About one third through the book, I became increasingly confused about the book's setting. The protagonist makes remarks about how Sydney is a radical...moreAbout one third through the book, I became increasingly confused about the book's setting. The protagonist makes remarks about how Sydney is a radical and exotic place so I thought, 'why, these kids must be Americans!'. And then it was mentioned that the only traveling Frankie's family has done was to US and UK, so it rules out those two places as well. Frankie's sister also wears uniform and attends a Catholic school. So now we know the book is set in an English speaking, uniform wearing place which has lots of cakes and birds, and isn't in Australia, US, UK, Ireland, Scotland, Canada or Area 51.
It turns out that Frankie, the 12 years old boy, is actually from New Zealand.
And all of a sudden everything made much more sense.
I was born in Auckland, and anything that's about contemporary Kiwi land is automatically sentimental to me. I find Kiwi YA to be dramatically different to Aussie, or American YA (or maybe I'm just a limited reader). But seriously, it was refreshing to read a 'troubled teen' novel that doesn't involve drugs, cyber bullying, pedophiles, body image issue and whatever else is on MTV shows. Instead, it deals with more a teenager's more ordinary everyday concerns such as homeworks (in details as well), sports, hobbies, family dynamics, and current affairs to a certain extent. Not that it's necessarily a good thing, but De Goldi has chose to portray a fairly innocent New Zealand with the old fashioned, hospitably friendly and polite people. Baking is enjoyed by all, everyone loves home cooking and have fruit as snacks. Being obese is still something that's unusual and funny as opposed to the 'ZOMFG McDonalds will give you brain cancer and you'll die with your kidneys falling out it must be shut down' reaction. Is it realistic? Well I'm not sure, I suppose every city and its assholes and sheltered kids, NZ teens aren't any more depressing or happier (in fact while Australia came 6th for the world's happiest countries, NZ wasn't even in the top 10). But it will always reminds me of sunny days, lemonade (we used to grow lemons in the backyard which has orange skins and size of grapefruits) and excitement whenever I see a bridge (it was the pinnacle of human achievement to my 5 years old self).
Hmm, I don't know what else to say about the book. It's sort of like those happy childhood memories where you go 'man things were so much easier, better back then without Facebook and Justin Bieber'. Although it discusses some fairly dark subjects (anxiety illness, pseudo-child abuse), there's nothing explicit and you don't feel super depressed about the state of our world. I especially enjoyed the minor characters, even those who were only mentioned once. They all have such distinct personalities and quirks, while being optimistic and liberal. My only complaint is that the narratives can be quite chunky at times, and loaded with paragraphs of descriptions where the plot stays stagnant.
Anyway, Yay for New Zealand!
P.S. So everyone is still obsessed with crickets? And insanely good with bird trivia? Sometimes I wonder if I'm really from NZ.
Hi, my name is Hannah. I killed myself two weeks ago.
I was a typical teenage, attended a regular public high school, had a middle class family and wh...moreHi, my name is Hannah. I killed myself two weeks ago.
I was a typical teenage, attended a regular public high school, had a middle class family and what else....Hey Jay! Yeah you writing about my story over there! What other things did I do?
Um, ok, this is embarrassing. Jeez, I guess he should have read my Myspace.
So er, I'm here to explain why I killed myself, since suicide is a big deal in YA and all. You see, boys were really mean in my school. I don't mean the standard type of mean - you know, name calling and everything. But there was this guy that started RUMORS about me doing something naughty, like beyond kissing! Eww! Then there was this other guy who voted me for 'best ass' in a poll. WTF right? And my one friend slapped me and gave me a scar. See? It's here, the bit above my eyebrow?! Gross. And then someone ditched me at a party. What am I supposed to do other than swallow a bottle of pills? You know, I did this for the good of ALL teenage girls - people NEED to know their actions have consequences. You think spilling your lunch juice box on someone's shirt is no big deal? Think again! Your clumsy gesture is a deliberate retaliation! Maybe it's unconscious, I don't know. But it's wrong anyway! And there's nothing you can do that will make the other person feel better. He/she is marked for life by that purple stain.
What? Did you say THE COUNSELLOR? We all know they don't help. They're just stupid psych major graduates who sit behind their desks reading trashy romance.
Whatevs, this is too hard. Let me record it down. Do you think 8 tapes should cover it?
We all know that the only appropriate way for teenagers to deal with these situations is to 1) whine or 2) whine on youtube. But that wouldn't be a bestseller now would it? And it only irritates me more with the suicide of Phoebe Price in the news. Suicide is not an excuse, people don't do it to guilt-trip other people (Narcissistic personality disorder is another story, I would have forgiven the author had he indicated such). It's appalling the way the subject is treated - you can either see the act as a melodramatic performance (victim blaming) or genuine, but only with pathetic so called 'reasons'. Hey Hannah, if you had the energy to plot 13 tapes outlining the villains who drove you to suicide, then please, use it to draft an article to a feminist magazine.
But damn it, knowing all of this, I still can't stop reading it. It's like....ARGH stop whining but why am I getting so angry and it's so interesting and I want to know what happens at the end and *shoots self in head*
The only star trek I've seen is the new one with Simon Pegg, and I only read Lord of the Rings because it was on sales. I...moreI don't have much geek-cred.
The only star trek I've seen is the new one with Simon Pegg, and I only read Lord of the Rings because it was on sales. I watched Firefly because my ex was a massive fan, and I still confuse Star Trek with Star Wars (don't even talk to me about Battlestar). Although I love comix, JLA and anything too DC is out of my league. Most superheroes are misogynistic and my appreciation of fantasy is limited to the one Discworld I borrowed for a train trip. I also failed history, and physics if it wasn't for the maths. People think of me as a geek not because I can play chess or code in Python, but rather my indifference to other non-geek interests. I can't tell if video games are geeky anymore, is L4D or Modern Warfare geeky? Or only MMORPGs like Age of Empire?*
What makes someone a geek? After all, it doesn't matter if you're into comics or dinosaurs or guns or Lovecraft, they are almost all equal in terms of geek-cred. Is it the cult following aspect? If so, why isn't NBA or Ingmar Bergman geeky? Or is it the escapist tone? Then unrealistic mainstream chic flicks should also be part of the nerd culture. I think what makes a geek has more to do with devotion and obsession rather than the subject. I know geeks who are into ancient history, as well as geeks who are into argumented reality programming or Mexican culinary, fields that are completely unrelated. A fan of something usually remembers trivial details and has a concern for continuity and character profile. It isn't so much about the story, but rather identifying familiar quotes and references. Geektastic is an example of this. Most of the stories consist of little more than just a bunch of nerd brands put together. For a geek, it's exciting because you can laugh at so many names and places nobody else would 'get', yet feel frustrated at the same time because We are worth more than a machine that can recite the complete history of the doctor. Contrary to other reviews, I didn't find the geekeries in the book too hard-core. The first few stories may require more than rudimentary knowledge of pop culture with titles that go STAR-something (starfleet, starcraft, stargate, star-in-case-you-don't-know-I'm about-science). Other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed Scott Westerfeld's story which exempts itself from the name-dropping humour (since when is Westerfeld a geek? I guess most of his fiction deals with vampire and random monster/magic things, but wasn't his fist book worshiped by hipsters?). Hope Larson and Bryan Lee O'Malley's drawings are adorable as well (in a geeky way, of course).
Anyway, you've done it. I'm officially renting the whole series of Star Wars tonight.
You know how sometimes independent-$300-budget films can be funnier than big time Hollywood-explosions-authentic-costumes-and-Will-Ferrell-blockbuster...moreYou know how sometimes independent-$300-budget films can be funnier than big time Hollywood-explosions-authentic-costumes-and-Will-Ferrell-blockbuster? Just like MS paint can sometimes be more straightforward and hilarious than well drawn Adobe vector art (e.g. Natelie Dee, Hyperbole and a Half, various images on 4chan). Similarly, Byran Lee O'Malley's simplistic, charming style echoes those silly 80s anime where everything goes out of hand with crazy gravity-defying epicness. It's almost exactly identical to Wright's film but if you haven't seen it, this is certainly worth it. (less)
Little Brother is structured around a group of hacker-activist teenagers, people who invert the power system through 'being in control' of technology,...moreLittle Brother is structured around a group of hacker-activist teenagers, people who invert the power system through 'being in control' of technology, using it as a tool of empowerment and agency in opposition to authoritarian mass surveillance and oppression. While I admire its spirit of activism and old school anarchist cookbook-esque tactical engagements with the world, it's disappointing to see the book veer towards a simple us vs. 'the man' dichotomy without examining the power structure critically. It's unnerving to see characters claiming to be 'free' when the book's concept of freedom is reduced to a sentimentally patriotic, 'the american constitution' way. This is especially evident towards the final chapters of the book where Marcus, the protagonist, is completely stripped of any complexity and rendered into a spokesperson for Doctorow's techno-optimism.
Despite its ideologies, the book definitely excels as a YA or easy sci-fi. The pacing is fantastic and the cast sincere enough for me to overlook any preachy heroism. (less)
Stargirl is a bit of Glee, a bit of old school Electric Light Orchestra, a bit of I love Lucy, Lolcats, Charlie the unicorn and whatever other things...moreStargirl is a bit of Glee, a bit of old school Electric Light Orchestra, a bit of I love Lucy, Lolcats, Charlie the unicorn and whatever other things that have gone viral on youtube.
First of all, I have to give it at least 2 stars for a perfectly fitting cover, which suggests you should expect stick-figures in bright colours and stars. Great job with the graphics.
On one hand, it's refreshing to read a YA novel that is silly, happy and optimistic, while not concerning emotional relationships and or family tension. However, after 100 pages it just felt like sitting through one of those cheesy high school suicide-prevention seminar. The brochure the nice counseling lady gave out had a bright sunflower looking thing and a star on it. I'm not sure what the sunflower sees in the star, but hey, it's cute when you don't think too much about it. (less)
Maybe I'm being too cynical, and that the protagonist (I forgot her name already, so I'm just going to call her Jane) did go through something worth l...moreMaybe I'm being too cynical, and that the protagonist (I forgot her name already, so I'm just going to call her Jane) did go through something worth lamenting for 200 pages. But for God's sake just because your character is a silent withdrawn introvert doesn't mean your plot has to be the same, it's 150 pages of nothing then BAM! she speaks up! finds courage! The end!!!! LOOK MY HEART IS BLEEDING AND YOU CAN HEAR MY SCREAMS BECAUSE IM LITERALLY TALKING LIKE THIS!!!!! This has to be the worst psychological portrayal of selective mute I've ever read. Ms. Anderson, please don't ever consider a career in counseling.
Also, if you're writing about contemporary art, please have the decency to at least read about postmodernism. Look, I'm not saying sketches, oil and print making can't be cutting edge, but Jane's A+ art works make me want to throw up. Her art teacher is meant to be a bohemian liberal artist, but I can see why he ended up teaching high school. To be fair you can't judge a work by reading vague descriptions of its visual composition, but drawing a depressed tree is not conceptual art, and whining about corporate fascism doesn't make you an artist either. Jane is utterly talentless. I wish my current art critic tutor is as forgiving as her art class.
The snail pace monologues are full of anguish, you half expect it to boil down to some psycho sadistic plot twist but your common sense tells you this is a book marketed towards teenagers. And yes the ending is disappointing, but I'm so glad Jane is done with her anger management issue. (less)
Remember those anti-drug commercials about the ghastly effect of narcotics? Drugs will 1) turn you into a terrorist or 2) turn you into a psycho kille...moreRemember those anti-drug commercials about the ghastly effect of narcotics? Drugs will 1) turn you into a terrorist or 2) turn you into a psycho killer who will accidentally kill your family by stealing their car and then running them over with it, including your cat or 3) turn you into a zombie gangster with a bad racist accent and acting. 4) is perhaps definite for all of them - you die in a dingy alley with gas lamp lighting, legs broken, mouth filled with unidentifiable white foam with hand holding a syringe filled with blood.
Personally, this is a more effective anti-drug ad for current teenagers: if you take drug, you will end up kidnapped by Rob Zombie's crew from the Devil's Rejects.
So what about the book? Dude, just go rent Requiem for a Dream. (less)
My biggest criticism of Vampire Academy is the its lack of logic with both plot and characters. The characters all behave like teenagers you would ex...more My biggest criticism of Vampire Academy is the its lack of logic with both plot and characters. The characters all behave like teenagers you would expect on a TV show and I am tired of this generalisation - you're either the pretty vacant prom queen (the jealous girlfriend) or a so called kick-ass 'individual', who is just someone with irritating low intellect, arrogance and bad manner. While the latter is perhaps a refreshing change from the usual teen romance, it remains one-dimensional nonetheless. Character development is non-existent and the story can be described as a big montage of insignificant details.
As much as VA deserves to be judged on its own merit rather than another boat in the endless stream of the vampire novel franchise, it lacks the most basic elements this genre contains - emotive dialogues, thematic violence and pseudo-mythology. Many people enjoy Twilight for an escapist fantasy for its precise straightforward predictability and while VA tries to elevate itself to a more mature level (think Anne Rice), it is stuck in a limbo between the sappy teen drama and gothic macabre it aims for. The result is a negligible stir of Wesley Snipe one-liners (I'm not one for proper mannerism but the lack of common sense and respect the protagonist displays is simply unreasonable)and stereotypical Buffy bravado. It isn't that I believe young adult vamp novels should be divided either into deep meaningful woe-is-me nihilism or brainless PG romance as much as the current media trend appears to be. VA is a clear example of how collecting and mixing tiresome popular 'themes' such as unconventional school setting (Harry Potter), royalty vs peasants (Meg Cabot) and supernatural horror (Meyer) would only ever be reminiscent of these precedents rather than establish any creativity or stand to be a good novel with originality. Put it this way, you have a bunch of rotten ingredients, putting them all in a salad does not make it any better than serving them by itself.
Overall, half star for tolerable setting and half star for not preaching Twilight morals.
Normally I don't judge people based on the choice of books they happen to enjoy. But this is an exception, anyone who managed to finish this book with...moreNormally I don't judge people based on the choice of books they happen to enjoy. But this is an exception, anyone who managed to finish this book without feeling an intense need to put to it down and scream, or at least cringe at certain parts that resemble the Stuff White People Like blog, congratulation, you have a literary taste equivalent to overnight McDonald burgers. The characters are about as human and profound as my wallpaper (decorated with European brands I can't pronounce) and it probably has the most exclamation marks I've ever read in a book that is not self published!!!!!!!!!!!!
Thank god I was the captain of chess team in high school.
by the way, is there a way I can change my rating to negative 5 stars?(less)
To be frank this review is probably a bit biased considering I have not read this since I was 14, and it was school related which pretty much means I...moreTo be frank this review is probably a bit biased considering I have not read this since I was 14, and it was school related which pretty much means I speed read it in 5 minutes before the English exam. Now, the reason this book didn't impress me was it out dated ideals and as a textbook, it doesn't achieve it most basic requirement - to present a morale that would last in a kid's head for more than an hour of exam. (less)
When Edward was first approached by Meyer to write an internal monologue to further expand this multi-million dollar franchise, this is what he wrote:...moreWhen Edward was first approached by Meyer to write an internal monologue to further expand this multi-million dollar franchise, this is what he wrote:
Yesterday I met this chick. A human chick, which sucks pretty bad on the account that I want to drink her blood and all. But she smells really good, like, DKNY or something, or really nice food, like bacon to some people, but totally without the fat. But yeah, she's so hot Nietzsche would probably turn normal if they meet. So anyway, she's really hot, especially her eyes, I think they're kind of hazel, but it's not like I was concentrating up there anyway since I was totally taken by that smell. *change of tone* No! I must restrain myself *slap myself* because, I don't know, I'm dangerous. Yes that's it! I'm dangerous! In fact, I'm so dangerous I can't prove it other than by lifting a car, eating animals (Foer would object), and glittering. Now, all you whiners out there complaining how I'm not like the count, well, guess what, Spiderman didn't think spraying superglue silly strings is a talent as well. And what's that compared to making yourself look good without photoshop! I bet that scares off more grizzle bears than your average hand made weapon. But I don't need that do I? Because I have Bella, she's my life, the air I breathe and all the stars and planets and flowers and cute things with fur Shakespeare wrote about. Yeah, Will and I were like best pal back in the days. Oh I feel so old, *agony* but it's like I've waited all these years for a teenager girl to teach me how to live and enjoy life. Because it's virtually impossible to do that without hanging out with someone who smells like flowers and designer perfume. Anyway I think that's all I have to say, I'm going to dazzle more people now, it gets pretty boring when you're stuck in the 21st century with nothing good to read. (less)