Friday 29 July 2011

Book review: Empire of the Sun by J.G. Ballard

Title: Empire of the Sun

Author: J.G. Ballard

Source: My school’s LRC

Length: 279 pages

Published: 1st March 2005

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Summary: This follows the life of a young English boy living in Shanghai who discovers the importance of bravery and finds an inner desire to fight during the war between China and Japan.

Jim lives in luxury in Shanghai but when the war starts, his life is drastically changed. He befriends an American called Basie and runs errands for him in the war camp to get extra rations and American magazines and for a while, he strives to find his parents. Eventually he meets Dr. Ransom and runs errands for him too. Dr. Ransom gives him lessons. Life in the camp bores Jim and soon he is filled with the hunger to join the war. And not for his country as well. Jim wants to fight for the Japanese, the bravest people in his opinion with the English in the middle and the Chinese at the bottom. This causes emotional turmoil as the Japanese are on the other side. He works hard to find his parents, and to find out the path he should take.

Review: This book was highly boring. At times I thought “Why are you telling me this? Do you think I haven’t worked this out yet?” or “Why should I care?”. Frequently, I found Jim extremely obnoxious in his attitude towards the war and when told to keep away from the air

raid, he goes out and watches it anyway. I just thought “Do want to do die, you annoying person? Do you not think there’s a reason why you were told to stay inside? People are giving you part of their rations so that you can live and then you go and try to die! Get a life!”. I think a bit too much don’t I…

The other characters are okay.

As nothing much happens, a very detailed description of the conditions in the camp make the book slightly more interesting. Especially about how cloths covered in wax were used to replace the broken window frames and how condoms were used as chips and were highly valued in the camp.

Rating: 2 Mildly interesting historical information saved it from a 1.

I would like to study this book next year more than the others though so if my English teacher is reading this I hope this helps her in her decision.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sorry it wasn't your cup of tea. It's on my list of books-to-read, I hope I like it better. Good review!


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Nina xxx

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