this is the second part of a conversation about this book!! i got caris' sloppy seconds! to read the first part, please click here!Caris
: Maybe it was just your personality. Perhaps you're just not the type of dude who gets bullied. You know, badassery and whatnot.
I certainly cave on this point. The book was unbelievable. Both the website and Santana were only there to keep the girl from killing herself. Of course, all books do this. It seems that the bar is just set lower for teen fiction. This is one of those cases, as are most of the books I've read recently, where the plot of the book insults the intelligence of the reader. Teenagers are dumb, didn't you hear?
It's funny (and logical) that you bring up 13 Reasons Why
. Over the past few days, I've come to realize that I like this book so much because of how much I hated Asher's book. I fucking hated 13 Reasons Why
. The message killed me. Compare, for a moment, Hannah's complaints and Daelyn's. Best ass in school vs assaulted in the bathroom. Flirted with her vs made fun of her weight. The playing field is not level. Hannah killed herself for everyday shit. At least Daelyn's shit was painful enough to warrant her choice. I didn't like that Asher led the reader to believe that its reasonable to think one could kill oneself for the reasons Hannah did. Peters' character, at least, suffered a life that, as you say, seems unusually harsh. In conclusion, Jay Asher can suck it.
But tell me, go ahead and try, that you didn't love the fact that Daelyn was going to kill herself (and successfully this time) by putting a cinder block on her face in the bathtub.karen
: pff - i wasn't always this badass, and i never saw anyone else getting bullied, and i was one of those people who had a number of different social circles - student council and marching band and everything in between, so i sort of spanned the whole school (like greg's mom!!!) and i didn't really hear much of it. only one major sexual assault, and if she had given me the names, they would have been finished with their sexual careers. (okay, maybe i was a little badass)
so i am thinking that in rhode island, we just know how to treat people. roger williams taught us well and all that. no, i don't know. i'm older than you, right?? maybe it is a generation thing. (although i don't think i am THAT much older) maybe it's the heat?? when i took a class called "violence, compassion, and justice" in undergrad, they taught us that more violent crimes take place in the south than the north, and more in the summer than the winter in
but it's a dry heat...
i wasn't in love with the asher book, either, but at least i was interested, as a reader, in where it was going. i wanted
to know what the narrator had done to get into the tapes, and i was hoping she would eventually have a good reason for doing what she did. that rachel girl's review of that book is amazing. check it out. this book - not only was i not interested in the characters, the plot itself was boooooring. do it, kill yourself and get it over with, don't wait for A FRIGGING WEBSITE to give you permission. what was that all about. "i am really determined to kill myself, but the website told me to wait". ugh.
and as far as the sexual assault goes - i mean - it wasn't anything they are ever going to make a law and order episode about. some boys got a little gropey. i mean - yes - it was totally out of line and had it happened to me, there would have been consequences, but in order to impress a reader with the magnitude of an assault, i think she could have gone stronger. boob-grabbing and panty-pulling-down is not that bad on the spectrum of sexual assault.
and that is what pisses me off - because there is good teen fiction out there. this just isn't it. but it is popular. maybe this is like the baby version of john grisham or something. upsetting, but unchallenging.
true - a thumbs up for the cinder block. at least it was original.
but really, how hard is it to take some pills? in the blender?Caris
: Did you think, at any point, that Daelyn was going to kill herself? Or that Clay was guilty of anything?
I don't think I agree with you on the sexual assault thing. An attack like that is more about power and domination. Did they rape her? No. But they did shove her into a secluded area, fondle her, drag her out from underneath a bathroom stall (where she hits her head in the process), and attempt to pull her underwear off. When I think of the specifics, I feel ill. On a large enough spectrum, there's always something worse. But it's personal, isn't it? It's awful because it happened to her, not because it's worse than something that happened to someone else.karen
: ah, and there's the problem.
i have real trouble experiencing emotional connections with characters in books and movies. which is why i rarely cry at movies. i can never get past the idea of them as constructs. so if i knew someone this had happened to, or if i heard a news story, it would be one thing, but as far as it happening to a character... i can only think of it in terms of effectiveness to the reader. or plausibility.
i don't lack affect in real life, just in books n' stuff.Caris
: FYI- it would have been relevant to this conversation to mention that your last name was Bateman.
Oh man, your experience must've been even worse than mine. With that variety of literature-induced sociopathy, I would have been completely lost in both books. I can say, without reservation, that if you can't identify with Daelyn, then this book sucks ass. No wonder you've exhibited no sympathy whatsoever
for these poor dead/dying kids.
That poses a unique sort of problem, though, doesn't it? I've found that every single one of the books I've read for class has relied on that emotional connection to draw the reader in. I've never tried to distance myself from the story, as to do so would make me have to actually pay attention to that drivel. When you read, then, you always require a solid, effective plot. Perhaps it's just because my expectations have gotten so low, but I'm glad I can stick with the emotional manipulation.
Going back to the questions I posed to you that you didn't answer (they wasn't rhetorical), I'd like you to answer them. Now more than ever. Those questions, which originally were based on the characters' emotional states, now are based on plot:
Did you think, at any point, that Daelyn was going to kill herself? Or that Clay was guilty of anything?karen
: sorry, sorry - fever makes me overlook tiny questions.
no - i never thought she would actually kill herself. even just reading the copy, you know that she will be redeemed through santana and given a reason to blah blah blah. that's why there is no reason to read the book - just read the flap and you get all you need to know.
as for clay. well, i was hoping. i was hoping he had done something
that was small but led to something big and he wasn't even aware of it. something, anything, no matter how innocently it was done. otherwise, it is pure cruelty on her part to make him wait for his turn on all the tapes for nothing.
off to work!!Caris
: Seems like fever might be something you should stay home from work for?
I made a point to not read the flaps. I started that at the beginning and didn't want to read any of my assigned books. So now I just start reading them without having any idea what they might be about. Leviathan
have been genuine surprises. That's just bad flap editing, in my opinion.
I didn't think, even for a second, that Clay had done anything wrong. He was too nice. He got along with his mother and was well liked by classmates. On top of that, he liked Hannah. It was a poor setup for a huge letdown. Daelyn, though I felt strongly that she would survive, had a chance. I had 13 Reasons Why in mind and thought to myself that if that moron could do it, this moron's got to be able to.karen
: sure, but plenty of people on her list hadn't done anything wrong. whatsherface slapped her because she thought hannah had slept with her boyfriend. that is a stupid reason to kill yourself. clay could have done something accidentally, especially since he believed the rumors about her promiscuity and they intimidated him. all it would have took would be him going "i heard you were very experienced, please be gentle with me" and she could have gone apeshit and slit her wrists right there in the midst of a makeout session. she was a loose cannon, who could predict her responses??
i have to come to work, because today is a school day. and if i had skipped today, it would have been a nightmare. i barely remember today because there were so many books all i did was blur through the mall. in a fever. but now i get to talk teen fiction (for this and other related books) and then i can go home and finish solaris
: That's true. Hannah was a bit off, which is more interesting than Daelyn's victim complex. I had a hard time seeing Hannah as a character, as she manifested herself in those cassette tapes. She was more of a poltergeist.
The thought that keeps coming back to me is how insulting these books are to their intended audience. When I compare it to something I really liked, such as Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist
, it almost seems pointless because there is no real comparison. Here we have books that capitalize on shock (suicide) and don't really allow the reader to connect with the characters on multiple levels. Sure, you can share in Clay's bafflement or Daelyn's reaction to bullying, but they're not characters that stay with you. That's a big problem, I think, as these books rely on voice and character development to be memorable. But I only remember them because they sucked.
In Nick and Norah
(which I consider to be the best piece of teen fiction I've ever read), the reader is exposed to real life. An uber cool real life, but real life nonetheless. There's self-doubt and pain, misunderstandings and relationship development. In these suicide books, death is almost a character. I don't like that they all try to reach the reader in a lovely-bones-guest-on-Oprah kind of way. It's lame. How are teenagers supposed to enjoy good fiction when they're constantly barraged by sparkly fucking vampires and stupid girls killing themselves. I've only recently jumped into this urine-filled kiddie pool and I already want to stop.karen
: ha! she was a poltergeist! and i kept wondering how she made the tapes... did she write everything out beforehand and then read from a script? how did she keep everything straight in her head - so calmly facing the destruction of her person? why didn't she ever fumble over her words or cry or do anything human? her tone was so bitchy and snarky - she doesn't strike me as a victim - as someone who wouldn't just fight her way out of her problems. clay seemed more likely to kill himself, mr. nice guy doormat, chasing after the broken girls.
there was a guy on the class last night who had struggled with depression before, and he said he could really relate to the way daelyn thought. shrug. i have been depressed, too, but at least i was interesting when i was depressed. (i did not say this in class because i am not an asshole) but teacher didn't like that book either, although she said she liked the last third. but that she may have been forcing herself.
i never read nick and norah
, but i saw the movie, is it similar in tone and all?
don't give up on teen fiction! (suddenly i am an advocate) having just finished marcelo in the real world
i can assure you it gets better. and are you the one who tried and gave up on hunger games?? if so, i don't know. that book is very good - it's not all vampires and wrist-slitting. i also enjoyed feed
. oh, and that teenage survival series - those are pretty fun. it does get better. and if anything else turns up on my reading list that makes me think of you, i will tell you. Caris
: Script? Psh. That girl was just organized. Her emotions were so jacked up that she was able to get her message across in an inhumanly organized and well-paced manner. Those things were what made her believable, see? Nick and Norah
is similar to the movie, but different. It's better.
I haven't tried the Hunger Games
, though I have been assigned to read the third (?!) book for class. I need a break from teen fiction. I need to see other people.