Dark

Dark (TV series) - Wikipedia*SPOILERS* 

Please note, this post contains massive spoilers for the first season of Dark. 

I am not even sure where to begin with this. Dark was an incredible show that had a mix of everything – complex characters, entangled relationships, elements of time travel, suspense, romance etc. This show was simply mind blowing. Being such a complex show, there would be lots to discuss, so I doubt I’ve even scratched the surface here. But I’ve picked out the points that were most salient for me  and mused about them.

Dark was thought provoking and explored the concept of whether we have the ability to change the past through our actions, thereby changing the future as well or whether life itself is predetermined, therefore suggesting that in essence nothing can be changed. It was also intriguing to think about the notion of free will in the sense if our actions are also predetermined and if the illusion of choice is just that – a mere illusion.

Within this, the question of if we could change events, should we intervene and manipulate fixed events that would have a subsequent knock on effect on to the future events was also thrown up. This was depicted when Ulrich decided to take matters in to his own hands by choosing to kill young Helge in order to stop the events that would follow. Yet, it was highlighted that perhaps it is not as simple as that. Perhaps there are greater powers in motion that intervene when events are made to go off their predetermined path. Even more was the subtle question of if anyone simply has the right to alter the timeline of events to suit themselves without thinking of the following ramifications by doing so, especially the impact on others’ timeline.

It was incredible to watch how the show navigated between three different timelines (1953, 1986 and 2019). Scenes seamlessly weaved in and out between the three separate timelines in a masterly fashion and despite there been multiple characters as a result, it soon became easier to keep track of who was who and their relation to the other characters presented. It was interesting to note that despite a variety of different personalities being portrayed, no one was particularly likable or relatable, expect perhaps Jonas. Of course, some characters were definitely more likable than others. Hannah for example was probably the most dislikeable one of the bunch – she was a liar through and through who appeared to be incredibly selfish and showing no remorse for her behaviour.

The thick veil of mystery that surrounded Noah was nicely portrayed. It was interesting to theorise about his intentions. Relating to this, it was a bit confusing as to why when trying to send the kids in to the future (if that was indeed their motive as this was never made clear) such as Mads, why the cave was not used to do this as it connected 1986 to 2019, unless you could not travel in that direction, meaning that perhaps the cave could only be used to travel to the past. However, this surely is not the case as Jonas used the cave to get back to 2019, after visiting 1986 after receiving the parcel. Also it can be assumed that the cave is how Noah is travelling so freely between the different time periods. And moreover, the question of why Helge was helping Noah also popped up but was left ambiguous.

Helge himself made for a fascinating character. And again through him, the idea of whether we have the right to change history is questioned when he decides to intervene with the course of events from 1986, knowing how they play out, having lived through them. Through him, in some ways the burden of knowledge and a guilty conscience was shown whereby his sanity starts to waver in some respects especially in the eyes of others. The question of whether he is insane can also be thought about.

Admittedly it was hard to keep track of the four families outlined as well as the relationships outside the families especially when moving across time. Occasionally, I did have to pause to think about who a specific character was and whom they grew up to be in the future timeline of 2019 and their links to other characters. However, the more I watched, the less frequent this became.

Another aspect that was really well done was the fact that the show focuses on both the adults and the young people and as such there is no main protagonist so to speak. Each episode would frequently focus on a different family, thereby drawing out each character in a masterly fashion. The cinematography and sound track for the show were also on point, as well as the acting.

The whole portrayal of time was beyond brilliant, in particular looking at the similarities and connections between the three time periods that were depicted as well as commenting subtly on how our decisions have consequences that have the power to ripple across time.

A handful of questions remained as the first season ended which confused me (unless I’m missing something, which of course could very well be the case). Firstly, how is it possible to have two versions of the same person in the same time period at the same time? So how can Michael and Mikkel have an overlap when they are essentially the same person? Is it then a given that they did not have contact with one another. Which then begs the question of Jonas and the stranger being in the same time period and the stranger (later revealed to be an older Jonas) actually interacting to the point where he (the stranger) tells Jonas exactly who he is. Would the laws of time allow this? I realise of course that I’m basing my perspective on the Harry Potter universe whereby it was clearly stated that when going back in time, you must not be seen, least of all by yourself. Which then clearly brings up the question, are they any laws of time that must be followed, except not interfering with the predetermined path as told by the stranger.

Another musing I had was whether Ulrich’s present day timeline is affected if he is stuck in 1953. And if so, what ramifications does it have for him and other characters. Also, whilst speaking about Ulrich, I was a bit befuddled when he started to tell young Helge the future. Again, surely this is messing with time and should he have been successful, the whole course of events would have been altered in an unimaginable way.

With regards to Michael, I was wondering why exactly he had completed suicide, as that was never fully explained. Unless it had something to do with there being an overlap with him and Mikkel. But looking at the dates, this cannot be the case. Moreover, it a potential plot hole was Jonas getting another copy of the letter written by his father after he had burnt it.

In a nutshell, this was an incredible show. The intricacies of the plot and characters were amazingly done and overall it was simply mind blowing. Everything was pure and utter genius. Basically, no amount of praise can do this show justice, it’s an absolute must watch.

Saz

 

 

Release

Release

After visiting the amazing bookshop ‘Gay’s the Word’ for the first time whilst on a bookcrawl, and having the tradition of buying a book after visiting a new bookshop, I picked up Release. Upon first starting it, I was not sure what to expect as the synopsis had been rather vague and mysterious, giving away no clues as to the plot or characters.

The main aspect of the book that was confusing was how the narrative was essentially telling two different stories that never seemed to connect as such until the last possible moment. Although there must have been parallels to draw from the two stories, it was difficult to fully understand and therefore do this. Perhaps not fully understanding the ghost and faun’s tale took something away from the experience and enjoyment. In all honesty, as a reader, I was far more focussed on Adam’s side of the narration and more invested in his tale.

“Never pass up the chance of kissing someone. It’s the worst kind of regret.”

Having not particularly understood most of the ghost’s story, there really isn’t much to say about it. However, I will say that I liked how both narratives connected at the end, showing how one had an impact on the other and a link could be drawn – Adam’s inner struggles reflecting that of the ghost’s.

Adam’s friendship with Angela was so pure and heart warming especially when directly contrasted to his other relationships particularly that with his parents and the conditions they set upon Adam to be loved; that was heat breaking to read. Especially with his Dad – the want to be close to his own son was there yet he just could not let go of his own preconceptions and prejudices enough to fulfil that bond. Adam’s own struggle with faith was beautiful in a way to witness. The way Adam and Marty’s relationship developed and transformed was nicely depicted as it showed the power of simple acceptance and solidarity.

In all honesty, I absolutely loved how this book tackled issues that society as a whole would rather we bury and forget about because they are considered to be taboo and uncomfortable to speak out loud about. The boldness with which these were brought to light and the unapologetic nature of it was amazing to say the least and left me in complete awe. Although if looked at from a critical point of view, nothing happened in terms of plot per se other than day to day life stuff and yet it was utterly spellbinding. Within those 300 pages or so, so much had been said, both directly and indirectly.

Overall, this was a beautifully written book that spoke about issues unapologetically, leaving me in wonder.  It’s not a book that can be easily recommended as such because it could be considered an acquired taste, but is a book that needs to be more widely read.

In a while crocodile,

Saz

P.S. A sweater I bought was picking up static electricity, so i returned it to the store. They gave me another one free of charge.

The Art of Dying

After lightly tracing my fingers along the embossed letters on the front cover, inhaling the smell of paper, ink and magic, I wrapped myself up in a cosy blanket, curled up on the sofa (whilst making sure I had snacks nearby, mainly in the shape of viscount biscuits) and began to read. My worry about The Art of Dying not being as good as its predecessor was soon dispelled and before I knew it, I had turned the last page.

The blanks between where the last novel left off and where this one picks up were filled at the start and soon we find ourselves back in Victorian Edinburgh, surrounded by familiar characters. The way Raven’s inner conflict regarding his choices and nature had been portrayed was fascinating. The narrative this time gave a better sense of understanding in to Raven’s character and his own struggles that he must eventually face and overcome. In all honesty, at first it was somewhat difficult to feel any emotion akin to empathy towards Raven; his attitude was pompous and self important. However, this soon changed as the story progressed. Raven’s character development was incredible; accepting himself and recognising the repercussions of his choices rather than wallowing in self pity.

Despite finding herself in perhaps a more favourable position within society, Sarah continued to face backlash as she dared to push against what society deems acceptable of the position of the ‘fairer sex’ (I could not even type that without rolling my eyes). Expanding her own medical knowledge and daring to dream of a life beyond what social convention dictates was amazing to say the least. Moreover, it was heart warming to witness Sarah and Mrs Glassford’s interactions.

Mrs Glassford was an inspiring character in her own right and more surprising was how she encouraged Sarah and led by example rather than mere words. How hers and Sarah’s lives may have mirrored was heart breaking to say the least. There were echoes from the previous book, which made it a more enjoyable read, as past events and characters were alluded to throughout and helped shaped this story.

There’s a fine line between kill and cure”

As with The Way of All Flesh, the plot at times disappeared and then resurfaced after a while. But again, this was hardly an issue considering that the insight given in to the developing medical world of the time was intriguing. One aspect related to the plot that was immensely enjoyable was how the different threads of the plot were woven together at the end, bringing it all together. The humour from the first book was also present, taking the form mainly of Sarah and Raven’s wit and sassiness.

One slight criticism was that compared to The Way of All Flesh, The Art of Dying, focussed more on the characters rather than the mystery itself. There was an absence of clues and the journey of the investigation. It felt somehow easier and more coincidental in this book compared to the previous one. Additionally, the love triangle presented seemed to be slightly out of place and perhaps took something away from the characters.

Although everything came together at the end, in some ways it felt a little rushed. However, this could just be me not wanting the book to finish in all fairness. One crucial part that confused me somewhat was the motive behind the murders. At first, I had made assumptions as to the victims and therefore the ties it has to the actual motive. But this was not the case at all. The motive was revealed but this seemed to me to be incomplete and not thoroughly explained. Having said that, the way the culprit was revealed was satisfying despite me already having my suspicions – something that can  be chalked down to reading all the Agatha Christie books (Poirot series) and therefore knowing to question everything  and trust no one fully.

In a nutshell, this was a compelling read and an amazing sequel despite the handful of slight criticisms. Given that I managed to finish this within a day and half, says something so take from that what you will! Although it can be read as a stand alone, I would strongly recommend reading the first book prior to picking this one.

Until next time folks,

Saz

 

The Way Of All Flesh

The Way of All Flesh By Ambrose ParryHistorical fiction isn’t my normal cup of tea when it comes to books, but in the interest of branching out, it seemed like a good starting point to begin with a melody of crime and historical fiction.

Where to even start with this? I can honestly say that this went completely beyond my expectations and I was pleasantly surprised by the brilliance of such a book in terms of the writing, characters and plot.

The narrative breathed life in to the streets of Victorian Edinburgh; juxtapositioning (not sure if this is a word) Old Town’s less reputable parts of society with New Town’s wealth and hypocrisy.  The writing as a whole was incredible, continually shifting between Raven’s and Sarah’s perspectives as both gathered pieces of information to solve the mystery laid out before them. The mystery itself was realistic, as was the progression of clues, ideas and development of possible theories and suspects. Neither Raven nor Sarah had a sudden light bulb epiphany out of nowhere that helped them to solve the murders, which was a relief in all honesty.

At times the mystery took a back seat, whilst the focus of the story became the development of ether and the changing scene of the medical world. Whilst many might have found this to be frustrating, it was truly fascinating to read about. The level of detail was perfect. It was clear that a lot of time, effort and research had gone in to writing these parts as well as the mystery related sections.

“The only difference between a medicine and a poison is the dosage.”

As well as looking at the changing scene in the medical world, throughout there was a commentary about the position of women in Victorian society. This highlighted the disadvantages and the mind set women had about their own role in society. It was intriguing to witness the striking differences in thinking between Sarah and Mina. Mina, a woman from the upper class is perfectly content to believe that her purpose in society is to get married to someone of similar position to herself and ultimately fit in to the box of becoming a dutiful wife and nurturing mother. Sarah on the other hand was a complete contrast to Mina. Coming from a working class background (and therefore from a disadvantaged background), Sarah challenged the idea of men being superior by default of their gender despite her being equally or in some cases more so intellectual than them. Subtly, Sarah rebelled against this preconceived notion and made her own way in to society.

Sarah was a refreshing character; strong willed, intelligent and confident. She knew what she wanted (and more importantly deserved) and was not afraid to chase after it. Hers and Raven’s relationship was nicely depicted. Although in some ways it was rather predictable what was going to happen in the end, how it got there was a delightful journey. Both characters show immense development especially towards their perception of one another. When Raven is first introduced, his past is shrouded in mystery. He certainly makes for an intriguing character; one that you cannot help wonder about and in some ways suspect.

In fact, all the characters were portrayed and written about in such a way that it was easy to get a real feel for them and understand them. From Dr Simpson to Jarvis, each was drawn with such care. Nothing about the characterisation depicted can be faulted.

However, one aspect that could be a tad criticised was the dialogue at the start. The dialogue was a little stilted and something did not sit right. Additionally, one scene in particular involving Sarah and Raven seemed to be unnecessary. However, once the story settled down and was on a roll, these criticisms were far from sight and forgotten about rather quickly.

Overall, this was a book that completely blew me away. I was genuinely surprised at how the medical aspect was naturally woven in to the mystery. Words simply cannot do it justice – you are going to have to read it for yourself.

Laters Alligator,

Saz

P.S. This summer I’m applying for a job cleaning mirrors. It’s something I can see myself doing 🙂

Different Class

Image result for different class book cover*SPOILERS*

Please note, this post contains massive spoilers. 

 

It felt a little surreal to be back in the murky world of St Oswald’s, once again with Straitley as a narrator, facing a new adversary with the threat of making St Oswald’s fall in one single neat blow with a small stone as was nearly done the previous year.

The narrative weaves together the past and present seamlessly, drawing subtle links between the two timeframes. The plot takes its time, dropping tantalising hints to covered up secrets long buried, ready to be dug up and exposed. There’s something hypnotic about the writing that kept me turning the pages, devouring each word hungrily. I found it odd how there were not any likeable characters per se, but characters that on some level you could sympathise with. And yet this did not tarnish the overall experience.

Having read Gentlemen and Players, I knew well not to take everything at face value, especially when it comes to identity. Therefore, it came as no surprise when it was revealed that Ziggy and Harrington weren’t the same person, as I already had my suspicions. Despite this, when this nugget of information was revealed, it didn’t take away the enjoyment from reading it.

Getting deeper in to the unfolding of events, I started to become more intrigued and began to piece the parts of the puzzle together in my mind, spinning my own theories as I went along. As it was revealed that Ziggy was back in Malbry and had changed his name, I started to wonder if he could be Winter. After all, Winter had featured quite a bit in the background throughout and kept close to Straitley, so it made perfect sense. To my utter amazement, this wasn’t the case at all. Once again, I had been completely fooled.

All throughout, it was clear that Different Class is one of those books whereby just as soon as you think you’ve figured out more or less all the pieces of the puzzle, the rug is pulled out from beneath your feet. An absolute masterpiece when it comes to misdirection and deceit; I cannot stress this enough.

“History has a habit of awarding the victories to small boys armed in slingshots.”

Another amazing aspect was the constant uncertainty of Harry Clarke’s guilt. Given how the tale was spun, in my mind there were two options, either he was whole heartedly guilty or innocent. However, of course, it’s never going to be so clear-cut and once again I was completely oblivious to a perhaps more sinister third option that had never even occurred to me.

The climax was tense and the ending was wrapped up in a satisfying fashion, with no loose ends. Although some bits were perhaps infuriating in how they ended – mainly Eric’s ending. The question of whether he had truly been bought to justice for his sins is raised. In some ways, the answer is a yes due to the blackmail. Yet on the other hand, this does not seem as satisfying as him going to jail. The question of how much Harry is also guilty in this is thrown up. At the end of the day, was he just protecting a friend and therefore did not take the accusations seriously? Or perhaps he was too busy in his own life outside of school to notice and respond appropriately.

“How well do we really know our friends? How do we know what they’re hiding?”

 In a nutshell, like it’s predecessor, Different Class was incredibly written, unpredictable and a masterpiece at misdirection and deceit. Definitely well worth a read.

Until next time,

Saz

P.S. I just started a business where we specialise in weighing tiny objects. It’s a small scale operation 🙂