I have a hard time with young adult novels where a character (often a girl) is depicted as so badass and cool and amazing and of course something bad...moreI have a hard time with young adult novels where a character (often a girl) is depicted as so badass and cool and amazing and of course something bad happens to her. That's actually not a spoiler. I couldn't really see why Kori was so great. I also found all of the twists predictable and didn't like that everything wrapped together neatly in the end. Still, it was an enjoyable read and I'm willing to suspend my disbelief of those sorts of things.
The one unforgiveable thing to me is the constant pop culture reference. This book is slated to come out in August 2008, and some of the references are already dated! A boy playing guitar at a party plays "Chasing Cars" by Snow Patrol for no other reason than for the author to show she's IN TOUCH! Half of the class lost their virginity to Nickelback (UGH) and the choir sings a Nickelback song at one point. There's also mention of a blog called "Postcard Secrets". I think many young adults would dislike that sort of patronizing thing.(less)
I really enjoyed this book, as silly and unbelievable as some of it was. I'm also looking forward to reading the next book in the series, but honestly...moreI really enjoyed this book, as silly and unbelievable as some of it was. I'm also looking forward to reading the next book in the series, but honestly the entire book felt like the SET UP to the series, not an actual book. That's disappointing.(less)
First off, I loved the cover and one page of interior art that has this stylized art. My friend Rachel, whose opinion I am asking for most of these co...moreFirst off, I loved the cover and one page of interior art that has this stylized art. My friend Rachel, whose opinion I am asking for most of these covers, liked it but got mad to discover that it wasn't a graphic novel. I do think that if you're going to have distictively graphic novel type art like that, you should follow through. For ages 10+ it can afford to have a few one page pictures or chapter end graphics.
The blog aspect was done well, parts of the future plot are revealed, making the reader want to continue. When I got close to the end, everything was wrapping up too neatly and quickly. Things happened that should not have been forgiven that easily. I also didn't like that Angel, the villian of the piece was too black and white. That is, for a character that has both black and white, there still wasn't any gray. She does horrible hateful things, and being friends with one child doesn't make her a complex or dynamic character.
One last "I'm crazy" and even my fiance yelled at me for it peeve: Why would you incidentally name a teacher Ms Hoover? There's already a famous fictional teacher named Ms Hoover out there and I couldn't shake the image of these kids as yellow skinned Simpsons characters. I really need to let that stuff go.(less)
I think what this book boiled down to is that I like this author, but not the book. It is pretty clearly a first novel, and I'm not sure if it should...moreI think what this book boiled down to is that I like this author, but not the book. It is pretty clearly a first novel, and I'm not sure if it should have been accepted for publication this round of revisions. The plot is sloppy and parts don't make sense. Characters are flat and only appear when needed for something specific. The story, which is a horror/suspense/mystery still left me going "huh?" at the end.
Why am I saying the author has promise? She writes suspense VERY well. Even at parts where I thought the plot was lame, I was pretty freaked out. Her writing during moments of horror is slow and deliberate, forcing your eye to read the next line when what you really want is to skip to the next page to see what happened. I also think it's a very effective type of horror for a YA title, all very psychological, very "am I the only one who saw that?".
So while I don't recommend this book, I'd say keep an eye out for Dahme, if she cleans up the plots and loose ends, she may be the next big YA horror writer.(less)
The story is about Maggie, a girl who used to be popular until a car accident killed her mother and left her with a scarred and limping leg. Maggie ca...moreThe story is about Maggie, a girl who used to be popular until a car accident killed her mother and left her with a scarred and limping leg. Maggie can't face her old popular friends, so she becomes close to one of the outcasts, Dahlia, who loves Sylvia Plath, wants to form a band, and has a crazy family. As Maggie gets wrapped up in the elaborate fantasy life Dahlia's family creates, Maggie also loses herself to the power and fear that is first love...with Dahlia.
I feel like I've read a lot of YA books about being gay, and not many about being lesbian. It's really not the same. So firstly, even if this book sucked, it does fill a niche. But it didn't suck. Maggie is a real and likable character, but not perfect. I was yelling at her a lot. Dahlia is similar to Kori from Undone, and Alaska from Looking for Alaska, in that she's that "omg such a cool girl, marches to the beat of her own drummer, doesn't take shit from anyone" kind of person, but then McMahon draws the character even further, Dahlia's care for her mentally ill mother, her longing to be popular even as she distances herself, her anger at being poor.
The love angle of the book is very powerfully written as well. Maggie goes through all the hard points of tough love and possible rejection as well as wondering if she is a lesbian, and how would people react.
My last point to make is that the mother's death is handled well. The story comes out in small pieces, but still near the beginning, and isn't dwelt upon. Maggie feels like a murderer, and her relationship with her father is harmed because of the guilt, Maggie's relationship with her exbest friend is also changed from the guilt. But the accident is never exploited by the author, never goes into a pityfest for Maggie, never feels maudlin.
I really recommend this book to any of my friends who is reading this.(less)
**spoiler alert** I'm one of those people who loves a good romance novel and HATES a bad one. I don't ask for much, I'd like some hot sex, I want to r...more**spoiler alert** I'm one of those people who loves a good romance novel and HATES a bad one. I don't ask for much, I'd like some hot sex, I want to root for the couple to be happy, and I want any side plots to make at least some vague sense. So, my expectations were not very high for this book. But I still hated it and had to skim the ending rather than finish it properly.
I'm so sick of romance novels where the hero basically rapes the heroine. She says no and get out, and hits him but of course his big strong arms grab her fist and pull her into an embrace. No really, her body totally wanted the sex, ignore what she says. It's this odd regency double standard. I prefer regency romance to modern, there aren't enough road blocks these days. But regency writers often have a problem with reconciling how people actually acted back then without distancing the reader from the characters overmuch. The heroines are always very preocupied with class and rank, but they all seem to speak their minds and be very modern women. But then this basically rape thing happens and well honestly back then maybe men wouldn't care if no meant no. Why both? Ugh and the men never care about society. The hero always pulls some dumb move that actually would probably ostracize the woman forever, making her unmarriagable, keeping her in seclusion for a really long time, ruining her fortune and probably her life. But it's ROMANTIC, omg so no one cares!
Okay, now this book specific. The hero, Sam, is from America, his naive sister needs a chaperone. He lives next door to an attractive widow, Emeline, whose brother died in the very same battle that Sam was labeled a coward from. I don't mind cliches in this genre usually, since most of the cliches are good ones. This just didn't work from the beginning. Things progress as usual, Sam has ulterior motives, he and Emeline have an unwanted attraction, Sam tries to hunt down some convoluted conspiracy. Sam admits that he took the house next to Emmeline's on purpose to find information about her brother. Then he never actually asks for information from her and that thread is left alone. Sam basically ruins his sister's chance in society by being a dumbass. Sam finds out that Emeline is secretly engaged to someone he suspected in the conspiracy, she vouches for her fiance, Sam takes her word for it, he is never suspected again. Sam has sex with Emeline even though she doesn't want it (oh but her body said yes yes yes). Emeline announces her engagement formally, and Sam, so shocked over something he already knew, bashes the guy's face in in the middle of the party, with a lot of vivid writing description of his nose breaking, gushing blood, and the feel of bone crushing under Sam's fist. The next time Emeline sees Sam, they make out. WTF?
In the end, everything ties up exactly how you would expect, particularly in regards to the random characters thrown into the story because this book is part of "The Legend of the Four Soldiers", a conceit I really hate, if a character is in the book, use them, but what a waste to randomly give the heroine a best friend with two lines, an Aunt who does nothing, Sam's sister being such a flat character.
There's so much more but now I'm just rambling and ranting. I told you, I HATE bad romance novels. It makes people ashamed to read the good ones.(less)
I thought this graphic novel was very cute, whether you think that is a good thing or not. It's very much a slice of life for Skim, a girl who is deal...moreI thought this graphic novel was very cute, whether you think that is a good thing or not. It's very much a slice of life for Skim, a girl who is dealing with high school, being heavy, Asian American, Wicca, her parent's divorce, losing a best friend, gaining a new one, the suicide of a local boy, possibly being a lesbian. There isn't much of a plot, even though there are all these aspects in a short book. Everything is very fluid and seems as though told through Skim's head, with the adolescent girl concept of flitting from one idea to the next. The image boxes are also very fluid, and occasionally full page or two page spreads have one large picture, often dwarfing the teen girl in the larger world, or Canadian forest behind her school. My one art complaint is that most of the girls look exactly alike, it is black and white, and shading the hair can only do so much.
All in all, I think both teens and adults can enjoy this, and really connect with Skim, as long as no one expects a really wrapped up plot that ties together.(less)
Big Fat Manifesto. Susan Vaught. Ages 12+. Pub Jan 2008.
Jamie is struggling with all the usual high school senior stuff, college appli...more3/16/08 01:50 pm
Big Fat Manifesto. Susan Vaught. Ages 12+. Pub Jan 2008.
Jamie is struggling with all the usual high school senior stuff, college applications, the big play, pictures, but she also has to deal with being fat. She writes a column for her paper and is vastly unapologetic for her weight. Then, she has to deal with her also fat boyfriend getting gastric bypass, he column making the news, and the thought that maybe she can be herself INSTEAD of Fat Girl.
Jamie is a really dynamic character, her journey is very interesting, even though I didn't always like her. The discussion of gastric bypass for teens is handled well, giving a lot of information and ugly truths without condemning it or glorifying it. The characters often felt very stock, the fat girl for one, but also her environmentalist friend and her angry lesbian friend, the shy rich boy, Jamie's black football player boyfriend (interesting that his race is not brought up very often, not as often as Jamie being hispanic is, but as a chubster girl myself, I have to say that the stereotype of the black guys liking the fat girl comes up A LOT). It was an interesting read, but I don't know if it was enjoyable, the content and the characters are slightly too uncomfortable to actually enjoy.
I also know how much teens care about book covers etc, and I actually prefer the mock up on my advanced reader copy than the cover that got used. It's kind of bleh.(less)
This is a difficult book to review, because even after a waiting period, I can't tell you if I even liked the book or not. The back of the book is mis...moreThis is a difficult book to review, because even after a waiting period, I can't tell you if I even liked the book or not. The back of the book is misleading, the summary describes things that are basically just the last five pages of the book.
The basic plot is that a spastic child named Kaline is dealing with starting a new school year, his father leaving, and various learning disabilities. Throughout the book you are subjected to his viewpoint, leaving you to piece things together yourself. Kaline calls his mother crazy and says she forgets him in the bathtub, when in reality Kaline's father is horrendously OCD and sets timers for everything, including Kaline's bathtime, so when the father leaves, Kaline can't handle the changes and says his mother does everything wrong. While I think that technique is very effective, the book is also littered with randomly capitalized words and stream of thought consciousness from Kaline, which make the reading difficult and disjointed rather than adding to his voice. I don't think the age levels for this book are very appropriate, the character is 6, which may throw off younger readers in the 7-12 bracket because they don't want to read about BABIES ew, and the subject material isn't all that interesting for many in the older crowd. The best audience may be teachers and caregivers who will appreciate getting in the child's head and can understand the large leaps the narrative takes at times. Younger children may believe what Kaline tells the reader at face value, which would make for a much different and much scarier story.(less)
You Know Where to Find Me by Rachel Cohn. Ages 12+ Pub date March 2008.
When I picked this book up at the conference, I read the first...more3/16/08 02:06 pm
You Know Where to Find Me by Rachel Cohn. Ages 12+ Pub date March 2008.
When I picked this book up at the conference, I read the first line off the back. "Character named Laura, awesome!" I said. Then I read the next line. "...commits suicide. great." This is the story of first cousins Laura and Miles, and how Miles copes when Laura commits suicide (you never really meet alive Laura in the book, it starts with Miles hearing the news.) I have mixed feelings about the book personally, but I think young adults will love it, as it deals with the issues of mental health, family, drug use and abuse, unrequited crushes, body image, etc all very honestly without sugarcoating anything. This books speaks to young adults like adults.
Some of the politics in the book felt pushy, most of the characters discuss and feel very strongly about giving Washington DC the abilities and representation of a state. Although this has no effect on the actual plot of the story, it comes up so often and at such important times that it does harm the narrative.
In general, this is a slightly depressing book, but it does well with the issues it covers, and would be a great book for a parent and teen to read at the same time. Tags: blogging the galleys(less)
Very light book, easy to read. Horribly marketed, in my opinion, I thought it would be more of a horror and monster sort of book, but it's not at all....moreVery light book, easy to read. Horribly marketed, in my opinion, I thought it would be more of a horror and monster sort of book, but it's not at all.
There are some aspects of it that you have to suspend your disbelief very much, but I was willing to not laugh at some of those things because I was so into it, which is a good sign.(less)