A disjointed plot and distasteful hero. I'm sad because I've enjoyed James' books/several tropes included in this story before but this just did not wA disjointed plot and distasteful hero. I'm sad because I've enjoyed James' books/several tropes included in this story before but this just did not work for me....more
Tell Me More:Bullying is just one of the things I haYou can find this review and many more at Mermaid Vision Books!
Source: ARC received from publisher
Tell Me More: Bullying is just one of the things I have had to live with in the last 24 years. Without going into too much detail: yes, I was bullied--physically, verbally and emotionally--for much of my childhood. They were classmates, kids my family saw in church every week with their own families. They were smart. They were charismatic. They knew, just as Scott Marlin knew, how to pretend their actions were nothing more than accidents or mistakes. And I knew, just as Jesse Larsen knew, what everything really meant.
Reading this book was one of the hardest things I ever asked myself to do. I knew what was coming, and what Henry would have to face, and if the mental torment was horrifying for him, it was doubly horrifying for me. Susin Nielsen did a brave thing going into the mind of a thirteen-year-old who is confused and hurt and terrified. It could not have been easy--I know this from experience. And even while I was on the fence about the journal form of the novel, I found that I trusted Nielsen to be true to Henry's voice.
I have a little brother. Like Henry, he had no idea what I went through every day. We attended the same school, but while he spent many a happy recess with his friends in 1st grade, I did my best to avoid everyone for fear of what they might pick on next. Henry is what I imagine my little brother might have been during those years. And that knowledge made my heart hurt for both Henry and Jesse.
I didn't like Henry sometimes, or the way he thought about some of the people in his life, but that is to be expected. He is a teenager, barely on the cusp of adolescence, and he is still trying to figure things out. The fact that his brother committed such a terrible act is a burden he will carry his whole life, so I could forgive him for his quick judgments. He grows out of them through life experience. I especially liked that Nielsen didn't rely on the supporting characters to pull Henry out of his grief and anger. They were all fleshed out and real and served a purpose in the story, and I myself was surprised by the layers they hid.
Reading this book won't stop bullying. But if I had had this book when I was a kid, maybe I wouldn't have held onto the pain as long as I did. Make no mistake--The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen is a story about ugliness and cruelty and desperation. But it is also a story about picking up each jagged, bruised piece of yourself and letting the people who love you help you glue them back together again. It is a story of acceptance and pain and moving past truly horrifying experiences.
The Final Say: It goes without saying that every single child should read a book like The Reluctant Journal at least once in their lifetimes. But parents and teachers should too, because even if the thought of bullying is completely out of your experience, I can guarantee you that there is at least one child who could use your help and guidance.
Tell Me More:One of my favourite book-related memories is being handed a copy of the fiYou can find this review and many more at Mermaid Vision Books!
Tell Me More: One of my favourite book-related memories is being handed a copy of the first Animorphs novel, The Invasion, and getting lost in my first taste of science fiction. Granted, I'm on the fence about the existence of aliens, but the reading experience that Animorphs gave me influenced my imagination in ways I am still discovering today. When I heard that Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant were writing another novel, and that it would be science fiction as well, I jumped at the chance to read their new offering. My excitement was justified: Eve & Adam is not only smart and compelling, but one of the most enjoyable books I've read all year.
Despite my own approach to it, I must warn you: this is not a book you should read with expectations. It's a strange story, with layers that seem transparent at first, but have secret compartments and trapdoors to catch the unwary reader. It is a story that makes it easy for readers to assume things about the characters and their actions, before surprising and shocking them. The pacing that Grant and Applegate employ will feel familiar to Animorphs readers, especially during action scenes. Both authors have a gift for making the reader feel as though they are watching a film, with seemingly small details coming out of nowhere to be the key to several puzzles.
And what puzzles there are--Eve & Adam moves briskly for a science fiction story, and yet it manages to take on complicated issues such as genetic modification and the limits of scientists (or lack of) without talking down to the reader or preaching. I especially appreciated the grittiness of the setting making it clear that this is the kind of world we could be living in now. The decisions that Eve, Solo and Aislin face in this story are ones that our generation might be facing in a few years, and it certainly makes one take a step back and consider the possibilities. I'm very eagerly looking forward to the second novel!
The Final Say: Mix The Adoration of Jenna Fox with some turbulent emotion and reckless decisions and you've got Eve & Adam. The breakneck pace and highly intriguing plot will satisfy readers of all ages, and certainly start up some interesting discussions on what it means to be a "perfect" person.