Becky Albertalli is just the best -- THE BEST -- at writing authentic teenage voices. I think it's because she understands technology, and how it inteBecky Albertalli is just the best -- THE BEST -- at writing authentic teenage voices. I think it's because she understands technology, and how it intersects with modern life, better than pretty much any other YA author. Also she's hilarious.
The Upside of Unrequited was slightly -- like, the tiniest fractional amount -- less enjoyable for me than the superlative Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, but I am about 99.9% sure that's because the subject matter was so much closer to me: close enough to be painful at times. Molly is insecure and feels unloveable; I'm still struggling with some of her issues now, as a supposed adult! (We're even on the same anti-depressant! High five, Molly!) But Albertalli writes her emotional ups and downs with such subtlety and skill: this book feels real, but never too heavy; it's not an unrelenting angstfest. Molly's story is a little bit of a fantasy, but an utterly relatable one -- I would say that it verges on inspirational. (I should just ask out the boy I like!!!) That sounds treacly, though, and this book is anything but. It's pretty much the platonic ideal of contemporary YA.
Love the casual diversity that still acknowledges differences and difficulties. Love the preponderance of happy queer endings. Love the cameos from Simon, Abby, and Nick. Requited or unrequited, just: love....more
"Mature" is not a word one would usually apply to Lydia Bennet, but this was a surprisingly mature and imaginative take on Lydia's part of Pride and P"Mature" is not a word one would usually apply to Lydia Bennet, but this was a surprisingly mature and imaginative take on Lydia's part of Pride and Prejudice. That Farrant manages to accomplish this while staying true to the original story and creating her own lively, engaging narrative voice is truly impressive -- I picked this up while ordering, intending to do my due diligence by reading a few pages, and found I couldn't stop. Farrant finds depth in Lydia while still acknowledging her childishness and silliness. It helps to be a modern reader, aware that Lydia is a teenage girl who's likely extremely bored, but I don't think Farrant hammers in that point, or any other, too harshly. This book doesn't exactly provide Lydia with the happy ending one might want, nor does it (view spoiler)[fully redeem Wickham, much to my relief -- I'm not sure there would be a way to do that without going deeply OOC or soppy (hide spoiler)]. But this is a more positive spin on her fate, and her character. Plus: it's fun....more
Reminiscent of one of my favorite books, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks (right down to the coincidence of the main characters havingReminiscent of one of my favorite books, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks (right down to the coincidence of the main characters having the same first name!), but not nearly as good -- at least not for me. I loved all the female friendships, but I didn't find the romance convincing at all, and for whatever reason the familial relationships didn't quite ring true to me either. A parent's depression is a worthy topic for a young adult book, but something about the way it was handled here seemed too simplistic to me -- Mia's work is amazingly understanding and she doesn't get fired even though she doesn't go in for months; there's an "explanation" for the depression instead of it just being, you know, depression. And so forth. Also this book felt weirdly dated: I would have sworn it was written in the '90s, not in 2003, because Francesca's friends' references were all to '90s movies, music, and TV and there's rarely even mention of a computer. Maybe the '90s only reached Australia in the early aughts? (I grew up in Vermont, where for much of the '90s it was still the '80s, so I sympathize.)
Still: female friendships! I can't be too mad at a book that's delivering so well in that department....more
My catalogue copy called this "An LGBT twist on Taylor Swift's 'You Belong With Me,'" and that's very consciously exactly what this is -- down to theMy catalogue copy called this "An LGBT twist on Taylor Swift's 'You Belong With Me,'" and that's very consciously exactly what this is -- down to the lyric reference of the title. It's gently funny and very cute, and Hall does a good job balancing the characters' POVs (including the cheer captain/soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend of one of the guys), making their motivations understandable and worthy of sympathy, even when they mess up. (A wholesome message for teens!) Nothing here is that groundbreaking or remarkable -- except, I guess, the very fact that it's an LGBT twist on Taylor Swift's 'You Belong With Me.' Pretty sweet....more
Spontaneous is a perfect storm of a wild, outrageous, horrifically compelling concept (a plague of spontaneous human combustion starts moving throughSpontaneous is a perfect storm of a wild, outrageous, horrifically compelling concept (a plague of spontaneous human combustion starts moving through the senior class of a New Jersey high school) and an insanely compelling narrator who grabs you by the heart (/throat/balls as you see fit) from page one and never lets go. This is the book I wish Grasshopper Jungle had been, but wasn't; it's the feminist rebuttal to that book, a tribute to female friendship. It's also completely unlike anything else I've read: frightening and fresh and surprisingly deep. I rushed through it because I couldn't put it down, but I'm going to need to sit with it -- mentally, emotionally -- for quite a while.
Then I'm going to go back and read everything Aaron Starmer has ever written, because damn, son....more
Picture Home Alone but in the woods, and instead of Kevin trying to stop criminals from burglarizing his house, he's trying to destroy some innocent dPicture Home Alone but in the woods, and instead of Kevin trying to stop criminals from burglarizing his house, he's trying to destroy some innocent dude simply for having the temerity to consensually bone his mom.
This kid and his friend are basically psychopaths.
This book is also remarkable for its commitment to the Nerdy Pixie Dream Girl fantasy. Here's her stunning debut:
I whip around and come face to face with one of the cutest girls I have ever seen in my life. She's got geek-chic black specs, has a blunt-cut hairdo, and is wearing a skintight Himura Kenshin T-shirt.
It's as if someone plucked the perfect girl from my mind and plopped her down in front of me. The kind of girl you dream about running into at Comic-Con.
The kind of girl who makes glasses look hot.
The kind of girl who will talk to you for hours about Hayao Miyazaki's films, and Fullmetal Alchemist, and the influence that medieval history has on Game of Thrones.
Ooh. Let me see if I can grasp what you're telling me -- is it that she's not like other girls?
If you love timeless gags like slipping laxatives into someone's food to give them explosive diarrhea, the classic "wiping with poison ivy" trope, at least three instances of riotous vomiting, a character spraying urine into another character's mouth, pages-long descriptions of farting into a sleeping bag, and the state of having an erection described as "wielding the Odinsword," then you'll love this book!...more