Posted in 2018, Fiction, LGBTQ

The Ghost Network by Catie Disabato

I’m not really into mystery novels but this one was worth reading. If you read the description on Goodreads where it claims it’s “Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl for adults” you’d be perfectly misled. I read Fangirl and this is nothing like it. Fangirl is a love story by someone obsessed with fanfiction and has low self-esteem and doesn’t believe these cute guys can actually like her (there is more to the story than that….it’s also about her figuring out her writing style, it’s about her relationship with her twin and coming to trust her roommate. It’s about her relationship with her parents. But this blog isn’t about Fangirl so I won’t go into detail). Although the Ghost Network does contain characters who are experiencing a loving relationship, the story is about the Situationists (which apparently was (or is) a real group that originated in Europe led by a man named Guy Debord.

This story starts out with a disappearance of a girl named Caitlin Taer, whose body they never recovered from the sea even though her friends, Nick Berliner and girlfriend (see, love relationship) Regina Nix made it back to shore after their (stolen) boat was recked (I should also mention that they were drunk at that time). Taer’s disappearance was a lot less of a mystery because everyone was still too busy trying to figure out where Pop Sensation Molly Metropolis has disappeared to. Molly was at the height of her Pop Music career when she disappeared before a show. Her body was never recovered and no one knew of her whereabouts. The only comparison I can make to Fangirl is that, whereas Cath was working on improving her writing, Molly was working on improving her music. Well, I guess the other comparison I can make is that where Cath was obsessed with Simon and Baz fanfiction, Molly was obsessed with the Situationist.

Molly obsession got the point where she was trying to figure out what the New Situationists (a new group of Situationists that originated, although rumored to be dismantled after one of their members, Mary Helen Krauss [she is not actually French] was arrested for manslaughter after a domestic terrorist attack went wrong.  The original plan was that they were going to blow up parts of the Chicago Public Transit System after working hours. Just to take the extra step, they pulled the fire alarm to make sure any homeless or security guards got out. However, in Krauss’ section, there was a sleeping security guard that didn’t hear the alarm and therefore….boom goes the guard. Krauss was sentenced to 25 years of prison.) were up to.

Molly persisted on befriending Nick Berliner (a known New Situationist) in order to get more information. Nick refused at first, but Molly persisted. When Nick went to discuss this with his girlfriend, Krauss (he visited her every week), she asked him to bring her (Nick did not know at the time that Molly had already visited Krauss, but they kept that a secret from him). Krauss asked them to find out anything they could about what that NS was planning. That’s when they found out that the Situationists were trying to retrieve all archives of the Chicago Public Transit System, those that existed, those that were planned but never built, those that were rejected and those that were just thought up but never presented to the board. With that, came the Ghost Network.

Caitlin Taer was a reported and a huge Molly Metro fan, so when she found out that Molly disappeared, she wanted to be the one to take on the report. That’s when she learned that a former high school acquaintance of her, Regina Nix, worked closely with Molly. Taer’s editors said that if she can get an interview, she can have the story. Taer contacted Nix and Nix obliged. That’s slowly how their love relationship started. They developed a friendship and then it developed into more…and pretty soon they were living together. Nix was depressed and wasn’t as interested in finding Molly as Taer was. Taer thought about Molly almost all the time. When Nix was asked to clean Molly’s hotel room, she asked Taer to come along and that’s where they found her journal. That’s when Taer’s obsession fully blossomed. That’s also how they come to know about Nick Berliner (his number was written in her journal). Nix also told Taer that Molly always read about the Situationists. Eventually, they befriended Nick and tried to solve the mystery of “where is Molly Metropolis.”

The story is written by a fictional Catie Disabato who was given the work of her mentor, Cyrus Archer after a car accident. He was writing the book on Molly Metropolis and her disappearance. Catie further investigated the matter in order to finish the book and find out the truth. It reads like a report and is sprinkled with footnotes. My favorite part is all the uncertainties of identities….and the fact that there is a secret society. I love secrets so, it’s no wonder I enjoyed this book.

It was suspenseful but also extremely detailed. Whereas the book synopsis claims it’s about finding Molly Metropolis, I honestly say she was just a piece to the larger picture and this book is really about discovering the Situationists. She goes into complicated detail about the history and intentions and I still don’t think I fully understand this organization. But the mystery behind it is what makes it appealing. The idea of a new world is what made it exciting.

This is definitely not a book I would recommend to just anyone. This reminds me of a much more middle school version of what Atlas Shrugged was meant to be. An awareness of human perfection. A place where intellect rules over popularity and status.

The cool thing is that this book feels real. They have current celebrity references (like Miley Cirus and Jennifer Lawrence…even Christopher Nolan is thrown in there). And in the acknowledgments, she even thanks Caitlin Taer and Regina Nix; her created fictional characters as if they really did undergo this great adventure that helped her discover this new world (which in a way, they did).

If I haven’t lost you already, here are some of my favorite quotes.

If you know a place, he realized, it’s no longer a trap.

 

Very often, when you meet a person for the first time, their emotions are really turned off. Even people who are really open, I’m not just talking about closed-off people. Most of the time, people don’t show you thier heaviest, deepest emotions the first time you meet them. I mean, they don’t want to show you that vulnerable part of themselves and you don’t want to see it. You don’t want them to see yours either. There’s a social contract between people who have never met before, to be some diminished version of yourself.

 

Debord was interested in a sociological study performed by Chombar de Lauwe in 1952, where de Lauwe strove to show that the average Parisian doesn’t live in a neighborhood so much as a small swath of the city determined by her won habits and preferences.

 

Most people are ready to suffer, as long as it’s for the right reasons.

 

 

These quotes make you self-reflect, don’t you think?

If you know any books regarding secret societies or mystery worlds, please comment and let me know. I’m starting to realize that I appreciate those book a lot more than the fantasy books that used to help me escape. I know Jules Vernes has books with secret worlds. But I don’t know of any others.

Posted in Becky Albertalli, Fiction, LGBTQ

Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

Leah on the Offbeat was hilarious to read. Not because it was funny, but because I guess the plot before even reading the book. I remember texting my friend what I thought it should be after I read the synopsis. I can’t say what it is because of spoilers.

Anyway, happy feelings aside, this book was different than Simon Vs The Homosapien’s agenda because (besides it being from the point of view of Leah) it wasn’t as happy…or innocent. Unlike Simon liking Blue, Leah liking her crush posed complicated ethical dilemmas. Also, Leah was not the way she was described by Simon. In Simon, Leah was this easily angered friend…whereas here, she was just sensitive (and no wonder, she had to deal with a lot of obstacles).

Leah and the Offbeat also slightly connect to Albertalli’s other book “The Upside of Unrequited” but it is not necessary to read in order to know what is going on.

Because I can’t write more without disclosing spoilers, I will go straight to quotes.

It’s that girlfriend feeling again, not that I’ve ever been anyone’s girlfriend. But I imagine it feels like this. Like I’m this tiny precious wanted thing. I can’t decide if I feel gross about that, or if I only think I should feel gross about it.

This feeling….I have never read it in a book before so it was…cute.

There’s a tug in my chest. Because when Bram says Simon’s name, he pronounces every part of it. Like it’s worth being careful over. It’s really sweet and everything, how wow, I get so jealous sometimes. It’s obviously not just Simon and Bram. It’s couples in general. And it’s not about the kissing stuff. It’s just — imagine being Simon. Imagine going about your day knowing someone’s carrying you in their mind. That has to be the best part of being in love–the feeling of having a home in someone else’s brain.

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I think I hate the concept of needing space. What it really means is that the person’s mad at you, or hates you, or doesn’t give a shit about you. They just don’t want to admit it.

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I used to think boners literally pointed in the direction of the person you’re attracted to, like a compass. That would be helpful. Mortifying as fuck, but at least it would clarify things.

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Let your guts hand out. I don’t even get that. Why would anyone want to live like that? Why would anyone want to live like that? Like it isn’t bad enough I’m always one breath away from falling apart. I’m supposed to fall apart under a spotlight?
It’s too much. And I don’t want to embrace the suck. I want things to not suck. And I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

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“Do I want to love him enough that leaving him would wreck me? Yeah”

*speechless*

 

 

Posted in 2018, Fiction

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

I remember watching The Golden Compass movie when it first came out (before reading the book) and I thought it was soooooo boring!!! Now after reading the book, I understand why. The actors did a terrible portraying the fictional characters. The actors, themselves are usually good but in this movie, the only believable characters were the animals.

Therefore, it took a while for me to find the motivation to read it. If it wasn’t for a pen pal making a pack to read it together, I probably wouldn’t have opened it, regardless of how many people told me it was a wonderful read.

Now that I have read it, I agree with it. It’s fantastically detailed and filled with imagination. This was the first part of a 3 part series of His Dark Materials.

The details, in the beginning, made the story feel slow at first, but after our protagonist’s adventure began, it was hard to put down. I would definitely recommend it if you are a fan of the fantasy genre.

There was a moment in the book where the author really described a fearful event. To us, it would be a normal event but in the book, the occurrence is so unbelievable that I remember my eyes going wide. That is how you can tell a book is good. When you start feeling what the characters are feeling.

Here are some of my favorite quotes (spoilers below):

“Nothing will hold my hand, Margaret, save only judgement. If I stay my hand in the North, it will only be to strike the harder in the South. To strike a day too soon is as bad as striking a hundred miles off. To be sure, there’s a warm passion behind what you say. But if you give in to that passion,friends, you’re doing what I always warned you agin: you’re a placing the satisfaction of your own feelings. Our feelings don’t matter. If we rescue the kids but we can’t punish the Gobblers, we’ve done the main task. But if we aim to punish the Gobblers first and by doing so lose the chance of rescuing kids, we’ve failed.”

That’s why John Faa makes a great trusting leader. He commenced by saying when the times comes, he will because his heart is not soft, but it will be under judgment and not passion.

Being a practiced liar doesn’t mean you have a powerful imagination. Many good liars have no imagination at all; it’s that which gives their lies such wide-eyed conviction.

Hahaha, it’s an honest quote.

“Well, that seems kinda precipitate. Seems to me a man should have a choice whether to take up arms or not.”
“We have no more choice in that than in whether or not to be born.”

I feel like that’s life. You don’t get a choice on which war you get thrown in, you just get thrown and you have to do the best you can.

“There wasn’t really and Adam and Eve? The Cassington Scholar told me it was just a kind of fairy tale.”
“The Cassington Scholarship is traditionally given to a freethinker; it’s his function to challenge the faith of the Scholars. Naturally he’d say that. But think of Adam and Eve like an imaginary number, like the square root of minus one; you can never see any concrete proof that it exists, but if you include it in your equations, you can calculate all manner of things that couldn’t be imagined without it.”

Here they are talking about Dust. That when Adam and Eve ate the apple, their Daemons turned into one form instead of changing about like a child’s do. The twist here is that Dust started forming because the Lord said “for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” as in, you will be filled with Dust (another cool argument is that someone argues that returning to the ground is God’s way of admitting his own nature to be partly sinful). Dust in the book is an elementary particle that surrounds kids after puberty. It is themed as original sin. One sentence that really struck was when he mentioned: “There was a physical proof that something happened when innocence changed into experience.”

I really like that the book focuses on the importance of Dust. In my opinion, it’s a metaphor for finding yourself. Lyria doesn’t want to grow up, and her pursuit of understanding Dust is her way of trying to figure out where she belongs. The people who inform her about Dust are ironically her parents. Given that Dust is proof when “innocent changed into experience,” it’s interesting to know that the more she knows about Dust (herself, her life…her place in the scheme of life), the more she is losing her innocence.

We’ve heard them all talk about Dust, and they’re so afraid of it, and you know what? We believed them, even though wecould see that what they were doing was wicked and evil and wrong…We thought Dust must be bad too, ebcause they were grown up and they said so. But what if it isn’t? What if it’s [good]?”

I love that logic 🙂