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Friday, October 23, 2009

An Unprecedented Turn of Events/Boy Toy/Quotes on Friday/YA Festival

This blog postcomes to you in four parts (and yeah, I totally stole that line):
PART ONE An Unprecedented Turn of Events
In an unprecedented turn of events that no one saw coming, I actually wrote two blog posts in one week! Hospitals, prepare for stroke patients.
Today's review is Boy Toy by Barry Lyga.
"Lucky thirteen," my dad said when I blew out the candles on my birthday cake, and my mom shot down his lame attempt at humor with a disgusted "Oh, Bill!" But honestly, that's not the important part. Not at all.
BOY TOY by Barry Lyga
2007, Houghton Mifflin Company, 416p
buy here
Notable awards: None I can think of
Notable books by the author: Goth Girl Rising, Hero-Type
Summary: Josh Mendel has a secret. Unfortunately, everyone knows what it is.Five years ago, Josh’s life changed. Drastically. And everyone in his school, his town—seems like the world—thinks they understand. But they don’t—they can’t. And now, about to graduate from high school, Josh is still trying to sort through the pieces. First there’s Rachel, the girl he thought he’d lost years ago. She’s back, and she’s determined to be part of his life, whether he wants her there or not.Then there are college decisions to make, and the toughest baseball game of his life coming up, and a coach who won’t stop pushing Josh all the way to the brink. And then there’s Eve. Her return brings with it all the memories of Josh’s past. It’s time for Josh to face the truth about what happened.If only he knew what the truth was . . .
Review: I was really excited about this book. Seriously. I was so excited to read it. AS soon as I got home from the library I sat down and started reading. And the first 175 or so pages? Amazing. And the next?...
Well, that's the thing. I'm not really so sure about what happened after that. I mean, Boy Toy was fun to read and all, but I don't know. Things didn't turn out the way I thought they would. At all. Not that the way they did turn out was bad, but still.
The book was good, there's no denying it. I liked the plot and really liked the premise. The characters were real and funny and even when I was supposed to hate them, I couldn't. Not even Eve. I don't know if that was what the author intended or not, but that's how I felt about it. In fact, if it wasn't for the ending, this book would've gotten an 8.
But the ending...
It wasn't that the ending was bad or anything. It was just really unsatisfying. I felt that so much more could've been done. The baseball subplot was tied up nicely and effectively, and while I'm sure it wasn't the author's intent, I felt it was the best done of all the plot endings. The others just didn't come together so well. I felt like...well, I felt kind of cheated.
Verdict: Overall, Boy Toy is pretty good. The author uses elements like foreshadowing and past-and-present-tense-switching (I have no idea what the real name for it is) to great acclaim. But really? I felt cheated. And that's never a good thing to feel when you finish a book. But don't take my word for it. Read it for yourself and see what you think.
Rating: 6.75
PART THREE Quotes on Friday
I don't particularly care how many calories it has, anyway. I love those butterscotch things, and besides, I'm too skinny. My mom says it's nervous energy, and I'm thinking she's right. I've probably burnt the calories I've set on the table just by worrying about the grade I'm going to get on the Faulkner paper I've just turned in.
The Nature of Jade by Deb Caletti
Excitement is filling the air here at Random High School Gym. Or at least, here in my corner it is. Tommorrow I'm going to Austin, Texas for the Austin Teen Book Festival. Several amazing authors will be there: Libba Bray (author of the Gemma Doyle trilogy and the recent Going Bovine), Justine Larbalestier (author of the acclaimed Magic or Madness trilogy, How to Ditch Your Fairy, and the recent Liar), and Deb Caletti (author of tonnes of books, including Wild Roses, The Nature of Jade, and the extremely excellent The Fortunes of Indigo Skye. I am extremely excited for this event, which promises to be at least mildly kickass. I plan to get my recently acquired copy of Going Bovine signed by Libba Herself, as well as attend panels, eat food, and do other stuff. I'll tell you how it goes Sunday.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Catching Fire

"In that one slight motion, I see the end of hope, beginning of destruction of everything I hold dear in the world. I cant guess what form my punishment will take, how wide the net will be cast, but when it is finished there most likely be nothing left.So you would think that at this moment, I would be in utter despair."

File:Catching fire.JPG

CATCHING FIRE by Suzanne Collins
2009, Scholastic Press, 400p
buy here
Notable awards: None so far
Notable books by the author: The Hunger Games
Summary: Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.
Review: Sometime in March or April of this year, I read The Hunger Games, which, for any YA fan who's taken up residence under a rock, is the first in the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins about 24 teenagers who battle to the death on live TV. It may sound kind of stock, but trust me, Collins' brilliant handles on suspense and plotting is not. The Hunger Games was one of the 20 best books I've ever read.
So Catching Fire came out on Sep. 1, and I really wanted to read it except that I was seriously broke, so I put a library hold on it and waited 1.5 months, and finally it came in about two weeks ago. I retrieved it from the library that Saturday, waited until Monday to started reading it (a torturous task), and then eventually started reading it.
I was a little worried before I read it. After all, we've all heard stories about how the second book in a series just doesn't measure up. I'm glad to report, though, that there was none of that here, for me at least. Catching Fire took me three days to read, and while that's nowhere near the fifteen hours it took me to read Hunger Games (sleeping's included in that), it's not because I couldn't get into it. It's just because I was really busy, it being October, a procrastinator's least favorite month. Anyways, CF was excellent. Collins is in top form in this book, ratcheting up the suspense like nobody's business. Katniss was just as...ah, illogical as in the last book, but I couldn't help but like her anyway. I gasped a lot while reading this book, though I don't gasp in real life, and I laughed a lot too (esp. on page 256--ha ha). Some people may feel that CF is a rehash of the events of HG, but I disagree--after all, the main focus wasn't supposed to be the Games, but instead the looming threat of possible rebellions AS NOTED ON THE SUMMARY, SO DON'T SAY I SPOILED YOU.
VERDICT: CF was really, really good. Being a person who can't write book reviews for squat, that's really all I have to say.
Really, really good.
Thoughts on the cover: The cover gets a 9. Simple, yet effective. It gets the job done.
Note: I know it seems I only review books I like, and I guess that's true now, but trust me, that's going to change. I check out way too many books from the library for me to like them all.