A warm, fuzzy teen romance with alternating boy/girl narration, a la "Flipped" or "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist," but falling somewhere betweenA 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....more
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,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, 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....more
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 thThis 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!...more
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 starTrue 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?...more
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 thanAs 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....more
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 situI 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? ...more
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 schoolerThis 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. ISo 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. ...more
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 drewThis 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....more
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 oThis 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...more
The day has come -- I can now hold up my head in the world of books -- I've finally read this classic, and yes, I think it deserves all its acclaim. IThe day has come -- I can now hold up my head in the world of books -- I've finally read this classic, and yes, I think it deserves all its acclaim. I'd like to re-read it, in fact....more
I'd give this 5 stars, except I'm too liberal with my 5-stars and need to hold back. But I was instantly drawn into Rob's true story of falling in lovI'd give this 5 stars, except I'm too liberal with my 5-stars and need to hold back. But I was instantly drawn into Rob's true story of falling in love with Renee, their few years together, and her unexpected death, all tracked by music and mixes: the falling-in-love tape, the falling asleep tape, the dish-washing tape. Although the music was a wonderful lens, and just about everyone will recognize at least one song on Rob's lists, for me the depiction of the relationship was the best part. It described falling in love without any cliched angels or butterflies, even mentioning fear, as one reviewer said, "of losing oneself, of not being able to keep the other safe enough, of recognizing the other will be on hand to witness your inevitable worst."
By reading the descriptions of the author's grief, I feel like I can better understand such a loss, even though I have not experienced it. "I had no voice to talk with because she was my whole language. Without her to talk to, there was nothing to say" (p. 156). And yet, when Rob has a "divine revelation" that it's time to get out of the apartment more, it's one of the funniest moments of the book. Just like in real life, you can't always separate the funny from the sad. ...more
I finally read it!! And I loved it! Any book that's got me reading to the finish in my car in the Kroger parking lot, while my friends are waiting, thI finally read it!! And I loved it! Any book that's got me reading to the finish in my car in the Kroger parking lot, while my friends are waiting, the rain is falling, and a cop cruises by to see if I'm up to no good -- well, that kind of book gets five stars.
I had a couple small complaints (the sheer length, the presumption of not translating some of the French and German quotes), but overall, I felt like this was a rich tapestry of real life: living in a city you love, what people ate and wore and danced to, what it's like to spend many years observing and interacting with the person you love most.
"Clare is silent. Her pragmatism and her romantic feelings about Jesus and Mary are, at thirteen, almost equally balanced. A year ago she would have said God without hesitation. In ten years she will vote for determinism, and ten years after that Clare will believe that the universe is arbitrary, that if God exists he does not hear our prayers, that cause and effect are inescapable and brutal, but meaningless. And after that? I don't know." (77) (I was very intrigued by the idea of looking at someone's core beliefs from a lifetime perspective: I supposed all of our beliefs and feelings go through changes when you are talking about decades, not just months or years.)
"Running is many things to me: survival, calmness, euphoria, solitude. It is proof of my corporeal existence, my ability to control my movements through space if not time, and the obedience, however temporary, of my body to my will." (154)
"We didn't think the library was funny-looking in its faux Greek splendor, nor did we find the cuisine limited and bland, or the movies at Michigan Theater relentlessly American and mindless. These were opinions I came to later, after I became a denizen of a City, an expatriate anxious to distance herself from the bumpkin ways of her youth. I am suddenly consumed with nostalgia for the little girl who was me, who loved the fields and believed in God, who spent winter days home sick from school reading Nancy Drew and sucking menthol cough drops, who could keep a secret." (p. 168)
"The cure might be worse than the problem." (254)
"The pain has receded but what's left is the shell of the pain, an empty space where there should be pain but instead there is the expectation of pain." (493)
This book really seems to polarize people! It made me angry, and horrified, and sad, and I loved it. The whole time I was wondering if it was going toThis book really seems to polarize people! It made me angry, and horrified, and sad, and I loved it. The whole time I was wondering if it was going to be about a person who never, ever "got" it -- who never saw the proverbial light (see also: The Coldest Winter Ever). I'm still not sure, but the ambiguity makes me desperate to discuss it. The scariest dystopias are always the ones that *could* happen, and this one is even closer to today's targeted ads and data mining than it was when it was published (hello, Facebook and face recognition software). (view spoiler)[ Violet's list? Titus and her father's final argument? Break my heart into a million pieces. (hide spoiler)] For such a vocabulary-reduced, slang-ridden world (shades of 1984), Anderson still managed to write some incredible visuals and dialogue. The audiobook was especially vivid, with the "feeds" performed as actual commercials, complete with music and jingles. They were invasive and pervasive, and made the feed experience all the more real.
"Then later there was this thing that hit hipsters. People were just stopping in their tracks frozen. At first, people thought it was another virus...but it turned out that it was something called Nostalgia Feedback. People had been getting nostalgia for fashions that were closer and closer to their own time, until finally people became nostalgic for the moment they were actually living in, and the feedback completely froze them." -p. 278["br"]>["br"]>...more