I'm basically hate-reading this series. So many plot contrivances, so many gaping holes in the world Condie is trying to build, so much resting on an...moreI'm basically hate-reading this series. So many plot contrivances, so many gaping holes in the world Condie is trying to build, so much resting on an uninteresting love triangle. Nice try on being the next Hunger Games. (less)
The only reason this book doesn't get 5 - yes, FIVE - stars is for an ending that felt too ambiguous and almost lazy. The rest of the novel was perfec...moreThe only reason this book doesn't get 5 - yes, FIVE - stars is for an ending that felt too ambiguous and almost lazy. The rest of the novel was perfectly plotted and fantastically written, but the ending was so unsatisfying that it left me with an unsettled feeling about the first three-quarters of the book. I would read anything else by this author, though - her voice, her style, and her character development are exactly my cup of tea.(less)
Gosh I loved this book - the first adult novel of Gaiman's I've read. His bad guys are truly bad, his heroes are nuanced, he does these nasty little p...moreGosh I loved this book - the first adult novel of Gaiman's I've read. His bad guys are truly bad, his heroes are nuanced, he does these nasty little plays on words that delight you, he is the master of the bizarre yet endearing. While Gaiman's themes are adult, he wraps readers in a childlike cocoon of "ooooh maybe there really is a whole city beneath London, and if there is it's just like THIS, with Black Friars in every station and Shepherds in Shepherds Bush." I felt that I was taken to another world, and that I believed in it wholeheartedly while I was reading. (less)
Kind of an Australian predecessor to The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks. A great study of depression and parent/teenager relationships,...moreKind of an Australian predecessor to The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks. A great study of depression and parent/teenager relationships, as well as female friendships. (less)
Stop! Calm down! Don't sic the man Jack and his terrible knife on me for a 3-star rating of this esteemed Newbery Winner (especially one that apparent...moreStop! Calm down! Don't sic the man Jack and his terrible knife on me for a 3-star rating of this esteemed Newbery Winner (especially one that apparently heralds the renewed relevance of the award).
Allow me to remind you of my picky-picky rating system - detailed in my profile - and what a 3-star rating means:
"A solid read that I really enjoyed and would recommend to others without reservation."
That is a perfect description for The Graveyard Book, at least in my opinion. It is very, very good, and I love Gaiman's writing style. And while I wasn't completely wowed by the plot or the world Gaiman created, I still very much enjoyed visiting Bod's universe, meeting the inhabitants of his graveyard, and solving the mystery of his family's murders.
It is easy to see why The Graveyard Book won the Newbery, deservedly so. It is funny, and literary, and unusual, and scary, and cool. But when it comes right down to it, it is just not my particular cuppa, as Mr. Frost would say.
Nevertheless - congratulations to Mr. Gaiman! I've had fun reading his Twitter and online journal as he copes with being an instant jFic celebrity while also getting plenty of attention for the film adaptation of his book Coraline. Check out his delightful account of learning he'd won the Newbery: http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2009/01...(less)
Yes, it's a Lemony Snicket rip-off. You will love it anyway. A humorous, fun adventure with lots of riddles that I have to ask the kids in my library...moreYes, it's a Lemony Snicket rip-off. You will love it anyway. A humorous, fun adventure with lots of riddles that I have to ask the kids in my library to help me solve. (less)
This didn't live up to Sarah Dessen's other glowing teen romances for me. Maybe it's just because I read the ARC, which wasn't cleaned up, but the sto...moreThis didn't live up to Sarah Dessen's other glowing teen romances for me. Maybe it's just because I read the ARC, which wasn't cleaned up, but the story seemed to jump around and I didn't find much depth to the characters. I was also put off by the hit-you-over-the-head-with-a-2x4 symbolism, which I never noticed in Dessen's other books, I guess. Eh.(less)
Acclaimed young adult author Myers (Monster, Shooter)describes his childhood and teenage years in Harlem, couching his narrative in family history and...moreAcclaimed young adult author Myers (Monster, Shooter)describes his childhood and teenage years in Harlem, couching his narrative in family history and sensitive reflections about sports, books, school, racism, and getting into and out of trouble on a regular basis.
I love Myers' crisp, straightforward style, and his reflections about his growing-up years are poignant, especially his battle with a speech impediment and his growing awareness of racism as a system embedded in institutions. I appreciate that Myers does not rely on overly dramatic action sequences to move the plot forward, instead spinning leisurely yarns, almost as though he is repeating events as they came to mind.
Overall, though, I did not enjoy Bad Boy as much as Myers' fiction. At times the pacing is tedious and the stream of consciousness disjointed. Certain facts or observations are repeated over and over, which I found distracting. Still, Myers' autobiography and his way of relating it are clearly important, and I would recommend this book to readers looking for a slow ride down a lazy river – with a few surprising twists and bends along the way. (less)
I had mixed feelings about King Dork. Namely, I loved the concept, but wasn’t so hot on the execution. Tom is a funny, smart, self-deprecating narrato...moreI had mixed feelings about King Dork. Namely, I loved the concept, but wasn’t so hot on the execution. Tom is a funny, smart, self-deprecating narrator, and his cynical acceptance of his status as a loser is painfully true to life. With Tom's honest observations at its core, King Dork is novel in that it honors the central nerd by refusing to attribute easy YA conventions to him; for example, in any other book, Tom would find an ally in Holden Caulfield, rather than rolling his eyes at the "Catcher cult." The contours of Tom’s particular high school hell are extremely well-crafted, especially in terms of the spectacularly low-quality education he is receiving, his first forays into sexual experience, and his step-father’s quirky mannerisms and ill-conceived bonding techniques.
However, while I enjoyed the element of the plot that addressed Tom’s connection to his deceased father through books, I found the development and eventual resolution of that thread distracting and completely implausible. I liked that the mysteries in the story were not resolved neatly, but found the intentionally loose ends around Tom’s father's death less than satisfying, although a fitting conclusion to a book that breaks many conventions. I also hated every single female character in the book, and I got the sense that the author did too, which soured things a bit.(less)
I wanted to love this book, but I only liked it. Having read John Green's latest novel, An Abundance of Katherines, last month, his first book was a b...moreI wanted to love this book, but I only liked it. Having read John Green's latest novel, An Abundance of Katherines, last month, his first book was a bit of a letdown, especially considering that Alaska won the Printz Award. (Katherines came in second for the Printz this year.)
At the same time, Alaska is a glimpse of John Green's future genius. I mean, for God's sake, he was 27 when he wrote this novel, and he won the Printz. I hate that/love that. The characters in Alaska are complicated but likeable, especially the central female (the titular Alaska), and just weird enough to draw in young people who feel like semi-outsiders. I also appreciated how the book was organized into "before" and "after" portions around the central tragedy, which is a heavy one indeed. The grief of the friends affected by the crisis and the unexpected swiftness with which it occurs is one of the most well-crafted elements of the story, although that makes it difficult to read at times.
Overall, however, Alaska lacked the spark that made me love Katherines. I'm positive I would've adored this book as a teenager, but there were parts that seemed overwrought or simply unlikely to me as an adult. It's no "Catcher in the Rye for a new generation," as some critics have called it, but it's a solid read nonetheless. Could I travel back in time to my sophomore year of high school, I would recommend it to the brainy literary freaks I was friends with, all of us seeking the Great Perhaps.(less)
Damn, what a great book! An Abundance of Katherines represents the best kind of young adult fiction - the kind that even my regular, non-YA-fic-geeky...moreDamn, what a great book! An Abundance of Katherines represents the best kind of young adult fiction - the kind that even my regular, non-YA-fic-geeky grown-up friends might like to read, because it's just a fantastic, universal, well-crafted story.
The characters in this book are uniformly likeable, but not in a bland way; in particular, the friendship between protagonist Colin, a washed-up child prodigy, and his buddy Hassan, a wise-cracking Muslim, is dead-on about the way guys communicate with and care for each other. Also, about 20 per cent of the novel involves math equations and graphs, and I didn't get bored once. (I actually have no idea if 20% is a good estimate for the amount of math in this book, which is why it's amazing that I didn't fling it across the room in disgust at the first sign of cosines. Little math humor for ya, there.)
One of the best things about Katherines is what happened after I finished it: I found John Green's website. Which led me to a project he's working on with his brother, Hank Green, proprietor of EcoGeek.org:
For the entirety of 2007, John Green and Hank Green (both of whom are almost always, I am certain, referred to by their first and last names - it just feels right) have eschewed text-based communication and will communicate with one another by exchanging videos for all the world to see. There are also video visits from some of their "secret siblings," which led me to a really funny YA writer named Maureen Johnson which led me to about ten other YA authors whose books are now on my hold list. (Apparently there's like a whole YA cool kids posse out there, but they all pride themselves on being nerds, which, fair enough, you're a YA author.) Anyway, Brotherhood 2.0, as the project is known, is very funny, and I'm completely addicted and smitten with the brothers Green and their gaggle of Nerd Fighters. Start with January 1, and let the procrastination begin.(less)
I know this is shallow, but one of the things I like about graphic novels is that they're such fast reads. It was extremely satisfying to complete Yan...moreI know this is shallow, but one of the things I like about graphic novels is that they're such fast reads. It was extremely satisfying to complete Yang's funny, engaging, and wise tale in under an hour - which included lingering over the simple, colorful artwork.
Yang weaves together three distinct stories that generate deft insights into racial identity, adolescent anguish, and the folly of hubris. Although I found each storyline interesting, my favorite was the legend of the Monkey King, whose astounding self-confidence first immortalizes him as god "equal to heaven," then brings him low as a stubborn but eventually devoted servant of the One Who Is. In the end, ancient symbolism and pop culture merge seamlessly to showcase a particular American experience - and produce a brisk, compelling afternoon read.(less)
After reading a fascinating study of library services to GLBTQ teens for one of my classes ([http://www.slais.ubc.ca/RESEARCH/curr...]), I started rea...moreAfter reading a fascinating study of library services to GLBTQ teens for one of my classes ([http://www.slais.ubc.ca/RESEARCH/curr...]), I started reading more of the literature being written for this young adult population. Far from Xanadu is one of the most recent and possibly my favorite so far, largely owing to the unique voice of its narrator, Mike Szabo - a 16-year-old girl.
Nee Mary Elizabeth - but don't call her that unless you want a knuckle sandwich - Mike and her best friend, Jamie, have always been different from other kids in Coalton, Kansas. But unlike many small-town populations in GLBTQ teen fic, Coalton's residents don't take much notice of Mike and Jamie's gender-bending ways (Mike works out to look more like a guy; Jamie is a cross-dressing male cheerleader), nor the implications for their sexuality. Mike makes it clear that she's accepted, if not completely understood, and that she's never felt like an outcast - one of only a few details that ring true about rural Midwestern life as seen through the eyes of a hometown girl.
But Coalton isn't utopia, and Mike isn't completely comfortable in her own skin. She struggles to make sense of her beloved father's suicide, make decisions about the failing family business and her future as a softball star, and deal with falling in love with someone who couldn't be worse for her - a new girl in town, Xanadu, beautiful and worldly but impossibly straight.
Mike's matter-of-fact attitude about her sexuality is refreshing, as is the portrayal of small-town middle America, for once cast as close-knit (if insular) rather than simply closed-minded. Mike's coming of age crisis of identity and unrequited love story is relatable for gay young adults, but will also be appealing to any teen looking for a straight-shooting heroine and a down-home yarn.(less)
I was attracted to this book because it's set in Rhode Island (where my family owns a home) and narrated by a librarian (I'm training to be one). Alth...moreI was attracted to this book because it's set in Rhode Island (where my family owns a home) and narrated by a librarian (I'm training to be one). Although the book starts out as a bit of a slow burn, it quickly turns into a page-turner. One of those books that draws you in with its weirdo characters, chilling turns of events, and unusual style and pace.(less)