Monday, 10 November 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Genre: Young Adult Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction

My Rating: ★★★★1/2

Goodreads Page

Goodreads Summary:

Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan... But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

**Spoiler Free Review**

So, it had been a long time since I read a contemporary novel, what with being at university, and I didn't have high expectations for Fangirl when I first went into it. However, I was completely blown away by Rainbow Rowell's writing. This was my first Rainbow Rowell book and I was a bit worried about the hype surrounding her, as I didn't want to be disappointed and I certainly wasn't.

The book centres around Cath and Wren, twin sisters, who are starting College (or University to us English) and the difficulties that come with it. The main character, Cath, has to deal with family problems, from her father to her sister's independence, anxiety, friendships, and relationships. In between chapters however, we also get snippets of both the Simon Snow stories and of Cath's Simon Snow fanfiction. It painted a very real picture of fandoms and how important these things are to people in a way I completely related to.

The book painted a very real picture of what going to College and feeling alone is like. It also dealt with major issues many young adults go through when leaving home, in a brilliant way. I really related to the main character and I loved the notion of being able to read a story within a story. Every character in the book felt so realistic and I enjoyed the romance within the book too. It wasn't rushed or forced, like in many books, and the male character was extremely likeable.

The entire book had me smiling throughout and I flew through it in one day. It was a fantastic read that I'm sure I'll be fangirling over for a while.

 Although I absolutely loved the book, I did find the ending slightly too abrupt and I would have liked to have seen more of a conclusion (or perhaps, a sequel???). Despite this, I don't think that the ending took anything away from the rest of the story as it was brilliant.

I would highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys internet fandoms, contemporary fiction and general geekiness. It was amazing.

BOOK REVIEW: The Iron-Jawed Boy (Sky Guardian Chronicles #1) by Nikolas Lee

The Iron-Jawed Boy (Sky Guardian Chronicles #1) by Nikolas Lee

Genre: Middle-grade Fantasy/Sci-fi/Adventure

My Rating: ★★★1/2
Goodreads Summary:

Year 2300
Protea: Capitol of the Eldanarian Isle

Two hundred years have passed since the lands of the Outerworld humans were destroyed, save but a handful of rebellious cities. In their ruin, the last gods of Earth, the Illyrians, rose victorious. And ever since, it's with a cruel iron fist they've ruled over their subjects--desperate to keep their thrones.

**Spoiler Free Review**

I was happy to receive an ebook copy of The Iron-Jawed Boy from the author, Nikolas Lee, in exchange for an honest review.
I wasn't entirely sure what to think of the book when I first started it but I have to say the concept of the story drew me in straight away. The idea of Gods fighting a war with people who can use the elements, whilst simultaneously being set in the future, was definitely enticing.

The concept did remind of the Percy Jackson series but the storyline was nothing like it. I really liked the characters in the book; Solara was positively terrifying and Ion was a very likeable and believable character. I also enjoyed the back-story given the world. The setting was interesting and I hope to find out more about the world later in the series.
I do think I would have enjoyed this a lot more if I had read it at a younger age as I found it difficult to suspend my disbelief at certain things. I also found a couple of the concepts (such as the sweets) quite childish; however, I'm aware this was written for a much younger audience so, putting that aside, I found the rest of the book very good.
I loved the fight scenes, they were written incredibly, and many writers can't do that as well as Nikolas Lee can. I enjoyed the book and would continue the series if given the opportunity. I would definitely recommend this to people who enjoy a good middle-grade adventure story and who wanted something fun and light to read.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

BOOK REVIEW: The Magic Trick by Levi Stack

The Magic Trick by Levi Stack

Genre: Fiction/ Historical Fiction/ Young Adult/Fantasy/Adventure/Mystery

My Rating: ★★★★1/2

Goodreads Summary:
STRANGE THINGS are happening in Aryk, almost as if history is repeating itself. New playing card graffiti sparks fear and rumors. There are whispers of a second rebellion—and of betrayers, assassins, and spies. And when a mysterious circus pitches their tents outside of town, Viktor is sure that he can’t trust its Ringmaster … or its Magician. 

**Spoiler Free Review**

After finishing and thoroughly enjoying The Silent Deal, the first book in the Card Game series, I was extremely happy to receive an ebook copy of The Magic Trick from the author, Levi Stack, in exchange for an honest review. To see my review of The Silent Deal, please click here!
I didn't think it would be possible for Stack to match the fantastic storyline and plot twists of the first book but he managed to do that and far more in the sequel to The Silent DealI absolutely loved the direction Stack took with the story. The characters developed even further and felt so realistic to me. They made the mistakes that any person makes and their assumptions often led them into more trouble.
The Russian setting is perfect for this book and the adventure and mystery is so alluring to the reader. Stack's research into this early-mid 1800's Russia is immense and creates such a vivid location for the reader. Again, Stack has a fantastic writing style and uses it to create plot twists and mysteries I could never have thought of. I loved the idea of the Trials and I found the classes an incredibly refreshing part of the story. Stack has a way of ending a novel, not on a cliffhanger like many rely on to draw readers back, but in such a way that leaves the reader wanting more. 

I have to say that the introduction of new characters was very interesting whilst the older character remained as witty and brilliant as ever. While I found part of the ending quite sad, I still really enjoyed the story. 

I am so excited for the next book and I will most certainly be getting it as soon as it comes out! I am loving this series.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

BOOK REVIEW: The Silent Deal by Levi Stack

The Silent Deal by Levi Stack

Genre: Fiction/ Historical Fiction/ Young Adult/Fantasy

My Rating: ★★★★1/2

Goodreads Summary:

WHEN VIKTOR AND ROMULUS, two peasant boys, dig into their town’s strange past, they awaken the wrath of a mysterious overlord. As the blood brothers struggle to survive, their search for answers takes them through gambling parlors, fortune-teller dens, and moonlit forests full of monsters and men alike. 

**Spoiler Free Review**

I was happy to receive an ebook copy of The Silent Deal from the author, Levi Stack, in exchange for an honest review.

I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from this book when I first began it but it wasn't long before I was completely hooked on the story. I don't want to give too much of the plot away as I think going into this book without knowing everything is probably for the best. But what do you get when you combine Russia with gypsies, peasants, a mysterious overlord, thieves, fire-jugglers, playing cards and a little bit of magic? A brilliant story, that's what.

The book is set in Russia in the 1830s, a land of aristocrats and serfs. The main character, Viktor, lives in Aryk with a mysteries and hidden past which no-one talks about, but everyone knows it is related to the cards. When Viktor meets the strange forest-boy, known as Romulus, they dive head-first into the enigma of the cards to discover more of the town's past, and their own.

I absolutely loved the mystery and intrigue which surrounds the plot, it is quite literally a page-turner. Every time you think you learn something, another twist turns the plot in a new direction you couldn't have imagined. I was thrilled to find I couldn't predict any of the mysteries in the novel, and the one's I thought I had guessed right, were often wrong. I was left stunned and amazed by many the revelations and they kept me reading until the very end. Also the use of cards in the text was just brilliant and so cleverly interwoven in the plot.

The characters were so well-rounded, realistic and funny, often making the mistakes that a real child/teen would in naivety and innocence. I was behind the characters from the start and the introduction of the gypsy's made me even more in love with the characters. Also, despite his sometimes annoying nature in the book (which is definitely intentional), I found Belch's constant use of Shakespearean quotes  very funny.

I loved the setting of the novel, Russia in the 1830s is and incredibly interesting time-period and Stack creates a vivid picture of the time and its history. He clearly put a lot of research into the novel and it certainly pays off. The world in which Viktor lives feels both richly real yet incredibly fantastical. The descriptions make the world so vivid leaving the story, despite its fiction, feeling very real.

My only slight problem with the book was that parts felt a little rushed and I sometimes had to go back to see what had happened. However, I can't tell if this because I was reading so quickly, as I was caught up with the plot, or if it occasionally jumped ahead of itself. I also found the start a little difficult as it went through a couple of dream sequences fairly quickly and I became confused as to what was actually happening in the story and what was imagined. These are only minor concerns however.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I really can't wait to read the next book in the sequence. I would definitely recommend this to lovers of Historical Fiction and those who love the setting of Russia, as I do. I'll definitely be picking up a physical copy as soon as I can.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Requiem by Lauren Oliver

Requiem by Lauren Oliver

Genre: Dystopian/Young Adult Fiction

My Rating: ★★

Goodreads Summary:

They say that in the old days, love drove people to madness. The deadliest of all deadly things: It kills you both when you have it and when you don't.

**Spoiler-Free Review**

Requiem was dubbed the “exciting finale” to Lauren Oliver’s Delirium Trilogy when it was released earlier this year, seemingly promising to tie up all the loose ends and offer an exciting conclusion to the previous two novels: Delirium and Pandemonium. The trilogy offers a new and interesting take on both the idea of love and to dystopian fiction. Normally, I’m not really into the whole love story but in her first novel, the idea actually seemed to work. The novel is set in a world where the totalitarian government teaches that love is a disease called amor deliria nervosa and, at the age of 18, a mandatory surgical cure is used on everyone so they can never love and be infected with the disease.

I really loved this idea (ironically) and it was so different to any other dystopian fiction. After having read the previous two novels, and enjoyed them both, I was incredibly excited for Requiem; to finally know what happened to the characters and how the war between the cured and normal was resolved.

In the first book the characters were rather two dimensional in my opinion but the story was very well told. This incredible story progressed even further in the second novel where there was also a sudden character growth and the storyline became even more complicated and exciting, which made you care about everything in the books. However, Requiem seemed to regress, resulting in every character becoming less likeable and too two dimensional. Even worse? The actual storyline.

The entire book felt consumed by a love triangle and their petty squabbles rather than focusing on the society and war which had been built up in the previous book. This led to an even worse ending, that I was just stunned at. The entire novel had felt as though it was building up to a big climax, similar to The Hunger Games, where you discovered what happened to both the characters and the world they live in. Requiem had none of this. It ended with far too many loose ends that I couldn’t even count them. Furthermore, it lacked any closure or revelation about what had happened to the characters. Perhaps this was to make room for another book to come out? However, as far as we know, there isn’t.

Sorry to ruin this novel for anyone who has not yet read it, but I felt like it had to be known what a disappointment this was as an apparently “exciting finale” – which was neither exciting nor conclusive. I still really enjoyed the first two books in this series and would wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone, but be warned, the last novel might leave you more disappointed than if you never read it!


Saturday, 12 July 2014

Booktube-A-Thon 2014 To Be Read!

So, for those of you who haven't already heard, next week is the Booktube-A-Thon!! Booktubeathon is a reading marathon on Youtube created by Ariel Bissett, in which any viewer, blogger, or youtuber can join in. This year, it is also sponsored by the Book Depository. The reading marathon begins from midnight, anywhere in the world, on the 14th July, to midnight on the 20th July. For more information and videos, check out the Booktube-a-thon channel where Ariel Bissett explains everything else you may need to know:

Not only does this reading marathon involve reading as much as possible, but this year there are also some reading challenges for those involved!
1) Start and Finish a Series.
2) Read a Book with Pictures.
3) Read a Book from a Genre You've Read Least This Year.
4) Read a Book with Red on the Cover.
5) Read a Book to Movie Adaptation.
6) Read a Book Someone Else Picked Out for You.
7) Read at Least Seven Books.

For the start and finish a series challenge I shall be reading the Maze Runner Series which includes: The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials, The Death Cure, and The Kill Order by James Dashner
For the read a book with pictures challenge I am planning to read the comic Pokemon Adventures Volume 2.
Read a book from a genre that you've read least this year; for this challenge I shall read a thriller novel as I haven't read any this year, and that will be Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.
For the read a book with red on the cover, I will count The Scorch Trials by James Dashner, thereby accomplishing two tasks in one!
Read a book to movie adaptation; for this I will read Marley & Me by John Grogan.
A Book someone else chose for you: My friend recently told me to read Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card so I will be reading that!
Read 7 books. Complete if I read the books I mention above!

So overall, for the week, I'm hoping to read:
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
The Scorch Trials by James Dashner
The Death Cure by James Dashner
The Kill Order by James Dashner
Pokemon Adventures Volume 2
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Marley & Me by John Grogan
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

I have to say, I won't be too disappointed if I don't complete all of these challenges for this Booktubeathon as I have a busy week ahead of me. Not only am I graduating, but I'm also moving across the country so a lot of my time will be taken up with those things. However, I will certainly try to keep up to date with all this reading.

Good luck to anyone else participating in this event! Let me know what you're planning to read!

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Genre: Dystopian/Young Adult Fiction

My Rating: ★★★★

Goodreads Page

Goodreads Summary:

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready.

**Spoiler-Free Review**

Before reading this book I had heard it had a very disappointing ending and that many people disliked it. After reading the Delirium Trilogy, another Dystopian set of novels, and being thoroughly disappointed with its conclusion, I feared something similar would happen when I read this finale to the Divergent Trilogy. Thankfully, I was wrong.

I found the conclusion to this trilogy raw and powerful, and it reminded me what true Dystopian books are meant to be about. This is the first dystopian trilogy I have read which discussed the past of where the books were set, in this case the United States, and connected it to the 'present', allowing the reader to know how society became a dystopian world. It also gave scope for a world to be fixed, restored, and rebuilt.

I thoroughly enjoyed this trilogy as a whole and despite the final book leaving me a tearful mess, I really enjoyed the series. Many of the characters developed further than in the previous two books, which I loved. I was disappointed that some of the characters seemed to revert, and that some of my favourite side-characters were hardly present, for different reasons. Although the pacing of this book was a bit slower than the previous two, the action still picked up the pace and I personally found the 'slower' parts of the book very interesting and necessary to the plot. I think my main criticism of the novel just has to be at my frustration towards the two main characters and their angst and unnecessary drama which could have been solved by TALKING. But this is merely pointing out a frustrating character flaw rather than a flaw of the book itself. My other problem with the book was the dual perspectives. I don't mind dual perspectives normally but in this book it often became difficult to know who was talking in each chapter, as the characters sounded very similar.

Overall though I thoroughly enjoyed this series, and I would highly recommend them to anyone who enjoys dystopian/young adult fiction. It is fast-paced, easy to read, enjoyable and poignant all at once. As if you need any more persuading, Veronica Roth's companion novel to the trilogy, Four, has recently been released and gives so much more to the series!

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

BOOK REVIEW: A Lion Called Christian by Anthony Bourke and John Rendall

A Lion Called Christian by Anthony Bourke and John Rendall

Genre: Non-Fiction/ Animals/ Autobiography

My Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Summary:

A Lion Called Christian tells the remarkable story of how Anthony “Ace” Bourke and John Rendall, visitors to London from Australia in 1969, bought the boisterous lion cub in the pet department of Harrods. 

‘A Lion Called Christian’ is a true story by Anthony Bourke and John Rendall and it is incredible! If you haven’t seen the Christian the lion reunion on youtube, the two minute clip referred to above, then you MUST watch it. The book is written by the two owners of Christian, who purchased him from the Harrod’s Department Store in London, from the exotic pets section in the 1970’s, to save him from a life of permanent and (possibly) harsh captivity. The story is full of anecdotes and is both heart-warming and touching.The trials and tribulations a pet can cause are amplified through Christian and it portrays the reality that exotic animals cannot be pets, but can love and be loved. Anyone who loves animals will adore this witty and truthful book, and even if you don’t, when you watch the video, it is likely that your heart will melt. 

There is also a television documentary on the story is anyone is interested but I would highly recommend reading the book. It’s very short, I think about 180 pages, and the wit of the author’s is highly amusing.

Youtube link - Christian the Lion:

SERIES REVIEW: A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
1. The Bad Beginning  ★★★★★
2. The Reptile Room ★★★★★
3. The Wide Window ★★★★★
4. The Miserable Mill ★★★★★
5. The Austere Academy ★★★★★
6. The Ersatz Elevator ★★★★★
7. The Vile Village ★★★★★
8. The Hostile Hospital ★★★★★
9. The Cavernous Carnival ★★★★★
10. The Slippery Slope ★★★★★
11. The Grim Grotto ★★★★
12. The Penultimate Peril ★★★★★
12. The End ★★★★

Genre: Children's Fiction/Dark Humour/Absurdist Fiction

My Overall Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Summary:

Dear Reader, 

I'm sorry to say that the book you are holding in your hands is extremely unpleasant. It tells an unhappy tale about three very unlucky children. Even though they are charming and clever, the Baudelaire siblings lead lives filled with misery and woe. From the very first page of this book when the children are at the beach and receive terrible news, continuing on through the entire story, disaster lurks at their heels. One might say they are magnets for misfortune.

In this short book alone, the three youngsters encounter a greedy and repulsive villain, itchy clothing, a disastrous fire, a plot to steal their fortune, and cold porridge for breakfast.

It is my sad duty to write down these unpleasant tales, but there is nothing stopping you from putting this book down at once and reading something happy, if you prefer that sort of thing. 

With all due respect,
Lemony Snicket

I should forewarn anyone who is about to read this review that it would be better for them if they didn’t. This review contains nothing but misery, despair and… nah, I’m just kidding.

I was going to attempt to write a review for each of the thirteen books in this series individually but realised that it would be a mistake as some books are so short that the review would be nothing more than ‘This was a very good book’ and the later books would contain nothing but spoilers which would have been rather unfortunate (excuse the slight pun) for anyone who accidentally stumbled across them. Therefore, I’ve changed this so all the books are included here. This will be an entirely spoiler-free review so have no worries there!

A thirteen book series (but with each book only being about 200 easily digestible in one-sitting pages) which covers the unfortunate adventures of the children: Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire. The books explore a mystery, which surround the parents of these newly orphaned children, whilst they also attempt to escape the clutches of a sinister man named Count Olaf who wants their fortune.

The author, who goes by the name Lemony Snicket, has such a distinctive style of writing that you just can’t help but get completely wrapped up within the story and enthralled by the simplicity of such an unfortunate mystery. Snicket manages to embrace the concept  of children’s literature whilst adding a hint of gothic to the text, making it thoroughly enjoyable for both adults and children alike. As well as this, through a second reading of the texts as an adult now, I have been able to spot cunning and humorous word plays and jokes, which I previously had not noticed. Particularly in the language of the youngest Baudelaire.

I have to admit that by the tenth book the air of mystery starts to become somewhat frustrating as the reader just wishes to know the truth, however, I find that this adds to the character of both the novels and the author so completely, that it just fits.

I would highly recommend these novels to absolutely any reader, whether you read avidly or hardly ever. Such simple yet amazing texts that have not had the credit they deserve, in my opinion.

Also, as a side note, if you were put off by the film adaptation, I would just like to add that it was rather a disappointment when compared to the texts as it was much more humorous than the books first intended. Still, Jim Carrey did very well in his role, but it did not do justice to the books and malicious Count Olaf.

Postmodernism Essay

A Close Analysis of Frederic Jameson’s Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism with reference to “Shipwreck” from Julian Barnes’s A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters.

Postmodernism is a movement of aesthetic practice and has been regarded as the culture of multinational late capitalism. In this extract of his work, Frederic Jameson, a literary critic and Marxist political theorist, argues that the postmodern era suffers a crisis in historicity. He states: ‘[T]he producers of culture have nowhere to turn but to the past: the imitation of dead styles’; he argues that postmodernity has distorted the historical past into depthless stylisations, which he calls pastiche, that merely draw attention to a fascination of the present that can be commodified and consumed (Jameson 1991). Hutcheon points out that ‘one of the few common denominators of postmodernism is the […] agreement that the postmodern is ahistorical’ (Hutcheon 2004, 87). Jameson is just one critic who claims this; however, this argument can be problematic when applied to some postmodern texts.
In Julian Barnes’ postmodern novel this debate of representing the historical can be examined in the chapter, “Shipwreck”. This chapter is divided into two parts with one presenting an account of the sinking of the Medusa, while the other discusses the representation of history through art. Barnes uses history throughout his novel to examine the difficulty of writing the past. Hutcheon argues that both fiction and history are discourses; both are interpreted and history becomes a construction of the past, using the same linguistic frames of reference as fiction (Hutcheon 2004). Postmodernism, therefore, moves away from the idea of a unified past and narrative singularity, to portray the complexity and diversity of history.
Barnes does not merely place historical facts in the present, as Jameson suggests postmodernism does, but uses history to examine its complexity and the difficulty of portraying the truth. His text, therefore, is not pastiche or ‘the cannibalization of all styles of the past, the play of random stylistic allusion’ but becomes a complicitous critique of the difficulty of representing and retelling history (Jameson 1991). Jameson’s call for the return to history is rendered almost unnecessary, as this postmodern text directly concerns itself with the past. In “Shipwreck”, Barnes asks the reader ‘How do you turn catastrophe into art?’; or rather, how can you turn history into art, something which is no longer present to portray accurately? (Barnes 2009, 125). He goes on to argue that ‘perhaps, in the end, that’s what catastrophe is for’, for people to interpret and recreate within art, to turn into something reassuring (Barnes 2009, 125). However, Barnes shows that although there may be some consolation, the full truth of the past is lost. When GĂ©ricault was asked about the painting he says ‘Bah, une vignette!’, or ‘a thumbnail’, thereby highlighting that art cannot capture the full truth and extent of history (Barnes 2009, 139).
The extract from Jameson’s work is also concerned with the ‘consumer’s appetite for a world transformed into sheer images of itself’ (Jameson 1991). He argues that postmodernism is a reproduction of history and therefore fits with capitalist society, in which the world is more concerned with reproduction rather than industrial production of goods (Jameson 1991). He also finds that the late capitalist age focuses on commodification and the recycling of old images and signs (Jameson 1991). While modernity believed it could represent reality in signs, it was troubled by the possibility that signs might not represent any reality beyond themselves; the signifier no longer having a signified meaning. Jameson argues that postmodernity no longer fears this and assumes that signs exist alone, detached from external reality. This portrays Plato’s conception of “simulacrum” or ‘the identical copy for which no original has ever existed’ (Jameson 1991). Jameson argues that our images of all historical events are merely built of simulacra; the idea that reality is replaced by a representation, history is replaced with an alternative history. Barnes writes the story of the sinking of the Medusa based on a translation of a narrative, therefore, re-writing history based upon another history, saying ‘It began with a portent’ (Barnes 2009, 115). Although Barnes does not actually know this, his narrative suggests truth and authorial knowledge, thus presenting a fictionalised narrative, based upon another narrative of history, as truth.
Barnes also examines this idea in Part II of his chapter which discusses the painting and the artist’s portrayal saying: ‘It begins with truth to life. The artist read Savigny and CorrĂ©ard’s account; he met them, interrogated them […] got him to build a scale model of his original machine. On it he positioned wax models to represent the survivors’ (Barnes 2009, 126). Similar to Barnes, the artist also read the account to capture the catastrophe in the form of art and even re-created it. However, by doing this he no longer painted a representation of the history, but a representation of a re-creation. Although Barnes states, ‘You can tell more by showing less’, by doing this history is no longer solid, and the representation of the past, becomes a representation of a representation, or as Jameson succinctly describes, a ‘simulacrum’ (Barnes 2009, 128). Without any grounding in the real, our knowledge of the past is confined to the symbols we associate it with when we portray it. As Barnes suggests, the artist could have painted any moment of the shipwreck but chose certain aspects. With two representations of the shipwreck in the novel, Barnes asks the reader ‘do we end up believing both versions?’ and therefore disregarding that there ultimately was only one version of what happened, one history (Barnes 2009, 133). Barnes goes on to describe the painting as having ‘slipped history’s anchor’ as it no longer represents the event itself (Barnes 2009, 137). This idea coincides with Jameson’s argument that in ‘The new spatial logic of the simulacrum […] The past is thereby itself modified’ (Jameson 1991). Jameson’s idea of the depthlessness of postmodernism manifests itself through the postmodern rejection of the belief that it can move beyond the external appearances of ideology to a deeper truth; we are instead left with ‘a vast collection of images, a multitudinous photographic simulacrum’ (Jameson 1991).
Ultimately, Jameson’s argument that we should look to the past for ‘any vital reorientation of our collective future’ is accurate to an extent (Jameson 1991). Nonetheless, having examined Barnes’ text, postmodernism does engage critically with the past and is not merely a pastiche of representation. However, Jameson’s view of the postmodern commodified society, in which the past is modified through signifiers with no signified, is clearly portrayed in Barnes’ novel; he equally examines the complexity of portraying history, and the fallibility of human interpretation, when history fictionalised, based on symbols which may have no meaning.

Barnes, Julian. [1989] 2009. A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters. London: Vintage Books.

Barthes, Roland. 1984. “The Death of the Author” from Barthes, Roland, Image, Music, Text. London: Flamingo.

Hutcheon, Linda. [1988] 2004. “Historicizing the Postmodern: The Problematizing of History” from Hutcheon, Linda, A Poetics of Postmodernism. New York and London: Routledge.

Jameson, Frederic. [1984] 1991. Postmodernism or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. Durham: Duke University Press.