Thursday, January 26, 2012

Book review: Moonglass

Moonglass by Jessi Kirby

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews.

"I read once that water is a symbol for emotions. And for a while now, I've thought maybe my mother drowned in both."

Anna's life is upended when her father accepts a job transfer the summer before her junior year. It's bad enough that she has to leave her friends and her life behind, but her dad is moving them to the beach where her parents first met and fell in love- a place awash in memories that Anna would just as soon leave under the surface.

While life on the beach is pretty great, with ocean views and one adorable lifeguard in particular, there are also family secrets that were buried along the shore years ago. And the ebb and flow of the ocean's tide means that nothing- not the sea glass that she collects on the sand and not the truths behind Anna's mother's death- stays buried forever.

Moonglass took me a while to get into. I was actually about to return it to the library. It starts out fairly slow--Anna and her father are moving and Anna is mad. The first couple chapters or so deal with this theme.

Push through. Push through until you meet a character named Ashley and see a man crawling down the beach. Because Kirby's greatest strength in Moonglass is her characters. She wrote amazing characters. Characters that are somehow both true to life and completely original. Characters I want to be or know in real life. Ashley, the beach crawler, and another girl named Jillian are the real stars of this novel. They are the catalysts for action and the most entertaining parts.

Moonglass is a book of introspection, not one of action. It's a book that will make you think and feel. It takes a bit to get into and will not be the most exciting book you ever read, but you'll think about it after you finish. You'll remember the characters, and you'll wonder what happened to Anna long after the conclusion.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Book review: Shatter Me

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Goodreads description:

Juliette hasn't touched anyone in exactly 264 days.
The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war-- and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

I don't remember how I heard about this book--probably from one of the many YA authors I follow on Twitter. I started following the author even before reading the book and grew even more excited to read it.

I have to admit, I was a little disappointed. I love the premise of the book--a girl who can't touch people without hurting or killing them, first imprisoned, then used as a weapon of war? Awesome.

But other than Juliette's power, I found little of the story very original. The land is more barren than most stories involving attempts at reestablishment and utopian societies, but that seems a minor detail. There is a love interest (or two?), which is common in most YA. The book gave me pretty much what I expected and not much else.

I found it hard to get into the book at first. Juliette had been in isolation for hundreds of days, and her thought processes suffered for it. I found myself skipping paragraphs of introspection to get to the point or the action.

Despite these negative impressions, I did finish the book, which says a lot because I don't finish books I don't like at least a little (why should I read something I'm not enjoying when there are so many other options?). And the end of the book was my favorite. Tahereh finally threw something at me I had not expected.

Shatter Me is the first in a trilogy. The ending of the book picked up a lot--enough that I know I'll be reading the rest of the series.

I'm not sure yet if I recommend this book. I think I do. It was entertaining and easy to read.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Book review: Room

Room by Emma Donoghue

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews.

To five-year-old-Jack, Room is the world. . . . It's where he was born, it's where he and his Ma eat and sleep and play and learn. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.
 Room is home to Jack, but to Ma it's the prison where she has been held for seven years. Through her fierce love for her son, she has created a life for him in this eleven-by-eleven-foot space. But with Jack's curiosity building alongside her own desperation, she knows that Room cannot contain either much longer.

Room is a tale at once shocking, riveting, exhilarating--a story of unconquerable love in harrowing circumstances, and of the diamond-hard bond between a mother and her child.

I was excited when I got this book from the library. I'd heard the premise and heard good things from acquaintences who had read it. But I found myself delaying starting the book because I wasn't in the mood for a story I predicted to be very dark.

Though Ma and Jack's situation is very bleak, the story isn't--it isn't a difficult read and not nearly as much of a downer as I'd predicted. Because the book is told by five-year-old Jack, there is little sense of the desparation of the situation--he doesn't know that he and his mom are being held captive.

Jack is very hopeful, intelligent and sweet. It can be really difficult to write in the voice of a child, but Jack's voice almost always was on perfect pitch for a five year old. I only questioned this once whenn Jack expressed that the other people of the world were just like him--they were happy or sad and breathed and slept, and if you cut them, they would bleed, just like he does. I felt this was way over the head of a five year old--maybe even over the head of some adults.

I did have issue with one very small thing--Jack was still breastfed and talks about it regularly. I'm not sure why this bothered me so much. I have no problem with breastfeeding. Maybe I just didn't want it to be so descriptive? or it might have been Jack's age. But every time it was mentioned, I cringed.

I only rated this three stars on Goodreads ("I liked it" rather than two, "it was ok," or four, "really liked it") because it didn't really surprise me at all. Other than the approach (more hopeful than dark) I pretty much knew what I was going to get when I picked up the book and there weren't really any surprise twists. But the book does have a pretty high rating on Goodreads (3.96) and plenty of rave reviews.

I do recommend this book because it's like nothing I've ever read before.


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