The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a teen classic. It's paved the way for many novels with its take on drugs, sex, abuse, friendship, and growing up w...moreThe Perks of Being a Wallflower is a teen classic. It's paved the way for many novels with its take on drugs, sex, abuse, friendship, and growing up while told through the letters of a fifteen year old boy whose innocent view of the world charms the reader. It's not so much that subject matter is unique, but the voice in which it is told is delightful. It's Charlie's observations of the world, simple though it may be, that makes this story so intriguing and relateable.
Yes there are certainly aspects of this book that may be difficult for some people to read, in particular the ending, but I think that these difficult elements all make Charlie the way he is, both the things that happened to him in the past and what he experiences over the course of the book.
While I doubt I'll become one of the rabid fans that swear by this books genius, I still really enjoyed the story and would recommend it to kids in high school who might be feeling a little "uncool". I know that I do wish I had read it when I was a freshman, I probably would have really loved it then. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is already over 10 years old, but I still find it extremely relevant to today's young adults. It is a timeless tale of finding yourself that all teens experience. (less)
I didn't really like Wither, but I didn't hate it either. I was put off by the lack of scientific support for the world building but I was interested...moreI didn't really like Wither, but I didn't hate it either. I was put off by the lack of scientific support for the world building but I was interested in the characters and the drama that unfolded. I thought Wither presented some interesting topics on forced marriages and human trafficking as well as the ethics of genetic manipulation and that in Fever we were going to explore these themes in greater depths. Unfortunately these topics were barely touched on in this weak follow up.
Fever really suffers from middle book syndrome. It's almost like the wordiness and overly poetic writing is trying to make up for the lack of character development, world building, or any real plot. I feel like everything in this book, from the main character to the writing to the world building to even the book itself, is very surface level. Everything is pretty and shiny, but there's no substance, no meat, to anything. It's like this book is saying "Look at how beautifully I described these girl's dresses and hair! Ignore the fact that they are child prostitutes, let me wax poetic about the fabric of their sex tent!" The writing is very wishy washy, to the point where I wasn't sure what was happening (specifically with Gabriel and the cage and with Vaughn and his testing). We're never told clearly what is happening, and instead of creating tension, it only creates confusion.
It's all very disappointing because I really liked the idea of the sex carnival and I thought it was an interesting setting to talk about tough issues like child prostitution. But it's almost like the author presents these terrible situations but doesn't fully commit her writing or her main character to those situations. Rhine gets exempt from abusive situations again and again (not having to consummate her marriage to Lindon, not having to prostitute with strangers). Instead Rhine watches other children be victimized and doesn't do anything to help them other than feel kind of bad. I feel like there is some indirect victim blaming going on here, that the child prostitutes are dirty and bad for having sex and that Rhine must stay pure and good because she is the main character. I do not know if that was the intention, but that is the road Fever heads down and it is a very damaging and dangerous path.
Fever is a truly disappointing novel not just as a sequel, but as a missed opportunity to actually say something of value. It just flits from topic to topic without fully committing to anything. (less)
I found out about My Life as a White Trash Zombie from Felicia Day's Vaginal Fantasy Book Club. This was my first read for the club and I have to say...moreI found out about My Life as a White Trash Zombie from Felicia Day's Vaginal Fantasy Book Club. This was my first read for the club and I have to say that while I don't think it was a vaginal fantasy MLasWTZ was a thoroughly enjoyable read.
The zombies in MLasWTZ aren't standard zombies in that they retain their humanity as long as they consume brains on a regular basis, as opposed to the usual mindless re-animated corpse. In this way Angel is more like a vampire, especially like the vampires in the Daybreakers movie (with Ethan Hawke and Sam Neil, am I the only person who's seen this movie?). As long as she has brains she can pass off as human. This didn't bother me at all but some people were squicked out by the eating brains and the idea of undead sexy times (even though physical romance is very light), so be warned if you're squeamish.
I have to say that my most favorite part of MLasWTZ was Angel and her inner monologue, which is hilarious and sarcastic and awesome. She also goes through so much transformation, both physically, emotionally, and mentally. Angel starts off as an unambitious pill head with a dead beat boyfriend and an abusive father. Throughout the book though she really comes into her own. She starts to care about her situation and she realizes that she is not only capable of more, she is worthy. The Vaginal Fantasy Book Club usually reads romance novels, but as one commenter so aptly put it, this is a story about Angel finding love for herself.
Ultimately I don't think that Angel is white trash. I think that just because you're living in poverty or have an addiction problem doesn't automatically make you white trash. I think that white trash is a state of complacency, a willingness to stay in your current situation and not work to try and change it.
Overall I really loved My Life as a White Trash Zombie. It was quirky mystery and a great introduction to The Vaginal Fantasy Book Club. I'm really looking forward to the second book in the series and to reading more VFBC selections. (less)
Shine is a very important book that covers the topics of homosexuality, drug use, and small town mentality. It's about how ignorance can breed fear an...moreShine is a very important book that covers the topics of homosexuality, drug use, and small town mentality. It's about how ignorance can breed fear and hate. But Shine is also about overcoming social expectations to do what is right.
I really liked how Shine handled such a wide variety of problems without ever feeling forced. The main story is about a gay hate crime, but as the motivations behind that crime unfold we get to see the fronts put up by everyone in the town fall away. We see that everyone has things about themselves that they are ashamed about. Instead of putting things out in the open where they can be resolved and get help they shove it down where it never gets dealt with and just festers and gets worse. I think this creates a sense of isolation and helplessness.
However I did find parts of the story very predictable. There would be times where I figured out something way before Cat and I would just sit there thinking 'Come on girl, figure it out so we can move on." Eventually she'd figure it out and we'd move on. There were also times where my imagination was way worse that what actually happened. I think that because it was a YA book parts of the story were toned down a bit. I don't have a problem with that but when I was expecting an ocean of hurt and only got a medium sized pond of hurt I felt a little underwhelmed (if that analogy makes any sense at all).
Beyond the who-done-it aspect of the story, I think the most important part is the commentary on how fear causes us to be selfish and act with a fight for survival mentality. We forsake other's well being for our own when fear takes us over. And ignorance and misunderstanding cause fear. We have to all be more tolerate and take an active role to understand each other and people who are different in order ot overcome that fear.
After the cluster-fuck that was the WSJ Article of Doom and the more recent National Book Award fuck up I can only hope that people will continue to read books and make up their own minds about the merits of a book. Shine is a dark book that covers dark topics yes, but overall it has a message of hope and that even the most prejudice of people can learn to accept and love.(less)