I was really drawn into this book and I loved the writing. I felt really connected to all of the characters and I love how Nick Lake draws out grey ar...moreI was really drawn into this book and I loved the writing. I felt really connected to all of the characters and I love how Nick Lake draws out grey areas until it breaks your heart. I loved the combination of historical fiction and present-day realistic fiction. This book leaves you with a lot to think about. One thing I thought about a lot is whether it is Okay to create a fictionalized narrative around Toussaint L'Ouverture and the history of Haiti. I loved reading it and it was really gripping - but a lot of the time I was disturbed by the way Nick Lake put words in Toussaint's mouth, and also created this supernatural narrative that connected him to the main character in his book, Shorty. I loved it and was repulsed by it at the same time. The book is really touching and interesting and heart-wrenching though, if you can get past the fact that it was not written by someone from Haiti, which was hard for me to get past. (less)
i picked this book up after hearing a conversation with the author on the NYTimes book review podcast. I was curious to see how the author would narra...morei picked this book up after hearing a conversation with the author on the NYTimes book review podcast. I was curious to see how the author would narrate a book from the perspective of an 11 year-old boy pop star. In some way I was hoping that it might be interesting to younger readers but found that it is very strictly for adult readers. i found that voice and perspectives and inner monologue of Jonny to be extremely creepy and off-putting, but in a way I couldn't stop reading it. it's like having the narrative from the perspective of an 11 year old gives the author license to talk shiv about adults and society and everything to do with fame and even the idea of freedom. it's so cynical and odd. in the end even though the character of Jonny is totally unlikeable, I still found that I cared. I think it's one of the few novels I've read where the author gives the feeling that there is no innocence or innate goodness in youth, which is pretty refreshing actually. (less)
i totally loved this book. i'm going to be thinking about it for a long time. i love journals and i love beaches, and when a journal of a 16 year old...morei totally loved this book. i'm going to be thinking about it for a long time. i love journals and i love beaches, and when a journal of a 16 year old girl in japan washes up on the beach of an island in BC it makes for an awesome beginning. nao's character is so well-written, though a lot of the time it's hard to suspend disbelief that her diary is written by a 16 year old. even so, i find myself really wanting to hear her voice and wisdom and about her relationship with her grandmother, jiko, a 104 year old buddhist nun. it's the sweetest writing about relationships ever. it also has really intense elements dealing with extreme bullying, suicide, morality (as it relates to human computer interaction design and war :o). although there are so many great parts of this book written from the perspective of a 16 year old, sadly it wouldn't really hold up well for a YA audience because so much of the outside perspective is coming from a middle-aged woman (ruth) that seems like a loosely autobiographical character. however, i think it would make a pretty amazing movie. there were lots of humorous and sad vignettes revolving around ruth's life on the island. i also loved the elements of the paranormal/spiritual, mystery and historical fiction, as ruth works to unravel the stories in the diaries and letters from nao's great-uncle who died in WW2. It's such an interesting and complex book with lots of surprising and totally true little side-stories. There's so much stuff here that's actually more creative nonfiction than fiction, and i really appreciated it. i learned a lot about whales, gyres & currents, the tsunami in Japan, ww2, buddhism etc. etc. it has a little bit of everything...but best of all is how ozeki creates such interesting connections between such different times and places, and draws you in to a story you don't even expect to be exciting, yet surprisingly keeps a suspense and anticipation building throughout the book.(less)
this was an interesting queer coming-of-age novel (but mostly just a snapshot of a few months of highschool). the story is not very complex, and is so...morethis was an interesting queer coming-of-age novel (but mostly just a snapshot of a few months of highschool). the story is not very complex, and is somewhat moralistic and depressing, but the characters are really interesting. it's the first time in a very long time that i've read a YA novel that didn't cast cookie-cutter, stereotypical, "i want to be you", type of highschool characters. The main character is constantly soul-searching, confused, lacking role-models, distrusting/hating grown-ups almost universally, and interested in politics and especially Dante's Inferno (where she gets the inspiration for her new name). Dante, the main character and narrator, has a great, skeptical and questioning voice. it's cool that there's a lot of questioning authority and teenage rebellion going on in this book. there are a lot of open questions here that are not resolved.
the one thing that i noticed bothered me a lot in this book is that the narrator keeps secrets from the reader about their history and sexuality. i found it frustrating that one of the only queer characters in YA literature also maintains a closet and level of secrecy that is totally unnecessary given that we are the readers and isn't the point that we see a window into her world? For instance a previous (closeted) relationship Dante has with her best friend, is left completely undescribed but is referred to continually throughout the book. The result is that there is no actual discussion of queer relationships. almost zero. it was extremely weird and frustrating. it left me longing for a YA novel that gives up the details.(less)
A great book for a teen questioning their sexuality. This book follows the main character and narrator, Astrid, as she swims through a murky sea of tr...moreA great book for a teen questioning their sexuality. This book follows the main character and narrator, Astrid, as she swims through a murky sea of trying to sort out her sexuality in a small town full of bigots and gossips. At first I couldn't stand all of the characters, but then the closets slowly start to come open, and the story unfolds. It is a really realistic path to coming out that shows the truly awful aspects of human nature, from high school bullies to freaked-out parents. this book does not pull any punches. by the end you can't believe Astrid survives it. I started out luke warm about this book and by the end I was totally into it! The one thing i couldn't quite get into was the vignettes where she communes with plane passengers, which is funny because it's one of the central literary devices in the book ;o. not sure why it bothered me, it just seemed kind of random and unnecessary. i also found that the characters on the planes seemed really depressed and sad most of the time, and weren't really necessary to move along the story at hand. but it was really sweet and made sense that she made it through all of the awfulness by sending her love out into the world when she wasn't allowed to love who she wanted.(less)
I couldn't remember why I put this book on my to-read list but I was curious to read it. At first I couldn't relate to the story line or the main char...moreI couldn't remember why I put this book on my to-read list but I was curious to read it. At first I couldn't relate to the story line or the main character, and found it kind of plodding and dry without any revelations. but somehow toward the middle of the book I actually started caring about Hadley and wanting things to work out for her. I would give the second half of the book 4 stars but I barely made it that far without putting it down. It's a really nice, easy-going book for a rainy day. a bit sad and a bit happy, and has many words of wisdom (and Dickens quotes) that make it a bit more than a typical teen romance.(less)
this little manga caught my eye because i liked the cover art. it seemed more mature to me, and i liked the blurb on the back about a teenage girl fig...morethis little manga caught my eye because i liked the cover art. it seemed more mature to me, and i liked the blurb on the back about a teenage girl fighting to save the world from aliens. but they didn't have the first volume so i had to order it. then i forgot to pick it up for a month and the store called me. but i'm so happy i finally went to get it. i thought the main character was really believable as a teenager dealing with a lot of intense issues (and those were from before the aliens came..). it's exciting to see her character grow emotionally in such a short span of time. I was half-way through before I really got into the story but once I did I was reading it and trying to walk between transit at rush hour at the same time. I am really excited to see if the next three volumes meet my expectations.(less)