Wednesday, February 26, 2014

It's Wednesday.

This will be a short post. I have calculus homework. And spanish homework. And AP Lit homework. And AP Bio homework.

Here's a small rundown of my life at the moment:

  1. As mentioned, I have a ton load of homework. It must be the upcoming month. Something about March makes teachers pile on the homework.
  2. I have been questioning my existence, mortality, and what is important in this world, and have concluded it is nothing like what the world tells me is important to my mortality. I will likely not marry, have children, or try YOLO, which appears to mean doing drugs, partying, and/or having sex. I also will not try traveling, bungee jumping, most sports, or watching said sports. I don't think focusing on school will happen, either, at least not public high school. According to my own calculations, books, cats, music, and God feature very heavily in what is "worth living for."
  3. I finished The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde and am halfway through The Dust of 100 Dogs by A.S. King. Both feature romance pretty heavily, and in the latter case, a rather detailed scene of a rape. I didn't feel like writing a book review. Needless to say, they will not be put on my greatest-favorite bookshelf.
  4. Sudoku puzzles! I have loved them since middle school, but now I would much rather solve another few sudoku puzzles than do my homework. Which is a problem. Technically. As I mentioned, school does not make it to my List of Things Important to Living.

This is shorter than I realized. So, I'll leave you with a quote and just say, have a blessed day. :)

Friday, February 21, 2014

Oh, What a Terrible Week. (On Cats and Life)

This has been a sorry week. It's not just paying $267 in AP fees (for three AP exams). Money problems make me anxious, but I could have gotten over that. It wasn't missing two days of school and feeling guilty for all of that missed time and makeup work.

I suppose I'll have to tell you the actual reason, though I hate to say it: someone ran over my cat.

Now, it sounds like something you grieve over for a few hours, maybe a couple of days. But I love my cats. I love my cats like I love my books. And someone killed him, stole a life. And didn't even care.

It was Wednesday evening. My little brother and his friends are playing outside, riding their bikes along the road -- they're elementary and early middle schoolers, just having a good time. I let my cat, Tenzing, stay outside, because it was nice outside -- warm, blue skies. And a little black car comes speeding along, running over my precious Tenzing, and doesn't even stop to see whether he just drove over a cat or a kid.

What sort of maggot-hearted monster doesn't even say sorry? Doesn't step forward when we drive around looking for him, or when we put flyers up to tell whoever-it-was that he murdered our beloved pet?

(I don't know for sure that this person is a he. I just have to refer to whoever-it-was as something other than it, and saying he puts more of a face to him.)

If there was any faith in humanity left in my heart, it is most certainly gone now. My cat was a strong, healthy, friendly Siamese whom we all loved, even our next door neighbors. If any of my several cats were to die, I had expected it to be Angel, the same age as Tenzing, but who has three teeth and an upper respiratory problem. Or perhaps Zazu, who is older than Tenzing, at somewhere around thirteen years old.

But not Tenzing. Tenzing didn't die from sickness or old age. I can't even really see it as an accident, because if you're in an accident, you stop to express your apologies. This was a tragedy. This was the dark taking of a life without seeming remorse. And perhaps that's spinning it a bit far-fetched, but my cat didn't make it. And it could easily have been my brother. This is cat-slaughter.

I don't understand how this could play out like it has. How no one would come forward and say sorry, sorry they ran over someone near and dear to our hearts. When is a cat's life not worth as much as a human's? Would they have come forward if they accidentally ran over one of those kids playing in the road? I suspect not. I suppose it doesn't pay to have faith in humanity; only faith in your friends, and yourself. But humanity has an evilness at its core, if you could do this to a stranger and not care.

The world, my friends, is looking rather black. The death of my cat may seem like something of a relief, that it wasn't my brother, but it is still a steep price. My cat never hurt anyone. And he's dead. He isn't going to come back. He isn't going to pull some fiction-stunt, where he really wasn't dead and will come back in the end, triumphant; he will stay dead, and buried, and only remembered. He still had a few good years in him; he was strong, for a twelve-year-old cat.

And I still have to trudge through school days, my face blank, pretending like all of this hasn't happened, because there isn't really any way to explain why the death of a pet can rock your entire world off its hinges. There isn't time to let you adjust to your new world. There is only schoolwork, and the teachers' annoyance when I really can't turn my homework in on time.

I hope you have a blessed week yourselves, people. I really do hope you have had a better week.

RIP, blessed Tenzing.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Orleans by Sherri L. Smith

First came the storms. Then came the Fever. And the wall. 
After a string of devastating hurricanes and a severe outbreak of Delta Fever, the Gulf Coast has been quarantined. Years later, the residents of the Outer States are under the assumption that life in the Delta is all but extinct... but in reality, a new, primitive society has been born.
Fen de la Guerre is living with the O-Positive blood tribe in the Delta when they are ambushed. Left with her tribe leader's newborn, Fen is determined to get the baby to a better life over the wall before her blood becomes tainted. Fen meets Daniel, a scientist from the Outer States who has slipped into the Delta illegally. Brought together by chance, kept together by danger, Fen and Daniel navigate the wasteland of Orleans. In the end, they are each other's last hope for survival.
Sherri L. Smith delivers an expertly crafted story about a fierce heroine whose powerful voice and firm determination will stay with you long after you've turned the last page.

~Print copy (from library), 324 pages
Published: 2013 by G.P. Putnam's Sons (an imprint of Penguin Group)

I meant to post this Monday -- I know, I know, it's rather late. But snow and school and lack of a proper Internet connection has made it hard.

So, here's a somewhat-more-organized-than-usual list of what I think of this book:

Premise/summary: Yes.

I love the premise, of course. Why else would I decide to read it? I had some doubts when the summary began to mention Daniel, because that smacked of romance to me, but the whole Fever and quarantine sounded interesting enough that I picked it up anyways. I wouldn't have called the Delta society "primitive," but that's because I'm picky and like to think that such paleolithic/early-neolithic-style societies are simply different, perhaps even innovative and worth studying more than they are to be looked down on.

Story/Plot: Meh/Yes.

The baby thing, written this way, made sense. The pacing didn't really flag. There was no romance, which was a relief. I'm not sure what the problem was -- well, I somewhat do. By the end, it was getting more... random. Things looked like they were happening by chance, and the things I would have focused on were mostly mentioned or just barely elaborated. And there were odd blocks of flashbacks that were there mostly to explain in detail Fen's backstory -- and just her backstory. There were mostly explanatory information on Daniel outside of true flashbacks. And I won't mention how out-of-the-blue-in-a-most-unpleasant-way the ending was.

For the randomness, as I won't mention that without some evidence for you, take this example: the growing feud between the O-Positives and the ABs. It looked to be getting steadily worse, but Fen cares nothing about it; neither does Daniel. It's just there, in the background. And the "cure" for the fever Daniel was working on -- I won't mention it, but I was a little disappointed in how that turned out.

Characters: Meh/Yes.

Fen was actually a decent character. She was fierce and smart. Always calculating the odds and means of escape. And she could easily have ditched this newborn girl, who only dragged her down and cried in the worst of moments. But she didn't; even when she had ample opportunity, and it would have facilitated her own escape, she didn't let the baby die. And it's not even hers, just her dead chieftain's.

Daniel, on the other hand, I was less fond of. A bit of a bumbler, and he didn't seem too motivated. Just there. He had his sob story about his brother, dead from the fever, but he's just sort of like, "Hmm, I managed to find my way into the Delta. What am I supposed to do now, with my outdated maps and total ignorance on what goes on around people-wise?" Unfortunately, he was a pretty major character, maybe almost more so than Fen, which I was disappointed about.

Writing: Meh.

A real problem, for me, was the switches in POV. It would randomly switch POVs between Daniel and Fen, but not only is it a total change in style -- Fen had "tribe speak," with very loose, imprecise grammer, and Daniel spoke much more grammatically, like you'd find in any other novel -- it also changed tense and POV style. Fen's was written in first person, present, with the aforementioned unique voice. Daniel's was written in third person, past tense, with a more conventional voice. It was jarring, to be bounced between the two.

I did love the uniqueness of Fen's voice. But instead of writing the book entirely in her voice -- which, I admit, would be a difficult feat -- it was sort of halved by the conventional voice of Daniel, and instead of dividing the chapters between the two, it furthermore would switch in the middle, at the end of a chapter, or after several chapters. I didn't like how this was organized.

Overall: Yes.

I did like this, of a sort. I think it's very original, with the fever and quarantine, the dynamics between the Outer States of America and the quarantined Gulf Coast, and the way they're both depicted. And there was a refreshing avoidance of romance. (I hate romance; the more I see it, the more it upsets me. And I read mostly YA, I am generally in the mood to cry when I pick up a book.)

I would recommend this to most people. I don't like the ending, or the way POV was handled, and Daniel was a bit iffy -- but I think that at points, the premise and Fen made up for it. I'd say a 3.5 stars, which of course can be rounded up to 4 stars.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Happy February.

It's the pink month, guys. Valentine's Day and all of that jazz. It's one of my least favorite months of the year, but I console myself that at least this also happens to be Black History Month. Black History is a very good history to talk about, because there is so much tension and strife that it must be talked about.

(It's really only Valentine's Day that makes this my least favorite month. But in my defense, stores are bursting with hearts and pink and red and candy and those weird little paper valentines that only little kids get to buy with impunity. Walking into Wal-Mart makes me cringe, and this is not a good thing when I barely get out of the house anyways.)

So, instead of writing a very long post today -- it's already 9:30 pm, I've had a ridiculously exhausting school day and homework binge -- here's a nice, relaxing song for your pink-barraged brains. Well, as relaxing as my music gets.

Have a blessed day.

Escala -- Requiem for a Dream