The Only City Left by Andy Goldman – Book Review

­­­­­­­­­­I was raised by Charles Dickens, entertained by Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket), transfixed by Mary Shelley, warned by Ray Bradbury and terrified by Edgar Allen Poe.  Therefore, it’ll come as no surprise that most modern books, with their shimmering vampires, hairless werewolves, and intimate love stories hold no intrigue over me.

This book is NOT your everyday modern young adult read.

Conversely, it is brilliant in several levels.

It’s a witty, well-written, surprisingly quick read. I devoured the novel in a matter of days despite a hectic schedule. I found myself sleeping much later, pulling the covers over my head like a small child, seduced by Allin’s tale.

It’s extraordinarily relatable. Any child, teenager, or adult will take away something from this book. The trials Allin continuously faces are not common yet highly likely. Moreover, they challenge much more than his physical strength, but his mental stability as well.

It’s got cats. Large, intelligent, humanoid cats…but cats nonetheless. Do not fret – this does not take away from the story at all. The initial shock of their existence is processed by both the reader and the protagonist.

It’s realistic. This is a great science fiction novel that stays true to everyday conventions. Although many creatures do not exist in the real world, they are as realistic as the human protagonist. The cats are sly, intelligent, agile and quick, as per the nature of real cats. A group of underground mole people have large eyes and pale skin due to the darkness and feed mostly on the garbage that ends up in their village, Earth’s sewage, because…well, they’re underground sewage people. You get the point.

It’s detailed. It’s not like Dicken’s description of Bill Sikes’ door in Oliver Twist – wordy beyond comprehension leading to the reader’s exhaustion (although this review might be…). It is, however, detailed enough to accurately imagine everything occurring, which is often many things at once.

There is one fault I must touch upon – I read it as an eBook. Yup, that’s it.

Overall, this is a great read. I highly recommend it. A supercharged rollercoaster, it allowed me to enter a loving, fantastical world like the ones I enjoyed as a child.

Thanks Mr. Andy Goldman, the adventure was much appreciated.

 

Disclaimer: I LOVE the cats in the story (and in general). Not sure if that came across. 🙂

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Puzzles’ Last Call : How I Met Your Mother – Series Finale Review

I’ve been waiting for and dreading this finale forever. This was finally it, Puzzle’s true last call.

During the show, I was put on a forty-three minute emotional rollercoaster, something only two shows have been able to do in the past.

I admired the show’s* ability to welcome every commercial break with a cliffhanger; this left me biting my nails through the horrendously long commercial breaks. I loved the way events initially unraveled, although I admittedly wondered if the entire show was going to be one long-goodbye session, which would prove sweet to the cast and unjust to the fans. Then the show started racing at a never-before seen speed, covering a plethora of years in mere minutes.

Soon things got shaky. Robin (Cobie Smulders) and Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) broke up. Cue commercial and simultaneous freak out.

Robin and Barney symbolized many things for me over the years, including unique people and endless hope. I met my share of Barneys and used the show to idealize how they would turn out. Robin, personally, assured me a bit. She proved that a woman can be successful, classy, beautiful, and a bit guy-ish without it ultimately working against her.

Most importantly, the couple sheltered a great big load of hope for humanity and love itself; if gun-loving, emotionally stunted, hockey fan Robin can find love with womanizing, egotistical, emotionally unavailable Barney, which turns him into an honest man, then…well, anyone really can.

The wedding this season was truly the longest-wedding ever (props to the show* for keeping to their word), and it uniquely touched every single fan. Most fans were disappointed that in the finale’s first twenty minutes, this long wedding’s marriage was quickly ended. But let’s all be honest – the writers gave plenty of foreshadowing of the finale’s secrets in the final season.

Ted’s (Josh Radnor)  relationship with Robin was touched upon numerous times, with an entire episode dedicated to its idea (­­E17: Sunrise). The insecurity and uncertainty of the marriage’s fruition portrayed by the bride, groom, and several other characters, hinted that the wedding may not get past the bride’s entrance, let alone birth a three-year marriage. And think, in Hollywood Years, that’s got to be at least 15 years!

Ultimately, their divorce was imminent and had it not existed, fans might have secretly harbored that thought…but what about after the wedding bells? After all, in a group of three loving marriages, one had to end in divorce, right? It seems true to statistics.

Lily’s (Alyson Hannigan) predictable reactions to the idea that they will all fall apart after the divorce proves that she is, once again, always right. This also hints at the fact that to keep Robin in “The Gang,” Ted will have to marry her.

We soon learn that Marshall’s (Jason Segel) sacrifice to postpone his career dreams for that of his wife has not gone unpaid. Thankfully, that news, along with the announcement of a new child and Lily’s amazing costume and predictions, are all positive and the only integral part of the adoring couple in the finale.

Later, we learned that the mother was sick. And, consequently, has died.

Yes, that certainly hit me hard; all this built up anticipation for a character that received a name only in the final episode and we learn she’s been dead the entire time? Not the most favorable way to fulfill the show’s title.

But again, her sickness was all but worded during the long wedding (E16: “How Your Mother Met Me”) and quelled many theorists. I admire the lack of specificity regarding the illness. This show’s power is outrageous and simply mentioning any specific disease would lead to possibly unwanted consequences, like fans suddenly backing one specific charity geared towards it or any other illogical but inevitable response.

Barney’s love interest in this episode takes the cake for the series. Minutes after his long overdue speech asking his friends to allow him to be himself, his baby girl Ellie changes his life in the most touching scene of the series EVER. Don’t even try to fight with me on this! The ensuing scene that depicts his changed behavior at McLaren’s only proves the icing on said cake.

Indeed, Barney becoming a true father was truly the most rewarding moment of all.

The reactions of Ted’s kids at the end were touching and sweet (and the most of their acting I’ve seen on HIMYM in nine years!). Moreover, they were logical and realistic. This also touched upon the ability of widowed (or divorced) parents to allow themselves to love again, just as sweetly as they already once did.

I do not agree with those who believe that Ted has been pining for Robin this entire time and that Tracy McConnell (Cristin Milioti) , the mother, was only a placeholder for Robin. Tracy managed to get Ted out of his own head with his obsession with marriage by sealing it seven years after their meeting, minus the pomp and circumstance. Ted truly loved her and they apparently had a successful and loving marriage.

But why shouldn’t he find love AGAIN? If the tale ended simply with a “Happily Ever After,” fans would be dissatisfied with the simplicity of it all. If the mother simply died and fans were left in the dark regarding Ted’s future happiness, there would only be protest.

HIMYM’s audience has learned over the years that HIMYM is anything but conventional. Anything but predictable and overly idealistic. It is real and amazing, depicting both the mountains and valleys of love, life, and friendship.

Ted finding love with Robin after the sad fate of his wife’s death only lead me to believe even more in the power of love.

And to think…the actors who portrayed the kids knew it all this time. Serious props for keeping the incredible ten-year secret guys!

* “The show” is mentioned here in reference to the writers, producers, creators, and directors and any other people who contributed to this idea coming to fruition in HIMYM.