Sunday, September 14, 2014

Book Reviews

With the marked decrease in work related stress this year, I've actually been reading for fun again. It's mostly been YA fiction, and to all the YA haters out there I'll just say this...there's a reason, other than the built in audience, that Hollywood keeps making YA novel film adaptations. It's been a while since I've posted a book review, so I may be a bit rusty, but here are two books that I finished this week and thoroughly enjoyed.

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

This is a book that I bought years ago but it got lost in the shuffle of so many moves and ended up buried on my bookshelf. I don't want to summarize the plot because it'll just sound weird. So, here's what the back cover says. "Andi Alpers is on the edge. She's angry at her father for leaving, angry at her mother for not being able to cope, and angry at the world for taking her younger brother, Truman. Rage and grief are destroying her. And her father has determined that Andi's accompanying him to Paris over winter break is the solution to everything. But Paris is a city of ghosts for Andi. And when she finds a centuries-old diary, the ghosts begin to walk off the page. Alexandrine, the owner of the journal, knew heartbreak also, and Andi finds comfort in the girl's words. Until, on a midnight journey through the catacombs of Paris, words transcend paper and time, and the past becomes suddenly, terrifyingly present."

Once I started reading, it wasn't a book I wanted to put down. It wasn't the obsessive, reading until 2 in the morning kind of book, but I found myself thinking about the story throughout the day. Andi is an angry senior in high school, struggling to keep her head above water. I actually found it refreshing to read a story with a less than perfect female protagonist. In fact, all of the characters are deeply flawed. And while the ending finds Andi on firm ground once again, not all conflicts between characters are resolved. Everything wasn't wrapped up in pretty bow. There was a little language, but overall I'd say it was mild.

Rating...3/4 stars

eleanor & park by rainbow rowell

I have been hearing about this book for a while now. It keeps popping up on various must read YA Novels book lists. It's set in 1986 and it's about two 16 year olds, Eleanor & Park...(original title, yes?) This is a book that I stayed up until 1am reading last night and then finished this morning. One reading list said that if you enjoy Romeo & Juliet, you should read eleanor & park. I see where that comes from, but disagree. They're not star-crossed lovers, no one dies and no one gets married. It is about falling in love for the first time and dealing with the social pressures of being a teenager. Eleanor's home life is a minefield. She's harassed at school by the popular girls and has built a protective barrier around herself. Park is half Korean and doesn't feel like he fits in at school or at home. They bond over comic books and 80's punk music. There are some definite mature themes in the book - particularly when dealing with Eleanor's home life - and there are some more mature scenes between Eleanor and Park, but nothing explicit. The language is definitely more R rated. I was surprised by that, but eventually saw that, for some characters, it was a realistic expression of emotion and circumstances. Some characters, I felt the language was unnecessary. . I think my favorite thing about this book is that the character's aren't perfect and they're not artificially flawed. The walls Eleanor puts up between herself and Park are a natural consequence of the life she has lived. I finished it this morning and I was a little angry because I felt like I wanted one more chapter, but I also understand why it ended the way it did. If you liked The Fault in Our Stars or anything else by John Green, I'd say you'll like this book.

Rating 3.25/4 stars