Book Review: The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis

Rating: 5/5 stars

Published: 1945

Synopsis: In "The Great Divorce," C.S. Lewis's classic vision of the Afterworld, the narrator boards a bus on a drizzly English afternoon and embarks on an incredible voyage through Heaven and Hell. He meets a host of supernatural beings far removed from his expectations, and comes to some significant realizations about the nature of good and evil.

Even though it’s quite short, The Great Divorce tackles lofty subject matter in a refreshing way. In this text, Hell isn’t the realm of fire and brimstone depicted in scripture; it’s a dull, gray city featuring average souls with very human problems. While a few lucky souls get to venture to Heaven for a time, they still have a degree of separation from all that it offers.

When the narrator initially arrives in Heaven, he describes himself and the other visitors as “Ghosts” since they are transparent and unable to change the environment around them. Most of the book consists of the narrator listening to the permanent residents of Heaven (called “Spirits”) attempting to convince the Ghosts to turn away from Hell and accept the Gospel into their lives.

Although it seems as though this text is implying that souls in Hell have a chance of redemption, I interpreted the stories within this book to be allegories of how we on Earth tend to struggle with the battle of our will versus God’s. As a Christian, I found The Great Divorce to be a poignant way of reiterating that God’s love is always available to us, even when we are blind to it.  Lewis does a phenomenal job of taking difficult, abstract concepts of Christianity and describing them in a concrete (but not necessarily simple) way. If you’re looking to dip your toes in religion and philosophy, this book is definitely necessary to add on your reading list!

Thanks for reading,

Indoor Sojourner

Top Five Friday: Villains

Hey everyone! This is the first Top Five Friday post on Indoor Sojourner, in which I'll be listing five book villains that are either completely sinister, strangely lovable or anywhere in between.

Without further ado, let's get started!

5. Javert-Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

Even though he's technically more of an antihero, Javert's ruthless and unforgiving tactics of hunting down Jean Valjean establish him as the antagonist of the story. Javert believes wholeheartedly that it's his responsibility is to stop at nothing to apprehend Valjean, and by doing so, the world will be a better place. Valjean is an escaped convict after all, and as a man of the law, it's Javert's duty to cleanse the streets of any lowly criminals. However, by the end of the story, he realizes that Valjean has been nothing but forgiving to him in his years as a fugitive, and ultimately, his actions were more vicious than just.

4. The Darkling-The Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

The Darkling is definitely one complicated villain. Without spoiling the trilogy, I'll just say that his backstory is a tragic one. On the outside, he's ruthless, power hungry and seemingly invincible, but if he only had a bit of love and compassion in his life, his story could have turned out much differently. Even though the Darkling's main goal in life is to literally fill the world with darkness, his deceptive charm and heartbreaking backstory somehow makes you want to root for him, making him all the more interesting as a character.

3. Queen Levana-The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer
(warning: spoilers)

Anyone who's read this series knows how hungry for power Levana is, but if you've also read Fairest (the companion novel to this series that outlines Levana's past), then congratulations! You have a further understanding of how truly disturbed she has been for most of her life. When they were children, Levana's older sister Channary pushed her into a fire, forcing her to constantly used her Lunar powers to cover her disfigurement and make herself look beautiful. From that point forward, Levana convinced herself that she always deserved what she wanted; when the man she loved didn't love her back, she forced him to love her with her powers. Later, when she decided she wanted to be queen, she attempted to kill her own niece as a baby. Although she may be the most powerful woman in this fictional world (at the moment), deep down, she's still an insecure girl who never got approval from the ones she loved.

2. Ursula Monkton-The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
(warning: spoilers)

I originally had Ursula lower on the list, but the more I thought about it, the more I remembered just how downright terrifying she actually is. When the main character goes to a mysterious spirit world with his friend Lettie (none of which is explained in depth), Ursula takes the form of a worm, lodges herself into the character's foot and hitches a ride straight into his household.

...Yeah. Let that sink in for a second.

As if that isn't unsettling enough, she takes the form of a young woman and is hired as a sweet, unassuming nanny for the protagonist and his little sister. At this point, his own parents don't believe him when he tells them that the lovely new nanny is evil; she basically traps him in his own home and makes his life a living nightmare. Ursula Monkton doesn't have a soft side or a terrible past that we as readers can relate to; evil is woven into her very core.

1. Big Brother-1984 by George Orwell

Big Brother has made it to number one in this list and he's not even an actual character that we see in any point of the book; he's merely a concept that the Inner Party created to keep the public under control. However, whether or not he's actually a person is a moot point, because his control of Oceania is so strong that no one can possibly overtake it. Big Brother and the Inner Party completely control every aspect of the people and their perception of the world around them. To me, one of the most unsettling aspects of Big Brother's reign is that the documentation of history itself is altered to keep the nation under control. As a character, Big Brother is one of the most influential villains in literature as a whole.

If there are any villains you'd like to add to the list, feel free to put them in the comments!

Thanks for reading,

Indoor Sojourner

Review: The Heir by Kiera Cass

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Synopsis: Twenty years ago, America Singer entered the Selection and won Prince Maxon's heart. Now the time has come for Princess Eadlyn to hold a Selection of her own. Eadlyn doesn't expect her Selection to be anything like her parents' fairy-tale love story...but as the competition begins, she may discover that finding her own happily ever after isn't as impossible as she's always thought.

The Heir is the fourth book of The Selection series. If you haven't read the rest of the series yet, there may be some mild spoilers for the first three books in this review, but I'll keep any spoilers from The Heir to myself!

One of my biggest book related pet peeves is when authors seemingly finish writing a series and later release extra novellas, companion novels, and prequels related to it. After I finished The One (the third book of The Selection trilogy, or so I thought), I felt like I had an adequate amount of closure to put this world aside and move on. But, of course, since The trilogy was so popular, Cass decided to add two more books that are set twenty years after the series was supposed to end. Needless to say, I was initially hesitant to pick this one up.

So why on Earth did I plow through this book in a few days?

For one thing, I had previously read a couple of beefy classics consecutively and wanted to read something a little lighter. On that front, The Heir did not disappoint. It was entertaining, had a fast, even pace, and even though it was a bit of a cliffhanger, the ending was generally well done. This book (and the series as a whole) definitely constitutes as a guilty pleasure read whenever I want to read solely for entertainment. 

That being said, there were a lot of things about this book that irked me every now and then. For one thing, Eadlyn's bad attitude and immaturity is a dominating factor throughout the book; she starts the competition with the main goal of making the boys' lives miserable simply because she doesn't want to participate in the competition. Not to mention, she's kind of a brat. For instance, take this quote from the first chapter, before she even faces any major conflict:
"I tried not to complain. After all, I knew how fortunate I was. But there were days, and sometimes months, when it felt like far too much was piled on me, too much for any one person, really." 
"...I thought as I suffered through in my bubble bath and struggled through my hand massage"

Eadlyn aside, a lot of the boys in the Selection were a bit cliché. Take Ean, for example. Ean is the quintessential "bad boy" with a mysterious side and suspiciously knows a whole lot about Eadlyn's personal life. For example, while he and Eadlyn are on a date, Eadlyn mentions that she could easily send him home immediately. He responds:
"But you won't," he assumed, that impish grin still plastered to his face. "You know I can give you the one thing you really want, and you're the only one who can give me what I want."
"Which is?" 
 "Comfort. Comfort in exchange for freedom."
See? He even has an "impish grin."

Throughout the book, Eadlyn constantly thinks about how much she only wants freedom and independence but never actually mentions this to anyone outside of her family. How does he even know that she doesn't actually want to be a wife? We'll probably find out in the next book that Ean has some ulterior motives, but honestly, he's so cheesy that I don't really care either way.

Speaking of cheesiness, can we just take a moment to appreciate this quote?
"I still wasn't quite certain what to do with my heart."
It's probably not the most generic romance novel line in history, but still...

Anyway, one of the biggest problems I had with this book was that Maxon and America didn't seem like the same individuals they were in the rest of the series. Of course, we're seeing them through the eyes of their daughter, but both of them seem weaker and lack the spark they had when they were the stars of the show, particularly America. In this book, America seemed a so quiet and passive, it was as if she was a different character altogether.

Considering all of the complaints I've hashed out, it may seem like I didn't like The Heir. Despite the flaws, I found it to be entertaining, and I'll probably end up reading the next book just because I enjoy the world of princesses and palaces so much. I would recommend this book if you enjoy reading books simply for fun and are looking for a light and fluffy YA romance for the summer!

Thanks for reading,

Indoor Sojourner

An Introduction to the Blogging World

Hi everyone! Before I delve into the realm of book blogging, I figured I would say hello tell you all and mention a little bit about myself. I’ve gone through the basics in my About page, so I’ll go the extra mile and add a few more random facts about who I am.

  • My name is Annie.
  • I have two dogs that are absolutely adorable.
  • I have a twin brother who is also pretty cool.
    • I’m one minute older and I never let him live it down (:<
  • I’m definitely a dog person in general. If I see you and you have a dog in your possession, you better believe I’m gonna pet it...
    • ...unless it's a chihuahua. Those little guys are crazy.
  • If I had to eat breakfast food every day for the rest of my life, I would be perfectly content.
  • I took dance classes all through middle and high school, particularly ballet, contemporary, jazz, and (for a few years, to my dismay) tap.
    • Ballet was my favorite; I took pointe all through high school and couldn’t get enough of it!
  • My Meyers-Briggs profile is a mix of ISFJ and ISFP.
  • That being said, I’m definitely not the confrontational type; heated debates in comment sections generally make me uneasy.
  • Of course, love to read and analyze books; however, I usually keep any thoughts or analyses to myself.
  • I started this blog to get out of my comfort zone and actually discuss what I’ve been reading with the world!

Hopefully these little tidbits of information helped you get to know me a little bit better. I can’t wait to start this blog in full swing and crank out some reviews and discussions!

Thanks for reading,

Indoor Sojourner