Tag Archives: great books

“Exit, Pursued by a Bear” Book Review

Happy Holidays, everyone! Hope they were full of cheer, and that you’ve got your New Year’s resolutions in mind. (If not, don’t feel bad, I’m still figuring mine out…)

I’m happy to announce that I completed my Goodreads reading challenge. When I started at the beginning of 2016, I thought reading a book every two weeks wouldn’t be a big deal. Then, life got in the way, and I had some catching up to do. But, a week away from the new year and thirty books later, I’ve accomplished the challenge.

The final book I read was Exit, Pursued by a Bear. The protagonist’s voice was amazing; I got sucked in immediately, so I wanted to share a quick review of the book with you.

3117275267_ec87043835_oA surprisingly fast read exploring the fallout from a traumatic event, Exit, Pursued by a Bear will not let you put it down as you delve into the painful aftermath and resolute strength of seventeen-year-old Hermione.

This novel is about how a teenaged girl survives and overcomes being raped during cheerleading camp. However, this book is not like your typical rape novel. While I cried multiple times, Hermione’s story never fell into traditional rape survivor stories, either pursuing the rapist’s identity and the ensuing trial or how the survivor crumbles after the rape.

In this book, Hermione retakes her power from her rapist. She refuses to be defined by one event, no matter how horrific it was; she will not be a statistic. There are times when Hermione starts falling apart, but she has a phenomenal support system, people who gather around her and feed her their strength, when she can’t stand on her own two feet.

This one night—this one thing—this rape that happened to Hermione united her and those around her in a new and empowering way, as everyone felt the ripple effects of one individual’s horrible actions, as slut-shaming and victim-blaming spread, as the date rape drug left a blank spot in Hermione’s memory, and as Hermione claws her way past her anger, fear, confusion, and powerlessness.

The novel’s inspiring ending was one of hope for now and the future. By having such an amazing support system, Hermione was better able to choose how she reacted to her rape. By having people around her who offered understanding and compassion, instead of blame, Hermione was able to move past a potentially life-damaging moment.

Exit, Pursued by a Bear is an empowering, engrossing read. No one deserves to be raped, but everyone—especially those who go through such trauma—deserves a strong support system, and a best friend like Polly.

(Photo courtesy of Hawaiian Moore.)

THE MARTIAN by Andy Weir Book Review

13643683595_fb282dfbf6_zWhat a phenomenal book. The Martian is so well written, realistic, and has such a fantastic voice that I was endeared to the story and, especially, to Mark Watney.

With the movie out, I told myself I wouldn’t see the movie until I read the book. So, I bought the novel and turned to the first page. Two days later, I’ve finished the novel and am processing the roller coaster of emotions I experienced, while being entertained by Watney’s sarcasm, humor, and MacGyver-esque abilities. (Let’s just say I was a bit more tired for work than usual.)

The biggest strength of this novel is Mark Watney. No matter how hard the Martian environment tries to kill him, Watney manages to be humorous. One of the my favorite pieces from the novel follows (don’t worry these few lines don’t spoil the story):

“What must it be like?” he pondered. “He’s [Mark Watney] stuck out there. He thinks he’s totally alone and that we all gave up on him. What kind of effect does that have on a man’s psychology?” He turned back to Venkat. “I wonder what he’s thinking right now.”

LOG ENTRY: SOL 61

How come Aquaman can control whales? They’re mammals! Makes no sense.

Mark Watney’s voice makes the story. Without it, this novel wouldn’t have been nearly as popular.

Why? (Besides missing Mark Watney.)

Because of how technical it is.

Which isn’t necessarily a negative. It wasn’t for me. Not because I understood everything. I’m not an astrophysicist. Nor have I studied orbital mechanics or relativistic physics (two of Weir’s hobbies), and I am far from any sort of engineer (Weir is a software engineer). But because Watney’s wisecrack comments after longer technical bits often clarified what he was doing, I was able to enjoy fundamental parts of the novel. Let’s face it, like how this book wouldn’t be the same without Watney, it wouldn’t work without being so realistic.

However, after reading multiple reviews of this novel on Goodreads, I noticed a pattern forming. Of those who didn’t enjoy the book as much (thus giving the novel three or less stars out of five stars), the major complaint seemed to be that this book had too much math. And because there was so much technical stuff, the tension slowed and people got bored.

I admit that there was a few times I skimmed over some of the more science heavy bits, but Watney is an astronaut. Science and math are necessaries for him. This book wouldn’t have been believable if Weir didn’t include all the science and math.

Watney’s strong narration and the Martian environment trying to kill him at every turn (not to intentionally personify Mars, but you get the point) balanced out the more science heavy sections.

When all is said and done, The Martian is a science fiction novel. It just happens to be one of the most realistic modern sci-fi books on the market.

Read the book. You’ll find yourself laughing at Watney’s dark humor and rooting for the astronaut who refuses to let a hostile, barren world kill him.

Human ingenuity, survival, and collaboration at its finest.

(Photo courtesy of Joel Tonyan.)