Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (The Inheritance Trilogy, #1) by N.K. Jemisin * * * *

I’ve been in a reading slump these past weeks. I’ve started books, but I didn’t feel that I wanted to immerse myself in them. However, yesterday I wanted to read a bit in the bath, so I took out my wishlist on Goodreads, and had a look at what I had put on there. That’s when I decided to go for this book. Yes, you read it right, this was yesterday.

I couldn’t stop reading. At first, the story was a bit confusing. Of course, nowadays fantasy books don’t start out the way my LotR copy does, with 20 pages of explaining the world. You have to gradually learn what’s going on. This gives the reader the sense of discovery, of exploration, which can be a good thing. However, if not done well, it only gets very confusing for the first couple of chapters, and sometimes so much, it can get frustrating. This wasn’t the case here, though I was a bit confused in some places at first. The world itself in a way is kind of simple, but smart in that way. Some people build very complex worlds, but if you think about it, too many layers of government, or complex magic systems can be annoying and hard to read. Especially because the government really was a side story.

The real story runs on two lines, and this even gets the main character, Yeine confused sometimes. Though not the reader, but she is quite overwhelmed. The story takes place in the span of two weeks. It’s written as a sort of memoir, Yeine tells her own story. This does bring her closer to the reader, and also gives the author a good tool to inject the background into the story, as Yeine assumes we’re outsiders to her world. Both stories are interesting, even though one mystery comes to an abrupt conclusion, almost an afterthought. I kind of wished that was flashed out more, but then the time limit of two weeks wouldn’t have been enough.

Yeine, as I have mentioned is the main character. Of course, anyone who has read a short bio of the author knows she’s a feminist. She brings that into Yeine’s background in an interesting way. She’s been brought up in a matriarchal society, while the majority of the world seems more patriarchal. However, no one bats an eye at the thought of the head of the family being a woman, so in that way society is overall more forward thinking than the general mediaeval-like worlds in fantasy. I do wish though that she would have had more opportunities to take action, because I did like the things she tried to do. However, in the end, she is really just swept up in the story, flailing around in the current, trying to hold onto a log. I’m not saying I didn’t like her. She was a nice young woman, and she did try her best. I just wish she had more opportunities for action.

There are many characters in this story, but I think this isn’t more about the characters, but rather the ideas of love, jealousy, strife and balance. It takes the reader on a journey to explore these themes in a modern way. It actually reminds me of a jdrama I have recently watched, where each character was trying to find one kind of happiness, but ended up re-evaluating what happiness actually was. One of the main characters, I don’t want to spoil it too much, but you’ll probably know whom I mean once you’ve read it, really should take a deeper look into all four. It is very hard to give a good, thorough review of this book, because I felt that this book isn’t just understood on an intellectual level, but a deeper, emotional level. That is the realm of the individual, and therefore everyone will probably take something different out of it.

As a side note, there is a small love story in the book. It’s not too central to bother me, but there enough for my enjoyment. It feels a bit insta-love, but not really. So if you think it is, then please, re-examine your position.

Overall, very good book. The world is complex enough to be intriguing, but not so much to be confusing. The characters are likeable, though I could have hated some of the evil ones more. It really doesn’t feel like most fantasy that I’ve read, but not so far out there to not be enjoyable. I really felt like the heroine, being swept along, and almost surprised myself when the ending was suddenly there. I highly recommend it. Not just for women.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Tokyo Tarareba Musume (JDrama) * * * * *

Tokyo Tarareba Musume (Tokyo "What if" Woman) is about happiness. “Let’s get a woman’s happiness!”

30 is a huge turning point in a woman’s life. This story stars three women, former classmates who live in Tokyo. They gather at a small restaurant run by one’s father and chat about their lives. They often start their sentences with “What if…”, wondering about things they should have done differently. They all turn 30, and realise that they don’t have the husband and children they imagined they would by now. They decide to not mess around anymore, and take that goal seriously, because that is a woman’s happiness. With this in mind, they take risks, and from their previous stale lives try to build something more. This, however, leads to realisations and experiences that they would not have imagined.
Rinko (Yoshitaka Yuriko) can be called the ringleader of the girls. She is also the “author” of the story. She narrates it, and in the drama there is an indication that it’s her biography. She’s writing a drama for TV. She’s looking for the right man, but she’s not putting much of an effort into it. Oh, and I have to comment on her clothes. Really? REALLY?
Kaori (Eikura Nana) is a sweetheart. She’s the most feminine. She makes nails, and has her own shop. Her love life has been none existent, but all changes at a faithful meeting. She embarks on a path that she later realises wasn’t a good one, but grows stronger because of it.
Yuko (Oshima Yuko) is a chef. She cooks at her father’s restaurant and is too busy for love. However, she has a somewhat fairy-tale idea of the perfect man, whom she sees, and they live happily ever after. I don’t want to spoil it, but anyone can guess that this is not a good idea.
Through their trials, these women learn a valuable lesson about love, life and happiness.

I really liked this drama, as I’m in a similar phase of life myself, though slightly older. It’s hard going on Facebook and seeing all the engagements, weddings, baby pictures. You look at your permanent single status and feel like just giving up on everything. However, are those really what happiness is? Watch this drama, and ask yourself that.

Oh, and just because you're going to be obsessed with this song, I'll put it here.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Dear Sister (JDrama) * * * * *

Dear Sister is an interesting drama. It’s mainly about the importance of family, especially siblings. Being an only child myself, I could just look on, and remember when as a little girl I so wanted a sibling.

As the title suggests, the two main characters are sisters. Though I do have to note here that they are not the only siblings in the story. There are also two brothers and a brother with a sister, so you get all combinations. Let’s focus on the main storyline. The two sisters seem very different.
Hazuki (Matsushita Nao) is the responsible one. Seemingly. She has a government job, a boyfriend, lives alone, looks after her mother. She wears shirts and pencil skirts.
Misaki (Ishihara Satomi) is the younger, irresponsible sister. She left home at an early age, never got an education, works in shady places, has men issues. Because of these Hazuki sees her as the lucky child, the one who could always do what she wanted. However, she could be wrong. Assuming that Misaki is selfish, Hazuki always sees everything through those glasses.
However, all may not be as it seems. Misaki returns home to turn everything upside down. Or is it the right side up?

This drama encourages people to be brave. Not settle being content, but to actively seek out our happiness. There could be pitfalls, but with the help of friends and family, you can get there. It also wants you to be brave through life’s hardships. At last, it wants you to not make assumptions about people. Talk to them instead. They may surprise you, and what you thought as evil, may turn out to be good, and good things evil.

I highly recommend this drama. It not only has a charming family story, but also has a mystery element that will keep you wondering.