MIni-reviews: The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien; Independent Study by Joelle Charbonneau; and The Never List by Koethi Zan

lordoftheringsTitle: The Lord of the Rings
Author: J.R.R. Tolkien
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: E-book copy from my personal library
Number of pages: 1032
First line: This book is largely concerned with Hobbits, and from its pages a reader may discover much of their character and a little of their history.

Well, what can I say? Yes, I once again waited much too long to read one of the most brilliant books ever written. I am so glad that Noah’s obsession with all things Tolkien prodded me to finally pick up his master work. I shouldn’t be surprised, as someone who always thinks the book is better than the movie, that this book is so much better than the films – and I LOVE them. But there is so much richness here that is missed in the movies, and some of the characters really do get short shrift – mainly Faramir, Eowyn, Merry, and Pippin. And really – the death of Sauron in the movie? I understand why Jackson did that, but in ignoring the Scouring of the Shire, he missed out on the chance to show the nobility and courage of Sam, Merry, and Pippin. Anyway, I loved the book, and I’m sure this won’t be the last time I read it.

independentstudyTitle: Independent Study
Author: Joelle Charbonneau
Genre: YA dystopian fiction
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from my personal library
Number of pages: 320
First line: Examination Day.

Goodreads blurb: Cia is a freshman at the University in Tosu City with her hometown sweetheart, Tomas—and though the government has tried to erase her memory of the brutal horrors of The Testing, Cia remembers. Her attempts to expose the ugly truth behind the government’s murderous programs put her—and her loved ones—in a world of danger. But the future of the Commonwealth depends on her.

I read The Testing aloud to Jonathan and Josiah earlier this school year, and they were excited when I finally got my hands on a copy of book two. It picks up very shortly after book one left off, and thrusts the reader right back into Cia’s world. I do think book one was a bit stronger, but this is a very enjoyable dystopian series, and my two boys, ages 14 and 12, enjoyed it as much as I did. (Though Josiah does have a tendency to roll his eyes at the romantic scenes. :) ) I told them I’d buy book three sometime this summer, and it will be our first read-aloud selection of the new school year.

neverlistTitle: The Never List
Author: Koethi Zan
Genre: Psychological thriller
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from the public library
Number of pages: 320
First line: There were four of us down there for the first thirty-two months and eleven days of our captivity.

Goodreads blurb: For years, best friends Sarah and Jennifer kept what they called the “Never List”: a list of actions to be avoided, for safety’s sake, at all costs. But one night, against their best instincts, they accept a cab ride with grave, everlasting consequences. For the next three years, they are held captive with two other girls in a dungeon-like cellar by a connoisseur of sadism.

Ten years later, at thirty-one, Sarah is still struggling to resume a normal life, living as a virtual recluse under a new name, unable to come to grips with the fact that Jennifer didn’t make it out of that cellar. Now, her abductor is up for parole and Sarah can no longer ignore the twisted letters he sends from jail.

Finally, Sarah decides to confront her phobias and the other survivors—who hold their own deep grudges against her. When she goes on a cross-country chase that takes her into the perverse world of BDSM, secret cults, and the arcane study of torture, she begins unraveling a mystery more horrifying than even she could have imagined.

I had high hopes for The Never List. The premise is truly terrifying, and I was looking forward to a read that was just the right kind of creepy. It wasn’t quite the thrill that I thought it would be, however. While it did have some chilling moments, there were parts of it that didn’t ring true for the main character, Sarah. And there were also some sections, especially of dialogue, that were poorly written. I will say there was a nice twist at the end, and I’m glad I finished it, but it doesn’t have the “wow” factor of some of the other thrillers I’ve read lately.

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17 Responses to MIni-reviews: The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien; Independent Study by Joelle Charbonneau; and The Never List by Koethi Zan

  1. Yes, Tolkien is a marvellous writer! Though I’m an English teacher and love British literature, it took me ages to get into the story, but you have almost tempted me to re-read this classic.

  2. bermudaonion (Kathy)
    Twitter: bermudaonion
    says:

    I liked The Never List a little more than you did but felt let down by the ending. It felt like she wanted to leave things open for a sequel.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Kathy – yes, it did – and I don’t think I’ll be reading it.

  3. I am so glad you loved The Lord of the Rings. Me too. That’s too bad about The Never List, as it does sound like it could have been quite good. I may still give it a try if I come across it.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Wendy – you may enjoy it more than I did. It does seem to be getting some good buzz, so it may just not have been a good fit for me.

  4. Beth Hoffman says:

    What a fabulous storyteller Tolkien was! I think I’ve read just about every one of his works more than once.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Beth – My son is a Tolkien fanatic, so it was so much fun to read along with him.

  5. Trisha
    Twitter: Trish422
    says:

    Tolkien and I are best friends. I’ve read LotR so many times it is a bit obnoxious. The story is so wonderfully drawn out.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Trish – It sounds like you and my son could have a great conversation!

  6. Beth F
    Twitter: BethFishReads
    says:

    The way the Hobbits are portrayed in the LOTR movies really, really bothers me. They were grown men, not children and they didn’t willy-nilly go off with Frodor, they planned carefully. Yes, the books are wonderful. I’ve reread the whole thing every 5 years or so since I first read them in about 1965.

    The Never List was a disappointment to me too.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Candace – That was the biggest issue for me was that I felt like Jackson did such a disservice to Merry’s and Pippin’s characters.

  7. Sheila (Book JOurney)
    Twitter: bookjourney
    says:

    Tolkien is so amazing and the Never List looks wonderful… I need to look into that one!

  8. stacybuckeye says:

    I felt the same love for Lore of the Rings and same apathy for The Never List!

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