AUTHOR: Vladimir Nabokov
RATING: ★★★★★ (5/5)
RECOMMEND?: For readers 13+
It's New Years Eve and instead of spending it at a party with my friends or out with my family I'm decided to sit inside, write, and read dystopian young adult books until I fall asleep. But I'm sure that's the case for many other young bibliophiles across the world!
I've been reading a lot recently because I've had two weeks off from college, and I decided I wanted to get a lot of books finished. I finished Lolita which I will be reviewing shortly. I also picked up And the Hippos Were Boiled In Their Tanks and finished that in about a day, which is a novel about the beat generation and is written by Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs. I then picked up Divergent which I finished in two days, and I'm now reading the sequel to that which is called Insurgent. The Divergent Trilogy is a dystopian series of books not unlike The Hunger Games, but with a different format. In this case, the city is split up into five factions in which the citizens are forced to conform. I'll let you know my feelings about the trilogy in my review.
Before writing this review, I had real difficulty thinking about what I could say. Because the subject matter nowadays is so delicate and relevant, I didn't want to write something which could give off the wrong impression or insult any readers. But then I thought, hey, the novel is free for the public to buy and read and discuss, and in fact, it was a great novel. So I'm going to abandon all hesitations, and tell you exactly what I thought about it.
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov tells the story of Humbert Humbert who is a poet and paedophile, not necessarily in that order. He becomes obsessed by a twelve-year-old 'nymphet' called Dolores, but he prefers to call her Lo, or Lolita.The book sounds like it's going to be difficult to read and digest, especially with our associations with paedophilia, but it wasn't. My best friend had read the novel and it had become one of her favourites, and I was curious about how such a thing could ever be pleasurable to read.
The answer is Nabokov's writing. Nabokov almost makes us sympathise with Humbert. He adopts a lifelike and convincing persona. His language is poetic and adoring instead of harsh and twisted. It's written in a stream of consciousness fashion, and his constant refers to "jury" through-out the book hint to us that he's finally been prosecuted for his actions. Nabokov actually manages to manipulate our feelings with the words and style he chooses; he is an intelligent, sophisticated writer, and I'm convinced it's why so many people enjoy the book.
The characters in it are defining and independent. The child, Lolita, stands on her own two feet and is recognisable anywhere, with her feisty attitude and differentiation from all the other children her age. It's fascinating to hear about her background and upbringing, especially from the perspective of Humbert who is similarly as interesting as his obsession. Humbert's background, in a way, is even more intriguing, because his mindset is something that as readers, we simply aren't accustomed to.
Though the pace seemed to dwindle in some parts of the book, overall the plot is believable, well devised, and at some points it really grabs you by the shoulders and refuses to let you go. The end especially kept me hooked, Nabokov makes sure his novel goes out with a bang.
I give this novel such high praise, because Nabokov is dealing with a plot that would've seemed unthinkable to write about some years ago. He breaks the barriers by showing us a character we want to be able to feel sorry for and understand. In the end, the subject matter doesn't count, because the author has written a truly amazing novel which I'm sure will be remembered for many years to come.
I'll be reading tons through-out the next week because I go back to college on Monday. Hopefully I will have finished the Divergent Trilogy by then and can give you my thoughts on it. I'll also be writing a review of Hippos which I am truly excited to write about!
I hope wherever you are, you all have an amazing new year, and you have the best luck ever for 2014!