Audio Book Review: “Animal Farm” by George Orwell

Aug 26, 2013 by

Audio Book Review: "Animal Farm" by George OrwellMan, I love this book.  Even the first time I read it in English class years ago – I loved it.  I mean, it is pure genius.  I love this cover too…  Even though I downloaded the audio from my library and didn’t get to see it firsthand, the graphic is good enough here.  It certainly doesn’t make much question as to what the book is about, does it?

If you somehow are not familiar with the story line, Animal Farm is a tale based in the Russian Revolution, only instead of human Russians overthrowing the governing party – it is the British animals of Manor Farm.  These animals cast out the drunken leadership of Farmer Jones and his wife and assume control, renaming the property Animal Farm.  They begin to rule themselves with a very pure idea of socialism, and seven governing principles (among them “Four legs good; Two legs bad”).  But it doesn’t take long for the pigs to rise above the other animals, and for Comrade Napoleon to become the overall leader.  The pigs become increasingly more corrupt, and the uneducated masses of other animals allow it until, finally, the pigs even start to resemble the humans they replaced in the first place.

The way the characters are developed is fascinating.  To watch the pigs slowly transform themselves into “more than” the rest of the animals is something to behold.  The way they manipulate the others, and how we can see humans do the same thing even now is just genius.  I think my favorite character of all is Squealer the Pig.  He is the one who spreads the propaganda and further’s Napoleon’s cause and influence over the animals.  I love the way he just changes history and gets the others to believe him…. believing more in him than their own memories.  Is this a good (as in positive) character?  Not at all – but I admire his boldness.  Whenever the text announced Squealer’s presence in a scene, I’d smile because I knew something interesting/appalling/crazy was about to happen.  And I could picture him hopping from feet to feet while he was spinning his tales.

I’m so glad I experienced this one again…  I remembered it as being good, but I had forgotten just HOW good it really is!
*****
Animal Farm
by George Orwell
Narrated by Ralph Cosham
Blackstone Audio, 1999.  First published 1945.
Source:  Library
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Book Review: “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum

Nov 26, 2012 by

“We’re off to see the Wizard…  The Wonderful Wizard of Oz!”

This is one of my all time favorite movies.  I have always loved it – and remember fondly when it would be shown on television once a year.  My family would turn it into an event with popcorn and my brother and I were allowed to stay up late.  Technology being what it is today, I own the DVD and watch it often with my kids (or maybe by myself.  I’m not ashamed.)  I’d always wanted to read the original book, but just never got around to it.  Until now.  This is pretty much the general rule, so I was not particularly surprised.   The story is pretty much what you think it is:  a little girl and her dog get caught up in a tornado, which brings them from their mundane life in plain Kansas to a magical world.  Now in this unfamiliar land, she meets up with a Scarecrow, Tin Woodsman, and a Cowardly Lion with whom she travels to find the Great Wizard of Oz to have their wishes granted.  Along the way, they meet with Wicked Witches, Good Witches, Flying Monkeys, and Munchkins.

Book Review: "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" by L. Frank BaumIn the book, they meet many other curious creatures which add to the adventure.  Other major differences?  (Here is where I’ll start mentioning spoilers)  I always kind of loved that in the movie, the Scarecrow, etc. were imagined versions of people Dorothy knew in Kansas.  Also that her whole adventure was when she was out cold unconscious after being hit in the head during the tornado.  However, in the book, this just isn’t the case.  The world of Oz is real, and real time passes while Dorothy is there – enough time for Uncle Henry to build a new farmhouse, to replace the one presumably still sitting in Munchkinland.  This really is a huge difference, and makes the entire story more of a fantasy, and not just a dream.  Does that make sense?  Also, I really liked that the book made reference to the fact that Dorothy needed to sleep and eat during her long journey on the yellow brick road.  Many people are also put off a bit that Dorothy’s shoes are silver and not ruby as in the movie.  But you have to remember that when the movie was released in 1939 – it was one of the first to be in color, and ruby slippers look way more impressive than silver.  On a much smaller note – The Flying Monkeys used to scare me in the movie, but I like them much more in the book.

I also just wanted to mention that I listened to most of this as an audio book, narrated by Anne Hathaway.  She did a great job, though some of her “voices” for characters were somewhat interesting!

*****
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
by L. Frank Baum
Originally published 1900
Narrated by Anne Hathaway
Series:  Oz #1
Kindle/Audible version
Source:  Purchased New
*****
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