If Naomi had picked tails, she would have won the coin toss. She would have had to go inside to fetch the camera. She wouldn't have fallen down the st...moreIf Naomi had picked tails, she would have won the coin toss. She would have had to go inside to fetch the camera. She wouldn't have fallen down the stairs. She wouldn't have hit her head. She wouldn't have lost six years of memory. She would know who her best friend is, why he calls her Chief, why she spends hours a day working to produce the school's yearbook. She would know who her boyfriend is and why she's dating him to begin with. She would know her parents are divorced, each with a new, growing family. But Naomi picked heads, and now she's got a clean slate... right?
This is the second novel I've read by this author, and while it didn't disappoint me as much as the first, I'm still not completely convinced I'm all that into her writing.
Yes, it's a fantastic premise. Same with Elsewhere. The characters are smart and witty. I adore Will. I definitely enjoyed all of the first part.
And then... well, then it gets a little bit sketchy.
See, here's the thing--this book, just like Elsewhere doesn't follow the expected path. Not in that nice, pleasant "Oh look, plot twist!" sort of way, exactly, more in the "And how exactly does that stay within the precedent for this character?" and "Wait, that just isn't physically possible, is it?" sort of way.
And then just for a little bit more annoyance, I can't talk about any of it without some serious spoilers that would ruin the part of the book I actually enjoyed...
First off, I'm trying to find where exactly the book went sour, and it's giving me a bit of trouble as in the under ten days it's been since I -cough- actually read it, it got stuck in my head that the breaks between the three parts ("I Was", "I Am", "I Will Be") were at nice intervals following specific plot events. And the first break does make sense, but the second, not as much.
There's a plot event, a rather important one, that takes place in one of the parts that serves as a much bigger turning point. It's a spoiler. Skip to the next line if you don't want to see it. Now. Scroll. Do it. Spoiler alert: Naomi gets her memory back.
That bit you just skipped if you didn't want to read it is from now on going to be referred to as That One Thing, or TOT.
Anyway, pre-TOT, it all seemed to be working out pretty well. Naomi'd lost her memory. Well, that sucks. Six years, gone in a flash. We the people never see pre-Naomi, which is good, as Naomi herself doesn't really see pre-Naomi. She travels through time as she is now, not as she's been, because she doesn't bloody know who she was. Nor does she know anyone else, or how she talked or thought. It comes as a bit of a surprise to find a packet of birth control pills in her bedside table--where'd those come from?
There's Coach Will through it all. Not a real Coach, of course, but instead Naomi's best friend from yearbook. He says he'll never lie, and he never does. He's a very good informant, assuming Naomi knows what to ask.
Funny thing, though, she never really does. Understandable, of course. Now, you'd think she might listen to him essentially hating James, but whatever, right? Naomi is Strong, Independent Female Character. I like pre-TOT Naomi. She makes sense. It's interesting, as she tries to live up to the clean slate everyone's telling her she's been given while in reality, she's got to work for it, fighting against the ghost of herself she doesn't know.
And then TOT happens, and it just doesn't seem as genuine anymore. I mean, this should be one of the biggest events of the book, yes? It's not. At all. She pretends it doesn't exist, barely mentions it, and no-one else questions it.
Then James gets irritating, Naomi gets irritating surrounding the issue of James, and Will gets altogether more predictable than he needs to be.
Overall, it isn't bad, just not as good as I'd hoped. I'd recommend reading it for the creativity, but don't get too bogged down in it, and don't expect it to blow you away.(less)
Your name is Kyle. You're fifteen years old. You're really smart, but you didn't push yourself to get into the smart school so now you're stuck. It's...moreYour name is Kyle. You're fifteen years old. You're really smart, but you didn't push yourself to get into the smart school so now you're stuck. It's boring down here, but whatever, right? You're one of the school's 'hoodies'--the bad boys with the hoods and the same black t-shirt every day. You've got a crush on a girl named Ashley, and maybe someday you'll actually ask her out. Life is defined by not getting caught. But you're fine with that. Except then Zach comes. He's smart too, but he's different. And he's made it his mission to screw with as many lives as possible at this new school, your school, having been kicked out of his last. He's taken a particular interest in you, actually. What're you gonna do now?
I kind of feel like writing the rest of the review in second person (You will read the book and you will like it!) since that's the way the book goes, but this is a review, not a Jedi mind-trick. (Yes, you read that right--the book is written in second person. More on this later.)
It's definitely a good book, being Benoit's fourth. It is, however, his first YA book, and it shows--though not quite as much as the fact that the entire idea came as a challenge from his wife. Maybe I wouldn't have been able to guess this had I not heard the author speak in October, but it's obvious there's something a little off about the book. It's extremely fast paced and very short--I read it in a day while still doing work for classes and writing over 1,500 words for NaNoWriMo--but it definitely leaves something to be desired. I could scarcely believe it was over until I realised that I was staring at the back cover of the book. Usually there is a bit of "Well, what now?" at the end of books, but honestly, the story just ends right before the end of the climax.
Going back to the fast-paced bit--yes. Yes yes yes. The telling of the tale is brilliant--the second person comes naturally and is almost hypnotic, drawing you in until you stop realising that no, you haven't suddenly turned into a fifteen-year-old boy named Kyle with a crush on a girl named Ashley who wears the same black t-shirt every single day (unless you are already, in which case, that's kind of creepy and you seriously need to read this book). There were moments where I wasn't sucked in quite as much--like every time Ashley was around (again, more on this in a minute)--but for the most part, total enthralment. (Which apparently is a word.) The story unfolds in a slightly chaotic but overall incredible sort of random way, with flashbacks and copious amounts of foreshadowing, that kind of resembles an exhausted runner jogging and occasionally sprinting along towards the finish line, upon which time they collapse...
And now, Ashley, you get to be addressed. By way of, What does Kyle see in you? I'm torn between thinking it's so real by the way that Ashley literally has no redeeming value and I can't for the life of me see why Kyle is mooning after this girl constantly (he doesn't even listen to her when she's speaking to him) or completely idiotic. I mean, there are books where I don't understand the attraction at all, but at least the protagonist gives some half-decent reason. Not with Ashley. Kyle just becomes a bit of a broken record, noting every now and then that he loves Ashley and that he wants to have sex with her. That's lovely, Kyle. But I'm not buying into it. Which is kind of a problem when I am you.
Aside from Ashley, all the rest of the characters are charming/brilliant in their own way. Kyle is particularly interesting, being smart but not motivated in the least and acknowledging the fact. His love for his little sister is also intriguing and nicely adds another layer to his personality.
However, it's really Zach that steals the show. So strange, so different, so... Well, you'll just have to read it and draw your own conclusions of Zach. Personally, I rather like him in that way that if we were to meet there would be no possible way it would end well.
Overall--go ahead a read it. At most, if you absolutely hate it, you'll have wasted a few hours of your life. But honestly, even if you don't like it, you will be intrigued--by the whole second-person thing, Kyle, Zach... what the heck is going on at the beginning, as it opens with "You're surprised by all the blood"...(less)
HAHAHAHA, Goodreads! I beat your stupid popup that doesn't save any of my changes!
They're everywhere: Beautiful and terrible, they're there...moreHAHAHAHA, Goodreads! I beat your stupid popup that doesn't save any of my changes!
They're everywhere: Beautiful and terrible, they're there all the time. But you can only see them if they want you to. They're all around you right now. Feel that prickle down the back of your neck? That's them. You can't see them... but the fey are always there.
Aislinn can see the fey. It's paramount they don't know, of course--humans have had their eyes gouged out for having the Sight. So Aislinn has three rules to protect herself: 1) Don't stare at invisible faeries. 2) Don't speak to invisible faeries. 3) Don't ever attract their attention.
It's worked rather well so far... until one begins to stalk her everywhere. Keenan. He's a court faery, too, and he's got a friend just the same--so powerful, they can walk into a place of poison iron and wear a glamoured smile through it. There's nothing worse to Aislinn short of death than being courted by a court fey... but it doesn't seem like he's going anywhere.
And indeed Keenan isn't. He needs a Summer Queen to regain his power and stop the world from going cold. Aislinn is the one, he's sure of it... he needs her. If only she could know...
There is so much that's attractive about this book.
There's the cover, to start--highly symbolic, besides the obvious beauty. There's the title, delicious to say and also symbolic and beautiful. There's the fantasy-romance aspect (for some) and the beautiful diction (for others).
Probably my favourite aspect is the massively complex web of conflicts. You've got Aislinn's desire to stay away from Keenan, knowing him to be dangerous, and yet by being human and mortal she's instinctively and irresistibly drawn to him; Keenan's need for a queen warring with his lingering love for Donia and desire to not have to force himself on Aislinn. Donia's internal conflict is the most interesting to me personally, a complex and intricate battle between her personal feelings, the feelings of others, and her duty.
All of this, naturally, is expressed in the best way possible: Subtle yet passionate and wholehearted. Marr doesn't need to have anything explained to the reader--instead, her writing is done well enough that the feeling is conveyed without the obvious "He felt this way, because of x y and z." You're in everyone's head at once in Wicked Lovely, transported from one point of view to the other in different sections. Each character has a lightly distinctive style of thinking, all three holding the common denominators of wonderful diction and strong imagery. Each character is well-represented in their own right, a good balance between the realistic and the fabulous. Whereas occasionally one might come across some fantasy novel with an immortal character that acts as if he or she hasn't been alive this whole time and has instead just time-travelled to the current age, Donia and Keenan have a good balance. Donia can work a computer with ease, but still appreciates older fashions. Keenan seeks education on the nuances of courting modern girls, but he also owns a hot club. (One of the frequent complaints on the topic of characters is Seth--namely, that he's seemingly too good to be true. Still, as Marr addresses in an interview at the back of my edition of Wicked Lovely, we must keep in mind that Seth is really only seen through Aislinn's eyes. Thus, if she sees him as a shining beautiful person who can do no wrong, as she obviously does, then that is how he will appear to the reader.)
With all of the purely skillful writing, Marr's faery canon seems just the icing on the cake. Well-researched and traditional, Marr has simply brought back the fey of old--no freaky additions to the mythology here. Instead, just a really rather brilliant urban faerie tale.(less)
Lia is a wintergirl--an anorexic, struggling to stay below 100 pounds while still treading water and avoidin...moreFour point five eight three nine two four.
Lia is a wintergirl--an anorexic, struggling to stay below 100 pounds while still treading water and avoiding her parent's concern. A wintergirl, stuck between being dead and being alive, but not really either. She and her friend Cassie swore to be the skinniest girls in the school, and now Lia's won the contest by default--Cassie died yesterday. It's over for her, but it's far, far from it for Lia.
After being slightly disappointed by Speak (that's right, I was very slightly disappointed by Speak--stay with me here, people) because of all the hype surrounding it, I was a little more wary not to listen to anything anyone said about Wintergirls. Impartial jury and all. And, as with Speak, it's much easier to be impressed if you don't have a billion and one glowing reviews to compare against.
That said, Wintergirls fascinated me. The copy I read actually is a friend's (I promise I'll give it back right after I finish this review!), and she'd underlined all through some of the most powerful sentences--and this is a person who stubbornly resists annotating books for teachers and aligns that with vandalism (so do I). And it makes total sense--something this profound just NEEDS to be recognised.
There's something magical about the way Wintergirls is written that deserves the recognition. The crossed-out phrases (how can people object to this?! It adds so much life to know both what Lia thinks and what she thinks she shouldn't!), the calorie counts on every food she consumes, the italics between her transitions into flashbacks and back to reality, Elijah just in general, Cassie's post-mortem visits (the perfect mixture of fantasy and reality)... the way Lia says the most profound things sometimes, but she's not obnoxious about it, instead the exact opposite--she's innocently brilliant and doesn't even realise it.
It's purely Lia, as well--first person at its best. She doesn't try to explain why she's anorexic, she doesn't spend time trying to explain her internal struggles--you either grok it or you don't, Lia's not here to explain anything. She's here to tell a story. I found this kind of refreshing--you can't explain an emotion. Horrible things can't be explained. There's no better way to empathise than to read it, to live it, and that's what Wintergirls does--it lets you live it. Empathise, not understand. Purely Lia.
I'm not a perfect person. I confess to reading every review on the back and after reading the actual book every review inside the front cover. Publisher's Weekly stole what I was going to say next, so I'll just quote them instead: "As difficult as reading this novel can be, it's even more difficult to put it down."(less)
Very interesting look at some more obscure and inspirational stories of the history of Christianity. Filled with anecdotes from Ms Bass's own life, it...moreVery interesting look at some more obscure and inspirational stories of the history of Christianity. Filled with anecdotes from Ms Bass's own life, it's not dry at all. So far as history books go, this is one of the more enthralling ones I've read.(less)