Charlie is an introvert, starting his first year of high school. He has no friends to speak of, his legendary brother has moved on to Penn State on aCharlie is an introvert, starting his first year of high school. He has no friends to speak of, his legendary brother has moved on to Penn State on a football scholarship, and his senior sister wants nothing to do with him once they enter the school's halls. He is alone, and alone is a bad place to be, when you over think as Charlie does. Encouraged to participate in life, rather than watching it from the sidelines, by a teacher who sees the genius lurking in Charlie's subconscious, Charlie sets out to understand himself by blooming into himself in the presence of others, rather than curling into it alone. The story he tells, to a stranger in the form of letters, gives us a glimpse into a year of his life, the very one that may be his golden year.
To put it simply, I liked the novel. I did, really. But as I looked into Charlie's life, there were many experiences I saw that, having faced most if not all the same ones in my own adolescence, caused me to forcefully remind myself that we must all develop in our own way.
While I don't have a lot of problems with how the story unfolds, I did struggle with how it's told. The letter format didn't bother me, but Charlie's voice did, as it seemed to contradict what we are supposed to believe Charlie is. For instance, at the beginning of the novel, his thoughts bounce without rhyme or reason. He cannot hold onto one subject for long. His sentences are choppy and unfurl in a thousand different directions. Having been an introvert placed in an advanced English class my freshman year, in the best public school my state had to offer at the time, I feel as though Charlie and I were on totally different wavelengths, when I knew I should have been the kind of person that connected to him best. I recalled the papers I wrote, even personal letters, in my freshman year, and even dug up a few, only to find Charlie's voice coming up short when compared to mine (even though I wasn't anywhere near the top of my classes), as if the author was unaware of how an advanced placement student was actually expected to write, or how a real introvert cycled through their thoughts. I don't know if Chbosky did this intentionally to develop the character later on and show how Charlie progressed through the year, or if he just eventually got comfortable with writing Charlie as he unfolded more and more, but at some point the language used did smooth out, relax and begin to sound real and human. So while I did get over it, the initial bumpy start of the text threw me for a loop, and almost made me put the novel down.
My sister insisted I keep reading though, and I'm glad I did. I came to enjoy Charlie's whimsical thoughts, and felt sorry for him when his heart ached. But I still had trouble connecting with him, though I enjoyed him. I sympathized with him, but I didn't empathize well. I lived through many of the same events as Charlie, from being accidentally stoned in the most good-natured way you can be drugged, to facing life after a friend's suicide and living with the secret of having been molested by someone I cared deeply for. His existence very nearly mirrored mine, but by the end of the novel, I felt as if I had walked on an alien planet. His reactions to these events range from too mature to not nearly mature enough. And while I can understand the build up to a total mental break, I don't know that his way of handling things would have really built up into that kind of fall. In some instances, it seems like we're justifying his fall from grace with other instances of similar things happening to him in his life prior to the events of the book, rather than using the novel's story to actually push him into that breaking point.
Charlie's reaction to things just isn't consistent in an actual person. One moment, he is a boy who needs coddled and praised, and the very next he is a capable young man, standing up for the people he loves and the things he believes in. And then, just as suddenly, he is coddled again. It is as if, as he progresses in life, he regresses mentally. Instead of participation opening him up to his inner strength, it is making him vulnerable.
But his vulnerability is written beautifully. His actual breaks, and his understanding of anxiety and what it makes a person think and feel are incredible instances in the novel, filled with a subtle sort of insight that doesn't beat you over the head. It is those lovely instances, and Charlie's reflection on love, and Sam's incredible maturity when she speaks to Charlie about these instances that kept me reading. These moments are focused and deeply emotional, when Charlie's not suffering from a case of "scatterbrained storytelling".
So again, to put it simply, did I like the book? Yes, but I don't think it stands up the beautiful coming of age story that the world of young adult readers puts it up to be. It relies too much on us believing what we're told about Charlie, rather than what we see in him, and the topics covered are so wide and varied that they cannot possibly be explored in all their depth in this short novel. So while I like the characters, and I will probably one day return to this novel for a light read, I will not be one of the masses on tumblr quoting it's famous line: "We accept the love we thing we deserve." Nor will I hail it as an understanding of the adolescent introvert's condition. Having lived much the same life as Charlie, I feel his character is a romantic notion of what the kind of person I was should be, rather than what they are. And romance is fine, so long as you remember that it is not how the world really works....more
After a few long months of moving and getting caught up with other things, I decided I wanted a light book to read, to get myself back in the groove oAfter a few long months of moving and getting caught up with other things, I decided I wanted a light book to read, to get myself back in the groove of just settling down and taking in a good book.
No.6, volume 3 delivered just that. Once again, I return to the West Block, where Shion is making a living as Dogkeeper's (Inukashi) assistant. He keeps the dogs, which Dogkeeper loans out as heaters to his hotel guests, clean and well groomed. The novel starts with him completing this every day task, while Dogkeeper scolds him for taking his time.
I wouldn't call this novel "filler", but it does a good job of padding the plot. The action sequences we see are between Rat and Dogkeeper, both playing off an old grudge between the two boys of the West Block. They are short, and ultimately end in Rat's overwhelming victory over Dogkeeper. Atsuko-Sensei once again put a great deal of work into the characterization of each of the main cast, and for once we get to see the kind of things Rat does when Shion's not in his way to make him pull his punches. We see why Rat is thought of as a double-crosser, a back-stabber, and a two-faced S.o.B. Because, frankly, he is. But he does all these things with his heart of gold still in place. He has a person to protect now, and he's not willing to let anything get in the way of that.
We also get to see Shion's mother interact with others, outside the driving cast. Through her, we are given a clear and dangerously thought-provoking example of what life in No.6's constantly controlled environment does to the human mind, and how our interactions both with others and ourselves change based on that constant surveillance. The author leads through example with the characters, rather than telling the reader they should think more and trust less. The message in this chapter is both plot-forming and incredibly relevant to today's struggle with personal privacy and self-placement in today's society, and it is so without bashing you over the head with it's message. It's not preachy, and is a message that can slide by unnoticed if you're not looking for it. It's delivered with an incredible amount of tact, and without pulling away from the plot of this lovely little series.
But again, if you're a person who needs constant action, this is not the novel for you. While there are moments of nail biting battles that threaten to put a favorite character or two out of commission, and great spy-like tactics being used, it's all very put together in a neat "business as usual" sort of way. We are led to believe we are building to something incredibly amazing, and indeed, the last few lines of the novel suggest some serious action for the next installment, but we are never given a climax to the action.
To put it simply, this novel is build up. It's necessary, but that's all it can be called. I expect no less from an author that puts so much thought into their work, and so I picked this book up knowing that I would not see any plot resolution here. If you go into it with that in mind, it's a quick but nice little read. As always, it is exactly what it needs to be....more
Following the events from volume one, Shion has come to terms with his brush with death, and the fact that he may be trapped in the West Block outsideFollowing the events from volume one, Shion has come to terms with his brush with death, and the fact that he may be trapped in the West Block outside No. 6 forever. He’s adjusting to life underground and below the radar, and learning from his mistakes as he goes. The young teen travels out into the main part of the Block, and comes face to face with the reality of the world outside his alloy walls, and the fact that life is a cruel and harsh game that no one has ever survived. But unlike the rest of the West Block, Shion isn’t giving up hope. He’s clinging to it, and after meeting the man his mother was attempting to send him to in her message, he thinks that he, himself, just may be the solution he’s looking for. Tensions between he and Rat rise as Shion announces that he plans to create a way to stop the parasitic wasps in No. 6 using his own blood, but the fondness Rat carries for Shion keeps him from dealing the final blow when it comes to a fight.
There’s not much about this book that I haven’t already said. Once again, the characterization here is beautifully written, and the stark contrast between the two main characters is handled expertly. As more is revealed about Rat, I come to love this snarky, blunt sixteen-year-old even more. And as Shion searches for the answers to everyone’s problems, I come to love his endearing naivety and steadfast optimism.
The plot moves slowly after first, side-lined once again for a quick glimpse into the daily life of Shion, now that he’s stuck with nothing to do in the West Block. But shortly after Shion’s first steps into town, the plot returns and speeds through the rest of the novel like a hurricane, and we get set up for a scheme that may change whatever plans Labcoat and Fennec have for No. 6.
This book, like the first, is a quick read, that can be gotten through in a couple of hours, tops, by a strong reader. Still no nail biting, but the story is moving, there are still plenty of questions to be answered, and the dynamic between the protagonists is just so entertaining and tense that I can’t seem to put the book down. Once again, it’s exactly what it’s meant to be. Nothing more, nothing less. ...more
Being a fan of the anime series that spawned from this series of light novels, I felt that I had to read it, to feel what the story was about in it'sBeing a fan of the anime series that spawned from this series of light novels, I felt that I had to read it, to feel what the story was about in it's first form, rather than from the interpretation of the animators.
The story is set into the not-so-distant future, after a war has destroyed our planet, leaving few livable areas. No.6, or the Holy City as it's sometimes called, is one of those areas. Surrounded by a massive wall to separate the technological utopia from the barely-livable outside blocks, No.6 is considered to be the single-most secure place on the planet. Poverty in No.6 is next to none, crime is nearly nonexistent, and death in No.6 is supposedly always as peaceful as life there. But things in No.6 are not always as they seem.
Our story starts with Rat, an escaped violent criminal (VC), injured and looking for a way to permanently escape detection. Just as he considers death, he wanders into Chronos, the privileged district of No.6, where Shion, our protagonist, is screaming out of his open window in the middle of a storm. After sneaking in, Shion happens upon Rat, and offers to stitch up his bullet wound. The two twelve-year-olds get close over hot chocolate and a meal. When morning comes, Shion must return to his life as a privileged child in the advanced program for academics, and Rat has disappeared without a trace. But having knowingly harbored a violent criminal, and let him get away, Shion is punished. He's stripped of his privileges and tucked under the rug to live and work in the low-income district of No.6.
The story picks up 4 years later, while Shion is working as a clean-up officer in a park, manning robots that dispose of waste. One of the robots sends an error to Shion and his partner, which turns out to be the result of the robot finding a dead body. Wrapped in mystery, the body is taken away. The very next day though, after he and his partner question the unusual circumstances of the death, Shion's partner ends up dead under the exact same circumstances. Shion is labeled as a suspect and arrested, then promptly rescued by the one and only Rat. And so begins the mystery of No.6 and the strange deaths occurring there.
No.6 follows the two teenage boys, Shion and Rat, as they work together to survive outside No.6 and under the radar. The story grabs your attention right away, giving you instant questions to be answered later in the series. Who is Rat? Where did he come from? What is the cause of all these deaths? How can it do this to a body so quickly? What are the officials of No.6 trying to cover up? And the questions keep coming as you read. The story is told in a straight forward manner, placing little emphasis on tiny details. It's fast paced, and a strong reader can probably get through the short volume in about an hour, maybe two.
Personally, I was very fond of the characters themselves. The novel does a great job of characterizing snarky and street-wise Rat in stark contrast to Shion, who is kind and analytical. They make quite the pair, making jabs at each other at every turn, then quickly backtracking to show an almost tender fondness for one another. And this fondness seems to grow with every chapter, as does their impatience. The author does a great job of showing just how much seeing too much of one person can wear you down, even when you truly care for them. Rat shows bouts of anger and Shion struggles to understand the reality of life outside the privileges of No.6.
The story itself doesn't lack any intrigue, but since it's told in a series, and in a series of short novels no less, the plot doesn't always take center stage. It's sometimes pushed aside for moments of characterization that may or may not be useful later in the series (I haven't gotten far enough to know yet). However, it does get far enough for you to get your feet wet and your curiosity to be piqued, and every moment that it is in center stage is a good one. If you're able to handle short bouts of high action, coupled with the characterization of two very human characters and peppered with a few small references to literature's classics, then the book is right up your alley. Personally, I favor this formula, but if you need prolonged scenes of nail-biting goodness, the first volume of No.6 may be a little bit of a let down.
All in all, I call this a good read. I loved it for what it was, a short and sweet adventure that I can come back to when I have another hour to kill before a meeting, but I wouldn't say that it's a novel that's going to change the way books are written. It's amazing for what it's meant to be, and shouldn't be compared against any other standard, or it will fall short....more
Set in the lore-rich land of Romania, in a time of war among humans, the wolves of the wood face a prophecy that could end the world as we know it.
TheSet in the lore-rich land of Romania, in a time of war among humans, the wolves of the wood face a prophecy that could end the world as we know it.
The story begins with Huttser and Palla, the dominant pair of a small pack as they wander back to the birth lands of the female, Palla, to rear their first litter. After the birth, the adults entertain the pups with stories of the wolf gods and their rivals, while outside their den, a dangerous wolf stalks the pack. Morgra, older sister of Palla and murderer of a pup, walks into their lives, and when the pack rejects her, she lays a curse at their feet. One by one, the pack and all who aid them succumb to the power of Morgra's curse, while Larka, the daughter of Huttser and Palla, begins to become aware that she has a strange set of psychic abilities known to the wolves as 'The Sight'. As she watches her family dwindle to nothing, Larka comes to realize that she and her pack are the family spoken of in an ancient prophecy that describes the end of all life. Larka, determined to stop Morgra from fulfilling the prophecy, must face off with her aunt, and the monster from her nightmares, Wolfbane, to end the battle at all costs. She must team up with a human baby, teachers, birds and her war-broken family to end it all, once and for all.
Clement-Davies depicts a gorgeous world, filled with wonder, danger and beauty. His language is rich and powerful and his characterization makes you love and hate characters in all the right ways. He succeeds in bringing a fantastically woven story to the table, with a brilliant finish that keeps you on the edge of your seat. The story here is, without a doubt, one of the best-told stories I've read in the young adult fantasy genre. It's detailed, precise and gorgeously laid out in a way that is rare to see in young adult books these days. Twists and turns abound, there is plenty to keep your mind occupied with the book, and once you start, it's hard to stop.
But beware, this book is very content heavy. The book accounts for something like four hundred deaths (No, I'm not kidding. This is actually a LOW estimate), and kills off characters you come to know and love, left and right, in horrible ways. Murders, accidents, or just plain nature, the deaths in this book are both bloody and heart breaking. Coupled with the tragedy of loss is a writing style that is beautifully detailed, but can weigh heavily on the mind. If the book was cut down to just story, with none of Clement-Davies over-the-top yet wonderfully gorgeous descriptions, it would probably be cut in half. And the story itself is rather heavy. It reaches through the course of many a season, and attempts to stuff all that time into a book less than 500 pages long. There's a lot of information to remember, and if you don't swallow it all in a short time, it can easily be forgotten, and have you questioning what you're forgetting later in the novel.
Personally, I fell in love with the language of this novel, and the subject of the story. Clement-Davies' intricate details, and the possibilities presented to a character with the Sight make the novel a treat I looked forward to reading at the end of the day. However, I had a lot of trouble with just how heavy the atmosphere of the novel was. The suspense wasn't always enough to keep me willing to read, and I found that it took me a LOT longer to finish this one than it would normally take me to read a book like this. The death just kept coming, and it leaves the whole book with this mourning residue that exists, even in happy or humorous moments. It wasn't a deal breaker, but it definitely meant that if I wanted to end the day without sobbing over the death of one of my new friends in the book, I avoided it. It does have a bitter-sweet ending, but the moment of joy doesn't exactly balance out all the grief you feel with the characters here.
Don't get me wrong, I love the book, but this is one of those dark novels I need to be in the mood for. It's not a horror, but it toys with the reader's emotions, and weighs heavily on the mind. It's easy to get lost if your mind wanders. So this is a book for focused individuals who either don't get connected to characters, or can quietly mourn their deaths without freaking out on a public bus like I did. It's stunning, and deserves a round of applause. ...more
Word Nerds and Christmas Junkies, gather round for an adventure that will lead you around New York City during the holiday season. Loaded with laughsWord Nerds and Christmas Junkies, gather round for an adventure that will lead you around New York City during the holiday season. Loaded with laughs that will keep you turning the page, and moments that will keep you going "awe" for years to come, Cohn and Levithan have joined together once again to bring us another story of young love.
Meet Dashiel, Dash for short, a teenage Christmas humbug and word nerd with a single wish: to spend Christmas alone. After convincing his mom that he's spending Christmas with his father, and his father that he's spending Christmas with his mother, Dash is given access to his mother's New York City apartment while she goes away for the holidays. Left to his own devices, what's a word nerd to do but head to The Strand, the local used book store?
While cruising through the familiar volumes of his favorite author, Dash notices a red moleskin notebook. Daring to take the challenge offered by the notebook, Dash takes off with his new prize to begin a back and forth conversation with a girl he's never met.
Meet Lily, Shrilly in times of crisis. She's a regular Christmas-loving, dog-walking nutcase with one problem: she's spending her holidays alone. In a slip of the moment, Lily let her parents leave to go celebrate their anniversary in a tropical paradise, and her grandfather has gone to woo his lady friend in Florida. All that's left is her brother, Langston, whose more interested in his Latin lover than spending the holidays with his little sister. How's a girl with no friends and not a single love interest supposed to kill time?
Under the guidance of Langston, her cousin Marc and her own heart, Lily places a red moleskin notebook at the bookstore she's spent most of her life in, The Strand, and waits for Mr. Right to pick it up.
Neither teenager could have ever guessed the places the notebook would lead them, or the secrets they'd end up giving one another before they finally met on one mishap of a night?
You'll laugh, you'll cry, and if you're anything like me, you'll wish you had a friend named Boomer with an uber-famous, rice-krispy happy aunt! Cohn and Levithan have joined forces once again to bring you a set of characters that will keep you coming back, over and over again. If you've ever looked for adventure and young love, you'll be more than satisfied to find it here.
This is possibly my favorite book produced by the Tag-team styles of Cohn and Levithan....more
Do you hate kitten posters? How about greasy pizza? Or the little hairs that get caught on the shower wall?
Join DiBenedetti in the hate.
A massive listDo you hate kitten posters? How about greasy pizza? Or the little hairs that get caught on the shower wall?
Join DiBenedetti in the hate.
A massive list of little things that surely bug everyone, you're bound to find something you relate to in this book. Be united in the hate, and sit down and enjoy a few goofy laughs, complete with interesting illustrations....more