Dealing with the loss of the ability to pitch as well as the onset of Alheimers for his grandfather, Peter's freshman year is full of obstacles and chDealing with the loss of the ability to pitch as well as the onset of Alheimers for his grandfather, Peter's freshman year is full of obstacles and challenges to overcome. But with a new love interest and a push to follow his grandfather's photography footsteps, Peter realizes that real life doesn't always have to be picture perfect.
This is the second book I have read by Sonnenblick, the first being "Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie," and this work follows his familiar blend of humor and heartstrings and fans of his work will enjoy this narrative. Peter's grandfather's slow deterioration is tough to read and Sonnenblick does a great job highlighting the sense of helplessness love ones experience when someone close to them suffers in this way.
Outside of this plotline though, there wasn't alot that wowed me. Peter and Angelika are a solid leading couple(even though their eventual courtship feels very predictable), but none of the other characters really stood out as anything memorable. I was also a little disappointed in the way Peter's arc involving his elbow injury and forced retirement with baseball went. While it is clear that he feels the loss, more tension seems to be drawn towards his hesitation with admitting to his best friend and catcher that he won't be playing again. AJ, the friend, just felt a little cookie-cutter best friend and I didn't understand what Peter was so scared of with telling him the truth.
Overall, Curveball is a solid read and a can't miss if you enjoyed Sonnenblick's other work or if your interested in a YA story involving photography and Alzheimer's disease. But if you are looking for something spectacular, I'm not quite sure I would say it's there to be found....more
A week after the suicide of his Hannah Baker, Clay Jensen returns home to find a shoebox in front of his house filled with tapes from his dead classmaA week after the suicide of his Hannah Baker, Clay Jensen returns home to find a shoebox in front of his house filled with tapes from his dead classmate. An explanation and conviction of the 13 people who lead her down this path, Clay must follow in Hannah's footsteps and begin to understand his role in her demise. Spoilers will be included, be forewarned.
I finished this book a week ago and am still struggling to figure out how I really feel about it. Teen suicide is not an easy top to write about, and if there's one thing that I can definitely say is that Asher's handling of the issue in this book is extremely well done. Coming off as neither heavy-handed nor overly dramatic, Hannah's story is both realistic and stingily poignant. The pages flew by in a flash and it was all over before I knew it, leaving me now with a lot to stew on, both good and bad.
There's a lot to like about this book. From all the teachers and librarians I've spoken to, this books is one that flies off the shelves and it's easy to see why. All the voices are brutally authentic and the walls that blur character and person are easy to forget. The writing feels a little jarring at first, switching line by line between Hannah's voice on the tapes and Clay's thoughts. I felt a lot of times tempted to just skip by Clay's thoughts to just stay with Hannah's, but they begin to eventually meld, especially when Clay becomes more involved in Hannah's story. The uneasiness I felt, and still feel, regarding this book is centered on Hannah. I find myself torn between these two sides. One is sympathy. As she details her 13 reasons why she decided to end her life, Asher does a good job at connecting the dots, illustrating the snowball effect rather than it feeling like 13 separate and isolated reasons. I hated what happened to her and, like Clay, I wanted to be there for her to talk to, to yell at her thinking she was alone as she felt. Even though the reader knows her ultimate fate, there is this longing to somehow change it. To save her in the end. But like life, endings aren't always happy.
But grinding against this sympathy for her is this anger surrounding her decision to kill herself and decision to make the tapes. From her first words, Hannah feels a bit too cavalier for my taste, giving off this sense of "look at what you people did to me, now it's my turn!" which, for a lot of the 13 people, is simply not fair. The true evil people, in my opinion, are far outnumbered by those whose sins against Hannah were far too light to be left with the sense of guilt these tapes create. Does Courtney really deserve the guilt because she basically just used Hannah for a ride? Does Alex deserve the hate because he made the most hot and not list? Hell, Clay literally doesn't nothing and doesn't belong on the tapes, which even Hannah admits. And there others who are included because they did things to others that were bad, but Hannah felt powerless to stop it.
Thinking about these things is where the adult portion of my brain starts to take over and makes me shake my head. In the end, Hannah was driven to suicide basically because people talk shit. Pardon the language. There are a few exceptions, like Bryce who just needs to get pummeled, and other traumatic events like a rape and vehicular manslaughter that Hannah could have prevented but didn't, but they are given the same amount of weight by Hannah as the previous mentioned shit talkers, which just doesn't seem right. And it would be one thing if this snowball just pushed her over the edge and that was that, but the creation of the tapes which equally condemns them all just doesn't seem fair when the only thing a lot of the 13 are guilt of is just being a teenager. This just doesn't make me like her as a character, which makes it harder to walk away from what happened to her without some things that don't sit right.
Then again, maybe I'm supposed to be angry with Hannah. Maybe I'm supposed to just see how even the most trivial of transgressions can really effect a person and to think twice before doing them. Maybe it's not fair, especially since it wasn't me in those situations, to insist that she could have gone to her parents or talked to Clay again or...just something other than what she did.
Nonetheless, despite these personal conflicts, I think this is an important book for teens to read. And to TALK ABOUT afterwards. The issues that teens face, even if they may appear trivial years later, can bring their worlds down and it's important to know that it's not just them. That, like Hannah, what they were feeling was something that needed to be let out and that there are people out there who will listen. Who will want to listen. Teen suicide is a tough topic to write about and, while my doubts and angers regarding Hannah's actions prevent me from loving this book, I think Asher created something commendable. ...more
Life for Lucky has felt anything but. After getting in trouble at school, dealing with a bully named Nader, and getting caught in between his parents'Life for Lucky has felt anything but. After getting in trouble at school, dealing with a bully named Nader, and getting caught in between his parents' issues, Lucky and his mom head off to Arizona for the summer to stay with his aunt and uncle. There he finds a renewed sense of self worth to not be MIA in his life anymore.
At it's core, Everybody Sees the Ants is a coming of age tale of a teen dealing with the trials and tribulations most teens do. Hovering over the narrative is this Vietnam shadow casted by Lucky's grandfather who was a POW who never returns home. Lucky dreams of being off in the jungle trying to help his grandfather escape and is somehow in possession of something physical from the dream that indicates that maybe there's more to it than that, like dirt on his feet or a bandana. Along with this, there are these ants that Lucky sees, which add commentary to his life. They're interesting elements that give the book a unique feel, but not much more than that. The true connection and relevance to the ants and the dreams stays separate from the main story and never fully intertwines with the events, which feels like a missed opportunity in the end.
Lucky is a strong voice and it's easy to sympathize with his plight. He carries the narrative and feel authentic throughout, assisted by a supporting cast that, while almost feeling pulled out of a Chuck Palahniuk novel they're all so shitty and flawed, it creates a world that ultimately fits the tone of the book. There are a few moments which dab at cliche, but these are few and far between and everyone feels three-dimensional.
Ultimately, I feel like this is a good but not great book. The narrative, minus the POW/MIA angle, is pretty mundane in terms of events, going at a steady pace without many real highs or lows. The ants are a nice try to really go in some interesting places, but I feel like the narrative just never really bridged the gap to a place where these elements felt important. Still a solid read though, and I'm left curious to see what else A.S. King has written....more
After being labeled numb and removed from society, David is assigned Rose, a female robot set to entice him in all the right ways and hopefully teachAfter being labeled numb and removed from society, David is assigned Rose, a female robot set to entice him in all the right ways and hopefully teach him to "reconnect" with society. But after a falling out, he abandons her into the arms of Charlie, a social outcast who is in need of a female to talk to. But as Rose becomes more human, the situation becomes more complicated and both boys are left to deal with their own emotional shortcomings.
The phrase that kept popping up in my head while reading book was "funny, but flawed." The concept is very strong and the realistic teen drama is authentic for the most part, but I kept help but feeling the direction the book ultimately falls somewhat flat and the narrative is peppered with lines and events which left me scratching my head, pulling me out of the world. That's not to say that Girl Parts is a bad book by any means, but there are one too many moments that are noticeably flawed and they lingered until the end.
As you expect with a book with a robot girl, the setting is set in the future, but how far in the future is unclear. There are other signs of high tech technology, like computer dominated classrooms, small robots that clean the floors, higher tech cars, etc. But besides these small details, the setting doesn't really feel that advanced. People still ride bikes, there are references to things like tape recorders and other objects that feel out of date, and lots of other little things like that which ultimately make Rose stand out and feel out of place. It's a small gripe, but I kept asking myself that if society had the technology to make something like here, would they still be using xyz. Again, a small complaint, but one worth nothing.
Aside from the less than perfect setting, the characters are well done for the most part. David, the popular boy, acts like a jerk but you are able to see flashes of his kinder side with Rose. Charlie, the nerd, is loveable but awkward. But while these two serve as the main characters, Rose is the real character which drives the narrative and, from the events that unfold, is easily the most likeable and sympathetic character of them all. This fact, without giving any spoilers, made the ending especially unsatisfying and rather climatic. I literally wanted to throw the book across the room when I came across the last pages. It's not that the ending is without its point or message, but for those hoping for more closure with the book's female fembot, prepare to be disappointed.
There are also a few lines and events throughout the book that feel illogical and authentic, standing out to be noticed. Charlie worries that some agents looking for his Rose will reach his house before he does, but then is somehow able to beat them there without any explanation. Rebecca doesn't realize Rose is a robot and contemplates how anyone can confuse the robots without people, but doesn't blink an eye when Rose doesn't know what a sandwich is. And while the dialogue is mostly well done, but there are a few too many "dog"'s and "chill's" that feel like an adult trying to pretend to a teen that just stand out enough to be noticed. These are all really small complaints, but they added up for me and ultimately (especially with the ending) made me drop this book down to two stars.
In the end, Girl Parts is a book with a great concept and solid writing that ultimately had too many cracks in the glass by the end. For a book set in the future, there are just too many things that felt dated and I was left with more bad tastes in my mouth than good....more
Ever since reading Looking for Alaska years ago, I've always enjoyed works by John Green, but never found the same hard-hitting literary insight thatEver since reading Looking for Alaska years ago, I've always enjoyed works by John Green, but never found the same hard-hitting literary insight that his first work provided. Not to say his books since then haven't been good, but the idea that he would be one of those authors always living in the shadow of his first book felt possible. After reading The Fault in Our Stars though, this thought has definitely been put to rest. The Fault in Our Stars is a emotionally tough but brilliant narrative that is powerful without falling into the pitfalls of being sappy or "cheap," which is quite an accomplishment considering the book's subject.
The typical ingredients that make Green's work great are all there: witty dialogue, well rounded characters, nuggets of interesting facts, etc. Hazel and Gus are both excellent voices to drive the story and it's easy to feel attached to them from the first page. Their book swap and eventual trip to Amsterdam isn't the most page-turning plot mover out there, but it serves it's purpose and leaves the spotlight where it belongs: on the characters.
Like all books that deal with terminally ill characters, it's not a stretch to guess that things don't end on a happy note. Without giving anything away, hopes are shattered. Things don't go as well as hoped. People die. It's tough to see the two central characters go through what they do, but it all feels real. Not flowery or heavy handed or fall into any trope that other works of a similar subject tend to fall into. Cancer is the cloud that hovers over the story, but The Fault in Our Stars is, in the end, a love story. One that will definitely stay with me for a long time and makes me appreciate more what I have.
This book debuted #1 on the NY best seller list and I really hope it stays there for as long as possible. In a industry today that keeps getting filled with flashier and more inane stories for young adults, it's great to see a work with real literary prowess and impact do so well. Maybe there's hope after all. ...more
In a society where officials determine every aspect of each citizen’s life, from what they eat, to who they marry, and even when they die, Cassia findIn a society where officials determine every aspect of each citizen’s life, from what they eat, to who they marry, and even when they die, Cassia finds her world turned upside down. After being Matched with her best friend Xander, she is given a glimpse of another boy, Ky, who she might have been matched with, if he wasn’t what the officials call an “aberration.” Torn between what she is told to do and what she wants, Cassia must find her own truth.
In the tradition of dystopian trilogies that seems to be all the rage now, Matched definitely has the better writing when compared to its competitors. Condie’s scenes and imagery invoked are often poignant while never seeming overly dramatic. The world she builds is also fairly interesting and engaging, its finer aspects slowly explained and developed rather than too much being thrown out too fast.
Alas, while definitely composed, I didn’t enjoy it that much. The great majority of the book has to do with Cassia’s forbidden love with Ky, and it isn’t until the very end that events which force Cassia to rebel begin to develop. Romance novels have never been ones to peak my interest, and Matched is definitely a romance novel first and a dystopian story second. For fans of those two genres, it will feel like the perfect marriage. But for those hoping to wet their palate with some action-packed goodness before the Hunger Games movie comes out, look elsewhere. ...more