*I received Sinking Deeper: Or My Questionable (Possibly Heroic) Decision to Invent a Sea Monster by Steve Vernon as part of my YABA jury duties.
I lov...more*I received Sinking Deeper: Or My Questionable (Possibly Heroic) Decision to Invent a Sea Monster by Steve Vernon as part of my YABA jury duties.
I loved this book. The East Coast of Canada has always appealed to me (says the person who moved all the way West) and this novel oozes with East Coast charm.
The characters were rich and vibrant. The grandfather is my favourite,; he has sayings no one understands and a childish sense of adventure that is absolutely delightful. I was literally laughing out loud. There is also a girl with a very unique sense of style and the way that the boy narrating the story describes her is filled with that somewhat embarrassed affection that makes everything so authentic throughout the book. The only character I didn’t like was the librarian, mostly because I’m tired of librarians being seen as frumpy old spinsters, but even her character grows a bit.
The plot is adorable, in a way I wasn’t sure was possible and I think it will be enjoyed immensely by tweens and young teens, as well as adults who are from a small town, children of divorce or have a wild imagination and crazy schemes up their sleeve.
My only issue with this novel is that it felt a little bit young for the award, I think it’s right on the verge of being in the children’s category. The narrator is 14 but he feels more like 12. On the other hand, he has lived a somewhat sheltered life and since boys mature slower than girls maybe it’s just right.
I was dreading this book because I hate horror movies and I was sure that I was going to be horrified but what I read. I was wrong, it was amazing.
Thi...moreI was dreading this book because I hate horror movies and I was sure that I was going to be horrified but what I read. I was wrong, it was amazing.
This novel was incredibly compelling, and managed never to drag even though much of it takes place in the same room with little action. It’s mastery lies in the psychology and the artfully crafted narration.
I felt as though I was going through the stages that Chloe, the kidnapped girl, did. I was afraid when she was afraid, I was sad when she was sad, and even though I think falling in love with your captor sounds ridiculous in theory, I was convinced by the way Ravel had their relationship unfold. I had mixed feelings about him at the same times she did, I questioned what it is to be a good person, how far people can take things and still be decent human beings. Although I didn’t always agree with Chloe’s emotions or conclusions I could see where they were coming from, how the isolation could lead to this.
I thoroughly enjoyed that between each chapter we got a view from the outside world: a letter, an e-mail, a website, a newspaper article… These reactions of her family, friends and the media framed the story beautifully and created a whole new side to the story. I particularly identified with the best friend’s disgust at how everyone at their school and in their town jumped on the bandwagon and acted like they’d always loved Chloe. People who bullied her or ignored her or broke up with her suddenly thought she was awesome just because she was gone and they wanted their moment in the limelight being interviewed or they wanted to be a part of the drama of the missing girl. Their hypocrisy and falseness is terrible, and yet it contributes to the cause of helping her so again there is a thin line between the good and the bad.
The ending is a bit post-modern, and it makes you question everything. I love a book that makes me ask questions.(less)
Reading this book made me feel like I was on drugs. I've never actually done drugs, mostly because I like to be in control and the out of control natu...moreReading this book made me feel like I was on drugs. I've never actually done drugs, mostly because I like to be in control and the out of control nature of being on them terrifies me. It also reminded me of being very sick, you know when you're fever is so high you get delirious or you're in so much pain you can't really process anything else...those feelings I'm familiar with and so I had a hard time enjoying the book, it made me dizzy picturing things through Dex's perspective.
"maybe we laughed so much, we used up our quota" (131)
The most notable thing about the plot is that the narrator is completely unreliable. He's high most of the time, and even when you understand what he's saying you can't be sure what he's seeing is real. He's also a compulsive liar, lying to himself almost as much as to others. The way he loses himself in drugs and depression is expertly portrayed,
"I'm shedding pieces of me like someone with some kind of invisible leprosy". (37)
I think it's easy to sink into the sadness of his situation, to feel his dreams slipping away.
"Feral's addiction erased me" (63)
Despite the fact that the book was too drug riddled for me to enjoy very much personally I respect Karen Rivers for fabulous writing. There are some haunted metaphors I don't think I will forget.
"So she left Dad and became someone else, someone unrecognizable.She morphed as easily as a caterpillar. But we were the cocoon that had to be torn open so she could become some kind of creepy, unrecognizable butterfly, flying away." (21)
The abandonment issues kids of divorced families feel are beautifully developed in this story.
"this shitty town felt like a sweater I'd outgrown years ago that I was trying to pull back on and it wasn't working" (66)
It's very difficult to move back to somewhere you were nostalgic about and discover it's not quite the image in your mind.
"from the outside it looked like the school is vomiting kids in fits and starts, finally spitting out the last few stragglers and then leaning over, done (85)
Dex's unusual interpretations of school as he sits watching it from the outside are really interesting. There is a scene where he is too physically hurt and depressed to get out of his car, so he sits there the entire school day and is horrified by the fact that no one notices him there. Apathy is a prevailing theme, and the reader is left feeling sick at the idea of no one helping Dex, no one noticing when he stops talking because he's too depressed to keep up appearances anymore, no one noticing Tanis' scars. The lack of action about the abuse of foster kids and a teenage boy expected to care for his suicidal paralyzed father will be shocking to some but this is the idea, that we need to be shocked out of our apathy.
This novel is not for everyone. Not everyone will be able to handle the way it jumps around, the way Dex frames everything with his imaginary camera- distancing himself from his life by turning it into a movie. But it is masterfully done and I'm curious about other books River has written.(less)
This novel was clearly well-intentioned. It speaks to inclusiveness, involves an inter-faith couple, forgives past mistakes and has a positive represe...moreThis novel was clearly well-intentioned. It speaks to inclusiveness, involves an inter-faith couple, forgives past mistakes and has a positive representation of religion. I see the merits of such a book and I think turning a story of a tragedy into a feel good coming of age tale does take some doing.
That being said…. it just didn’t do it for me. The characters were over the top, the dialogue wasn’t natural enough and one plot point was very very icky.
It was a noble attempt that others will enjoy but I think my qualms with religion may have tainted my reading of it.(less)
One problem with this novel is that the back cover tells you just about the whole story, so there are zero surprises. There are no twists, which is a...moreOne problem with this novel is that the back cover tells you just about the whole story, so there are zero surprises. There are no twists, which is a shame because an artistic character like Martha should have some twists in her life. I think Raymond did a good job at portraying the frustrations of rural teens. Martha feels trapped by her boyfriend’s plans, and I think is justifiably wigged when he makes a big purchase without consulting her. Martha doesn’t have much opportunity to explore her options or develop a voice of her own, so I understand why she lashed out with her art. I felt like the plot made for an interesting start to a story, but not a story in itself. I wanted more to come of everything. I wanted more emotion from John. I wanted Martha to speak up. I wanted more…(less)
This novel is borderline high/low with the vocabulary of an upper JR but YA level violence and mature subject matter. The diction is plain and unimagi...moreThis novel is borderline high/low with the vocabulary of an upper JR but YA level violence and mature subject matter. The diction is plain and unimaginative but the plot is well thought out.
The narrator’s experiences with drugs feels authentic and her ex-boyfriend’s controlling and abusive behaviour is in keeping with his unchecked addiction.The family and friends who disagree about how to deal with his addiction and crimes is convincing.
Even if you disagree with her choice to give him money for heroin, it’s hard not sympathize with her. Seeing him suffer in withdrawal and doing things he isn’t proud of as he tries to survive homelessness is heartbreaking given their history and she wants to believe him about rehab.
I expected more about the trial and her time in prison based on the title and synopsis but the story of how she was drawn into crime was a lot more compelling.
I don’t think this novel has enough style or oomph to win this award but I will be donating my copy to the Youth Junction and think that it’s a good influence for people who are in that crowd but not addicted themselves.(less)