Dune Messiah - Frank Herbert

Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert

“Sequels are hard if the first one sets the bar”

After I finished the original “Dune”, a coworker picked this up at a flea market and I thought, why not? The problem with these books is that while reading them, there are many awkward and convoluted sentences that I often won’t understand a scene until after it’s over. At which point I’m fascinated by Herbert’s ability to do that, but also wish I felt more immersed in each individual scene.

Dune Messiah is the 2nd book in the Dune Chronicles, was half the length of the first one and less exciting. I still enjoyed it, and it was fun to read, but I didn’t feel like it was on as grand a scale as the original. I’m now stuck at a weird point where I don’t know if I want to read the other 4+ books in the series or move onto something else.

Overall, I’m impressed that Herbert was able to write Dune in the first place, and then to bang out several other books, all in the same writing style that combines epic scenes with philosophy - it’s clear why these books have sold millions of copies. I think for now, I’m going to read some other stuff and then inevitably make my way back to the Dune Chronicles. Each one ends on such a cliffhanger, it’s almost like it was intentional…

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami.jpg

“There is never a right time to fall in love”

The novel is a nostalgic story of loss and burgeoning sexuality. It is told from the first-person perspective of Toru Watanabe, who looks back on his days as a college student living in Tokyo.

This was the second Murakami book I read this year and similar to the first one, there’s an ease with his style of writing that puts you right in the middle of every scene he’s describing.

The story is about the life of a Japanese university student in the late 60s and his relationships with different women as a student. At some points, I thought, “Why am I so invested in the characters of an angsty romance novel?” But having thought about it, Norwegian Wood is so much more than that. It’s about life, loss, love, and everything in between. The ending caught me off guard, but I felt complete with it - sort of thinking to myself, “well of course that’s how it had to end.”

Reading Murakami, as an aspiring writer, is challenging. Part of me loves his works, and the other part of me thinks, “Well, this Japanese author is as good as it gets, there’s no topping it.” Despite the internal jealousy and unrelenting fascination with how he uses his words, I look forward to reading more Murakami in the future.

Dune by Frank Herbert

Dune by Frank Herbert

“Less a novel and more like a whole new world”

Set in the distant future amidst a feudal interstellar society in which various noble houses control planetary fiefs, Dune tells the story of young Paul Atreides, whose family accepts the stewardship of the planet Arrakis.

If you want to talk about building new worlds, Frank Herbert absolutely kills it with Dune. There's a good reason why this novel is being made into a film. It's epic, and at around 500 pages, although a little slow in places, the story is just getting started.

Dune has love, hand to hand combat, futuristic technology, planetary battles, weird voice magic, and sandworms - what more could you ask for in a sci-fi novel?

The book takes some time to get used to, because Herbert uses so many adjectives to describe things and those are mixed in with odd names, new planets, made up weapons, and titles that don’t exist in the English language. Once you get accustomed to all of that (or refer to the included appendix) the book is a well-written adventure that kept me engaged from start to finish. Although I highly recommend Dune, I don’t know if I have it in me to finish the five other books in the Dune Chronicles. With that said, I’m looking forward to the movie and hope, as do most other people, that they don’t mess it up too badly.