The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

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Rereading a book from your childhood as an adult can give you an entirely new perspective on it. For me, this was the case with The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the classic novel by English author C.S. Lewis.

The first published book of the series, the novel introduces the Pevensie children and tells of their first journey to the land of Narnia. Set during the Second World War in England, the four children- Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy- are sent to live in the mansion of an elderly professor in the countryside for protection from London bombings. One day, Lucy, the youngest, discovers a passage through a wardrobe in one of the spare rooms. Through the wardrobe is the magical land of Narnia, where animals speak and other mythical creatures live. Narnia is unofficially ruled by the evil White Witch, whose “reign” has caused a continuous winter but no Christmas. She also harbors the ability to turn anyone who defies her to stone. But with the appearance of the Pevensie children, along with the mysterious lion Aslan, her power and influence begin to weaken.

As I mentioned in the beginning, there can be parts of the story that you don’t understand or notice as a child that you now do as an adult. One example of this is the relationship between Edmund and the rest of his siblings. Edmund discovers Narnia after following Lucy, but denies having visited there when prompted by her. Edmund encounters the White Witch first, but even after learning she is an adversary, he still decides to visit her again.  I remember being taken aback a little by his selfishness, but as an adult came to understand the depth of this character more.

Another element I hadn’t noticed before is Lewis’ occasional use of humor, one instance of this being on page 151, “…other creatures whom I won’t describe because if I did the grown-ups would probably not let you read this book.” I also discovered facts about C.S. Lewis himself- he wrote the series for his goddaughter Lucy, and was a friend of J.R.R. Tolkien, the famed writer of the Lord of the Rings series.

A recent book club I took part in looked at the novel from a religious point of view. We compared Aslan’s character to Jesus- particularly Aslan’s sacrifice and how he brought goodness and hope to the land. There are also several themes that can take a biblical sense- the battle of the good versus evil, the initial betrayal of Edmund to his siblings, and more.

Although this classic novel is primarily geared toward children, I recommend it to anyone because of its important themes and lessons.

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The map included in my edition

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Gone

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This is actually a book I first read years ago as a high schooler, but realized I had never done a review on.

Gone, the first book in a series by Michael Grant, tells a story of power and authority with supernatural elements. One day in the town of Perdido Beach, California, everybody age 15 and over suddenly disappears into thin air. At the same time, a dome-shaped barrier forms over the town, preventing anyone from leaving and jamming all communication sources. Sam Temple and his friends Quinn and Edilio, along with Sam’s love interest Astrid, try to discover the meaning behind the sudden occurrence. Meanwhile, life in the town is thrown into chaos as children attempt to function without adults. Sam is seen as a leader but is at odds with Caine, the rival leader of the students from the elite Coates Academy. Elsewhere, a mysterious creature known as “The Darkness” threatens to wreak havoc on the already chaotic town.

One element I liked about this novel was Grant’s use of setting. He provides a map of Perdido Beach at the front of the book, which gives the reader an idea of the area and how it affects the characters in unexpected ways. For example, the desert, usually seen as a somewhat desolate place, is used in a story of survival for supporting character Lana. A power plant, commonly associated with feelings of danger and elusiveness, becomes a major plot point in the supernatural element of the story.

Another defining element of the novel is seeing how people’s personalities and skills help them survive and function in a society devoid of adults. Lana’s headstrong nature formerly got her into trouble, but now helps her outwit the danger she experiences and help Sam and his group with their journey. Another supporting character, Albert, uses his family-taught cooking skills to take over a local restaurant. Futhermore, some of the children develop supernatural powers which provide both positive and negative ways.

At over 500 pages, this is a long book to read, but I definitely recommend it due to its strong character development and successful mix of genres.