At first, this book seems to be about two teenage boys embarking on one of the stupidest plans ever. Inspired by a documentary on the Ice Man, one hasAt first, this book seems to be about two teenage boys embarking on one of the stupidest plans ever. Inspired by a documentary on the Ice Man, one has convinced the other to climb up into the Canadian Rockies and freeze himself, along with examples of modern technology and culture, as evidence for posterity. The book is largely taken up with Kit's preparations for doing so.
Fortunately, for both Kit and the reader, the book is really about much more than this moronic scheme. As we follow Kit through his preparations, we begin to see that perhaps all is not what it seems. Through his interactions with others, we learn that Kit used to be a good kid - he had friends, got along well with his family, did reasonably well in school. But a few months before the start of the action, everything changes. We get a sense of this only in the way that others react to Kit, but this is a startlingly effective method of portraying this change. Throughout the book, we also get a feel for what others noticed in Kit that caused them to change their perceptions, although, in a first-person narrative, the changes are only subtly observable to the reader. It isn't until almost the end of the book that we begin to understand what is really going on with Kit, and how dangerous it potentially is....more
There are some moments in this book where the writing feels fluid, but those moments are few and far between. Mostly the writing felt forced and stiltThere are some moments in this book where the writing feels fluid, but those moments are few and far between. Mostly the writing felt forced and stilted. Which is a shame because the narrative idea has a lot of potential, if only it were executed better. There are some good dramatic moments, and parts of the story could even be described as compelling. But the connection between the present-day (more or less) frame and the historical story set in the Spanish Civil War is too predictable (and not quite believable), and many characters lack a motivational back-story. Overall, there just wasn't enough to this book to hold it together....more
Reading this book is a bit like taking a really big bite of something really chewy. Taffy maybe, and not your favorite flavor, either, although defin Reading this book is a bit like taking a really big bite of something really chewy. Taffy maybe, and not your favorite flavor, either, although definitely one you like. It's good, but you might feel like you have to work too hard.
Shriver takes her cue from the multiple universe idea that there exists a separate reality that has sprung from each decision. There's a universe in which you did X, and a universe in which you didn't do X (or did Y). Fortunately, she doesn't try to examine this theory to its fullest, but takes a single decision made a single person, and expands her universes from there. What drives this book, then, is not "did she or didn't she" (she both did and didn't, in alternate chapters), but what is the result of both decisions.
Shriver employs some very clever techniques to help her explore this theme. As the parallel chapters progress along the same time line, we see how similar the two universes are, but also how wildly different, as sometimes identical dialogue is spoken, but in vastly different contexts, or even by different characters. Shriver even gives her reader occasional anchors in time (helping to tie parallel chapters in time) by relating how the characters in each universe respond to international news events, such as the death of Princess Diana and the September 11th attacks.
Shriver also does a great job of keeping her main character consistent through both story-lines. It's easy (easier, at least) to write a character who responds to a single set of events, than it is to write a character who must respond to two parallel sets of events and yet remain believable as a single character. Shriver absolutely gets this part right. But that is also part of what makes reading this book seem like hard work - every time you get somewhere in the narrative, you are instantly sent back to the beginning of the timeframe and must go through it all again, with the same mindset, if different details. Even the best of characters might get a little tiresome through all that. The real triumph is perhaps that we care about what happens in both realities, and can't easily say which choice was the right one....more
Imagine writing a book with two characters that must inevitably share every experience, and yet giving each character a unique and vivid perspective.Imagine writing a book with two characters that must inevitably share every experience, and yet giving each character a unique and vivid perspective. That is what Lansens has done with her novel of conjoined twins Ruby and Rose, the oldest surviving (they are approaching their 30th birthday) craniopagus (joined at the head) twins.
Lansens demonstrates that her twins have different perspectives on life by having them by joined such that they face at angles to each other (as Rose says, "I have never looked into my sister's eyes."), a neat literary trick. And of course they sometimes remember the same events differently as any two people, real or imagined, will. In some ways, Lansens ability to create two such different characters is not very remarkable, since most authors do it in every book. But we must return to the fact that Lansens' characters are not the same as any other two characters in a different book. And yet, they are. And it is Lansens ability to make them so normal, and so real, to her readers that is just a part of what makes this book so good....more
My response: Honestly, I didn't much notice the word that the parents were complaining about. I had a much bigger problem with the names the girls in the book call each other, but obviously, not a big enough problem to think that I had the right to control what other people can or can't read.
Overall, I think this book might have been too subtle for me. Mara and V don't get along, can't stand each other, etc. until suddenly they can. I felt like there was a little bit of character development that I missed. Otherwise, this is a good story about how the "good girl" can have a positive influence on the "bad girl" and (more importantly?) vice versa, without being too heavy-handed....more
This book has faced challenges in many schools and communities. Here is an interview with the author about some of the challenges: http://www.wordriotThis book has faced challenges in many schools and communities. Here is an interview with the author about some of the challenges: http://www.wordriot.org/template.php?...
My response: What's more important - a few things you don't agree with, or a powerful story about a teenage boy learning to deal the world around him? I know, what a silly question.
I'll be honest, I had a hard time with this book at first. I spent the first part of the book wondering whether Charlie was supposed to have emotional problems or whether the writing was just awkward. When it became clear that Charlie did have emotional problems, I started to wonder why nobody but me seemed to notice. But then comes the big reveal... And Chbosky does it so well that it made the whole rest of the book shift into focus, and I could see why this is such a powerful book for so many teenagers....more
My response: I can't claim to be shocked that this book was challenged, since it does deal with teenage girls questioning and discovering their sexuality, but as always I'm disappointed when people choose to bury their heads in the sand rather than accepting that people are different, and choosing to recognize a book that deals with real issues in a sensitive and realistic manner.
I thought that Johnson approached her subject matter in an interesting way. Rather than just focusing on the one character who winds up coming out, and her struggle to come to terms with her own sexuality, Johnson sets her story within a group of 3 girls. When one of the girls goes away for the summer before their senior year of high school, the other two find themselves in a "more than friends" situation. Johnson sympathetically relates the story of any two people who try to negotiate going from being friends to having a romantic relationship, and possibly back again. Teenagers can definitely relate to this story, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. Added to that well-drawn story, Johnson also gives us the third girl in the triangle, who comes home from her summer away and finds herself in the middle of the complicated relationship of her two best friends, while at the same time dealing with issues surrounding her own new long-distance relationship.
One criticism I have is that the characters weren't all that well-drawn. I had trouble at the beginning distinguishing the three main characters, and even after I could remember who was who, they all seemed a little fuzzy around the edges. None of the secondary characters were particularly clear either. In a book that is largely character driven, I wanted to get a better sense of the characters outside of the particular conflicts they were facing....more
This is a beautifully written, lyrical book. Unfortunately, the writing is also so slow and deliberate that I almost couldn't stand it. What little drThis is a beautifully written, lyrical book. Unfortunately, the writing is also so slow and deliberate that I almost couldn't stand it. What little drama or action there was in the book was almost completely overwhelmed by the ponderous writing....more