Sunday, July 13, 2014

Dune Review

Hello lovely people! Yes, here is my review for Dune, by Frank Herbert I know, I know. It took a while. This week was kind of an off one for me, hard to make a post when I'm swamped with other things.

But, here it is.


Buy it here at Barnes and Noble

Plot: The story follows the life of Paul Atreides, the son of Dule Atreides and his consort, Jessica. The story begins with the Atreides family moving to Arrakis-- a desert planet valuable only for what is called "the spice", a substance known as Melange, which gives the user a longer lifespan, greater vitality, and, in some people, prescience. (It is, however, a drug that is highly addictive and fatal for those who try to quit their habit) The Atreides' ancient enemies, the Harkonnens, have allied with the Paddishah Emperor Shaddam IV to bring down the Atreides family. Jessica's Mother Superior, the head of the Bene Gesserit order (a quasi-religious sect), predicts that Paul will revolutionize not only Arrakis, but the entire empire. Treachery leads Paul and Jessica to the Fremen, the native people of Arrakis, after the death of the Duke. While living with the Fremen, Paul becomes Maud'Dib, which is the Fremen words for the evolved kangaroo-mouse which lives on the desert world. Maud'Dib, in Arabic, also means "educator," or "he who teaches civilization," which makes Paul's role as world-changer on Arrakis even more dramatic. With the Fremen, Paul leads a revolution against Harkonnen and Imperial tyranny, leading to the downfall of the old system.

 This story is absolutely amazing. The sheer breath and depth of the characters and cultures portrayed in Dune is startling and awe-inspiring. With every passing page, I kept hoping that I would develop the magical power to jump into stories so that I could see this beautifully stark and dangerous world that Herbert created first-hand. Herbert is able to create cultures that are similar enough to those that exist today, but has made them alien enough to us to imply that 21,000 years has indeed gone by and is showing us the next stage of human culture.
Dune is so spectacular because it carries such powerful imagery (his detailed descriptions of people and environments is comparable to Tolkien's), and because of its equally powerful messages. Dune is first and foremost an ecological book. It was actually inspired by an article that Herbert never finished while studying a US Department of Agriculture experiment to stabilize the Oregon Dunes using "poverty plants." The dunes could "swallow whole cities, lakes, rivers, [and] highways." Herbert thus wrote Dune as a way of subtly encouraging people to be more mindful of their environment, as well as to respect the earth that we live on as a living thing.
Final thoughts? I loved reading this book. I would absolutely 100% recommend it to anyone who was looking for a thoughtful, intelligent science-fiction book. I only have two problems with it: first, is the fact that I think the book doesn't handle the "time jumps" in it well. I found it rather confusing to first see 14 year old Paul, and then see 18+ year old Maud'Dib with little-to-no warning that this would happen. The other problem is that I wish Herbert had done more time "world building"-- that is, I wish he had explained the evolution of human-kind, to see how people got to Arrakis, where the Bene Gesserit came from, the evolution of Mentat's, etc. I'm a historian by nature, an I like knowing what's going on before I dive into a situation.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Workout News:

I am still working out and eating healthy-ish. I admit, this week has been not as great with the eating healthy, because there was a family birthday (an exception to the no junk-food rule), and a "mandatory" family trip to get ice cream last night. It happens. But, I still feel really good about exercising and eating healthy foods, which makes me happy.

Other News:
Costuming! I'm slowly working on making myself a Renaissance costume for a Ren Faire that my family and I will be attending before I go away to school. I also might attend Boston Comic Con, which means I'm pulling out my old Poison Ivy costume that I started two years ago and never got around to finishing... I want to finish it by the time of the con. Much to do! So little time!

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