I didn't like this very much at all. The writing is overblown and it struck me as too....saccharine? I'm not sure what it was that was niggling me theI didn't like this very much at all. The writing is overblown and it struck me as too....saccharine? I'm not sure what it was that was niggling me the whole time I read it, but if I had to read one more description of Achilles' hair looking like sunshine I was probably going to throw the book across the room.
To be fair, the action of the second half was definitely more entertaining and engaging than the first half. The relationship between Patroclus and Achilles becomes more nuanced and complicated, as does both of their characters, but I still wanted more development, especially in their relationship, which pretty much only entailed hero worship.
Miller's scholarship is impressive, and not having a strong background in Greek history, I found that part enlightening. Otherwise, it's just not my style. ...more
Some people think YA literature only involves vampires or crumbling future dystopias full of factions and battles to the death. Others dismiss it as bSome people think YA literature only involves vampires or crumbling future dystopias full of factions and battles to the death. Others dismiss it as being for kids. Most prevalent, perhaps, is the notion that fiction written about teenagers is juvenile; that the characters aren't fully formed yet, and neither are their emotions or experiences. But anyone who remembers that time in their lives knows it couldn't be further from the truth.
"You're just a virgin who can't drive." More than just a punchline from Clueless, these words resonate with anyone who's been a teenager, that universally painful time when you feel like you're on the brink of life, when everything is about to start.
Alex Winchester is on that brink--like many 16-year-olds, she's struggling through driver's ed and wondering how to deal with her crush on the mysterious older boy, Jim Wiley. And her mother thinks she's Amelia Earhart.
Annie Cardi's debut novel does not trivialize Alex's experiences. Her terror behind the wheel is real, as are her frustrations with her friends, her fights with her little sister, her budding feelings for Jim, and her confusion and pain in grappling with her mother's sudden disappearance into mental illness. Alex is one of the most fully realized characters I've read in a novel, YA or otherwise.
I really didn't like this book much at all. I wanted to so badly! I kept waiting for it to be better (also, this book is loooong), but it just never hI really didn't like this book much at all. I wanted to so badly! I kept waiting for it to be better (also, this book is loooong), but it just never hit its stride, for me.
The characters never did anything I was surprised about or excited by. They stayed in their little boxes, pre-determined for them by their experiences as teenagers. It just wasn't that realistic to me that the events of a couple of summers would have such a profound/lasting effect on this group of people. And the author's constant use of the characters' full names REALLY grated on me. Yes, we know these character's names, we've been reading about the same 8 people for 500 pages. Give it a rest.
I'm disappointed that I spent so much time reading this. ...more
You'd think that reading a book entirely composed of advice columns would get a little old, a little boring. But that's not the case here.
I discovereYou'd think that reading a book entirely composed of advice columns would get a little old, a little boring. But that's not the case here.
I discovered Dear Sugar on the Rumpus before anyone knew who Sugar was--she was an anonymous, wisdom-dispensing oracle of the Internet, helping her advice seekers and weaving in incredibly moving tales of her own along the way.
When Cheryl Strayed claimed the Sugar identity, it was around the time Wild, her memoir about hiking the Pacific Coast Trail was released. I read it, and marveled at her ability to be completely open and generous with her life.
That's what these columns are--more than just advice or bon mots, they are gifts of her life that Strayed gives without reservation, over and over. She wrote the column for free, just giving of herself with each response. Her generosity and warmth shine through each of her letters, and it's her steady, funny, honest, and kind voice that kept me reading, long after I should have been bored or tired of the epistolary concept.
Read this, or go read the Dear Sugar columns at the Rumpus--it just might change your perspective on things. ...more
I found de Botton's voice condescending and arrogant. He refers to women as "symbols" one too many times for me--just because a woman is attractive doI found de Botton's voice condescending and arrogant. He refers to women as "symbols" one too many times for me--just because a woman is attractive doesn't mean that she can't be an effective salesperson independently of her looks.
Beyond the misogyny, I doubt de Botton's ever had a "real job" in his life, and his quest to learn more about the world of work seems like a way for him to look down on all of us working drones. I read the book expecting to find out more about the unique aspects of these people's lives and careers in rocket science, accounting, painting, electrical engineering--wouldn't it be interesting to know what the daily routines of a rocket scientist are??
However, de Botton fills the book with overblown metaphors about the meaning of life and spends the rocket science chapter simultaneously poking fun at Japanese television and the desolate landscape of a poverty-stricken South American country. He watches a rocket launch in awe, then talks about how society has fallen prey to worshiping the false gods of science and technology over nature...when mere pages later, in the electrical engineering chapter, he goes on a tour of electrical pylons and waxes poetic about the power and beauty of these giant machines, lamenting with his companion the inability of people to see beyond the traditional beauty of the natural landscape. Which one is it, buddy? Nature or science?
Ultimately, de Botton makes his reader (most of whom likely have jobs that aren't "fulfilling" in this sense of purpose he seems to equate with a meaningful life) feel inadequate and depressed, as though spending a life working for a living equates to wasting your talents in a soul-sucking vacuum of misery and stupidity. Too bad we can't all spend our days traveling the country, gaining people's trust and then judging them, write a book about it and consider ourselves some kind of expert.
I read non-fiction to learn new things. This book taught me one thing--never to read another book by de Botton. ...more
I hate that I gave up on this, but I had already renewed it once at the library, so it was time to just throw in the towel and return it. Maybe somedaI hate that I gave up on this, but I had already renewed it once at the library, so it was time to just throw in the towel and return it. Maybe someday I'll go back to it. ...more