Kelandry of Mindelan has done it - though, of course, knowing Tamora Pierce, there is no doubt that her female characters will always (sometimes mirac...moreKelandry of Mindelan has done it - though, of course, knowing Tamora Pierce, there is no doubt that her female characters will always (sometimes miraculously) surpass all obstacles, prejudicies and/or acts of God in order to end at the finish line.
Of course, for eleven-year-old Kel, the journey is only beginning. She has to fight to maintain the harsh regimen of a page, while dealing with the constant trials a chauvinistic world has to offer. And then, predictably, there is her growing affection for her best friend Neal, even as it seems her other friend Cleon also desires her attention.
Tamora, Tamora, Tamora. You start them off so young.
A planned sabotage and kidnapping, a maid that seems to have "Attack me! I'm sweet and helpless!" written on her forehead, and a mangy dog that doesn't take no for an answer are just some of the new difficulties Kel must battle, along with her fear of heights and a fearsome training master who doesn't seem to be able to look past her Y chromosome.
At least King Jonathan seems to be having a good year.
It was okay, I guess. A bit of a yawn in the middle, and I'm pretty sure I'm only moving on to the next book just so I can know what happens next. Otherwise, if you really want a strong girl-hero read, I'd suggest browsing elsewhere.
From the writer's point of view, I must admit that all this information about feudalism and the life of a knight is giving me a little flesh for some bare-boned ideas I've been hoarding away. At the very least, I'm keeping notes of what interests me.(less)
Now, you probably know by now that YA contemp is totally not my thing. It's just too...real. I also don't believe that a boy and a girl can be friends...moreNow, you probably know by now that YA contemp is totally not my thing. It's just too...real. I also don't believe that a boy and a girl can be friends without one or both of them wanting more, but that's more of a personal moral/family background than mere taste. But I was reading Atlantic Wire's list of summer reads based off YA authors' recommendations, and of course, being the Maggie Stiefvater fangirl I am, I instantly zoned in on what she had listed. In particular, I was caught by the pretty pink cover of How to Say Goodbye in Robot (seriously, this is the main reason why Scholastic is tied for top of my dream publisher list - gorgeous cover work), and Maggie enthusiastically endorses it as one of those books that can be totally seen in your mind as a movie.
Just another piece of evidence to prove that Maggie is awesome.
You should know that already.
So, as our heroine, we have Bea. She's just moved to a new town with her 'rents (both of whom are strange and broken in their own right, in my honest opinion). The thing that caught my attention about Bea straight away was the way she reacts to her mother calling her heartless and a robot. I don't know about you, but I think most teenagers go through this constant second-guessing of themselves - if they're feeling the right way, reacting the right way, thinking the right things as everyone else. Bea's really considering herself as a robot girl really touched a chord somehow, somewhere.
Of course, a true-to-life teenage girl like Bea can't just wind up with a cliche friend who crushes on Zac Efron and paints her toenails Sunset Passion. So, we are introduced to Ghost Boy - a.k.a. Jonah, who is pretty much ignored by the rest of the student body, but has some hidden skeletons in his family closet and a mutual passion that pulls Bea into his small, isolated world.
A radio station.
And not just any radio station. A quirky, local station, run by a man that calls himself Herb. A station where it isn't unusual for callers to ring in for an evening ride on "the magic carpet", or read poems they wrote themselves, or obsess over Elvis Presley. It's a little family of its own, united by being outsiders, for embracing their quirks whether others would rather hide it away and be part of the norm.
Yes. You really want to read this now, don't you?
Even in a novel, though, friendship doesn't run smoothly. The world doesn't stop turning for happy little moments of mutual radio-station listens or ditching prom or art contests. The ways that Bea and Jonah get pulled in opposite directions are depicted so accurately, it can't help but make your heart ache. In particular, Jonah's struggle with his father over his brain-dead twin, Matthew, really made me wish that it would all work out, because it's fiction and it's just got to have a happy ending...right?
I won't tell you whether it does or doesn't, but I will tell you that it is a bit sad. Definite hanky warning for this one.
The one thing I must return to in this novel, again and again, is how the author keeps it real. Of course, I did wish she'd avoided the cliche underage drinking party, where the protagonist wanders about bemoaning his/her existence and wondering why he/she even came and seeing the guy/girl he/she is/was interested in macking on another person. But besides that little snag, the rest of it pretty much is authentic. Bea and Jonah could be that quiet pair in the cafeteria you don't say hi to, or idling away their time on the lawn of some closed appliance store, speaking to themselves in voices that don't carry to your curious ears.
It's the beauty of being a YA writer when you can actually see these things come to life, on a sheet of white paper. Maggie is right. How to Say Goodbye in Robot would make a wonderful movie.
Just, again, I feel the need to warn you: it's not all rainbows and butterflies. I felt the need to smack one or both of Bea's parents at different intervals while I read. Jonah's dad isn't much better, and the high school kids...well, I think after reading YA for a while, you know how some of them can behave. And don't expect all the i's to be dotted and t's crossed and everyone to drift away on a breeze of soft, scented air and bright smiles as the credits roll across the screen.
This is not a Disney Channel Original movie sort of wonderful.
I think you have to read it for yourself to see what I mean. I can't think of how else to explain it.
I still wish she'd made Jonah a girl, though.
Warnings (or, stuff that makes me cringe into my popcorn bucket at the movies): Language. Of course. And then there's a character death, a parent indulges in infidelity, some flaunting of authority and lying and changing names, and, of course, underage debauchery. (less)
This was a quick read, and an intriguing, creepy one.
I am still trying to wrap my head around the ending - note to self: finishing up a book at 1 A.M....moreThis was a quick read, and an intriguing, creepy one.
I am still trying to wrap my head around the ending - note to self: finishing up a book at 1 A.M. and then forgetting to leave notes for your morning-self to decompress her thoughts is never a good idea, and I wish you'd learn from that - but overall, as promised when it was recommended to me, it was a good introduction to Murakami's writing style.