skippy dies on the first page of this book. then there are 600 pages of buildup and aftermath.
it has been compared to Infinite Jest,which i can see, bu...more skippy dies on the first page of this book. then there are 600 pages of buildup and aftermath.
it has been compared to Infinite Jest,which i can see, but i also feel it is a good companion-piece to The Instructions. all three of these books (IJ only in part) focus on adolescents who are in school/boarding school environments that use genuinely funny (as opposed to manipulative-funny) humor to offset the horrors of youth and its incipient discoveries. they all have elements of the absurd, of the near-slapstick spectacle, and each book's action revolves around a troubled holden caulfield-type of character whose actions propel the narrative. in the instructions, the characters all revolve around gurion, and infinite jest, the characters satellite hal. but what further links all these books, to my mind, is the strength of the supporting characters.
i am trying not to digress too much into a discussion of the comparison-pieces, so i will try to focus on the characters in this one here.
mario is fantastic, in his would-be lothario role, and there is something that should be gross but in this book is very funny, about a bunch of virgin boys sitting around and talking/boasting about sex. it is like when tobias talks about "the clatter" of his wife's breasts.
you just want to kind of pat them on the head, until you realize they are staring at your chest and you have to slowly back away.
dennis is another favorite of mine. he is so cynically realistic, so already-figured-it-out, you can't help but feel sympathy for him and recognize that his acerbity is a response to what shiny youth-hope he has already shrugged off.
but the best are the scenes with all the boys together. their banter, their rapid-fire patter, the casually innocent homophobic remarks and endless dick-jokes of boys at that age, the "your mom" jokes, the giggling over the word "mound." (okay, i giggled, too.)
standout moments: patrick "da knowledge" noonan and eoin "MC sexecutioner" flynn's audition for the school concert. i spoil-tag it, because i think it is nice to have the option.
(view spoiler)[The boys mount the stage, gold chains clinking, and spend the next few moments slouching back and forth, mumbling mysteriously to themselves. Then, to an enormous, naked drumbeat that explodes from Sexecutioner's ghettoblaster to rock the entire hall, they begin to bounce around the boards, making inscrutable hand signals, their vast trousers flapping about them like sails, and Knowledge grabs the mike: 'I got X-ray EYES, but she's wearin lead PANTS, so I got to get her BOOTY wi-'
'Next!' The judgement issues summarily from the review panel before Sexecutioner has even had a chance to drop his first 'motherfucker.' For a moment, the boys remain rooted to the spot in ungangsta-like attitudes of woundedness, mocked by the drumbeat that is still thumping around them; then, unplugging the ghettoblaster, they clamber down and make the walk of shame to the exit.
'What in God's name was that?' the Automator says as soon as they have left.
Trudy peers down at her clipboard. "original material."
"Our old friend original material," the Automator says grimly.(hide spoiler)]
which is funny enough, just in the wide-eyed belief that this material would be suitable for a concert at a catholic boy's school, but the real hearttwist comes, for me, when the program(me) is announced:
'Did we get in?' Eoin 'MC Sexecutioner' Flynn asks anxiously, stuck at the back of the crowd examining the board.
Patrick 'Da Knowledge' Noonan scans the list again, then, scowling, turns away. 'No.'
'We didn't?' Eoin is shocked.
'What did you expect, man?' Patrick throws up his hands at him. 'Take a look at the programme, it's wall-to-wall Whitey!'
ah, the sweet optimism of youth. and the sweet racial dysmorphia, as both eoin and patrick are unhappily white themselves.
obviously the dance is another great moment, and what the dance devolves into, but those are the big show-stopping scenes. there are also amazing quiet scenes, like the fear of jelly. and more serious matters, like tom's secret, and what it does to howard, and the criminal way it is handled by the school, and just the fact that the situation subverts expectations in a surprising way, and then allows those expectations to play out to a conclusion in a way which perpetrates those expectations to the public-at-large without justice. this makes no sense if you haven't read the book, and probably maybe even no sense to you if you have, because i am trying to dance around the spoiler-flames here, and it's too juicy to spoiler-tag, because i know you people are drawn to those like a trail of breadcrumbs.
but - god - for all its humor, this book is so freaking sad. it's about all the Big Things, like how we never really know anybody, or appreciate the ones we should, about the disconnect that occurs between adolescence and adulthood, about the wide-eyed optimism of youth that slowly gets stripped away. about betrayal and the inability to confess, to communicate, to speak. this is probably where the connection to infinite jest is the strongest; the wounded shutting-down.
and then all the ways we try to cope with life: drugs, romance, grasping at straws, charity, music, science, cutting, anorexia, pregnancy - anything to try to feel or to escape. (also very IJ-y)
it would be a bleak little book if not for the sheer lyrical momentum of it. paul murray's got a great sense of pacing, both in the unspooling of the story, and in the tonal pacing. it is never allowed to get too bleak or too frivolous - he manages the mood very well.
it's true that the female characters in this book kind of get the short end of the stick. (this is not meant to be a "penis envy" joke) they are less characters as stand-ins for ideals, mostly just there to embody the robert graves-idea of the white goddess and the black goddess;their role is just to affect the male characters, but this doesn't really hinder the story, unless you are someone for whom "the way females are represented" takes precedence over, you know, the story itself.
this is a great book, and one that is hard to review. it perfectly describes the conflicting teenage desires to grow up, while still clinging to brittle vestiges of innocence, and then flipsides it with the adult characters and their painfully-familiar nostalgia over their own lost youth, all in a bigger story about the search for truth in history and in present-day life.
there are so many elements i didn't even get to touch on: celtic mythology, the dark shadow of carl, donuts, scary drug dealers, pop music tarts... i encourage you to read it and tell me what else i forgot to even mention.
this is the question this book conveniently asks in the middle of the narrative, giving me the perfect...more Romeo and Juliet: Love Story or Cautionary Tale?
this is the question this book conveniently asks in the middle of the narrative, giving me the perfect jumping-off point for my review.
because this is a retelling of romeo and juliet, with meth. in verse.
thought i should get that part out of the way right off the bat. because, yes, i have bemoaned to book-in-verse format time and time and time again, because i think that usually, it doesn't really do the book any favors; it just looks like a buncha sentences broken up unnecessarily to make the story longer. and i am also not a romance-reader, although i have done my explorations in my two romance/erotica book clubs. but that is simply for the sake of broadening myself so i know what's out there. but i was kind of charmed by this author's comment on one of my threads that i decided to take the risk. you know, to see what's out there.
and even though i know for sure i am not the ideal reader for this, i'm glad i gave it a shot, because i did like it, despite still maintaining that books do not need to be written in verse.
so back to the cautionary tale. yeah, romeo and juliet. the quintessential love story of two crazy kids who fall in love after knowing each other for about an hour and die tragically because they can never be together...
i mean, shakespeare pretties it up and makes you sympathize with the lovers because he could do that - he's shakespeare. but it's a waste, right? a teenage infatuation that never had the chance to go the way of most teenage infatuations: the screaming matches in the hallways, the drunken late-night gifts left on doorsteps after driving over the lawn and totally ruining it, the revenge hook-ups, the burning of photographs... teen love is a rite of passage that (hopefully) gets all the drama out of the system in order to form more meaningful attachments later in life, and killing yourself over some teen-love is a total cop-out.
but to return to the book. this is only a sortof retelling. there are the lovers from different worlds, the parental disapproval (which, considering the Thing That Happens in this book, is totally understandable), murrrrderrrr, "montag street", and an unhappy resolution. which is all i will say about that.
but the meth element adds another dimension (why you no write about meth, shakespeare??) it brings up the theme of love-as-addiction, and whether a powerful infatuation can be as destructive as substance abuse.
which, yeah, it pretty much can.
and her characters are sympathetic, too: julia is a talented pianist in her huge home with well-meaning but distracted parents and reed is a stoner being raised by his older brother, who cooks meth to pay the bills. worlds collide.
their connection is forged through music. reed plays guitar, writes his own songs, he is the bad boy in a leather jacket who has a secret tenderness that attracts julia. of course, there is familial disapproval on both sides, and their love is thwarted on all sides, until in true shakespearean fashion, through a series of decisions and misunderstandings and treachery, things get dark.
and it is sad and touching and realistic. and, lord, does the verse just fly. this is a very fast read. that is one good thing about the verse-format. you can feel like a reading-machine!
and so i wanted to leave you with a bunch of cautionary photos of meth and its aftermath, but the pictures i found were too horrifying even for me, and i couldn't deal with posting them on this review.
i love this book. yes, it is a story about vapid and shallow people who live selfish and hedonistic lives and treat other people like playthings, but...more i love this book. yes, it is a story about vapid and shallow people who live selfish and hedonistic lives and treat other people like playthings, but there is an elegance, a restraint to the prose that manages to discuss, in the same tone, both doomed love and the breakdown of the american dream. and it is masterful. some may say the great american novel.
makes me want to tear my eyes out with my hands and stomp on them forever and ever.
yeah, you thought this was going to be a book review, didn't you? and maybe goodreads will choose to make this a "hidden" review under their new policies, but i don't care, because it makes me so angry that this is happening in this way that i have to scream about it, even if no one hears me, and there isn't enough room in a status update for me to vent my rage, and this is a book community, and i feel like you should all feel and share my outrage...
WHO THOUGHT LEONARDO DICAPRIO WOULD MAKE A GOOD GATSBY?? AND WHY DOES IT LOOK LIKE HE IS IN THE GAP WHEN HE IS FLINGING ALL THOSE CLOTHES AROUND???
it is unbelievable. i haven't read this book in years, but i know that it did not take place in some art deco-themed casino in vegas.
and i assume the commentary on over-the-top consumption is just as relevant to our times as fitzgerald's, and the makes-you-squint way it is shot and the soundtrack (what is that soundtrack all about???) is a modern-day reinterpretation of jazz-age glam; a reversal of the futuristic sci-fi films of the seventies, but it is making me puke and i want to stop puking, please.
dear jackson pearce, consistency may well be the last refuge of the unimaginative, but cover-consistency?? we are booknerds. we needs it.
i am not sure...more dear jackson pearce, consistency may well be the last refuge of the unimaginative, but cover-consistency?? we are booknerds. we needs it.
i am not sure what fairy tale this is based on. yes, obviously, the little mermaid,doofus. and that works for half of the narrative, but what about the other half? three sisters with the powers to see the past, know the truth of the present, and see the future? whose parents were a woodsman and a wealthy woman? this seems to have fairy-tale trappings, but i do not know it. and don't talk to me about the fates, because they don't create the future, etc, they can just see it. and (view spoiler)[werewolves (hide spoiler)]??? what is this mishmash??
but for all my confusion and cover-disappointment, i really liked this book. mermaids without tails; what will they think of next?
this is a story of lo, a mermaid-like creature who is forgetting her human past living among her "sisters" in the water, and celia, one-third of a triplet unit with the aforementioned powers, her allotment being that she can see people's pasts when she touches them. after the two of them meet while saving a boy from drowning, celia will finally come to appreciate her power, and use it to help lo remember. but lo's got some secrets, and a bit of an agenda. and drowning boy only complicates things.
it is a fairy tale. these will be tests. and dilemmas. and nothing is quite what it seems.
pearce does a really good job blending the fairy-tale elements into a contemporary narrative. the "under the sea" bits are spooky and sorrowful with just enough danger to keep it interesting.
she also writes the sister-relationship very well. i assume. being sisterless myself, i can only comment on how it seems to be accurate, with the closeness and compassion and the infighting and the jealousy and the protectiveness and the insoluble bonds that wrap everything up together.plus, these are triplets, so...very close bonds, there.
the ending is pretty great. that's about all i want to say on that. she does a clever little reversal, just a flash and a flip of a fin in the water, and it is unexpected and very neatly done. had the ending not been as strong as it was, this probably would have been a three, but color me impressed.
**now with all-new tragedy in the spoiler thingie!!**
hell hath no fury like a rich teenager accustomed to evading responsibility for her actions.
if yo...more**now with all-new tragedy in the spoiler thingie!!**
hell hath no fury like a rich teenager accustomed to evading responsibility for her actions.
if you want to read about my personal journey through pain and terror and shame and eventual, tainted, triumph, you may click on this spoiler thingie:
(view spoiler)[ wow - now i know who gets off on hearing about how bleak and sorrowful my life is. noted. so, i had been wanting to get my hands on a copy of this book for ages, ever since all the YA queens on here had been gushing over it. it really sounded like my cuppa; bad girls, secluded community, murrrderrrr. i tried a few sites that kept listing it as being in stock, and then suddenly becoming unavailable just as i gave up my credit card info. bill thompson ordered me an outlandishly expensive copy, which eventually also turned out to be "unavailable." this book was playing so hard to get, it made me want it even more, and then i was invited to participate in the book tour. awwww, the YA ladies are accepting me into their fold! i will be on my best behavior so we can nurture this relationship and they will not regret extending the hand of internet friendship to me! so i dashed off my email and street address, and waited by the mailbox. and waited and waited. and eventually, wendy darling contacted me and sweetly asked me if i had received it. and that's when we realized, together, that i was a complete idiot. in my haste or excitement or exhaustion, i had managed to mis-type both my address, and my email adDress. wonderful. so the package was sent to an address that had one number incorrect, according to the USPS tracking system. on the site, there was delivery confirmation to an address that was close to, but not exactly, my address. no problem - i will go to the address, and fetch my package. i wrote a lovely note and sealed it in an envelope, requesting that the person who mistakenly received my package either leave it with my super or arrange a time for me to go over and retrieve it. and then i went running out into the late-night rain to find this address.this address that does not exist. in a perfect world, it would be right across the street from me, but that is a gas station on its own island right before queens boulevard, across from which is the big six shopping plaza and this giant land of condos. i went there, anyway. i went on either side of my building. i went several streets over, because queens can be weird sometimes with its numbering. but nope - there is no such address. there were tears. and phone calls. and "oh my god they are going to hate me why did i make such a stupid mistake??" i am very sensitive when my actions inconvenience others. this is why i cannot understand people who litter, for example. i really hate letting people down. so i called greg and yelled at him, because i am a bad friend. and then he came all the way here and asked at the gas station if anyone had delivered a package there, because he is a good friend. and the gas station attendant was apparently a jerk. so, double thanks to greg who was out in the rain while i was bawling like a moose. so the very next day, i got to the post office a half-hour before it even opened, with the tracking number and everything - ready to hear that "why, yes we have your package right here!" instead, my postal guy just pointed me to the machine at the back when i finally got to the front of the early-bird line, and told me to look up the number. which i did. and got the same result as online - delivery confirmation to an address that doesn't exist. so i got back in line, because i am -again - very very polite. and i got the same guy, and i explained that yes thank you i knew it had been confirmed, but i was just curious about where it had been confirmed, since there was no such address, and i was kind of hoping it had been brought back to the post office. so he toddled away and eventually came back and told me this tale: my regular postal worker was not working on the monday when the package came, and their substitute did not know what to do with it, so they did indeed bring it back to the post office. on tuesday, my regular postal worker returned to work, recognized my name, and knew where it should go. so he brought it to my building and left it in the foyer. excellent. so my super must have it! but my super did not have it.and it was not on the little table where people leave mail that isn't theirs. and it was not on the radiator where people leave stuff they don't want. and it had not fallen behind or under the radiators or tables, because i checked. and it was not in front of my door. and a really politely-worded note posted in my foyer for days and days yielded no book:
it was the worst.somewhere in my building, someone has that book. and i live in a really nice and friendly building where most people are either old-timers or young families. packages sit on that table all the time, without anyone snatching them. i have never had a package go missing, even when they have just been left in front of my door. why did it have to be the irreplaceable book that went missing? so then it was time to snap into action. wendy darling had been a sweetheart throughout this process, but that did not stop me feeling gutted and like the worst human being to ever ruin things for an entire internet community. i boo-hooed all over the internet, and people started to help me out. jen fisher found me a link to a copy on abe that was fairly expensive, but manageable. and connor contacted the publisher for me. my plan was to order a ton of copies from the publisher, and send them out to the next few people in line after me, to unruffle feathers and make sure no one would murder me. eventually, the publisher got back to me, and it seems the cost of shipping for even just one copy of the book would be more than 60 dollars. which kind of blew my plans. i would have willingly paid that for the book, but i am kind of resentful of the cost of shipping things these days. that is probably stupid of me, but it is a fact. and i am terribly poor right now. so i bought the copy on ABE, and it said it would be shipped in 6-16 business days, even though it was just in the middle of the usa. whatever, it's fine. 18 days later, i still have no book. connor contacted the sellers, since we did it under his name and address just to prevent another book-theft. and they were all, "hmmm. it will be there in 2-3 days" but it wasn't. and then they contacted someone and fixed something and eventually i had it. BUT AT WHAT COST??? wendy is still working out some magic on her end about getting more copies, but i am shattered still from this. my advice to you all is - if you get your hands on a copy of this book, do not let it out of your sight. there is something haunted about it, and all sorts of mayhem may visit you.
****i feel so much better now, because another copy went missing, and it had nothing to do with me! another poor person on the book tour was sent a package that somehow opened itself in the mail, and the book went one way, and the empty package went the other, and was delivered. how depressing is that - to get an empty envelope in the mail, knowing fury was inside of it? the horror!! but in good news, i sent my copy to them, and i have had confirmation that it arrived safely. let's hope the luck holds...
if you just want to read my book review, here it is. eliza boans is a staggeringly wealthy girl from a gated community with a tight-knit group of friends and a narrow worldview. and she has just committed murder. this book will give you the who, what, where, how, and most importantly, the why. lizzie's got her reasons.
fyi - this is not a character you are going to love. even when she is being loyal and noble, she throws just enough of a catty edge into her speech to remind you that she is no one you would want to hang out with. but you wouldn't have it any other way, and at least she is funny. sometimes you just want a good story about a rich snotty girl who does something deplorable and does not get redeemed at the end. it is way more realistic that a manipulative sociopath will remain a manipulative sociopath until the very end. considering she is basically raising herself, except when her mother breezes back into town with expensive gifts and stories of sexual conquests, it is pretty impressive that she has only killed one person. that we know of. the mystery is not that she killed, but why.
and as far as that mystery goes, it is not any big revelation. this reader has been around the block enough to spot a dropped hint. but as a character study, it is top-notch. eliza and her friends are fascinating. there is more at work here than just a group of modern-day furies enacting justice on their own terms. it is not simply shallow bored rich girls with an axe to grind. these are inconsistent characters with no self-awareness who operate purely on impulse. especially eliza. her inner thoughts are teRrifying and she is not only an unreliable narrator, she is also wildly self-deluded. and it is very striking to watch all of this play out.
considering what i went through to get a copy of this, the book had a lot of unreasonable expectation and anticipation to fulfill. and it mostly succeeded. this is a great new addition to the world of aussie YA. jane austen fans - rejoice - there are a lot of bonnet-tips here. and a character named jane ayres, which should make me want to barf, but somehow, in the context of all the other allusions, works just fine for me. i would have liked a bit more neil, and a bit more closure, but this is a solid book that will maybe someday be easier for y'all to get.
and now i await my orders.
baby's first twitter review @karenbrissette! which i still don't understand, because don't tweets have to be under a certain character-number? i am new to this! m'aidez!!
so i understand why barnes and noble has this filed under "teen paranormal romance," but that is really a terrible designation. frankly,it is terrible that such a category even exists, or that there are such a substantial number of books in the section. to my way of thinking, it should really only be like half a shelf, like the agriculture section in our store. (because, really, in nyc, who needs that many books about how to raise chickens?)
teen paranormal romance. gross. seriously, why are girls so into falling in love with corpses or werewolves? kids got some sick kinks these days.
but my point is - this is not a paranormal romance. it is just a twist on the little red riding hood tale. two sisters, with three eyes between 'em, battle fenris with the help of a dashing woodsman...
god, that sounds stupid.
but it's actually really enjoyable. when the sisters were young, they were attacked by a fenris - kind of like a werewolf, but not dependent upon the cycles of the moon, necessarily. one sister sacrificed herself (and one of her eyes - eee) to save her younger sister. now they are all grown up, and they battle the fenris wherever they find them, with red cloaks and hatchets and knives and feminine wiles. pretty badass.
scarlett is the older sister, horribly scarred from her years of single-mindedly and obsessively destroying fenris. rosie is the younger, novice hunter, who feels compelled to hunt because of the sacrifices her sister made for her, but who still yearns for a regular life like a regular girl.
silas is the dreamy woodsman who has known both the girls from childhood and lends his axe to the fight. and by "axe," i mean...well, axe. but also some smoldering feelings.
this could easily be stupid, but it is a really great concept. because, see, fenris are drawn to young girls. young, pretty, good-smelling girls who are too oblivious to the dangers around them. girls who maybe get a little too drunk at a club in their miniskirts and tottery heels, who let themselves get into situations that end badly for them. (mmm marinated in vodka - all the better to eat you with, my dear.) and scarlett is their protector - the patron saint of dumb drunk chicks. and it would be nice if such a patron saint existed, but they don't, so seriously, ladies - stay in control. there are all kinds of predators, and not all of them will have doggy-breath. some may even seem civilized.
the relationship between the sisters was particularly well-done. theirs is a bond based upon a chilling formative-years experience, and a common goal that has to necessarily remain unshared with the greater world. with silas, the three of them form this tiny insular circle, binding them ever-tighter into what should be a claustrophobic situation, but throughout all of the danger and the petty squabbles and the misunderstandings, their sisterhood prevails. it is a wonderful testament to sisters.
i'm a little partial (short and stout) to fairy-tale retellings, but even without that setup, it is a pretty cool story about some kickass young ladies. and one guy. but mostly the ladies. i do recommend it to people who like the YA action books, but i honestly wouldn't stress the romantic elements. they are not what is carrying this book.
megan freaking abbott - i knew i wanted to read you for a reason! and before you ask - noooo this is most definitely not YA, despite my vow...moregrrrl-noir!
megan freaking abbott - i knew i wanted to read you for a reason! and before you ask - noooo this is most definitely not YA, despite my vow to only read YA until the paper is due. but greg borrowed this from the library, and i really wanted to read it, so i borrowed it from him and here we are. do not give this to a teenage girl. it would be disastrous.
this book is old school noir written with a contemporary sensibility: all the trappings are there in the lingo and the characters' costumings, but this is some excellently violent shit right here. and i haven't read a lot of noir, not classic stuff anyway, but my understanding was that it pulled its punches a little bit; that there was a lot more implied than explicitly stated; that it stayed a little classy.for example, i don't think dashiell hammett ever used the word "cocksucker."
not so here. or at least the violence is explicit. the violence is, quite literally, wallowed in. the sex bits are more implicit; all the vocabulary of lust is evident, and the sex is consensually violent, but only hinted at. there are no bedroom scenes as such, not the "sex is violent" of that little ditty:"showed me everybody naked and disfigured, nothing's shocking," but there is definitely some roughness here, and it leaves its mark.
i really really enjoyed this book.
and that doesn't make me a sicko, although basically i have just told you i enjoyed a rough-sex-and-killing book. but this is still a highly feminized noir. these dames are amazing characters, and although they are not soft and polite like good girls should be (wink), there is such an amazing portrayal of female strength and sensuality at work here.
gloria denton is a legend in the criminal underworld. getting on in her years (in terms of this kind of career, anyway - she is about forty), she spots our (i believe, unnamed) narrator and rescues her from a life of secretarial skills and pot roast dinners and makes her her protégée, introducing her to the criminal underbelly of easy money and unsavory characters, all the while teaching her how to be a tough impenetrable obelisk; to maintain her reputation and avoid just being an arm-candy moll. she teaches her real power, and how to play both sides of cool seduction and noli me tangere.
but kids today, or even then, just don't listen.
our heroine was already on her way to becoming involved in the game, but she was only dabbling in it, in the employ of some pretty inexperienced players:
it was ledge-crawling for the slickest of operators, writing a numbers book. but for schmoes like jerome and arthur is was suicide. if i'd been around the rackets longer, i'd have told them to find another patsy. i was about to put myself on the chopping block but was too raw to know it. too stupid to be scared.
but gloria sweeps in with her impeccably tailored sharkskin suits, sees her potential, and nurtures it, setting her up in a swanky apartment and teaching her the ins and outs of the game, all the while monitoring her for skill and loyalty.
but there is always a man. a man who is totally the wrong man.
and our young grifter knows he is the wrong man, but cannot resist, and that is the best part of this book. she knows from the moment she lays eyes on him that he will be her downfall, but she cannot help herself, and it is her inner thoughts about this uncontrollable lust even while knowing how it will all play out* that makes for the most compelling psychological study i have read.
it is a truly accomplished piece of writing that transcends the genre. although i suppose greg would be a better judge of that, since he is more familiar with the genre overall. i am so going to read all her other noir novels, and have just bought her new, non-noir novel, and i strongly suggest checking her out, if you like good books.
*well, maybe not exactly how it will play out - yeesh!(less)
beatlemania is nothing compared to what i feel for john green right now.
this book was the perfect palate-cleanser between all the dark apocalyptic st...more beatlemania is nothing compared to what i feel for john green right now.
this book was the perfect palate-cleanser between all the dark apocalyptic stuff i have been shoving in my face. i have been reading so much dystopian YA that i forgot there were other options. i bought this ages ago, because i read looking for alaska, and everyone was giving this one high marks, but i kept passing it up in favor of "kids whose school is trying to eat them" and "kids vs. bears" and "kids in a world without cheese" which is the scariest dystopia i can imagine right now, but i forgot just how scary real life can be. and john green reminded me. and obviously, this isn't a horror novel, but i was reading this with so much apprehension, heading towards an uncertain ending, genuinely concerned for the characters.
(view spoiler)[ seriously- that scene with the dead raccoon - my heart was in my throat the whole time, i kept thinking NO YOU ARE NOT GOING TO DO THIS SO EARLY IN THE BOOK! YOU ARE NOT GOING TO KILL HER OFF AND HAVE THE REST OF THE BOOK BE ABOUT THEM DEEEEEALING WITH HER SUICIDE. DON'T YOU DARE!! but it was such a tense scene, i was turning each page with dread, and then i missed my subway stop, so thanks a lot, john green (hide spoiler)]
i liked this even better than looking for alaska. in that book, i really liked the characters, but they did feel like characters. this feels like i am just observing real people, following actual kids around (which i would never do, officer) but they sound authentic. i thought looking for alaska was great, but those kids were a little too smarty-pants for me, while this book just sounds like actual smart kids talking. and it is funny and sad and intelligent and oh just so good. that scene with r. and the c.f. t-s?? i laughed so loudly, i startled myself. i just could not stop giggling. (fortunately not on the subway for that one)
a lot of the YA stuff i read is like "what if kids were hyper-articulate and possessed of amazing insight and inner resources and also super fighting skills?" but this one reminded me of what it was actually like to be youthful (ahhh....) even grown folks who refuse to dip into YA would enjoy this, i suspect. he is my perfect storyteller. he does his job, he takes you on a journey, and the characters actually grow as people and every character has a distinct voice, and there is dramatic tension. he is a writer. not an "author," but a true writer. some YA, even in books i like, falls into traps: they talk down to the audience, they gloss over certain things, clearly hoping the audience won't notice, they fail to provide appropriate details so the world becomes raggedy... and while it is easier, i'm sure, to operate in a real-world setting, rather than a world of your own making, john green does not take any shortcuts. there is a density to his writing that is truly impressive in a book that is not a slow-paced slog.
will i return to the YA dystopia? duh, obviously - i have like 30 of them here i have been dying to get into. but i know that when i need a break, i can return to john green and be guaranteed a well-wrought and thoughtful story that manages to actually have useful life lessons without coming across as teachy-preachy. and lord knows i still have a lot to learn.(less)
book two of "october is zombie month" was so much better than book one. sooo much better.
i was intrigued by this book, until i read mike reynolds' de...morebook two of "october is zombie month" was so much better than book one. sooo much better.
i was intrigued by this book, until i read mike reynolds' devastatingly negative review of it, and it got shunted to the mental back burner. but eventually i remembered that i am not as smart as mike reynolds, and i am content with playing with little glass paperweights refracting in the sunlight while giggling, so i read it. and i loved it.
but it's good - i lovingly thumb my nose at the negative reviews. and then duck.
this isn't a YA novel, although many people on this site have decided it is. and that's fair - the protagonist is fifteen, and the pacing matches that of a YA novel. but my barnes and noble overlord classifies it as adult, and we all know they would never make a classification error. so let's call it an adult novel so as not to scare off the old stuffy types, and the rest of you, i will just "shh, yeah, i know."
and i have to admit, i have only read one flannery o'connor book (for shame!!) although i have seen wise blood because, well, duh:
but so as far as the "derivative" accusations go, i am as clean-wooled as a baby lamb. but i plan on reading more of her soon, i swear.
this is basically the kind of book i love - the gothic-western justice-novel, but with some supernatural spice. it is more or less true grit with zombies. temple speechifies in roughly the same biblical manner - with a mixture of retributive old testament and a soft sticky center of love thy (deserving) neighbor, jesus-style; a mixture of poor grammar and poetic resonance. i love her character. she is eminently capable, running from her past and her mistakes which haunt her way more than any slow-shambling zombies, which act more as set-pieces than as any real threat.it is fairly episodic, and the basic theme is about the path to forgiveness and redemption, and the progression of that kind of grieving, healing process, but let's not forget, there are also zombies, so it isn't all whiny mitch albom stuff.
what is great about this book is that temple was born into this world. she has never known a world without desolation, without monsters, without danger or the necessity of moving on. she is unattached and detached, but retains some inherent glimmer of humanity that constitutes her own moral compass. and it is gorgeous to watch a girl operate under the weight of her guilt and the necessity of her survival instincts. she does not take any shit, but she is not without empathy. nor without understanding of other people's personal moral code, even as it works against her.
also great is that, starting the way this one does, in the waning years of an infestation, we do not have to read any boring scenes where people have a slow dawning realization of the situation. we are thrust into a world that is, not that is becoming.
i love it i love it i love it.
it is exactly what i needed to be reading - a "horror" novel that has more depth than just "braaaaains," one one whose themes are smack in my area of interest. plus, tom franklin (my new love in life) blurbed this puppy.
and it turns out, this guy is married to megan abbott, who i have been meaning to read for forever. (less)
fortunately, jenn awwww yeeaahhhh is literally half my size. go on - look at my shoulders - i am like a mighty moose to her delicate deer:
there is no...morefortunately, jenn awwww yeeaahhhh is literally half my size. go on - look at my shoulders - i am like a mighty moose to her delicate deer:
there is no way she can make good on that threat.
so i am just going to say it: i liked this book less than i liked graceling.
bring it, tiny creature.
and from a critical standpoint, there is nothing wrong with this book. it has a fine story arc, good character development, a good array of both descriptive and action sequences - i would say that the pacing is a little slower than in graceling and can get bogged down in a bit too much detail, but that's not necessarily a deal-breaker, although unusual for YA lit.
so my gripe is woefully lowbrow. ready? i just could never get into the character. the idea of mind control is awesome, and this book makes important moral points about its use, but i don't want to read YA philosophy books, i wanna read about girl power and magic and murderous justice!
(although, for the teens, also good points about pregnancy - if you can't live with the results, take precautions. pleeeease stop making babies - the teen mom phenomenon where girls are getting knocked up just to be on teevee is gross)
but it doesn't have the kickass factor of graceling - this is all chilly analytical restraint and good judgment and guardedness. it is like watching someone play chess. you have to respect the skill involved, but really, i would rather be watching
i find her emotional responses bland - the man she loves beds every woman in his path, and she shrugs it off without jealousy. not only can i not relate to this, but i cannot respect it.
but then, vengeance runs deep in me.
and i don't need to fall in love with my characters - i am all about appreciating the antihero, but i have to be able, at least, to respect them and their path. self-sacrifice is great and all, but you're a superfine babe with the power of mind control - seriously. after a point, the mind control becomes irrelevant, right??
she needs no additional powers.
but this is all sound und fury und nonsense. for whatever reason, i just was not able to get into this book, despite several really cool scenes. part of it was trying to fit this world into the previous book: so this world has "monsters" but not "gracelings" but why?? and how do they really differ? part of it was the grotesque nature of all the male characters: grope-y king, slutty archer, sadist dad, reading the minds of a million would-be rapists. part of it was the stifling of a beautiful, powerful butterfly under this overdeveloped guilt for things not her fault. flaunt that shit - you aren't your daddy just because you are gorgeous. good on you for being a clara barton there for a while, but take down that hair, dollface. drop it like it's hot etc etc.
do we need another sassy gay friend intervention?
so - yeah - not at all painful to read, but it is no threat to my still-monogamous relationship with Ashfall.
now i run away, having learned lessons from goliath....(less)
it's probably nothing like it except that it centers around a beautiful, vivacious woman...morethis book really makes me want to read Zuleika Dobson again.
it's probably nothing like it except that it centers around a beautiful, vivacious woman who drives all the boys to distraction, it is both comical and deeply tragic, and there is probably a lot of drinking (i don't actually remember the drinking-quantity in z.d.)
so richard is a novelist, struggling with that second-novel curse, house-sitting in one of the wealthy enclaves of nantucket when he finds himself enmeshed in the walking greek tragedy of the family next door.
lenore is a woman who has a catastrophic effect on every man who meets her, and she is married to the elder son of richard's new neighbors. she is beautiful and charismatic and the sweetheart side of the femme fatale coin. and the plane she was supposed to be on has just crashed, leaving no survivors.
it is a perfect opportunity to see how people really feel about you, right?
so richard becomes her investigator-of-sorts, and oh, the things he discovers...
it is a satisfyingly sad little book. some of the transitional elements are blurrier than i usually like, but this gives the book a dreamlike quality, and since the narrator is usually drunk or stoned or just confused, this actually works out pretty nicely. he is one of those "empty vessel" narrators, who drifts around as the perfect observer, but his inebriated state makes him an unreliable observer, so it gets complicated.
we don't get to see too much of lenore, not enough to understand why she is the greatest chick since sliced bread, but all of the characters' comments to richard involve some sort of "you just had to know her" statement which makes for a nice authorial sidestep; he doesn't have to make her irresistible on paper, because she is only beautiful in flight.
there are definite shades of gastby here, too.
i recommend this as an end-of-summer read, when all that sunshiny promise starts fading into dying leaves and chilling snow. that is, if sorrow is your bag. sorrow is definitely my bag.
in searching online to show off the nice edition of z.d. i have, i came across this cover, which might be the biggest crime against literature ever:
like it's some piece of summer beach blanket erotica. i laff.(less)
some people are careless, and in an adrenaline-fueled all-caps teen reviewing frenzy, will inadvertently give a major spoiler for this book.
avoid thes...more some people are careless, and in an adrenaline-fueled all-caps teen reviewing frenzy, will inadvertently give a major spoiler for this book.
avoid these people, even though ordinarily, they are pretty cool.
this is a really well-written teen fiction book. i mean, it won the printz award, i'm not discovering america here. i think i wanted to emphasize that it definitely reads like a book intended for a teen audience. and i think that me as a teen would have numbered this among my very favorite books. however, as an adult, there are a lot of years between me and the characters in this book, and i have read a lot more books than the average teen, so i am mostly jaded and ruined, but imagine me discovering this at say, 13...
1) a group of smart kids going to boarding school who read all the time and take pleasure in learning and have hundreds of books and quote marquez and rabelais. karen would have loved to have had friends like these
2) emotionally unstable female lead who is mysterious and changeable who is not afraid of her sexuality but doesn't use it all the time to get what she wants who says tough and dramatic things like "y'all smoke to enjoy it. i smoke to die" (thirteen year old karen loves this line, grown up karen rolls her eyes)
3) drinking and smoking and fornicating that do not lead to bad grades and ruined lives. there are other causes for those things...
4) blow job tips. 'nuff said
5) brief crash course in eastern religions that would have been so exotic to small town karen.
and the structure would have been novel to young karen: countdown leading up to the event then countdown leading away from it. very cool.
so i see why the kids like it. and i liked it, too, but i think it would have been more important and surprising and enchanting to me as a kid - all the first love and first loss type stuff, all the unwritten behavioral codes between the teens and the authority figures, and the slow unravel of a mystery. very cool.
but i have a question. and it is a spoiltastic question, so i am going to put up a barrier of images to protect anyone who has not read it, and wants to. these will be subliminal suggestions that are so subtle you won't even know what is happening...
dude, seriously - why didn't jake go to alaska's funeral?? there is no reason for him not to have and there is absolutely no explanation given. it makes it easier for the author, yeah, to not have to write a confrontation scene between jake and pudge, and to have the mystery unravel more slowly, but it makes zero sense for someone so in love with his girl to not go to her funeral. seriously. dumb. i will accept any private messages about this, to keep the thread spoiler-free, but until john green tells me why, i am going to say "dumb"(less)
THIS IS NOT A FLOAT, KOWALSKI! THIS IS AN ALL-NEW 2012 REVIEW!!
i am alarmed that i only wrote a four-line review of this amazing book. now that i am s...moreTHIS IS NOT A FLOAT, KOWALSKI! THIS IS AN ALL-NEW 2012 REVIEW!!
i am alarmed that i only wrote a four-line review of this amazing book. now that i am starting to read the cove, i figure now is as good a time as any to remind this website just how good ron rash is, and how so far, serena is the best of them. (i am only on page 15 of the cove, so this could change)
whenever i try to hand-sell this at work, i will usually just say: "it is like macbeth in a logging community. with a greek chorus." which as a customer, i would hear and think, "i must read this book." but it doesn't always work. heathens.
i mean, that's still as good a description as i can come up with, although serena gets her hands way dirtier than lady mcb. more like "out, damn river of blood."
this is a historical piece, chronicling the rise of an uber-power couple in a 1929 logging town in north carolina. serena enters the community after her new husband has already established himself there, and has already fathered a child on a local girl. she is displeased. when serena is displeased, people are going to get hurt.
serena is one of the most wonderfully single-mindedly ruthless characters i have ever read. she knows her way around a logging operation better than her husband, she hunts and rides better than any of the men she and her husband oversee, and she has a freaking falcon. (i don't have my book with me right now, but i am pretty sure it is a falcon. it is some kind of bird that hangs out with its master and is completely badass.)
when she discovers that she is unable to bear a child herself, she sets out to destroy the one her husband has already fathered. and the girl. and the girl's father. and anyone else who has anything to say about it.
ron rash is an amazing man for description. he knows these logging towns, he knows the woods and the men who work there. there is so much life in this story, and most of it; the people and the trees they are felling, is the last gasp of this life. all is destruction.
i know i have said this in a another review somewhere, but what heightens the impact of this book is not only the danger of serena (and her husband ain't no pleasant master, either) but the danger of nature itself. like in my beloved descent, where the caves are just as dangerous as any subterranean monsters, cutting down gigantic trees is also extremely dangerous. many men will die, through natural accident or manipulation by the most ambitious couple in literature.
this is a glorious book, and needs to be read by all. except elizabeth. it has too much animal-death for her. it is a deadly operation,after all.
a quick note about how saddened i am that the movie that was in the works with darren arnofsky and angelina jolie got canceled. the word is now that there will still be a movie by susanne bier starring bradley cooper and jennifer lawrence, which is fine, but this character just screams jolie to me.
old stupid review:
this book has so damn much in it: the murderous machinations of the macbeths, the steinbeckian/old testament themes of justice and revenge, the casual murders nature can wreak that are cormac mccarthy cowboyish... and a greek chorus of sorts. i have name-dropped!! i have loved appalachia! i have finished my paper! (less)
so i only read this because it was short and i knew i would be buying the new sarah waters book today (!) and i just wanted something to fill the gap...moreso i only read this because it was short and i knew i would be buying the new sarah waters book today (!) and i just wanted something to fill the gap until i could dive into ms waters.(twss) and it was fine. its full of swooning and wasting away over love and treachery and pining and villainy and hidden motives and poison and blah blah blah. its a gothic novel, to say it in two words. it seems to start in the middle of something that is happening and never explained...why is he so sleepy?? someone answer this for me please. we just like byron better.(less)
this book hurts. in so many ways. initially, it hurts to get acclimated to the narrator's voice. whenever i read books written in dialect it always ta...morethis book hurts. in so many ways. initially, it hurts to get acclimated to the narrator's voice. whenever i read books written in dialect it always takes me at least 40 pages to start to get the hang of it (i curse you, irvine welsh!!) and then it hurts because it's such a raw and bloody depiction of the physical and emotional bullshit of slavery. and then after it's all done, it hurts that it's so well written, you just want more of it. so i'm awfully glad i broke my promise about "not buying any more hardcover books". this one is worth hardcover price.(less)