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May 20, 2018

Books Read in March & April - Part 2

art by lb
More books read in March & April continued. Part 1 over here.

08/ The Shape of Water by Guillermo Del Toro and Daniel Kraus > link
Ignoring the violence, sex or the very violent deaths, this would be a love story except I sort of think it's more of a one-sided love story - Elisa's story. We also get the points of view from other people but we only get a tiny glimpse from the creature toward the end. But I guess a love story doesn't have to have both sides but my problem with this is that, I really don't understand the creature and there isn't much we know about him. He doesn't even have a name. Does he love Elisa the same way she loves him? I mean, his side might not be love at all. We don't know. At least, I don't know. It would have been nice to know what he was thinking or feeling or what he thought of Elisa and the people he encountered. Maybe I missed something but I just don't see how Elisa and the creature could even have  bonded. I guess this could be called instant love, the kind that you can't describe with words? I don't know. I do like the bits about the creature changing colors due to his mood/state of mind.  ~ Spoilers ~ And And the ending? Does this mean she is one of his kind or did the creature made her one of his kind? I like to think she is like the creature and now she is going to where she belongs - in the water and with the creature. ~ End of Spoilers ~

The Shape of Water - the movie > link
I wish I haven't seen this movie. I simply didn't want to see Sally Hawkins (as Elisa) in the nude. It's a bit shocking to me because I have always think of Sally Hawkins as Anne Elliot in Persuasion and I like that character she plays there and I didn't want to see that character naked. So I really shouldn't get stuck thinking an actress being only in one role but I can't help it.

I like to say the movie is like the book but it's not quite the same, at least the larger part of the story is exactly like the book. But I find the characters a bit lacking in terms of motivation and back story. It's nice to visually see all the characters as a living beings on screen but, I don't see the bond between Elisa and the creature. We don't know much about the creature - where he comes from, what he is or why he seems to have strange healing powers? I question his motives. ~ Spoilers ~ He seems to have powers so I don't know how he got captured in the first place. But I have a theory that he let himself be captured so he can searched for his mate. Either Elisa is one of his kind all along (since she has dreams about being in water) and he's just taking her back with him or he made her one of his kind. It's the same end as the book. ~ End of Spoilers ~

Anyway, this is just an okay movie to me. Perhaps the shock of seeing Sally Hawkins naked ruined my enjoyment of the movie or perhaps I really didn't like it. But I did enjoy some of the humors in the movie such as the ones involving Zelda and there are some beautiful imaginary but I do think the book is slightly better.

09/ The Polar Bear Explorers' Club by Alex Bell and Illustrated by Tomislav Tomic > link
I do like the book but I didn't like Stella's origin story. I guess I was hoping something a little better, something more original. Magic in this world is accepted as normal though not much magic is actually shown, well, at least, not according to me. I wish there is more fun to the story, like all the club rules at the end of the book but none of those are in the story except for the 'polar bear club.' It would have been fun if the four children each belong to four different clubs and that they fight about it somehow but they mostly got along and there really isn't much conflict between them. I think of this an adventure book and deeper conflicts would weigh it down. There are some laugh-out moments mostly relating to Ethan. Overall, it's a good, adventurous book and the illustrations are wonderful.

10/ The Gate of Sorrows by Miyuki Miyabe, Translated by Jim Hubbert > link
The original language is Japanese so I suppose the translation is a bit off. There are some bits that seems off and the writing is a bit cliche. And then there are the names. Sometimes they used the first name instead of the last or use the last name instead of the first. I just think they should stick to one or the other. It's confusing enough that some of the names sound so similar. I didn't like any of the characters which usually make me not like a book. But I do like the fantasy elements and I do like the story idea. Certainly the combination of murder and fantasy is nothing new but the fantasy part is not something I have read before. I guess I sort of have a higher expectation after reading all those glowing reviews. I didn't think it's a bad book but it's not great either. But it probably reads better in the original Japanese.
Cover Note: The gargoyle is a central part of the story so that's correct. The main characters is a college student and a retired detective and there are some girl side characters but that girl on the cover is a little misleading.

Favorite Quote: "Maybe I'm on a wild goose chase, or I'm so bored with life that I'm having a strange dream."

Read any good book lately? Share them in the comments.
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