I wanted to like this book, but I think I might be just a little too cynical to see this future as "not too distant." The picture that Levithan painte...moreI wanted to like this book, but I think I might be just a little too cynical to see this future as "not too distant." The picture that Levithan painted was just way too rosy - so rosy that I didn't for second feel any real tension in the book. Everything in this future is just so nice that of course our protagonist is going to get everything that he wants eventually.
And the song references were way too numerous and trite. Seriously, triplets named Glen, Gary and Ross? Couldn't they have at least been introduced in a different order? And the reference to 'A Boy Named Sue' was over the top as well, since the lyrics from the song were directly incorporated into the dialog. Not subtle at all. Maybe if these were references to protest songs, which Levithan acknowledges as being part of the inspiration for the book, these references would make sense.(less)
A wonderful novel. Mattie is a thoughtful narrator who is dealing with a lot of the world on her shoulder. I love how Donnelly weaves a number of soci...moreA wonderful novel. Mattie is a thoughtful narrator who is dealing with a lot of the world on her shoulder. I love how Donnelly weaves a number of social issues into Mattie's coming of age story - her best friend is often the victim of racism, there's some might classism levelled against one of her poorer neighbors, and sexism at every turn. There's also lots of questions about decency - both in the way people behave and literary obscenity through the books Mattie's teacher surreptitiously slips to her.
While I enjoyed the idea of Mattie picking a word from her dictionary every day, the bit began to wear thin about halfway through the novel as Mattie would wrestle with how the word absolutely didn't fit her day.
I first read this ages ago, and then recently realized it was the only YA Scott Westerfeld book I didn't own, so when I found it for cheap I added it...moreI first read this ages ago, and then recently realized it was the only YA Scott Westerfeld book I didn't own, so when I found it for cheap I added it to my collection. On the second read-through I remembered why it wasn't already part of my library: it's a decent book, nothing terrible about it, but there's nothing terribly compelling about it, either. Lots of wacky hijinx, but the reasons for that hijinx were never very strong.(less)
"I didn't like it" may be too harsh - I didn't like this as a piece of erotica, but it was amusing in how poorly written a lot of it was. Lots of purp...more"I didn't like it" may be too harsh - I didn't like this as a piece of erotica, but it was amusing in how poorly written a lot of it was. Lots of purple prose and euphemisms for body parts. And what a ridiculous, thin plot.(less)
All of the reviews that focus on the incest had me thinking this was going to be some romantic story, with lots of talk about innappropriate relations...moreAll of the reviews that focus on the incest had me thinking this was going to be some romantic story, with lots of talk about innappropriate relationships between cousins. Nope! Not even close. Just goes to show how focusing on the most scandalous elements can obscure what a book is really about.
And at its core, this is a survival story. This is about how Daisy finds the strength, through extraordianry circumstances, to stop beating herself up and rediscovering her family and her will to live.
I found some rather-superficial similarities between this and John Marsden's Tomorrow, When the War Began series - the mysterious foreign invaders and kids surviving out in the wild, but this isn't an action story in the slightest.
There was some interesting stuff going on here, but I also found that I wasn't always compelled to keep reading - I put it down and wandered away a couple of times. While I liked Daisy and thought Rosoff did an excellent job of subtly showing her evolution throughout the novel, despite the promises of forbidden romance and a country at war, this is a quiet story and it didn't do a lot to hold my attention close.(less)
I wanted to like this book. Ever since it came out I've heard people raving about it. I've read MT Anderson's "Feed" and loved that. So I was very dis...moreI wanted to like this book. Ever since it came out I've heard people raving about it. I've read MT Anderson's "Feed" and loved that. So I was very disappointed at how bored this book made me feel.
For one thing, the book started to contradict itself just a few pages in. We're told almost immediately that Octavian and his mother are the only people in this strange academy that have names - and then proceeds to periodically refer to 03-01 as "Mr. Gitney" and a few other people are given names as well in addition to/in place of the numerical system. Additionally, this part of the book was just dull. There was really no conflict - there were vague hints that a conflict would be forth coming, but really for the first third I only read because of so many people's insistence that this was, in fact, a fabulous book.
And the book did pick up about a third of the way through when a new financial backer for the academy shows up who has very different ideas about how the experiment on Octavian should be run. Now we have conflict...kind of. And that's how I continue to felt for the rest of the book: there was a bit of a conflict, a bit of plot, to keep the story going, but overall there really never was anything in the story itself to keep me interested. I never felt a compelling reason to care about how Octavian was being treated, first as an experimental subject, then as an increasingly-abused slave. While there were some unflinching looks at how slaves were treated in pre-Revolutionary America that was interesting, they were such fleeting glimpses that it wasn't enough to hold down the story.(less)
Wow. I could not put this book down. This book is absolutely heart-wrenching, and a real page-turner. While logically I find some problems with the fo...moreWow. I could not put this book down. This book is absolutely heart-wrenching, and a real page-turner. While logically I find some problems with the format (few diarists I know transcribe full conversations. And I know when I'm tired and hungry, my blog entries get shorter and less coherent, not longer and more dramatic. and my version of tired and hungry isn't anything close to what's described her), they weren't nearly enough to keep me from LOVING this book and starting in right away on the sequel.(less)
An incredibly in depth look at the history of sugar and slavery. Well illustrated with photographs and drawings, there's a lot to be fascinated - and...moreAn incredibly in depth look at the history of sugar and slavery. Well illustrated with photographs and drawings, there's a lot to be fascinated - and horrified by - in this book. Aronson and Budhos do a good job of breaking down the history of sugar consumption, from New Guinea in 9000 BC to 19th century Louisiana.
While I was certainly fascinated, I found this to be such a dense book that I knew I couldn't give it a five star rating for my own personal enjoyment. But I had to knock it down another star because of two brief passages that stuck out as...awkward, to put a positive spin on it.
Pg. 39: "You might be lucky enough to be trained as a specialist - the person who watched the cane grow and who kept an eye out for when the plants were ripe and ready to be cut. Special knowledge did not make a slave any less a slave - you were neither freed or paid. But perhaps some of the enslaved people had the personal pleasure of realizing that they had knowledge that the plantation owners needed." I checked to see if there was a note in the back explaining where this notion of pleasure in slavery came from - if there was a slave narrative that had someone taking some form of pleasure in their work, this would be a much more credible statement. But since no such note exists, it seems rather tone deaf.
Similarly, on pg. 70: "Africans were at the heart of the great change in the economy, indeed in the lives of people throughout the world. Africans were the true global citizens - adjusting to a new land, a new religion, even to other Africans they would never have et in their homelands. Their labor made the Age of Sugar - the Industrial Age - possible. We should not see the enslaved people simply as victims, but rather as actors - as the heralds of the interconnected world in which we all live today." This one strikes me as worse than page 39. The slaves in the Caribbean had no choice in their situation - they were kidnapped from Africa, and their ability to act freely was removed. The enslaved Africans rarely got to enjoy the fruits of their labor - working in sugar cane was dangerous and claimed so many lives that once the Atlantic slave trade was abolished slaves weren't reproducing fast enough to maintain or increase the slave population numbers, so the sugar workers weren't usually the ones buying their freedom.
In both of these instances, I can kind of see what Aronson and Budhos were getting at, but the way they chose to phrase it was just so off that I couldn't let it go without comment.(less)
Out of the historic events at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, the uprising of 20,000 is probably the most unique, yet less well known than the tragic...moreOut of the historic events at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, the uprising of 20,000 is probably the most unique, yet less well known than the tragic fire (which was only unique in the number of people it killed - factory fires and accidents were all too commonplace at the time). Uprising focuses mostly on the strike, illustrating through its three protagonists the three types of women who were involved: union organizers, immigrant workers, and rich women who either participated on a lark, or because they saw the plight of women workers connected to the larger struggle for women's rights.
Haddix weaves in lots of historical facts and people, though sometimes their inclusion, along with the foreshadowing, becomes clunky (they talked waaaaaaaay too much about fire escapes before the infamous fire actually occurred). The narrative style also has a couple of holes in it - how does the woman who is telling the story (a Mrs. Livingston introduced in the prologue) know what exactly the dying young women were thinking and doing, since the women were dead before they could relay their stories to anyone? It doesn't quite work when you think hard about it, but overall this was an enjoyable look at the Triangle Factory.
Wow...what an intense book. While the book does show its age in some ways (the author refers to pending court decisions or court appointments that hav...moreWow...what an intense book. While the book does show its age in some ways (the author refers to pending court decisions or court appointments that have long been decided), the underlying argument is still terrifyingly contemporary. After all, most of those decisions have ended up in the favor of the radical pro-life movement.
As someone who's been following feminist politics for several years now, there was little about the contemporary pro-life and pro-choice movements in this book that was new to me. This book is valuable, however, because it concisely sums up dozens, if not hundreds, of disparate studies, polls, court cases and interviews into one compact volume.
This was a quick read that I absolutely couldn't put down. It has some weak points that can wander into after school special territory, but this book...moreThis was a quick read that I absolutely couldn't put down. It has some weak points that can wander into after school special territory, but this book deftly handles Alex's sexuality and his debate about coming out without coming across as heavy handed. Juby really seems to know her stuff about horses and dressage, which made following the dressage scenes very easy for someone like me who knows nothing about horses. Find more thoughts at my blog(less)
What could have been an interesting look at what draws people to the vampire mythos ended up being filled with thinly-veiled contempt for anyone who f...moreWhat could have been an interesting look at what draws people to the vampire mythos ended up being filled with thinly-veiled contempt for anyone who finds vampires interesting. Apparently an obsession with vampires is only acceptable if you're intent on ridiculing others' obsessions. Nuzum declares that followers of "Dark Shadows" are overweight, disabled losers but fans of "Buffy" (which ends up including him) are all right. People who play "Vampire: the Masquerade" probably live in their mothers' basements while they plot to (really) kill each other, but dragging your wife off to England to find where Bram Stoker may-or-may-not have conceived the idea for his infamous novel is okay.
Nuzum's contempt for everyone made this an irritating and difficult read.(less)