Sunday, April 29, 2007

Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson

There is a saying that one event can change you look on life and for Tyler Miller that event is when he spray paints the side of his high school declaring the superiority of the junior class. He forgets the red can of spray paint and his wallet. He gets arrested and gets probation along with community service, which he spends doing lawn work and putting tar on the school roof over the summer. When his dad picks him up from the school on the last friday before school starts, that is when he catches the eye of Bethany Milbury, the Alpha female of George Washington High.
Tyler's dad works for Bethany's dad, and Chip, Bethany's brother, has hated Tyler since middle school. His dad thinks that he will cause trouble so he warns Tyler to behave when they go the Milbury's. At a business party at the Milbury's Chip pushes Tyler into Bethany who then knocks into the servers carrying glasses of champagne. The glasses break and Bethany gets cuts on her feet and has to be taken to the hospital. A few weeks later around Halloween there is this big bonfire and then a party at Josh Rawson's house. By the time Tyler gets there Bethany is really drunk and they go to a room and she wants him to have sex with her, but he won't because she is totally wasted. The next day the police come knocking because someone took nude photos of Bethany and posted them on the internet. The police believe that it was Tyler because he was alone with her at the party. School becomes hard to get through and its decided that Tyler should be isolated from the rest of the students. He is brought his homework and assignments by his teachers each day. It gets to the point where Tyler thinks that it would be best for everyone if he wasn't around at all. He contemplates running away and also committing suicide, but does not go through with either. He stands up to the principal and says that he is going back to his classes and won't be isolated anymore. He also stands up to his father, who has been telling Tyler that he is nothing but trouble ever since he got arrested.
A fast paced book (took me a few hours to read), and a good and interesting way of telling how twisted someones life can get when you make one bad choice and the repercussions of that choice.
T.B. 5/1/07

Friday, April 27, 2007

An abundance of katherines by John Green

This is Green's second book to gain recognition. Collin, child prodigy, clueless socially has dated 19 Katherines since 4th grade. He thought the last was the real deal, but she dumped him as she headed off to college. He has a close friend Hassan, also a misfit, who drags him on a road trip to help Collin recover from being dumped yet again. Lest you think 19 girls in nine years is not possible, think again. If you think 19 named Katherine is impossible, I just met a guy who dated 6 linda's in four years! While on the trip Collin tries to work out a theorem that will tell him whether he will be a dumpee or the dumper next time and how soon. The guys stop at a small Tennessee town and are hired to help with a local history project. The rest is history and its a good one including romance for both guys, and a wild pig hunt. Readers of Sleeping Freshmen, Saving Francesca are sure to like it.

Magic or Madness by Larbalestier

This is the opening book of a fantasy series that takes place totally in the present time. Magic is real as main character Reason finally accepts by book's end. Material can be influenced to become a beautiful, beautifully fitted piece. Money can be produced from nowhere. And doors act as portals from one place to another. Characters in this story that know how, step from summer time Australia to winter time New York City. Reason does not know yet what her magic can do. She has been on the run with her mother for 15 years. With her mother's descent into madness and hospitalization she is forced to live with her grandmother Esmerelda from whom she and her mother were trying to escape. Meeting Tom, the fifteen year old boy next boy who trusts Mer and J-T who is under the control of an evil man helps Reason accept magic rather than run -and her experience running helps her to help J-T escape the evil man who just happens to be Reason's grandfather. If you have magic, you either use it and die young or you go mad. The choices are not great, but Reason is hopeful that with Mer's training and her own intelligence there is another way and not drinking the magic from others as her grandfather does. Reason's adventures in this story are fast paced and fun. It will be interesting to see what she and her friends do with their magic in future books. Magic Lessons and Magic Child follow.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Project X by Jim Shepard

Based on the previous books I blogged regarding school shootings, I was asked to read and review Project X by Jim Shepard. While the other books dealt with the aftermath of a school shooting and focused on the victims, this book dealt with the events leading up to the shooting and the shooters.
Edwin and his best friend Flake are in the eigth grade and have the attitude that they hate life and everyone is against them, which seems to be the case. Their attitude gets them in trouble at school and they end up beaten up more times than they deserve. This culmunated to the point that they can't take it anymore and decide to take action and shoot up the school. Edwin, the narrator is more of a passive character. He does not go out and pick fights, but yet he gets into them. He tries to mind his own business, but that doesn't mean he avoids backtalking in class. True, his teachers are against him which seems a little more dramatic than realistic. It's hard to tell if he cares about anything because one moment he's bonding with his brother, and the next he's passive towards his family. Come the final moment, the shooting, his passivitiy takes flight as he's thrown into another situation where he doesn't have enough ambition to perform.
The characters all seemed flat. Part of this comes from the fact that Edwin tells the story and as an eight grader, his insights are limited. There's no description and the main characters are barely, if ever, developed. I think you're supposed to sympathize with him, but I found him annoying. As much as he hates life and believes the world is against him, he thrives on it seeing as he doesn't take any action to change it. Everything, though, seemed very minimal and underdeveloped. There could have been a stronger portrayal of his struggles of his emotions whereas I just saw him as a whiny kid that even I wanted to beat up. The book clung too much to the stereotypical school shooter as abusive and negative and I personally would have like to see it expand beyond that and to create a character I cared about, a character I wanted to come ahead and get justice for his ill-treatment. Seeing as this focused on the shooter, I wanted to be on his side (as bad as that might sound but he's the character I'm supposed to be connecting with). Sadly, that didn't happen.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Swimming in the Monsoon Sea By: Shyam Selvadurai

This novel takes place in Sri Lanka were monsoons are frequent. Amrith who is fourteen is being raised by his Aunty Bundle, and Uncle Lucky. Amrith 's parent's both died in a motorcycle accident. Amrith thought his summer would be boring, but his cousin from Canada arrives, and activities begin. Niresh the cousin from Canada has many ideas for the cousin , and he to do. Amirith informs the cousin from Canada that most people in Sri Lanka have no washing machine, but must wash their clothes by hand. There's a woman that launders the family clothes once a week

The two cousins became closer than brothers. They wanted to be together all the time.
The cousins went to the beach one day on an outing to Kinross, where the sea had huge waves due to the monsoon. Not only were the waves huge, but the current was very dangerous. The boys were very cautious in swimming that day.

Throughout the novel it is written so the reader comprehends the differences between the social, and cultural customs.

Sri Lanka is a fairly foreign country to me. What I am trying to say is, I have never studied this country in depth. The novel is quite fascinanting once you read it.

4/9/o7 LRD

Friday, April 06, 2007

Breath by Penni Russon

It has been 6 months since Undine has discovered that she has magical powers and also met her biological father Prospero. At the begining of her last year of school, she has a great boyfriend and is very happy with her life. A few weeks into the school year Undine receives a letter from her father to have her come visit her. At first Lou, Undine's mother, doesn't want to go, but Undine convicences her to let Undine go. As the day draws near Lou decides that it will be good for the whole family to go to Greece. While they are in Greece, Undines neighbor Trout agrees to watch their house. He was almost killed 6 months ago, but Undine saved him. He also loves her, but she doesn't love him back. A few days before Undine's family leaves he meets Max, the person he chatted with six months ago about Undine's magic ability. She convinces him that she needs to find Undine, and also her magic. They go to Greece and Max dives into the ocean and finds the magic, but when she touches it she is also hurting Undine. Trout rescues Max, and at the same time gets told that his father has had a heart attack. He goes to visit his father and then Max who tells him that she has given up searching for the magic.
I enjoyed this book and its a nice sequel to Undine. It does leave you hanging at the end and I hope there is a third book soon.

T.B. 4/6/07