Apr 24, 2013

Gone Girl

It's hard to describe Gone Girl without revealing a major spoiler, however, that spoiler was part of a book blurb I read prior to reading this novel so I'm going to say it anyway.  I'll block it out so you can look at it at your own discretion : SHE ISN'T DEAD, SHE RAN AWAY AND STAGED EVERYTHING.


Gone Girl is the story of a husband, Nick, and wife, Amy, who would seemingly be on the fast track to divorce city if Amy hadn't suddenly gone missing.  Soon it is widely suspected that Amy was murdered at the hands of Nick.  Readers follow the story through alternating chapters of Nick's narration and Amy's diary entries (and later narration), two voices clashing against one another to tell their tales of courtship and marriage and defend their past choices.

I'll be honest. For about a fourth of the book I completely despised it.  I kept thinking that the novel was only reaffirming my love for children's and young adult novels (as you know, that's all I typically read these days), because this novel is just dripping with passive aggressive attacks and pathological blame for parents, family, wives, friends, EVERYONE. No one took responsibility for actions.  It also has a healthy helping of the typical "there's no hope for future happiness now that I'm almost a middle-aged adult" tone that plagues adult fiction (in my opinion).  I hated it.  But my friend Bridget had insisted I drop everything and read this novel (which I didn't do, sorry Bridget!), and Lord knows she has read every YA book I've insisted she read (thanks Bridget!), so I kept on going.


Because then the twist happens and makes it totally worth it.  You find out that maybe Nick isn't the most deplorable character of the novel (he's still terrible - an incredibly misogynistic and passive aggressive man) and it turns into quite a thrill to see who will come out on top as the most psychopathic and who will get knocked down in the process.  Post-twist, the passive aggressiveness and blaming still exist in large quantities, but become much more palatable as they play a larger role in the plot.

I will admit that some of the language got tiresome, but that's a personal taste reflective of my preference for children's and YA lit (although they can get colorful with the language too). Was it all necessary to the plot? Mostly, so I'll let it slide.

All in all, extraordinarily developed characters and unreliable narration make Gone Girl a lot more than your standard thriller novel.  If you haven't already read it, do what Bridget advised me to earlier: drop everything and read it now.

Apr 22, 2013

Code Name Verity

The other day I was thinking of how I would describe this novel.  That led to me dreaming about doing a review of this sung to the tune of "Super Bass" by Nicki Minaj: This one is for the girls with the history fix/turn pages and see truth and lies mix.  Unfortunately (read fortunately) that's all I can remember. What's odd is that I didn't even like this novel that much, so I'm not sure why I'm dreaming up reviews.

A pilot (Maddie) and a spy (Queenie), best friends during WWII, crash during a mission and the spy is captured by Nazis. Tortured as a prisoner of war, she agrees to betray the British war effort.  The novel is her confession (and often apology to her side) about what she knows.

I can see why Elizabeth Wein's Code Name Verity receives a great deal of praise (a 2012 Printz Honor book for starters), but it didn't grab me the way I had hoped.  Without spoiling the novel, there is a twist to events, but it comes far too late in the game.  As the Queenie entries progress, they start to feel repetitive. Does it make sense after the fact? Yes, but for me it tended to drag on enough that I was openly stating "come onnnnn" to the novel as I was reading.

But it is adventurous, clearly researched historical fiction with an element of girl power, so it definitely has an audience out there amongst young adults.

Apr 19, 2013


Living in the midst of the heartache and craziness that has been Boston, I couldn't bring myself to blog anything this week.  But tonight I'm so thankful that law enforcement officials were able to bring the remaining suspect into custody and bring this mess closer to an end.  Here's to all the men and women who keep us safe!

P.S. Celebrate safely! I think the Boston PD deserve a break!

Apr 9, 2013


Auggie was born disfigured as the result of a medical abnormality, forcing him to undergo numerous surgeries and often leaving him physically ill.  His face is deformed to the extent of causing extreme discomfort when around strangers. As such, he has been home-schooled his entire life.  But his parents believe it is time for him to interact with other people and enroll him in school.  Wonder is the story of Auggie's adjustment to "normal" life and the reactions of his family, friends, and schoolmates.

The book begins with Auggie's perspective and almost right off the bat he tells the reader that he isn't going to describe his appearance.  Granted, from other perspectives we get some semblance of what he looks like, but that denial of information made me immediately love this novel.  It's the story of what happens to him, not what he looks like.  While what he looks like obviously impacts what happens to him, the omission defines the focus as his journey.

A student pointed out to me that she loved that the language was simple, but that the it carried deeper meaning.  I agreed.  The innocent 5th grade perspectives, and even the older perspectives of Auggie's sister and her boyfriend, reveal deeper truths about the world in which they live.

Not that I shy away from books with long chapters, I will say that I enjoyed how Dan Brown short some of them were.  I could go grocery shopping and listen to about 10 chapters and feel incredibly accomplished.  That's one of my favorite things about audiobooks - the ability to multitask. 

This book has been added to my permanent list of quick pick books to recommend.  Go read/listen to it.  Now.

Apr 2, 2013

March Madness: The Winner

And the YA Series March Madness winner is unsurprisingly:

Needless to say, I'm thrilled with the outcome.  Mr. Potter won't compete in next year's tournament, essentially guaranteeing a Hunger Games victory in 2014.