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Book Review: Buddha Volume Three Devadatta by Osamu Tezuka (Series, #3) (Graphic Novel)

December 13, 2011 Leave a comment

Siddhartha in a cave.Summary:
Siddhartha is now a young monk pursuing knowledge and education.  He runs into a one-eyed monk who attempts to educate him on the concept of ordeals–essentially punishments for the body designed to help attain enlightenment.  The childhood of Devadatta is also depicted.  He is bullied and becomes a killer at a young age, thrown out to the wolves who then raise him.  Thus his hatred of humanity is explored.

Review:
I am consistently finding this series to be decidedly meh, yet I persist in reading it.  I think the art is a large piece of why.  It’s almost immediately relaxing to look at, so much so that it doesn’t really matter too much to me what the story is that’s going along with it.

I was intrigued to see a “raised by wolves” myth in another culture.  It’s interesting that instead of turning Devadatta into a great warrior, though, it makes him hate humans.  A great section is where the wolf mother tells Devadatta that humans are the only animals who kill when they are not hungry.  The kindness of and lessons to be learned from the animal world is a persistent theme throughout the series that I enjoy.

Siddhartha’s journey here though does not read at all the way I read it in Siddhartha in college.  I appreciate that we’re seeing how no one seems to have answers that ring true for him.  For instance, he does not agree with choosing physical punishment purely to suffer an ordeal for no apparent reason.  It’s interesting to see his nature depicted as one that just happens to be able to sniff out falseness.  It’s a different perspective on the Buddha that I value seeing.

It is odd though for a graphic novel series on an important topic like the Buddha’s life to feel as if it is best read by those already educated on the Buddha.  I assumed it would read like an easy introduction, but instead it is so subtle and leaves out so many key details that it is actually best read by those already well educated on Buddhism and the Buddha’s life.

3 out of 5 stars

Source: Public Library

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Previous Books in Series:
Buddha, Volume 1: Kapilavastu (review)
Buddha, Volume 2: The Four Encounters (review)

Book Review: White Fang by Jack London

June 8, 2011 1 comment

Wolf.Summary:
White Fang is born in the wild 1/4 dog and 3/4 wolf.  He soon finds himself back in the realm of man when his mother returns to the Indian camp she had left.  Thus begins the struggle between White Fang’s desire for the companionship of the human gods and the call of the wild inside him.

Review:
This companion novel to The Call of the Wild flips the original story on its head.  Instead of it being a dog feeling the call of the wild, we have a wolf feeling the call of the companionship of man, in spite of mistreatment.  The story doesn’t quite work as well when reversed in that way, though.

Both White Fang and Buck suffer mistreatment at the hands of men that is incredibly painful for an animal lover to read about.  Whereas this served to make it understandable why Buck leaves for the wild, though, it makes it difficult to understand why White Fang doesn’t do the same.  Yes, eventually he meets a master who loves him and cares for him, but for years prior that is not the case.  Perhaps London is attempting to demonstrate the intense loyalty of dogs to their masters whether or not they deserve it.  It is true that animal rights workers see this sort of situation over and over again, yet White Fang is mostly wolf.  It is difficult to believe his wild nature would not take over at some point, particularly when being mistreated.    If this story was told of a dog and not a wolf, it would make more sense.

That said, London’s strength at delving into the animal world without personifying them to be more human than they are is still incredibly strong here.  The animals are not personified but they are humanized.  By that I mean, their personalities and instincts are clear and understandable.  It is difficult to imagine anyone reading this book then proceeding to abuse an animal.  They are truly remarkable creatures, London excels at demonstrating this.

Overall, this book is not as amazing as The Call of the Wild but it is well-worth the read for more time spent seeing animals through Jack London’s eyes.  Recommended.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: Amazon

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Companion Book:
The Call of the Wild, review

Book Review: The Call of the Wild by Jack London

January 11, 2011 12 comments

Wolf howling at the moon.Summary:
Buck is a spoiled southern dog enjoying a posh life when one of the family’s servants steals him and sells him away to be a sled dog for the Alaska gold rush.  Buck soon goes from an easy life to one of trials and tribulations as the result of humans fawning over a golden metal, but it might not be all bad for him in the wild Alaskan north.

Review:
How did I make it to be 24 years old without having read this American classic?  My shame was somewhat alleviated when my dad told me he was in his 20s too when he read it for the first time.  Honestly, I can see why this book is talked about so much.

Jack London understands animals.  He doesn’t present them as talking to each other the way humans speak, but he does present them as sentient beings with unique personalities and ways of interacting.  It’s not easy for them to understand what humans want, and yet humans expect them to figure it out.  Of course, London also highlights the wildness at the heart of every tamed animal.  That is part of what makes them amazing, beautiful creatures.

I can’t say too much more without spoiling the book.  I can say that I rarely cry for a book, but I cried for this one.  Animal advocates would do well to simply encourage people to read this book.  I have a hard time imagining anyone not sympathizing with animals more after reading it.

Beyond that, London’s writing is vivid, the story complex and engrossing.  I highly recommend it to everyone.

5 out of 5 stores

Source: Audiobooks app for the iTouch, iPhone, and iPad

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