This one was fun, guys. The writing style and light yet dark feeling to "Teen Spirit" left me with the feeling I first felt when I picked up the "DangThis one was fun, guys. The writing style and light yet dark feeling to "Teen Spirit" left me with the feeling I first felt when I picked up the "Dangerous Angels/Weetzie Bat series" omnibus when I was 12. I fell in love - though it's not to say I never fell out of love with my mentor's writing style. "Teen Spirit" is very similar to "Weetzie" in that sense of light reading, yet heavier (and in this book), somewhat darker content for the reader adjusted for easy digestion. I think a lot of "Weetzie" fans dissatisfied with recent efforts might really like this one. Regardless of where you stand, Block's newest effort is gorgeous, haunting (no pun intended), and will leave you with a sense of utter peace once you turn that last page.
It never fails to amaze me how much better my mentor gets with each book she releases. Seriously. I'm feeling stupid for putting off (though there werIt never fails to amaze me how much better my mentor gets with each book she releases. Seriously. I'm feeling stupid for putting off (though there were circumstances, to my credit) reading this for so long, and I finished it in one sitting. Blending her trademark lyrical magical realism style along with a post-apocalyptic setting and a semi-retelling of "The Odyssey", "Love in the Time of Global Warming" is a wonderful book that makes one fight to survive, and to evolve - yet not lose one's heart doing it. I can't recommend this one enough, guys - and yeah, I'm slightly biased because this is my mentor we're talking about, but at the same time, it's definitely one of the best of 2013.
Once again, what was very sneakily (and yet masterfully) done by Block was her way to incorporate her own real life issues (google "save the faerie cottage" while you're reading the beginning of the book and the talk of foreclosures) and at the same time make this prose emotionally accessible to all. If you're an American, you know someone who's lost a house, almost lost a house, or suffered in some major way since the start of the Great Recession. This book makes that topic accessible to the YA crowd that's within the marketable age range of the readership, and makes it understandable to all. In "Elementals", it was the topic of her mother's fight (and defeat) with cancer. In "Global Warming", it's the topic of the battle of the banks, which gets mentioned numerous times. I was in her classes during both periods of writing, and I had no idea both were going into both books. So it feels like all of that stress, though painful, really pushed Francesca to grow, to conquer, and like our heroine Pen, not to lose her heart or her power to love while doing it.
That being said, Pen is definitely a sympathetic heroine. Sensitive, sexually confused, devastated by the loss of her family, friends, and of her beloved city of Los Angeles (quite possibly the entire country or even the world) to the Earth Shaker, Pen takes quite a few hits, both emotionally and physically in this book. While not as quite as aggressive as Odysseus in "The Odyssey", Pen learns to fight, and she learns how to be a real person again in the face of Kronen's terrible Giants in this wasteland (and all of the land on the path to Las Vegas). What I loved the most about Pen was her fear - her fear of becoming a Giant, of losing herself completely, of losing her new friends/lover completely, of losing her humanity, and of not being able to find her family alive. Though on her journey throughout this book, like "Odyssey", it's one big character development arc for the entire main cast, including Kronen, our biggest antagonist. You see the most development in Pen, though the rest of the main cast does develop a fair amount before our eyes, and that's quite satisfying. The fear kept Pen on her toes, and while that can get tiring (fight or flight responses require a huge amount of energy), the emotional payoff? Absolutely brilliant.
The sensory language is of the caliber I've come to expect from Block is still on par with everything I've read from her so far - and if anything, because of this strange new post-apocalyptic landscape, is more heightened than ever. We have double worldbuilding going on - internally (emotionally/within memories) in our main cast, and externally (the actual setting) as well, and that's never easy to do. Block's always been able to do both, as both have almost always existed within her broader bibliography as a whole. So, FLB fans, nothing to worry about there.
If you've read more of her work, you'll notice Block's fascination with Giants, mythology, magical realism has reached its height in this semi-retelling of "The Odyssey". In her other books, she's related Giants with fear and anxiety (usually about body image - though in this book there really are giants), of sugary foods as possibly poisonous (in this book they really are poison), and of ecological destruction as a place where we can't come back (that, I can't spoil for you - you'll have to read it for yourself in this book). All of that culminates explosively in this book, and it'll be interesting to see if she continues her pattern of musing on these various repeating subjects in future books. I hope she does.
Final verdict? Definitely one of my faves of 2013, "Love in the Time of Global Warming" kicked me in the feels, let me catch my breath, and then kicked me in the feels again. And it's never heart so good. "Global Warming" is out today from Henry Holt/Macmillan Children's in North America, so definitely be sure to check it out when you get the chance!
(posted to goodreads, shelfari, librarything, and birthofanewwitch.wordpress.com)...more
I might be a little biased, as the first five "Weetzie Bat" books (when first published as the omnibus "Dangerous Angels" in 1996) literally changed hI might be a little biased, as the first five "Weetzie Bat" books (when first published as the omnibus "Dangerous Angels" in 1996) literally changed how I saw the world through writing when I was 12 years old, but this is a glorious and wonderful conclusion to the "Weetzie" series. I was lucky enough to get an advance copy from the author herself, and to participate in one portion of the book, making me feel apart of something larger than myself for the first time within the world of books.
Bias aside, "Pink Smog" is not a long read, but it's a very tightened, almost sparely-written tale of how Louise Bat becomes the girl we know and love in the rest of the books. Yet at the same time, it's still full of the magical realism that's come to dictate Block's style all of these years later after the first book was published in 1989. Make no mistake - "Pink Smog" may be a prequel, but it's a book you cannot miss in 2012.
Even if you're new to the "Weetzie" canon, Block starts "Pink Smog" by constructing the 13-year-old Weetzie's character almost, it feels, from scratch. This is the first time we've seen and interacted fully with this version of Weetzie, as opposed to the mid-to-late teen and 20's version, and in a "Necklace of Kisses", near middle aged version. This Weetzie is still soft in places where in the later books she's become hardened by her experiences with the world and her parents' divorce, and here we're only experiencing the beginning twinges of this divorce with her for the first time.
We're also experiencing her entrance into the teenage years, with mean girls and social outcast best friends, an empty place where her father used to be and magical trips into the most wonderful parts of Los Angeles. Block builds a wonderful foundation for Weetzie all over again, leaving no stone unturned yet at the same time, as previously said, her prose almost feels sparse. This is probably because we've seen so much action in the rest of the Weetzie books that there's very little else to say that we don't already know with six other books out. But this sparse style is awesome. If anything, it just made me even hungrier to read about how Louise became Weetzie, with all of the pain and love and magic that she experienced to kick her transformation into high gear. It leaves so much room to fully take in her scavenger hunt that a certain genie gives her, along with a witch that moves in next door, and a boy that may or may not be angelic that becomes a good friend. And that's not even when she's in school. Weetzie is trying to not only find her father but herself, making her the more secure teenage Weetzie we meet in the first book later at age 15-16.
This is the perfect book to introduce a new generation of YA readers to Weetzie because she's in the process of trying to find herself, like all the other YA readers out there, whether they're in their teens or already adults. All of the opposites that attracted me to the original books in the first place are still intact in this prequel. Down is up, ugly is beautiful, dirty is clean, mean is kind, and quiet is loud. The "Weetzie" series has always been about finding yourself, and I'm happy to say that this final book really tops off the other six books that echo that message.
As for my own participation in the making of this book, I found it rather pleasantly there in the last part of the book. I didn't expect it to be there, as Francesca herself was mysterious about where the real experience was going in the several books she was working on at the time, but there it was. I won't reveal what happens or how I participated here (that will later be revealed in a separate entry on the blog), but get ready for a happy tear-jerker ending that foreshadows the rest of the books.
Oh, and seeing 1970's Los Angeles/places that are now gone there again in text didn't hurt, either.
As "Weetzie" helped build me up during a rather difficult adolescence, even now in my late 20s, I felt the cushion that is this series buoy me up once more. So thank you, Francesca, for writing this final book. If you love magical realism, or if you love books about finding yourself, or if you're in the midst of trying finding yourself, this is the book for you. Every girl should read the "Weetzie" series, but especially "Pink Smog"; the younger, the better, before all of the self-hate that current Western culture quietly encourages takes hold. This will help you believe that you are good enough, you are worth it, and yes, it does get better.
(posted to goodreads, shelfari, librarything, and witchoftheatregoing.wordpress.com)...more
Note: This book is actually a compendium of the previously published "Psyche in a Dress", "Echo", and "The Rose and the Beast".
That said, reading thesNote: This book is actually a compendium of the previously published "Psyche in a Dress", "Echo", and "The Rose and the Beast".
That said, reading these books again is just as magical as the first time I read them. This compendium, if you don't already own the original three, is a wonderful bargain and a great intro into Francesca's work. Can't wait for the next book!...more
This book is one of Francesca's best so far. With werewolves (and now, angels/demons/faeries) becoming the new vampire in the YA genre, so far nothingThis book is one of Francesca's best so far. With werewolves (and now, angels/demons/faeries) becoming the new vampire in the YA genre, so far nothing has been so moving and so well-written as "The Frenzy". I related to this book in so many ways that it took my breath away. The idea of the werewolf being brought out in a girl because of her anger and fear over becoming a woman (a horrid term, but it has to be used here), hasn't really been presented in the werewolf lit out there so far. And it works. It works so well that I didn't stop crying throughout a lot of the book because I remember how I felt for so long just like the main character.
While "Pretty Dead" was gorgeously written and very moving, I related to "The Frenzy" on the deepest level because it resonated with my own teenage experience. And even now, six years after leaving my teens, it still makes me remember the anger and the fear and the violence within me.
As always, thank you for writing, Miss Block. Thank you for giving this wonderful gift to all of the teenage (and no longer teenage) girls out there....more