Sometimes 3.5 stars, but mostly 4. Parts of the middle dragged in a Harry Potter 7-ish way (lots of walking, and camping, and walking again), but when...moreSometimes 3.5 stars, but mostly 4. Parts of the middle dragged in a Harry Potter 7-ish way (lots of walking, and camping, and walking again), but when the plot twists and character revelations started coming one after another, they were entirely satisfying. The friendship between Miguel and Rondell is one of the best guy friendships I've encountered in a YA novel in a long time.(less)
I've read most of David Levithan's books and always look forward to a new one, but this novel just didn't do it for me. Points for being tension-fille...moreI've read most of David Levithan's books and always look forward to a new one, but this novel just didn't do it for me. Points for being tension-filled enough to keep me turning pages, but the resolution to the mystery was fairly weak and head-scratching, And speaking of head problems caused by this book, I quite literally got a headache from the first fifty pages or so as my reading brain tried to figure out how to cope with half the text on each page being victim to the odious strikethrough tag. Yes yes, I get it -- the struck-through words were supposed to be the thoughts that main character Evan was ashamed to have or was trying to forget. The thoughts that belonged, I suppose, to another version of him. But this didn't have a welcome physical effect.
(Here's where I try to give the author the benefit of the doubt -- "Maybe he wanted the reader to feel that way! The reader should become physically unsettled, just like the character is! How cle--wait, no.")
I think the biggest gripe I had was that the characters never came alive for me. There was a lot of narration about Evan's feelings, and a lot of ungrounded metaphors and such. But my personal taste tends toward more specificity in characterization and voice and setting. By the end of the book, I had much of the same blurred idea of the characters and their surroundings as I did at the beginning.(less)
I received Imaginary Girls for Christmas (after reading / hearing about it for ages and ages. Actually, I remember reading the Publishers Marketplace...moreI received Imaginary Girls for Christmas (after reading / hearing about it for ages and ages. Actually, I remember reading the Publishers Marketplace announcement for its sale and saying "oooh" at its plot synopsis), and I was going to try to save it for January, but I picked it up off the coffee table, flipped to the beginning, and was instantly drawn in. The novel is surprising in both plot and theme -- what seems to be a quiet tale about a sisterly bond turns creepy and captivating. I didn't mind being left with a few questions at the end; it's been several days since I finished the book, and I'm still pondering the realness of certain events and people in the story. All in all, reading this book reminded me why I love reading and writing, and I can't give a higher compliment than that.(less)
There were about 70 pages worth of plot in this 350-page novel, and yet I still found it to be quite engaging and worthy of my time. There was just en...moreThere were about 70 pages worth of plot in this 350-page novel, and yet I still found it to be quite engaging and worthy of my time. There was just enough voice and humor to get through the periods of lagging action. The quick pacing also helped -- when you're getting a new chapter every five pages or so, it's hard to complain that some of them are character anecdotes that either don't tie in or only tie in very loosely to the rest of the story. To put it simply, I like that this was published. I remember hearing a few things about it when it came out, but when my friend lent it to me, I still assumed that it was going to be a catty-girls-at-private-school story, and so I let it sit on my "books to return to friends" shelf for several months. When I picked it up earlier this week, it was nice to find that I had completely misjudged it, and that it was a much nerdier book than I'd expected -- nerdy in that its main characters actually spend a lot of the book studying and doing school activities, and nerdy in that it's unabashedly obsessed with the ins and outs of female friendships, and doesn't try to be big and bold or romantic or anything like that.(less)
A page turner with substance, which is exactly what I needed this week. The mystery was well-executed and even the main character's sitting-and-thinki...moreA page turner with substance, which is exactly what I needed this week. The mystery was well-executed and even the main character's sitting-and-thinking moments were infused with tension.
There were a few points where I felt like the setting and the issues overshadowed the characters -- I occasionally imagined main character Cat stuck in a video game where she was encountering enemies from local meth-heads to the tsking older ladies at her church, with no time to stop and reflect on what was going on. There was a good deal of interior monologue at the beginning, and again at the very end, but in the middle I felt like some of her own wants and motivations got cloudy.
This novel had a literary sheen to it, but turned out to be somewhat lighter, plot-wise and language-wise, than I expected. Still, a good solid charac...moreThis novel had a literary sheen to it, but turned out to be somewhat lighter, plot-wise and language-wise, than I expected. Still, a good solid character-driven novel, and I liked how the author captured some of those moments you have when you're a teenager when the thing you're doing right now is The Most Important Thing That Has Ever Happened Or Ever Will Happen To You.
(Also, just noting for my own interest:
major boy character's name in this book - Jewel major boy character's name in last book I read - Jersy major boy character's name in next book I'm reading - Leigh
Whenever I saw this book at the library, I would always get it mixed up with Nick Burd's The Vast Fields of Ordinary. I did finally get around to read...moreWhenever I saw this book at the library, I would always get it mixed up with Nick Burd's The Vast Fields of Ordinary. I did finally get around to reading both this book and Burd's book this year, and while they do have some surface similarities (small towns, gay characters), they're quite different in tone.
Main character Ben is a difficult one to like -- an opinion shared by his immediate and extended family, it seems -- but he's an effective narrator for this story. Both the first chapter and the epilogue were clumsy in their handling of summarizing various plot points, but I can forgive the book that because Ben's voice was snarky and easy to follow.
I feel like Harmon was really ambitious in the emotional and psychological themes of the book -- that is, Ben's limited acceptance of his father's relationship with Edward, and his trying to piece together why he had such animosity for his father. This was somewhat hashed out in several arguments between Ben and his dad, and again in some of Ben's internal monologue, but it was still hard to follow his emotional motivation throughout the book.
Here's something you don't usually see: a romantic relationship that begins easily, continues without much drama, and is still -- minor spoiler -- going strong by the end of the book! Honestly, the relationship between Kim and Ben had very little tension involved at all, and maybe that was a good thing. I think it was there mainly because Ben needed someone in his corner, and it was nice that he and Kim got together right away.(less)