I do reviews a bit differently than most people. Instead of analyzing the story, I will tell you how the book made me feel and what it made me think of. This is a fantastic way to get around spoilers.
Just a few minutes ago I finished reading Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury.
This is one of those books that makes one think about what it means to be alive. The premise is two boys are best friends and go through everything together: Will Halloway and Jim Nightshade. Will is portrayed as the good one and Jim as the one with the dark side. A carnival comes into town in late October and the boys learn a lot about themselves in the process. I won’t spill any more of the plot for sake of avoiding spoilers, but I will tell you what I got out of the book.
Mr. Bradbury has a way of phrasing his sentences that doesn’t look too complicated until you go back and think about what he’s just said. Here are some of my favorites.
“Now, look, since when did you think that being good meant being happy?”
“Since now learn otherwise. Sometimes the man who looks happiest in town, with the biggest smile, is the one carrying the biggest load of sin….On the other hand, that unhappy, pale put-upon man walking by, who looks all guilt and sin, why often that’s your good man with a capital G, Will.”
I think this brings up an interesting argument. Will we always be unhappy if we continually do good? I think that most people, when they realize that doing good doesn’t really make you happy, they choose not to do it. But, I think you can be equally unhappy by doing bad. However, here, Will’s dad (Mr. Halloway) is talking about appearances. People who appear unhappy or like they are carrying around a load of guilt often look like they are sinning. Because to them, Not meeting their standards is a sin. They are striving to do good and it is a lot of work. However, as the book later points out, people who are “happy” who are sinners, have things they are afraid of and turn out to be a lot less happy than those people who are trying to do good all the time.
“I found you can’t wait to become perfect, you got to go out, fall down and get up like everybody else.”
I wrote a blog post just the other week on this concept, so this quote in particular hits home for me. The man that says this is 54 years old and has spent most of his life waiting to become perfect. He realizes that having done so he has missed out on so much in his life, good and bad. I like how he says like everybody else. Not everyone in this planet is bad, and they go out and fall down. Most of them are good people, so we can too. I’m still learning to be okay with falling.
This next one needs a little context. Without getting too specific about plot, right before this Mr. Halloway has discovered a way to face the evil that has come into his town.
“All because he accepted everything at last, accepted the carnival, the hills beyond, the people in the hills, Jim, Will, and above all himself and all of life, and , accepting, threw back his head for the second time tonight and showed his acceptance with sound.”
This concept is something everyone on the earth has to deal with: acceptance. Whether that be acceptance of self or acceptance of the way society is around us or something else entirely. The great stories of life are of characters learning what acceptance means and opening themselves to it. I myself am on a journey of acceptance, and it is a journey. Each step must be noted and learned from or the end will never come.
“Good to evil seems evil. So I will do only good to you, Jed…”
Perspective. That is what this quote is about. What may seem universally evil to one may seem like a way of life to another. This is why I cannot hold people for what they do “wrong”. I may not like what they do and I may not agree with it, but I try my best not to declare good or evil. Because to them, I may be evil. And that is why perspective is important. If we don’t understand how people see things, we won’t understand their actions and it’s easier to hurt them. And I think there is enough hurt in this world and it doesn’t need anymore.
After those quotes, I think I can say that my favorite character is Mr. Halloway. He is a secondary character, but he shows the most growth. He starts out as an old man wondering what he’s done with his life, then he gives us these great words of wisdom. I think that this is what this story is about.
And now it is time to close this book and open a new one.
(I give this book 5 out of 5 stars, meaning I would read it again [which I only do with books I really love] and would recommend it to everyone)