Thoughts on books we were forced to read in high school
Many of us have been forced to read classical books at school, and the experience can be one that sucks the entertainment out of reading. As a result, here is a short review relating to some of the most popular books that high schoolers are forced to read. Along with the short rant I will provide, there will also be a rating and a nickname that I think fits the book better than the title.
The Great Gatsby
Do you want to read a bland love story? If so, this book is the perfect story to pick up! I will warn you, though, you will be very disappointed and likely angry by the end of it. To be fair, the “love story” is not the only focus of the story. For example, the failure of the American Dream is a theme that is often explored in the book. Despite that, the themes are not enough to overshadow my hatred for the love story between Gatsby and Daisy. In summary, Gatsby is so in love, possibly obsessed, with Daisy that he dedicates years to the task of becoming the perfect man for Daisy. This perfect man may or may not involve a lot of money, even though Daisy herself has loads of it already, so you can gain an idea of what type of person Daisy is. Besides the lack of chemistry between these two, we also see more infuriating events take place. For one, Daisy gets away with murder, and Gatsby takes the fall for it. Along with that, the most compelling relationship between the characters involved is that of Nick and Gatsby. Many have pointed out the homoerotic undertones, and my opinion on that is that the book should have owned up to it. If it had, we at least would not have had a bland and one-sided relationship.
Nickname: “Even Rich People are Golddiggers”
While the themes in this book are amazing, the plot is boring 70% of the time. Sure, interesting things happen occasionally, but those events are usually too coincidental for my taste. Admittedly, as a professor pointed out, the least unbelievable thing in a story about Frankenstein creating a man out of thin air is all of the coincidences that occur. Despite that, I wish a little more creativity was used in the story. After all, I can not help but roll my eyes when the creature happens to kill his creator’s brother, frame his family friend, and kill Frankenstein’s childhood friend. After all, the creature knew nothing of the world or his creator, so it is not like the creature plotted most of these events! The opposite is true since the creature killed Victor’s brother and framed Justine without knowing they had anything to do with Frankenstein!
Nickname: “Happy Coincidences”
A Tale of Two Cities
“To be or not to be that is the questio-” wait, wrong beginning. “It was the best of times…” that’s more like it! While this novel has an iconic opening, this novel is not an interesting one. To be fair, this novel is well crafted and well thought out. For example, it is evident that the author created many motifs, themes, and metaphors that he expanded on throughout the story. However, I and many of my classmates were confused most of the time while reading the novel. So, while it is unquestionable whether the story is well written, it is questionable whether it is interesting. For me, many of the characters were too boring to care about what happened to them. In addition, the love story was also one that lacked chemistry. This meant that I had nothing to become attached to, so getting through each chapter was a struggle.
Nickname: “A Tale of Boredom and Confusion”
Of Mice and Men
Out of all the books I was forced to read, this is the only one I actually liked. While this story was slow at times, the friendship between the two protagonists was so compelling that it did not really matter. Besides the compelling friendship, though, there are also many interesting characters and themes in the novel. More than that, however, there is a heartbreaking ending that drives home the message the writer was trying to express. So if you are not prepared to have your heart stomped on, this book might not be for you! On the other hand, if you like unconventional endings and would love to see the themes of found family and friendship, this is a great story!
Nickname: “Of Heartbreak and Hopelessness”
Romeo and Juliet
Ahhh, true love! While this play is mainly a “love story,” I find the relationship between the two characters the least compelling dynamic I have ever seen. For starters, Romeo was pining after Rosaline at the same party he met Juliet. Soon after laying eyes on Juliet, though, Romeo has completely moved on and is deeply in love! If I was meant to believe that this is in fact a love story and not satire, you failed at your job Shakespeare! After all, how can I root for a couple when they know each other for less than a day before getting married? Sure, one can argue that it was “love at first sight” but given the fact that these two are 16 and 13, I think it was actually something that starts with L and ends with T.
Nickname: “It is Not True Love Unless you Only Know Each Other for 1 Day Before Getting Married”
Besides the huge age difference between these two, the relationship between Jane and Mr. Rochester is inappropriate in other ways. For one, Jane is essentially the nanny and teacher of Mr. Rochester’s ward. This means that we have an employer/employee love story in our hands! Besides that, however, we also see a dynamic that has so many red flags that Jane should have run for the hills. For example, Mr. Rochester does not truly respect her and actually threatens her on one occasion. Furthermore, this novel sends a very problematic message through Mr. Rochester treating Jane better once the two get married. As a result of this change, the message that is sent is that a woman can change a man with her love. This message is one that encourages women in abusive relationships to bear the treatment since “he will change.” Therefore, this novel has a horrible romance that reinforces problematic messages that only lead to further misery.
Nickname: “You Should Definitely Ignore the Red Flags Because He Will Totally Change for You”
Written by: Saraleim Mozqueda Saldana | A & E Editor
Graphic by: Liza Larrabee