Wednesday, November 06, 2013

That Hideous Strength (WWRW)

I did it. I finished not one but ALL THREE books in a trilogy. I'm a big kid now!

But first, can we talk about C.S. Lewis space trilogy being classified as young adult?  That is lunacy.  My 12 year old 7th grader is super advanced when it comes to reading and all things related and there is NO WAY she could properly appreciate these books.  Sure she could read the words and string them together to make sentences.  But following what's really happening?  Catching the nuances?  Understanding the subtleties of relationships, particularly between man and woman?  There's just no way. 
In general I discourage kids from reading good books that are are too far above their comprehension level because they will likely not love the book and think the book is bad and then never read it and appreciate the goodness that's been there the whole time.  Does that make sense?  So I am not recommending these books for middle schoolers even though apparently a lot of people do. 




This is the third book in Lewis' space Trilogy, preceded by Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra.  The books, all of them, are so very different from each other that you can almost read them as isolated from one another.  But in every one you're gonna find a whole bunch of sci/fi, historical fiction, social commentary, political insight, and definitely some good old fashioned callin' you out on stuff you probably ought be doing but aren't or ought not to be thinking but are.

I cried during Perelandra.  I didn't cry during this one.  But I did laugh during this one and there was no laughing during Perelandra.  Also at one point in this story, you know...there are always the scary parts where stuff is all coming to a head, I had to put the book down and go into the kitchen and shake it off because I was SCARED.  It's the book equivalent of closing my eyes and covering my ears during the scary part of a movie, except with the book you have to pick it up and keep reading.  Which hurts so good.

But what is this ABOUT?  It's about authenticity and eternity and the universe and true love and Christianity not being "just some religion" but being a way of defining your very world and treating every creature in it.  It's about hope and determination and peace and courage.

What is that one quote by Lewis?  "How monotonously alike have all the great tyrants and conquerors been; how gloriously different are the saints."  Yes, that is also exactly what this book is about.  (you can read the boring details about plot on Amazon if you must. You know I can't roll like that).

It was not an easy read (kids under 8 must be asleep.  No chattering or interruptions!) but it's worth it.

http://www.housewifespice.com/2013/11/its-what-were-reading-wednesday-two-for.html

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22 comments :

  1. I am in the middle of the first one! Yes, about reading books they are not mature enough for. I read Little Women when I was like 9 years old and thought, "Hmm, this is kinda boring." And then read it a few years ago as an adult and LUUUVED it. I so wish I had reread it earlier, but like you said, I thought I already *had* read it. Even kids books. I read aloud the narnia series, which is a great series for kids, but I got so much more out of it as an adult.

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  2. I would have to agree that That Hideous Strength is not a book most middle or even high schoolers could fully understand. I read the books in highschool, and while I did get a lot of meaning and enjoyment from them I definitely get the feeling I missed even more and could benefit from a rereading. THS was hard for me to read, it got so spiritually frightening I had to put it down sometimes too!

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  3. I read these late in college for the first time, and was sad that I hadn't encountered them earlier! I agree, though, not middle school material. I wrote my English Literature thesis on THS (and I had a Theology minor, so you KNOW I incorporated lotsa man & woman, authentic love, physical creation trumping that Gnostic talking head nonsense, stuff :)

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  4. I hate that whole YA category. Hate it.
    I love THS. Love it.
    I'm so happy you love it. Many people don't and that makes me sad, because it's utter prophecy and also life affirming in a way that prophetic novels often aren't.

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  5. I love the space trilogy, especially That Hideous Strength. I've read it a couple times, and it's always given me chills.

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  6. YES, I totally get what you mean about not appreciating books too old for you and that was definitely me and The Hobbit. I still haven't ever read it, beyond my aborted five-chapter attempt when I was in late middle school.

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    1. OH!!! Just give THe Hobbit one more try!!!

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  7. A friend of mine let me borrow the triology when I was experiencing my "spiritual growth spurt" but I never got a chance to read them... You've inspired me to look for them. I'm excited about reading them... you know, after I paint ALL THE SAINT DOLLS, do homework and feed the kids and stuff. :-)

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  8. That was an inspiring review! I haven't read them, but that is one of my favorite Lewis quotes, about the saints, and I was just thinking about it the other day (after having temporarily forgotten it for awhile). I like the comment about it hurting-so-good to have to re-pick-up the scary book! True! You conquer the fear with the desire to enter in - so transformative and engaging vs. a movie!

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  9. I love this book so much. I don't remember when I first read it, I don't think I was much older than your daughter--14 maybe? 15? I definitely appreciated it more when I got older but I still loved it then.

    Whenever I reread the trilogy I always think Perelandra is my favorite until I get to That Hideous Strength and it is just the BEST. My husband can't get past the slow (for him) start ... I keep bugging him to read it!!

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  10. I am woefully deficient in Lewis. Woooooooeeefully. Maybe I will try this sometime soon. I certainly like books like you are describing.

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  11. LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE this series! Read it in high school...but I had that feeling that some connections and understandings were just-just-just beyond my grasp but I was able to pick-up on enough that I just absolutely fell in love with Lewis in a new way. I always thought he was too "fancy pants" for me, but after stumbling upon that series its like he is my BFF!!!

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  12. Ah, the gospel according to St. C. S. Lewis. Gotta love it. :-) Actually, I didn't love THS. I should probably try it again, because I loved and still love the Chronicles of Narnia.

    I know just what you mean about books for young adults/teens/whatever. When I was about 12, I got tired of my mother saying how wonderful Jane Austen was and how I wouldn't understand it, so I read Pride and Prejudice or something. Doggedly. All the way through. BORING. But I understood every word, by golly. Then later, during college, I was bored and read it again. Dang, it was funny! Hilarious! And so dry! Yep, you gotta wait for some things, ya know?

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  13. I would never recommend these for YA--they are quite advanced, and as you say, there is lots below the surface that a younger reader would miss and (possibly not return to as an adult as a result)

    I've read the Space Trilogy twice, and started it a third time this summer (got through Out of the Silent Planet and half of Perelandra before my postpartum brain started screaming); I'll get back to it again when my brain is less tired.

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  14. I totally agree about reading certain books too young. I was assigned To Kill a Mockingbird in 9th grade or something and started it but stopped 1 chapter in because I thought it was d-u-l-l. But I picked it up and read it 2 months ago and holy cow!! I LOVED it! I mean, like I want to name my next kid Atticus love!

    I have actually not read That Hideous Strength yet (something about 4 kids and 5 moves in 6 years) but I am definitely moving it up on my to-read list now! Thanks for the enthusiastic unconventional review :)

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  15. My now 17-year old son read them in early high school and loved them. But I totally agree that he would not have appreciate them in middle school. He got it in high school, though. But he's also a very advanced reader. Just a fun bit of info - my 15-year old had to do a report on C.S. Lewis last year and part of the info we found out was that he was good friend with Tolkien and he wrote this trilogy because he and Tolkien were having a little "contest" with each other to write a trilogy and Lewis chose the topic of space and Tolkien chose fantasy. And so emerged The Lord of the Rings!

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  16. I love That Hideous Strength. It is absolutely prophetic. Even more true today than it was when he wrote it. The anti-contraceptive angle really gets to me. I get chills when Merlin asks if "the cold marriages" are now becoming the norm on Earth. Lewis could've had no idea how much farther it would go....what a great man he was!

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  17. I think that both Perelandra and Out of the Silent Planet are within the reach of teens, but I agree that That Hideous Strength probably isn't. It's still so great...they all are. Hm. I'm in between books once again....

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  18. I have to completely agree with you about these books needing your full attention and a quiet house. I have finished the first two over the summer but I've kind of stagnated 1/4 of the way into the last one, despite my finding it quite intriguing. I just haven't been able to muster the attention span needed to finish it. I'm hoping sometime this winter after the holidays, I'll find my powers of concentration to finish it.

    I also agree that middle schooler's will have trouble with the detail.

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  19. I really liked "That Hideous Strength" it was my favorite in the series but my favorite adult CS Lewis has to be "The Great Divorce". If you have not read it, your life is yet incomplete! And if you are a Lewis fan, then you really should really read Joseph Pearce's biography. We read in my bookclub last year. It's a great book.

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  20. Thank you! This trilogy is SO not for middle schoolers! It's amazing! But not for 12 year olds!

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  21. Ok, I'm convinced that I have to read these books. I just called my local library, and all three books are currently on the shelf. So..... Guess where I'm headed?

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