Oh my god! What the hell did Matt de la Pena ever do to you, Brilliance Audio? The reader on this audiobook not only can't remotely pull off de la Pen...moreOh my god! What the hell did Matt de la Pena ever do to you, Brilliance Audio? The reader on this audiobook not only can't remotely pull off de la Pena's contemporary language (we knew we were in trouble when he made "score some new kicks" sound like a distasteful drug reference), but the accent he shifts into for the Australian underwear model Kevin is so ludicrous that my sons have adopted it for all of their doomed characters when they play Forbidden Desert. I want Kevin to die soon, and not for the right reasons.
I can't even tell if the story's any good. Matt, call your agent.(less)
You can take the boy out of Western PA, but... We are enjoying this book on audio so much - my boys cheer with glee every time Tim Federle says "melk"...moreYou can take the boy out of Western PA, but... We are enjoying this book on audio so much - my boys cheer with glee every time Tim Federle says "melk" (milk) or "crain" (crayon) - just like their dad, their uncles, and their all-time favorite, Jack Gantos!
I'm going to go ahead and call 5 6 7 Nate better than Better Nate Than Ever. I think the pace is better, the details sing, and - partly due to the plot - Nate is not so much in his own head as he was in the first. Really nice work.(less)
All these people who say it's like Apollo 13 meets Robinson Crusoe - that's about right. But without the baggag...moreFracking amazing, excuse my nerd-speak.
All these people who say it's like Apollo 13 meets Robinson Crusoe - that's about right. But without the baggage of Crusoe and not quite a breathless as Apollo 13. Maybe it's Apollo 13 meets oh, that fucking thing where Tom Hanks makes everything he needs out of a bunch of FedEx shipments and talks to a volleyball. Cast Away. Although that's a lot of Tom Hanks, and the young scientist/astronaut in this movie is more like a Nicholas Hoult or - whoa - Mayim Bialek.
It is all problem-solving and suspense and truly, truly unprecedented situations. Our stranded astronaut, Mark, is smart and handy and has a great sense of humor. He patches, he repurposes, he makes jokes about using his shit as fertilizer. He has a couple of moments of "I'M GONNA DIEEE!!" but then he always goes, "Oh wait, how about if I..." Totally the guy you'd want to be stranded on Mars with. It's left to the mission specialists and NASA administrators on the ground to get all emotional, and we love them for that, too. Totally the guys you'd want minding the comm if you were stranded on Mars with Nicholas Hoult.
I can't believe that despite the bleak premise, this is such an upbeat book, and I kind of can't believe that I love it so much - upbeat is not usually my thing. But it was so engrossing I started it at about 10 last night and read straight through til 8 this morning.
PLUS - and this is a big plus - to all appearances, THE SCIENCE WORKS. Gonna be so good for teenage Mythbusters fans, once and future JPLers, and the kind of people who cried all the way through From the Earth to the Moon. That was me.
LibraryReads review: Maybe it's because the Moon landing is one of my first memories, but space travel - real space travel, or real-ish space travel, always makes me catch my breath. It's so unlikely, so exciting, so inspiring that so many people can work together to pull off this amazing feat.
The Martian gathers a very realistic depiction of the huge gang of nerds, jocks, and administrators that it takes to initiate and run a space mission with a tour de force main character who acts independently and in isolation to pull off the MOST unlikely of feats. I swear, I shed a tear.
Third pass: NOW we are listening to this book on audio - I thought my 11-year-old and 12-year-old boys would enjoy it, and holy god was I right. They cannot be torn away. We had to unearth an old CD player so that we could play the discs in the living room, and they spent all last night and this morning laying on the floor, rapt.
There's a fair amount of profanity, which, ok, they giggle at. But it is situationally appropriate - if YOU found yourself stranded on Mars, wouldn't YOUR first words be "I AM FUCKED"?
They are loving the astronaut's sarcastic optimism in the face of outrageous odds and they are fully invested in the human drama of the NASA scientists attempting to make contact with Mark and bring him home. In fact, they have already told me that they'll be fine with listening to it again on a road trip we are taking next week. "I'm not catching all of this chemistry and technical stuff, so it'll be good to listen to it again."
The reader is quite good. I was a little worried at first he was using a big, sort of butch HERO voice, but as the book has progressed he is sounding more and more natural. I think that might be a choice on his part - as Mark spends more time in isolation, his log entries become more idiosyncratic and open. My only quibble is - oh my god don't do an accent unless you are STUPENDOUS at accents. NASA administrator Venkat Kapoor sounds like a Latino Yoda sometimes. And I don't even think that character was born in South Asia.
The book celebrates intelligence, ingenuity, and perseverance, and shows that nerds can be heroes too. A-plus.(less)
I can't with this book. Maybe it was the audio performance that made it so insufferable for me, but the book just went to such insane lengths to estab...moreI can't with this book. Maybe it was the audio performance that made it so insufferable for me, but the book just went to such insane lengths to establish the main character as not just bitter and hateful, but possibly mad, that the story suffered. To the point that it took an age to even start, and then didn't seem to have a point. Nope, nope.(less)
We have revisited Knucklehead this summer, now that it is available on audio, read by Mr. Scieszka himself. I checked it out of the library specifical...moreWe have revisited Knucklehead this summer, now that it is available on audio, read by Mr. Scieszka himself. I checked it out of the library specifically for the benefit of my husband and his multitude of siblings, many of whom were going to be in from out of town and spending copious hours in our minivan.
And I think there are other ways that Tim Green is writing from the perspective of an accomplished athlete... to kids who are themselves actively invo...moreAnd I think there are other ways that Tim Green is writing from the perspective of an accomplished athlete... to kids who are themselves actively involved in sports. His middle school athletes eat kind of a lot of junk food, for example. So much that I had to stop the CD and ask my husband, who played varsity basketball in high school and rugby at college, if kid athletes expended so many calories that they had to consume extra. He said he didn't recall any diet recommendations from his high school coaches at all (Catholic schools again) but that in college each member of the rugby team was issued his own Kegerator.
I was very pleasantly surprised to find that while, yes, the book is all about sportsmanship, it is neither depressing nor monotonous. Connor loses hi...moreI was very pleasantly surprised to find that while, yes, the book is all about sportsmanship, it is neither depressing nor monotonous. Connor loses his crap a couple times during baseball games, throwing his glove and kicking equipment into the dugout, and he gets suspended from play because of it, even though he is a star player.
It's Halloween! Time for flesh-eating zombie stuffies to limp menacingly out from beneath your bed and into your dreams! Let Zhou tell you all about i...moreIt's Halloween! Time for flesh-eating zombie stuffies to limp menacingly out from beneath your bed and into your dreams! Let Zhou tell you all about it: