The Godfather by Mario Puzo

” The Godfather ” by Mario Puzo is a crime epic novel originally published in the late 1960’s .

The novel opens up with a false trial dealing with sexual assault . The father of the girl who was assaulted promises to go to the local crime Don , Vito Corleone , to get justice . A washed up singer loses control of his marriage and decides he needs the advice of his godfather to get his life back together . These two men and more decide to go to the wedding of Don Corleone’s daughter to ask their favors because apparently a Sicillian cannot say no on their daughter’s wedding day . Favor after favor is granted by the wise Don and everything seems to go fine up until The Don takes his eldest son ( Sonny ) with him to a meeting with a representative of another crime family in New York . The rival family wants to work out a deal involving political protection for their drug deals , Vito turns the deal down but Sonny shows some opposition to his fathers position . Sonny’s outburst leads to Vito and the middle brother (Freddie ) being shot . Vito survives but is unable to continue as the Don , so Sonny takes over and convinces the youngest brother ( Michael ) to join him . Michael eventually assassinated the man whom ordered the hit on his father and this sets off a war between all five of the main mafia families in New York . Believe it or not , this is still pretty much the beginning of the novel .

Just a fair warning , this novel is indeed very graphic and violent . That probably goes without saying for a crime novel but felt it should be said anyways . Let me say that this is a true epic tragedy with a 50’s and 60’s mafia backdrop . It is like a more modern Shakespeare play . Mario Puzo is truly a great character writer , we feel intimate with every important ( and some of the minor ) characters in this story . He takes some breaks from the main story to tell other short stories about each characters past and it helps make this a deeper story than your typical mafia exploitation type novel . Overall , I’d highly recommend it to any crime novel enthusiast as well as tragedy/drama fans . Hell , I’d even pay full price and I don’t pay full price for anything .

Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky

” Metro 2033 ” is a post-apoclyptic horror novel written by Dmitry Glukhovsky , published in the 2000’s .

The year is 2033 , the setting is a Russian metro stations , the surface world is unlivable to normal human kind and has been over run by mutants . The story revolves around a young man named Artyom and is told mostly from his point of view . Artyom’s metro station is under constant attack from telepathic mutants known as ” the dark ones ” . One day a man called Hunter visits Artyom’s station and says something along the line of ” I’ve got a mission , if I’m not back tomorrow that means I failed and you got to finish it . ” Guess what happens ? Hunter fails so Artyom goes on an epic journey throughout the metro . A journey that has him dealing with fascist , communist , the dark ones , mutant dogs , philosophers , psychics , librarians , and more !

This is a fun but dark book , juggling different political and philosophical beliefs . Artyom knows little of how the world was before it was destroyed , so it’s his first time really dealing with all these beliefs and you feel his confusion . There is a debate throughout the story dealing with the concept of fate and if it exists or not which is interesting . The best parts of this book ( in my mind anyways) are Artyom’s nightmare sequences which are written supremely well .

Favorite quote : ” Could it be that the determination , rage , and desperation that drove him to take every next step created , in some unknown way , a reality that wove a set of chaotic events and someone’s thoughts and actions into an ordered system , thereby turning an ordinary life into a plot , as Sergei Andreyevich had said ? “

The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress By Robert A. Heinlein

” The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress ” is a science fiction novel originally published in the 1960’s , written by the legendary author Robert A. Heinlein .

In the future , the Luna is a penal colony built underneath the moon , being ran by the united government of Earth . The story is told from the point of view of a computer technician called Mannie . A small group of the colonist join together to start a rebellion against the Warden after one of their meetings get violently interrupted by the prison guards . With help from a self aware computer named HOLMES IV , the small group grows and plans the overthrow of the penal government but certain events force them to act before their ideal time . They have success but now have to deal establishing a stable government on the moon while having to prepare for potential war with Earth . Will this new society survive or will they fall underneath the pressure from the Earth’s power ?

First off , this novel is great old school science fiction . It keeps a good pace throughout once you get used to the style of speech . This novel is heavily political and normally I’d say that takes points off but this novel does it in a smart way . By telling the story from the point of a view from a character that doesn’t care much about politics and having a clear focus on his friendship with the computer ( whom treats the situation like a game ) , it keeps the story from becoming a political essay .

Favorite quote : ” Revolution is an art that I pursue rather than a goal I expect to achieve . Nor is this a source of dismay; a lost cause can be as spiritually satisfying as a victory . “

The Manchurian Candidate by Richard Condon

” The Manchurian Candidate ” is a political thriller written by Richard Condon , published in 1959 .

Sergeant Raymond Shaw and the rest of his platoon are captured during the Korean War . They are taken to Manchuria where they get worked over and brainwashed by communist scientist . The scientist put on a demonstration of their brainwashing abilities by having Shaw kill two of his fellow soldiers in front of Chinese and Soviet officials . They then proceed to brainwash Shaw and his group, telling them that they were ambushed by Chinese soldiers but Shaw heroically took out every single one of the people who had attacked them . This leads to Raymond Shaw winning the medal of honor . Now the communist have a brainwashed sleeper agent going around with a medal of honor , what evil deeds do they have planned ?

This novel feels like a time capsule of the 1950’s in America . Dealing with issues such as the Korean War , the threat of political assassination , Joseph McCarthy , the red scare , etc . It benefits you if you have some knowledge of the era but it gives you enough knowledge inside so you don’t get lost . One hell of a thriller , I can see why it made such a big impact back in the day . Would not recommend it to everyone though , most of the characters throughout the novel are evil people and there is some fairly taboo stuff in there dealing with incest , but if that doesn’t affect you then by all means check it out .

The Damnation Game by Clive Barker

” The Damnation Game ” is a horror novel by Clive Barker originally published in the 1980’s .

A gambling addict ( Marty Strauss ) is freed from prison in order to become the personal bodyguard of a wealthy man named Joseph Whitehead . Not all is at it seems however , weird things are happening to Whitehead’s heroin addict daughter ( Carys ) , and Whitehead is in constant fear of a man named Mamoulian . They apparently had made a deal together back in World War Two and Mamoulian wants Joseph to pay up . Mamoulian does various things to haunt Joseph such as raising the dead and entering Carys mind . During all of this , Marty falls in love with Carys and becomes determined to save her during this damnation game !

This is a great novel and reading this again was a treat . It’s a Faust-like tale mixed with Clive Barker’s distinctive blend of fantasy and body horror . Now saying that , this novel is not for the squeamish . It’s brutal and downright depressing but the prose is fantastic . Check it out , if you dare !

The Strange Island of Dr. Nork by Robert Bloch

” The Strange Island of Dr. Nork ” is a science fiction short story by Robert Bloch , originally published by ” Weird Tales ” magazine .

This story starts off with our narrator , a reporter , gets sent to an island and to learn about the mysterious Dr. Nork and what experiments he is performing there . The first thing he finds on the island is a bottle with a note in it stating ” To whom it may concern : Dr. Nork is a mean , nasty old thing , so there ! ” and the second thing he encounters is a talking ape ! Enjoy this tale of a mad scientist , zombies , and … comic books ?

This story is actually a parody of a story by H.G. Wells called ” The Island of Doctor Moreau ” and it is honestly one of the funniest things I have ever read . It knows how to play with expectations and subvert stock characters . The humor in the tale surprised me because the only other Robert Bloch story I’ve read to this point is ” Psycho ” which is a totally different type of story . It’s fun and creative , if you can find it then read it .