I think this may be yet another example of how book reviews reflect personal preference as much as (more than?) anything else!
I really liked this one.I think this may be yet another example of how book reviews reflect personal preference as much as (more than?) anything else!
I really liked this one. The tone-- and the pacing-- reminded me of reading a fairy tale, and I suspect Ally Condie would approve of that. As with most fairly tales, the story "feels" not overly dramatic, but matter-of-fact, as if the reader is supposed to buy in to the magical or unusual things like the advent of the sirens and the changes in the bats-- and especially the ability to construct an underwater world-- without much explanation. Again, given the fairy-tale-ness of the story, this worked for me.
Atlantia does require a good deal of imagination: there isn't a lot of description about how exactly the underwater world is arranged, and the racing lanes are only described enough to give a vague idea of how they work. I felt like Ally Condie expected me to work with her to develop my own model of Atlantia, and I enjoyed that challenge!
I was expecting it to be a series, and was surprised to find out that there wasn't a "next" book. At just about two-thirds of the way through, I wondered how the ends would all be tied up! However, Condie did it, and the ending was both sad and hopeful-- and satisfying.
Two days after reading this, I find myself thinking about Josie, missing Willie, wondering about Jesse, and even playing out "what ifs" with Forrest HTwo days after reading this, I find myself thinking about Josie, missing Willie, wondering about Jesse, and even playing out "what ifs" with Forrest Hearne-- it's a rare author who can make characters come to life in such way, and even more rare to be able to do so for characters in a distant time (1950s) and unfamiliar (to me) place (New Orleans' French Quarter).
Because of Sepetys' writing, I was interested in learning more about the French Quarter-- the idea that someone with Willie's profession could still be so well-thought-of in the community especially intrigued me. I'm reading THE LAST MADAM by Chris Wiltz, a book that inspired some of the characters in the novel. It's a good book in its own right, but as I read, I feel that I've already "met" some of these real-world characters (Norma Wallace, of course, but also many of the people with whom she associated). Sepetys has a special gift for taking traits from these larger-than-life individuals and using them to build her own characters-- and I'm loving the journey of discovering the people who inspired them! ...more
I'm a sucker for YA Lit that draws on the "classics" for plot and theme, and Chapman does this BRILLIANTLY in Flawless! The names are clever: Cyrano dI'm a sucker for YA Lit that draws on the "classics" for plot and theme, and Chapman does this BRILLIANTLY in Flawless! The names are clever: Cyrano de Bergerac becomes Sarah Burke, Roxane (the love interest) becomes Rock, and Baron Christian de Neuvillette (Cyrano's friend) becomes Kristen. The themes of inner beauty versus outer and the danger of deception stay front-and-center. I loved that Sarah wrestled with her flawed feature (her nose, of course!), but stayed true to who she was and was appreciated (and loved?) for that. And, as in the original drama, the deception plays out(made current through the use of email and Facebook!)-- made deliciously uncomfortable because we KNOW how that has to end up!
I did find myself having to work through some minor hiccups. I was occasionally frustrated with Sarah: I wanted her to be "deeper" at times, more mature than she was and less willing to fall into Kristen's superficial tone. While this made her more "realistic," I wanted our heroine to stay completely true to the idea of "inner" beauty. (After all, Rock, the unwitting victim, did stay true to what he REALLY wanted in a love interest!) Another "hiccup" (albeit minor) was Sarah's acceptance to Rice and consequent shrug (NO ONE fills out an application THAT long to a university which is both that prestigious and that costly, then shrugs off the acceptance while waiting to hear from UT-- if you DID get into Rice, with its high bar, you have no worries about UT. . . ).
None of these misgivings caused me to put the book down, and as Ms. Chapman's first foray into novel writing, the book is truly exceptional in its clever character development and witty interpretation of a classic story. ...more
I was honestly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book-- I had read the first couple of pages, was uninspired, and the book languished on my KindleI was honestly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book-- I had read the first couple of pages, was uninspired, and the book languished on my Kindle for several months before I decided to give it a second try. (I'm glad I did!)
If you read science fiction, you might already be familiar with this construct: a person's "essence" can be "downloaded" (or archived-- saved in some way) for later access. Using this basic idea, Schwab builds an "afterlife" that requires the involvement of the living to successfully archive the "Histories" of the dead.
The main characters are unique in many ways (to have a job that requires you to interact frequently with the "dead" and to keep secret an entirely other world would mean that you'd have to be a bit "different!"), but they also seem like "real" people. McKenzie's responses to situations (the death of her brother, the attentions of the adults, her relationships with friends, and even the stresses of being a "Keeper") ring true; her parents' struggles with coming to terms with the loss of their child seem plausible; and the characters who live in the Coronado are also believable (a fine line for the writer to walk, given the storyline!)
I also appreciated the pacing. Schwab gives enough detail that (if you hang in there for the first few pages!) the world of the Archive is clear. McKenzie's memories of her grandfather ("Da") give insight into McKenzie's struggles to make the "right" decisions regarding her interaction with the world of the Archive. Most teenagers are sorting out the balance between parental advice and their own instincts; it seems that young adults would identify with these struggles, and cheer for McKenzie when she gets it right-- or when she learns from her mistakes and works through the consequences (and McKenzie dodges quite a few of those bullets!). McKenzie's struggles with this inform her actions, and while Schwab illuminates that struggle, she doesn't get bogged down in it.
This was just a fun read-- the promise of the sequel has me looking forward to January 2014! ...more