Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Book Review: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Author: Ken Kesey
Title: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Description: I think everyone in the world knows the story from the movie. I have to admit that it has probably been thirty years or more since I saw the movie (the last thing I like Jack Nicholson in, by the way), so I can’t judge accurately how close the movie follows the book, though it was pretty close to what I remember. For the two folks who haven’t seen the movie, the book is about a mental hospital.
Review source: It was one of my Penguin prize books.
Plot: The plot revolves around the fight for control of the ward. The Big Nurse has her thumb quite firmly on all of the patients until Randle McMurphy shows up.
Characters: Kesey nails the main characters (McMurphy, the Big Nurse, and Chief Bromden, the narrator) perfectly. There are plenty of colorful secondary characters.
Writing style: Since the book is narrated by a mental patient, the narration isn’t always straightforward, but Kesey manages to both keep the reader involved in the narrative and convince the reader that the narrator is indeed quite mentally ill. Not only that, but he even manages to show how Chief evolves throughout the novel because of his contact with McMurphy.
Audience: This is literary fiction, but anyone who has seen the movie would probably enjoy the novel.
Wrap-up: The reason that it was in the Penguin collection in the first place is that it’s a classic. Probably one that everyone should read at some point. 3/5*

I'm claiming this book for two reading challenges: the new author challenge (15/15) and the unread books challenge. 

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