Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Men are from Earth, princesses are from Mars- a review of Edgar Rice Burroughs' A Princess of Mars.

I don’t usually see film adaptations before I’ve read their written counterparts, for obvious reasons. John Carter is one of the few exceptions and while it was considered a movie flop, I enjoyed it; so much so that I ordered the book the next day. I left it on my shelf for a while, giving priority to other books I thought would be more interesting, but when I finally got to it, I couldn’t put it down.  Summary and review after the jump.

John Carter is a civil War veteran heading west in search of riches, like you did in those days. He encounters a variety of troubles, not the least of which a tribe of Native Americans set out to kill him and through some sort of science fiction miracle, finds himself, though he doesn't know it yet, on Mars. He encounters different beings, but is enamored by only one, Dejah Thoris, princess of mars, granddaughter of the Jeddak (i.e. King) of Helium, one of the most civilized and modern cities of Barsoom, which John only later finds out is Mars. In classic fairytale mode, the princess is a bit too spoiled and wants nothing to do with the man who does not know her ways (through no fault of his own- though she is oblivious to that fact). John has to do everything in his power, including fighting, killing saving and a bunch of other stuff to prove his love to the princess. Thus, the novel, is not only science-fiction, but also features a deeply ongoing love story.

I was surprised at how short the first novel was- yes, A Princess of Mars is the first in a number of novels by Burroughs aptly titles the Barsoom series- Mine clocks in at 160 pages.  It takes a while for the novel to get off the ground, It only really becomes interesting once John gets into trouble with the Natives, which apparently triggers his whole descent, or rather ascent, into this whole other world. I was intrigued by the writing style, the story written as if it is a diary entry, found by his nephew who coincidentally is also called Edgar Rice Burroughs. The Aliens, the background, the cities, everything to do with mars is richly described to the point where it seems believable. The characters are mostly well rounded, perhaps mostly so, Sola, John’s ward, who is very likable and torn between her feelings and the duties of her people. Most characters, though they may start out as two-dimensional ( cough cough –Dejah Thoris- cough) feature growth as the story progresses. I enjoyed it very much, and If you’ve seen the movie and were the tiniest bit interested, buy the book and get into it. It’s worth it.

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A note on tumblr: I used to post the exact same review on my tumblr and blogger simultaneously but I have a feeling that my tumblr posts should be a bit more concise if I want them to get views, so I’m trying something new. I’m givinf a few short reasons on why you should, or shouldn’t read the book I reviewed in full on the blogger page. Hopefully people will like this more and I’ll get more views (Yes, I live for views and followers- who doesn’t)

So go ahead and follow me on tumblr and witness this form of review and comment on whether you like it or not: http://johnreads.tumblr.com/

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