Thomas's Reviews > Talk

Talk by Kathe Koja
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's review
Nov 29, 2009

liked it
bookshelves: lgbtq, young-adult, realistic-fiction
Recommended to Thomas by: Ralph
Read in November, 2009

Kit Webster has never once had a role in a play, much less the lead part in a schoolwide production. Yet, he has been acting all his life. Pretending to like girls, pretending not to be attracted to his fellow males and committing sin. Kit's best friend Carma recently persuaded him to try out for the school play "Talk". It turns out that Kit is a natural actor and instantly gets the male lead and to no one's surprise the female lead is played by Lindsay Walsh - the beautiful, ruthless, and school-deemed teen queen. Or so it seems. Lindsay is actually beggining to grow tired of her shallow and selfish boyfriends and starts to take an interest in the rival lead in her senior play. Of course, Kit has already set his sites on another seemingly unattainable crush. It all boils down to the actual play; not only the controversy that it creates but the emotions it triggers within Kit and Lindsay. These emotions lead the two in a battle for the truth - truth not just about what they really want, but who they really are.

This is the first novel I've read by Kathe Koja. Needless to say, her writing style is very sparse and short which is only accentuated by the minute amount of pages in "Talk". Her unique style of writing acted as a double-edged sword: on one hand I enjoyed the fast-paced plot and somewhat easily understandable (though understated) themes, but for the majority of the book it seemed that Koja wasn't adding enough detail to where detail needed to be. An example would be her characters. At first Kit seemed to be the cliche "gay actor" type that's often found in novels but when he fell in love with an -openly- gay character, that was unique. Not to mention that this book was published in 2005, which is before various well-known GLBT novels. Anyway, so I found that aspect of his character unique but then towards the end of the book something else happens also. And the event that took place wasn't very unique - in fact, it felt rushed. I don't want to give anything away, but it really took a chunk out of Kit's whole personality that Koja was building up the entire novel.

Moving on to Lindsay. What was particularly satisfying with her was the portrayal of a somewhat stereotypical character (teen ice queen) and flipping it so there is a sense of pity when she describes the inner turmoil taking place within her thoughts, desires, and mind. Once again towards the end of the book Koja abruptly ended the characterization of Lindsay and left her hanging on an emotional cliff - it seriously made me question if this was Koja's motive and she wanted to leave readers with this image of Lindsay because in all honesty I liked where she was going with her but the ending was just too simplistic and underdeveloped.

In agreement with others who've read "Talk", and unforunately as well, I found the actual play that was taking place much more interesting then the story that unfolded because of it. While I'm in awe of Koja's ability to describe the epiphany/self-realization process of the characters in so few pages yet managing to make it work - I also felt a bit more detail here and there would've earned this book a higher rating. By the by, for anyone who has read "The Vast Fields of Ordinary", isn't it funny how Kit and Dade's first crush are both named Pablo? Obviously this wasn't done on purpose because "Talk" was published before VFO but it did make me chuckle to myself.
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Comments (showing 1-12 of 12) (12 new)

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message 1: by Nancy (new)

Nancy Looking forward to your thoughts on this. I really enjoyed Koja's Skin and have a couple of her earlier horror books, but haven't tried her YA books yet.

Thomas Wow, Skin seems like the type of book I'd hate to read, not because of the author or anything but I get really teary when it comes to things that have to do with blood and sharp objects. Anyway, before your comment the only other book I've heard of by Koja was "Buddha Boy" which is highly recommended by my school district... and I've been wanting to check out one of Koja's books for awhile because of her asian ethnicity, to be honest xD. And when Ralph recommended this to me... I got the chance! yayy. (long comment over)

message 3: by Nancy (new)

Nancy Wow, I checked Koja's website and it seems she writes only YA fiction now. Her earlier horror books are not even mentioned, which is probably wise, since they are not suitable for younger readers. I wasn't aware of her Asian ethnicity and didn't see that mentioned in her bio. Are you enjoying the book so far?

Ralph I've got this book sitting next to my bed... I really need to read it and send it back to the library. It's short too - only like 150 pages.

Thomas Nancy, I remember getting "Talk" from the library and not seeing any 'adult' looking books sitting next to it so... but I mean it's true it might be a wise decision because I'd be scared to read something like that tbh O_o And I'm only on the first chapter, which is like always boring to me in every book xD. However it seems to me the chapters are very short as well possibly because it switches between two different perspectives. And Ralph yepp it's only around 140 pages... hopefully she manages to get her point across. Still, I guess I'd rather read a super short novel then a long, dragged-out one.

Ralph Ugh. I just finished reading it. Not a very good book, IMO. Her characters keep jumping all over the place and I'm left going "WTF? What's going on again?" I didn't really feel any depth to any characters, not even Kit. =[

message 7: by Nancy (new)

Nancy Sorry you didn't like it, Ralph. Was it just the characters that bothered you, or Koja's writing style?

Ralph I think it was her writing style. It seemed like she couldn't continue on one thought track, she had things bouncing around too much in the same paragraph. I would read things and wonder what she was talking about and reread it two or three times before going "Meh, I'll skip it" and going on.

I think the play the book is about sounds more interesting than the actual book. =[

Thomas OMG YES! I just finished it and probably will review it sometime later either today or tommorow but SERIOUSLY! Some parts of the book I enjoyed and some I just wanted to scream. It was bouncing between 4 and 2 stars a lot, so that's probably a heavy indication of what my rating is. I have to give props to Koja for not stereotyping her characters though... even if they weren't developed enough. Sadly, another book that doesn't reach the awesomeness of WTATU (not that I'm comparing or anything).

message 10: by Nancy (new)

Nancy Koja gets a lot of mixed reviews because of her writing style. I happened to be clearing out some books from my closet and found a copy of Straydog that I forgot I had. I wonder if it's any good...

Thomas Ugh. I tried my best with this review but I think it came out too awkward feeling. Mehh.

If you're busy (actually, I know you are busy) then I wouldn't recommend reading books that you think you're not going to like. I'm starting to realize that mistake, a LOT. >_>

message 12: by Angelc (new)

Angelc Great review, Thomas! This one looks good!

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