Thursday, December 18, 2014

Three YA Novels that deal with death
If I Stay, Gayle Forman
  • I think if this novel's concept is new to you, or at least newish, it would be a lot more enjoyable.  But if, like me, you've already sampled and thought plenty on its subject, then the novel doesn't resonate so much.  
  • Now I'm going to contradict myself...because I recommend "the less you know about this book's content, the better it can be."  Because the most this had going for it, for me, was the element of surprise.  I went in knowing nothing.  That said, it's got some heavy imagery that isn't for everyone, be warned.
  • Sadly, I didn't connect with any character.  The novel reminded me of Landline a few times -- which, in my case, isn't good news.  I haven't seen the film adaptation, but I wonder if the tale would be less annoying and more moving with a soundtrack.
  • The most challenging thing about this book?  For the first time, reading a YA novel, I felt I empathised more with the parents of the teenager, than I did the teenager.  Usually, I feel nostalgia! I revel in recalling the intensity of youth emotion; I think, "Yup, it really felt this big and this important," when the protagonist describes fire displays for finger-touching.  This reading, notsomuch.  I was thinking of all of the experiences I've had since the heroine's age that eclipse what this novel is presenting as her greatest happiness. And as I say, I found myself appreciating the parents' situation.  Let me reiterate, I did not connect with them -- I found their desperate attempt to be cool prickly.  I don't think this disconnect and realisation is a matter of timing (my gratitude for my joys as a wife and parent are not new), this particular novel simply didn't transport me back to the before -- before I knew these things; I was still me, reading about the younger years at a distance; I was not lost in it.
  • I did listen to some music I had never tried before, after reading it.  That's something.
  • There are F-bombs and some other cussing.  Sadly, I don't think the writing and story are worth them.
The Fault in Our Stars, John Green
  • I was immediately taken with the writing, in this book.  IMMEDIATELY.  It seemed like such a contrast to the greyness of If I Stay.
  • It is so surprisingly and insanely funny.
  • The love story is so fun.
  • I didn't even pound it out in one or two sessions (the best way for truly losing yourself), because life was pressing, but even fractured reading of this one was so great.
  • I would rather read this book five more times than read If I Stay one more time.  I'm sorry to compare, but back to back -- so stark!
  • Such strong characters and dialogue (including the minor players).
  • I am amazed...a.m.a.z.e.d that Green writes in such a convincing female voice.  I think Grisham bombing out on this front, so fresh in my mind, added to the impact of that here.
  • There is swearing.  I'm never excited by it, but it didn't feel lazy.
  • I am disappointed with how sex was handled.  If you've read it, I would love to talk about why. 
  • I teach a youth Sunday School class.  I had more than one of my students ask me if I've read this book -- it was a large impetus for me getting to it, on my list.  I found myself thinking of these young people while I read, and I'm quite shocked by what they are reading!  I wouldn't share this with my girls until they were 16+, and then with much discussion.
On the Jellicoe Road, Melina Marchetta
  • Of all three of these titles, I think this is the most suited for (slightly) younger readers, i.e. YA!  It still has the F-cuss, and some disturbing material!  ...but I'd say, read with a mature 12-year-old or older, it could be really valuable.
  • It is super-intriguing and foreboding.
  • It comes together seamlessly.
  • It is other-worldly, without being fantasy or dystopian -- this is incredible.
  • Well-written.  Gold-stickered for a reason.
  • Very clever dialogue.
  • I thoroughly enjoyed it.  It's a little more work than the above two; slower and more thoughtful...but worth it. 

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