Something reminded me of this book today for some reason and I decided to see if I could find it on Goodreads! I think I read this in 7th grade (aboutSomething reminded me of this book today for some reason and I decided to see if I could find it on Goodreads! I think I read this in 7th grade (about ten years ago) so I was definitely than the targeted demographic, but I loved it anyway -- I thought it was really cute. ...more
Read this one due to it receiving the Printz Honour.
Things I Liked:
- The first-person perspective truly read like someone with Aspergers (well, I don'Read this one due to it receiving the Printz Honour.
Things I Liked:
- The first-person perspective truly read like someone with Aspergers (well, I don't have Aspergers so I wouldn't actually *know*, but it felt true to life.) Brenna presents Aspergers as a different way of living, not a deficient one and presents the ups and downs that come with it. Taylor still lives a full life, and watching try to achieve independence is not that different from a typical teen's, though it still has its differences.
- Mileage May Vary on this, but I personally enjoyed how introspective the novel was, to a degree. Seeing Taylor write out her thoughts and then analyze them, then later apply them to other situations she faces also felt incredibly true-to-life to. I guess this is just expanding on my first point.
- Taylor and her mother's relationship was very well-drawn. Taylor's frustrations with her mother's hovering and sometimes forceful behaviour are, again, relatable to a lot of teens, Aspergers or not. But even when Taylor claims to hate her mother, the reader knows she's not a BAD person. Both Taylor and her mother are easy to sympathize with because they're just doing the best they can with navigating each other's differing perspectives.
Things I Didn't Like As Much: - I know I said I liked the introspective nature of the novel, but sadly this also led to it having very little plot. The sequences that dealt with Taylor remembering her childhood were quite good, but then others like the bits with Adelaide felt too short.
- It feels like Brenna is really beating readers over the head with the messages of existentialism, trying to under someone else's perspective and owning one's life. However, this same complaint also just feels like it would fit Taylor's voice (she repeats herself a lot, but it makes sense to her Asperger's), so I'm kind of on the fence about this one.
Overall, it's a decent novel but not one I found myself falling in love with. I would recommend this to readers who enjoyed The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon and Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork. ...more
This one really caught me off guard -- it's far from perfect, but I found myself having a lot of fun while I read it.
Things I liked: - Benway managedThis one really caught me off guard -- it's far from perfect, but I found myself having a lot of fun while I read it.
Things I liked: - Benway managed to convince me that Maggie was an unusual teen. And, even though she was a spy and never spent time around other teenagers and was obviously quite academically gifted, she was never made out to be better or more mature than other teens; her voice was still very authentically teenager-y.
- The dialogue was witty and often had me grinning. It wasn't laugh-out-loud funny, but Maggie's voice was incredibly endearing. I also appreciated Roux's snarky attitude.
- The presence of Maggie's parents. With Maggie being a spy and all, it could have been very easy to write the parents off somehow, but Benway highlights them. I loved the complicated relationship between Maggie and her parents: their job as spies has forced Maggie to grow up more quickly, and her isolation from other teens has kind of exacerbated that, so they've come to this crossroads where they treat Maggie like an adult and put undue pressure on her at some times, while simultaneously trying to rein her in and keep her safe as if she were still a child at others. And even though it's kind of complicated, you can still feel the love between the three of them.
- I like that Jesse (the love interest) was initially made out to be some kind of lame Bad Boy, but once Maggie gets to know him and the layers are peeled off, he's really not. He doesn't even TRY to act like a Bad Boy; people just assume he is because he skips school and tried to shoplift a book. His character is still nothing to write home about, but I appreciated that Benway didn't try to make him out to be an Asshole With a Heart of Gold.
- Angelo was also super awesome. And points that there's no fuss about him being gay.
- I've seen some reviews that have complained about the lack of Spy Stuff. I, personally, liked the approach Benway took here. Maggie isn't some International Super Spy (well, she sort of is); she's just really, REALLY good at picking locks. So that's what she does, and it's pretty much ALL she does. She knows a few other things like hacking and forging as well. I liked that the Spy Stuff wasn't particularly superfluous or over the top. Though I can see why that would be disappointing for people who were expecting that sort of thing.
Things I Didn't Like So Much: - I wish The Collective had been more well-developed. I'm glad there wasn't some kind of info-dump explanation for it, but still.
- The romance between Maggie and Jesse. It was cute, but it evolved into "I love you"s and whatnot rather quickly.
- The story was rather predictable. I wasn't particularly invested in Maggie's mission, nor the mystery that eventually evolved from it; I was much more interested in the personal relationships between Maggie and her private school friends, and her parents.
So as you can see, there was a lot here I liked. Which surprised me because I thought this was going to be rather 'blah'. I was reading purely because it was written by Benway and I liked her debut Audrey, Wait! (her sophomore book, not so much.) But the narrative voice and the characters really won me over. ...more
Why I Read It: I had just finished Liar and Spy and was looking up on Rebecca Stead and discovered that she had published a b Originally reviewed here.
Why I Read It: I had just finished Liar and Spy and was looking up on Rebecca Stead and discovered that she had published a book before When You Reach Me. My local library had it in their catalog, so I decided to check it out. Spoiler-free review ahead.
>Rebecca Stead, I LOVE YOU. Seriously, she writes good stuff guys.
This book is much more action-oriented than her two other works (which are much more subtle in execution) but it is equally fantastic. Having the story take place in a northern setting (Greenland) was interesting in and of itself, but then including a people who live INSIDE an iceberg as well? So so cool. I think I would have been in love with this book had I read it when I was younger. Being older, I kept questioning the feasibility of such a civilization, but it was really fun regardless.
There is fantasy in this book, and while it's blatant, it's also in small doses. Though I'm curious about how the magic worked. The people who live in the icebergs live there because they were run-out for being associated with witchcraft, but some of their magic is associated with the dogs (Thea can "hear" them), so I wonder what led people to become aware of their more-than-human abilities. I also wish the history of the people had been expounded on a little more, than what is offered is adequate enough to quench the curiosity of younger readers.
This is a short review, but this is also a rather short book. It's full of adventure and excitement, but also offers careful exploration of more subtle themes that I've come to associate with Stead. It isn't her best work, but her best work is pretty frikken good, and this is her debut novel, so I'm more than happy with it.
Final Verdict: This debut novel by Stead is much more action oriented than her second and third books, but it still offers a careful exploration of themes, such as identity and finding oneself. There is fantasy, but it's on the light side. While I would have loved this as a child, my grown-up self couldn't help but question the plausibility of some of the aspects of the plot, but that doesn't make it any less fun. This isn't my favourite of Stead's work, but I still really enjoyed it regardless....more