The Trial / The Queen's Secret

 The Trial by Franz Kafka

I've never been so glad to finish a book. I don't know how to rate it in a how-much-did-you-like-it sense like GR's 5 star scale. I didn't like it at all, but I do appreciate what it's saying. I'm glad I read it, though it was anything but enjoyable.  

Joseph K. is told there is a court case against him but he is not told what the charges are, what law he has broken. Every effort to find out is futile. He talks to a few people who give him long-winded advice on the best course of action to follow, then tell him their advice will be of no help. They explain that they are merely lower officials of the court and they have no access to higher courts. K will also be denied access to the courts that judge his case and decide his fate. He has no rights. The Courts system is impenetrable, the law infallible.  

Questions go unanswered, but by the time I got to the end I didn't care. I didn't want the answers, I just wanted to get out of the suffocating atmosphere of pretense and contradictions, the madness that is the bureaucracy of a totalitarian government. K's hopes, and the reader's, in the beginning are soon worn down by relentless and senseless explanations that show no path forward or backward. It becomes horrifyingly apparent that there is no way out, there will be no way out, and yet the frail hope that common sense must surely prevail, and help come, survives until the last breath of life itself is given up. Painful to read, unnerving to contemplate.

The Queen's Secret by Karen Harper

Poor writing, repetitive, and sensationalized, with characters that would more accurately be described as caricatures. The dialogue feels contrived, almost theatrical. I wanted to like, or at least respect, the main character but she made herself preposterous with her bragging and repeatedly turning our attention back to her personal concerns from lesser matters like war and human suffering. The Queen, and she never lets you forget she is the Queen, has not just one but several secrets, and she never lets you forget those either. In every chapter she reminds us all about them and wonders endlessly if the King or the Prime Minister or somebody, anybody knows. It was awful. 


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