Monday, December 15, 2014

Review: The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Segdwick

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Review: The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Segdwick
The Ghosts of Heaven
Marcus Sedgwick
Genre: Historical, Sci-Fi, YA
Publication date: January 6th 2015
by Macmillan Children's Books, Roaring Book Press

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A bold, genre-bending epic that chronicles madness, obsession, and creation, from the Paleolithic era through the Witch Hunts and into the space-bound future.

Four linked stories boldly chronicle madness, obsession, and creation through the ages. Beginning with the cave-drawings of a young girl on the brink of creating the earliest form of writing, Sedgwick traverses history, plunging into the seventeenth century witch hunts and a 1920s insane asylum where a mad poet's obsession with spirals seems to be about to unhinge the world of the doctor trying to save him. Sedgwick moves beyond the boundaries of historical fiction and into the future in the book's final section, set upon a spaceship voyaging to settle another world for the first time. Merging Sedgwick's gift for suspense with science- and historical-fiction, Ghosts of Heaven is a tale is worthy of intense obsession.
-A copy was provided by Roaring Brook Press for review-

This is one of those books that I really have no clue how to review. The writing was beautiful and lyrical, and the stories were intriguing and kept me interested, but I feel like maybe I wasn’t smart enough for this book. Now, I’m not a stupid person (I don’t think anyways), but I just didn’t get it. I liked how we start way back in time with the first story, and progress through time and even into the future in the next three. I enjoyed seeing how each previous story tied into the next. I just didn’t quite get it all. I can’t really explain it. I understood what the spiral means and signifies, but how the stories were told had me scratching my head.

The first story in the book was told in verse, which is a bit harder for me to really get into. It was a bit disturbing to be honest. I am not quite sure in the time it was set, but they are back way before modern technology, but perhaps past the caveman era. There is much death and darkness in this particular story. The girl is quite intuitive and brave, but I was very disconnected by the verse way of telling this story.

The next I actually really enjoyed. The girl was very independent and refused to do things that she didn’t want. Even if it meant a better life. She cares a lot about her brother as well and it really was a huge part of the story. This takes place in a time where people hanged people they believed to be a witch. I loved how strong the girl was though. Even though she was scared and felt like an outcast, she was a really good character.

The third story didn’t suck me in quite as much, but I loved that it was set in a mental hospital. I did like the doctor, but I especially liked Charles. (At least I think that was his name) He was a very interesting character with many layers to uncover. It was undeniable that he did have some mental issues, but I don’t believe that he was really crazy. Although, some might think he was out of his tree. I really wanted to know his story. Especially how he ended up in there. I really liked that the doctor took the time to try to help him, while the others had written him off as a lost cause.

Now the last story had me a bit baffled. I thought it was all really cool with how they did the future thing, but I just didn’t get some of the things that happened. I mean, I had thoughts about it, but wasn’t sure exactly what was happening. It was really cool to think about these people being transported to a whole new planet that is similar to Earth to start new due to over population on Earth. I was fascinated by how they were being transported and how everything was controlled. It was a very neat story, but a lot of it was much over my level of understanding I think.

Overall this was a very well written book. It is easy to get immersed and want to keep going, but at the same time I also was feeling totally lost like I was missing something. Everything was so suggestive and thought provoking, though I don’t think I was able to get that deep into my brain to have full understanding. I can’t say that I have ever felt stupid after reading a book until now. It’s like it was so beyond my comprehension that it made me feel like was 5 reading something meant for the smartest adult. I can appreciate the beauty of it, but I really just didn’t get a lot of it. I did enjoy it, I just don’t quite know what to think.

3 Stars
3 Hot Espressos

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I'm no good at this, but I'm a mom of one little girl who really thinks she is a princess. I love reading all sorts of books (horror being a favorite genre of mine), love meeting new people, drinking lots of coffee, and eating chocolate. If you want to know anything else about me, just ask.
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20 Responses to “Review: The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Segdwick”

  1. Pili

    I have this one in my review pile for reading next, once I’m done with the two books I’m currently reading! I’ll prepare myself for some head scratching just in case!

    • Amy

      I hope that you understand it better than I did. I really did enjoy it. I know that a lot of people have really loved it. The writing is absolutely fabulous either way.

  2. Madiha@Symphony of Words

    Goodness, Amy, I know exactly what you mean about not being smart enough to understand the book! Lyrical and beautiful writing? Seems to be my forte. The premise sounds so beautiful and amazing…I just HAVE to add this to my TBR and buy it ASAP. I’m sorry you couldn’t connect fully with the prose…need to keep my fingers crossed and hope I can decipher at least as much as you 🙂

    • Amy

      I hope that you love it when you read it. I really like that the stories are all set in different times and were all so different, yet they all have the same theme and even tie in to each other in a way.

  3. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    This sounds like a really confusing book and I’m not sure it’s for me. I’m curious about the idea of all the different stories however and how they all tie together. But I don’t like feeling stupid when reading a book, so I won’t be picking this one up despite the gorgeous writing.
    Thanks for the review, Amy!

    • Amy

      It’s not confusing so much as it’s beyond my thought comprehension at times. It’s very thought provoking and I just didn’t have it in me to think that hard lol!! It is beautifully written though.

  4. Carmel @ Rabid Reads

    I completely understand where you are coming from, Amy. Every so often I’ll read a book, and be like WTH? Whenever an author makes me feel dumb, I just end up feeling frustrated by the overall experience. It’s difficult to review something that you didn’t fully grasp, but I think you did a good job of it. Kudos!

    • Amy

      It’s so hard to write reviews for books you like, but aren’t sure what to really think. I mean, I did enjoy it, but it made me think too hard.

  5. ShootingStarsMag

    I have yet to read something by this author, but I feel like I’ve heard his work is very “smart” before. haha This sounds fascinating, but I’m sure I’d be left a bit confused too.

    • Amy

      It is very smart. This author definitely writes to make you think deeper about things. It’s not a bad thing at all, I just felt I was a bit lost on some level.

  6. Rachel @ A Perfection Called Books

    Hahaha I totally agree with everything you said!! I drafted my review of this and it started quite similar to your: “This is one of those books that I really have no clue how to review.” I was so confused in parts, but I really appreciated the writing. Sedgwick is a genius, I just didn’t understand some of it. Awesome review!

    • Amy

      Haha!! It seemed like a good way to start this review. Even though it confused me a little, I still really did like it. I really enjoy Sedgwick’s writing. It’s always very thoughtful and amazing. I just couldn’t wrap my head around everything in this one.

  7. Carina Olsen

    Awesome review Amy 🙂 I just read this too, and it was a three star for me as well. I have sort of the same issues as you, hih. I didn’t get the point of it all :p but I did enjoy some of the stories. <3 liked story 2 the most as well, I think. Though I really disliked story 4 :p wanted it to be better, I guess. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. <3

  8. Bekka @ Great Imaginations

    I can definitely sympathize with feeling that Sedgwick’s books kind of go over my head a bit. I’ve noticed that his books always take a different level of concentration compared to some other books. I love that his work is always challenging me, though. The last story was definitely a mind-f*** but I loved it so much. The beginning was especially creepy! (Maybe it’s just me, but I thought it was SO scary – spaces just scares the crap out of me!)

  9. Olivia

    The idea of one story told in verse is a bit off putting because I don’t read many books like that. And the idea of all the stories entwining sounds intriguing. But this sounds like something you really have to pay attention and think about to get it, and I’m not sure that I will.