The good parts were the suspense (Did he do it?) and the mystery of Ethan "seeing" physics. It felt a little like the good parts of a Jodi Picoult novThe good parts were the suspense (Did he do it?) and the mystery of Ethan "seeing" physics. It felt a little like the good parts of a Jodi Picoult novel - all family drama and inner turmoil and ethical yet practical choices - without the bullsh*t endings (aka: kill off the main character and everyone goes back to their lives). Ethan felt pleasantly realistic, too.
I was less keen on all the physics talk, which seemed either like "ok, here's physics 101, get out your notebooks" or "gravity is like love! pulling us together!" (a physics metaphor for every season!). That seems like a dumb thing to say since physics is, like, the point of the book. Except... it's not. It's a unifying theme. So maybe try to work something else in there, or spread it out or something.
Anyway, it was a good enough read for distraction purposes. Maybe I just don't like adult fiction as well as YA, LOL....more
Teenagers have a lot going on, don't they? Some good themes in here about how our bodies come to define our sense of who we are during this critical tTeenagers have a lot going on, don't they? Some good themes in here about how our bodies come to define our sense of who we are during this critical time; what is friendship, safety, or love; how loss shapes our view of the world. Spangler pulls off most of these. I felt the book kept pretty consistent to the script of how teens process these things. So in that way, it's not groundbreaking.
What pushed it to four stars instead of three was of course the topic - I'm a sucker for LGBTQ storylines - and using a different type of body dysphoria to compare and contrast with the trans narrative. I've often tried to explain dysphoria in a more broad sense - we all have something we don't like about our bodies that we can't change, but for some people it's more than just dislike, it's deeply traumatic.
I thought Spangler also did a good job taking on and challenging the idea of safety for trans people, and how possibly in talking about how unsafe they are all the time (to them) might be reinforcing both the idea they should stay hidden and also that there is some acceptability to violence against them. (I'm not explaining that well - read the book instead!)...more
The premise is right up my alley, but I couldn't stand the lack of character development, world building, plot, or basically anything before the authoThe premise is right up my alley, but I couldn't stand the lack of character development, world building, plot, or basically anything before the author jumps right into the action scenes. There was a lot of shouting, action, intrigue and fast paced reveals... but I was like, wait, why? I skipped to the end and was like, yeah, that's what I figured probably happened. (Saved me a couple hours.)
I'll give the book the benefit of the doubt - with the large print, it's probably targeted at 12 year old boys for whom the action is the main point. It's all about getting the right reader....more
Anderson does a great job of bringing history to life with engaging characters, especially Isabel who thinks deeply about what is going on around her.Anderson does a great job of bringing history to life with engaging characters, especially Isabel who thinks deeply about what is going on around her. It had been a while since I read books #1 and #2, and I was nervous at first about being able to remember what happened before, but Anderson gives enough gentle reminders to bring me up to speed, and the novel stands on its own merits. A solid ending to a solid trilogy....more
Both the book itself and the reader were excellent. I loved how the kids' personalities came out, and how "Mrs. Pointy" was a little like Mary PoppinsBoth the book itself and the reader were excellent. I loved how the kids' personalities came out, and how "Mrs. Pointy" was a little like Mary Poppins in how she transformed their experiences of education and their understandings of themselves over the course of the school year.
I may have fallen asleep at the very end... whoops. Not because it was boring though, I was just tired!...more
I'm not sure if sharing the "secret" is a spoiler or not if I guessed it right at the beginning. I won't say it straight up, but I'll give you clues.I'm not sure if sharing the "secret" is a spoiler or not if I guessed it right at the beginning. I won't say it straight up, but I'll give you clues. This question of who can be considered human is played out in this book in much the same way as in both Unwind and Never Let Me Go. However, YA novels often focus on plot and adventure to the detriment of digging deep on the questions they purport to raise. This author definitely went this direction, leaving the ending weak and full of "yeah right" moments. The last ten pages, especially.
Ishiguro takes the other tack of coming at the issue from the side, which makes for a much better book, imho. It seems silly to compare the two when they are intended for two different audiences... though that begs the question: are we dumbing down our teens, or are they just not ready for thoughtfulness? At least we aren't *actually* stealing their brains. (Whoops, spoiler there.) Oh, and all the "romance" was terrible. They were about to be killed, and she's mooning over his lips?! It would have been a stronger adventure novel without this, and if it was supposed to attract horny teens, there was not enough "romance". Shusterman toes this line much better (although I haven't been able to go back to his books due to how disturbed I was by the first one)....more
This fit in well with the social work class on Grief and Loss I was taking when I read it. Plus, I work in a hospital part time, so that was interestiThis fit in well with the social work class on Grief and Loss I was taking when I read it. Plus, I work in a hospital part time, so that was interesting to compare the setting with what I think could actually happen at a hospital. It was definitely a unique plot and crafting of story. Plenty of mystery - even though you can guess at what's coming next, I didn't feel like I knew what would happen until it did.
A few downsides... Some of the characters seemed one dimensional, or canned. The ideas of stages of grief didn't really pan out. It was, at times, over the top. The comic book was useful, but I don't know that I needed to see it. Maybe I'm thinking about it wrong, and the whole thing needed to be a comic book (like at the end). Maybe that would have made me think about it more positively in retrospect. Or maybe I'm just fickle....more
Some things can be said plain, in words we know. Other things can best be understood through metaphor, seen sideways. This is where magical realism doSome things can be said plain, in words we know. Other things can best be understood through metaphor, seen sideways. This is where magical realism does its best work - in the places that are real in our hearts and minds, but which we can't tap into through our everyday reality. I am gradually coming to appreciate this, and found McLemore's novel to highlight how a skilled author can use it. Tackling the issue of gender identity in this way felt more akin to Virginia Woolf's Orlando than most modern novels.
There were many lines that caught at my heartstrings. "The truth slid over her skin, that if she loved him, sometimes it would mean doing nothing. It would mean being still. It would mean saying nothing, but standing close enough so he would know she was there, that she was staying." p. 177 McLemore also tackles trauma and the effect of family secrets in a careful and measured way that allows the possibility of growth and deep healing, which I appreciated.
There were other times when the dialogue just didn't match the descriptive phrases and careful calculation between revealing and hiding. Those parts felt like every other teen novel where the boy and girl can't seem to get on the same page - frustrating and out of place. That was the reason this fell to 4 stars. I'm not sure if that was intentional or McLemore just isn't awesome at dialogue, but either way, those parts were disappointing.
Overall, one I will recommend, assuming I can find other readers who will appreciate it....more
Geen does an astounding job getting her protagonist into the minds (and bodies) of creatures large and small, and teasing out the implications of inhaGeen does an astounding job getting her protagonist into the minds (and bodies) of creatures large and small, and teasing out the implications of inhabiting creatures that our minds can't imagine. The story is compelling, and despite being about animals, it's really about people, and who we are as a species. It's a kind of coming-of-age as 20-somethings today face it, in an ever complex world.
I'm no tech person, so maybe they would quibble with Geen's science, but every time I stepped back and thought, "but wait, what about...?" within the next few pages she would answer that question. To me, that's the best science fiction - go deep enough to answer the layman's questions, but vague enough the techies can't argue you got it wrong.
So why not five stars? Maybe I'm so used to books spelling things out that I failed to appreciate Geen's simply implying the connection between Kit's mother being trapped in her body and the availability of substitute bodies. I felt that there was a whole other world of possibilities that her ableism completely overlooked. Then again, maybe that would have been too much to cram in... or there's the opportunity for a sequel....more
I really like thinking hard. I like reading a thing and not quite knowing what it means, but feeling like maybe I get it. So then I read it again, cheI really like thinking hard. I like reading a thing and not quite knowing what it means, but feeling like maybe I get it. So then I read it again, chew on it, come closer to understanding. Read it again. Eventually feel like I am close enough to what an author meant to move on. To share an understanding that words are never the thing itself, but an approximation of a thing, feeling, experience.
There was quite a lot of that in this book. As much as I like that, I've also got to have some smooth parts where things flow. This was borderline on that front. If it wasn't for all the bits that resonated with my own life (genderqueer relationship, step-parenting, navel gazing, etc.) and the stellar recommendation I got from a coworker I respect, I might have given up. Luckily the last quarter of the book sped by and made up for the two weeks of wrestling through everything prior to that.
What is this book? It has aspects of memoir, literature review, feminist critique, ivory tower navel-gazing, parenting magazine, and LGBTQ+ political manifesto. And yet it is none of these things at all. It's a book. It's words that seek to encompass meaning. It's not going to appeal to everyone, but it is /for/ everyone....more
I don't feel like I'm allowed to write a review because I went in not wanting to read this book. I was determined not to like it (and things are too hI don't feel like I'm allowed to write a review because I went in not wanting to read this book. I was determined not to like it (and things are too hard right now to get emotionally invested in something upsetting), so I sped-read through it in a matter of about four hours. I thought I *should* read it, because, see, I have this thing for books about kids with cancer, but... it's for 12 year olds. And as much as I want to enjoy tween/middle-grade books, I really ought to stick to teen/YA. Everything was too obviously spelled out to hook me or get me emotionally invested. I knew that going in, which is why I should have either waited to read this book or not read it at all, and why it might have been a self-fulfilling prophecy.
As my friend Mike would say... your mileage may vary....more
This book had enough nuance that it wasn't just another story about the civil war. I thought Samuel's conversations with the plantation owner's son weThis book had enough nuance that it wasn't just another story about the civil war. I thought Samuel's conversations with the plantation owner's son were interesting philosophically speaking. I also found Samuel's dedication to his faith even in the face of everything he'd gone through (especially juxtaposed with his brother) was both challenging to (some) modern readers and yet believable. There wasn't anything that I said "yeah right" to, and it kept my attention steadily without being flashy. The section near the end after working for the undertaker (trying not to create a spoiler here) was definitely a surprise, and I wasn't exactly sure why the author put that in, but I found the reason the solder gave for saving him to be touching and thoughtful.
This is a terrible review, but a great book. ;-) ...more
I just... couldn't keep going. There were funny bits, and I guess insightful, depending on who you are. But so angry, so hopeless, so jaded. Working iI just... couldn't keep going. There were funny bits, and I guess insightful, depending on who you are. But so angry, so hopeless, so jaded. Working in the midst of people who have struggled against the system and are kept down made me wonder, why would I read about #firstworldproblems? So I stopped. Maybe I can return someday. Or maybe if I'd just plowed through it would have gotten redeeming......more
This is one of those books that I walked up to the "quick picks" shelf at the library and said, "ok universe, impress me." Actually, it was more like,This is one of those books that I walked up to the "quick picks" shelf at the library and said, "ok universe, impress me." Actually, it was more like, "hey universe, I haven't read any fiction since Christmas due to all this grad school you've been cramming down my throat - you better knock my socks off or I'm gonna come find you and you won't like it!"
Whoo boy. Socks officially off.
So... this isn't my kind of novel. I tend to shy away from things that are too magical realism. Also, hipsters irritate me. This was the most magically hipster book, and for whatever reason, it totally worked. I couldn't wait to see what happened. I could feel their pain and angst. I understood the feeling that there was no good answer. It worked. (And there was a genderqueer person! Extra rad awesomeness points.)
BUT... This book may not work for you. You may have been reading plenty of fiction that makes you quite happy. It could be like when you come off a long backpacking trip and bite into your favorite food and it is THE. BEST. EVER. because you can't stand another bite of trail mix and summer sausage, but really it's just food. (Which is why I gave it four stars instead of five. Grain of salt and all that.) But if you are an adventurous reader, willing to take a risk, I think you'll find it worth the time and trouble.
Charlie Jane Anders, will you be my friend? And tell me more stories? I hope so. Because I think you (and your writing) is pretty great....more
Juxtaposed with assigned readings from the DSM-IV, this was a doozy of a book. Easy to read, but a lot to digest. Seems like a "must" for social workeJuxtaposed with assigned readings from the DSM-IV, this was a doozy of a book. Easy to read, but a lot to digest. Seems like a "must" for social workers, psychologists, and those interested in the globalization happening not just in our fast food and television, but our understanding of mental health. I had some "ah ha" moments in each of the chapters and have talked about it to a bunch of people since reading it, not just classmates....more
A must-read for any aspiring child-welfare worker. While the plot elements range from sweet to sad and upsetting (though not too much for a middle-graA must-read for any aspiring child-welfare worker. While the plot elements range from sweet to sad and upsetting (though not too much for a middle-grade reader), it's really the skillful way that Connor shows us Addison's internal thought process that is so touching. I don't think it's a spoiler to say that I almost cried when she decides she can't rely on anyone or let anyone rely on her anymore. To watch her shed the last remnants of innocence is truly heartbreaking. Luckily there was a happy ending (which is something you never hear from me, so it must be well done!)....more