i have got to stop being surprised when teen fiction is good. printz-award winning fiction (you know, the award for literary teen fiction that all the...morei have got to stop being surprised when teen fiction is good. printz-award winning fiction (you know, the award for literary teen fiction that all the grown-ups read and say "this is for teens??"). australian teen fiction. complicated, multi-layered teen fiction.
this book is all of the above, and it is remarkable.
it has sex and drugs and rock and roll, it has violence and terrible crimes, it has shock and awe and guilt and terrible secrets and it opens with a death. this is my kind of teen fiction. it is mostly about loss and being lost, and being so close to redemption but frustratingly denied. it is about the teen-girl default position of lashing out like a wild animal and of the deepest regrets.
it is astonishing - jellicoe road is sophisticated both in its subject matter and the way in which the story is told. it actually took me a little while to get into the swing of things - whose story is italicized? what is their relationship to the rest of the story?? but it was a good kind of lost - the kind of lost where you are in an interesting part of town with attractive people and cute little knickknack shops, not the kind of lost where you are late to a job interview in the wrong goddamned borough.
and toward the middle, the plot became a little predictable, but that didn't even matter, because by that point i was so enmeshed in these characters' lives - i just wanted everything to work out for them, even though i knew this was not going to be the kind of book with a tidy-sweet ending.
she created powerfully three-dimensional characters that i cared about and hated to close the book on. truly - it has been a while since i have fought sleep. i love sleep - i neeeed sleep. but i forced myself awake to keep reading this, and when i finally had to give in, it was with the deepest resentment.
this is a rich and emotionally complicated tale, and when i go to that panel next week, i may have to throw myself on her a little bit and beg her to take me with her and tell me bedtime stories every night.
for posterity, i will announce here that i did not cry. but this is definitely a crying-type of book for those of you that way inclined. i got that throat-thing that happens before a good cry, which is unusual enough for me, but i expect you people will cry like when a puppy dies on your birthday.
and you will love every minute of it.
(view spoiler)[and can i just say how my heart went out to jude, who was so like my beloved jude the obscure - who just wanted so badly to be let into christminster/the tragic bond the other kids had forged on the old jellicoe road?? i mean, he ended up better than hardy's jude, but still - the yearning!! you have my heart, jude. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
i was not expecting to five-star this. i must confess - i hate the title and i hate the cover art (although i love the internal illustrations)
aren't...morei was not expecting to five-star this. i must confess - i hate the title and i hate the cover art (although i love the internal illustrations)
aren't those much better?? something about the color palette on the cover is upsetting, the covergirl looks vapid and whorish, and the title makes it seem like some teen heartthrob novel, which is it not. what it is is a sequence of three fairy tale-ish stories.
the first one is my favorite, and this one is a first-love story, so what? a frustrated girl from an old-world gypsy family living in a regular all-american town who does not fit into the high school full of beautiful "normal" people until a handsome stranger appears. yeah, the skeleton of the story is your basic fairy tale archetype, but the language with which she structures it is perfectly modern and evolved into what comes across as a very contemporary story.
kizzy and her two friends have pitch-perfect exchanges and bantering sessions that just leap right off the page. her frustration and dissatisfaction and wanting are perfect and believable and i tore through the story, wanting to get to the end and not knowing what kind of resolution the author would choose. (the perfect one, of course!)
the supernatural elements of this story; the goblins and the fruit they try to force into the mouths of maidens - i mean, it's not a subtle metaphor, but the way this woman writes just carries the reader along in a wave of perfect phrasings.
here is an overlong passage you can either read or not.
kizzy had never met her - mairenni had stayed behind in the old country - but her grandmother said she looked like her. there was a single sepia photograph of a girl in a doorway, full-lipped, with eyes that seemed to sparkle with secrets. kizzy had always been fascinated by her - truth be told, she had always identified more with that wild girl who almost sold her soul for the taste of figs than with her grandmother who kept her lips tight shut and never hungered for forbidden things. but though she stared at that photo, and even saw the shape of her own eyes and lips mirrored back at her, kizzy just couldn't see herself in that long-ago girl, ripe and thrilling and flush with a weird species of beauty the young have no vocabulary for.
kizzy was so busy wishing she was sarah ferris or jenny glass that she could scarcely see herself at all, and she was certainly blind to her own weird beauty; her heavy, spell-casting eyes, too-wide mouth, wild hair, and hips that could be wild too, if they learned how. no one else in town looked anything like her, and if she lived to womanhood, she was the one artists would want to draw, not the sarahs and jennys. she was the one who would some day know a dozen ways to wear a silk scarf, how to read the sky for rain and coax feral animals near, how to purr throaty love songs in portuguese and basque, how to lay a vampire to rest, how to light a cigar, how to light a man's imagination on fire.
if she lived to womanhood.
the second story reads the most like a typical fairy tale, mixed with biblical and classical mythologies. the story of a woman cursed with silence, told that if she ever utters a sound, her voice will destroy all who hear it.she lives her life believing in this curse until her doubt is awakened by... a handsome stranger. the tension in this story is built up so carefully, raising questions about blind faith and trust vs. hard evidence, with some field trips to the underworld. this story, too, seems darker and sexier than most fairy tales, or at least more so than ones i would expect scholastic to publish. this is an applauding tone, not a critical one.
the third story is the longest, and reads more like a fantasy short story than a fairy tale. but that might just be my unfamiliarity with these particular themes.
most fairy tales are set in a recognizable location with some fantastical elements thrown in to make them more appealing to a younger audience, but not so fantastical that the moral or lesson is not recognized as being applicable to the real world.this one is all world-building and shapeshifting and body-snatching, with very little to anchor it in a recognizable environment. it is still great, it just didn't feel as much like a traditional fairy tale as the previous two.
this story is also a little bit creepy, and it is about possession and love and protection and selfishness and how both motherhood and romantic love relate to all of the above.
i am so grateful to ariel because when we were at the suzanne collins midnight magic party and i had to pick one hardcover book to buy to get my free mug,
she talked me into this one instead of beautiful creatures which has a beautiful cover, but is a way crappier book. she helped me dodge a bullet there because friends don't let friends buy crappy books on their birthday. plus, signed!!
so this is the handmaid's tale for kids. with some new details for the modern set. premise: world is basically over. only north america survives, but...moreso this is the handmaid's tale for kids. with some new details for the modern set. premise: world is basically over. only north america survives, but barely - like one step better than the road. due to genetic manipulation and subsequent oopses, there are considerably lower life expectancies: girls live to be twenty, boys to twenty-five. then - coughing, blood, expiration.
so, to keep the population going, and to provide new babies to experiment with, many young girls are kidnapped and sold into marriages where they are treated like goddesses, frankly, except they can't leave and they are expected to fulfill all those wifely duties with the highest bidder.
see, here is my problem. if the world was shitty enough that you had to live in the basement with only your twin brother for company, nailing shut the door to prevent thieves and murderers from breaking in and holding knives to your throats, and afraid to go outside unprotected because marauders would kidnap you and maybe sell you into prostitution, only one day you do get captured (this is all in the first couple of pages, so don't start putting your hands over your ears and going "lalalalalala") and they plop you in a mansion to be one of three brides to a wealthy man with a pool and a library and a bevvy of stylists who make dresses just for you and cooks who bring you whatever you want at any time. i mean - what's the big deal?? if you are going to die in four years anyway, why not live like this?? tolerate some fumbled caresses (that are all too easy to deter, anyway) and sit around reading and drinking hot cocoa until you cough yourself to death?
do i just not value my liberty?? is it because i technically have no siblings so i don't understand the family-pull?? am i just too soft and domesticated?
i could totally be a kept woman if the alternative was freezing and starving to death. i mean - you die when you are twenty in a world with very little left. what, are you going to have a career?? not likely.
me, i will be eating the chocolate covered strawberries on the trampoline, thank you very much. does this reflect poorly on my character?
and i didn't dislike the book, but i just couldn't relate to the character. the whole time, i'm like - come on, girl, it isn't that bad... but i will totally read the next two books in this trilogy, especially if ariel isn't mad at me for not loving it as much as she did.
i definitely think this book will be popular with the teens, but with more ambitious and less comfort-loving girls than me...
going to curl up now with netflix and pomegranate iced tea.(less)
boof - reading these quick books to cleanse the brain-palate before diving into proust4 means i get awful far behind in my reviewing!
i am really liki...moreboof - reading these quick books to cleanse the brain-palate before diving into proust4 means i get awful far behind in my reviewing!
i am really liking this series, which is fortunate because i have once again done the thing i do, which is to buy all seven before reading the first one. dumbass. (untruth: book six is in the mail on its way to me - somehow out of print and hardish to get. but i got.)
dunno - i like where this series is going, and from what i gather about twilight and some other teen books i have seen panned on this site recently, it offers up an alternative to wispy helpless female lead characters. this girl isn't superhero-badass, just believably resourceful and intelligent enough to figure out what needs to be done, and doing it without wondering what the boyfriend will think, or what will happen if her hair gets mussed. and she isn't particularly likable, which is refreshing - she does all sorts of unheroic things and thinks petty thoughts - and i think that is a good thing - too many books for youngsters have this unrealistic golden-child character - it is totally off-putting.
all of the characters are well-drawn, and i enjoy the range of skills and behaviors they exhibit; they are very realistic teens responding to a horrifying situation.there are several good plot progressions here - a couple of things i did not see coming, and the way they are becoming acclimated to their new reality is wonderful - a nice slow burn thing happening here.
sex, death, and slaughtering lambs. australia can definitely take care of itself.
this is the most boring review i have ever written. sorry if you are now asleep.(less)
montambo recommended this book to me because i fear twins and their freakish abilities and the way they want to use mind control on us all....moreseriously?
montambo recommended this book to me because i fear twins and their freakish abilities and the way they want to use mind control on us all. this book didn't make me change my mind w/r/t their potential for evil. at all. *
but for a teen audience, this? it opens with a wallace stevens quote, "in the presence of extraordinary actuality, consciousness takes the place of imagination"
already, this ain't no twilight.
and from there it goes into eugenics and mengele and taxidermy-as-love and maternal obsession and the myth of free will and family curses (natch) and awkward, creepy sex.
also a misunderstanding about why twins are scary, "...we threaten them because we are so alike. Everyone believes that they are individuals and that their lives have been shaped through their experiences. But that's a charade, and they know it when they take one look at us because we are who we are through our genes. They believe in nurture, but we represent nature, and for most people nature is untamed and primitive and too dark and unpredictable. We live out our lives as the actors in a genetic script - that's nature's path."
sir(s), that is not why you are spooky. turn back a few pages.... there it is:
"being a twin is both spiritual and physical... when Father had us adopted by those eugenics people [living in separate households - ktb:], being a twin was a blessing. I was unhappy, but I knew what was going on inside of Dolph. I could feel what he was about. We liked the same food, and what he ate I could taste in my own mouth as he could with mine. We had toothaches at the same time. Sang the same songs. Had the same favorite colors. Same handwriting. Same grades in school. Same dreams. Same pets. Same names for the pets. ... There are times when I ask, how does Dolph feel today? And the answer is often clearer than if I asked myself how I felt. Some days we don't even have to talk. We can just mind-read each other"
there it is - that's why people find you threatening. that is just unnatural. bluck.
but my twin-phobia aside, this is a very fun little book. yes, it is psycho, yes it is a rose for emily, but teen fiction can get away with revisiting already paved roads, because how many teens you know that are reading faulkner? his writing is good: "I opened another drawer and jerked back. It was filled with egg-shaped prosthetic eyes, and as they waddled back and forth and clicked together they stared out at me with trapped, insane expressions. I slammed shut the drawer as if it were incubating some abnormal creation and opened the next"
the book itself, however, is too brief to do real justice to the concept.there are real strengths here; i think it may be a little bit overwritten for a teen audience; it goes into abstractions that are maybe too sophisticated for people who may be being exposed to these concepts for the first time, but maybe there are smarter teens out there than the ones i see every day at work, struggling to understand the articles in the pretty-boy magazines and poring over the astrology books in between make-out sessions.if not, we are screwed.
i just read this because i felt i was too sleepy last night to do proust any justice, and i figured this would be quick and light. but with all the mother love and separation anxiety, there is a bunch of overlap between this and proust, so i am really interested in seeing where the final two volumes of À la recherche du temps perdu end up. or maybe someone could do a new mash-up: remembrance of things past and zombies.
this makes me even more excited to read this book.
and, because who doesn't like pictures?? [image error]
*i knew by reading the description that it would perpetuate my fears, and i am pleased and relieved that this book exists to help further my cause to put an end to them once and for all. when i run for president, this is the only issue upon which i will comment publicly. elect me and put a stop to mind control.
aussie teens are no joke. if they ever decide to band up and take over new york, we should be very afraid. these kids know how to mobilize and all tha...moreaussie teens are no joke. if they ever decide to band up and take over new york, we should be very afraid. these kids know how to mobilize and all that outback tends to athleticize a body. our chubby doritos-eating teens do not stand a chance. but i would totally read that book.
i truly love teen survival tales, and this one scratched my itch, and there are SIX MORE BOOKS!! i mean, hells yeah! that is a lot of surviving! american survival stories tend to only go trilogy. oh, you hardy aussies, you can go for seven!
fortress should have prepared me that their country's children are made of flint and steel and endurance.did you know it gets to be 120 degrees in australia? last week it was 80 here and i almost murdered the sun. with my bare hands. and no one was even trying to kill me - if i had been expected to forage for food or build a shelter, i would have probably surrendered to the first person offering me an ice cube.
but these kids - they come back from their camping trip to find the entire town held captive and soldiers on the streets and houses bombed and low-flying jets everywhere. and they take care of business. some will fall in love, some will get shot, some will blow shit up...they are practical and resourceful teens, farm kids mostly, so not too squeamish, and they just...take care of business.and they aren't even vampires! there are some unfortunate things that happen to animals. apart from that - i am looking forward to finishing this series (even the elusive number six) this summer. (less)
oh, man, back when i was 13 or so, these kinds of books were such a big deal - they were like the predecessors of that topical writer-cyclone jodi pic...moreoh, man, back when i was 13 or so, these kinds of books were such a big deal - they were like the predecessors of that topical writer-cyclone jodi picoult, where the publishers would take a Big Problem facing teens, and just huck a formulaic book at it. suicide, pregnancy, drugs, sexual abuse: see a teenage problem, build a book around it. my own personal morbid fascination was with the betrayal of the body. and i read 'em all: "shit, i have cancer", "i am in a coma","holy scoliosis", "dude, where's my leg??"...i even read a book about lupus. lupus! and when i was diagnosed with epilepsy i thought - shit, i never read a book to tell me how to deal with this!! if i had cancer, i would just drink a watermelon milkshake and have a positive attitude and i would most likely be fine (but then relapse in the next book - grr!) and i have never been anorexic - i have a nearly pornographic relationship with food, but i loved this book like cake.and it is probably terrible, but i did, i loved it and read it at least 17 times. and i am having a really nostalgic week - i was in a part of town yesterday that was my old stomping grounds when i was a young hot college girl, and it was getting warmer,and everyone looked so young and gorgeous. sigh. glorious. this is not a book review, although this is fine book about teen anorexia/bulimia, this is just me being puppy-shuddery in memories of youth.
me and teen fiction are now irrevocably bound. what started as some kind of screamin jay hawkins voodoo spell and me helpless to resist has blossomed...moreme and teen fiction are now irrevocably bound. what started as some kind of screamin jay hawkins voodoo spell and me helpless to resist has blossomed into something - a magical love like between a child and a vampire... okay, so i still refuse to read that one. but this series is just too good. it doesnt read like teen fiction at all. the characters are well drawn, there is great tension and imagination - i cant rate this highly enough. when i got to the end of the first one and saw "the end of book one" i got mad because i thought this would be one of those things that goes on forever and i have no desire for that kind of commitment. but now that i know it is going to be a trilogy and then stop, i am calmed. her other series (which i havent read) did something like 5 books and stopped, so i appreciate her understanding that when something is finished, it doesnt need to be milked forever. because with the teen market, they will keep buying them if they keep being written. i appreciate her restraint. but the book - i am actually excited to see how it all wraps up. i got this the day it came out, like some harry potter soccer mom, and now i have to wait (again) for the last part. maybe this will preserve my youthful glow. now i gotta go read an adult book, just so i know i still can...(less)
allow me to be relevant for a moment: oh my god, this book is outstanding!! it is all good things; battle royale, blood of heroes (one of the best mov...moreallow me to be relevant for a moment: oh my god, this book is outstanding!! it is all good things; battle royale, blood of heroes (one of the best movies ever made - dont argue with me), and all the best elements of this survivalist gary paulsen jag i am on. it kept me up way past my bedtime last night, because i could not stop reading, even though my eyes did not want to be awake. and now we veer, as ever, into the personal. this book is my comeuppance. i suppose it is factually my second comeuppance. i used to be a sneerer at grownups reading harry potter and twilight and all the stuff that is supposed to be for the kiddies, and was disgusted by the infantilizing of our adults tastes. and then i decided to take a teen lit class this summer for my mls degree, so i could have a class with greg before he graduated. i figured it would be easy reading and not too challenging and a nice way to spend my summer; getting A pluses and hanging out with my friend. but of course, after i had read a few books from the syllabus, we realized that we had signed up for the wrong class, and all the teen books i had been reading (and for the most part enjoying) were not for our class. and the books i was actually supposed to be reading were for much much younger readers. and then i was disappointed that i wouldnt be reading all those teen books after all. first comeuppance: regretting mocking teen fiction because now i have to read actual books for babies, which is so much more infantilizing. and now, my second comeuppance, i read this book and its not on either of the reading lists, and i dont even know if i can use it for this 10-book annotated bibliography because it might be for too old of a reading age, but i dont even care. i am now an adult who reads teen fiction. i have to reevaluate everything i thought i stood for. i still wont read harry potter, because i am stubborn, but i might have to sneer a little less at others. and that,i assure you, that is going to hurt.(less)
more survivals for me! this book wasn't as fun as the first one - the book seemed less immediate than hatchet. maybe because of the way it was present...moremore survivals for me! this book wasn't as fun as the first one - the book seemed less immediate than hatchet. maybe because of the way it was presented; as a "what if", rather than a regular story, the stakes seem lower, even though it is exactly the same. it's more like a writer's exercise than a proper story. or maybe i am reading too many woodsy type books too closely together. i will pause now and get on with my summer of classix. teeny books, get thee behind me!(less)
this book makes me really cross i missed the 3d movie when it was out. there are definitely things i would have loved to have seen all up in my face....morethis book makes me really cross i missed the 3d movie when it was out. there are definitely things i would have loved to have seen all up in my face. i think if i had read this as a young girl, it would be one of my favorite books ever. as a (physical) adult, i enjoyed it, but ive read too much in my life to be scared of it, or surprised by it, which is a shame. im going to turn this review into a request for people to scare me. when i was little, my brother would hide under my bed until after i was just drifting off to sleep, and then jump out to scare me. it worked. when i was a little older, and he was babysitting me, he would rent the scariest movies and make me watch them with him. he never really liked me. so but now it is rare for me to get scared. and i want to be scared. the last book to scare me was when i was about 8 or 9 and i was going on a car drive with family, and someone had left a stephen king book on the floor of the car, and i ran out of my own books so i picked it up and read that boogeyman story. didnt sleep for months. thats what i want. a book, a movie, i dont care. someone scare me. (just dont hide under my bed - lets stick to books or movies, yeah?)this will be my preparation for halloween mental gathering.(less)
color me torn in my appreciation of this book. on the one hand, i am seriously addicted to reading interpretations of wuthering heights, even though m...morecolor me torn in my appreciation of this book. on the one hand, i am seriously addicted to reading interpretations of wuthering heights, even though many of them have been pretty atrocious. but now that i am on my teen fiction kick, i thought i would check this out, for research. i approve of modernizing the time period, and i'm fine with the teenagerization - because cathy and heathcliff pretty much acted like spoiled teenagers throughout wuthering heights; all passion and selfishness and disregard for others. and i respect the limitations this imposes on the ending of the book, and the grace with which james' ending was achieved, even if i found it less satisfying than m'dear bronte's. this version also really fleshes out catherine's alignment with edward in a way that not even the original was able to make truly believable, psychologically. so what do i have a problem with?? for one, the modern setting does away with a lot of the haunting qualities of wh. its harder to romanticize the wealthy bits of california than the windswept moors. and why keep all the characters names the same EXCEPT for heathcliff?? why "henry"? why not just plain "heath"?? too soon? but the major thing, and it's only because i am such a fan of wh - it's not truly a retelling because the heart of it is changed. it is a wonderful story of teenage obsession, but its more like endless love in its treatment than wuthering heights. so it is wuthering heights, but with a baboon heart or something. it is similar, and it works fine, but it's just... different. (less)
yes yes yes!! thank you to all the goodreaders who recommended this to me after my love for island of the blue dolphins became known. it turns out i l...moreyes yes yes!! thank you to all the goodreaders who recommended this to me after my love for island of the blue dolphins became known. it turns out i love survival stories!! with teens!! and i wish i could say i never tore my eyes from the page and read this in an hour, but i have been having a distractedish day today; emailing my dad for fathers day (everyone: call your dads!! or if they are at work, email-chat them!) and then there was a fire across the street from me (which is my number one all time fear) and the people in the building are so casual about it - there are two fire trucks in the street, and firefighters swarming everywhere, and i look in the windows and in two different apartments, there are people just sitting and watching and smoking cigarettes. what is wrong with them?? dont they care that their building is on fire?? dont they feel the fear i feel?? did they light their cigarettes from their blazing belongings and treasures?? i dont understand their stoicism in the face of fire. but you know who loves fire?? brian. he uses it to survive in the wilderness. seamless segue back into the review. its great. i could read 400 more pages of this story. and despite my own fears of the fire leaping across the street to consume me and my beloved books, i could still engage in his plight: when he d the h in the w (clever code prevents spoilers) - i actually gasped out loud. and there were several times when he overcame a particular setback that i smiled. i totally cared about this character. i would love more survivaly stories, if anyones got 'em.(less)
this has nothing to do with this book, but i finally saw the video for it today (even though i swear i am doing homework and studying - i totally am),...morethis has nothing to do with this book, but i finally saw the video for it today (even though i swear i am doing homework and studying - i totally am), and it made me laugh, having always been a fan of the song. this book is also good, or it was when i was thirteen or so.