I finally got back into the swing of reading in June, thanks to having nothing on my calendar! May was weirdly busy so it was nice to be able to just get some stuff off my to-do list and chill in the evenings.
Very minor spoilers are in the reviews below.
My eight June books were:
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
The Chronicles of Narnia #1-7 by C.S. Lewis
DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP? BY PHILIP K. DICK
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is a classic in the sci-fi world. Rick Deckard, a bounty hunter, is on the hunt for androids - who look just like humans - that are determined to survive.
Androids is always on those “must read sci-fi” lists, which is why I picked it up, but somehow I’ve managed to avoid spoilers so I went into it with no expectations. (I also watched Blade Runner for the very first time after reading it, so the movie never spoiled it for me either.) I think this is the type of book that was mind-blowing years ago but after watching shows like West World and Altered Carbon first, I’ve become a bit immune to the human/robot thing.
The part where it seems like the androids might have captured Deckard (at the police station) was my favorite part. It was the most tense action sequence in a book meant to be more thought-provoking.
There were a lot of threads that seemed to be left hanging - or not so much hanging, but I expected to go deeper into them. The emotion changing machines, Mercerism, and fake animals were all the focus at some point but then it would jump to the next thing and I felt slightly unsatisfied. By the end I was a bit confused on whether that empathy test was any good, but that’s okay because it seems like I was supposed to feel that way.
Once I finished it, I realized I adore the title. It’s kinda brilliant how well it sums up the themes. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? might be my favorite book title of all time. I recommend for all the sci-fi lovers of the world.
THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA (#1-7) BY C.S. LEWIS
I’ve read all the Narnia books several times before, but it’s been years and I wanted to get into something mindless and entertaining. The books in my set are all about 200 pages; each one took me a day or so to get through depending on my mood.
I prefer reading these in chronological order, not publishing order, because that’s how I read them the first time I went through the series. The numbers I reference will be chronological.
Narnia used to be one of my favorite series. I still love it, and I respect the Christian themes Lewis incorporated into these novels but I prefer books #3-6 now because he’s wayyyyy more subtle about religion than he is in #1, #2, and #7. As a kid, I didn’t really notice it as much but as an adult it’s a bit heavy handed to read; #1 is creation, #2 is Jesus and the resurrection, and #7 is end times and Armageddon. The middle four are just adventures with Aslan popping up here and there so you get more of the fantasy and less preaching. Narnia truly is a gem in children’s fantasy literature, so it’s probably unfair of me to even say this because Christianity is the overarching theme and Narnia wouldn’t be the same without it.
A quick note about each one is below.
#1) The Magician’s Nephew is the Narnia creation story, and I like the backstory of the Witch and the wardrobe. You even learn about the lantern here. Uncle Andrew is a giant dick.
#2) The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe is the most well-known of the series but it’s not my personal favorite. The chapters when all four kids first enter Narnia are absolutely wonderful, though.
#3) The Horse and His Boy is my favorite in the series as far as plot goes; I love the runaway story and Aravis but I was turned off by how Lewis represented the Calormen. Hwin is the real MVP.
#4) Prince Caspian has all four Pevensie children back again, and I kinda prefer this part of their adventure. They’re legends and slowly start to act like it and Caspian is tied with Lucy for my favorite human character. (Bringing up West World again…I did NOT realize that Ben Barnes was Caspian until I looked up clips from the movie after this re-read. He’s so hot as Caspian but Logan sucks.)
#5) The Voyage of the Dawn Treader has a million little adventures in one story, making this one the most fun to read. Reepicheep and Eustace bonding makes me smile.
#6) The Silver Chair has Puddleglum and he might be my favorite Narnian character of all. Bism and the Underworld are pretty fascinating, too. Maybe we’ll get to see more of that if we ever get a Narnia TV series.
#7) The Last Battle is the worst book in the series, in my opinion. At least there’s a unicorn.
Overall this series is lovely, it’s a classic for a reason. But I would be remiss if I didn’t bring up two things I’d noticed reading as an adult.
First off, the Calormen. Their whole portrayal is pretty racist. In the entire series there are only two “good” Calormen - Aravis and the soldier in #7. They’re the dark, devil-worshipping bad guys. The Calormen wiki page says that the name probably came from the Latin word “calor” for heat and they live in the desert so I’ll give Lewis a pass there. (Instead of them just being a letter off from “colormen.”) But name aside, it’s bad. In #7, the main group of characters literally use black face to disguise themselves.
Secondly, I have issues with how Susan ended up. Apparently kids were worried about Susan and Lewis wrote letters back in the day telling them she would (likely) eventually reach Narnia heaven on her own, but let’s focus on what’s actually in book #7. I don’t have a problem with her being excluded IF the only reason had been her pretending Narnia wasn’t real. She did that, and was rude to her siblings about it. Okay, that’s fine. She’s in denial, so she doesn’t get to visit. BUT! BUT! All her siblings and the other non-Narnian humans also look down on her because she’s interested in “nylons and lipstick and invitations.” Is this some mild slut shaming from Lewis? Vanity is not a great thing, but Susan sounds like a completely normal teenager to me. She’s one of the four great heroes of Narnia and she was an adult there - so why can’t she enjoy adult things in England too? And after all that, HER ENTIRE FAMILY DIES IN A TRAIN CRASH AND SHE’S ALL ALONE IN THE WORLD! But fake Aslan somehow makes it to Narnia heaven, so apparently everything is fine.
Honestly I think the above things simply come from the fact that they were written by a white, religious man in the 1950’s. At least this is a sign society is (slowly) progressing. I hate book #7, but the other six are lovely, cleverly written stories that will stand the test of time.
Ratings: 4, 4, 3.5, 5, 5, 5, and 1 star respectively.