Book Review: Ghost Bride

Title: Ghost Bride

Author: Yangsze Choo

Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal

Pages: 361

Level of difficulty: 3/5 Dictionaries

My Rating: 2/5 Stars

Brief Introduction:

Li Lan, the daughter of a once reputable but now bankrupt family gets a marriage proposal from the Lim family, a highly respectable and rich family. However, it is a marriage proposal for their recently deceased son, Lim Tian Ching. Despite Li Lan’s refusal to being a ghost bride, she finds herself haunted by Lim Tian Ching and losing her health at the same time.

Favourite Quote:

N/A

Review:

It was a really interesting idea and had so much potential but the execution was sadly disappointing in my opinion. I think the first problem was that the intended audience was not clear. Was it for Malaysian or other Asian readers? A non-Chinese audience? Teenagers or adults? As someone who is very familiar with Malaya and Singapore history and Malay and Chinese culture, there was a bit too much explaining of certain concepts, names, food and places in the novel. While I understand that the explanation might have been primarily for non-Malaysian readers to follow the storyline better, the way the explanations were woven into the story felt forced instead of a ‘show not tell’ manner. In addition, I don’t think there is a huge problem with readers doing their ‘Googles’ and actively learning more about a culture if they happen to be reading a book based on an unfamiliar culture to them.

The second problem I had was that the plot twists in the books were all very predictable, and a lot of aspects in the novel felt too convenient. The love interest that the main character had in the novel was not believable. As a reader, I could understand the infatuation with the first love interest however, they barely had any interactions to portray the deep love between them that was implied. In addition, with the second love interest, there were even fewer interactions to understand why the main character would so easily choose them over the first love interest. In addition, the motivations for certain characters’ betrayal, help, and the reasoning behind the talents of certain characters were all weak too. ( I am trying to be as vague as possible to avoid spoilers).

The third problem was the execution of Chinese culture and its beliefs of the afterlife as the basis of the fantasy/paranormal elements in the book. I was quite disappointed because that was a huge motivation for why I picked the book up. I was actually a little nonplussed when one character in the novel turned into a mystical creature. I thought to myself, why them and why all of a sudden and why this creature? In addition, the mystical creature chosen felt a little bit cliché. Due to the fact that there was not much effort to give a justification for the world-building and certain fantasy elements (despite the fact that it was based on cultural beliefs and not just make-believe), they fell flat and as a reader a bit unbelievable especially when there were some inconsistencies.

Nevertheless, I still think it was a worthwhile read as I was really intrigued to find out how the story would play out and end (though quite conveniently) and I greatly appreciated the representation showcased in the novel.

Other

The book was recently turned into a Netflix show, however the trailer for the show hints that the series is a little bit different from the book. Here it is:

Book Review: Pachinko

Title: Pachinko

Author: Min Jin Lee

Genre: Historical Fiction, Literature

Pages: 453

Level of difficulty: 4/5 Dictionaries

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Brief Introduction:

Sunja, the daughter in a loving family falls for a stranger often seen near the market in her hometown in Korea as a teenager. Their interaction leads to her pregnancy but unfortunately, she soon realises that she cannot marry him. She instead accepts a marriage proposal from a gentle, sickly minister and moves with him to Japan. This decision further unfolds in a breathtaking way through the generations.

Trigger warnings : Assault, Addiction and Suicide

Favourite Quote:

“Sunja had heard this sentiment from other women, that they must suffer—suffer as a girl, suffer as a wife, suffer as a mother—die suffering. Gosaeng—the word made her sick.”

Pg. 373

Review:

Pachinko follows the lives of several individuals in a family tree from before the Japanese occupation of Korea to way after the atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We are told the story from a bird’s eye view, where we see each character and learn about them from a third person’s perspective. However, the story was not difficult to follow at all. It was not only well written but highly moving too. I actually cried less than 50 pages into the novel.

On a whole, the story is about life, more specifically the lives of Korean immigrants in Japan during the Japanese occupation of Korea and long after the Cold War, and thus encompasses many themes. The author did a good job of highlighting how racism and discrimination limit people’s options and changes their lives drastically. Something that is sadly still prominent in today’s time. She was also brutally honest yet compassionate while portraying the lives of women throughout the history of which the story plays out.

However, something I was disappointed about was the lack of explanation for certain characters death. Then again, it might have been intentional to represent life and how we rarely get answers to a lot of painful experiences.

Despite the story’s slow pace, it was a page-turner!

Book Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Title: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid

Genre: Historical Fiction, Contemporary, Romance

Pages: 389

Level of difficulty: 3/5 Dictionaries

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Brief Introduction:

Evelyn Hugo, is a big time Hollywood actress who has not been in the spotlight for a long time. Now that she is older, she is about to do a tell-all (especially about her 7 marriages) alongside an auction of 7 of her most famous gowns to charity. However, she has chosen an unknown journalist Monique Grant to do the interview.

Favourite Quote:

“When you’re given an opportunity to change your life, be ready to do whatever it takes to make it happen. The world doesn’t give things, you take things.”

Pg. 41

Review:

Why this journalist? Why did she get married 7 times? Did she love all her husbands? These are all the burning questions that push readers to pick up the book. The author does a good job of explaining the dynamics between Hugo and her husband: why she felt compelled to get married and how the marriages came to their end. Yet at the same time, while we are learning all of these and trying to understand the complex individual that Hugo is, the author ignites our curiosity on why Monique Grant is the reporter for the interview. Furthermore, there were many interesting twists and turns in the book (even though I was able to guess most of them).

Book Review: Things Fall Apart

I’m so sorry it’s been so long. I have been a little busy with school work. I do hope you enjoy the book review and shall pick up the book 🙂

Things-Fall-Apart-9780435913502

Title: Things Fall Apart

Author: Chinua Achebe

Genre: Historical Fiction, Literature, Postcolonial critique; tragedy

Recommended Reading Age: 15 & above

Pages: 166

Level of difficulty: 4/5 Dictionaries

Brief Introduction:

Okonkwo strives to be as different from his deceased father as possible. He believes that his father  who was lazy, unreliable and poor was not a man, especially one that he should look up to. Hence, Okonkwo challenges himself to be strong, respected and abled. In addition, another struggle that happens in the book is between the traditional customs of Umuofia (the village) and the new customs of the white missionaries.

Favourite Quote:

“an old woman is always uneasy when dry bones are mentioned in a proverb”

Reasons Why You Too Should Read It:

  1. Reading Far and Wide

It’s probably a book that many (students) would not pick up by choice. Hence, even more reasons why you should. It invites you to Nigeria, a country that you most likely haven’t been to and allows you to learn about its past and old traditions from a local perspective. In addition, it talks about colonialism very subtly from a local perspective, giving readers most likely, a new insight into the topic.

  1. It’s packed with moral lessons.

Each chapter is like a short story of itself. There is a lesson to learn if one takes the time to be critical. For example, in CHAPTER NINE we learn that no one, no matter how strong shall be spared from guilt if they have wronged. Now, top this off with the numerous proverbs and fables that run across the pages of the book, and who ever reads this book, critically enough shall be blessed with wisdom. 🙂

  1. It is a short novel.

The book doesn’t have many pages, doesn’t have challenging vocabulary and has many chapters. Hence, you shall be able to read the book with great ease. You can even easily stop to think and reflect about the events. With the above, one can truly appreciate the message between the lines of the book.

This book review was also uploaded onto goodreads.com, do go take a look