Sunday, March 2, 2014

toilettereads: Heartbeat, Heartbreak

I read a lot in February. Or maybe just more than usual, and I have a lot to say about it. More under the cut, which is mostly spoiler-free as I tried to keep deets as vague as possibru.

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

Semi-cheating with this one because I actually started this some time last November, then picked up where I left off (which was halfway through Book One) in February. I suppose this counts as two and a half books finished the past month, but I'll just consider it as one.

I'm... not really sure how I feel about this book. Prior to this I had stayed away from Murakami for a while; this was a little after my Murakami spree one December a few years back when I bought several of his books (maybe around... four?) and read them all at once, so I was a little burned out from his stuff after that. After reading so much of Murakami in one large blow (two of the books I got were short story collections, so... yeah... ?) a lot of his stuff seemed redundant to me already, so I took a hiatus from him for a few years.

When this book came out, I wasn't sure whether I wanted to take the plunge or not because I was like, "Oh, this seems inspired by Orwell's 1984, hmm, am I ready for Murakami again? Hmm..." but I caved last year when I saw a copy in Hong Kong. Go figure why I only gave in when I was in another country.

It was... really long. Technically, it IS a trilogy, but put together as one book, it's a whopping 900-1k pages long. The last time I had read anything that long was during the Harry Potter era, and not even the longest book in the series is as long as 1Q84 (I checked and the longest HP book is under 900 pages.)

It also felt a little sluggish at times. Like how in an anime, there are unnecessary filler arcs, this book had a lot of downtime. I don't have much to say about Book One, but man ugaiz, Book Two. Book Two got really intense, especially towards the end. I couldn't put the book down because of the suspense.

Come Book Three, however, I just wanted to get it all over with. The thrill of Book Two was suddenly gone, and by Book Three I was at the edge of my seat... not out of suspense, but because I JUST WANT IT TO BE OVER ALREADY. I struggled to finish the book, and when I did finish it, I wasn't sure how to feel.

For one, when Aomame and Tengo finally, finally reunite, it almost felt like their personalities were watered down. It was as if I preferred reading there point of views separately than when they were together. Another thing was the ending. Now, like most Murakami endings, 1Q84 did not fail to disappoint. By that I mean the ending didn't make sense, as per usual. I wasn't satisfied; I needed to know more, even if the book was massive enough as it is, because there were still several unanswered questions.

But I guess that's Murakami for you. It was more of the journey than the destination, but wow was it a struggle to even get to the destination. Although now I'm not sure I want to read anything Murakami again for a while...

Undead Much by Stacey Jay

After getting wiped out by 1Q84, I really needed a break, so I decided to watch the first three Resident Evil movies right after I had finished the book. I was on a zombie high when I was done, so I figured a light zombie read would be a nice follow up.

Enter Undead Much? by Stacey Jay. Last year, before staring 1Q84, I read You Are So Undead To Me, also by Stacey Jay. I really enjoyed it (so much that I felt a little sad and empty when I finished it, like how I usually feel when something I really enjoy is over) and had no idea it had a sequel, so it was a pleasant surprise when I saw Undead Much? at the bookstore. It was on sale too, at P50, which was a steal. (I got the first book on sale too, but not at that great a price.)

However, I almost wish I didn't know there was a sequel, because the ending of this book is a bit of a cliffhanger, and then I find out that the series was discontinued before the final book could be released, which TOTALLY SUCKS BECAUSE WTF NOW I'LL NEVER KNOW HOW IT ENDS. Loljk, I did some snooping around and found the author's blog, and from there I read that she wrote a novella to sort of tie up some loose ends. Except the book is a digital download etc etc and idk how much it'll cost WTVR

Anyway, I kindov almost wish I never found this sequel because, besides the fact that the series was cancelled, I liked the first one a lot more. The second one seemed rather quick... but then again that might've only been because I read this immediately after finishing the behemoth that was 1Q84. Plus, I really liked the first book, and finding out there was a sequel was like opening up an old wound and then rubbing salt into it with that cliffhanger.

I still enjoyed it though, just not as much as its predecessor. I remember when I first got You Are So Undead To Me I immediately thought of Jam, because she's like, the biggest zombie person in our group. Plus, it was set in high school with pom poms and dances and boys, and somehow that made it all the more Jam-ish, haha!

But this whole cancellation still makes me sad though. I feel like I just found a really great fanfic in a sea of badly written stories, only for it to be abandoned. (This is why I stay away from ongoing stories. Gotta spare myself from the impending disappointment, yo.)

Love and Misadventure by Lang Leav

In the spirit of Valentine's month, I picked up Lang Leav's book in the middle of reading 1Q84, however I didn't become very emotionally invested in it like I thought I would, and I think that's because I couldn't relate to it. I've never experienced the things she wrote about, so nothing really gripped me. I think it's something I should go back to after experiencing my first heartbreak... The poem entitled A Question got me right in the kokoro though. All the ouch.

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

Staying in the same vein of "Let's-read-something-related-to-relationships-and-stuff-since-it's-Valentine's-month," I decided to read this book. I was on the fence when I saw this at the bookstore, to be honest. Basically, this is the story of a breakup. I'm a very happy endings kind of person; typically, when I start reading a fanfic (I'm sorry this is my basis hahaha), there are two factors that I consider first and foremost: one, if the story is finished and two, I check the tail of the final chapter just to see if things end well. If a story doesn't meet the second requirement, I almost always immediately drop the story.

So I don't know what compelled me to get this book. The title is already a promise of an unhappy ending, so why, why did I get this? I think it was for the illustrations, and maybe I also thought, "Hm, I haven't read anything that revolved around a relationship or whatever in a long time, so I'll give this a go."

I picked this up not realizing the author was also the same one who penned A Series of Unfortunate Events, and I loved that series, so when I began reading and found out who this Daniel Handler was I was like HAAAEEEYY GURRRL and began losing any doubts for the book.

The writing style is different, and admittedly I really liked the style, however it also got me very confused at times. There would be moments when I'd have to stop and re-read a paragraph-long sentence because the author lost me somewhere in the middle. But wtvr, I dunno about you, but I liked that kinda style.

So, okay, from the very beginning, I was already frustrated with Min. I was all, "OHMYGOD YOU ARE SO STUPID" and I just wanted to stop her. Her relationship was a cliche to me: 'loser' girl with 'popular' guy. While the difference in their social statuses isn't really stressed in the book, other than the incessant pointing out of Min not being the kind of girl that Ed would go for, because Ed is the playboy basketball co-captain and Min is this film geek nobody, the idea was nothing new to me, and in fact I had already seen that kind of thing happen a LOT in stories. And, okay, in fanfiction. Not to mention how said girl ends up abandoning her friends and/or creates a rift between them. Nothing new here.

It made me wonder what that's like in real life though. Like, how do you balance your friendships with your love life? What do you do when your significant other and group of friends don't get along with each other and you end up being the flimsy bridge that attempts to bring them together, but because you're so flimsy, a fall out is inevitable? Just how does that work? Sometimes you'll be forced to choose one or the other, and in this case, Min blindly chose Ed.

But I think what makes a good friendship is when you accept a friend when they come crawling back to you with wounded pride/dignity/wtvr after you've warned them of this and that. I think those accepting people make good friends. Unless, of course, a friend abuses your willingness to welcome them with open arms and thus continually takes unintelligible actions because they think you're always gonna be there for them. Now that's just intolerable. But that's not the case here.

At first I thought of Min as this oblivious, stupid, naive girl. In one of her letters she writes of Ed being heartbroken as well, and I was like, how does she know that he's heartbroken like she is? Are you making an assumption? But then Ed said those 26 thank yous and I saw a sliver of light and genuineness in that jerk-in-a-box. Maybe, just maybe, he actually reciprocates how Min feels.

In the end, I think he did, and in the end, Min was still this oblivious, stupid, naive girl to me. I know that, at some point in time, Ed must've loved Min, so it made me wonder why he did what he did and ultimately brought things crashing down on Min.

It was that climax at the end that made me almost cry. Almost, because I teared up, but it wasn't enough to leak. Maybe I was more frustrated than anything. I was wailing, "YOU'RE SO STUPIIIIID HUHUHU" while I read on. It was in this climax that Min finally, finally realizes what an oblivious, stupid, naive girl she is. What makes it sadder is that the entire relationship was just a span of two months. TWO MEASLY MONTHS and already she gave so much of herself to him.

I wonder if it's possible to fall in love so quickly and so deeply in two months, so much that you let go of your inhibitions and whatnot to your partner. The characters in this story were about 16 years old or so, and while I'm well past that age of teenage angst and stupid relationship decisions, I'm still NBSB so it scares me that I might make really dumb choices because of a relationship and ultimately become the oblivious, stupid, naive girl that Min is. It's a really scary thought. How do you know when you really love someone, and how do you know you are really going to go the distance? A lot of couples make the assumption that they'll last, and yet somewhere down the road they go their separate ways. It's scary how you can be so terribly sure of something only to be proved wrong about it.

I wanted to burn the book when I was done. I was so hurt. I felt really heartbroken; it was like I was Min and I was the one who witnessed and experienced everything. I had only two more days until the end of February when I finished it, but I didn't want to read anything else after this book because I still felt so rotten. I finished this book with a heavy heart and unshed tears in my eyes, but I've a feeling that I prolly would've been sobbing if I had ever experienced a breakup, especially if it ended the way things ended for Min. Like Love and Misadventure, I might've had a more emotional connection to this if I had any firsthand relationship experience to relate with. Despite that, I still felt horrible when I finished this book, so I think Daniel Handler successfully packed a punch to my heart.


TL;DR, I had a lot of book feels in February. Thanks for reading.

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