softmore slump noun 1. A half-assed, over-hyped book. 2. A frequently occurring issue in YA lit, wherein decent books are turned into trilogies and everysoftmore slump noun 1. A half-assed, over-hyped book. 2. A frequently occurring issue in YA lit, wherein decent books are turned into trilogies and every work after the initial is but a cold and sad dead thing. See also: Insurgent, Catching Fire
I was ready to dig it. Divergent had its flaws, but, surely, book two would give Roth enough room to spread out and really say what she needed to. Unfortunately, all she wanted to talk about was The Hunger Games. Cute little dystopia, strong female lead, bizarre social caste system, corrupt government, blah, blah, blah. I'm fucking baffled that Suzanne Collins hasn't sued the shit out of her for plagiarism. Oh, wait....
Beyond the obvious dystopihype wave-riding, Roth actually managed to kill any interest I had in the series with her own work. This writing is bad. The story was bad. I mean, how many ridiculously improbable things can happen before an editor says, "Wait. What?" How many goofy, false, and forced conversations must occur? And how can a twist be this obvious?
I shouldn't be reacting this strongly. But I genuinely expected to enjoy this book. I read it in just a couple of days, waiting for it to get good. But the problem, as I see it, is this: this book has no strength beyond its premise. Why would someone with no understanding of politics decide to write a book so centrally-based upon politics? It makes no sense. It would be like me going out and trying to write a repair manual for an 86 Datsun.
I want to own this book. I don't necessarily want to read it again, but I want to own it. The design is lovely, and it deserves to be on my shelf.
TheI want to own this book. I don't necessarily want to read it again, but I want to own it. The design is lovely, and it deserves to be on my shelf.
The book was intense. It was (and continues to be) very difficult to pin down genre-wise. Initially, I thought it might be some kind of horror novel, what with the protagonist dying in the first three pages and all. But then it went on this whole post-apocalyptic, Cormac McCarthy thing before becoming what felt like a full-on sci-fi novel. At that point, I just stopped trying to decide what it was and opted, instead, to just experience it.
The story is incredibly sad, as books about teen suicide tend to be. But Ness puts you in the mind of someone who kills himself unsuccessfully. Not that he doesn't die, but, rather, that death isn't sufficient to rid him of his pain. It isn't a morality story, though. Not by a long shot. The unspoken acknowledgement is that death is not necessarily the worst thing that can happen to you, but that suicide, to some degree, represents a loss of control. This is kind of different from the "I'll end it on my own terms" mindset. It complicates the plan B.
I found the book to be difficult to read, personally. Anyone who has had to deal with intense feelings of guilt or abandonment, I think, would likely be at risk of feeling the same way. Those parts of the book made me feel thankful for the silly sci-fi stuff, as they deflected the pressure for a while. Made it all more bearable. It was one of those rare cases where the empathy I felt for the protagonist actually changed how I felt about myself. There was a lot of acknowledgement, forgiveness, and letting go happening.
So, yes. Great book. At least as good as A Monster Calls. I look forward to reading Ness’ next book, if for no other reason than to revisit some of these themes. These books feel very cathartic to me and I selfishly hope it takes their author a while to work through his issues. Don’t see a therapist, Patrick. Don’t get better.
P.S. There are far too many animated GIFs instead of reviews for this book. If Goodreads wants to censor something, it should be those....more
It all started innocently enough. It was casual Friday and I’d left the office to do some library visits. One of the teen librarians spotted me in myIt all started innocently enough. It was casual Friday and I’d left the office to do some library visits. One of the teen librarians spotted me in my short sleeves and informed me that I’d be a perfect tattooed Dauntless leader for her upcoming Divergent program. I shrugged and agreed to participate, having no clue whatsoever what I was getting myself into. But I could wear my skin. That would be easy enough.
A week before the program, I decided to get informed. I got myself a copy of the book and dropped right into that fun little universe that was pretty much a forced blending of Harry Potter and The Hunger Games. But that’s okay. Mockbusters don’t write themselves.
Headed to the library on program day, I was kind of excited. I mean, I was the Dauntless leader, hands down the coolest faction in the book. I wasn’t sure how the program would go. In essence, it was a pretty ambitious role playing game. A couple of weeks before, the teens who would be participating were tested (read the book) to determine their faction placement. I didn’t get to see that, but I hear it was pretty brutal. But could the teens be expected to both show up on program day and relax their inhibitions enough to role play in public? Past experience made me doubtful.
My Dauntless initiates were all strangers. In spite of attending the same school, they didn’t know one another. Four of them were pretty quiet, but there was one who immediately slipped into character. Shortly after, her fellow initiates followed suit. I handed out character cards to each player. These cards had predefined actions on them that each character would need to complete to progress the live story. It was my job to make sure these things happened on schedule. After that, we started faction training. My initiates were practicing their marksmanship. A well-meaning Abnegation initiate (or “Stiff” as we affectionately called her) came by to selflessly help us set up our targets. Of course, due to the bastardization of faction politics over time, we took advantage of her innate kindness and made her act as a living target.
As the evening wore on, the initiates became comfortable in their characters. During their downtime, the Dauntless wandered the library causing mischief and mayhem. I thought it was interesting that my teens opted to embody the behaviors of the more unsavory Dauntless in the novel (like Peter) rather than the just and heroic heroine of the story (Tris). That, perhaps, speaks to the nature of divergency. Two of my teens had cards that labeled them “Divergent,” but, if they really believed it, they were better actors than Four. None of them questioned the cruel and confusing missions I sent them on. They were just happy to be a part of the group.
And that, I think, is where the real power in the book exists. Sure, it’s derivative, but it’s just a good thing for teenagers to hear. You can be different. Sometimes you should go against the grain. Sometimes when you’re right, others will resent you for it. The end of the world is often not the end of the world. You need not restrict yourself to some predefined set of characteristics.
That idea, though, is much better conveyed in the one-on-one environment of reading a book. It’s easy to identify with Tris when you’re seeing things through her eyes. In the game, it was more fun to be like everyone else. There was less risk that way. For me, seeing both perspectives simultaneously was kind of revelatory. This event was the real-life manifestation of literary engagement. And the actions that the teens undertook represented a very real connection with the text.
My favorite part of the whole thing, though, didn’t happen until after the game was over. The girls in my group, who were previously strangers, exchanged phone numbers so that they could hang out together in the future. Come to the library because of a love of a book, engage with like-minded individuals, and leave with new friends. I can’t imagine a better outcome for a library event....more
When I was in seventh grade, I fell in love with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. My mother, bless her heart, assumed I’d fallen for Sarah Michelle Gellar. IWhen I was in seventh grade, I fell in love with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. My mother, bless her heart, assumed I’d fallen for Sarah Michelle Gellar. It wasn’t a completely unfounded notion, especially when one considers the annual wall calendar I’d purchase which featured the lead actress’s digitally enhanced face twelve months out of the year. No, my young heart didn’t throb for Buffy. It went deeper than that.
Five years before the television show aired, my mother took my brother and I to the stanky dollar show movie theater at the mall. Whenever we went to the movies, we always chose to see something either horror or ninja related. That day’s visit was kind of both. We watched in awe, our L.A. Lights sticking to the floor, as a fairly unremarkable teenage girl went about her business kicking the ever loving shit out of a bunch of vampires.
When I heard as a teenager that Buffy was getting her own television show, I was thrilled. I stocked up on blank VHS tapes and started recording the show from its premier. I loved watching every week as Buffy and the gang throttled some new supernatural threat. The show provided me with monsters, and was the closest thing to a horror movie that you could find on TV. I needed monsters.
I watched with fanatical dedication for several years. As the show progressed, it ceased to be about a badass girl fighting monsters and more about a badass girl being manipulated by her once-time lover. Like so many television shows, the producers decided to focus on the relationship development, which I was never really into. For those of you who have been paying attention for a while, this is where my strong dislike of vampires stems from. They stole my favorite show from me.
From that point forward, vampires seemed to be hollow things. They weren’t sexy or mysterious, just another over-hyped trope that had gotten too much mainstream play. Since then, I’ve avoid vampire movies and books. I just don’t enjoy them.
Cut to last week. A copy of this book happened to cross my path and the cover intrigued me enough to give it a shot. I didn’t read the back cover, just dove in. After a few interesting pages, it became evident that I was reading about vampires. I was not happy. I debated stopping and pretending the encounter had never happened, but I’d already started. I can’t stop what I’ve started.
So I soldiered on. The writing was nothing special, which surprised me. I’ve heard nothing but good things about Holly Black. The plot was competently handled, though. I liked the world building and the special set of rules that governed this special set of vampires. Black decided to stick with the classic elements, rather than writing a “forget everything you know about this garden variety monster” book. That was a good choice. And a lot of what she wrote about the feeding/infecting part of the mythology, I think, really contributes to the vampire canon. Unless, of course, Ann Rice or someone already wrote this shit (in which case: Shame on you, Holly Black!). I liked that.
I was pretty happy with Tana as a narrator, too. She contained all of the characteristics of Buffy that I’d appreciated as a teenager. She’s strong, determined, and able to take care of business. She’s not the girl you want to fuck with. Until...
(view spoiler)[She interacts with dudes. Sigh. She’s got her ex-boyfriend who mistreated her, but whom she’s just powerless against. He spends the entire novel manipulating her into doing what he wants. She can kill centuries old vampires, sure, but when it comes to seventeen-year-old boys, she just melts. And when she finally seems to get over him? Oh, yeah. Another (slightly older) boy comes around who she just can’t control herself around, even though she knows he will probably kill the fuck out of her.
And that ruins things for me. I was fine with this book going all relationshippy. It’s a YA novel. What else would it do? But seeing this girl trading in her badassness for kisses and being pressured into awkward situations? No thanks.
People are invariably going to compare this book to Twilight. Go right ahead. But this girl is no more badass than Bella. She’s still a helpless girl swooning for douchebags. Give me a heroine who can kill vampires and tell her ex-boyfriend to go fuck himself and I’ll give vampires another shot. Until then, adieu. (hide spoiler)]
And that, for me, costs Black some stars. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Gerald Faust shits on beds. In shoes. On the stairs. On your favorite possession. On your dinner table.
If he could, Gerald Faust would shit on your lGerald Faust shits on beds. In shoes. On the stairs. On your favorite possession. On your dinner table.
If he could, Gerald Faust would shit on your life.
Or at least he would have when he was five. He’s pretty much changed now in the decade since the reality TV nanny show left his life. A great deal of work has been done to cope with the psychological damage that his family has caused him. But he’s still famous in a way that no one wants to be famous. He’s a high school boy, totally digging the hot girl who works six registers down from him, and he’s still known around town as the Crapper.
At first glance, this premise seems irredeemably goofy. But leave it to A.S. King to take the irredeemable and not just redeem it, but craft it into something impossibly affecting and real. She touches on topics that I had never even considered, like bullying by siblings. Not pain-in-the-ass-older-sister stuff, but actual, tangible, your-life-and-sanity-are-in-danger stuff. Because of the television show, the entire continental U.S. thinks Gerald has a screw loose. That’s why he’s the one seeing the shrink and going to special ed., while his crazy, abusive sister loudly bangs the neighbor boy at all hours of the day in the family’s basement.
Because his family still thinks he’s trying to shit on their lives.
This is a story of transcendence. It’s about beating the odds, breaking free. Gerald has a mountain of shit in his way, but his determination makes all the difference. It feels hokey for me to say, but this story is inspirational. But in ways you’d never expect. There are teenagers on this planet who will be changed by this book. Not all of them, but some of them. And that is no small feat. ...more
On April 20, 1999, two high school students murdered twelve of their classmates at Columbine High School. The following day, when I showed up for schoOn April 20, 1999, two high school students murdered twelve of their classmates at Columbine High School. The following day, when I showed up for school hundreds of miles away, the first thing that greeted me was a bomb threat spray painted on the wall of the science building where my first hour class was to be held. I’d never heard of anyone getting killed at school before. I didn’t feel safe. I hurried to the office and tried calling home. No one answered.
I remember the last day of school a couple of years later. My junior year. A similar threat was made. Classes were optional. Final exams were no longer mandatory. I went to school anyway. Because I was, just like the last time, unaware of the threat. My English class stands out in my memory. My teacher, a man who I admired and respected, gave the few of us who came to class a little speech. He painted everyone who stayed away from school that day as cowards. They’d given in to the culture of fear. We, on the other hand, were heroes. We looked our would-be terrorizers in the eye and called their bluff.
This, of course, is complete and total bullshit. Say, for example, that on the morning of April 20, 1999, some other kid, maybe the sibling of Eric Harris or Dylan Klebold, called in a warning to the school giving administration a heads up that two disturbed little motherfuckers had every intention of lighting the place up. Say, then, that school had been optional for them. Say Eric and Dylan go to school anyway. That’s a recipe for a building full of dead heroes.
It is painfully obvious to say, but I’ll say it anyway: school shootings are a problem of some serious fucking significance. In the past year alone, it has seemed like the people of this planet have collectively lost their minds. Mass shootings, school shootings everywhere. People getting killed in this historically atypical way has become pretty goddamned typical.
When I started this review, it was my plan to be all PSA about it. I was going to list a couple of school shootings in recent history and go from there. But when I tried to look up the details of the ones that immediately came to mind, I found a Wikipedia entry on school shootings. I skimmed through the article, but couldn’t find the listing for shootings in the United States. This was because the section was smaller than every other country listed. Why?
Because the United States of America, god help it, needed an additional linked entry that dwarfed the general “school shooting.” Have a look. It’s fucking nuts.
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is a story about a kid who plans to ice a classmate. He has a loaded gun and is eager to use it. When he’s done, he’s going to off himself. Nice and clean.
This, of course, is nothing new to YA literature. How could it be? School shootings have become a part of our national consciousness. It’s the new face of the problem novel, right there next to cutting and anorexia. The trio is like a Mount Rushmore of fucked up shit that teenagers have to deal with. What sets this book apart, though, is the approach. Leonard is going to kill that kid for an atypical reason. You might, like me, see it coming, but there’s no question that it’s a different sort of situation than we normally face. In many ways, this is a story of redemption. This book contains convincing strategies for pulling a kid out of a downward spiral.
This book is almost certain to put you in a dark place. But it’s a dark place that we, collectively, need to venture into. Quick’s unflinching look into the brain of a messed up teenager will almost certainly give you pause, if not nightmares. But it’s all for the greater good. When you get to know Leonard, you start to see the problems that kids face every day. And, if you’re a teenager, you might get some idea of how to deal with them. And how not to. Mostly how not to....more
When I first started this book, I was immediately repulsed. The initial pages simply dripped with voice in the same way teenaged Hollister employees dWhen I first started this book, I was immediately repulsed. The initial pages simply dripped with voice in the same way teenaged Hollister employees drip with foul smelling cologne. It was like being back inside the head of the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime protagonist, where the weird, simplistic thoughts are so forcefully injected into the narrative so that you just know that the character is brilliant in spite of his intellectual shortcomings. This kid, Jamie, is not mentally challenged in any way, but his voice is just like that.
Because of this, I was all ready to dislike this book. The title is pretty amazing and the cover is attractively done, which allowed me to think that the book could very well be all marketing and no substance, but I was wrong.
Jamie and his sister Jas have just moved out of London with their father after their mother leaves them. The catalyst for this abandonment? Five years prior, his other sister (Jas’s twin) was blown up by Islamic terrorists. The parents were unable to deal with it, so mom checked out and dad went a bit nuts. They’ve moved out of London so that, according to the father, they won’t have to be around any more terrorists (aka Muslims). When they arrive at the new place, he puts the dead girl’s ashes on the mantle and drinks himself into oblivion. The kids get to look after themselves.
The problems start immediately for Jamie. At school, the kids start picking on him the first day. The only person who is kind to him is Sunya, a Muslim girl who he doesn’t feel he should speak to out of respect for his father. Sunya is kind of amazing. She is persistent and kind, helping Jamie fight back against the bullies who also mistreat her. Jamie isn’t sure what to make of it at first, but finds himself drawn to her in that pre-romantic way that kids can feel. He’s in love with her eyes and the allure of what is happening beneath her hijab.
(view spoiler)[ I can’t really talk of Sunya without relating the most powerful scene in the book. After some stuff happens, Jamie’s dad freaks out on Sunya’s mom and the girl is forbidden to associate with him. Heartbroken after losing Jamie as a friend, Sunya is vulnerable to the taunts of the schoolyard bully. In the final instance, after this same evil kid has physically beaten Jamie to a pulp (a very difficult passage to read) and reduced Sunya to tears multiple times, he decides it’s time for her to have her ridiculous head covering publicly removed.
Jamie sees this happening on the playground through a classroom window. He remembers the explanation Sunya had offered him about it’s significance, telling him that she covered it so that no man could see her hair, because her hair was to be a special thing for a special future someone. In her insightful way, she says that this is not because a man should have the right to exclusive access to her hair, but, rather, because her hair is too special for the world to see. Watching this awful boy try to reveal Sunya’s special hair to the kids on the playground is too much and Jamie flies to the rescue, beating the id up against all odds and saving the day. For all its contrived, predictable good-feelings, it was still a powerful moment and to have done anything else would have been cruel. My absolute favorite part of the book deals with the hijab, too, but i don’t think I want to spoil that even for those who are okay with spoilers. (hide spoiler)]
A lot of the plot is easy to figure out; there’s nothing really groundbreaking going on here. I think Pitcher also makes the mistake of trying to fit too many life-shaping events into the book’s final pages for any but the most important to have any lasting impact on the reader. However, the things she gets right she really gets right. By the book’s end, I had laughed, cringed, and felt that standing-at-the-edge-of-a-cliff-in-awe-of-the-huge-expanse-of-air-before-me feeling. It was definitely worth reading and had some of the most well-handled post-terrorism commentary I’ve experienced. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
A few weeks ago, I was in the audience as Tom Laveen talked about his new book, Manicpixiedreamgirl. At the time, I had no idea the title was a trope.A few weeks ago, I was in the audience as Tom Laveen talked about his new book, Manicpixiedreamgirl. At the time, I had no idea the title was a trope. In case you’re as clueless as I was, the term refers to shallow, quirky ladies in films (typically the romantic interest) who teach thoughtful male protagonists how to appreciate their lives. Think Kirsten Dunst in Elizabethtown or Zooey Deschanel in 500 Days of Summer. The Internet seems to know a lot about it.
As I was reading this sad book about a teenager dying of cancer, that term jumped into my head. Because Gus is totally a manic pixie dream girl. You’ve got this sad girl who spends her life dying. Until she meets this guy with only one leg who lives in metaphor and does these absurdly capital-r-Romantic things for her.
As is typical with John Green, the characters are incredibly interesting and insightful. Even the stock characters like Gus. The have the kind of conversations with one another that thinking folks would kill for. It’s all so improbable, but it’s so lovely to read that you just don’t care about the unlikeliness of these people actually existing. The book is real in a very harsh way, but none of this could ever happen.
I feel silly saying that this book was great. It’s fucking John Green. What else would it be? ...more
The marketing department at Feiwel and Friends (an imprint of Macmillan) tells me that Julie Halpern is an author of acclaim.
The marketing departmentThe marketing department at Feiwel and Friends (an imprint of Macmillan) tells me that Julie Halpern is an author of acclaim.
The marketing department at Feiwel and Friends (an imprint of Macmillan) was kind enough to include a page at the end of this book that gives credit to the different individuals who make up the marketing department for making this book possible.
The marketing department at Feiwel and Friends (an imprint of Macmillan) likes to give itself handjobs at the expense of its acclaimed authors.
The marketing department at Feiwel and Friends (an imprint of Macmillan) kind of has a point. It did great work. It convinced me that I should pick up this book and take it home with me. It provided Halpern with a relatively attractive cover (not garish, at the very least). It made sure the book crossed my path.
The marketing department at Feiwel and Friends (an imprint of Macmillan) may not have mislead me. Halpern may be an author of some acclaim. I have never heard of her, but that means just about nothing. However, I can say, with relative certainty, that the only entity that would provide this book with acclaim is the marketing department at Feiwel and Friends (an imprint of Macmillan). And that is because this book is not good. Wait a second there. It isn't bad, either. Not damningly so, anyway. It's one of those middle-of-the-road blah blah blahs. The book is conversational in that Catcher in the Rye sort of way, but fails to ever reach that level of affectiveness. This is a book without a single scene. The reader views everything through the lens of the protagonist, a mixed up teen girl with weight, anxiety, and parental issues. Which would be fine if it were written differently. But it's like a journal. It's like someone's mother decided that she wanted to write an edgy YA novel with great voice, so she started channeling this character and writing down her thoughts as they came to her. Great to get the process going, but terrible as a finished product. If you're going to go on great, sprawling tangents, you need to make them relevant. Even if you're writing as a teenager. Because to do anything else is an insult to teenagers.
The marketing department at Feiwel and Friends (an imprint of Macmillan) can do a lot with a formulaic YA novel. When you start reading this book they sold you, you'll immediately encounter a feeling of deja vu. When you finish, the feeling will be even stronger. Wait, you'll think. Haven't I read a book where (view spoiler)[ the protagonist is forced to choose between two love interests from two different worlds? Where the pull toward each of them is equally strong and there is no solution that won't end the world as we know it? Where right at the end, just before the two trains collide, something really convenient happens and one of those two steps aside? Where the protagonist gets the right guy/girl and lives happily ever after? (hide spoiler)] Fuck you, marketing department at Feiwel and Friends (an imprint of Macmillan) for thinking you can repackage the same shitty three act plot and expect me not to notice. Some of us are aware that this is the YA formula. And some of us are fucking sick of it.
The marketing department at Feiwel and Friends (an imprint of Macmillan) isn't a complete detriment to society. They were kind enough to let an overweight girl with issues be the hero. They allowed her to thrive. They let her be accepted by herself and others. They allowed her to put a positive spin on the therapeutic process. They let her be strong. Halpern, of course, is the one who did the good here. Her writing leaves something to be desired, but there's no getting around the fact that she created a character who isn't the nicest, isn't the prettiest, and isn't the skinniest. This is a wonderful thing.
The marketing department at Feiwel and Friends (an imprint of Macmillan) would like you to disregard everything but that last paragraph. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
The act of reading Mossflower is perhaps the closest one can come consciously entering a state of deja vu. It’s like watching The Texas Chainsaw MassaThe act of reading Mossflower is perhaps the closest one can come consciously entering a state of deja vu. It’s like watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3 or D2: The Mighty Ducks- you know you’ve experienced this all before, but, for some reason, you find yourself unable to avert your eyes.
I toyed with the idea of just reposting my recent Redwall review in an overly-subtle attempt at saying as much, but ultimately decided against it. You’re welcome.
Because it’s kind of a shitty thing to do. People pay for this stuff. Does a creator of consumable content not have the obligation to provide their fans with something new? Or is it perfectly acceptable to take that safest of roads carved out by the likes of stupid television shows and mainstream musicians? Because I take the time and effort to read books, I expect more of them. Perhaps this is my fault.
It can be argued, I suppose, that Mossflower is the second installment of a children’s series. Children do enjoy repetition, as evidenced by the months I spent involuntarily watching Curious George cartoons. But can they not just read the same book over? Does that childhood desire to re-experience that which has previously brought joy really necessitate a separate book? I don’t think so. I think it’s a lazy attempt by publishers to sell the same shit over again to a consumer base that doesn’t know any better.
As far as the Redwall mythology goes, Mossflower does contribute some valuable details, namely the origins of Martin the Warrior. Unfortunately, it seems that there’s another whole book dedicated to Martin, appropriately titled Martin the Warrior. This does not bode well for my enjoyment of the series.
I suppose the obvious comparison here is to The Outsiders or Grease or West Side Story or pretty much any story of a couple of social groups at odds wI suppose the obvious comparison here is to The Outsiders or Grease or West Side Story or pretty much any story of a couple of social groups at odds with one another for superficial reasons. It certainly applies here. The Crud Masters, a group of ragtag misfits, are in a constant battle for supremacy with the NOLAs, the guys who are rich and better looking. In that regard, it’s better than The Outsiders, because there’s fucking sea monsters and Transformers.So it’s like The Outsiders meets Mothra vs Godzilla... or maybe Gamera? I don’t know. The point is that it transcends the typical gang war-style story because it’s all jacked on Pop Rocks and methamphetamines.
But what I really want to compare it to is The Lost Boys. Boogers is a sad, lonely kid. He lives in a seaside town where there’s not a whole lot to do. But there’s some weird supernatural shit going on (in this case, sea monsters), in addition to the normal pressures associated with belonging to a marginalized fringe group. So Boogers has to band together with a smelly NOLA girl, a large-breasted bear, and a doughy, spineless waste of flesh in order to make it through the day. At its heart, it’s a story of teen angst. This is some straight Catcher in the Rye shit here.
Which is pretty fucking fantastic. I have often thought that, if it were not for sodomizing the baby Jesus or stabbing assholes in their assholes, bizarro fiction would be perfect for teens. Successful young adult fiction has to keep its audience in mind while not showing its cards. The Crud Masters comes as close to pure YA as I’ve seen. It’s definitely got the appeal. It’s the sort of YA book that could be assigned in remedial school English classes for kids who set fire to their pets. It’s weird and accessible, with just the right amount of robots, sex, and profanity to keep the interest of a fifteen-year-old boy who might not otherwise come near a novel that addresses these themes.
It’s a classic in a brand new trench coat, standing at the bus stop and flashing you its cock....more
It’s suddenly occurring to me that the majority of the film-adaptations I’ve seen in the theater have been in that borderline grindhouse at the mall wIt’s suddenly occurring to me that the majority of the film-adaptations I’ve seen in the theater have been in that borderline grindhouse at the mall where the floors are sticky with spilled Diet Coke and semen and the tickets cost just a buck.
As per usual, I saw Coraline by myself when it was raining. I went to the mall for some reason and decided to stay for the movie. Ah, those were the days.
I went in hoping that it would be something along the lines of The Nightmare Before Christmas, only creepier. From the poster I only glanced at, I thought it was a Tim Burton movie. When I realized it wasn’t, I grumbled. But I was grumbling to myself in an empty theater and it was annoying, so I stopped. I remember the movie being pretty much what I’d hoped. There were certainly some fairly scary parts and the whole thing about the otherworldly characters having buttons for eyes came across as very dark, indeed. There was a Wonderland kind of feel to the film, a degree of whimsy that rounded off the rough edges of borderline horror. It was a good experience. I’ve spent a dollar on worse things.
After seeing the movie, I wanted to read the book, but the library only carried the graphic novel version. At that time, I didn’t read graphic novels, so I just forgot about it.
Fast-forward some years and all of a sudden I have a three-year-old daughter and a miraculous device that allows me to, with just a few button presses, call entire books from the ether that is the Internet. We read Coraline as a bedtime story.
The kid liked it more than I did, so much that she wanted to read The Graveyard Book soon after. But for me, the experience was less rewarding.
This is one of those few cases where the movie was just better than the book. What Gaiman tried to do with Coraline is ambitious. The scenes in the book are competently written, but just better suited to a visual medium. It’s one thing to say that the Other Mother has buttons for eyes, but it’s entirely another to see those eyes in action. After the really polished and rich animation of the movie, the text felt sadly flat. It was like a doodle of a flower on the back of a telephone bill, where the movie was like the flower itself. ...more
I really liked this book. My favorite part was that it was a happy ending love story. It was great that it was good. I thought Paige totally deservedI really liked this book. My favorite part was that it was a happy ending love story. It was great that it was good. I thought Paige totally deserved to get to know Zach by reading his diary. I also thought that the characters were very realistic. Paige starts out kind of bitchy, but her true feelings change that.
It was really good that there was a convincing mystery in the love story. If it was just a love story it wouldn’t have been as good and could have sucked. But it didn’t because of how good the author is. I didn’t see the ending coming at all even though the title.
When the book was over, I kept wondering about the characters’ future and where they’d be a few years down the road. I wish I had met my baby daddy like this instead of at my sister-in-law’s house one night when I was drunk. This was way more romantic and I bet Zach won’t just run off and leave Paige when she misses her period. Zach doesn’t even really drink I bet.
Even though the story was complete I still wanted more. It was that good. So good. It made me wonder what Paige did in between when she visited Zach like at home and school and stuff. I was dying to know what her awful friends were really like outside of what she tells Zach. I mean, they sound so mean and awful but there must be something good about them or Paige wouldn’t hang out with them so much. I felt like I actually knew her friends like they were my own friends, but the description of them wasn’t very good I guess. It made me serious.
Zach’s relationship with his dad also. It was hard. It reminded me of my own mom when I was in high school. She wanted me to finish, but I wanted to drop out. Like Zach, I think I made the right decision. Sometimes parents force their own dreams on their kids and that ruins them. Zach didn’t want to play football just like I didn’t want to go to school anymore. Except for the coma, I think Zach turned out okay. Maybe I’m in my coma right now lol.
I’m glad of what happened at the end. Paige needed to do that. She learned to live for herself by trying to impress the boy in the coma who was the ultimate in inaccessible love interests. For him, she walked away from her friends and faced ostrichism in school. And when he finally woke up, it was good because they were able to fall in love for real. That was uplifting.
It did seem kind of unlikely I guess that he would be on life support until she gave him a handjob while he was in his coma. I can’t believe that would bring him back to life. I don’t even know if that is legal or not with his parents in the house. I mean I’m glad that he came back to life from the coma but its not very likely that would work.
Maybe this book wasn’t that good after all....more
I’ve never fallen in love with a publisher, so this is all new to me. I’ve had friends who are die hard fans of certain indie publishing houses, and wI’ve never fallen in love with a publisher, so this is all new to me. I’ve had friends who are die hard fans of certain indie publishing houses, and who will read a book for who put it out instead of who wrote it. That concept always baffled me. But I’m starting to get it.
I’ve never been into comics. As a kid, I tried, but they fucking sucked. But First Second graphic novels don’t suck at all. Across the board, they’re pretty amazing. As I sit here, I can’t help but think of my experiences with Feynman and Bake Sale and be overcome with a resonating warmth that makes me feel like I’ve just pissed myself.
Bloody Chester is not a western in the genre sense. Sure, it takes place in the west, with its horses and mining claims and shit, but it’s a western like Cormac McCarthy writes westerns. The story is dark, uncomfortable, and dirty, filled with some pretty ugly reality. Peppered throughout the story, lucky readers will find the little pieces of the kind of history that made Howard Zinn famous. This is not a tale of a cowboy riding off into the sunset, fighting some indians, and winning the love of a reformed whore.
In the book, we meet Chester right before he gets his ass kicked (for what, we assume, is the eighteenth time that week). He’s a young, cheeky bugger and we’re not really sure what to think of him. If anything, he’s an anti-hero from the start, and that’s intriguing. Chester is hired by a railroad developer to burn down a town that sits upon land he wants to build through. Chester accepts and heads out to do the deed, only to be derailed by the town’s three inhabitants.
And that’s where things get interesting. Chester is forced to act civilly to these people who outwardly dislike him. He’s there to destroy their home, and he never shies away from saying that outright. Though he’s there to destroy the place, the young feller has a big heart and isn’t willing to kill anyone. His plan is to round them up and lead them away before chucking a lit match at the ghost town. As the other characters warm up to him, the reader is lulled into a false sense of comfort. When Chester and the girl are flirting, it’s pretty easy to forget what’s going on, and that some bad shit still has to happen. Rather unflinchingly, this book reminds YA readers that the kiss doesn’t always mark the story’s end.
My absolute favorite part of the plot was the reveal near the end. Understanding the relevance of what has occurred hinges on the comprehension of a single word. I absolutely adore the subtlety. Graphic novels are typically all about telling the reader what is happening. They’re very storyboardish in that regard. But Bloody Chester stays true to itself, never succumbing to the limitations of the medium.
Last week, when my family returned from vacation, we started hearing a strange scratching noise underneath our bathtub. It didnI have a mouse problem.
Last week, when my family returned from vacation, we started hearing a strange scratching noise underneath our bathtub. It didn’t happen very often and I dismissed it offhand, reasoning that whatever was under my bathtub was outside of the house and, therefore, not an issue I had to deal with. Within a couple of days of that, though, it became evident that the problem had spread from the underside of the bathtub to the kitchen, where the disgusting evidence of mice forced its way into our everyday lives.
I did some searching and found a sizable hole under our kitchen sink that was put there (presumably) when some plumbing work was done and never filled in. Face-to-face with a hole of that size, it surprised me that we didn’t have a problem with drug-addled vagrants. My search revealed all kinds of shoddy Frankenstein-esque cabinet installations and modifications that featured many an inter-connecting hole. It’s like a fucking autobahn for mice.
Mice make me cringe. Well, that’s not exactly right. I’m okay with mice. If it was just them, it probably wouldn’t be a problem. It’s the filthy living habits they bring with them that bother me. The unsanitary nature of their everyday lives makes my skin crawl.
The mice have to go.
I started by patching up the holes to the best of my ability with duct tape and setting a trap. All I have to show for that effort is neck and back pain from crawling into the awkward cabinet space. The mice seem undeterred by my makeshift barricades. I spoke with our landlady and she is going to get some professional help out next week to actually take care of the problem.
But that kind of bothers me, too. That trap I mentioned in the last paragraph? It’s one of those hippy, free-love kind of traps that doesn’t hurt the mice. My plan was to catch them and release them somewhere else. They have no interest in my trap, though. This worries me.
Back in June, my daughter and I ventured for the first time into Redwall. We met Matthias and enjoyed his company. He’s a good mouse. Strong, smart, brave. He would never shit on my countertops.
Redwall is a special place. Everyone within its walls is granted protection and hospitality. It seems inherently wrong to me to introduce this place to my daughter only to show her (through whatever nefarious means my landlady has at her disposal) that we don’t actually live there. This kid, she bonds with the crickets. She befriends the neighborhood cats. Am I to show her that mice, like her beloved Matthias or Martin the Warrior, are somehow bad? Am I to show her it’s okay to kill them?
When I was a child, our house was mouse-infested. We didn’t have any money, so any professional pest control wasn’t an option. Instead, my mom set all of these rusty, well-used mouse traps all around the house. At night, when everyone was asleep, I’d trip them. And I’d feed the baby mice in their burrow in my sock drawer- the mice no one knew about.
I did these things and I’d never anthropomorphized them. In my daughter’s head, these little buggers may have the same evolutionary standing as people, considering the fact that they protect each other, have delicious vegetarian feasts, and go on quests. I don’t want the mice to die, and I don’t want her to think it’s okay to kill them.
But where does that leave us? These mice in our house seem to have a little bit of Matthias’ spirit in them. Or, at the very least, they’re clever enough to avoid getting caught in my hippy trap.
Alas. This story has no resolution as I write this. Fucking books. I can’t standing them. Turning something as simple as pest control and simple sanitation into a moral dilemma. Perhaps by the time we’ve finished Mossflower I’ll find a solution to this mess....more