A warm, fuzzy teen romance with alternating boy/girl narration, a la "Flipped" or "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist," but falling somewhere between...moreA warm, fuzzy teen romance with alternating boy/girl narration, a la "Flipped" or "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist," but falling somewhere between them in terms of reader age.
The writing is unusually vivid and descriptive for a teen book, with great sensory detail to make you feel all the longings and excitement of first love. The characters are quirky to the max, with Eliot's dad running a Christian fat camp and Cal's mom working as a Renaissance Faire wench, so there are some laugh-out-loud funny moments. I would also love to meet Eliot in real life!
From a deep thinking perspective, I liked the idea of trying to find a "normal" relationship as a 15-year-old whose parents have found something more interesting or pressing to do than be a parent. This made for another similarity to Flipped -- sometimes a parent falls from grace and is not redeemed. I like to see that kind of reality in a book where it's got to be mighty tempting to provide a happier resolution. Nevertheless, I was still satisfied with the conclusion for these star-crossed lovers.(less)
I know I'm the girl who cried "five stars," but I just keep loving the books I read! I fell asleep after midnight, 15 pages from the end of this book,...moreI know I'm the girl who cried "five stars," but I just keep loving the books I read! I fell asleep after midnight, 15 pages from the end of this book, and then I woke up in the morning and finished it -- before getting out of bed!! (Just for the record, I've only done that once before, for Harry Potter 7.) This book was creepy, damp, mysterious, ghostly, literary, confusing, and rewarding. The revelations near the end were so astounding that I immediately felt the need to start all over at the beginning. It's got twins, mistaken identities, stories within stories, old labyrinths of houses, and fogs on the moors. If you thought the gothic British mystery was a thing of the past, think again.(less)
This book gave me the shivers and sent me looking up fairy tales that I'd never heard of, such as the story of Roland. Obviously Alice went through th...moreThis book gave me the shivers and sent me looking up fairy tales that I'd never heard of, such as the story of Roland. Obviously Alice went through the looking-glass and Dorothy went to Oz, and the fractured fairy tale for adults has been well-done before. But for me, this book gave its child traveler, David, much richer and scarier motives than "there's no place like home." The war background made me think of Pan's Labyrinth (many similar themes), and I appreciated the frank discussion of David's feelings of grief for his mother, displacement in his family, and hatred for his new half-brother. These things made his journey that much more poignant. Being a certified wimp, I was both repulsed and hypnotized, from David's first sighting of the Crooked Man through the window of his room, to the very nightmarish activities of the Huntress. You may have to read the ending several times!(less)
True confessions: I avoided this book. James Patterson writing for teens? Doesn't he have enough of a chokehold on fiction publishing? But then I star...moreTrue confessions: I avoided this book. James Patterson writing for teens? Doesn't he have enough of a chokehold on fiction publishing? But then I started hearing about it from kids. Middle schoolers who were obsessed. There had to be a reason. I caved and read it.
On Mr. JP's website, I read that he wrote the series for reluctant readers. I can appreciate that, because whoa, the book is nothing but plot, set out in 130-some 2-to-4 page chapters that each end with a mini cliffhanger. It is indeed hard to stop reading. You meet "the Flock," a group of six kids who have escaped from the School where they were raised by evil scientists who combined their DNA with bird DNA. Thus, the kids have wings, the ability to fly, extra-sharp vision, extra-large appetites, and some other super powers, including the ability to read minds and imitate voices. They're a ragtag little family, led by Maximum Ride (Max) who is a girl -- a sarcastic, butt-kicking girl at that. (I love a good girl hero!) Max tries to keep everyone together and safe as they avoid the scientists, the Erasers (wolf-morphing mutant henchmen of the scientists), try to discover their origins (were they born in test tubes or from human parents?), and somehow, are called upon to save the world.
I would have wished for more character development and less hokey, non-kid-like dialogue ("h-e-double toothpicks," "son of a gun," "quelle coinkydink"). But no teens I've talked to have complained about these things, so what do I know?
The website and marketing are pretty aggressive, with a movie in the works and a lot of obsessed fans on the message board. There is even a blog written by a character (Fang), which I think is a super-interesting idea. The kids are writing comments as if Fang is a real person. It's not just Dear Mr. Henshaw these days!
Anyway, I'd describe this as The Boxcar Children crossed with the X-Men, appealing to boys and girls alike who like orphan stories, mutants, lots of fighting...and really, who hasn't dreamed of being able to fly?(less)
As one reviewer already said, this book gives new meaning to the phrase "painfully funny." I think I winced (in recognition and in sympathy) more than...moreAs one reviewer already said, this book gives new meaning to the phrase "painfully funny." I think I winced (in recognition and in sympathy) more than I laughed at Lauren's early-high school escapades. This graphic novel reminded me of Lynda Barry's One Hundred Demons, except with less "adult distance" from the memories that are being related (which I think gives it more teen appeal). The drawings bothered me a bit, with their changing styles, insanely bright colors, and jittery lines. But if that doesn't describe a teen, what does?! Read it if only to find out who put the @#$% in Glenn's locker.(less)
I really enjoyed reading this one and I think it will appeal to kids who like hard-luck stories. Eighth-grader Patrice deals with some very tough situ...moreI really enjoyed reading this one and I think it will appeal to kids who like hard-luck stories. Eighth-grader Patrice deals with some very tough situations (poverty, bullies at school, living with her aunt, her mom in jail, her sister always staying overnight at guys' houses), but the book does not use any language or obscenity.
It reminded me a lot of True Believer with its sweet but strong girl protagonist and the hardships of growing up in the inner city - how difficult it can be to just get through a day, and how hard kids have to work in the absence of responsible parents. Patrice's situation really hit home for me how limited the options are when you're a kid with no real means to advance yourself in a world of grownups who are dealing with their own issues.
I also loved the love story between her and Monty - I know I'm a romantic and it was probably unrealistic - but he saw something special in her and kept after it until she could see it herself. Could the average 8th grader do this? I don't know, but it didn't stop me from rooting for them. Also, I was TOTALLY waiting for an O. Henry-Gift-of-the-Magi moment, what with her infamously crazy hair and his one nice possession, the watch from his dad. It almost happened, but not quite. Coincidence? (less)
This was one of those books where I spent most of the time wanting to just shake the main character. I think that was the point, though.
High schooler...moreThis was one of those books where I spent most of the time wanting to just shake the main character. I think that was the point, though.
High schooler Nicole doesn't want to spend a semester in France - she just wants to stay home with her friends and plan how she is going to follow her boyfriend Nate wherever he goes to college. In fact, although she is surrounded by Paris museums, yummy crepe stands, and cool new friends at her international school, she continues to pine for Nate and his grammatically-challenged "luv u babe" emails, his forgotten phone dates with her, and her friends' shallow, un-PC correspondences dissing the French. There's even Luc, her host family's suave French "manny," who becomes enamored of Nicole right away, even though the first thing she did upon exiting the airport cab was throw up all over the sidewalk. Luc has some opinions on Nate, and some refreshing ideas on how you don't need to betroth yourself to a certain boy or a certain life at age 17, but Nicole won't hear it.
Although it takes way too long to happen, Nicole eventually sees the light and realizes that she is missing out on her current experience by spending all her time pining for people and a life that may not be all that ideal in the first place. Her travels give her some much-needed perspective.
So all in all, this is not a bad chick-lit series and I do think it captures some of the challenge of living away from home and being forced, however unwillingly, to see the world in a new way.
So I finally read one of these. I decided to start at the beginning. One review says it's "sex and the city for the younger set," and I can see why. I...moreSo I finally read one of these. I decided to start at the beginning. One review says it's "sex and the city for the younger set," and I can see why. I also thought it was like Laguna Beach in book form, with catty, shallow dialogue, plotting against your "friends," how to get the guy, descriptions of clothes, etc.
There is indeed something addicting about peeking into the lives of the rich and unsupervised - I think it's the life every teen wants, but the social pains are universal, so everyone can relate. The underage drinking, throwing up, and mentions of sex make this hard to recommend at work, though teen girls are devouring these and Clique and A-List.
I did think it perfectly captured the character type who is Serena - we all know her - someone who has enough magnetism to inspire fantasies in everyone she meets, girls and guys alike. The kind of crush where you don't want to be WITH someone, you just want to BE them. Someone should do a psychological study on that. (less)
This is not a book I will forget anytime soon. At first, its old-fashioned language and complex vocabulary put me off, but then the story itself drew...moreThis is not a book I will forget anytime soon. At first, its old-fashioned language and complex vocabulary put me off, but then the story itself drew me in, and the language took on its own rhythm and feel that made a lot of sense. It affected how I thought while I was reading it (do you ever find your brain imitating the way an author writes?).
I have been mulling over many ideas since, about how we came to know what we know about nature and science, and how little we may know about historical conflicts when winners write the history books. It also seems amazing, in hindsight, to realize that people rose up in revolution without any way to communicate speedily or en masse -- just letters, newspaper ads, and messengers on foot.
The ending was a surprise. I am eagerly awaiting Vol. 2 so I can find out what happens to Octavian.(less)
This book is worth all the acclaim it's gotten. Although I didn't choose it for this purpose, it was a good book to read while travelling, since one o...moreThis book is worth all the acclaim it's gotten. Although I didn't choose it for this purpose, it was a good book to read while travelling, since one of its main themes is displacement and adjustment. On both my flights, my seatmates were on their way to or from India -- an interesting coincidence -- or do you just tend to notice things more when they are in the forefront of your mind?
Favorite quotes, among many:
"Ghosh shook his head. 'You are still young. Free,' he said, spreading his hands apart for emphasis. 'Do yourself a favor. Before it's too late, without thinking about it too much first, pack a pillow and a blanket and see as much of the world as you can. You will not regret it. One day it will be too late.'" -p. 16
"For being a foreigner, Ashima is beginning to realize, is a sort of lifelong pregnancy -- a perpetual wait, a constant burden, a continuous feeling out of sorts. It is an ongoing responsibility, a parenthesis in what had once been ordinary life, only to discover that that previous life has vanished, replaced by something more complicated and demanding." -p. 49
"In so many ways, his family's life feels like a string of accidents...They were things for which it was impossible to prepare but which one spent a lifetime looking back at, trying to accept, interpret, comprehend. Things that should never have happened, that seemed out of place and wrong, these were what prevailed, what endured, in the end." -p. 286-287(less)