Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand,

5 of 5 stars  *****

The shallow, intelligent characters who lack a moral compass are prominent in this story about America in the early to mid 1900's. Life through architecture, high society, and human ambition weaves a story fraught with success and loss in business, art, love, and personal integrity. The many are manipulated by the few who use their shrewdness to sway mass opinion and public policy. These characters are the major people who define society as independent or collective. Freedom, sovereignty, dignity, respect, and liberty are the qualities found in a couple of characters but consistently in only one man who stands alone with his deep convictions until the end. 

The ability of Ayn Rand to foresee the future in many ways is evident in The Fountainhead. Socialism, particularly Communism, brings this brilliant author to America as a young girl. The restrictions and harsh treatment of the citizens under Communism are well known to Rand. She even changes her name to avoid her family being tortured because of her writings. 

The Fountainhead views America as heading in the same direction which led to Communism in her home country. Her excellent prose and storytelling show that the weakness of mankind, taking handouts and becoming dependent on them, can lead a society into single-minded slavery stuck by a massive population of followers who are indoctrinated into how to think and behave. The hero, and those like him, show hope for the future but it comes at a cost that few are willing to make.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos, #1) by Dan Simmons

4 of 5 stars  ****

Hyperion is a world in a universe that houses a golem-like creature, the Shrike, which can alter the fabric of creation, itself, summoning apocalyptic change. The author, Dan Simmons, writes beautifully. He holds the reader's attention using eloquent descriptions of characters and their milieu. Hyperion is a mature, intelligent science fiction that satisfies the dreams and imagination of unbound minds. The story's complexities do not confuse or stray from its focus; they support the converging pilgrimages of those seeking Hyperion for its intricacies.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Sybil: The Classic True Story of a Woman Possessed by Sixteen Personalities by Flora Rheta Schreiber

5 of 5 stars  *****

A most disturbing novel because the story is true. The intrigue builds with the discovery of each psychological coping mechanism used by Sybil during her horrifying child abuse by her mother. It shocks to the core of every moral and just fiber in one's being. That extent of fear creates deep scars on the psyche, repression, which leads to blackouts and the development of sixteen distinct personalities. This book also reveals that abuse by humans capable of treating an innocent child so tragically perverse may cause resiliency in an otherwise broken mind to bury the damage, pick up the pieces, and create a totally different being, dysfunctional as it may be.

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Last Sin Eater by Francine Rivers

5 of 5 stars  *****

Francine Rivers is a marvelous story-teller and proves it with this masterful work, The Last Sin Eater. This story engages the reader early on with the introduction of family characters who are immigrants from Great Britain. They settle in a beautiful Smokey Mountain region in eastern United States. Through the eyes of Cadi Forbes, a little girl who experiences old customs when her beloved grandmother dies and the group gathers for her funeral, The Last Sin Eater becomes known.

Rivers develops the tension in this story around the Forbes family's loss. Cadi's little sister falls to her death off a fallen tree that bridges a deep gorge over a rapid river . The younger child follows Cadi to that fatal spot; so Cadi is guilt-ridden when her mother's remorse expresses harsh feelings toward the older girl. Unable to bear the burden of guilt for a lifetime, Cadi seeks out the "scapegoat" character, the Sin Eater, so he may absolve her of her sin. When that proves to be ineffective, she meets a missionary who tells her about the original Sin Eater, the only one who can truly forgive her sins, Jesus Christ. The story evolves into an adventure that thrills, saddens, and heartens the reader before expertly crafted pages demonstrate moments of courage and sacrifice that uplift spirits and change behaviors toward Truth and abandon ancient fears which allow superstition and lies to prevail.