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Reviews Written by
Chew Wei Leong (Singapore)

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Treasure Island (Konemann Classics)
Treasure Island (Konemann Classics)
14 used & new from CDN$ 2.55

3.0 out of 5 stars Review, Jan. 2 2000
I have never been very interested in pirates or plunder or the skull and crossbones flag until I read this book. Stevenson's "Treasure Island" is remarkably well written, containing fascinating bits of foreshadowing, a unique and captivating plot, and undying characters that will burn into your mind indefinitely. My personal favourite character is Long John Silver, who throughout the novel seems almost "two-faced". His one side is well mannered, charming and witty, while his other face is ruthless, sly and money-driven. However, he has been quite a fictional figure not only for my self but also for the world. In Part One, "The Old Buccaneer", the strange new pirate pays Jim Hawkins a gold piece daily "to watch out for a one-legged man hobbling down the street." The ending is perfectly crafted by Stevenson; it closes with Jim Hawkins describing his predictions for the destinies of the pirates he has travelled with. On the other hand, Jim Hawkins made the plotline a little too obvious at times. In one spot especially, he says that the apple barrel would in time save them all. In the end, it's an exceptional piece of work, but the author did make some unforgivable mistakes by making the plot too obvious so soon.

The Red Badge of Courage
The Red Badge of Courage
by Stephen Crane
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 5.69
49 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Review, Jan. 2 2000
When we play chess, what is always the first piece we give up to attain triumph? The pawn, obviously. This front line soldier that is forever, so superfluous. Never mind what happens to that inferior pawn. In this Civil War novel, Stephen Crane invited me into the mind-set of just such a pawn. He came into contact with terror when he turned and ran for his life, and sensed a crushing shame at realizing his buddies stayed behind to fight the enemy. The burden of his shame was so overwhelming that he could not deal with it with everyday terms and mentally, created an alternate reality in which HE became the hero because he fled while his friends were the failures for thoughtlessly staying behind to die in vain. But by a twist of fate, his misfortunes were reversed and he discovered valor within himself. We even see the "pawn's" hatred for the "king", as he inwardly fumes at the arrogant general who insultingly refers to him and his companions as "mule drivers". This book is "confusing" because war is complex and both horrible and attractive to the main character, and I suppose it is "mind-numbing" because it does not give the prefect answers to the problems of war that it raises, but rather requires thoughtful and patient reading. Though the book dealed a lot with courage, take a look at the struggle with guilt and duty this youngster went through.

Frankenstein
Frankenstein
by Mary Shelley
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 5.69
29 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Review, Jan. 2 2000
I adored Mary Shelley's portrayal of the characters. Victor Frankenstein is a talent with great compassion for humans yet he is also mankind's worst enemy for creating a monster who can destroy them. Frankenstein is a man who made up his mind to make a human, but in the first case, could not assume responsibility. The same is true for when he tried to make the monster a mate, but he realized this and could not go ahead with it. He is both the villain and the hero, an aspect that is rarely seen.
However, The monster is shrouded by mystery and pain. Being the embodiment of sorrow and human sufferings, he is still an amazing symbol of human nature. Mary Shelley captured every emotion felt by her characters so accurately that I could even feel the monster's fury.
I especially like the way that the plot unravelled and jumped from place to place. It did not get confusing either. It was quite easy to follow. The characters were well drawn and in everything that they did, their motives were clearly known to the reader. None of the characters did anything that seemed out of mind. There were parts of the book that were a little drawn out and sluggish, but it always picked right back up again. Mary Shelley presents an issue that is very applicable right now. Is it morally right to play God and attempt to create life? Obviously, Shelley's opinion is that it can only lead to disaster.

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