Wednesday, April 17, 2013
O is for Other!
I'm terrible at keeping up with how we're naming genres and categorizing books these days--I know I should stay better-informed, but since I read a lot of different kinds of books, I don't feel like I need to track things too closely. I tend not to do "creature" books (vamps, mermaids, werewolves, fairies/faeries, etc.) but I will if there's a really good reason (like how I'm definitely going to get around to the Wolves of Mercy Falls series at some point, because MAGGIE.) Other than that, any old thing might grab me. So here are some of the tougher-to-categorize books on my all-time favorites list. (Looking at all three of them together...perhaps the category they fall into is "dementedly wonderful.")
Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Holy mackerel, this book did a number on me. I mean, on the one hand, it is funny. Kami, Rusty, and Kami's dad in particular made me smile, laugh, and occasionally interrupt whatever Mr. S was doing to read out passages that made me audibly snort.
And then, on the other hand...Kami and Jared. I can't think of another relationship that I've felt this strongly about since the January I read both The Time Traveler's Wife and the His Dark Materials trilogy and spent the whole month crying hysterically. (And that was...seven years ago? So, I mean, this is Really Saying Something.) Like Clare and Henry and Lyra and Will, Kami and Jared have a deep but problematic connection. For their entire lives, they've been inside each other's heads. Each thought the other was imaginary...until they come face to face with each other at seventeen.
I don't want to say too much, because this story is so well-told that I don't want to spoil a second of it. I will say that in addition to fiercely loving and rooting for Kami and Jared, I adored the supporting cast (which contains my new favorite ship, btw.) I loved the quaint, creepy town--and I loved the fact that when the first big revelation came, it was very matter-of-fact and felt simultaneously shocking and obvious: yes, of course that's the truth. Why would anyone be surprised to learn that? (Never mind that I was frothing at the mouth, dying to find out what it was just the page before.)
And then the ending. Ok, how to do this without spoiling ANYTHING AT ALL. Um, it made me feel lots of feelings. LOTS of them. But I won't tell you what kind. Just read it, ok? Seriously. Read this book.
The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire Legrand
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Calling all middle school teachers: this book may be the world's greatest Halloween-time readaloud. The writing just begs to be read aloud, with a style reminiscent of Roald Dahl and an action-packed ending that surpasses even his supreme creepiness. There is one chapter in particular that ends with a revelation that I know would have had my sixth graders from last year FREAKING OUT. Now, maybe you don't want a readaloud that will make kids jump out of their seats and scream and fall down on the floor (I promise you that's what would have happened if I read this to my former students) but those are my favorite moments. This book is SEVERELY creepy and a lot of fun to read. Just a tip: don't read it over meals. Or in the dark. Basically, you want to sit in the middle of a bright, uncluttered room, where you won't have any reason to think you see anything moving out of the corner of your eye. But definitely find a room like that, because you want to read this creeptastic story of shiny, perfect Belleville, and shiny, perfect Victoria Wright, and what happens when her skunk-haired, messy, musical friend Lawrence disappears into the shiny, perfect Home run by the shiny, perfect Mrs. Cavendish. [Spoiler Alert: not everything is as shiny and perfect as it seems. But you probably figured that out from all the roaches sprinkled across the margins of the pages and throughout Belleville.] Now is the perfect time for a delightfully, revoltingly horrifying read like this one--check it out!
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
You know what they say about books and covers and not judging? Yeah. That. I know a lot of people loved this cover, but it just never grabbed me. I did, however, love Libba Bray's Great and Terrible Beauty series, and also her response to the Soundalike Book Awad Debacle this fall, so when I saw a signed copy of Beauty Queens at Books of Wonder, I decided it was worth adding to my collection. And then I sat down at the store and started reading it, and discovered that it was absolutely the funniest thing I've read in ages, and also makes a lot of really important, spot-on points about what we expect from girls and women. There are some stylistic choices that feel more like adult literary fiction than YA, which I think are great--footnotes and interjections from The Corporation--and if you're not used to that or into it, this book might take some getting used to. That kind of stuff isn't always my favorite, but Libba Bray just has the best, most twisted sense of humor and she made me love it. I can't really categorize this--there's sharp satire and social commentary, there's action-adventure, there's some steamy scenes, and there's a ton of glitter. What's not to love?
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