MatthewSean Reviews

Book reviews, movie reviews, and other writing

Book Review – Murder on the Orient Express – Agatha Christie — July 19, 2015

Book Review – Murder on the Orient Express – Agatha Christie

Book Review – Murder on the Orient Express – Agatha Christie

murder-on-the-orient-express

Facts:

  •    Book: Murder on the Orient Express
  •    Author: Agatha Christie
  •    Genre: Mystery
  •    Year of Release: 1934
  •    Read 212-page hardcover edition in June 2015.

Book Description:

This classic mystery from world renowned author Agatha Christie is a tale of murder on the famed Orient Express.  Detective Hercule Poirot is traveling from the middle east back across Europe when the crowded train is forced to stop in a snowstorm.  But when one of the passengers is suddenly murdered in the night, the Detective must determine just who is responsible, from given the variety of suspects and clues on the isolated train.

Book Review:

This novel was a fantastic mystery tale from famed author Agatha Christie.  Although it didn’t feel as suspenseful as a more thriller-infused mystery feels, it still had a great structure of complexity, with a variety of suspects, and a number of clues to review.

Detective Poirot was an enjoyable and amusing character to watch, and it felt like we were watching over his shoulder as he spoke to suspects and train passengers, and reviewed a variety of evidence and clues.  Poirot’s nature and dry sense of humour created fun moments within this mystery.

The setting of the famed Orient Express train created a great mood for this type of novel, and created an almost nostalgic feeling for the reader of today, as we can think of what the journey on this famed train route would have been like.

The variety of characters were interesting and diverse, and created a real sense of suspicion, as we truly didn’t know which of the characters would have been guilty of the murder on board.  This generation of suspicion by Christie was well written, and very believable.

The one small downside to the novel was that in the interest of creating a complex story for the Detective to puzzle through, the author created quite a large listing of characters and clues on board the cramped train.  Well this created further mystery and generated tension nicely, at times it was hard to remember what some of the smaller characters had said, or what there role was in the storyline.

Overall though, this was a fantastic mystery, that is rightfully held up as a shining example of Christie’s great work, and a model for how a good mystery novel should be written by authors.

Overall: 4 stars out of 5 stars.

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Book Review – On Such A Full Sea – Chang-Rae Lee — July 18, 2015

Book Review – On Such A Full Sea – Chang-Rae Lee

Book Review – On Such A Full Sea – Chang-Rae Lee

On Such a Full Sea (1/7/14) by Chang-rae Lee

Facts:

  •    Book: On Such A Full Sea
  •    Author: Chang-Rae Lee
  •    Genre: Dystopian Fiction
  •    Year of Release: 2014
  •    Read 352-page hardcover edition in June 2015.

Book Description:

This dystopian novel centres around the character of Fan, who lives in a declining America, where society is seperated by economic class.  Fan is from one of the labour colonies, B-Mor, who mysteriously left the community himself, for the harsh Open Counties beyond.  There is a third type of settlement, the Charters, which are for those of highest economic class, walled cities of plenty, but where one can fall very quickly from grace and be banished.  Fan must navigate an array of situations and peoples as she continues her pursuit of her boyfriend, while the townsfolk of B-Mor continue to react to Fan’s decision to leave.

Book Review:

This was a very intriguing storyline for a dystopian novel, and a positive credit to author Chang-rae Lee is that the various sub-plots and stories within were highly creative and fascinating.  The author definitely has a creative and imaginative mind, and weaves sometimes bizarre situations and characters into the main plot.

However, that was unfortunately the extent of positive commentary one can give for this book.  The storyline often felt very confused and disjointed.  The main character Fan was often just ambling about, moving from one situation to another.  It often seemed good fortune that she got out of dangerous situations, and seemed convenient for the movement of the plot that things occurred.

Furthermore, it was unclear to the reader just why Fan was becoming famous and legendary in her home city of B-Mor.  The novel continued to speak of Fan’s adoration by many people, but it continued to elude us as the readers as to why people felt this way.

Finally, the author interestingly chose to write this book in second person for much of the time, writing from the perspective of multiple townspeople talking about Fan.  Although this might have been done in an attempt to play with style and write from a very unique point of view, it often became confusing for the reader, and made for a more disjointed read, especially when it would alternate between third person and second person.

Overall, although this had some creative secondary characters and story lines, the main characters and main story were not enough to hold the reader and generate a truly enjoyable read.

Overall: 2 stars out of 5 stars.