Here we are again. Another week, another book marketed off the list. I know some of you may be noticing the difference between the finished dates on my master list, and the subsequent posting. It seems as though the best way to keep things consistent is to schedule a few of these posts, and then when I have a longer book which may take longer to read, I do not have weeks without updates. This also means I am writing this a couple of weeks before it will actually be posted. This is probably the closest I will ever get to time travel, so I am going to enjoy it.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Where did I get the book and how many pages?
This is another book from the free book app on my iPad, and clocks in at 383 pages. It is worth noting that the bookmark says to read Huckleberry Finn, whereas my copy is listed as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. While I was pretty sure they were actually the same book, I did a google search, just to make sure. No one seemed to feel there was a need to specify that they were indeed the same book, which seemed to me to indicate it was a slightly dumb question to ask. I also learned it is likely an easy book to use if you want to cheat on homework as most of the sites I saw seemed to be offering free or cheap essays on the book.
Have I read this book before?
No. When I was younger I read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer several times, probably due to the movie Tom and Huck staring the adorable Jonathan Taylor Thomas. (Hey, I was 12, all right? Give me a break.) I did enjoy that book, but as my crush was on Tom Sawyer, I never bothered reading Huckleberry Finn.
What did I already know?
This book takes place after Tom Sawyer. I might be seen as a sequel, but it is focused on Tom’s friend Huckleberry Finn. Much of the book involves Huck and a runaway slave on a raft heading down the river. As it was written in another time, the language used is very different, and would be considered offensive to many people now.
What do I think now?
I liked this book, but I liked Tom Sawyer better. Maybe it is the nostalgia talking, but I think it was better.
Huck Finn is the unrefined, wild child. He was raised by an abusive father, and not only was not made to go to school and learn, but he was actively encouraged not to go. He is traveling with a runaway slave, who was also uneducated due to his status in society. They spoke with poor grammar and pronunciation as well as implied accents. This means there are many places during the book where I would need to stop and think for a few minutes just to figure out what they were saying. Additionally, I liked the characters better in Tom Sawyer. Perhaps it was the actual character of Tom Sawyer (okay maybe a little of the crush is still there) or perhaps it was the characters of the king and the duke, the conmen who play a brief part in the story in the middle.
I think one of the largest factors in my hesitation for full love of this book is the strange story arc. Huck and Jim runaway at the same time. They spend months drifting along, everyone in their home town believing Huck to be dead and Jim having a reward for his return. They have little adventures in a few towns, and meet a few people, but they also leave a few stories feeling unresolved. Most of the time they are traveling, I wasn’t sure what the point of the book was. It wasn’t clear what the end would be; would the end involve them deciding to go home, would the end have them drifting on, or possible the end coming when they reach the end of the river. When the end came however, and gave resolution to the two runaway’s fate, it seemed to be the obvious and inevitable end. I almost felt as though I should have seen it coming. I does make me think I would enjoy it a little more reading it though the second time.
Should you read this book before you die?
I might like Tom Sawyer better, but this is also a good read. In a time where racism was at a peak, and the views on slavery were very different than they are today, this is a story that shows a human side of the story. In some ways it might paint an almost rosy picture of what life was like for a runaway slave, floating down the river and having adventures, but it also draws attention to a time period many Americans would rather forget. Of course we are not proud of a history of slavery within our country, but we cannot ignore the truth. The book shows a runaway slave who only wants to be free and with his family, showing other people compassion, risking his own safety and freedom for others, and still being treated poorly by most people he encountered.
Now, to take a small trip away from the historical to the science fiction front. I’m off to have an adventure with The War of The Worlds by H.G. Wells before diving into another large one, the His Dark Material trilogy by Phillip Pullman.
This will be a big one, as it has been said, a well written book is never long enough. Happy Reading!