My feelings about this book are lukewarm at best. For me, it just didn't have the emotional impact Moyes was going for, and certainly not that of Me BMy feelings about this book are lukewarm at best. For me, it just didn't have the emotional impact Moyes was going for, and certainly not that of Me Before You.
Skimming through other reviews, it seems most readers prefer the parts of the dual narrative set during WWI. But I couldn't bring myself to care about Sophie, the perfect, feisty heroine who daringly defies the Germans, brings food to the poor, pines for her annoying husband, and captivates the Kommandant with her unassuming beauty, all while being shunned by the town.
We're meant to admire her spirit and her loyalty, but she just felt too perfect. And I didn't care if she was reunited with her husband, a self-absorbed painter; their relationship is shown only in flashbacks, and just isn't very appealing to me. Sophie is his idealized muse, who of course spends all her time making sure he can CREATE. She continually credits him with the strong person she's become, but all he ever does is tell her how beautiful she is. Well, except the scene where he shows her how to be free and wild by dancing in public!
The story line set in the present wasn't that much better. It hinges on a very contrived romance and a legal case about art ownership that supposedly captures the public's attention so much as to inspire riots. I don't know anyone who cares that much about stolen art and war reparations that much. ...more
First I want to say that I think it's great that Open Road Media is publishing digital editions of so many out-of-print and backlist titles. That mayFirst I want to say that I think it's great that Open Road Media is publishing digital editions of so many out-of-print and backlist titles. That may be the best thing about ebooks - being able to read books that have long been unavailable.
Second, I appreciate that this book features a gay man as a serious investigative journalist; I do think it's important to see all types of gay characters.
However, this is not a very good book. The mystery is not that interesting, and somehow it's hard to take a plot that centers around cat shows seriously as a crime novel. The villain is cartoony and the romance is too fast and easy to be believable, considering the main character is almost 40 and has been in denial about his homosexuality his whole life.
Most problematic is the narrative style. The majority of the book is told from the main character's point of view, third person present, except when paragraphs randomly switch POV, which makes me cringe anyway, but for some reason even more so in present tense.
This book caught my eye because I'm always in the mood for an angsty coming-of-age/coming out book.
Asher is just starting high school, which is hardThis book caught my eye because I'm always in the mood for an angsty coming-of-age/coming out book.
Asher is just starting high school, which is hard enough, trying to reconcile old friendships and new. He's already been blindsided by his parents' messy divorce and just as he's starting to explore his sexuality, his little brother drowns.
Wheeler does a good job showing how the divorce is pulling Asher apart, as he deals with his father's sudden absence from his life, his desire to stay loyal to his mother and how to respond to his father's new wife. Nothing new here, but it felt realistic.
Asher copes with the divorce and his brother's death by immersing himself in photography, obsessively taking pictures of landscapes and objects but never people. In one really powerful scene, Asher's dad forces him to take a picture of him and his new wife, even though Asher tells him he never photographs people, not even his brother. Asher's feelings of grief and betrayal are palpable as the safety he finds in photography is corrupted.
The way Wheeler deals with Asher's sexuality is less successful. It seems like an afterthought. Throughout the book, Asher occasionally feels conflicted over his feelings for the openly gay boy at school, with whom he has his first kiss, but it never goes anywhere. So if you're looking for a coming out story, or first love, this is not the book.
The ending is rather abrupt. On the one hand, it's realistic that there are no easy answers, but the ending was so sudden and unceremonious that I wondered if my copy was missing pages.
When I started reading, the story was immediately familiar, a Lifetime movie we've all seen before: unqualified but sassThis book took me by surprise.
When I started reading, the story was immediately familiar, a Lifetime movie we've all seen before: unqualified but sassy girl becomes a caretaker for bitter quadriplegic and over time charms him into realizing that he has something to live for after all.
I was in the mood for romance, the writing was good, I liked the characters, so I eagerly kept going. But soon I wondered if maybe I didn't know where this was headed; I desperately wanted the cliched happily-ever-after of those Lifetime movies, because I was no longer convinced I was going to get it.
In hindsight, I probably should have guessed this wasn't that kind of love story, considering the comparisons to One Day (a manipulative and aggravating book which still makes me angry). And like One Day, this book was designed for tears. The difference though, I think, is that Nicholls went for the sucker punch, which totally alienated me, while Moyes built up a sense of dread throughout, so I was torn between fearing the worst and clinging to the hope that things would turn out okay.
And yes, there were tears. Ugly, loud sobs. But I wasn't angry. Okay, maybe that's a lie, but still, the ending felt right for the story and sometimes it feels good to have a nice cry.
Ok, so on the one hand, I read this very fast and definitely was interested to see where it was going. However, the farther along I got, the less inteOk, so on the one hand, I read this very fast and definitely was interested to see where it was going. However, the farther along I got, the less interested I was.
Proxy is yet another take on the "this is the future and it sucks" theme so prevalent right now. In a nutshell, there's only the very rich and the very poor, so rich "patrons" hire "proxies" to take their punishments for them; in this way proxies can then pay off part of the debt that virtually every poor person is burdened with.
Which brings me to our teen hero, Syd. He's been under contract to his patron, Knox, since they were kids, and unfortunately Knox is a jerk who gets in trouble all the time which leads to copious amounts of corporal punishment for poor Syd, who nevertheless, still has years of debt to pay off. But this time Knox has gone too far, and Syd's about to be shipped off to a labor camp, but through a series of lucky escapes and coincidences, Syd and Knox end up going on the lam.
This is where the book started to lose me and I find I can't write about it without spoilers galore so.
(view spoiler)[ For a world in which high tech security and data literally streams in everyone's blood, it's pretty darn easy for Knox (conveniently a skilled hacker) and Syd to continually elude their trackers. Especially after Syd has made the boneheaded move of going STRAIGHT TO HIS HOME to warn his surrogate father, Mr. Baram, that he's in trouble.
But lo, Mr. Baram has a secret! He's been helping Syd all these years because Syd is the key to the revolution that will liberate the people from debt and oppression. There's a rebel camp that Syd needs to find in order to set this revolution in motion, so he helps Syd, Knox, and a girl who's been aiding them get away. The journey to the camp is treacherous, they almost die several times, but finally, finally, they make it to the camp, where.... Mr. Baram greets them.
Um, hey Mr. Baram, how'd you get there so fast and maybe you could've brought Syd with you instead of leaving him to deal with bandits, the desert and a flash flood. And actually, while we're at it, why did you wait until special savior Syd almost died at the hands of his patron before you sent him off to do his world saving? (hide spoiler)]
Anyway, plot holes aside, we come to the twist that anyone who's seen Buffy probably already guessed, and while I like the idea in theory, it doesn't have much of an emotional impact because the character development/motivation all around has been lacking.
But in some ways, the most important thing about this book isn't the world-building or the twists and turns; it's that the main character is gay. I found this extremely refreshing, especially because while there's some homophobia throughout, Syd being gay isn't the point of the book. He's the hero, he's the key to changing the world, and he also happens to be gay.
So here's hoping that he'll get a love interest in the sequel, which yes, despite my misgivings, I'll probably read.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I was very excited to read this book; it seemed perfect for me: World War II and a gay affair. It’s set in Portugal in 1940 as expats and refugees areI was very excited to read this book; it seemed perfect for me: World War II and a gay affair. It’s set in Portugal in 1940 as expats and refugees are converging on Lisbon, trying to get to America. This is an aspect of World War II I haven’t read much about, and Leavitt does a good job showing the different ways people are responding to the Nazi invasion of France. But this is just the backdrop for the meeting of two couples waiting for a ship to New York.
So this isn’t really a World War II novel. And neither is it the love story I wanted. It isn’t a grand romance, nor a passionate but doomed affair, or even a sexual awakening. It’s just a fling that has little impact on the characters’ lives beyond the pages of the book. Pete, the main character, gives no indication he’s ever considered being with a man, but all it takes is a night on the town and a little flirting for him to begin a sexual relationship with Edward. Their first night together is really the peak of the affair, and then it’s all downhill. Pete seems invested, wanting to spend all his time with Edward and daydreaming about a future with him, but becomes disillusioned fairly quickly. And Edward’s intentions are more complex and unsavory than they seem initially.
Leavitt treats his female characters poorly. Pete’s wife, Julia, is brittle and paranoid, paralyzed by the thought of returning to New York and blind to the dangers around her and the state of her marriage. And it’s hard to feel sympathetic toward Edward’s wife, as she’s complicit in his affair. I didn’t really believe she would continually forgive him for the terrible way he treats her; she claims he’s a genius and she can’t stand to lose him, but he comes off as way too wishy-washy and self-serving to deserve this level of devotion.
It’s revealed fairly early on that Julia doesn’t make it to New York, so I was expecting a dramatic ending, but in this I was also disappointed. The book comes to a dreary and emotionless end, with the characters moving on with their lives as if Pete and Edward’s affair never happened. ...more
I am totally in love with this book -- I devoured it in two days. I even cried a little.
It all comes down to the main character. Max is an intersex teI am totally in love with this book -- I devoured it in two days. I even cried a little.
It all comes down to the main character. Max is an intersex teen who has always identified as a boy, but certain catastrophic events lead him to question who and what he is. I just adored him. To his peers he's perfect: a talented soccer player, beautiful to look at, an excellent student. They have no idea the pain and confusion he's going through, especially because he can't talk to anyone about his secrets, not even his parents, and least of all, the girl he likes. He's so sweet and vulnerable, I just wanted to pet him and tell him everything would be alright.
This book has been compared to another story featuring an intersex teen: Annabel by Kathleen Winter. Personally, I thought it was far and away the better of the two. Unlike with the oddly dispassionate Annabel, this book drew me into Max's emotional struggle; everything he felt and thought and did felt true, even when the plot veered a little too close to melodrama.
The book isn't perfect. It's structured as a first-person round-robin, alternately giving you Max's perspective, everyone in his family, his doctor and his girlfriend. While Tarttelin nails Max's voice, she's less successful with the other characters. Their chapters sometimes feel too didactic as the characters explain Max's situation or their own decisions. In the case of Max's parents, the chapters sound more like written confessionals than insights into who they are. But it is interesting to see how each character responds to Max and his situation; I just wonder if it might have worked better in third person.
Whatever its flaws, a book that elicits such a visceral reaction from me is always an immediate favorite, and I highly recommend it....more
In the week since I finished reading this, I've been trying to figure out how I feel about it, and I'm coming up a bit short. I didn't dislike readingIn the week since I finished reading this, I've been trying to figure out how I feel about it, and I'm coming up a bit short. I didn't dislike reading it, but I can't really think of something I liked about it.
I had a few problems with the book. Bram employs a few time jumps that cut up the story unsatisfactorily. For instance, after a brief semi-courtship, the main character, Joel, throws himself into a relationship with the first boy he likes, tells his family he's gay, and then -- it's three years later and Joel is questioning if he's really in love. For me, it was hard to care, since Bram hardly shows a believable relationship to start with. And then, as things with Joel and his boyfriend hit their lowest point, we get an epilogue that's set a year later and an ambiguous ending.
While all this relationship "drama" is happening, the largest section of the book is about Joel helping his sister, Liza, hide herself and her daughter from the husband she's decided to leave. On the one hand, I admire that there's more to the plot than just relationship woes, but Liza and her husband are tiresome and the plot becomes repetitive as it takes over the book.
So I guess, the more I think about it the less I like it. I will say, I liked this a whole lot more that the only other Bram novel I've read, Hold Tight: A Novel, which frankly is a ridiculous book....more