I loved Where’d You Go Bernadette? so much that I immediately got this one (her first book) from the library and promptly started it. I didn’t like it quite as much as Bernadette, though, like Bernadette, I found it hard to put down. I liked the snappy writing and this also changed pov’s quite a bit, so you see various pieces of a story and the bigger picture before the characters themselves do. She definitely has a style that is identifiable, and one which I like. I’d say the main reason I didn’t like this one quite as much is this: there are three main characters in this book and they are all kind of awful. Just when you think you’re rooting for someone they go ahead and do something terrible. You see flashes of a good side, but then it seems like their bad side takes over. I like to be on board with at least one character (and, for all her flaws, I liked Bernadette and didn’t think she was a bad person at all) and there were times when I found myself thinking, “you’re all so awful who cares that you’re making terrible mistakes and messing up your lives!” But you know me, deep down (not so deep down) I was rooting for a happy ending.
The story is this-Violet and David are married and living a fancy life in LA. She used to write for television (just like the author) and he is a superstar famous music producer. Hanging out with Mick Jagger or Ringo Starr or other up and coming bands is totally normal for them. They have a darling baby Dot, who is primarily cared for by the nanny, whom they call LadyGo. Their perfect life is really not so great as we find out from each of them. Their marriage has become bitter and resentful. A seemingly entirely separate storyline revolves around David’s sister, Sally. She is vain, shallow, scheming and I really found her a terrible person. She sets her sights on a man she calculates will become famous and begins forcing a romance. It is evident to everyone (at least every reader) that the man is autistic or has Aspberger’s Syndrome. Yet she remains clueless. I found it strange that no one else who knew him every mentioned it to her. Anyway, Violet one day meets a man who completely bewitches her. She is wildly attracted to Teddy and on fire for him. He’s an old junkie, crass, vulgar, and for some reason he turns her on. I spent a lot of time shouting in my head at Violet to just walk away from Teddy. But she did not listen to me. And thus everything falls to pieces for everyone. And then the pieces begin to fit together.
Even though I was mad at the characters often, I really like Semple’s writing and I was dying to find out what would happen to everyone, so I would recommend this too.
Paul got this and passed it on to me. The whole time he was reading it he kept saying that it was different than Rich’s other things, that it was very predictable. I see what he meant about predictable-simply that it was a familiar story–unpopular boy has wealthy manipulative boy take over his life and bring him untold popularity and power, but in exchange for doing whatever the other kid tells him to do. The whole time you know that it’s not going to end very well. But that said, it doesn’t matter that it’s a classic story, because so is a boy meets girl story! What was here was the Simon Rich humorous writing that I expected. Sure it’s not one page jokes or anecdotes, but the funny is still there. I especially enjoyed (and imagine he had fun with) how completely over the top wealthy the Allagashes were. Elliot is an 8th grader, but has his own personal dumbwaiter to receive drinks in. It was like a crazy world a kid might dream up for what the richest people in the world are like. And Elliot is indeed a clever mastermind. But, as you would expect, he’s kind of nutty and a bastard. This is a very quick read and I thought it was hilarious and had a satisfying ending.
(I think this is an adult book, or at least marketed that way, but it is definitely high in teen appeal.)
It took me forever to read this. In part because I kept stopping to read other books for the challenge, and also because it just wasn’t holding my attention. The premise of seeing the beings who are God, as well as the creators of other universes, is very funny and appealing to me. I think I was hoping for something along the lines of The Second Greatest Story Ever Told by Gorman Bechard-one of my all time favorite books. But alas, it was not. God is actually a horny teenage boy who falls in love/lust with a mortal and doesn’t care about the earthly consequences. Actually, he doesn’t much care about Earth at all-it’s his assistant who answers prayers, created whales, and actually cares about what happens.
I kept going because I was curious how the mess he created would all work out, but I didn’t find the ending very satisfying at all. Rosoff is a really talented writer, but this was not a great example of her work.
Mr and Mrs Fang are performance artists. They like to make things happen and then watch the world react. Film it and it’s art. Their children are also required to participate in the performances and referred to in the completed works of “art” as Child A and Child B (Annie and Buster, conveniently.) The performances are basically things like staging a big fight, making the children pretend to be orphans playing music for coins on the street and then loudly saying how awful they are.
Now A and B are all grown up and, let’s face it, kind of messed up. They end up back at their parents’ house. One day their parents disappear. There has been a string of highway murders recently and their case fits the pattern. But Buster and Annie know their parents and are convinced that it’s another performance. Either their parents are totally nuts and messed up and inappropriate, or they’ve totally messed up their kids so that they cannot even accept a death when presented with sufficient evidence. It’s all so messed up!!! I thought this would be darkly funny and there was some humor in it, but I ended up disliking all the characters and being appalled by everything.
Ugh. I know this character was depressed by the miserable event that changed his life, but I found myself just not caring about him and wanting the story to wrap up. I did, however, like all the drawings that were part of the book-as it was his journal we were reading.
Nutshell review: kid has ok life. Then a new chapter starts and he’s living with just his mom in a depressing apartment and starting over at a new school. He takes the opportunity to recreate his personality and be a “happyface.” It’s clear though that it’s just a mask for whatever is going on with his family.
This was a very hot book a few months and I just got around to reading it now. As promised, it was a book that was compulsively readable. However, I did have some issues with how unlikable I found the main character. I realize that that is somewhat the crux of the novel, but halfway through I found myself thinking that no matter how great her redemption was at the end it would not make up for what kind of person she had been established to be. The basic premise is that Sam is a super popular girl with a tight group of three best friends and one Friday night she dies in a car crash. Sam then has to relive that final day seven more times. As you would expect she tries to change things so the outcome is different, right some wrongs, and so on.
I couldn’t believe how long it took her to get around to trying to be a better person, though. Sam and her friends were cruel to others, obsessed with popularity, unkind, and shallow. This was, however, contrasted with what amazing friends they were to each other-they truly loved one another and supported each other, were funny and devoted. When you find out how much these girls have done to harm one specific individual, Juliet, it is really awful.
It was quite some time ago that I read about this, so I really had no idea what it was about when it started (but I remembered that it had some acclaim, I think). When I began the story I didn’t actually like it-first we read about Sasha who is a kleptomaniac, then about her boss, Bennie, who seemed kind of sketchy/sleazy. But then I got really into it. It is a nonlinear story that jumps all over from character to character and everyone is somehow connected to someone else. I found it very interesting that I pretty much found something in every character to dislike-they just were not warm kind people at all–and yet, I was invested in what happened to them. And you know I love epilogues so I loved it when occasionally the author would, in a matter of three paragraphs, tell you what eventually happens to someone in their whole life. The interconnectedness is what I really liked about this book (and what simultaneously blows my mind and makes me a little uncomfortable because the characters, for the most part, don’t know they are connected and who’s to say that is not happening in your life?), and I do believe it was wonderfully constructed-it simply couldn’t be told in a linear fashion. At the end though, there is a circular aspect to the story which is pretty amazing.
The only element of the book that I thought was a little odd was the “futuristic” angle at the end. By the end of the story it’s about 15 years in the future from now, but the world seems to be a very different place-not a completely unrealistic imagining of the future, but it seemed jarring.
Overall, though, a big thumbs up! And that’s 2 books in the New Year already, hurrah!
Boy this took me a long time to read. I had it around for a long time (a prepub and it came out this summer), was somewhat interested in it, especially when it was on Entertainment Weekly’s list of top books to read this summer. Overall, though, I just felt kind of lukewarm about it.
A woman (married, two children) has a difficult relationship with her mother, who seems to be very hard and difficult and cold. The mother has a stroke and now the daughter is consumed with her care and getting to know her as she was and find out why she had to become such a not nice mom after the dad died. She does this by reading some of the many many letters the mother has from her husband. I liked the changing points of view-meeting the mother as a young woman, not crotchety at all, but deeply in love and building a home and marriage. Her husband is a correspondent stationed in Vietnam for most of the children’s lives, and so it seems they are always in a state of waiting and waiting for family life to begin. I did like seeing that story spin out and also there were several secrets that were revealed. I guess what I found hard to get past was that I really didn’t like the main character (so easily put out by her sister in law! so prickly!), and I also didn’t like it that her mother was two such different people in her life. And though there is resolution to the stories, it left me just feeling kind of sad for these lives that were lost and the years that were wasted.
I had super high hopes for this book because it is written by quite the power duo of YA authors. I really admire both Green and Levithan and was definitely curious to see how their styles would blend. Each author writes from the point of view of a teenage boy named Will Grayson. One of the Wills is kind of a crank-he has this giant friend named Tiny (giant in size and personality) and his life doesn’t suck, but he kind of thinks he does. The other Will does have kind of a sucky life-he’s gay and not out, he only has one friend who he doesn’t really like, and the best relationship in his life is someone online whom he hasn’t actually met yet.
The Wills live in different cities, and have different lives, but then coincidentally they meet each other and Tiny is the glue that is making everyone stick to each other and pull from each other.
There are some very empowering messages in here about love, friendship, and relationships. I especially liked seeing Tiny, a big flamboyant gay guy who falls in love all the time, being so confident in his sexuality. But overall I just didn’t love this book the way I thought I might. I definitely liked one Will more than the other and found one somewhat unlikable.
I read this a little while ago and it’s what started my current kick of thinking about pandemics and apocalypses. You’d better believe that I have a survival plan all mapped out in my head and what needs to be done first and what supplies are important to get. And when it comes to pandemics the key is isolation. So, this is a story about a pandemic that sweeps the country very quickly. What is especially interesting is that the main characters are a couple who’s been separated for a while, and he happens to be in the research field of avian flu pandemics. Although he is, therefore, one of the very first people to know about it it really doesn’t make a difference. The story is partly about the pandemic (so, horror and civilization shutting down) and partly about the estranged couple ending up sharing a house during this time. I found the woman fairly unlikable and kept thinking “well no wonder he left her”. Lots to think about in this story-how quickly infrastructure crumbles, survival instincts, compassion, and what you would do for your own child (or another’s.) Fantastic epilogue.