Ignore the blurb. This book is so much more than a road trip.
Boy, is the 17 year old son of Frankenstein's Monster and The Bride.
The stitched family...moreIgnore the blurb. This book is so much more than a road trip.
Boy, is the 17 year old son of Frankenstein's Monster and The Bride.
The stitched family lives and works in The Show; an eclectic theater community founded by the elusive vampire Ruthven. While Boy loves his family, and spends his days admiring a young Trowe(troll) girl named Liel, he longs to leave The Show and spend more time in the outside world. He wants to make his mark. To be seen as more than just a monster, or a "robot boy", as his tormentor Shaun "The Fawn" calls him, by using his computer genius to unleash the greatest computer virus ever seen. In fact, the only thing keeping him from doing just that is his parents, and his incurable crush on a Trowe (troll) girl named Liel.
The Show is full of well-known monsters, but it is headlined (no pun intended), by the Diva herself; Medusa. Medusa, as well as The Siren and other magical performers use their magic to seduce and entertain the mostly human audiences they get 6 days a week. When they get out of hand, and overuse the magic, The Monster goes to work. By turning off his emotions, Frankenstein's monster is able to make himself immune to magic and restore order as Ruthven's top muscle. While his job is necessary and good, it comes with a price, and Boy would rather not follow in the path. When his restlessness is revealed prematurely, Boy's father decides it's time to tell him that they want him to go to school in Geneva and study under the Frankenstein family of scientists.
Boy hates the Frankenstein family, for what he feels they reduced his father to, and would rather leave The Show, than to be subjected to them. He leaves and decides to bunk with one of his human friends from the internet, while continuing to work on his virus. Then one day, Liel shows up, claiming that he sent her an email professing his love for her. While the content was true, Boy is confused. Who could have sent the email? Then his roommate disappears, and things get even stranger. His internet buddies say that someone named Vi, has been telling them everything he's been doing, and that she is almost certainly a stalker.
Pretty soon, Vi reveals herself. She's none other than Boy's computer Virus!
It's ALIVE!! In very Matrix-y fashion, Vi does begin to stalk Boy, until both he and Liel are forced to live off the grid.
By then, the new car smell has rubbed off of their romance, and The Monster has sent out Mozart, the company werewolf to track them. Liel decides to return to The Show, but Mozart knows just the place for Boy to continue on his journey to find himself.
He takes him to meet Adam, a wind-up man, who has been taking care of Claire/Sophie, the granddaughter of the infamous Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde. (Note how long it took for me to get to that. See why I said not to follow the blurb?)
So NOW, we are on this very Oz-like roadtrip, where Boy must come to terms with his own feelings about his failed romance with Liel, thoughts on Claire/Sophie, and his rebellion towards his parents. Along the way, he also has to examine his own heart and realize that for as much as he hates the Frankenstein legacy he was born into, when it comes to Vi, he may be more like his "Grandfather" the Doctor, than he ever realized.
I can't even begin to tell you how many times I watched "The Monster Squad" as a child. (dating myself, shut up) There's just something about seeing monsters with their feelings and families that makes you all squishy on the inside. And Frankenstein, like the loveable Scarecrow of Oz, is always one of those monsters where you know he's creepy as ever, but you love him anyway.
This book was fun and easy. You could settle into it almost immediately, especially if you chose the audiobook as I did, which was narrated by the author. Boy was a relate-able character, as odd as that is to say, and you wanted to root for him even when he was doing something incredibly dumb. (view spoiler)[Like not telling Mozart about Vi when he had the chance. Geez dude, get some sense. (hide spoiler)]
As many other reviewers have said, the story does go in a myriad of directions, and you can get a little lost at times. For the first half of the book, I thought maybe the publisher put the wrong information on the blurb because I had yet to hear one word about Jekyll or Hyde. But for it's faults, there were a lot of fun strengths as well. The use of so many creatures from all facets of mythology, fairy, and folk tales, including well known ones like The Invisible Man or Medusa, and also lesser known ones like Charon, Kitsune, and Ruthven, was one of those great strengths.
It's not a book for every reader, but it's definitely the perfect book for the right reader.
Sean, Justin, Kyle and Vanessa are best friends. Sean, the unofficial leader of the group, is the golden-boy of their clique. He's got great grades, a...moreSean, Justin, Kyle and Vanessa are best friends. Sean, the unofficial leader of the group, is the golden-boy of their clique. He's got great grades, adoring girls, dope rhymes, and he's king of the diss. Justin thinks he's the coolest, and follows Sean's advice. Including these little nuggets,
First, people fight when their feelings are hurt. Second, you can fight with your hands or your mouth. Third, people who fight with their hands are too dumb to beat up somebody with their words.
When Sean starts backing out of their normal sleepovers, Justin and Kyle don't think anything of it. Until Justin happens to see Sean and his mother slipping out of the building in the middle of the night. When he confronts Sean about it, he notices that for the first time ever, his friend is lying to him. Soon after, Sean, who usually only disses or picks on people who pick on him first, jumps on the bully fasttrack. Seeing their friend spiral out of control as the lies continue, makes Justin enlist Kyle and Vanessa to help find out what is happening on Sean's secret Saturday trips.
In determining how "real" of a friend Sean is, Justin is forced to examine how "real" he himself has been to Sean.
First, I have to say, I loved the pacing of this story and can see why it is listed on so many "Quick Pick" or "Reluctant Reader" lists. Torrey Maldonado does a great job of really latching on to that quick-paced thinking and voice of the young mind. Justin, while at times I felt was a bit whiny, was on par with most 6th graders I know.
It was very important that I remind myself often while reading that although this book is often marketed as YA, these "teens" were actually 6th graders. A lot of Justin's prying into Sean's personal business and attitude came across as extra, but once I reminded myself that he was younger than I thought, it made it a little more believable. At that age, these things really do equate to checking on and about your friend.
Be mindful of some derogatory slang, but otherwise, this is actually mild and could be handed to a mature middle-schooler easily.(less)
When you think about it, I'm like a 45. Liz is my A side, the song everybody knows, and Gabe is my B side - not played as often but just as good.
There really was beautiful music here.
Gabriel Joseph Williams struggles with talking to people. Every conversation and interaction brings about anxiety and frustration, and most at school know him to be quiet and reserved. Very unlike his best friend since kindergarten, the very popular Paige. But after hiding all day at school, he comes alive at night on his new radio show "Beautiful Music for Ugly Children", on the town's low-budget radio station. With a catalog and musical knowledge of everything and everyone from Flo-Rida and Jay-Z to The Rolling Stones and The Sex Pistols, the show is an instant hit and there's seemingly nothing standing between Gabe letting his personal coolness out in his everyday life.
Except for the fact that most of the world knows him as Elizabeth Mary Williams. And he is slowly but surely falling in love with his best friend. And his parents won't make eye contact with him anymore. And his little brother thinks he's a freak. And his only other best friend in the world is a 68 year old man who just may have one day been the most important DJ in America.
Kirstin Cronn-Mills handled the very serious moment of a young transgendered man growing into himself with so much grace and honesty in this book. I felt so much for Gabe. It's has been a long time since I've read a main character who I didn't want to smack. Gabe was not a selfish or pushy person, but he was determined and steady and actually very patient in willing those closest to him into respecting him AS a person. Gentle reminders to his parents when they'd purposefully call him "Liz", or refer to he and Paige as "The Girls".
My dad glances up. "How are you today...Elizabeth?" "I'm Gabe. How are you?"
Moments where he's honest about what the cost of him being himself has brought onto his family,
Instead of storming out, which is my first impulse, I close my eyes and breathe because he's right; this is hard on them. I may be young and stupid, like he said, but they're confused and hurt. Because of me.
And also sad and lonely moments where the vulnerability of knowing that perhaps nowhere is safe,
She'll tell me to go to the police, because she believes in law and order. I, on the other hand, believe the police won't care about someone like me.
The friendship between Gabe and John, his beloved mentor and next door neighbor had that Doc Brown and Marty McFly-ness that was familiar and instantly loveable. Their mutual love and respect for the safety and passion that they both found in music was absolutely palpable. And on the subject of music, while this book did remind me of quite a few others, This Song Will Save Your Life"This Song Will Save Your Life" for example, it was really awesome to see multiple genres overlapped without some jarring explanation, as many books seem to do. For playlists that spanned from Prince to Souljah Boy and back to Elvis, it never felt weird or contrived.
The subject of Gabe's "guyness" was also handled very honestly, even allowing itself to have the humor that sexuality just naturally has sometimes, to trickle in. Searching for ways to use a urinal. Choosing a loose enough shirt that doesn't show the chest binder underneath. It was a very vivid but not heavy-handed look at the worries and cares that Gabe has to live with every single day just to be, and how much those who don't have to live in bodies that don't agree with our minds, take for granted. There was much to be found here about identity's and people not always being who we expect them to be.
Both also very integral parts of the story were the Ugly Children's Brigade - a group of Gabe's radio fans who listen every night and act out the positive affirmation actions he proposes, and the Twin Cities Vibe Radio Contest - which could be the key to a life outside of this town, and a job. While both of these had some fantastical and YA cliche'd elements to them, neither were very "Fairytale" in execution, and readers of the "New Adult" genre will appreciate the author's aversion to wrapping either of them up with a neat bow.
The afterword also includes a pretty interesting note on sexuality and gender, as well as some information on where to go for support and information.
This book made me happy, and sad, and most importantly, aware. I loved it. (less)
I didn't dislike it, but if you were looking for something shocking that you never knew about Tobias Eaton...this isn't where you'll find it. Most of...moreI didn't dislike it, but if you were looking for something shocking that you never knew about Tobias Eaton...this isn't where you'll find it. Most of these little gems about Tobias becoming Four, were alluded to or flat-out described in the main Divergent books. This was more of an appeal to those fans who have a difficult time with a series coming to a close, and wanting just one more bite, no matter how small. Thanks Veronica Roth, for a very Rowling-esque treat for the fans! (less)
You know, when you really think about it, Dorothy Gail is kind of a hellion. Her dog BITES someone and she throws a tantrum when consequences come dow...moreYou know, when you really think about it, Dorothy Gail is kind of a hellion. Her dog BITES someone and she throws a tantrum when consequences come down. She is in the middle of her selfish tantrum when the storm comes, leaving poor Auntie Em to almost be swallowed up as she waits as long as she can to get her into the cellar. HER first moves in OZ, were murder and theft, and she kind of blazes a trail of destruction in her wake. And then they gave us a sticky sweet movie to make us feel like all of that was okay, because, well because her dog was adorable, and so was she, with her pretty gingham dress! So it's no surprise that someone has finally taken that theory and turned it completely upside down. And it's wickedly fun. (yes, puns for everyone).
I've seen mixed reviews on this one, and I have to say, I'm surprised that other people didn't like it as much as I did, but I had to stay true to my own feelings, and give it the full five stars.
So, Amy Gumm or "Salvation Amy" as she's called by the snobs at school, spends her days braving her way through the bullies who make fun of her trailer-park life, and then her nights pushing through life with her pill and booze addicted mother.
One day, when she finally lashes back at her main adversary at school, she gets suspended, and comes home to find her mother getting ready to go out and live it up. In passing, and with no concern for Amy's safety, her mother mentions the fact that a tornado is coming before heading out. Frustrated, depressed, lonely, and angry, Amy has a pity party just long enough for it to be too late to get away, and before you know it, she and her trailer are airborne and in the eye of the storm.
When she finally lands, she finds herself in a gloomy and dark place...Oz. And this is NOT the OZ that we know.
The gifts of The Wizard, have become the obsessions and corruptions of The Scarecrow, Tinman, and Lion. Glinda "The Good", is everything but. The remaining "Wicked Witches" of Oz are actually working together to restore the land. And at the helm of the destruction is everyone's favorite farmgirl, Dorothy herself.
This book was exciting for me. Of all the fairy-tale re-tellings I've been reading, nobody seemed to really flip the land of Oz as viciously as this. Amy is such an anti-Dorothy with her pink hair and her pet rat. The Tin Man commands a sinister tin army, mostly developed in the horrific Dr. Moreau-esque lab of an evil Scarecrow. The Lion is a relentless and corrupt enforcer who feeds on the fears of others. There is a LOT of evil in OZ, and it's awesome.
How often do we classify one another by what we believe they are, as opposed to who they really are? And how often do we pigeonhole ourselves by tryin...moreHow often do we classify one another by what we believe they are, as opposed to who they really are? And how often do we pigeonhole ourselves by trying to hold up to the standards that our stereotypes set for us? These are the questions that I found myself asking while reading about Rafe. Tired of being classified as "the gay guy, Rafe", he sets out to recreate himself by going away to boarding school. He doesn't plan on saying he isn't gay , but he just has no plans on shouting from the rooftops that he is. But is denying who you are, in any form, fair to yourself or those you love?
Very often, I've been "the black girl", in class, or other social/professional/educational settings. It is clear to me, often from the first day, that I will have to be on guard and ready to defend or explain any facet of my ethnicity that comes into play. No matter how welcoming and unassuming my counterparts actually are towards me, I am almost always "at the ready". It can be exhausting.
So I was very understanding of why Rafe felt the need to try out his grand experiment. The desire for him to quench the part of his identity that was just a guy, had overpowered his need to be "the gay guy", and he knew, that for all the supportiveness he was receiving at home, there just wouldn't be room for both in the eyes of those who loved him.
I appreciated Rafe's humor and honesty, and the overall and overwhelming support and encouragement he received from the adults in this book. There is a romance nestled in here that made me give the people's eyebrow, but other than that, I really liked it a lot. Watching Rafe learn that to love himself, he needed to learn to accept and love ALL of himself, was an entertaining journey.(less)
When I was a school librarian, and the Invention of Hugo Cabret was taking the library by storm, I had a ton of parents who...moreWhy didn't I think of this?
When I was a school librarian, and the Invention of Hugo Cabret was taking the library by storm, I had a ton of parents who couldn't understand why their 1st and 2nd graders were clamoring for the giant book. They were always pleasantly surprised to find that the book was hiding a pretty big secret, the fact that the majority of the book was art. This book is kind of the opposite. Kids will feel like they're in on the secret.
As the author shared with librarians as part of his speech to the American Library Association, every kid who brings you a book to read to the is kind of a mini-producer. They bring you their favorite story, knowing that you may be reading it but that they are in control. You will huff and puff and blow the house down. You WILL make the scary voice of the witches. They own you.
This book allows kids to see that power work for them in a way that gets their imaginations and giggles all going full speed. True to title, there are absolutely no pictures in this book, not even the obligatory author photo on the book flap, but there are some amazingly ridiculous words, written in colorful and bold fonts. Kids,(and adults. Trust me, I had five adults read this before I handed it to a child), start the book out hesitantly, wondering if they've made a mistake by choosing it, until they hit that first twist.
Say what we will, but the truth of the matter is that there are a lot of people, not just kids, who run screaming from any and every book that is word-heavy. For years, book snobs have, whether admitting it or not, equated someone's literacy skills based on whether they choose books with illustrations. It's been a running joke for years. The beauty of this book is that it reminds(not really teaches) us that we can create the pictures in our own minds and that there is power in the written word.
While reading, I could instantly identify the kids who would love it, and I'm sure this one will be a great storytime choice for teachers and librarians. (less)