I picked this up for the YALSA Hub Challenge. I had meant to read it ages ago - it looked interesting. The thing is, I hate reading about the Titanic.I picked this up for the YALSA Hub Challenge. I had meant to read it ages ago - it looked interesting. The thing is, I hate reading about the Titanic. I hate watching movies about the Titanic. They make me depressed. I don't know why this subject feels so tedious to me - because it is very interesting. Maybe it was going through high school with girls who tallied up the numerous times they'd gone to see Titanic. I don't know. But even though I told myself that this time, it would be different, I felt that same sort of dread when I started listening. And in the back of my head, as each character and voice was introduced, all I could think was "What're the odds that this person survived?"
This is a good book. It's well-written, the characters are fleshed out, and I enjoyed Wolf's biographies at the end. I hadn't realized that all of these characters (well, leaving out the Ice and the Rat) were real and I loved the tone Wolf used when describing the controversy among Titaniacs over issues like what was the last song played and who was more cowardly. I am also, at the very least by career choice, a big fan of research. And this was researched to the gills. So the detail was amazing. Really, my only hang-up with this was the topic! And despite that, I still enjoyed it. Enjoy is not the right word. I admired the writing, I was compelled by the characters, I got emotional. There's a scene that I think the print version probably doesn't do the writing justice. When the Titanic has sank and the life boats are surrounded by those drowning, freezing, and dying. An earlier poem about promenading the decks is recited over the voices of those in the water. This is gut-wrenching. People are calling out for help, whispering in the boats, crying. And it goes on and on and on. It was hard to even listen to it. Many of the survivors later talk about being haunted by these voices, and you'll understand what they mean.
Callie loves theater, but she's no actress. She loves being part of the stage crew, creating the props and setting that transport the audience into thCallie loves theater, but she's no actress. She loves being part of the stage crew, creating the props and setting that transport the audience into the story. Her middle school is putting on Moon over Mississippi, a play about the Civil War, and Callie has grand ideas that have to fit into a middle school budget. However, she's also struggling with her long-time crush on Greg, who just broke up with his girlfriend. At first, he seems interested, but then he blows Callie off. Is it because she's into drama? Younger than him? As she struggles with being angry at Greg and still liking him, she throws herself into working on the play. It's there that she meets cute twin brothers, Justin and Jesse. Justin is outgoing, loves theater, funny, and gay. Jesse is shy, smart, and just as talented as his brother, but unwilling to audition. Callie and the twins spend the school year becoming friends and traversing all the challenges that can be thrown at a drama department. Callie also starts to feel something more for Jesse - but does he like her back?
This was a quick, fun read that's full of all the awkwardness of being a teenager in love. Everyone has a little bit of drama (ha-ha) and I appreciated that being gay was not the issue of the book, but just part of the overall plot. I loved that Callie came through, after many moments of heartbreak, and realized that she didn't have to be someone's girlfriend. My only beef with this book is that the drama department was so amazing... what middle school has this sort of theater, budget, and supplies? I'm not sure why the setting wasn't high school, though I think in many school districts, that'd still be pushing it. Well, maybe this is the sort of drama department that schools should aspire to. We should all have working cannons!...more
This book has an intriguing concept - our main character, A, wakes up in a new body every day. A ages just as we do, and A can only occupy bodies thatThis book has an intriguing concept - our main character, A, wakes up in a new body every day. A ages just as we do, and A can only occupy bodies that are his/her same age. On day 5994 of A's life, s/he wakes up in Justin's body and meets his girlfriend Rhiannon. S/he falls in love with her during that day. She is the first person A tells his/her secret to. And they try to make this relationship work.
So there's the concept. But I really just didn't like the book. Why? I found the concept more than a little creepy. I didn't care for A or Rhiannon. A seemed preachy, but constantly broke his/her own rules about how to live the lives s/he gets for a day. I suppose this was to emphasize the importance of his love for Rhiannon, but it just made me dislike A. And the stalking... oh the stalking! It was awkward from the get-go and got so much worse as time went on.
Really, this book seemed like it was more an opportunity for Levithan to do a variety of character studies and show how we have a lot more in common than we think. And I liked the lives that A got to look in on. That was probably my favorite part of this book. But it doesn't make for a great overarching story.
While I found myself waffling when I listened to this - is this a good book and I just don't like it? - the ending hammered home that it was just not good. Spoilers ahead, so look away or stop or whatever if you don't want the ending spoiled.....
Okay, so apparently there are others like A, who can skip Quantum Leap-style from body to body. We find this out just as the book is ending and the scary Reverend that Nathan (a boy A occupied and used to seek out Rhiannon early on in the story) has confided in is actually a person like A. And the Reverend is full of menace and threat and... well, that's about it, because A runs out on the scene where the Reference confronts him/her. And that's it. He tells A that it's possible to keep a body indefinitely and control how long s/he stays. And A freaks, runs out, seeks answers through an email we never get to read. End of book. Well, that and A sets Rhiannon up with the perfect boy on the planet, who makes mix tapes for his parents' anniversary and is always there for everyone and is in a band and has a beautiful, romantic treehouse. This ending is slapped on and leaves you with the feeling that there was supposed to be more... a lot more. But why it ends the way it does is beyond me....more
Is it really possible for a book about someone dying of cancer to be funny? Well... yes. Greg Gaines's mission in life is to go unseen. He's a seniorIs it really possible for a book about someone dying of cancer to be funny? Well... yes. Greg Gaines's mission in life is to go unseen. He's a senior in high school and for several years now he's passed through life, being welcomed by any social clique and a member of none. And that's how he likes it. Then his mother orders him to spend time with Rachel, a girl dying of leukemia and sort-of-but-not-really-Greg's-ex-girlfriend. Add in Greg's sort-of-friend Earl, a short, chain-smoking, rage-filled African American kid who likes to make mediocre films with Greg, and you have your general cast of characters. What's so remarkable about this book is that it avoids many of the typical YA tropes - absent parents, romance with the dying character, a miraculous recovery, a moment when the entire school comes together. No, what Jesse Andrews gives us is a very real look at how awkward life is, particularly as a teen trying to cope with someone you kinda know (but should probably know better) who's suffering from a terminal illness. Greg's growing depression is never spelled out - the story is told in first-person - but we do see the powerful impact Rachel's impending death has on him. And throughout the story, we get an authentic teen's voice as he deals with the perils of high school, his friend's anger management issues, crazy over-bearing parents, and a passion for films. This is worth reading just for the accurate depiction of the high school dichotomy! For those whose readers are sensitive to outstandingly strong language and drug use, this is probably one to skip. Otherwise, highly recommended!...more