The art in this is gorgeous. I especially appreciated, too, how Anda is rendered: she's not a thin female but has a fuller body and it's not hidden or...moreThe art in this is gorgeous. I especially appreciated, too, how Anda is rendered: she's not a thin female but has a fuller body and it's not hidden or a point of shame (though there was one part in the story that OF COURSE had to go down that road a bit and despite fitting an issue they were hoping to wrangle, it was terribly cliche about fatness).
As far as the story, I'm not a gamer, so I felt like what Doctorow wanted to achieve in terms of explaining economics and social issues via video gaming didn't necessarily come across as smoothly or seamlessly as it could have. I ended up going back to the author's note at the beginning and rereading it. While I "got" what was going on, I wonder how many non-gamers would be turned off by the comparison and call it a little far fetched because it doesn't make a lot of sense to them. The story is about how people buy and sell levels and powers in world and how some people want to rid the game world of these sorts of people who are in the business of helping others cheat for the right price. It parallels the non-gaming world in terms of how people climb the ladder and how they can cheat social systems and structures in place. Beneath that -- and what I think was harder to come across here -- are the human aspects and the reasons behind why someone would work a job that's purpose is to buck the system for others.
I think this will be more digestible for casual YA readers than Little Brother, and I think maybe it's more time-relevant to today's teens, too. I think Doctorow hit Little Brother at the exact right time, just as this one will hit at the exact right time. Two generations of teens are dealing with different social issues and he's grabbing at that and running with it in a way that's not preachy nor pandering but rather, culturally significant.
Longer review to come. There's a lot here in a little book. (less)
So the follow up to Anatomy of a Boyfriend is solid, but it's not as out-of-the-park for me. While I appreciate Dom learns more about her body and abo...moreSo the follow up to Anatomy of a Boyfriend is solid, but it's not as out-of-the-park for me. While I appreciate Dom learns more about her body and about how she gets to make choices for herself and has control of her own sexuality, at times it felt a little prescriptive and clinical. She's definitely a good girl and she's very much interested in having control of every situation, and at times, it becomes a little too on-the-nose with that message.
There were fewer feelings in this one and more experiences. I think that's where the differences was in the reading experience -- I loved seeing Dominique FEEL what a first love was like in the first book. In this one, she doesn't FEEL the experience but rather HAS it with Guy. (less)
Looking for a story about a ballerina who doesn't fit the mold?
Looking for a story about a black bisexual...moreThis is so fun! And Etta's voice is killer.
Looking for a story about a ballerina who doesn't fit the mold?
Looking for a story about a black bisexual girl growing up in Nebraska who just wants to get the hell out?
Looking for a story about a girl who comes to learn that what matters is not limiting your future to what other people want but instead allowing yourself the freedom to stretch, curve, and move beyond rigid and tight lines?
Then you want this book.
There are really great threads in this book about friendship, about how one is and stays a friend without sacrificing themselves and their interests in the process. There are great moments of a privileged girl recognizing that growing up with privilege allows certain perspectives into her life and how not everyone can see the world the same way she does because of that. This is a book about not fitting into a box -- how no one fits into a box -- and it's about remaining fiercely loyal not just to others, but to yourself. There is exploration of how and where eating disorders manifest, how it comes with being a girl who seeks a future in performance. How not everyone who has an eating disorder looks or acts a certain way.
I can't wait to talk about this book more, but it's fantastic and Etta is a really great, realistic, flawed, and utterly enjoyable character. (less)
A really solid story about a girl working through OCD. There's a sweet romance between Fin and Thayer but it doesn't feel forced nor does it come off...moreA really solid story about a girl working through OCD. There's a sweet romance between Fin and Thayer but it doesn't feel forced nor does it come off as cheesy/easy.
This came out a few years ago and still feels perfectly fresh and contemporary. It would pair really well with Heidi Ayarbe's Compulsion. (less)
Jesse is really a vile character, and part of what makes the story compelling is just HOW TERRIBLE he is. You want to know how far he'll get away with...moreJesse is really a vile character, and part of what makes the story compelling is just HOW TERRIBLE he is. You want to know how far he'll get away with his actions and his profiting-from-others-with-no-consequences lifestyle. There is, of course, a world of hurt beneath him which is why he lays tough to the motto that nothing is good nor bad unless you think about it.
He gets it back at him, and there are moments in this book that are really satisfying as a reader. It's enjoyable to see stuff blow up in his face because he's deserved it. I did find the relationship Jesse developed with the old man at the nursing home sweet, if only because that old man didn't play nice with him. If Jesse could dish it, he had to take it.
The voice and the writing style itself are well-done. The pacing worked really well, compelling me to keep going even when I thought I'd had more than enough.
In the end, I think I found Jesse to be too callous and too edgy and boundary-pushing for me to handle. I can handle a LOT -- a hell of a lot -- but there were times when too many things were said or done that were completely unnecessary or left a bad taste in my mouth. One being a joke about when there comes a time at a party that could be called "date rape" time. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about the over-discussion of fatness and fat bodies by multiple people in this book (view spoiler)[ (and Jesse chooses to get this fat girl he decided he "liked" voted onto Homecoming court as revenge toward someone which made it feel even crueler and YES he's cruel but come the hell on, between that and the way he describes her fatness and the way that the old man in the nursing home told us about how HE hates gross fat people...it was repulsive and hateful). (hide spoiler)]
I'm completely unsure about the depictions of disability here, and I'm completely unsure about how loosely certain slurs and descriptions of people's ethnicities were tossed around. NOT because they're not realistic and NOT because they're inauthentic to Jesse, but rather because I think we're not yet there enough in YA fiction for it to feel like it's NOT going to upset readers. I thought the relationship between Jesse and Pete worked out for the best, but I really hated how Pete's disability was and was not woven in (which can easily be attributed to Jesse's style of keeping people at an arm's length).
The cover is going to really upset people thinking this is romantic or light or fun. It's not a sweet romance. (view spoiler)[ And the romance at the end Jesse did not deserve nor earn, rendering it really unsatisfying -- I know assholes often get theirs, but it would have been a bolder choice for him not to have gotten the girl. (hide spoiler)] There's a huge disconnect between the package and the content.
A mixed bag, but I expect there will be people far less tolerant than me. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
100 pages before I quit. It was so, so boring. I get why she has to describe things as she does in the details she does since that's how she takes in...more100 pages before I quit. It was so, so boring. I get why she has to describe things as she does in the details she does since that's how she takes in her world -- that worked for me quite well -- but the info dumping. That it was 100 pages of flat explanation of living in a big family, of entering a new school, of what life used to be like. There wasn't a compelling story, no forward drive in the narrative. And it's over 400 pages, so after 100 and not feeling the slightest investment, I don't want to give over 300 more.
I think had this started WITH the incident that caused her blindness, rather than a year after, it would have worked better because then there'd have been an arc. (less)
What a gem! This is about first love -- the highest of highs and lowest of lows -- and it's about a girl coming to understand the power of discovering...moreWhat a gem! This is about first love -- the highest of highs and lowest of lows -- and it's about a girl coming to understand the power of discovering and owning her sexuality. Great writing, great voice.
I read the eGalley of this one, and the author's note about the format made me wonder if I'd miss something...and from other reviews, it looks like th...moreI read the eGalley of this one, and the author's note about the format made me wonder if I'd miss something...and from other reviews, it looks like the lack of formatting on the eReader might be okay? I had no problem following this at all.
Told through the voices of Chess and Shannon, this novel in verse is about two girls dealing with crohn's disease, one who has been working with the illness for a long time and one who, after an unfortunate incident with a boy she was beginning to like, is newly diagnosed. It's fast paced and engaging, and the two voices are distinct and interesting. It's primarily ABOUT the time in the hospital and about the diagnoses; there's not a whole lot else going on, which isn't a bad thing.
Readers who are interested in stories about chronic illness but don't want a cancer story will find a lot to dig into here. I don't love the verse format here, but I think for the story, it suits -- if this had been standard prose, it wouldn't have been a full book. There are details about what crohns does, and I think that honesty and forthrightness in the story is fitting. Teens especially who read this and may relate will appreciate the candidness, and those who aren't familiar will find it interesting (I take issue with the effects of illness being "interesting" for the sake of being interesting or propelling the plot, but it WORKS here because crohns isn't one of those things that is widely talked about and it's something that, as Chess discovers, can be really tough to talk about or accept as part of being human and dealing WITH chronic issues).
This is fun, light stuff. Lara Jean is definitely a teenager who is the middle child and that comes through in her voice and her behaviors -- she's no...moreThis is fun, light stuff. Lara Jean is definitely a teenager who is the middle child and that comes through in her voice and her behaviors -- she's not going to be spouting philosophy because that's not who she is and it's not how she was raised to be, and it's okay.
I found the catalyst for the story to be weak (the letters being addressed to the boys for easy sending made no sense to me) but I let it go because I enjoyed seeing Lara Jean figure out how to navigate those feelings which were as fresh as when she wrote them out. Despite feeling like she had gotten them all out on paper, she really hadn't. She had to confront, rather than swallow down.
I loved the sister relationships here, and I bought every bit of the relationship between Josh and Lara Jean. This wasn't a story about her "stealing" her sister's ex boyfriend. Josh had been a huge part of their family, and they'd developed a kinship that flirted with other feelings.
The ending was a little unsatisfying, but there's a sequel, and I think that might make it work better.
I found it slow and boring. It's a very adult voice (don't be fooled -- it's an adult novel, and you know by price point if not voice) and I never fou...moreI found it slow and boring. It's a very adult voice (don't be fooled -- it's an adult novel, and you know by price point if not voice) and I never found myself really invested in any of the characters. If this had been trimmed down, it could have been more compelling. (less)
After Pascal and his girlfriend of 9 years break up, he moves into the spare bedroom of a friend's place, where books pile up and up and up. He has lo...moreAfter Pascal and his girlfriend of 9 years break up, he moves into the spare bedroom of a friend's place, where books pile up and up and up. He has lost creative inspiration lately, so his comics making has disappeared and he takes a job doing manual labor, which he's not great at. So it's gotta be running that keeps him afloat -- after all, it makes him feel great. And it's going well until he hurts himself, has to get physical therapy, and then he's no longer able to run.
Lucky for Pascal, he can solve the case of books going missing at the local book shop. When he attends a reading and sees a girl stealing one of his books, he suspects she's the one with sticky fingers the store's been talking about. So he tracks her down and then ... promptly decides he has feelings for her beyond her thievery.
So what does he do when he collects those stolen books and tries returning them to the bookstore? Does he tell his girlfriend he knows her secret? Does he out the girl to the bookstore employees? Does he indict himself in the crime?
This is an amusing graphic novel (in translation!). It's solid, though it's not my favorite. I didn't get to know much of Pascal beyond his being in a really sad place and while that works for a lot of comics -- Julia Wertz springs to mind -- I didn't necessarily feel like there was heart behind this one in the same way. I never connected to his situation nor felt particularly interested in his picking himself up.
A quick read and one that book people would enjoy, though, especially because Pascal has a book hoarding problem of epic proportions and this new relationship is not going to help things. (less)
I liked The Fever better. I thought it was tighter and more compelling. While I get the parallels between the Salem witch trials and the story being t...moreI liked The Fever better. I thought it was tighter and more compelling. While I get the parallels between the Salem witch trials and the story being told here, they didn't quite come together for me in the way I think was intended -- the author's note sealed more together than the story.
What was most interesting as I read this is that I thought it was more of an adult novel than a YA novel. Which isn't to say teens won't like this, but I think it has more appeal and more of an adult feel to it. (Also what is with two James Franco references in relation to how a guy looks because do teen girls really get that?).
More to come. Solid and interesting look at girls and how society treats/mistreats/worries about girls. (less)
I think the fact this is/will be played up as a romance, rather than a book about rape culture and violence against women, possibly says something abo...moreI think the fact this is/will be played up as a romance, rather than a book about rape culture and violence against women, possibly says something about how uncomfortable we are to talk about rape culture and confront it head on? This definitely has a romance in it, but the big take away is how when a girl is raped, she can become the enemy, rather than the rapist and actual criminal.
Grace was raped by the golden boy lacrosse player at her high school, but no one believes her. Part of why is because Zac's so respected and part is because Zac posted a video of the incident on Facebook, where he looks like he's been granted consent.
Ian is Zac's best friend who just happens to have a thing for Grace. Or he did, before Zac got with her. That meant she's now off limits.
Now that they're both stuck cleaning lockers -- Grace as punishment for lashing out against everyone who continues to berate her and Ian as a way of getting back onto the lacrosse team as soon as he recovers from his concussion and subsequent behavioral issues -- they're confronting one another and themselves. Grace is tense and guarded; Ian is, too, but his comes from still having feelings for Grace and for knowing what the relationship between Grace and Zac is and how that impacts his own relationship with Zac.
This isn't an easy read, but it's an important one. It's a close examination of how a whole town will turn against a girl who dares to speak up about her rights and her body being violated. This is the other side of the "those poor boys have had their futures ruined" headlines we read when they've been accused or convicted of sexual assault or rape.
While it gets a lot of things right, this didn't cut as deep as it could have, and the outs to the story really stood out to me. (view spoiler)[ Grace's mother really pushes for her to leave town and go abroad -- and while Grace chooses, with her mother's support, to stay here and get through this, it still always felt like a way out. It didn't make her situation any easier nor any better, but it made me think about how privilege can get wrapped up into these sorts of situations. That Grace stayed and resisted leaving is huge and important, but I wish that that element of possibility -- that she could go -- had never entered the picture at all. It seemed unnecessary. (hide spoiler)] Also, (view spoiler)[ I didn't believe the apologies in the end. Even when the truth came to pass, the pacing was off and the community's decision to apologize and seek Grace's forgiveness never felt authentic, nor real. It would have been much stronger had the story ended with the truth coming out, rather than Grace's peers even having the chance to redeem themselves through apology. (hide spoiler)]
About the romance (view spoiler)[ I dislike how it was a boy here who saved the entire story. Who was the one to say he believed Grace. I really like how he handled going against Zac and thought it showed tremendous growth and understanding in Ian, but . . . I so wish a boy didn't have to be the one who stands up for a girl to have her story and her voice validated. And that's part the story and a larger part, of course, society as a whole. (hide spoiler)] Also, (view spoiler)[ I just didn't care if they were going to get together or not in the least. That was the least interesting part of the entire book -- I cared a lot more about Grace making it through than I did about Ian getting his prize at the end. (hide spoiler)]