Francisco X. Stork has a truly great book in Marcelo in the Real World. Stork challenges the reader to make moral decisions along with Marcelo, and al...moreFrancisco X. Stork has a truly great book in Marcelo in the Real World. Stork challenges the reader to make moral decisions along with Marcelo, and all along, the reader is not convinced what Marcelo’s actions should be either. Characters in the text often underestimate Marcelo, and we as readers do as well, causing an interesting interplay with an unreliable narrator with autistic tendencies.
Stork is able to do some clever things with his this character that one often doesn’t see in realistic YA fiction, and I wish we would see more of it. Because of who Marcelo is, and how he processes information, the reader is forced to consider some big questions along with Marcelo. Why to people hurt each other? What is love? What is desire? What is forgiveness? What happens when we find out the world isn’t the way we thought it was? How do we handle disappointment? The list goes on. Stork discusses and throws away these ideas as if they were candy at a small town parade. They come so hard and fast we, like Marcelo, barely have time to process everything Stork is trying to portray. And yet what could seem preachy or moralizing really never occurs because the situations always develop quickly.
Stork never tells us what to think or feel and neither does Marcelo. We are left to observe the actions of Marcelo and the characters around him, and chose for ourselves what is right and what is wrong. I think this is a tendency with male authors (especially who write about male characters), to internalize and contemplate the actions of the characters, not write them all down on the page.
Did I mention this book is set in a law office? :) A veritable crucible for learning ethical behavior. Are some of the situations convenient and easy? Sure. But that is a small fault in this excellent book. (less)
I remember True Grit from my high school reading list. I did not read it then. Westerns, PAH! But as I have broadened my reading scope I have found qu...moreI remember True Grit from my high school reading list. I did not read it then. Westerns, PAH! But as I have broadened my reading scope I have found quite a few “westerns” that I really enjoy. Elmore Leonard and Cormac McCarthy have written some excellent novels. Now I can add Charles Portis to that group.
Written in 1968, it still feels fresh. The use of a courtroom transcript to introduce Rooster Cogburn and also the first person narrative are literary devices right out of today’s YA novels. It is no surprise that the Coen Brothers took up the challenge of bringing True Grit back to the silver screen, after their success with No Country for Old Men. I have not seen either versions of True Grit, and now will watch both with interest. Perhaps it is time for a Western Renaissance, such as the horror /thriller novel has recently enjoyed.
An excellent story, and one of the best reads in the last 12 months. Buy this book. (less)
This graphic novel collects the comic book series (#1-8) of the series "Kick Ass" by Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr. Essentially, it begins how every...moreThis graphic novel collects the comic book series (#1-8) of the series "Kick Ass" by Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr. Essentially, it begins how every comic fans hope... that superheroes are real. Well in high school junior Dave Lizewski's world, superheroes do not exist, just like in ours. He decides he is going to change that, by buying a wetsuit on Ebay and roaming the streets at night, to stop crime. Hijinks ensue, copycat heroes come out of the woodwork and the reality of Dave "Kick Ass" Lizewski come crashing down.
An excellent read, and an excellent graphic novel. It opens the question about maturity levels of YA readers, as the comic is labeled for Mature readers and the film is rated R (which I haven't seen). I am glad that the film held true to it's "R" rating from the "Mature" text.
An excellent novel, and storyline, it is easy to see why Collins has a hit with the Hunger Games. A clever, skilled, and somewhat androgynous main cha...moreAn excellent novel, and storyline, it is easy to see why Collins has a hit with the Hunger Games. A clever, skilled, and somewhat androgynous main character struggling for her life at home, and in the world, makes for a fast-paced entertaining read for male and female readers.
Collins creates a world that at first seems relatively small in scale, but as her protagonist (and reader) soon finds out, the world is a complex place filled with dangers, and rewards.(less)
I was impressed by The Magicians. One of the quotes on the inside calls it "Harry Potter for adults." I would have to say that I agree. Though the nov...moreI was impressed by The Magicians. One of the quotes on the inside calls it "Harry Potter for adults." I would have to say that I agree. Though the novel does deal with many YA themes, and it is understandably a cross-over novel, The Magicians surprised me like Tithe surprised me, in that an urban fantasy can be nearly as rich as the tradition fantasy, though technically Grossman cheated a little by getting his characters to travel into a fantasy world anyway.
Grossman's world is such that it has infinite possibilities, and though his Harvard vocabulary is showing, he still pulls off the college angst pretty well. It is interesting to see our "modern ideals and sensibilities" applied to the traditional fantasy world. He riffs on Rowling, Lewis, and Tolkien, while at the same time taking concepts made popular by those authors and making them his own.
Grossman will have a long legacy, and his world is dense and full of possibilities. I would definitely recommend this for advance upper YA readers and adults. (less)
The craftsmanship of this text is stunning. It is so rich that I never wanted to leave Yancey's world, and was ecstatic to find out he was writing more. The text obviously sets up things for more novels, but The Monstrumologist stands on its own as a complete novel, with no hanging plot issues.
Definitely for advanced YA readers who can handle violence and gore, (something I normally can take or leave) the plot, is complex, the vocabulary is at adult levels, and once you commit to the page count, you wish it was Rowling thick.
As you can see by the number of shelves I have listed it under, it will appeal to fans of many genres, and if you want something that is ensconced in historical fact and yet is fantastical in its delivery, Yancey is your guy. I even listed it under steampunk, even though it isn't technically in the genre, it has many steampunky elements. The time period (1880's) and the development of a "science" that doesn't really exist, falls right into steampunk land. (less)
A pre-curser to books like Feed and [Book: House of the Scorpion], horrendous covers may have contributed to this books lack of popularity.
The story i...moreA pre-curser to books like Feed and [Book: House of the Scorpion], horrendous covers may have contributed to this books lack of popularity.
The story is told from the perspective on an eleven year old girl, Whensday. She lives in a future ruled by a fascist regime that employs child slave labor. She is on the verge of starvation throughout most of the book, and the future is bleak. A gritty, simple story with complex themes. (less)
An excellent read, and a bit on the lighter side compared to Looking for Alaska. Green is really coming into his own, and one would think he has a lon...moreAn excellent read, and a bit on the lighter side compared to Looking for Alaska. Green is really coming into his own, and one would think he has a long YA career in front of him.(less)
It reminds me a bit of Pete Hautman's Invisible mostly because of the quiet (stalker-esque) nature of the main character, Cameron Wolfe. In this novel, the narrator develops and grows, a true coming of age novel. Cameron is always striving to discover himself.
It is actually the third book (stand alone) in a group of books about the Wolfe family from Zuzak. The other two books are Fighting Ruben Wolfe and The Underdog.
I am surprised that it has taken me this long to read a book by Chris Crutcher, one of the quintisential "guy" writers. I also had no idea that he was...moreI am surprised that it has taken me this long to read a book by Chris Crutcher, one of the quintisential "guy" writers. I also had no idea that he was a close friend with my mentor Terry Davis.
"Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes" was published in 1993, so it probably can be on the verge of being considered a classic, at least by YA standards. The style is definately that of the 70s/80s problem novel. Yet Crutcher can spin such a good yarn, that even though it seems a bit dated, I think it was still compelling and well done.
Terry Davis is currently writing the screen play (according to his website) so I think that this story will do well with some modernization and revision.
Really, a great books for guys & gals, it was a page turner. (less)
33 snowfish is at the literary pinnacle of YA fiction. I stayed up until 2:17am to finish reading this novel, I just couldn’t put it down, I was in it...more33 snowfish is at the literary pinnacle of YA fiction. I stayed up until 2:17am to finish reading this novel, I just couldn’t put it down, I was in its thrall. It reminded me of The Perks of Being a Wallflower and I read that novel with similar voraciousness.
Adam Rapp’s characters are about as unlikely as they come, three homeless kids struggling to survive while also having to deal with a baby and their own personal demons. This is a novel that really takes to task some of our expectations about humanity. Physical and sexual violence are part of the lives of these characters, and it is told with brutal honesty and without a hint of sentimentality. He just tells it like it is for the characters he has created: A patricidal arsonist (age 17), a drug addicted prostitute (age 14), and an emotionally damaged former kidnap victim (age 10).
Rapp’s poetic writing is peppered across every beautiful page and adds so much depth and lyricism to the text that one can get lost in a poetic turn of phrase and almost forget the horrible acts these characters are suffering from and participating in.
This is one of the best examples of what literary YA fiction CAN be. (less)
Daria Snadowsky set out to present a realistic portrayal of a young woman’s coming of age in Anatomy of a Boyfriend, and she succeeds. Dominique is a...moreDaria Snadowsky set out to present a realistic portrayal of a young woman’s coming of age in Anatomy of a Boyfriend, and she succeeds. Dominique is a character that becomes interested in her own anatomy, after she meets Wes, who literally makes her heart throb. Snadowsky tackles every subject “in a responsible way” according to School Library Journal, from dental damns to orgasms from the female (and male) perspectives and de-mystifies many of the modern issues that Today’s teens are worrying about and dealing with. Snadowsky leaves no emotional stone unturned, either, Dominique experiences a wide range of emotion on her trip of discovery from bliss to crushing, gut-wrenching heartache.
A parallel and modernization of Judy Blume’s Forever, Snadowsky doesn’t allow the story to end during the summer, but takes Dominique off to college and shows the emotions of life “on your own.” A very readable book, with authentic scenes that detail the myriad physical and emotional qualities of young sexuality, Snadowsky gives us a glimpse of the curious, self-conscious, angst-ridden young adult.
I am surprised that this book is still somewhat “under the radar” though it did just come out in trade-paperback. Anatomy of a Boyfriend is bound to raise eyebrows in certain circles, but in the circles that count, (her YA reading audience) Snadowsky is right on the mark. Dominique is portrayed with such innocent curiosity, that it is easy for readers to empathize with her foibles, mistakes, and triumphs. Teens will want more of Snadowsky’s frank, believable narrative. (less)
"They never tell you this part in sex ed, how to talk about what you did and why you did it and what you thought about it, before, during, and after."...more"They never tell you this part in sex ed, how to talk about what you did and why you did it and what you thought about it, before, during, and after."
The perfect line, because I think this is why YA readers read books like Sara Zarr's. The story is about an average girl who made what she and her father consider a mistake when she was in 8th grade, and it is haunting her still, almost three years later because no one knows how to talk about it. Zarr portrays the complex family with ease, giving each of her characters a position to operate from, and for the most part allows them to change though the book.
Frankly I found the book "tamer" than I expected, and thought the family drama was a bit high for my taste, and the -Story of a Girl- sections seemed tacked on and unnecessary but you can't give 4.5 stars on goodreads so it gets five.
With over-all literary and thematic elements regarding family, sexuality, responsibility, religion, and coming of age, it is easy to see why "Story of a Girl" was a National Book Award finalist. (less)
This book is AMAZING. Contemporary, vital and full of scary technological reality, Doctorow has a homerun on his hands with "Little Brother." This YA...moreThis book is AMAZING. Contemporary, vital and full of scary technological reality, Doctorow has a homerun on his hands with "Little Brother." This YA novel has a perfect mix of angst, young love, and cool gadgets, and authenticity to intice any reader.
The title refers to George Orwell's "Big Brother" from 1984. In "Little Brother" 17-year-old Marcus Yallow gets swept up into an all too believable (1984-esque) Department of Homeland Security paranoid nightmare that involves a nail-biting cat-and-mouse chase through the entire book.
Doctorow weaves fact and fiction together flawlessly, and I have the urge to attack the internet and find out more on the subjects that he includes in the book, from Xbox hacking to cryptography to the evils of city planning to the "Yippie" movement of the late '60s.
I will hand this book to anyone that enjoys action/adventure and a good read. Or apparently you can read it online fore free!
This book was amazing and really sets the bar for fantasy. An excellent example of the genre "steampunk" Pullman establishes a world that you never wa...moreThis book was amazing and really sets the bar for fantasy. An excellent example of the genre "steampunk" Pullman establishes a world that you never want to leave.
A British writer who has a doctorate in literature, his extremely intelligent writing is many things: the reverse telling of Milton’s Paradise Lost, the anti-Narnia, and a treatise against dogmatic followers of every kind.
Pullman may eventually reach the status of Tolkien and Lewis, plus his book encourages discussions that LOTR and TCON never even think to begin.
The Golden Compass will retain a permanent place on my shelves. (less)
Yeah, yeah, yeah. See the RACK of medals of the cover of this book? A friend told me she felt this novel changed the face of science-fiction. High pra...moreYeah, yeah, yeah. See the RACK of medals of the cover of this book? A friend told me she felt this novel changed the face of science-fiction. High praise indeed. I didn't buy the hype, and still have issues with the extremely slow start of this novel. It has been sitting on my desk for almost two years (no lie) and I finally read it.
After the first 80 pages of slow moving material, I finally became vested in the characters and thought the novel finally caught on. I think this novel probably does change the face of Sci-Fi for MG audiences, because the novel tackles some pretty high-brow concepts (modern slavery, cloning, organ harvesting, Communism, Marxism, Drugs and drug trafficking, addiction, adoption, forgiveness) and like Lois Lowry's book The Giver Farmer does not shy away from these complexities.
I appreciated the way that Farmer finishes the book, unlike Lowry who closes with ambiguity, Farmer lays it all out on the table. Sequel??? I also predicted the ending with about 200 pages left to go in this book, which I guess is okay because I am a Sci-Fi aficionado and not a sixth-grader. The book for me as an adult probably would get a 3.5 stars, but I thought Farmer handled the material for her intended audience very well, hence the five star rating. (less)
I loved what Zusak did with his craft here. Death as the narrator? I could read several books like that. I think if one considers this narrative conve...moreI loved what Zusak did with his craft here. Death as the narrator? I could read several books like that. I think if one considers this narrative convention it really puts Zusak in a group with some of the best YA writers out there.
I am tired of the Holocaust genre, yet I am glad that I picked up this book. For young readers who haven't had as much exposure to Holocaust narratives, this is a spectacular choice.
Also, I did tire a bit of Zusak's use of figurative language. Passages like "Her nails bit at the flesh of the door," are very clever for the first 400 pages, but I began to find them tedious and over done toward the end.
On the whole, it is a beautiful novel, and one I would recommend to everyone, especially adults who are interested in the craft of writing YA. (less)
Koertge's book is perfect for the YA audience. I am surprised that it has not garnered more attention, it is every bit as good as Nick and Nora's Infi...moreKoertge's book is perfect for the YA audience. I am surprised that it has not garnered more attention, it is every bit as good as Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist and has fascinating characters in Ben and Colleen. I felt it had a coming of age type theme and style, akin to Judy Blume's Forever from the male perspective. I also like the fact that Ben has an obsessive interest, in this case movies.
Being familiar with Koertge's writing style, and having visited with him on a personal level and taken lecture's from him, it is interesting to see his writing style play out in published form. Some of his techniques that he uses to randomize his prose make parts of the novel feel natural and fresh. Definitely a must read, but you will probably have to pick it up on Amazon... (less)
Loner Miles “Pudge” Halter finds new friends in Alaska Young and “The Colonel” at Culver Creek prep school. He also finds out that having friends and...moreLoner Miles “Pudge” Halter finds new friends in Alaska Young and “The Colonel” at Culver Creek prep school. He also finds out that having friends and falling in love is painful when forced to deal with the apparent suicide of Alaska.
Green won the Printz award for this debut novel about the meaning of life and the search for “the Great Perhaps”. Green uses the vehicle of Alaska’s death to frame the novel in two “countdown” sections, Before and After. Giving Pudge the proclivity of wanting to know the last words of famous people gives the novel a sense of foreboding, but these gimmicks are not as intrusive as those in An Abundance of Katherines.(less)
One of my favorite books of all-time, Ender’s Game reminds me as an author that kids are smart. With an 11-year-old protagonist, this book is a YA nov...moreOne of my favorite books of all-time, Ender’s Game reminds me as an author that kids are smart. With an 11-year-old protagonist, this book is a YA novel, yet it tackles deep philosophical and ethical questions about life and sacrifice, about the gullibility of Man, and how the media can manipulate the public if it goes unchecked. It idea that only a few powerful people (men in this case) are really controlling everything, and we as citizens and humans on this planet need to be aware and cautious is a central theme to this novel. After many years being bogged down, finally we are seeing Ender’s Game comics and hopefully a new movie.(less)
In Godless, Pete Hautman used his character Jason Bock to illustrate his philosophy, “[in a book] what yo...moreAn excerpt from a paper if mine on Hautman:
In Godless, Pete Hautman used his character Jason Bock to illustrate his philosophy, “[in a book] what you see is somebody's idea of reality.” But sit down with a stack of student journals, and one would notice that dealing with faith and religion, like Hautman does in Godless, is right on the top of many students’ “real issue” lists. Hautman’s novels have teen themes─getting the girl, fitting in, being successful, peer pressure─but he tackles adult issues and writes with a voice that shows that he respects the reader’s intelligence. He doesn’t sugarcoat issues in any of his books, and Godless is no exception. His character Jason Bock is questioning his faith, and doesn’t answer any of his questions by the end of the book, but he is allowed to question. For Bock, Hautman, and his readers, that was enough.(less)