Book Reviews: The Ghost Road By Pat Barker ISBN: 9780141030951 and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? By Philip K. Dick ISBN: 978-0-575-09418-5

I am currently in the midst of a final Uni project which is keeping me busy (as well as taking away most of my precious free reading time) but, it is preciously this project that has forced me to read the above two books and that I’m entirely grateful for. I love it when your set texts become your most treasured books, but I love it even more when you come across a genre you would never had attempted unless it was a necessity; and that’s what has happened with myself and the Sci-fi genre!

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Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? By Philip K. Dick ISBN: 978-0-575-09418-5

 I can’t claim to be a fan of the Sci-fi genre but having read this book I could easily become persuaded. A nuclear war has left earth almost inhabitable. Those that can escape have done so to another planet, where a better life supposedly awaits them. But for those left behind, there is the matter of radiation to contend with and a very bleak existence. It is a tale of decay; the decay of earth and the subsequent decay of mankind. The story focuses on Rick Deckard, a bounty hunter who is commissioned to track down a number of defective androids who are believed to be at risk to humans. However, Dick uses the tracking, and subsequent killing, of the androids to pose the question of empathy throughout the story and what it means to be human. It also encourages the reader to ask themselves whether any killing is acceptable regardless of its prior justification. Even though the subject matter may be dark, Dick’s writing style draws you in and immerses you in this futuristic setting.

This is a book that retains its relevance across the years. Having been written in the sixties and set in the nineties, the mere idea is still plausible even now in the 21st century. I truly feel like I have missed out by not reading any sci-fi before,  but I’m determined to correct this and I can only say if you haven’t yet discovered the genre, this book would be the perfect introduction. 

 

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The Ghost Road By Pat Barker ISBN: 9780141030951

The Ghost Road is one of three books from Pat Barker’s Regeneration trilogy. It is the last book in the series but can be read entirely on its own. Awarded the Booker Price in 1995, it is a part fiction, part historical account of the closing months of the First World War and the devastating psychological effects it left on the young men who were forced to participate in this utter shambles of a war. Concentrating on the army psychiatrist William Rivers and his patient Billy Prior, the novel is a gritty, realistic but ultimately harrowing portrayal of the men who were sent back to psychiatric care only to be reassessed and sent out to the frontline once again to due their duties in the trenches. Pat Barker is an extraordinary storyteller and it is so easy to feel compassion for her characters, which makes it all the more harrowing as you witness them facing horror and evil head on. The book is brutal and pulls no punches but, with a focus on the atrocious wounds received by the men and the ongoing disturbing visions brought on by the traumas of the trenches, Barker succeeds in showing us an unseen side to the closing months of World War One. 

 

 

In other book news, I have just taken receipt of this wonderful language leaning box. Having two teenagers who are doing Spanish for GCSE, and two little ones that are showing an interest in the language, I thought this would be a wonderful addition. Live Spanish is an active learning box which comes with a six month online susbscription, two quality coursebooks, audio cds, a dvd-rom  and a learning planner/journal. The set is aimed at beginners to intermediate and looks a fun way to either learn the language from scratch or brush up on existing language skills. Car journeys will never be the same again!

 

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