I didn't love this as much as I expected to based on a recommendation. Perhaps it's one of those that you have to fall in love with as a child. Readin...moreI didn't love this as much as I expected to based on a recommendation. Perhaps it's one of those that you have to fall in love with as a child. Reading it as an adult can't compare. It was pleasant and fun, but I wasn't dazzled. This is a bit of a spoiler, but one thing that annoyed me was the botched attempt to combine science with a world of fantasy. Clearly, you can't mate with a clone of yourself. In fact, the idea is rather disgusting.(less)
As a brief plot synopsis, Colin, a former child prodigy has graduated from high school. He is having an identity crisis of sorts because of a series o...moreAs a brief plot synopsis, Colin, a former child prodigy has graduated from high school. He is having an identity crisis of sorts because of a series of break ups and the fact that he has not yet become a genius. He decides to go on a road trip with his best friend which leads to self-discovery. I thought this was a smart and funny book. Since it's a young adult book about boys some of the humor is, well, juvenile. However, I thought it was the perfect mix of high and low culture. Mixed with the bodily humor and language of 17 year-old boys was the sophisticated humor of parody and allusion. I enjoyed the narrator Colin's funny digressions expressed in the footnotes. Some may take offense at the language and content in this book, but I didn't think that it exceeded the boundaries of sensibility--and the over arching sense of voice in this novel is irresistible. While this book certainly isn't classic literature, I gave it five stars for what it is--a comedic young adult novel.(less)
This book is certainly not for the faint of heart. It details the life experiences of felons living in a juvenile detention center. The things that ha...moreThis book is certainly not for the faint of heart. It details the life experiences of felons living in a juvenile detention center. The things that have happened to these children are appalling...often more appalling than the crimes they have committed. There is much language, violence, and sexual content. Despite detailing a few inmates life stories, I felt that in some ways I didn't connect to the characters as much as I would have liked--perhaps because it's nonfiction, and I couldn't exactly get into their heads. The strength of the book is that it really shows that these so called criminals weren't destined to become criminals. Most of them only became that way because of life circumstances...and most of them through therapy can in fact be rehabilitated. I think it's a good message for those working in a high school. (less)
I thought this book was pretty boring, but I was reading it for a book club so I persevered. I suppose the historical backdrop made it somewhat worthw...moreI thought this book was pretty boring, but I was reading it for a book club so I persevered. I suppose the historical backdrop made it somewhat worthwhile, but I wasn't invested in the main character and the conflict throughout the book was unfocused and kinda just stupid at times.(less)
Reading about Alice's finely tuned senses is what made this book interesting to me. To her every meal was a work of art requiring the finest and pures...moreReading about Alice's finely tuned senses is what made this book interesting to me. To her every meal was a work of art requiring the finest and purest ingredients, and her approach to atmosphere was no different. It was also interesting to learn of her expanding notions of food politics. I did skim parts of the book--the narrative recipes and a few overly descriptive parts, but I enjoyed some of the crazy words the author used like panache, sublimates,dragooning and so forth.
However, I could have done without the 60s/70s counter culture references. Sorry, but I don't believe doing drugs opens your mind to a new way of thinking. Additionally, I felt that Alice was a little obsessed with community (which is a value I believe in) but in such a way that it became a substitute for monogamy. (less)
This book seems entertaining in theory, but in reality I thought it was just ok. I was sort of annoyed that I felt like I needed to take notes because...moreThis book seems entertaining in theory, but in reality I thought it was just ok. I was sort of annoyed that I felt like I needed to take notes because all of the bits and pieces of legends, history, heraldic symbols blah, blah that were revealed slowly. I figured out most of the kickers early on (maybe because of the note taking). I liked how the prison was alive which played on the whole “the eye can’t see itself" deal in how the prison said that it was depressing not to be able to see outside of itself. However, I thought that the book failed in its attempt to be deep with the idea that Incarceron couldn’t be a paradise because men brought the seeds of evil inside of them—this idea is already fairly over-played and further more I don’t think it was eloquently stated or developed. In fact, a lot of the book seemed to be action-movie writing. I actually kept imagining the book as a movie—some of the images I enjoyed but some of the images seemed like they had been done before. For example, the flying ship was in Stardust by Neil Gaimon long ago (book and movie) and the flying ship was also in that stupid new Musketeers movie. I also found myself becoming a bit frustrated with the fantasy/sci fi blend—certain parts just didn’t seem to jive with each other. Anyway, I also (like Erin) was annoyed by the completely unsatisfying conclusion. Yes, I understand it’s going to be a series, but I felt like, “What? All this build up for that?!”
As a side note, I was semi-intrigued by the word usage in the book. For example, I noticed the word "kerb" and discovered that it is the British spelling of "curb." Cool. Also, at first I was excited by some interesting word choices such as panache, itinerant, miasma, and effete. However, I then started to get annoyed--it seemed like the author was going for the five-dollar thesaurus word. I mean "ullulating"? It seems a bit extreme. Plus m-w has it listed without the double consonant. And I really don't think the evil winglord Jormanric would use the word "berating."
I thought it was really stupid that the Warden goes into Incarceron. What did that solve? Was it his way of hiding from the queen? Also I find it odd that a DNA test wasn’t available even though Jared had some technological device to test for listening devices as well as a slew of other high tech gear. (less)
This book is a typical thriller in the vein of the Fear Street books. It's about a teenager who finds a potential serial killer's diary, and he feels...moreThis book is a typical thriller in the vein of the Fear Street books. It's about a teenager who finds a potential serial killer's diary, and he feels compelled to try to stop the killer himself. I liked the book, and it was a quick read, but it certainly wasn't very literary. Neither the writing nor the themes were very sophisticated, even for a young adult novel. (less)
This book is about an author, Mark Salzman, who teaches a creative writing class at a juvenile detention center in LA. It’s a non-fiction account, but...moreThis book is about an author, Mark Salzman, who teaches a creative writing class at a juvenile detention center in LA. It’s a non-fiction account, but it is re-told in a narrative format with re-created dialogue.
I enjoyed the book; it gave an interesting perspective and illustrated the humanity of the delinquent characters described. However, the book did seem a little bit unfocused. I suppose the most dominant theme is that the punitive nature of our justice system is largely futile.
One drawback was that I had a hard time keeping all of the characters straight since they would come and go in the writing program. Also, they would sometimes be referred to by their first names and sometimes their last, which confused me further. I would have liked an appendix briefly describing each student mentioned in the book.
Another drawback of the book is the excessive use of profanity. At times it was overwhelming. Overall, I’d say it was a good read if you go into it with your eyes wide open about the content. (less)
At the beginning of the book, I wasn’t totally sold. I thought it was going to end up as a cheap action thriller trying to pass under the guise of an...moreAt the beginning of the book, I wasn’t totally sold. I thought it was going to end up as a cheap action thriller trying to pass under the guise of an intellectual exploration. At first, the characters didn’t seem solid, and I wasn’t impressed with the writing. However, as the book developed I became more and more impressed. The action towards the end of the story was totally gripping, and there were some powerful images. However, there were a few loose ends which I didn’t think were adequately resolved.
The intellectual issues in the novel were also compelling, especially the idea that if more people were organ donors after they died, then there wouldn’t have been such a need for body parts. I thought the question they posed was interesting: Is it better to have a plethora of babies that are unwanted or is it better to prevent unwanted babies from ever being born? Connor and Risa seem frustrated that so many babies are unwanted, but Risa at least wouldn’t have even been born if the society allowed abortion. The one thing that frustrated me was that the issues of abstinence or even birth control were never mentioned. It seems like a false dilemma—which is worse: abortion or unwanted babies? The book never addresses the idea that perhaps there wouldn’t be so many unwanted pregnancies if people made more responsible choices.
Overall, I definitely recommend this book. It was a book that made me want to talk to someone about it, and that is my mark of a good book. (less)
This book was fun and refreshing. Originally published as a serial piece in a magazine in 1921, it maintains a light comedy which is a tad melodramati...moreThis book was fun and refreshing. Originally published as a serial piece in a magazine in 1921, it maintains a light comedy which is a tad melodramatic at times. Even though it was written almost 90 years ago, the writing is easy to understand, though there may be a few words that are less common these days. (less)
This was a rather engaging memoir--at first I thought it was a work of fiction. This book is very well-written and takes us into the magical world of...moreThis was a rather engaging memoir--at first I thought it was a work of fiction. This book is very well-written and takes us into the magical world of Paris and music and antique pianos. I skipped a few of the more technical chapters on the inner workings of the piano, but overall this was a good read.(less)