Saturday, May 7, 2011

Book Thoughts - Dune by Frank Herbert

Dune by Frank Herbert
published 1965
533 pages

Synopsis from publisher:

Set on the desert planet Arakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, who would become the mysterious man known as Muad'Dib. He would avenge the traitorous plot against his noble family — and would bring to fruition humankind's most ancient and unattainable dream. A blend of adventure and mysticism, environmentalism and politics, Dune won the first Nebula Award, shared the Hugo Award, and formed the basis of what is undoubtedly the grandest epic in science fiction.

My thoughts:

April 23: Wow, this book is complicated. I know I read it once in junior high - around the same time I read Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Frankenstein, The Island of Dr. Moreau....I think it was "read all the books on the parent's shelves" month during summer vacation - but there is no way I could have possibly understood everything that is going on. I remember thinking it was pretty boring, but doubtless that was because so much of the intrigue of the story was going right over my head.

I'm just under 100 pages into the novel, and I still feel like Herbert is just laying the groundwork. It is fully science fiction, but also feels a bit like a political thriller, with all the competing factions and various power players at work. I can't say that I am fully immersed in the story yet, but it is definitely interesting enough that I want to keep reading.

April 28: Okay, by now I have definitely been captured by the story. I've just finished the first section, and Paul and Jessica have to find a way to survive in the desert. Paul has become....different, and is dealing with all the emotion (or lack of emotion) that entails. People have died. The action has definitely picked up, and I'm getting a better grasp of the different factions. I feel like I now have someone to root FOR, and someone to root AGAINST, and that was really the turning point for my engagement in the novel. I'm starting to understand why it is considered such a classic of science fiction.

May 1: I'm about halfway through the second section, and more than halfway through the novel (page 288). Paul and Jessica have been discovered by the Fremen, which is the point I have been waiting for. Jessica has proven herself to be incredibly valuable and dangerous, which was a fun scene to read. I'm not sure I quite understand what it was that caused the change in Paul, but Herbert shows the reader the turmoil going on inside his head quite well. It still is not an easy novel for me to read - the writing is not of the type that will just sweep me into the story, and I have to concentrate to keep all the people and places straight - but I'm not finding it tedious at all. I'm not sure where the story is going - I don't remember any of this from reading it as a kid - so I feel nervous and excited to see what happens next.

May 3: Just finished part 2, and things are getting good. There has been some very interesting character development, and Paul and Jessica have become even richer and more nuanced. I was especially taken with the two back-t0-back chapters depicting Paul and Feyd-Rautha participating in competitions that led to each killing another man. These two characters seem to be set up for some type of showdown, and their widely disparate attitudes toward taking life told much about their character. I'm also incredibly interested in the mysterious Princess Irulan who is quoted at the beginning of each chapter, but has not yet appeared in the narrative - do we ever get to meet her??

May 6: Well, that was an abrupt ending. I mean, really abrupt. I turned the page, and was honestly surprised not to find more sentences. A few of my burning questions were answered - we did, in fact, get to meet Irulan, and I have a feeling she plays a much bigger role in subsequent novels in the series. The showdown with Feyd-Rautha was....a little bit meh. I think I was expecting just a bit more from the ending of the novel, so felt a little bit disappointed with its abruptness. It is, however, a great story, and I think I'm curious enough about what happens next to read its sequel sooner rather than later....

Overall, a great read. A little slow at the beginning, but the characters were rich and the story exciting. The world Herbert has created is amazing - it feels complete, like it should exist out there somewhere. I can certainly see why this is considered a science fiction classic. I'm very glad I decided to read it again - it was a very rewarding experience.

Finished: 5/6/11
Source: my shelves
MPAA rating: PG -13 for adult themes and violence
My rating: 8/10


Zibilee said...

I have this book on my shelves, and my husband says it's a must read. I am glad to hear that you liked it so much and that it gave you so much to think about. It sounds like a great read!

Tracy said...

I read this book back in the eighties, and generally I enjoyed it - and then I made the mistake of reading one of the sequels, which was really, really weird. At that point I gave up with the whole series. (I also saw the movie, the one with Kyle MacLachlan and Sting! umm, yeah)

One thing I did like about the original book - it's dedicated to the ecologists.

bermudaonion said...

I know this is supposed to be a wonderful example of sci-fi/fantasy, but I'm not sure it's for me. I tried a fantasy novel earlier this year and I was totally lost.