly because I haven't made up my mind if I liked it. I read it because several people, whose opinion I trust, recommended it. I got a gift certificate for Christmas, so I picked up the book.

One of the things that troubles me is that Larsson includes statistics throughout the book about the numbers of rapes and incidences of violence again women in Sweden, yet he includes several horrifyingly graphic scenes of rape and torture - against a woman. If he was trying to raise awareness of the problem in Swedish society, why then include such vivid descriptions?

At the same time, I couldn't stop reading the book. Lisbeth Salander's character interested me much more than that of Mikael Blomkvist, yet her character plays second fiddle to Blomkvist. I understand why Larsson had to do it in terms of plot, but that doesn't mean I like it.

I also thought the book should have ended after the big mystery was resolved. The whole retribution part of the plot seemed tacked on as an afterthought. I lost interest in the book at about that point.

There's a second book out, called The Girl Who Played with Fire, and I'd like to read it, but not enough to warrant paying full price for the hard cover. I'm going to have to wait for a good sale or for it to come out in paperback.