James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

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James and the Giant Peach
By Roald Dahl
Publisher: Puffin Books
ISBN13: 9780142410363
Pages: 146
Genre: Children’s Fiction

Synopsis:

A little magic can take you a long way.

After James Henry Trotter’s parents are tragically eaten by a rhinoceros, he goes to live with his two horrible aunts, Spiker and Sponge. Life there is no fun, until James accidentally drops some magic crystals by the old peach tree and strange things start to happen. The peach at the top of the tree begins to grow, and before long it’s as big as a house. Inside, James meets a bunch of oversized friends—Grasshopper, Centipede, Ladybug, and more. With a snip of the stem, the peach starts rolling away, and the great adventure begins!


(New) Thoughts

It is not often that I explore children’s fiction and this is my first time attempting a review of one on BVT. But when I picked up this classic by Roald Dahl, I knew I would have to talk about it! I owe my experience to my current reading challenge, as that is how James and the Giant Peach landed in my hands.

2018 Popsugar Reading Challenge Prompt: A childhood classic you’ve never read

My previous experience with Dahl’s work was limited to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Which I personally adore and could spend the day doting on. I knew that his whimsical style would agree with me. My only regret is having waited this long to enjoy this beloved story.

James loses his parents in a horrendous accident involving a rhinoceros, immediately adding that elaborate flair that only Dahl can, and is sent to live with two terrible aunts; Spiker and Sponge. He is mistreated and neglected, spending his days catering to the unrealistic whims of the two women, when one day he encounters a mysterious man. He is given a bag of magical crystals which promise to be his salvation. When he accidentally drops them into the grown by an old peach tree, the very unexpected happens. Suddenly a peach appears and grows at an alarming rate to the size of a house. Inhabited by over-sized creatures including a centipede, lady bug, spider and earth worm, James finds himself on an incredible adventure when the peach’s stem breaks setting them all in motion.

“There are a whole lot of things in this world of ours you haven’t even started wondering about yet.” 

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James and the Giant Peach is a shining example of why I adore children’s fantasy. It embodies all of the elements I have come to cherish in stories, even as an adult. We are introduced to a lovable yet surely down on his luck protagonist, who is about to find his terrible life flipped upside down for the better! Add a very eccentric cast of characters to the mix and this is a recipe for fun that appeals to readers of all ages.

While the end result is full of whimsy and merriment, it is not without a few defining and more disturbing moments. I am noticing that this seems to be Dahl’s shtick.

“The peach rolled on. And behind it, Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker lay ironed out upon the grass as flat and thin and lifeless as a couple of paper dolls cut out of a picture book.”

He has the uncanny ability to introduce readers into elaborately constructed worlds that seem to create a perfect balance between awful and the good. I find this a highly effective approach that really feeds the adventure.

While it can feel peculiar at the best of times and perhaps perplexing, tucked within is a beautiful story that reminds children of all ages, that happiness and love can be found within the most unexpected places and forms. James’ ability to overcome each obstacle reminds us to never lose hope. I cannot wait to explore more of Dahl’s collection and feel slightly disappointed that I missed these books as a child.

Untitled design Enjoyed with a nice blend of iced, peach tea of course!

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Purchase Links: Amazon.com Book Depository

Happy Reading,

Danielle ❤

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Book vs Film: Logan’s Run

I recently read Logan’s Run by George Clayton Johnson and William F. Nolan after completing the film (for the millionth time, during one of my late night, classic sci-fi binges). I quickly noticed some pretty interesting differences. Below is a brief comparison of the two, followed by my thoughts.  I have chosen to omit a few significant variations for the sake of avoiding spoilers. 

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Final Thoughts..

Both the film and the book offer an enjoyable throwback to classic sci-fi that instantly reminds us of why we enjoy the genre. The book manages to accomplish an impressive amount over a very small span of time. Tackling the age-old familiar dystopian theme of population management, it supplies an interesting take on euthanasia and the ever elusive utopian society. However, the story also experiences limitations itself with the very reduced age of the population. It can be hard to process a society where the entire Earth never ages beyond 21. I think that while the film writers and directors chose to deviate from multiple aspects of the original story, they did so wisely. Increasing the life span to 30 and limiting these restrictions to a domed city opened up endless possibilities and expanded beautifully on an already brilliant concept. Watching Logan’s Run now has the added luxury of a satisfyingly nostalgic and fun kitsch vibe that many fans of science fiction can deeply appreciate.

2018 Popsugar Reading Challenge prompt: A book by an author with the same first or last name as you.

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Book                       Movie

Have you read or seen Logan’s Run? What are your thoughts?

Happy Reading & Watching!

Danielle ❤

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I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

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I Am Legend
By Richard Matheson
Publisher: RosettaBooks
Kindle ASIN: B00514HDNW
Pages: 162
Genre: Science Fiction

Synopsis:

Robert Neville has witnessed the end of the world. The entire population has been obliterated by a vampire virus. Somehow, Neville survived. He must now struggle to make sense of everything that has happened and learn to protect himself against the vampires who hunt him constantly. He must, because perhaps there is nothing else human left.

*I have shortened this synopsis as it is unnecessarily lengthy, and I feel it reveals a key element better left to discovery.


thoughts

I Am Legend has been on my list for years. I am not sure why I let it go for as long as I have. I enjoyed both films greatly, although I hold a particular fondness for Omega Man (1971) with Heston. I feel it holds a bit truer to the actual book, but there are a few more adaptations in existence (so I am told).

I Am Legend follows protagonist Robert Neville after a plague has swept through, claiming the entirety of mankind and leaving nothing but vampiric beings in its wake. It is the end of times. Yet somehow, Neville remains. Alone and outnumbered, he must fight for survival and try to establish a life of solitude.

I want to note that for a brief portion of this story I actually listened to the audio book narrated by Robertson Dean. I can safely recommend it, as I found the narrator’s tone to be reminiscent of the actual film, Omega Man. It was nostalgic. So If you are in search a shorter audio book, this might be an ideal option. You could certainly knock this one off of your TBR in a matter of hours.

Where to start? This is a brilliant read! Cleverly disguised as your run-of-the-mill science fiction, I Am Legend delivers a reading experience that goes well beyond the expected. This is not just a mere story of a virus and mankind’s end. This is a keen observation of humanity through the eyes of one desperate and desolate human being.

“He stood there for a moment looking around the silent room, shaking his head slowly. All these books, he thought, the residue of a planet’s intellect, the scrapings of futile minds, the leftovers, the potpourri of artifacts that had no power to save men from perishing.”

Our main character is everything you would come to expect him to be. He is angry. He is despairing. And he is forever seeking answers and solutions. It is through Neville that we exposed to the horrors of what it is to be the last surviving human. The psychological ramifications are endless, and I feel that the 3rd person narration seen through Neville’s eyes conveys this appropriately with well-timed emotional responses and outburst. The sense of desperation is forever present in his relentless studies and efforts to find a cure, a solution. The loneliness is experienced through his need to reside within his own memories of his wife and a life that was. The added element of his alcoholism and sporadic actions expose his weakness and ineffective coping, reminding us once again that this is more than a science fiction story.

The writing is very impressive when you take into account that I Am Legend was originally published in 1954 and set with a futuristic Los Angeles during 1976. While the pace is somewhat slow, it is consistent and aids well in setting the atmosphere. I feel that it was a brazen decision on the author’s part to create a single character and leave him to his own devices while providing the reader with limited insight through the chosen narration. It is easy to see why this book has influenced multiple films. By the time you have completed Neville’s journey, I Am Legend will evoke a different type of fear that is very human and very real.

“Full circle. A new terror born in death, a new superstition entering the unassailable fortress of forever. I am legend.”

This is an ideal read for fans of the films, post apocalyptic settings and titles that take an abstract approach to exploring humanity. I found this to be a very solid first encounter with Matheson’s work, and it will certainly not be the end of the line in this new relationship. I walked away from I Am Legend with a real sense of why he is such a prolific name in science fiction.

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