This was really wonderful. It continues where the autobiographical Escape from "Special" left off. Melissa is about 14 when it starts, and probably 17This was really wonderful. It continues where the autobiographical Escape from "Special" left off. Melissa is about 14 when it starts, and probably 17 or 18 by the end. Each vignette is a few pages long, and once you get into the rhythm of it, the lack of an overarching plot won't bother you. This book is meant to capture moments and feelings.
And capture them it does. It was amazing. I was soooo this chick at this age, minus the drugs, understanding parents, and making out with boys. Our lives were so similar, and the moments she chose to capture in this comic were a lot of the same ones that I remember as being important and memorable. I had creepy friends that did bad things, and a running internal dialogue about how pointless my existence was. It just shows up so perfectly on the page.
Some of my favorites:
-Melissa's thoughts about wishing she could just stop existing without having to kill herself. -Flirting with a boy, getting ratted on for harassment, and knowing he wouldn't have minded if she were pretty -Calling out teachers on their bullshit assignments and getting told to shut up -Having to continually "prove" you're cool -Liking a guy but noticing that he's asked out all of your friends except you
It just perfectly captured the essence of how much it sucks to be a smart, ugly, artistic teenage girl. I loved it. A++++++ Thanks to Wright for lending it to me....more
**spoiler alert** Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman is touted on the back of the book as "A dark contemporary 'Alice in Wonderland.'" That's pretty accurate,**spoiler alert** Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman is touted on the back of the book as "A dark contemporary 'Alice in Wonderland.'" That's pretty accurate, but it reminded me more of The Wizard of Oz.
Neverwhere makes use of a fairly standard trope: an ordinary schlub is drawn into an extraordinary situation and forced to call upon hidden strengths he never knew he had.
In this case, the unassuming Kansas farmgirl is London resident Richard Mayhew. He is the very caricature of a boring nobody. With an office job, an apartment, and a fiancee, there is nothing interesting about his life until he stops to help a strange girl he finds bleeding on the sidewalk, brings her back to his apartment to clean her up, and sends her on her way.
A few days later, he finds that no one in his world can see him anymore: now he is a part of her world, the Land of Oz, the shadowy and mysterious "London Below."
He locates the girl he helped (who I imagine as the Scarecrow) in this filthy world that exists like an alternate dimension of the subways and sewers beneath "London Above." She is the Lady Door, eldest daughter of a murdered nobleman, and is being pursued by the grossest, most evil guys ever. Their motley crew is soon rounded out by an appropriate Cowardly Lion and Tin Man: a fierce lesbian huntress Door hires as her bodyguard and a seedy Lemmy-from-Motorhead type who calls himself the Marquis de Carabas.
They go in search of the Wonderful Wizard and encounter plenty of spooks, flying monkeys, and horses of a different color along the way.
My main beef with Neverwhere is that its plot and characters are really nothing new. I like my stories that have a certain moral ambiguity to them. Pure good vs. pure evil doesn't do much to excite me, and fifty pages into the book, I knew that if Richard succeeded in using his ruby slippers to get his old life back, there is no way he would want it anymore.
Also, I generally prefer science fiction to fantasy so it bothered me slightly that the oddities in this book were never given a logical explanation. Why can Richard and Jessica see Door at the beginning of the book when those from London Below are usually invisible? Why will breaking an egg with a toasting fork bring someone back to life? I realize that this was a fantasy book and the whys of things aren't as important in this genre, but this was a new approach for me.
That said, I still quite enjoyed reading it. Gaiman's style was easy to read and engaging. It had a lot of very interesting and memorable imagery, including the bad guys chomping on raw rats and birds. I will be interested to check out more of Neil Gaiman's work to see if moral ambiguity enters the picture at some point. If so, hurrah! ...more
The Graveyard book starts out energetically enough with a serial killer murdering a family in their home. Mom, dad, and the little girl are killed asThe Graveyard book starts out energetically enough with a serial killer murdering a family in their home. Mom, dad, and the little girl are killed as the baby climbs out of his crib and toddles out the door, down the street, and into the graveyard, where he is protected from his would-be murderer by the ghosts that live there.
Each chapter that follows tells the tale of something interesting that happens to this child, named Nobody Owens by his caretakers, as he grows from a boy into a young man. They are hit or miss, with more hits than misses. Once in awhile it is hinted that the killer still wants the boy, but that plot doesn't advance much until the end.
The last few chapters are the best. You finally find out who the shadowy figures are that have pursued young Bod his whole life. The reason why they wanted him, however, kind of took the wind out of my sails. Let's just say that he wanted to kill Bod and his family because of something that would not have happened had he not tried to kill Bod and his family. Duh. Kind of a cop-out, but the majority of the book was devoted to telling tales unrelated to this plot so there wasn't much time to develop a more interesting reason.
While I was reading this, I was thinking that it was probably too scary and dark for kids (and it is intended for kids). But thinking of the stuff I liked as a kid, I bet I really would have enjoyed it. A lot of kids would. Parents who get it for their kid would probably do well to read it first because there is a lot of killing and scary stuff. I wouldn't recommend it for a kid under 11 or 12....more
This was an interlibrary loan, so I had to turn it in before I was done, but this was a highly entertaining book. When I get a little farther with theThis was an interlibrary loan, so I had to turn it in before I was done, but this was a highly entertaining book. When I get a little farther with the Japanese, I'll probably buy it.
I wish I could take this guy's class. He's so sassy and delightful. It's a rare teacher that makes learning a language a hilarious experience....more
This book is basically the day-to-day, sometime minute-to-minute diary of the wheelings and dealings of a 14-year old girl who is first starting to goThis book is basically the day-to-day, sometime minute-to-minute diary of the wheelings and dealings of a 14-year old girl who is first starting to go through puberty and discover boys.
She thinks she is not very pretty and is sort of weird, but the blokes seem to like her pretty well anyway. I guess people don't write books in which the protagonist is weird and not very pretty and the blokes ignore her entirely (i.e. books I could have related to at 14). I could definitely see how that would be less interesting.
This was cute and quite amusing, and I might have to read the next one. ...more
**spoiler alert** So this wasn't a fantastic book. But I still wish I had read it as a teen.
Judy Blume writes those books about teen life experiences**spoiler alert** So this wasn't a fantastic book. But I still wish I had read it as a teen.
Judy Blume writes those books about teen life experiences that need to be written. Someone has to do it! In this one, an ordinary girl gets her first boyfriend, goes to Planned Parenthood for birth control and a pelvic exam, loses her virginity, and breaks up with said boyfriend. Blume really covers all her bases with this one: a teenage friend gets pregnant, another thinks he might be gay and tries to hang himself, grandpa has a stroke, her friends get drunk and puke on themselves, her boyfriend has problems with his unfortunately named member ("Ralph").
It was very realistic. It wasn't idealized at all: she is kind of boring, he is kind of a horny jerk. Just like many real-life teens.
Forever is not a cautionary tale. The teens have sex and get away with it. They don't get caught by their parents, punished, pregnant, AIDS, or anything else. It's nice to have a book about teen sex that doesn't result in tragedy, like it usually doesn't in real life. Bless your heart, Judy Blume. Bless your awesome little heart....more
Hazel has terminal cancer and has to lug around an oxygen tank all the time. One day, she meets a boy in her cancer support group, Augustus, who is haHazel has terminal cancer and has to lug around an oxygen tank all the time. One day, she meets a boy in her cancer support group, Augustus, who is handsome and has one leg. They soon become friends, then more than friends, then they use his Make-a-Wish Foundation wish to visit Amsterdam to meet with the mysterious author of the novel they're both really into.
This was definitely the least-bad John Green book I've read. And I have always somewhat enjoyed his books, even if there's things that rub me the wrong way about them.
The good: The characters weren't stock characters. No Manic Pixie Dream Girls/Boys. They actually had more than one attribute. I liked the plot. There wasn't too much wish fulfillment. I like reading about death and people who think about death.
The bad: There was a lot of philosophizing that will only seem deep to teenagers. Which is the target audience of the book, so I can't complain too much. Also, I didn't really get a sense of why Augustus quickly became interested in Hazel. She was definitely cranky and gross when they met so I'm not sure where that infatuation came from. I know she reminded him of his ex, but it sounds like he didn't even like his ex that much, so...why?...more
This was a strangely-written book about drama plaguing a southern family, an alcoholic, philandering husband and a small-minded, selfish wife. They alThis was a strangely-written book about drama plaguing a southern family, an alcoholic, philandering husband and a small-minded, selfish wife. They also have a crippled daughter, Maudie, doted on by the wife, and a beautiful daughter, Peyton, adored by the husband and hated by her mother. Most of the plot takes place on the day of Peyton's funeral, interspersed with flashbacks about the sort of lives these people lead that ultimately ended in Peyton's self-destruction.
Most of the book tells the parents' story, but this is ultimately Peyton's tale. Near the end we get a chapter written in first-person from Peyton's point of view. She desperately needs help, and you sympathize with her, but you also sympathize with her husband, who is so fed up with helping her only for her to treat him like garbage, over and over again.
The way Styron wrote about race really shows the time period, and it made me uncomfortable. However, as another reviewed pointed out, the Black servants of the households were the only people who unselfishly mourned Peyton's death....more
I read Stargirl last year, and thought it was pretty good. This was was just OK. I'll clarify: Jerry Spinelli is a good writer and the books succeed aI read Stargirl last year, and thought it was pretty good. This was was just OK. I'll clarify: Jerry Spinelli is a good writer and the books succeed at what they are trying to do. But the pessimist in me (that occupies the vast majority of my brain) cannot suspend its disbelief enough to see the world of Stargirl as anything other than trite.
I liked Stargirl better because it tells the story of a fearless, fun free spirit being bludgeoned by awful reality for the first time in her life. Of course, the ending is bittersweet, with an emphasis on the sweet.
Love, Stargirl follows the opposite trajectory: Stargirl at the beginning of the book is sad and lonely, but returns to her former gleaming brilliance with the help of a town full of quirky misfits.
Let me back up: in Stargirl, our quirky heroine enrolls in a public high school after being homeschooled for her entire upbringing. Her parents let her do whatever she wants, including naming herself Stargirl, and due to a purity of heart that is possessed by no real-life teenager, she uses that trust only for the power of good. At first, the kids at school are infatuated with her. Then they turn on her, and nothing she can do will make them like her again, not even dressing and acting like a normal person. Her boyfriend, Leo, doesn't have big enough balls to keep on being seen with a girl that everyone else at school hates, so he dumps her.
Love, Stargirl is Stargirl's letter to Leo that she writes after she leaves her Arizona town for snowy Pennsylvania. She misses Leo, but has her hands full with a town full of people who she can infect with her boundless radiance: an energetic six-year-old named Dootsie Pringle, a motherly agoraphobe who hasn't left her house in 9 years, a pugilistic tween caught between her tomboyish childhood and budding femininity, an old man who met the love of his life when they were six and now sits by her gravestone all day, every day, a mentally-challenged man who always asks "Are you looking for me?"...it goes on. Stargirl prances through the book, flinging magic and joy wherever she goes, while simultaneously pining for Leo and wrestling with her attraction to a rakish teenage playboy named Perry.
Lest I sound sarcastic, I enjoyed reading this. It was fun and emotional and an all-around good piece of tween/teen literature. But I couldn't shut up my inner skeptic (realist?) who knows that it's basically impossible to get other people to cooperate with you in any way, especially if you're a quirky misfit. Nobody really cares about what other people are doing. In my review of Stargirl, I noted that no kids of any age are going to get up early on a Saturday to hear some weird old dude ramble about the magic of nature. Well, nobody's going to get up at sunrise to check out some strange teenage girl's art/performance piece. It would be nice if they did, but they won't.
If you're less ground down by the reality of life and the hell that is other people, you'll give this book 5 stars. If you're an eternal sourpuss, well, you'll notice what I did....more
I liked this quite a bit. There were some nice non-standard plots and interesting imagery. I can't say I got very invested in any of the characters, bI liked this quite a bit. There were some nice non-standard plots and interesting imagery. I can't say I got very invested in any of the characters, but there's a bunch more of this and I plan on reading at least the next volume too....more
Cute and funny tale of William Sleator's childhood, and the pranks that he used to play with his brothers and sisters. Their parents basically allowedCute and funny tale of William Sleator's childhood, and the pranks that he used to play with his brothers and sisters. Their parents basically allowed them to run wild but the siblings all turned out to be very successful. It explains a lot about Sleator's books and why they're so good.
Edit: I just saw another reviewer describe Sleator's family as a "methed-out version of the von Trapps." That about sums it up....more
William Sleator is great, but The Duplicate tells a tale as old as time. Pretty much every story about having an exact double of yourself ends up withWilliam Sleator is great, but The Duplicate tells a tale as old as time. Pretty much every story about having an exact double of yourself ends up with them being crazy and causing all kind of problems.
I was kind of hoping for the plot to go the direction of the duplicate being an asshole and this making the original realize that he personally is actually a manipulative, lying dick, and trying to be a better person once he comes face to face, literally, with all his shortcomings. But that didn't happen. I'm sure that book exists somewhere though....more
I I wanted to use Girl for a Teen book display on music, but found that it was catalogued as Adult fiction. Huh? I had heard that it was a coming-of-aI I wanted to use Girl for a Teen book display on music, but found that it was catalogued as Adult fiction. Huh? I had heard that it was a coming-of-age novel about a teenage girl who gets involved in her local grunge music scene in Portland in the 90s. So I read it to find out why it was in Adult.
Now, I suppose I can see why it was. While no adult could ever enjoy reading this book, it does contain quite a bit of graphic sex. So much, in fact, that it struck me as unrealistic. Did normal teenagers in the 90s have so much graphic sex with so many different people and take it so lightly? Geez.
Girl was written from the point of view of high school student Andrea Marr. It reads exactly like a teenage girl's diary, except possibly less interesting. More to the point, it's like listening to a self-absorbed teenage girl who can't shut up about anything she does. It's written entirely in run-on sentences. Nothing she does, no matter how trivial and uninteresting, is edited out. She doesn't have any clever observations or perspectives that so often make coming-of-age tales worth reading.
TO my surprise, I found that this book has no shortage of positive reviews, with readers stating things like "This book could have been about my life!" This book could have been about me too, although my teenage years involved far, far less graphic sex. I was an outwardly dull, suburban loser with an exciting secret life. I was attracted by a counterculture music scene, hung out at seedy venues over my parents' objections, and mooned over a badass punk rock guy who was too old for me and jerked me around. However, I was less like Andrea than her friend that the plot revolved around: Cybil, the one who actually started a band and did some cool stuff. Yes, the book could have been about me. It still wasn't interesting.
It would be interesting to go back through and count the number of times the characters in this awful book went to Scamp's for frozen yogurt. OK, I get it! You like frozen yogurt! You go to Scamp's for frozen yogurt! But after 50 times, reading about frozen yogurt starts to lose its zest!
I gave this book two stars rather than one because I did sort of want to find out what happened. Reading it gave me a headache, but I did see it through to the last excruciating page.
I would not recommend this piece of crap to anyone, unless they are under the age of 18 and interested in reading about frozen yogurt or graphic sex....more