Go Set A Watchman

“The lord never sends you more than you can bear……”

                       -Uncle Jack

Go Set A Watchman

Go Set A Watchman

This quote is taken from Harper Lee’s second book ‘Go Set a Watchman’, published by Harper Collins in United States in 2015. Harper Lee is one of the best novelist who is the first author to receive the Pulitzer Prize for her first book ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird’in 1961. Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award of the US and National medal of arts are some of the many awards Lee received.

Politics, racism, change, conscience, equality are some of the highlighted themes of this fiction which is a third person narrative and describes the disturbed situation among the dark and the white people during the mid-twentieth century. This book was written prior to Lee’s first book but was published as its sequel.

The story is set in Maycomb, Alabama where the protagonist, Jean Louise was born and brought up, but currently lives in New York. On her two week holiday to her hometown, she notices that things have changed and nothing seems to be like before. She is disgusted seeing the change in her dad (Atticus), her suitor (Henry) and her aunt about the notions they have for the dark coloured race. She also finds that her relation with Calpurnia her old dark maid has changed. The narrator suffers from an inner turmoil where she often recalls her childhood days when situations where different.

The narrator believes in equal rights for all and is angry with her family who are against the dark people, also considered as ‘the black plague’. The author highlights the complexity of history, law, human race and politics when one is forced to do something that he does not wish to. The ‘watchman’ is the view of the older Jean Louise which is different from that of her father’s. She is upset that her father, who is her idol and her best friend does not think the same way as she does. After a row with her father Jean meets her uncle, Uncle Jack who beautifully explains the philosophy of circumstances by giving some amazing examples. He explains that it’s not good to fasten our conscience with someone else’s as, if that happens and the opinions differ, it’s disheartening; and it is also necessary to keep in mind that our idols are just human beings and it is OK for them to have different ideas. These intriguing philosophical explanations gives a better understanding to human psychology, which also helped Jean understand her father’s and Henry’s decisions.

This story can be related to present day situations like: political disturbances, conflicts in families and friendship due to difference in opinions, empowering a particular group of people and many more.

This is an amazing book appropriate for teenagers and young adults, with a simple story about Jean Louise’s life and her relation with her family and the people of her hometown. The author’s opinion on racism is clearly expressed and what she thinks is definitely right but even what her dad is doing is justified and her final decision of understanding her father’s point of view to the situation is definitely agreeable.

Overall it is a good and interesting book and I would recommend others to read it.

I would like to end by quoting a set of meaningful words by Uncle Jack- “prejudice, a dirty word, and faith, a clean one…..they both begin when reason ends.”

Aditi Jain

II CAMS K

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Four

Four

Four

 

Fear doesn’t shut you down. It wakes you up.

Four

FOUR: A Divergent Collection is a thrilling anthology of four short-stories. Veronica Roth had initially started writing the Divergent series from Four’s perspective but had had to stop after thirty pages. She started the story afresh with an Abnegation girl this time instead of a boy. But the boy never disappeared.

Through these stories, we re-enter the faction system, with Tobias Eaton’s point of view. The first story (The Transfer) was released as an e-book on the 3rd of September, 2013. The second story titled The Initiate, the third story titled The Son and the fourth story titled The Traitor was released on the 8th of July, 2014 along with the simultaneous release of the book FOUR which also contains three exclusive scenes from the Divergent series.

Veronica Roth, best known for her Divergent trilogy, is the recipient of the Goodreads 2011 Choice Award and the Best of 2012 in the category YA Fantasy & Sci-fi, and is also the best Goodreads author in 2012. A like for Psychology 101, division into groups and an interest in the character Tris led to her writing the book Divergent.

The book FOUR serves as a prequel to the Divergent series. It is set in the same background as the Divergent trilogy, but in this book the story begins years earlier from when the Divergent started.

The society is divided into five different factions-Abnegation (the selfless), Amity (the peaceful), Candor (the truthful), Dauntless (the brave) and Erudite (the intelligent); and the factionless. Every one living in this society undergoes an Aptitude Test at the age of sixteen to determine which faction suits one the best. Later, one has to attend the Choosing Ceremony where one publicly announces the faction of one’s choice. Roth chooses the time when, Four has to take the Aptitude test, to begin her narration.

Tobias Eaton, the son of an Abnegation leader, is fed up of living “surrounded by identical houses in the most monotonous neighborhood in the city, surrounded by people in identical gray clothing with identical short hair”.

Having lost his mother at a tender age and being physically abused by his father, all Tobias Eaton wants to do is run. He is willing to choose any faction other than Abnegation.

Tobias, no longer wants to be “surrounded by the differential, apologetic Abnegation”. He rebels and finally chooses Dauntless.

Tobias now goes by the name Four, a name given to him because of his four fears. Four is no longer Tobias Eaton. He has left his past behind and is “someone who’s finally ready to fight” by the end of The Transfer.

The Initiate closely follows Four’s initiation ceremony and how he successfully manages to make a name for himself in the Dauntless faction, making enemies in the process. The story ends with Four catching a glimpse of a lady strongly resembling his mother.

It’s finally time for the initiates to choose their jobs. Though Four’s first choice was being an initiate instructor, Max, a Dauntless leader advises him to be like him instead. Four agrees. As his training continues, Four learns a lot about some clandestine activities happening within the faction system. Also, by this time Four is aware of his mother’s existence. The Son witnesses certain discoveries and important decisions and thus ends.

The final story The Traitor occurs simultaneously with Divergent. Tris has joined Dauntless. Four now discovers the attacks planned and it is up to him to react appropriately to save the factions.

The book also features three exclusive scenes from the Divergent series from Tobias’ point of view. Veronica Roth says that her intention of writing this book was to satisfy the enthusiasm and the inquisitiveness of those fans who couldn’t get enough of Four. This book also serves as a way for the producers and directors to know more about the character Four so that they can successfully portray him onscreen.

The language of the book is simple yet not boring. Roth successfully manages to keep the readers captivated throughout the stories. The exclusive scenes could be quite repetitive in nature but they are no doubt a visual treat for the Divergent fans.

Veronica Roth has truly captured human emotions and reactions in this wonderful book. It has been a hit throughout the globe because it appeals to young adults universally.

This book teaches us that there’s a hero within every one of us. A truly motivating book that never fails to keep my spirits elevated.

Sambhavi Kirti

II CAMS K

The Martian

The Martian

The Martian

The novel, published in 2014, is the highly acclaimed debut work of the author, and was later converted into a film in 2015, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon as lead character Mark Watney.

The author has worked as a computer programmer since the age of fifteen, and has been writing in his spare time for nearly twenty years: he has web comics and other science fiction works to his name on his website. His first novel ‘Theft of Pride’ failed to get published. The Martian was critically acclaimed for its scientific accuracy and engrossing plot.

The book is set in a certain time in the future (with no specified dates) where travel to Mars has become a reality, with a first-person narrative (log entries of Watney on Mars) as well as a third-person narrative (all scenes outside Mars). It begins with a log entry where Watney describes his dire circumstances (being stranded on Mars with hardly any food and no means of communication with Earth) and his minuscule chances of survival, and leads into his ideas to prolong his life long enough to come up with plans to attempt to get back to Earth. Being a botanist, he plants potatoes using his own excreta mixed with Martian soil in the crew’s intended “Habitat”. As time passes, he manages to communicate with NASA using systems from previous missions to Mars. NASA then brainstorms for ideas to bring him back alive while even considering the possibility of leaving him behind, as it would cost much lesser in terms of money and potentially, even life. It is decided that a food package be sent to Watney to keep him alive, and the satellite is put together in record time, albeit at the cost of not running required pre-launch tests; due to the hasty loading, a weight mismatch causes the launch to crash and dampens everybody’s spirits and hopes. Meanwhile, a NASA astrodynamicist named Purnell is hit with a brainwave where he comes up with a slingshot manoeuvre which can save Watney’s life with minimal cost and maximum efficiency. Eventually, after months of planning and preparation, it is decided that the crew- which escaped the massive dust storm in the launch vehicle and is currently close to Earth- shall fly by Earth back to Mars to bring Watney back safely. This idea put into action despite NASA chief’s opposition, thanks to the NASA’s chief of the Mars Missions who slyly sends a newly scripted flight plan to the crew members. After a few more months and much drama (including Watney’s near-fatal drive of over 3200km to reach the launch vehicle of another mission, taking down many components to reduce weight, and near death of starvation due to rationing of limited food resources), precision manoeuvring of the two crafts by flight engineer Martinez helps save Watney, despite sustaining injuries.

It is an extremely compelling read dished out by Andy Weir, with large doses of humour, action,suspense, drama, and science; the biggest stand-outs for me are the realistic portrayal of the characters, the scientific accuracy of the entire plot, and mostly, the brilliant narrative style which leaves you breathlessly waiting to know the twists and turns of the plot! On the whole, it is an ultimate page turner and a delight for sci-fi enthusiasts; it’s a perfect ten out of ten personally and surely one of my top recommendations.

AnirudhIyer

II CAMS K