The colloquialisms are adorable (I've no idea how Libba Bray worked abs-...moreBe warned, newcomers to Libba Bray:
This is a long book. Like, 600 pages long.
The colloquialisms are adorable (I've no idea how Libba Bray worked abs-o-tute-ly, jake, heebie jeebies, and [insert word]-ski into her vocabulary, but I grin like a fool at the slang), but the plot is saturated with melodrama, and the romance is as dry as last week's toast.
Bleh. Last week's toast. That was some pretty horrible romance. It was the kind of setup where there's the triangles and the squares and the polygons, and then I'm just so excited for the chaos (yes, yes, sadism, masochism, pleasure from pain, yada yada. All's fair in love and war, you know.), and then Bray turns around and writes something like, "the thrill of his touch traveled the length of her arm, and this, too, she tried to ignore" (direct quote, by the way).
And thus, cue the rolling of the eyes. My eyes rolled so much that they got dizzy. No joke.
But before dedicated fans let their attack dogs loose, let me tell you that I liked Diviners a whole lot, sucky romance aside. Love was a minor thing, (after all, there was basically only one kissing scene), and the plot was fun and the characters were misguided and funny and stupid and awesome (except for when they were trying to kiss other characters), and Libba continued her amazing streak of hilarious author's notes and acknowledgements (seriously, read her author's notes and acknowledgements. They're the bomb dot com, and I don't use that bad slang lightly), even though she needs work on her love polygons (seriously, if you don't want to write romance, just write story. GOOD STORIES DON'T NEED ROMANTIC LOVE!! News flash: there are other kinds of love. Like family. And friends.)
You can tell that I really know when to let go of a grudge *cough*(less)
It feels like I haven't read a picture book in forever, so visual consumption from this book was wholly appreciated.
But the bare boned story, without...moreIt feels like I haven't read a picture book in forever, so visual consumption from this book was wholly appreciated.
But the bare boned story, without pictures, is overdramatic and unsubstantial. To put it bluntly, these kids instantly fall in love and there's little to no depth to any characters. It would have been a 2 star, but the pictures are so well done that I bumped it up. Read only if you need to feed your visual appetite.(less)
I have a working theory that every book can be captured with one perfect word. It's not going to be a perfect fit. Some favorite parts will be left ou...moreI have a working theory that every book can be captured with one perfect word. It's not going to be a perfect fit. Some favorite parts will be left out. There's a high level of variation, because words are different for every book, every person, every reread.But they're there. Harry Potter is magic. Sherlock Holmes is mystery. And there has to be one for Eleanor & Park.
I'm no expert on real life love, so if I'm wrong, forgive me. But how can one word capture the cute, warm, and fuzzy feeling?
The frantic, fast version of first love, and the need to slowly, carefully, meticulously examine it.
The awkwardness of needing to learn how to kiss and sometimes tripping over coffee tables and falling on the couch.
The unforgiving arguments that end in silence. The non-arguments that end in silence anyway. The problems with the outside world and with the world between two people. Picking fights without knowing why.
And more mundane things. The aversion to meeting the parents. The first date. The first kiss. The first shared mixtapes and comics. Holding hands. Driving around. Sneaking around.
The tenuous, fragile, "It's because I have to" family love.
Even the weird, arbitrary things matter.
Makeovers, eyeliner, satin pillowcases.
The weird loveliness of having a punk rock Asian kid date a tomboy redhead. Because, yeah, looks can matter in a lovely way.
Reading a book written by someone with a cool name like Rainbow Rowell.
So I didn't expect much from this book. Sue me. But I do love me a good plot twist. Then again, I'm pretty oblivious, so maybe it was a pretty obvious...moreSo I didn't expect much from this book. Sue me. But I do love me a good plot twist. Then again, I'm pretty oblivious, so maybe it was a pretty obvious twist. No matter -- I still had fun.
However, there was just no substance in the book that stuck. I didn't particularly adore any character and there was nothing especially clever. It was like drinking a cool glass of pink lemonade in the dead of winter. - pleasant but a little out of place.
Mind, though, that there are two fantasy series whose plot twists and character complexity will never be matched. Of course, I am referring to the rather obscure Thief series, written by the inscrutable Megan Whalen Turner, and the infallible Finnikin of Rock trilogy. Worth a mention. (less)
Quick recap for you Boyfriend List newbies : Ruby Oliver wrote a list. Of ever boy she'd ever kissed (or...moreHow wonderful it is to love a book like this.
Quick recap for you Boyfriend List newbies : Ruby Oliver wrote a list. Of ever boy she'd ever kissed (or had a relationship with). Then her bestfriend stole her boy. Now she's left with no more joy. Now Ruby sees a therapist. About panic attacks that come forthwith. Ruby's life is now a mess. You have to read to know the rest.
*congratulates self for impromptu rhyming*
The thing I think most everyone is going to comment on is Ruby Oliver's freakish realisticness -- except I think that it's realistic only because it's written by a real person who is skilled at coming across the right. Coupled with heaping doses of painful awkwardness. Which make readers cringe at first and then feel so happy later, because they are not the only ones who readily consume painful awkwardness.
But that's something anyone could say. So I'm going to go into the metatext. This is a people-centric book, and even though I love talking about the deliciousness at Ruby's bake sale, people are much more interesting, which is even more true when the people are more people-like.
Good thing this is a realistic book, then.
Going on. If Ruby Oliver were a play, then I have loved and hated all of the lead parts. And when she was talking about her Great Dane, and something about how when the good outweighs the bad, you stick by people even though they can be a huge pain in the butt sometimes (Yes, I'm too lazy to dig back for the direct quote. Sue me.), my reaction was something along the lines of:
yes all the things how are you so wise when the majority of your vocabulary consists of things like Poncho! and Mocha Latte? why are you so awesomely flawed and why so I think this chick lit has so much value on learning about life it's like not fluff at all must read on!
And it got me thinking about how all the conflict is really a product of constantly shifting perspectives. Like, I hated Nora when she was stupid enough to be like, you have to stop liking him even though you can't help it because it's all your fault and besides, I got dibs but then I was thinking about how if I was Nora, then I'd be angry and say stupid things to get what I want. The metatext is that nobody's going to get what they want but they'll try anyway. That's how I've loved and hated the characters -- they do all these terrible things and you think for a minute and then it feels justified and you see how they're "flawed people worth loving" a la John Green the Quote Machine.
So yeah. Lots of flawed people and conflicting emotions about everyone and middle school feelings like But does he like like her? that make you feel stupid except you don't care because this book is awesome. Not that everyone will feel the same. But that's how I feel.
Side note: I'll admit that I had a fangirl moment when I saw the likes of John Green/Libba Bray/Maureen Johnson in the acknowledgements. And I'll also admit that I read the acknowledgements. My favorite is Libba Bray's in Going Bovine ("If I don't mention them, they might not invite me back for dinner. And I like dinner"). Sue me.(less)