I’ve been slacking on my posts SOOO much, and I guess it’s time to rectify that. Sort of. I normally post a review after every book I read…however, as I am now more than just a handful behind, I’m taking the cheaty way out and smushing them all together in one big, I-can’t-even-remember-the-details-anymore, MEGA-review.
P&P graphic novel – Oh man, I don’t even remember reading this! All I remember is how slutty the sisters look in the comic which seemed entirely un-Jane Austenesque (although even ol’ Jane may have depicted Lydia that way!). I guess it’s a fair adaptation of the classic, designed to bring the story to giddy teen girls (and perhaps lusty teen boys?), but I really didn’t like it much.
Away by Amy Bloom – This is the story of an Jewish immigrant girl newly arrived in the U.S. She escaped from pogroms in Russia (I think) and is struggling to make her way. She becomes a paid concubine of a father-son duo of theater owners, but must later leave them when she is informed that her little daughter, presumed dead, may have survived the brutal attack on her family. Lillian’s travels to find her daughter bring her to stowaway on trains, use her body as currency with an African-American hooker and her pimp, and stumble upon isolated children during the brutal Northern winter. Overall, the novel is SAD. I read it for my book club session we were supposed to have several months ago. I refrained from posting about it then since I always like to go to the meeting first (what can I say? My book club members’ insights ALWAYS make me like the book more!) Except then book club got put off, and I forgot nearly everything else about this one. Overall, I guess, it just didn’t make a lasting impression.
The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult – It’s strange, but for 80% of this novel, I was sure I’d read it before. It’s about a young Jewish girl who befriends a former Nazi and…well, you can sort of guess the rest. She is a troubled girl who has lost much of her family to tragedy (for which she blames herself); the former Nazi guard is essentially her only friend even though she is actively trying to have him prosecuted for his crimes. Her grandma, an Auschwitz survivor and the storyteller of the title, plays a role by perhaps being directly mistreated by the guard in question (which was a bit too convenient for me). Although not her typical ethical-dilemma-which-leads-to-a-trial sort of novel, this one left me feeling a little let down. I just don’t feel this novel breaks any new ground for this topic or for Picoult as a writer.
The Host by Stephenie Meyer – This one was a reread for me. My recollection was that it was better than the Twilight series, although slow to start. A parasitic alien race has taken over the bodies of nearly all the humans on the planet, essentially killing them while allowing them to still appear alive. In this case, host Melanie does not die when the silvery alien named Wanderer is implanted into her skull; they struggle to share the same body and emotional attachments to the rebel clan Melanie belongs to. I enjoyed this one during the reread and am anticipating watching the movie version when it comes to Redbox. Fun and fast-paced.
The Test by Patricia Gussin – This one was free on Kindle a few weeks back and seemed to follow an interesting premise: old rich guy dies but feels he has not instilled the proper morals in his many children. His will holds their inheritances hostage until they can pass a test one year following his death. The story holds up fairly well while showing how his family copes with this challenge; unfortunately, toward the end it gets a little ridiculous when the author tries to add REAL hostage, thriller/stalker-type twists, an AIDS complication, and several inexplicable, unexpected deaths. At that point, I checked out.
The Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman – I had high hopes for this one and it’s been on my TBR list for awhile. A childless, lighthousekeeping couple, isolated off the coast of Australia, finds a dead man and a living baby washed up on their beach. After some soul-searching, they decide to raise the infant as their own. Upon returning to the mainland for a rare visit, they discover that the loss of the baby has ruined the life of the child’s distraught mother (duh! Did they expect her to be fine and all right with this???). The two must decide whether to keep their beloved daughter or return her to her rightful home. Before they can truly decide, their epic lie is found out and the child is removed. I found the parts detailing the isolation on the island and the couple’s ethical questions fascinating; I found the legal bits and the eventual resolution tedious and trite.
The Boy in the Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis – This is a short novel which kept being “recommended” for me by my Kindle and Goodreads because I read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series. I’ve had it on my Kindle unread for awhile because I anticipated it would be for me what even the idea of Sarah’s Key is to Kelley. However, it was NOT what I expected. It starts out as a story of random child-trafficking when a young kid is drugged, stuffed in a suitcase, and then hidden in a train station locker for pickup. The kidnapped boy’s mother is understandably upset when she wakes up in the hospital with her son missing, but to complicate matters, her story is discredited because of her outrageous blood alcohol content (even though she claims not to have been drinking). A social welfare advocate gets involved and rescues the child without realizing the implications this will have, which is probably the only thing that made the story bearable to me (because if something terrible had happened to that suitcase boy early on, I would have had to be done). I hate to give spoilers, but basically, this kidnapping wasn’t random: this particular child has been stolen for medical reasons. That twist did help the plot of the story move along a bit, but then I got bored. I really can’t even remember how this ended…
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan – I picked this one up at a yard sale in pristine, hardcover condition. That should have been the first sign of trouble (because who gets rid of a good, umblemished, hardback???), but unfortunately, I ignored the warning.The fact that I’ve been on the waitlist to check this out for months at my local library and the fairly cool title, made me think this must be a great book. IT IS NOT. It is derivative, predictable, zombie fiction. It reminded me of a watered-down teen version of The Passage. Not cool. AT ALL.
1984 by George Orwell – In my quest to catch up on some classics this summer (see tomorrow’s scheduled post), I kept this out of the book crates when packing up my classroom. It seems groundbreaking as ever on reread, but less shocking now that I’m older and more well-read than I was when first reading Animal Farm and 1984 in high school. Still, the concepts behind thoughtcrime, Big Brother, doublethink, and Newspeak are lasting ideas that linger in our culture for a reason. Worth the belated reread.
Starters by Lissa Price – Another digital library loan, this one recommended by my aunt. This was a clever dystopian teen read that I actually enjoyed. It begins after a “genocide virus” kills off the human population minus those children (Starters) and elderly folks (Enders) who were deemed most at risk and who had time to be vaccinated. Essentially, this leaves a whole lot of homeless orphans as well as a disproportionate number of wealthy, healthy old people (hmm, I wonder if only the rich could GET the vaccine; there seem to be no old poor folks). Anyway, the old folks who now live upwards of 200 years, start renting out the bodies of impoverished teens in order to participate in the activities their decrepit old bodies can no longer sustain. The narrator, a Starter who discovers that some of the teens’ bodies are being stolen for permanent use by the Enders, also realizes her body is being used as a tool in a murder plot. An original, interesting read and the beginning of a series. While I liked it, I’m not sure I’ll pursue any sequels.
Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure by Suzanne Anderson (DNF) – Another Kindle freebie. Perhaps because I just finished Night with my students in May and then read Away and The Storyteller, I was just not in the mood for this. I left it as DNF at 50% because while significantly different than those, I just couldn’t get through another Holocaust story. I hope to revisit it later.
It’s kinda sad. After all these, I kept wanting more. I guess I’m just wanting to read something more satisfying and not finding anything that fits the bill. I’m in a reading rut.