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
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
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
It was due back at the library, and after having renewed it once, I just didn't feel like it was worth it. I think I got turned off when I realized thIt was due back at the library, and after having renewed it once, I just didn't feel like it was worth it. I think I got turned off when I realized that it was by the same author as My Abandonment (which was disturbing) and not only that, but it uses some of the same plot elements, storylines, characters... Huh? Are you allowed to do that if it's not a sequel? Anyway, it's probably good, but wasn't what was calling me....more
Fast paced adventure novel set on a far away moon. Perfect for what I wanted - strong female protagonist, action with limited violence (it's there, buFast paced adventure novel set on a far away moon. Perfect for what I wanted - strong female protagonist, action with limited violence (it's there, but not egregiously gory) and a message. Adequate world building that left me with a few questions (food?) but not too many to let them go.
I had a really hard time understanding who the red crescent people were and their role as a third species (or were they human?) and this led me to want to give this three stars instead of four. But I liked the rest of it enough to round up. :) If you are a stickler for that kind of thing, be forewarned (or read closer than I did?).
If you are an adult and you liked this but wanted more exploration of the themes of colonization and messing with established themes, you might like The Sparrow. ...more
I appreciated learning more about this time from the perspective of a young person. This book would go well alongside Lies We Tell Ourselves which isI appreciated learning more about this time from the perspective of a young person. This book would go well alongside Lies We Tell Ourselves which is also about the same time period and from the perspective of the Little Rock Nine. I especially liked the theme of finding your voice. Although I'm no expert in this time period, it sounded realistic, and the choices the characters had to make felt realistic too. Realistic, tough, and nuanced....more
A complicated book requires an engaged and thoughtful reader. If this book could review me, I think it would also only give me three stars. Tran doesA complicated book requires an engaged and thoughtful reader. If this book could review me, I think it would also only give me three stars. Tran does a great job conveying emotion, especially feelings of loss, confusion, and the tricky to explain sadness specific to parents of first-generation Americans.
I had a particularly hard time keeping track in the beginning of who belonged to which family and which storyline I was following. I think that was mostly my fault (and once I noticed the family portraits inside the front and back covers, I had a cheat sheet), but perhaps he could have done a better job with colors or something. He did make it easier by using different fonts for different people's speech, which I appreciated.
Beyond craft, the story itself was interesting to get a feel for Vietnam's history. Having been occupied so many times, it reminded me of Afghanistan and the troubles they have had over the past 100 years with that. I wonder - if Vietnam came out of it whole again, is there a chance for Afghanistan? I'd love to see a story like this come out of there....more