Release Date:January 5, 2012 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Age Group: Young AdulYou can find this review and many more at Mermaid Vision Books!
Release Date: January 5, 2012 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Age Group: Young Adult Pages: 416 Format: Hardcover Source: Finished copy received from Penguin Canada
Discovery: In the last few months, I've been really interested in young adult fantasy novels. With its unique plot and mix of dragons and faeries, Dragonswood seemed like a book that would give past fantasy stories a run for their money.
+ Fantastical elements. The saying "go hard, or go home" is something that fantasy novels need to subscribe to if they want to succeed. Dragonswood hit early and fast with its references to witchcraft, a mysterious and magical forest and the appearance of dragons. I didn't have a hard time adjusting to the setting or the way the characters spoke. Carey's prose is peppered with sentences that set up the mood of the book well. The reader is immediately thrust into a world where no one can truly be trusted, and you never really know what to expect.
The romance is just as beautifully wrought as the rest of Tess' world. I loved the way Garth and Tess developed feelings for one another, and I especially admired how Carey took it slowly. Readers don't need a love story that develops at NASCAR speeds--they need a relationship that they can believe in and Carey delivers.
+ Voice. Tess is a bright narrator, afraid but unwilling to succumb to that fear. She does things no regular girl should ever have to do, and she does them without a single complaint. Her courage is unmatched, which has the effect of making her friends Meg and Poppy seem less than worthy of the reader's attention. I never connected with them as well as I did with Tess. She carries the story so well that I can't imagine any other character taking her place. That strength of character is capable of making the reader believe in anything Tess says or does, and hope that she succeeds.
The final say: Dragonswood is the kind of story you read over and over again, because there is always some new detail that adds colour to its rich tapestry of words.
Release Date:February 21, 2012 Publisher: Dial Books (Penguin) Age Group: Young Adult PageYou can find this review and many more at Mermaid Vision Books!
Release Date: February 21, 2012 Publisher: Dial Books (Penguin) Age Group: Young Adult Pages: 400 Format: Hardcover Source: ARC received from Penguin Canada
Tell Me More: Dying of a literally broken heart? It's the stuff Lifetime movies are made up of, and while I would normally avoid similar plots like it's my job, I had a hunch that TCHOYAM was going to be the exception to my rule. Jess Rothenberg has written one of the strongest and most heartfelt contemporary YA novels I've been privileged to read in my entire life.
One question I always ask when it comes to books about the afterlife: why should I care about this character, post mortem? If their lives have already ended, what is there left for me to read about? Seeing the family deal with their loss isn't enough--there has to be a truly compelling reason to convince me that this painful reflection on a life taken too soon is worth it. Brie Eagan is worth it all.
I haven't connected with a character so completely since Anna and the French Kiss. Brie is funny and clever, but she can also be selfish and reckless--in other words, a real teenager. Her inability to accept her death at the hands of her boyfriend (though indirectly) is understandable, and her insistence on finding the truth is admirable. I've seen reviews where people complain about how whiny she is, and all I have to say is she died when she was 16. Expecting adult, mature behaviour isn't fair, and I believe that she is a truly dynamic character who continues to have wonderful potential to grow even after her death.
Another aspect of the story that made me a bit anxious was the hint of a love triangle involving Brie, Jacob and Patrick. My own feelings about love triangles are enough to fill a whole other blog post, but thankfully, Rothenberg steered her characters in the right direction. While the reason behind Jacob's defection is a little predictable, it didn't take away from Brie's heartbreak and served to flesh out Jacob's character as well. In fact, the vibrancy of the characters is this book's greatest strength. And Patrick, oh my dear sweet Patrick Darling. Let's put it this way: given the choice between Augustus Waters of The Fault in Our Stars and Patrick? I would refuse to choose and keep them both with me forever.
Writing-wise, Rothenberg has captured the teenage voice to a T. Her commitment to telling Brie's story the right way is obvious from the first page, and I couldn't think of anything that needed to be edited down for clarity or to improve the pace of the novel. Her editorial skills must have been a blessing while writing this book. I never felt that the story could go any other way, and having that kind of faith in an author (a debut one at that!) is wonderful. I look forward to Ms. Rothenberg's future books with the same enthusiasm I give to John Green, Maureen Johnson and Stephanie Perkins. She deserves it.
That's Not All:
> That plot twist about 3/4 into the book? I burst into tears and would not be comforted. Granted, I am a crier, but I was so emotionally attached to the characters that I couldn't help myself. > I have gained a newfound respect for cheese, despite the fact that I don't eat it. > Brie's little brother Jack and dog Hamloaf are now two of my top ten supporting characters in YA.
The Final Say: This is the start of a long and loving life with The Catastrophic History of You and Me. Thank you, Jess Rothenberg, for giving me a contemporary novel that will never break mine or other readers' hearts.
Don't forget to check out my interviewwith Jess, in which we discuss theme songs, writing vs. editing and that amazing title.