Thursday, April 30, 2009

Dune by Frank Herbert

rating: 4/5
genre: science fiction

book 3 of 5 for the Classics Challenge 2009
book 10 of 10 for the Book Awards Reading Challenge II

Despite my limited knowledge of the science fiction genre, even I can tell that Dune is a masterpiece, just like the cover of my book says.

The planet of Arrakis is a massive desert and the only reason humans have found a way to make it hospitable is because of the great wealth it contains. Enter Paul Atreides - the boy with powers so deep and defined that they become legendary. His arrival on Arrakis sets in motion a series of events that will change the course of the universe. Treachery and duels, battles and mysterious sand creatures - Dune takes the imagination and pushes fast forward, daring us to keep up with the history and community the Herbert has created.

Dune has a spiritual element, a religious and mystical undercurrent that I found fascinating. The powers of certain characters, their abilities and knowledge, made the story so much more interesting. Not only that, but the history of this planet and the people on it was so rich and immense, I felt as though I truly had dropped into a parallel existence. I really liked the focus on ecology and the relationship between people and the land they live on and try to tame. I almost felt, sometimes, like I was reading a mystery because so many intriguing facts were revealed throughout the book that we didn't understand at the beginning.

And while I am sure in many ways this book deserves five stars, here is why I cannot, for my own self, give it that last star: it made my brain work far too hard. Call me a wimp, call me a dolt, it's okay. I am not a science fiction junkie, I'll admit it. It took me the first 1/3 of the book to confidently tell the difference between the names of a planet, a city and a Duke's last name because they were so similarly spelled. I had to keep flipping to the appendix in the back to remind myself of what words mean. This may not bother some people, and that's fine. For me, it distracted me from the flow of the story to have so much unfamiliar introduced so quickly. I will admit, though, that by the middle of the book I knew where I was and who people were and I was anxious to find out how Paul's story would resolve. Even though I was sometimes bogged down by the more theoretical parts (which I learned to skim, sorry), I was not disappointed by this book.

To conclude, this book may not be for everyone - if you hate science fiction on principle, do not even pick it up. But for those who love adventure, complex plots and deep thinking, and are willing to give it some effort, I would be very surprised if you didn't like this one.

9 comments:

bermudaonion said...

This is not my kind of book, but my son absolutely loves it.

Hilarie said...

I've been waiting to see what you would think of this one... I'm so glad you enjoyed it. I'm not a science fiction freak either, but Dune is probably one of my favorites of the genre. I'm sure there are many people out there who would disagree, but I thought the series really went downhill in Dune Messiah.

Melissa said...

I remember slogging through this one (enjoying it, but it was WORK) in high school. Loved the movie, though. (The old one, with Sting and whats-his-name who was on Twin Peaks. Did I just date myself?)

Serena said...

I read this book ages ago and loved it...the movie as well...thanks for the review.

Trish said...

I have heard SO much about this book but I just can't bring myself to be interested. I have come to enjoy fantasy the past year or so, but I'm still trying to work on the science fiction. I read The Left Hand of Darkness last year and it was a Beating (with a capital B). :) So, I understand your sentiment about being a wimp. I'm right there with you, Corinne!

TheBlackSheep said...

I've just started listening to it yesterday, but I'm already hooked. It's a "dramatised" version, meaning that there is a different person reading each part and I'm finding this helps a lot. I tried reading it once, but got confused like you did. Now, I'm actually looking forward to the rest of it.

Thanks for the review (and for not giving too much away)!

Lawanda said...

I listened to it, and enjoyed it a LOT!! :)

Laura's Reviews said...

This is one of my all time favorite books. I really like the complex themes and meaning to it all. I thought it about it for a long time afterwards. To me, a good book is one that speaks to me while I read it, and makes me really think long after I finished it.

I love the sci-fi mini-series from around 8 or so years ago. You should check it out!

A.R.M. said...

I liked your review of Dune. I AM a lover of science-fiction and of course this is definitely one of my favorites. Still I can understand how this book could be a bit complex. Yet, I think that is one of the reasons it is so good too. I could more clearly picture it the world Herbert creates. It's nice to hear that it can still be appreciated by non-sci-fi lovers too.

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