Tag Archives: Translated fiction

Review: Fever (By Deon Meyer)

 

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Source: Goodreads

 

Length: 544 pages

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Nico Storm and his father, Willem Storm, are among the last few survivors of a world ravaged by a virus. As they drive through a desolate land in a truck filled with supplies, young Nico discovers his excellent marksmanship and cool head have made him his father’s protector, even though he’s little more than a young boy. Willem Storm has another kind of strength. He has the vision, passion, and compassion to rebuild a life. And so, Amanzi is born – a community of survivors that grows every day and where the most diverse of individuals find a new home. But the virus has done more than wipe out the majority of the population. It has left behind new challenges. As the community innovates and increases its resources, it faces an increasing number of threats. These come not only from the infamous biker brigands but even from within their own settlement. As Nico goes through an extraordinary rite of passage in an unfamiliar world, he finds his loyalties, beliefs, and abilities tested to the limits. And when the person he loves the most is murdered, the community that was once home becomes nothing more than a pool of suspects. In Fever, Nico recalls the events that composed the fascinating journey of humanity as it strived to fulfill a noble mission against the threat of its own animalistic impulses.

My take:

First, let me shout out a big thank you to NetGalley and Atlantic Monthly Press for the ARC of this book. It was a pleasure to read.

Fever is a coming of age book written in the first person by the middle-aged main character, Nico Storm. He takes you through the time of the Fever, its aftermath, the establishment of the Amanzi community, and the many events that come during and after it, up to a pivotal moment in his life.

The book has a linear, chronological base, with some shifts between the past and present. It’s got a host of characters, and each one’s story is shared, in their own words, through notes maintained by Nico Storm’s father. This adds many interesting and different points of view.

Normally, you’d expect such a book to get quite confusing. But Fever manages to avoid that during most of its length and ends up as a fascinating read for a variety of reasons.

The first reason is the absolute honesty with which the book is written. The base of the entire book is the relationship that Nico shares with his father. And this is shown beautifully and with strong, real emotion. What really works for it is that Nico tells the story from the perspective of a middle aged man who can now see with maturity the same events that he perceived differently as a young child or a teenager. And that brings out the emotion of Nico as an adult and as a boy of whatever age he is during the event itself. It contains all the regret one would feel as an adult of one’s own actions as a youngster, and becomes extremely relatable.

The second thing that really works for Fever is that it doesn’t try too hard to be a post-apocalyptic book. Although that is its genre, it doesn’t have the typical hierarchy of survival groups or the typical roles that people normally assume in this genre of fiction. What it does have are extremely real people who have real emotions and real behavior. It is their natural personalities that come through and that are furthered by the calamity they have witnessed. They don’t change who they are – they only become more of who they were.

The characters themselves are very interesting and depict the diversity of our world in many ways, good and bad. Each one develops in his/her own way. But the show is stolen, without a doubt, by the relationship between Nico and his father, its dynamics, its moments, its words spoken and unspoken, and even its strains. There is an unmistakable, raw, honesty in Nico’s delivery, that you feel deep within you as you read, and that has the power to physically affect you.

The story itself is much more than just the settling down of a community. It is the picture of an entire life of so many people, affected by what they’ve been through, their desires, their past, and their expectations for the future. And it moves along at a great pace. There are no slow points.

To be honest, I had expected the book to be very linear, filled with teenage angst, and stereotypical in many ways. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Instead, it was an emotion-packed, non-sappy, strong, raw, and honest book. And I really, really enjoyed every page of it. Needless to say, I will be adding Deon Meyer to my list of authors (translated works) for sure!

I would highly recommend Fever to:

  • fans of post-apocalyptic novels
  • anyone interested in trying a different type of book (because this is really different)
  • anyone interested in coming of age books (even though this is much more than that)

Fever released on 5th September 2017. Get your copy as soon as you can – you won’t regret it. And drop us a comment below to tell us what you thought of the book and/or this review!

– Rishika

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Review: 20000 Leagues Under the Sea (By Jules Verne)

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Source: Goodreads

Length: 340 pages

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

A mysterious sea creature, believed to be supernatural in size and ability, haunts the oceans of the world. When Scientist Pierre Aronnax gets the opportunity to embark on a voyage to capture this narwhal, he simply cannot refuse. But a strange turn of events lead to him being captured, along with his manservant, Conseil, and Canadian harpooner Ned Land, and taken aboard the Nautilus. Prisoners of the mysterious yet charismatic Captain Nemo, who calls the Nautilus submarine home and claims to have renounced all land, the three men find themselves on a journey of the world – taken through its oceans. They experience the incredible world that they didn’t even know existed under the surface of the sea, with each day bringing greater marvels than the previous. And yet, none of them can fathom what future has been decided for them by Captain Nemo – their captor whose enigmatic exterior hides a torrential fury and hatred that grows with every passing day.

My take:

I spent almost two months (maybe more) on this book. That is a very long time for a book that’s just 340 pages. To be honest, I didn’t care for it much at first, and almost gave it up after about 75 pages. But that’s when I realized that 20000 Leagues Under the Sea isn’t a book you read as you would a present day thriller. You need to read it slowly, word by careful word, and absorb each sentence as you go.

This isn’t an easy task considering the book isn’t written in a simple manner. Most of the sentences are exceedingly long, often convoluted in presentation, and kind of make you forget where you started by the time you finish them. Maybe that’s because it’s a translated piece of work. Whatever the reason may have been, the result was that it was cumbersome reading.

But since the book had come very highly recommended, I gave it another shot. This time, I read it slowly; and this is what I discovered.

The book can become monotonous when it goes into pages and pages of fish and sea animal descriptions. There is a lot of race stereotyping based on the circumstances of the time during which it was written. I say race stereotyping and not racism because it was more matter-of-fact, and was based on actual global conditions, rather than hatred born out of the personal inability to accept diversity. There is a lot of hunting involved which, I suppose, was the norm then, but can come across as a bit barbaric today.

And yet, 20000 Leagues Under the Sea deserves a 4.5-star rating. Because the book is the embodiment of the idea that a book can take you around the world, to beautiful and fantastic places, while you’re sitting in a chair.

Something about the book is so engaging that you experience every single emotion felt by all the characters. Each character is very much his own, making it easy to associate with them even though they come from a different era. And, you are pulled into the depths of the events that transpire, giving you the feeling of almost being there, witnessing it with your own eyes.

Then there’s the fact that the book beautifully depicts the complexity of the human mind and emotions. Life isn’t in black and white, hatred is born through sorrow, and curiosity can trump the greatest of fears – these are just some of the aspects of life (that by its very nature is complicated) that are wonderfully shown rather than told.

On the science fiction side, 20000 Leagues Under the Sea was definitely ahead of its time. The descriptions of the engineering that created the Nautilus are pretty amazing and while you may not even understand most of it, you’ll still find yourself being impressed by its detail and magnitude. The book truly depicts, in a variety of ways, how an elaborate imagination can conjure up brilliance and how parallels can be drawn between fiction and fact. Add to that the myriad of emotions that the story goes through – humor, sorrow, wonder, anger – and you have a novel that is thoroughly immersive. In fact, I went through the latter half of it in about four days!

Normally, I’d end my post with a mention on who would enjoy the book being reviewed. But here, I have to say that everyone who’s a reader should read 20000 Leagues Under the Sea at some point in their lives. The only tip I can offer is how to make the experience less cumbersome (because a part of it will be so) and more enjoyable. So… when you pick this book up, make sure that:

  • you go slow and try and really absorb each sentence
  • you read when you have time to spare, because this isn’t a book you can read fast
  • you make the most of the paragraphs-long descriptions of sea creatures, because there are some pretty beautiful sights in there

Let us know what you thought of 20000 Leagues Under the Sea and/or this review. Drop us a comment below! And thanks for stopping by!

– Rishika

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