Books That Make You Think (And Not Always In A Good Way)
Some of the best books are the ones that make you think. These books can be so stimulating, you begin to think, “What would I do in that situation?” Or, you wonder if what you read could ever happen. This tends to be the case of a lot of good science fiction. It can even be as simple as how you would direct the film version and who you would cast.
But then, there are those books who make you think, though not in the way the author had intended.
WARNING: LOTS OF SPOILERS AHEAD
I have read Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux three times, four if you count the audio version I listen to. It is a book that I simply love to read. And, in spite of numerous film versions, including one that was based on the Broadway musical, I still often think how I would make my own film version, usually when I’ve just finished reading the book.
I always approached my version of the movie as a mock documentary. A central narrator would connect the story together, using clips from the 1925 silent movie (probably the closest to the actual story), illustrations from newspapers at the time, along with long-lost “audio” recordings from Christine, Raoul and The Persian. I even imagine silent footage of workers “discovering” the skeleton of the Phantom himself, just as described in the novel.
Frankenstein is a special case. The first time I tried to read the novel, I had to stop reading it. It was not because it was unreadable, or too tough to read for me at the time. it was because I started to think. I read passages of Frankenstein working on assembling his creature and his efforts to preserve the body parts. In reading these passages, what little bit of biology I knew started to kick in. I realized that what was being described would not work. Worse still, I started to imagine what Frankenstein would have to do, in great detail. A chapter or two of that and I needed to step back from the book.
One Second After is a book that is meant to get you thinking. The book, which I reviewed here a couple of days ago, depicts the aftermath of an electromagnetic pulse (or EMP) attack on the United States. The book is meant to show, in great detail, what exactly would happen, using a small North Carolina college town as its “case study.” Originally, after finishing this book, I gave it four stars, which I dropped to three stars. I now think it needs to drop down even more.
I do not find fault with some of the details in the book. An EMP will indeed fry our electronic world. My original drop was due to some of the story points of the book. Overall, the book tends to be quite cynical. I found it difficult to believe the time frame for a lot of the events in the book. I also had problems with the way the author telegraphs some of the deaths in the book, while really glossing over the deaths of some characters that feature prominently in the book. But, in spite of that, it still got me thinking.
That turned out to be a problem with this book. As I thought about this book, I began to wonder about details that really did not feature into the book. Or, at least, they did not feature in the book until later. Case in point, a late chapter of the book mentions some of the college kids gathering food, using a book (presumably a field guide) to find the edible plants. At the time, I did not think much of it, but as I thought more of it, I wondered why these books did not come into play earlier.
That got me thinking even more. This is a college town. One can assume that this college must have some sort of library. Heck, this town must have some sort of library. I could not imagine that any college town where students are living on campus would not have a library. I went to college, and the campus had a library. And, presumably, there must be some books in that library that would have been helpful. They did eventually find the field guides that let them know what plants are edible. Yet, there is no mention of anything by way of books. Even if the library ended up a dead-end, you would think that a former army colonel who had enough sense to save a report on EMPs would possibly save his Army field guide. Instead of this, we are given the main character’s thoughts about how he would waste time at the Barnes & Noble in nearby Asheville.
Which got me thinking even more. A lot of emphasis is put on guns. The main character has a few. The town has some. Eventually, the students of the college get guns as they become the town’s militia. Revolutionary War and Civil War reenactors even start to make black powder. Naturally, ammunition starts to run low.
All of this left me wondering: hasn’t anyone in this town heard of a bow and arrow? You would think that if bullets were a premium, one that needed to be preserved for the safety of the populace of the town, you would start to explore alternate means of hunting. These would include traps, snares, and the bow. Even in Zombies: A Record of the Year of Infection, the principle character had enough sense to use a shoelace to create a snare to trap a rabbit, and he was a scientist (and probably not trained in survival skills). Yet, no one in this town even conceived of the notion of trapping?
Have you had a book that made you think, either in a good way or a bad way? Share your thinking book by replying to this post.
Posted on September 12, 2012, in Books, Media, Opinion, Personal and tagged Books, Franenstein, media, One Second After, Opinion, personal, Phantom of the Opera. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.