I've been trying to expand my reading habits of late and have wanted to get more familiar with teen literature. After being disappointed (and bored) bI've been trying to expand my reading habits of late and have wanted to get more familiar with teen literature. After being disappointed (and bored) by Nick Hornby's Slam, this was a treat. There was an honesty in both the writing and the story itself that I felt was missing from Slam and is oh so very present here.
Alexie and illustrator Forney have created a wonderful and perfectly realized teenage hero in Junior/Arnold. His voice is honest and never feels forced, his problems are believable and easy to relate to, and his perspective on those problems is intellectually true and emotionally involving. I loved reading this book so much that, even though I am supposedly working on finals right now, I still managed to finish this in 3 sittings over a span of less than 24 hours and, yeah, it made me cry a bit. Since I have developed a bit of an interest in possibly being a teen librarian, it's nice to know that I now have at least one book that I can suggest to any teen... and probably anybody else....more
Enjoyable read with a great voice and very dark. People have compared this to Brave New World, which I can definitely see, but I liken it more to A CEnjoyable read with a great voice and very dark. People have compared this to Brave New World, which I can definitely see, but I liken it more to A Clockwork Orange. It has a completely believable made-up vernacular, the same urgency in the story that it's telling, and ultimately says more about us than it does about society. It asks, at what point do we stop being human? I think the message of A Clockwork Orange might be more hopeful than this. Pulls you in fast and builds the emotional stakes subtly and convincingly. The author is both the head of a college department for children's writing and an experimental fiction collective....more
This was a fun and fast read. Although it concerns a subject that I have little interest in (fashion), this teen novel was full of enough satire to reThis was a fun and fast read. Although it concerns a subject that I have little interest in (fashion), this teen novel was full of enough satire to really keep me hooked. Definitely want to check out more by this guy....more
I was really gripped by this book. I didn't know much about it going in, just that a bunch of people in Book Lust had read it and seemed to like it. II was really gripped by this book. I didn't know much about it going in, just that a bunch of people in Book Lust had read it and seemed to like it. I can definitely see how going into it knowing the premise would blunt the impact, but not knowing allows the to mystery unfold slowly and in a way that I found intriguing.
Others have complained about the voice and the somewhat simplistic worldview of the characters, but I think that the way the story is told does a good job of reflecting the situation of the characters, so we learn about their world at the same pace that they do. The three main characters were kind of shallow and immature but again, you have to look at them and their relationship in terms of the world they exist in and what is valued in their environment. Overall I enjoyed this book a lot, and think that it would be good for adults and teens alike....more
Upset about his parents’ recent separation, 16-year old Alex downs a bottle of vodka and steals his mom’s car with the intent of driving to his dad’sUpset about his parents’ recent separation, 16-year old Alex downs a bottle of vodka and steals his mom’s car with the intent of driving to his dad’s house and telling him off. Instead he crashes the car, decapitating his neighbor’s lawn gnome. As punishment, Alex is sentenced to community service at the senior center where he meets Solomon Lewis, a cantankerous old Yiddish man. The two hate each other, but find a bond in their shared love of jazz and develop an unlikely friendship.
This book has a strong and honest voice, deftly balancing humor and sentiment (the chapters describing Alex’s ill-fated joy-ride are particularly hilarious). This balance makes the inevitable Big Life Lessons that Alex and Solomon learn from each other both charming and believable. Sonnenblick was obviously a band geek, and the tidbits of jazz history and the descriptions of the joy of playing music will appeal to music fans. Though lacking focus and dramatic tension, Midnight Driver is a pleasant and fast read, with something big to say about friendship and responsibility....more
Read this one in a single morning. I thought Tyler was a really interesting and compelling narrator, put in a situation that would have been impossiblRead this one in a single morning. I thought Tyler was a really interesting and compelling narrator, put in a situation that would have been impossibly contrived if it didn't make so much sense.
All of the descriptions of this book that I've seen are pretty vague about what the thrust of this one is, and with fair reason -- the Big Event that gets things moving happens about half-way through the book and is very dependent on what comes before. Put simply, the nerdy main character is accused of sexually assaulting the pretty and popular girl who has suddenly taken an interest in him. Most of the town is believes it was him because of a prank he pulled earlier in the year which landed him in probation.
I liked the way that the book dealt with Tyler's scapegoating by the school, and I liked the way that it dealt very frankly with 17-year old Tyler's fascination with sex. Having a character, particularly a teenage boy, who is dealing with sexual urges is tricky with the constant threat of veering either into moralizing or misogyny. In Twisted, Laurie Halse Anderson manages to address burgeoning sexuality and all its associated emotional and social uncertainties honestly while keeping Tyler likable, moral, and grounded. The same goes for the frank way the book confronts Tyler's anger and suicidal thoughts. All-in-all, this was an engaging, gripping, and emotional read....more
Award-Winning author Walter Dean Myers offers a multi-faceted view of urban life in this collection of ten loosely-connected stories, all of which takAward-Winning author Walter Dean Myers offers a multi-faceted view of urban life in this collection of ten loosely-connected stories, all of which take place in Harlem. These stories are very short but feel lived-in and complete, and Myers writes convincingly from many perspectives and in many different voices. Though slang is sprinkled throughout the book, it is neither distracting nor offensive and helps create believable and sympathetic characters in a fairly brief amount of space, bringing the culture and concerns of a predominantly African-American community to rich life.
While roughly half of the stories here feature some sort of violence, that violence is not what Myers is interested in. Rather, he wants to show us how individuals find the strength to respond to the violence in their lives, and how community serves as a source for that strength. There are intense moments, but Myers leavens his stories with nobility, humanity, and humor. Recommended for reluctant readers, burgeoning writers, and anyone who needs a reminder about what it takes to do the right thing. ...more
The Fire-Raiser is a thriller about an arsonist terrorizing a small town in New Zealand during the opening days of World War One, and the group of pluThe Fire-Raiser is a thriller about an arsonist terrorizing a small town in New Zealand during the opening days of World War One, and the group of plucky teens who aim to expose him. Though well-written and full of beautiful sentences, this story tries to do many disparate things, failing to do any of them well. The exotic setting of the book never feels alive; the mystery of who the Fire-Raiser is and where he will strike next fails to create tension; the four main characters feel interchangeable despite the painfully deliberate differences in their socio-economic backgrounds.
Gee does deliver some interesting and timely commentary on the effects of war-time jingoism and prejudice on communities, drawing a chilling parallel between the senseless violence of the Fire-Raiser and that of the angry mob that descends on a kindly German piano teacher’s home during a climactic scene. However, the rest of this slim but over-stuffed novel falls short of its grandiose ambitions. ...more
A really hit and miss book, with some terrific ideas and terrible plotting.
The main character, Matt, is a clone of the world's biggest drug kingpin, tA really hit and miss book, with some terrific ideas and terrible plotting.
The main character, Matt, is a clone of the world's biggest drug kingpin, the 140+ year-old El Patron. Matt lives in El Patron's sprawling estate and is hated by most of the residents there, aside from his care-taker Celia and El Patron himself, who is raising Matt for his own sinister reasons. Soon, these reasons are revealed and Matt's only hope is to escape.
This felt like it should have been at least twice as long. The author, Nancy Farmer has developed an intriguing world, extrapolating from the US and Mexico's current problems with drugs, illegal immigration, and pollution, and also addresses ethical and legal issues around cloning. However, as compelling as this world is, it never feels real or adequately developed, and she has a ridiculous habit of explaining important aspects of how the world she has created operates at just the time they become pertinent to the plot. The characters are a mixed bag as well: they're likable and believable except when they're not, and turn from fully-realized creations to cardboard cut-outs whenever they have to do something that advances the story.
This isn't to say that I didn't like the book, necessarily. It was a great coming of age story, and I think that young teenagers will really enjoy the characters and the action. This book also won a whole mess of awards, which admittedly may color my reaction to it. I just wish that more time had been spent developing the characters, the world, and the mess of ideas that were introduced....more
This was amazing. It started a bit slow and the language is intentionally flowery to replicate the Revolutionary-period voice, so it took me awhile toThis was amazing. It started a bit slow and the language is intentionally flowery to replicate the Revolutionary-period voice, so it took me awhile to get into. Once I did, though, I found this to be astonishing, gripping, and thought-provoking....more