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Book Review: The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who got Trapped in an IKEA Wardrobe

Title: The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who got Trapped in an IKEA Wardrobe

Author: Romain Puertolas19347251

This is a story about Fakir from India, who comes to France, where he wants to buy a bed of nails in IKEA. He only has a fake one hundred euro banknote in his pocket and this is the only money he has. The first victim of his fraud is a taxi driver but he’s not the only one. However, things get complicated in Ikea and fakir lands on the fantastic journey through European countries, where he meets new friends and, of course, enemies.


This book was published in our country a few years ago if I’m not mistaken and I heard it’s entertaining and worth of reading. Unfortunately, I didn’t have same feelings while reading it.

First, something about the plot. I think that author exaggerated in every possible way. Yes, fakir journey was fantastic but more in a sci-fi way. Everything was so contrived that I had troubles following the plot. Ignoring this fact, this is a book about a man who was living as a fraud all his life and then, one journey and people he meets, change his life and his views. Quite a cliche, which is not exactly my thing.

But most of all, I was disturbed by writing style. Just like among the people, even among the books, there are two categories. The first category includes those who are funny and know how to tell jokes, but they are also spontaneous and enjoyable. In the second category are those who want to be funny, so they tell memorized jokes, which is unnatural and anything but funny. And this book belongs in the second category.

Furthermore, I found the book very racist. The author very directly exposes the European superiority of race and civilization and humiliates others by joking about them. Certain things must be read in context, and therefore I will not write about it here because it would take too long. But while reading I also keep noticing “innocent” jokes which should be funny (?!?). Just a few examples: five black people were automatically named Jackson Five, Roms are named Gipsy Kings, Roms women were more than once called prostitutes (once only on the basis of their clothing styles). These are the things that upset me and are also a reason why I wouldn’t recommend this book.

After reading I was surprised that this book was so successful and popular. I know that I may have a different sense of humor than most, but I still think that people should know where is the line between good and bad taste.

Rating: 1/5 stars

Did you read this book? What were your thoughts about it? I would love to hear your opinion in comments!

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Book Review: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Title: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Author: Sherman Alexie693208

Fourteen years old Arnold Spirit, also known as Junor, is growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Junor is an artistic guy who likes drawing and drawing also helps him facing every day’s problems. His life is not wonderful but it gets even more complicated when Junor starts to attend a school outside the reservation. Attendance of High School, where he is the only non-white person is challenging, especially because he doesn’t feel accepted. Not only he’s not accepted by his new friends, but because of his retraining, he also becomes a target in a reservation.


I could say that this book really let me down. I heard amazing things about it, I saw that it also won a few prizes and I was so happy when I saw it in my local library (it was not translated, I read it in English).

Even while reading, I struggled with it. It was a slow read which really surprised me because it’s such a short book, full of illustrations.

I liked the idea of a book – a young Indian boy from the reservation is facing his origin while trying to cross the boundaries of his world. No one from his reservation has attended school outside the reservation before, let alone a school where all people would be white. Junior is aware that he would end up like all the other Indians if he doesn’t step forward and educates somewhere else. Despite the problems that this would bring him.

Arnold seemed a funny and nice guy, slightly lost in this world which is logical, according to his age and the period in his life. I really liked, how the author tried to show off Junior’s artistic side with “his” illustrations. Comics did really variate reading and they were the funniest part of the book. All the other characters were a little bit strange, each in his own way.

The story mainly focuses on Junior’s searching his place in the world – he doesn’t feel well in a reservation, he’s feeling guilty because he turned back to his tribe. But in the same time, he also doesn’t feel good outside the reservation, because he’s aware that he doesn’t belong there either and that people don’t accept him. Even though he’s more than successful by finding new friends.

Presentation of Indians in this book seemed grotesque to me. I admit, I don’t know much about the situations in reservations or about Indians in general. But yet, I had a feeling that it was too much humiliation in this book. Resorting to alcohol and consequently to violence, poverty and complete resignation, yes, it was shown through the humor, but it still left a bittersweet taste. But not the one it should. It all seemed too unreal and as a big joke.

I also found this book overambitious. The author included too many serious topics that were not developed further. Bullying, alcoholism, bulimia, first love, rejection, poverty are just one of them. Those were all the topics that have somehow lingered in the air.

A person can achieve everything he wants as only he has a desire and will to change things – I understood that this was the main topic in this book. However, I got a feeling that book gives a false hope for younger readers. Junior comes to a new school and things are going great for him. Everything is (almost) perfect suddenly. Yes, he may still have some problems but still he’s suddenly successful in everything (finding friends, popular girlfriend, success in school). It just seemed too perfect.

And, what I most blame the author for is that because everything was going so well for Junior, he just entangled a few totally unnecessary events (deaths) in the story. Why? Just to break a monotony? And that story continued like nothing happened? Nonsense.

I really felt this book a cliche story and too American. You know…. If you dream and you dare, you will also succeed.

Rating: 2/5 stars

What did you think about this book? I would love to hear your opinions in comments!

 

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Book Review: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Title: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Author: Douglas Adams11

Arthur Dent is having a bad day. After he wakes up, he has to face workers who have come to demolished his house. Sadly, Dent’s house is standing exactly at the spot, where the freeway is going to be build. But soon he realizes that this is his smallest problem. Unfortunately, this is also a day, when a Vogons, one of the least pleasant species in Galaxy, arrives at the Earth to demolished it. The Earth is exactly in the spot, where a galactic freeway is going to be build.
But Arthur Dent is saved by his friend, Ford Prefect, who is actually an undercover alien. Thus, their adventure through Galaxy begins and soon they end up on a spaceship, stolen by Zaphod Beeblebrox. They also meet Trillian and depressed robot Marvin.


Finally, I read this book! And now I have a problem, what to write about this cult classic. It’s always hard to write about classics because I have a feeling like everything was already written. Uh!

I think this book is great. I read in a day, which is not surprising considering this book has only around 160 pages.

While reading, I only had one problem… So much was going on! There was too much of everything, all was happening so fast and at times, it was difficult to follow, what was going on. The plot is really simple – the Earth is destroyed and the traveling through the Galaxy begins. But in between, Adams is passing so many informations, which are otherwise really funny, but because of them, I was lost between text many times.

Because of that, the characters were not so well developed. It’s true, that they were likable and some of them very British, but there is no actual emphasis on them since everything is focused on describing the unusual facts and wonders that can be found in Galaxy. Which was a little sad, because depressed robot Marvin was really funny and in its own way cute character, and I would love to read about him a bit more.

However, the humor was amazing. It’s very British, which is a humor that I like. Those short stories/facts added between main plot are totally random but extremely entertaining. And perhaps because of this, a book appears as a quick read, not worthy of later consideration of certain matters. Nevertheless this first impression, I was surprised later, that behind the humor, there is so much more. There’s a lot of philosophy in book and questions about fundamental issues. But it’s true that everything is slyly included between text.

I can easily say, that I will definitely reread this book someday. But first I want to read sequels. And I hope that there would be more Marvin in them.

Rating: 4/5

Did you read this book? What are your thoughts about it? Are other as funny as this one or even better?

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Book Review

American Born Chinese

Author: Gene Luen Yang

It’s been a while since I put this book on my to-read list. I actually wanted to buy it while I was in China this year. When I saw it on bookshelves of one of Beijing bookstores I wanted to buy it so badly. But after a thought or two I decided that I will buy some other books instead. So the book stayed there, on that shelve and also on my to-read list.

Yesterday it crossed my path again and because I was in a mood for a graphic novel I decided to give it a chance. And I was not sorry because this book was just fantastic!

There are three different stories in this book and at the end they all connect. First is a story about American born Chinese Jin Wang, who moves into another place with his parents and starts to attend a new school, where he’s the only Asian. The second story is about Monkey King – Monkey King is also figure from famous Chinese fable. The third story is about Chin-Kee who represents a typical Chinese stereotype. I had problems when I started reading this book because I didn’t know how all three stories are connected and it was disturbing a little bit. But like I already said, they all connect at the end very well and make a fantastic ending.

This is a story about identity issues and how hard is (sometimes) to combine two different cultures. It’s especially hard for young people like Jin who is in a particularly difficult period of his life – he’s a regular teenager with all the problems teenagers have. And he has one more – he’s different because he’s Asian. Everyone in his school is making fun of him and he has no friends. Because of that he isolates himself and he’s ashamed of who he is. But after a while he tries to fit in in the worst way possible – he tries to be/become somebody else.

But the whole story is written in such an amazing way. It’s funny but in the same time it’s sad because of seriousness of the topic. It’s also worth to think it over and the best thing is that author succeeded to pass the story without moralizing. But not only the story, illustrations are also really nice. I read this book in one sitting and I would say that it’s appropriate for all kinds of readers. Because anyone can find himself in this story.

5/5