Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Leftovers Audiobook Review

Title: The Leftovers
Author: Tom Perrotta
Narrated by: Dennis Boutsikaris
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Publication Date: August 30, 2011

Listening copy via library

This isn't YA by any means, although older teens might be interested in it because of the upcoming HBO television series.

I was interested in it because I grew up in a house where the Rapture was a given and I wanted to see what Tom Perrotta did with it.

What he did with it was to make it clear right away that it isn't the Rapture. Some people, readers as well as characters, may argue otherwise, but I think Perrotta wants this to be SOMETHING ELSE.

SOMETHINGE ELSE is more challenging than the Rapture because there's no Biblical guideposts for what happens next, no Mark of the Beast, no Anti-Christ, no Apocalpyse.

SOMETHING ELSE means life will go on, pretty much as before, if you can get over the loss.

And that's what the story is really about. Loss. How people cope, or don't cope, with losing something. Could be losing your whole family. Could be losing a way of looking at the world. Could be losing a future you thought you knew.

There's social commentary and there's even humor, but the pervading drive of the story is people choosing how to deal with their loss. The main characters center on the Garvey family, none of whom disappeared in the Sudden Departure, but all of them cope with the disappearances in vastly different ways.

Dennis Boutsikaris gives a pragmatic, almost casual, reading, which underscores the everydayness of the lives' of the characters. Because even after 2% of the world's population disappears, the trashcans still need to put out on the curb.

Full Disclosure: I have a friend who worked on the HBO show.

Also: If the HBO show does take off, I have already have prediction for how the series ends. (Are you listening, Damon Lindelof?) There's another Sudden Depature. Cue end credits.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Save the Enemy Book Review

Title: Save the Enemy
Author: Arin Greenwood
Publisher: Soho Teen
Publication Date: November 12, 2013
ISBN-13: 978-1616952594

288 pp.

ARC provided by publisher

I think the marketing department got this one wrong. If you look at the cover, you'd think it's an intense thriller. But, really, it's a comedy.

Zoey Trask is a senior at a private school in Washington, D.C., but she's the New Girl, and she's also the Tragedy Girl, since her mom was recently murdered during a mugging. She has a younger brother who's a somewhat high-functioning autistic and a kooky libertarian dad. She's crushing on cute boy Pete and wondering if she'll get into Berkeley when her dad is kidnapped. The kidnappers are demanding the J-File, although Zoey has no idea what that is. Except her brother has been getting messages in his dreams from their dead mother that help might explain what and where the J-File is.

That synopsis sounds like a thriller, right? But Zoey has an oddly snarky tone, and kidnappers are oddly inept, and even the fight scenes are oddly comical. It's definitely a comedy posing as a thriller. Marketing should have gone with a cover similar to Ally Carter's Gallagher Girls series and they would have done a better job of finding their audience.

If you go into this thinking it's a straight-up thriller, you're going to be annoyed by Zoey's ongoing inner monologue. But if you like snarky, oddball girls who are as worried about what to wear to a party as they are about their kidnapped dad, then Save the Enemy is for you.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Peanut Book Review

Title: Peanut
Author: Ayun Halliday
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade
Publication Date: December 26, 2012
ISBN-13: 978-0375865909

216 pp.

ARC provided by publisher

Peanut by Ayun Halliday is a graphic novel about a girl transferring to a new high school and who decides to fake a peanut allergy.

Why? Because she's the new girl. Again. And a lie gives Sadie a chance to create a persona that fits in. Really, the lie could have been anything, but Sadie thought a peanut allergy would be easy enough to fake. Except it's not.

Sadie uses the lie as an opening to talk to others at her new school and finds a group of friends, including cute boy Zoo. She's fitting in and getting comfortable. And that's when the problems start.

Her friends are more vigilant about protecting her from her allergy than she is and the school's nurse hounds her for medical information. Sadie wants to come clean, but she's afraid she'll lose everything.

Peanut is a funny, savvy look at the extremes teens go to when they're unsure of themselves. The artwork by Paul Hoppe is clean and contemporary. The pop of color in Sadie's clothes in the otherwise black & white illustrations is a nice touch visually, as well as thematically, as it literally sets her apart.

The dialog is realistic for teens, which means there are insults and bad language.

I'd recommend Peanut to readers who enjoyed Smile by Raina Telgemeier or Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol.

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