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Animal Farm by George Orwell

animal farm  Animal Farm by George Orwell

 

This is not the first time I’ve had to read Animal Farm by George Orwell. It’s actually like the third, and I enjoyed it just as much this time as I did the other two times. Which is, to be completely honest, a good MEH. It’s not fantastic, it’s not horrendous. I didn’t have to force myself to finish it or anything because it does pull the reader in and keeps the reader there.

(Although, if I were reading it during the Communist scare, that might be completely different.)

So, yes, Animal Farm is really a tale about Communism and it was actually banned because of that. No, Animal Farm does not paint Communism in a good light. In fact, it paints it in a decidedly negative –some might say a realistic – light. It goes down in a bad way. In a real bad way.

And, to be completely honest, as I write this review, I don’t really remember a bunch of details. I mean, I can tell you what happens, but I’d be hard pressed to tell you exactly where it happens. There’s a list of major events in my head but I’m not sure I can actually put them in order for a decent review. So to save time – also, Emily is breathing down my neck for this review – I have SparkNotes up to spark my memory and make sure that I’m not typing something that’s completely and utterly wrong.

As I stated above, Orwell wrote this book during the Red Scare and it is really about the horrors of Communism. There is not really a deeper meaning than that. Like if you were to draw the flag mentioned in Animal Farm, it’s a dead ringer for the U.S.S.R flag. However, don’t let that stop you from reading it. It’s not a bad book as I said, but it’s not something that I’m going to rant and rave sideways and upways about.

There will be spoiler below this point so if you don’t want spoilers STOP HERE and read the book if you want, or don’t if you don’t. Whatever you want to do, my friend.

The story starts with life on the Manor Farm where Old Major, a prize winning boar, calls all the other animals to say that he’s had a dream where they’re their own masters and that they make their own decisions. Three of the other pigs in attendance – Napoleon, Snowball, and Squealer – take his words to heart and make the rules of Animalism. Later, Old Major dies. Without going into too much detail, the animals do break free of their farmer, Mr. Jones, and run him off the farm.

At first, everything is going pretty good. They’re more efficient together this way and they all have a day off work and they’re always fed right. Snowball – who is supposed to be Karl Marx – teaches the other animals while Napoleon – Stalin – takes some puppies and stores them in the barn loft for something that is surely not nefarious.

Some things go down that’s not exactly good. Jones comes back, Napoleon and Snowball get into a fight over the idea behind a windmill. Eventually Napoleon comes back with those puppies that he surely had a good plan for and he had totally trained them to be attack dogs and they ran Snowball off the farm. Napoleon therefore is the leader and he and the other pigs are now in charge of everything.

Yeah, I trust you.

Pretty soon all the animals are worse than they were before because everything was so slowly taken away that no one save Benjamin the donkey noticed (he was my favorite character, I’m not going to lie.) though he didn’t try to stop it. Squealer, who is supposed to be propaganda, has such a way with words that he simply convinces the other animals that what’s going on really for the good.

Oh, your food rations are being cut because the pigs have to use brain power which means they need more food than you. Good job, Squealer, I hate you.

Also, the rules that the original trio of pigs slowly changes.

No animal shall sleep in a bed edit: with sheets.

No animal shall drink alcohol edit: to excess.

And some animals notice that the rules are different but they can’t tell where because, to be honest, they’re animals and are therefore a bit stupid. Though Benjamin totally knows what’s what. Because no one ever sees a dead donkey so he knows when to keep his hee-hawing mouth shut. He does.

Eventually it gets to the point where all the rules are out the window and the pigs are pretty much doing whatever they want. The pigs even erase all of the other rules and change it all to All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others because the pigs are more important than everyone else. That line is quoted a lot in school and things – at least, it was in my school.

But damn, that one line is powerful because we can all relate to it somehow, even if you’re in that group that’s more equal than others.

Don’t think I’m bashing this book. I’m not. I like this book, but I’m not one for big allegory like stories. I like my fiction straight and to the point with some humor. As much as this is not the book for me, I still like it. Pick it up sometime and read it.

(Like seriously.)

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The Demonata: Slawter by Darren Shan

Slawter     The Demonata: Slawter by Darren Shan

Slawter (yes, it’s spelled this way) is the third book in the ten book series The Demonata, which is the second young adult series by Darren Shan, the author Cirque du Freak series. Compared to the Cirque du Freak series these seem to be for a slightly older audience- Cirque du Freak seemed to be geared toward preteens where these are for young to mid teens.

 

While the last installment, Demon Thief, had a different protagonist, Kernel Fleck, Slawter goes back to the protagonist from the first book Lord Loss, Grubbs Grady. (I think Darren Shan has a thing for odd names). Kernal, along with other characters from Demon Thief are mentioned or make a small appearance in the book, but the only characters from Demon Thief that take a prominent role in Slawter are Dervish, Grubb’s uncle, Lord Loss, the demon lord and the main villain of the series.

 

Though the ending of Lord Loss implies that Dervish came back from his battle pretty ok, but Slawter shows that he’s still suffering from some serious trauma caused from his time in Lord Loss’s demension. Most of the time, he seems ok, but every once in a while he will have a bad flashback that causes him to lash out at Grubbs. Considering that he was sent to an alternate demention to fight a demon master that hated him with the unholy passion of a thousand suns, half-normalcy is pretty good.

Despite the weird things going on at home, Grubbs is finally getting into a routine of normalcy at school. At this point, he’s gotten used to going to school again and he’s making friends to the other kids at school… which wouldn’t be a problem if it weren’t for the fact that he’s distancing himself from Bill-E, his half-brother (mega plot twist from Lord Loss, oh my god).

On top of all that, Grubbs has to worry about his future, the genetic curse that affected Bill-E, and his now deceased sister Gret and turns members of his family into wolf-like monsters. Grubbs is getting near the age of when most of his relatives turn, so he’s been extra mindful of himself and is looking out for the warning signs of when they are about to turn.

That’s how things are at the beginning of the book, and not too far in we are introduced to the main plot: Dervish has gotten a call from a movie producer, Davida Haym, who wants to use him as a reference for a her newest horror movie called “Slawter” (title drop).

Yeah, I didn’t buy this. Something is definately up here.

Grubbs is super excited, so excited that when he meets a woman on his way home from school asking about Dervish he just assumes that it’s Davida Haym and takes her to his house.

Not his best idea.

Not his best idea.

It turns out that this is Prae Athim, the leader of a group called the Lambs, who try to use science to break the Grady curse, though they are more known for killing off members of the family that have succumbed to the curse. She comes and tries to tell Dervish to hand over Bill-E for study, since they were able to break the curse using Lord Loss.

Of course, Dervish refuses, but this offers an interesting conflict within the story: is it better in the long run for the Grady family to attack the curse incident-by-incident, or attack it at the root and get rid of it? Granted, the incident-by-incident has been the only way to surely get rid of the curse for sure, but often times it doesn’t work and it involves summoning demons, so the Lambs don’t really like that option.

So that happens. Athim leaves without Bill-E, but the incident shakes Grubbs and causes him to be worried about his future.

The next week, Davida Haym actually comes to Dervish’s home, along with her assistant, Juni Swan.  She convinces Dervish to take the job as the consultant for the movie, called Slawter.

Dervish takes Bill-E and Grubbs with him to the movie set, where they hang out with some of the other kids on set. Dervish spends a lot of time working on the demons, and after a while, they are finally revealed to the rest of the cast and crew.

And it’s really convincing… like almost too convincing. In that, Grubbs is pretty sure it’s an actual demon.  Of course, he has also had a whole lot of trauma in the past couple of years, so he’s probably just halucinating… right?

 

Compared to the other books in the series I’ve read so far, this seemed like a typical fantasy adventure story. It’s told in four parts, the first two are used for build up, the third is used to build suspense before all hell breaks loose, and part four is when all hell breaks loose (literally).

Most of the major characters we’ve already met, but a notable new character is Juni Swan, the assistant to Davida Haym who shows some talent for magic and has a thing for Dervish.

It’s a pretty good read, but I can’t say I liked it as much as I did the last two books in the series. It seemed like just a good middle of the series filler book, but there’s not nothing really wrong with that.

 

Rating: 7 out of 10.

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