The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven: A Brief Look at Some Poemish Prose

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I still don’t understand this cover

 The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven is a book of short stories by Sherman Alexie. The stories detail life on a Spokane Indian reservation, and the quiet struggles of those who live there.

It took a long time for me to write my review of this book, mostly because I couldn’t figure out how I felt, or what it meant. The stories explored many complicated themes, and expressed the author’s great understanding of the human condition. But there were certain stories where I couldn’t connect to the characters, or had no clue what point the author was trying to make.

The writing was beautiful, of course. Alexie is a lovely and poetic author. His metaphors and similes are intelligent and relatable. It is easy for the reader to see that he had only previously published a book of poems. Many of the stories were very good. Each one was a brief snapshot of someone on the reservation’s life.  Some of them, though, were hard to comprehend, or were not very interesting.

I especially liked “The Only Traffic Signal on the Reservation Doesn’t Flash Red Anymore.” This story was about two friends discussing a talented young basketball player named Julian. They express their hope that he will escape the reservation’s cycle of poverty. The story then jumps forward to a year later. The two men are discussing Julian again, but now, he is an alcoholic and has lost most of his talent. The story captured the vicious cycle of alcoholism and how dispiriting it is to the people on the reservation.

This is a much shorter review than normal, because I have far less to say. I rank this book somewhere between a Good and Very Good. It was beautiful, but not consistently.

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Lies: A Review

I apologize for not having this up a week ago!  I was swamped with homework.  Please enjoy this hastily cobbled-together review!

Can we just take a second to appreciate how much this series has improved?  Lies is, so far, the best book in the Gone series.  The story follows Sam trying to overcome the trauma caused by being tortured by Drake.  Meanwhile, Zil and the Human Crew are running loose, Caine is developing a plan to escape to a legendary island, and Orsay, a mutant who can infiltrate peoples’ dreams, is claiming to be able to contact the outside world.

I am really impressed by how much the characters have grown over the course of these three books, especially Astrid, Howard, and Sam.  As you may recall from my last two reviews, I did not, until very recently, care much for Astrid.  She is still not my favorite character, but in this book, she had an Astrid version of a Crowning Moment of Awesome.

(Spoilers)

When she was reading her list of rules, I just felt so proud of her.  Then, of course, she quit the Council, which I’m hoping was a clever reelection strategy and not Michael Grant telling us that ladies can’t handle responsibility.

(End Spoilers)

Howard has improved as well, changing from a cardboard bully to a clever, fast-talking politician.  The scenes involving him were some of my favorites in this book.  I could never tell what side he would be on next.

As you may recall, in the first book, I found Sam a bit bland.  I realize now that Grant began the series with an average Everykid so that he could show how the FAYZ was changing people.  He succeeded.  Sam’s trauma from being whipped by Drake felt very real and upsetting, and the scenes showing Sam’s healing process were great character moments for him.  As an added bonus, his fear of Drake made Drake seem more like a credible villain.

I also liked how Grant is no longer trying to convince us that Caine is a credible threat.  In this book, Caine and the others are merely terrified, starving kids trying to survive, instead of the demonic junior criminal mastermind we were presented with in the first book.  He managed to wreak havoc on Perdido Beach, but for reasons of survival, and not just because he could.

The plot was exciting as well.  I won’t go into details because of spoilers, but it definitely kept me reading.  Orsay’s subplot was fascinating because we came so close to finding out more about the FAYZ.  The island plot, with the introduction of Sanjit and Virtue, was fun (Sanjit is a fantastic character of color, which is good, because some of the others are becoming less interesting).  And of course, Sam and Astrid’s struggles with their inner demons were fantastically written.

The only problem with the plot was the climax.  I literally have no idea what happened in the final battle.  How on earth did Dekka make it to the scene in time?  How did Sam manage to hurt Drake?  And what is going on with Little Pete?  The end was confusing and unsatisfying, and I didn’t like it.

Finally, the Darkness still has absolutely no motivation.  I’m getting a bit annoyed, actually.

(Spoilers)

The Darkness’s evil plan in this book was to manipulate Mary into convincing all the kids in the day care to kill themselves.  But why?  What did it have to gain by killing a bunch of children?

(End Spoilers)

I understand that the Darkness’s motivation is part of the central mystery.  However, I feel like that was a very bad decision made by Grant.  The longer we go without knowing the villain’s motivation, the less I can bring myself to care about it.

Despite this, I give Lies a solid Very Good.  My school library doesn’t have Plague at the moment, but I will be reviewing it as soon as I can find a copy.  Until then, I’ll be reviewing Beka Cooper: Terrier and The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven.  Thanks for reading and please comment!  (Note: I apologize for the low quality of this review.  The amount of homework I have has forced me to compromise my standards of quality.  I didn’t even have time to think of a clever title).