Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later: an Aussie YA novel I didn’t enjoy at all! In fact, if not for my two wonderful readalong partners who ma...moreWell, it was bound to happen sooner or later: an Aussie YA novel I didn’t enjoy at all! In fact, if not for my two wonderful readalong partners who made the experience not only bearable, but extremely fun, I would have given up after a hundred pages or so.
Ava’s parents are supposedly very liberal, and her girlfriend Chloe has an owerpowering personality. Together they’re pushing Ava into an alternative lifestyle she secretly hates. Oddly enough, all Ava wants is to wear pink and sing in a musical. She decides to move to a new school, where she plans to find a way of joining the in crowd, or Pastels, as she calls them. However, that doesn’t turn out so well for Ava. Instead of getting the role she wanted in the school musical, she ends up working with the stage crew, a group of misfits led by a boy named Sam. She ends up balancing three different lives and three different personalities, none of which are compatible with the others.
Characterization is where Wilkinson failed spectacularly. Having read A Pocketful of Eyes first, I knew that she was more than capable of creating more interesting and complex characters, which is why I have to conclude that she did this on purpose. But why? Every character in Pink is a walking stereotype: we have Ava’s intellectually snobbish girlfriend Chloe, playing the role of a lesbian feminist; Ava’s parents, so obsessed with being tolerant that they end up not tolerating anything mainstream; Alexis, the shallow blonde, perfect in everything she does; a gay friend, a secretly gay friend, a friend embarrassed by his rich parents, and in the end, Ava herself, completely devoid of personality.
Ava is one of the most self-centered, infuriating characters I’ve ever stumbled upon. The series of disastrous decisions she made in such a short period of time nearly drove me insane. Stories about personal growth by definition introduce a character that makes poor choices at the beginning, but finds a way to redeem himself/herself by the end. After one particularly bad decision, I’m afraid Ava reached the point of no redemption in my eyes.
Unfortunately, I doubt that I’ll be reading any more of Wilkinson’s novels. After reading two of them, I can honestly say that she’s not an author whose work I enjoy. (less)
It wasn’t easy to organize my thoughts on this book. It’s been a while since I’d added something to my ‘books that changed me’ shelf, and although Gon...moreIt wasn’t easy to organize my thoughts on this book. It’s been a while since I’d added something to my ‘books that changed me’ shelf, and although Gone, Gone, Gone didn’t affect me as strongly as Raw Blue, for example, I’m pretty sure it’ll stay with me for a very long time. Truthfully, for a while I even thought my rating would be four or four and a half stars, but then I decided that I need to make it abundantly clear that this is a book everyone needs to read, and that it’s likely to change at least some small part of you and show you beauty in that calm, quiet way I’ve learned to appreciate.
A year after 9/11, two 15-year-old boys in Maryland are trying to find a way to live with themselves, and then maybe with each other. Craig’s boyfriend Cody went a little crazy after his father died in the Pentagon on 9/11. Craig is trying to get over him by taking care of as many animals as he possibly can, but he’s mostly unsuccessful. Even though he’s only 15, the loss of his lifelong friend and first boyfriend changed Craig irreparably. That’s why he’s fighting so strongly against his attraction towards the new boy in school, Lio. Abandoned by his mother, Lio just moved from New York to Maryland with his father and two sisters. When they were children, both he and his identical twin got leukemia – the only difference is that Lio made it, and his brother didn’t. He is a quiet, quirky boy who rarely talks and dyes his hair many different colors at once.
These two boys – I can’t bring myself to call them characters – will warm their way into your heart before you even realize what’s happening. Hannah Moskowitz left nothing to chance. She built two people with fears, habits and family connections, people that are incredibly complex, but identifiable, and so fragile that it’s impossible not to love them and feel protective towards them.
I really can’t go into this right now. I probably shouldn’t have kissed him back. But I’ve sort of wanted to kiss him ever since I saw his fucked-up hair that day in Ms. Hoole’s class, and really since the conversation right after, when he told me he cuts it when he’s nervous, and I immediately wanted to know everything in the whole world that makes him nervous, and everything in the whole world about him.
Although it tackles hard subjects such as cancer, loss of a family member and insanity, Gone, Gone, Gone is essentially a warm and hopeful story. It’s a book I want my kid and my nephews to read when they reach their teens, along with Suicide Notes and Brooklyn, Burning. I have an e-arc of this (thank you, S&S), but I’ll preorder a copy for myself right this second, and while I’m at it, I’ll get one for my sister as well. I have a feeling this book will bring a smile to my face whenever I see it on my shelf and I’ll certainly want to reread it many times in years to come.
And so ends yet another series. Darn. I really wanted more of this one.
I can’t decide if Laura Anne Gilman is better at worldbuilding or character bu...moreAnd so ends yet another series. Darn. I really wanted more of this one.
I can’t decide if Laura Anne Gilman is better at worldbuilding or character building. The idea of Talent, people with the ability to control electric current, the new generation of witches and wizards; and fatae, the non-human magical creatures, is too good not to be explored in detail, which is why Gilman had two loosely connected series set in this universe. While I never made it past book two in The Retrievers series (not because I didn’t want to, but because I can’t seem to find the time), I’ve been following her Paranormal Scene Investigations series closely, stalking the poor woman, pestering her on Twitter and doing other things I’m too ashamed to admit here and now. It’s her fault, though. *points finger accusingly* You can’t write characters like Bonnie, Venec, Ian, Sharon, Nicky, Pietr and Nifty and expect not to be stalked and begged for more.
The PUPs have a lot to deal with in Dragon Justice, even more than usual. A serial killer has been killing male Talents for the last thirty years, and he appears to be human, not fatae. An untrained storm-seer saw both Ian Stosser and Wren Valere dead in the near future. An unknown Talent is gathering young girls into a coven in Central Park for an unknown purpose. And, most delicious of all, Ben Venec and Wren Valere go against each other, him tightening the security of a museum, and her trying to “retrieve” (by which I mean steal) an item from it, to Bonnie’s never-ending amusement.
Once again Gilman brings her two series together: Wren Valere showed up shortly in Tricks of the Trade while Bonnie was apartment-hunting, but she played a much more significant role in Dragon Justice. I must say that I was very excited about seeing these two heroines work together, although to me, The Wren is far less familiar than Bonnie. I also enjoyed the scenes with their two love interests, Ben Venec and Sergei Didier, especially when they started growling at each other.
If I understood correctly (and really, my attention span is not that short), there will be no more books set in this world. Two e-novellas from Danny’s perspective will be released in 2013. After that, we’ll really have to say goodbye to this world. Gilman is working on a new series I know very little about for now, but I’m definitely curious about that project. (less)
With Teeth, you have two choices: you can either read it, or someone can hit you over the head with it. The end result will be the same: you will end...moreWith Teeth, you have two choices: you can either read it, or someone can hit you over the head with it. The end result will be the same: you will end up bewildered and wincing in pain.
Rudy’s family just moved to a remote island, hoping the magic fish Enki would cure his little brother of cystic fibrosis. As much as he loves his brother Dylan, Rudy is desperately lonely and bored out of his mind – until he meets Teeth, half-human-half-fish boy with whom he starts a tentative friendship.
This fishboy, Teeth, is not some gorgeous, misunderstood hero. He is monstrous, the ugliest creature Rudy has ever seen, with a mouth full of needle-sharp teeth and a torso covered in nasty scales. He is also insufferable, bratty, stubborn and unreasonable, but over time, he becomes loyal to Rudy, or as loyal as a fishboy can ever be. To Rudy, he is interesting and exotic, but it’s the feeling of loneliness that keeps them together.
His tail is skinny and silver, the same color as Dylan’s fish. All of his scales, especially the ones on his chest, look dry, like they’re about to flake off. His hair is short and uneven. Mermaids in fairy tales were never this ugly. Mermen.
I find it interesting that Moskowitz always manages to work in a mention of the book or author that influenced her. In Invincible Summer, all the characters are quoting Camus and the book itself is influenced by Camus’ existential prose. In Teeth, which is so obviously kafkaesque, Rudy and his friend Diana read and discuss The Metamorphosis. With this, she robs her readers of the chance to recognize these connections and influences for themselves. There are so many parallels between Teeth and The Metamorphosis that I can’t even begin to count them – from the way people treat (or rather ignore) Teeth, to the grotesque wounds on his body. (Remember Gregor Samsa’s apple?). Even the two fishermen are a metaphor for the government – no one but them knows the right bait for Enki, which makes them the only ones with any kind of power on an otherwise lawless island. Their conflict with Teeth makes the metaphor even stronger. He is the Gregor Samsa of this story, and they are the powers that be that beat him and abuse him in every possible way, while the rest of the world completely ignores his existence
Moskowitz’s writing style has developed into this amazing, quirky thing, with sentences that surprise a laugh out of you not only because they’re funny, but because of how they’re constructed. She has a way of making these sentences seem like a natural thought process of her main character, an ability that gave Rudy a very authentic voice. Even with all the layers and metaphors and connections with Kafka, what truly kept me reading was this lost and lonely teenage boy and his complicated feelings towards his family.
My parents keep him cooped up because they’re afraid that someone will cough on him, but I do it because not everyone is as receptive to endless talk about octopuses and body fluids as we are, you weird kid, come curl up and tell me and leave the normal people out of it.
I’m still convinced that Gone, Gone, Gone is Hannah Moskowtz’s best work because it stemmed from her own experience and not her obsession with another writer. I really hope she’ll go back to relying on herself with her next project. That’s when she truly shines.
I'm not sure whether Sean Kennedy intends to publish a third book, but I would pre-order it, read it on the release date and then probably rave about...moreI'm not sure whether Sean Kennedy intends to publish a third book, but I would pre-order it, read it on the release date and then probably rave about it just as I plan to rave about the first two books.
In fact, it doesn't even need to have a plot for all I care: I would happily read about Simon and Declan getting groceries, spending lazy Sundays together, visiting friends and weird family members and so on. They are such fantastic characters that quickly become your friends, it's impossible to resist them. Anyway, this is not a review and I'll probably never write one, but I just wanted to share how much I loved both these books and the lovely, tender, and above all, realistic romance in them. This is not some implausible, exaggerated m/m romance written to satisfy a growing market, it is a warm story about a solid relationship that occasionally suffers a bit from being in the spotlight.
I'd bow to Sean Kennedy if he wasn't on the other side of the world. But even now, my hat's off to him. If you like stories about love, friendship and family with a lot of good humor and quirky characters, this one fits the description perfectly.(less)
Everyone knows that Michael is my favorite Merrick (if you have any illusions that you’ll be able to take him from me, please keep in mind that I have...moreEveryone knows that Michael is my favorite Merrick (if you have any illusions that you’ll be able to take him from me, please keep in mind that I have mad ninja skills I’ve been keeping under wraps all this time and that I won’t hesitate to use them), but what you might not know is that smart, calm, level-headed Nick is a close second. There was always something especially vulnerable about him that made me want to hide him and protect him.
I must admit that I love the direction Nick’s story is taking. What lies ahead of him is sure to be painful and extremely difficult, but I hope he’ll find the courage to go where his heart leads him, despite what his brothers might think. In the end, it probably won’t be nearly as terrible as he’s imagining it.
Ever since Spark, I’ve been uneasy when I thought of Nick (and I do think about the Merricks more often than I care to admit). I didn’t like Quinn for him, she is too unpredictable, too wild and self-centered. But Breathless showed a different side of her, and a different side of Nick, too, and I can’t wait to see where it will all lead them in Nick’s full-length novel, scheduled for January 2014. I liked Adam the second he showed up. I think he might be exactly what Nick needs – gentle and wise beyond his age, but also a bit pushy and determined not to let anyone dictate his life. I don’t doubt Nick’s happy ending at all, I just hope neither of them will get too hurt in the meanwhile.
January 2014, huh? Where’s that darn pre-order button?
No matter how many books I review, I so rarely describe them as beautiful, and yet, when I started thinking about Aristotle and Dante, beautiful was t...moreNo matter how many books I review, I so rarely describe them as beautiful, and yet, when I started thinking about Aristotle and Dante, beautiful was the only word that pushed itself to the forefront of my mind. It is a gorgeously written, warm little book that would melt even the most hardened of hearts. The second I finished it, I found myself torn between the need to celebrate it rather loudly, and the odd desire to keep it jealously to myself. Alas, with the well-deserved Printz medal on its cover, keeping it to myself was not an option, so here I am, ready to shout my love for all the world to hear.
Aristotle Mendoza is a boy angry at the world: at his father for keeping silent about the war, at his mother for practically erasing his incarcerated brother from their lives, at his sisters for being older and distant and at his friend Dante, mostly for being himself. Primarily, though, he’s angry at himself for not being able to change any of it.
Aside from Dante, Ari doesn’t have any friends, and his friendship with Dante is often awkward and confusing. Unlike Ari, Dante has no trouble speaking his mind and showing his more vulnerable side. He is open and lovable, sometimes perhaps too much of both.
It would be hard enough to be two Mexican boys in 1980’s Texas, but their challenges don’t end there. Each of them has family issues, insecurities, struggles and fears to deal with, and no matter how strong their friendship, it is always in danger of stretching thin.
Love was always something heavy for me. Something I have to carry.
Benjamin Alire Sáenz wrote this story with surprising candor. He created these two boys and placed them into roles they often found most uncomfortable: those of devoted sons, reluctant heroes, and teenage boys in love.
And another thing: if you can, get this one on audio. Lin-Manuel Miranda added a little something of himself to this story and made it even better, as unbelievable as that sounds. The fear of a young boy faced with big decisions felt even more real coming from his mouth, not to mention the accents without which this book just wouldn’t be the same.