Friday, February 29, 2008


It looks like the March pick will be Dance on my Grave, by Aidan Chambers. Thirteen Reasons Why just showed up at the library for me, so I plan to chime in on that discussion sometime next week. The blog is sort of quiet lately. Anyone reading anything great/terrible, or know any interesting YA news? If so, please share with us! Do you have websites that you frequent to keep up to speed on YA? Also, it's not too early to think about April's pick. Some of us tossed around the idea of reading a classic in conjunction with more modern equivalents. Let us know if you have any ideas on that, or would like to suggest anything else (especially you folks who had wanted to read something other than just realistic stuff).

Monday, February 25, 2008

Two months on

So, look who's chiming in two months on. Sorry for the delay, but now that I'm caught up, I'll just comment on a couple of things that have long since been addressed.

Part Time Indian
The most striking thing to me about Part Time Indian, what kept running through my mind as I knew I was reading it by the suggestion of this group specifically, was the role that sports played in this book. Remember the discovery and discussion we had years ago on the artistic outlet of all YA protagonists? Was it device or coincidence or both?
Well, I've always taken issue with the villification of sports in YA books, (which is one reason that I was so pleased with Tangerine, as a matter of fact.) I was particularly encouraged then to see it used more symbolically/realistically/therapeutically in Part Time Indian. Then to see Alexie make reference to Tangerine later in the book - well, it was refreshing.

Was I reading YA books when I was YA?
My response to this mirrors Leo's almost exactly - the hating to read things for school at that age and choosing to read Stephen King and such, instead. (I think it was my form of rebellion, so in some weird way I was motivated to read, if only to show that I was "too grown up" for what they were feeding us in high school.) The books to which I was introduced in junior high school were GREAT, but then the high school list came, and I definitely thought I was ready for more.
I'm sure that this was a reflection of the era, as well. Being a teenager in the 80's, the YA books were few and far between and, (as the person who mentioned the mud room placement of her local YA books,) physically marginalized, as well, in the libraries and bookstores where I lived.

I definitely think that the recent and current boom in YA publishing, though, is totally market-driven. There is certainly more readership, now, as well as the tactic to cross-publish/cross-market, creating and maintaining awareness and insistence on the genre. I also think that the content itself is more accessible and familiar than what was out 15 or twenty years ago.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


Jump down a few posts to see suggestions, and leave suggestions, for our March book. February is flying by!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The White Darkness

If you haven't read The White Darkness yet, and don't want to know what happens, skip this post.

Okay? Okay.

I honestly don't have much to say about it beyond saying it was gripping, terrifying, but not really believable. With each step of Victor's plan, I kept thinking, really? He's really pulling all of this off? But once I let go of that factor, I gave in to the awful breakneck speed of the events and could hardly read fast enough, not so much to find out what happened, but to get it over with. The vastness of all of that endless snow and ice in Antarctica managed to feel totally wide open and endless, yet completely claustrophobic. I found myself not caring who died, or what they found or didn't find, but only caring that the book would end and I could get out of all that awful snow. So, good on McCaughrean for creating such a vivid and frightening setting.

At first, having not read the flap copy or even any reviews of the book, I had no idea what would really happen. I was certain there was something unseemly about Victor, but I really thought he was maybe molesting Sym or something. He came off as creepy right from the start, to me. With Victor taking Sym away from her mother to a hotel clearly set up for just the two of them, with Sym's need to clutch so tightly to Captain Oates when she needs to "get away", and with her poem on pages 90 and 91 where she says, "secrets hidden are all/forbidden," I just thought that was where it was going. When it quickly became obvious that Victor was totally insane, cruel, awful, etc, I found myself getting so frustrated with Symone. She never seemed as "slow" or "dumb" (for lack of a much better word) as she sometimes claimed to be, or was made out to be. So for her to repeatedly get swept up in Victor's plans, to continue to think of Victor as brave and herself as gutless and spineless, was so frustrating. Victor turned out to be such a monster; I was really gunning for Symone to brain him with that ice pick!

That's just lots of random rambling. I don't have anything especially critical to say about the book. I'm not even sure I could say that I liked it. It was certainly compelling and unusual. I'm interested to know what others thought.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Looking ahead

Though we haven't talked much yet about this month's picks, does anyone want to start throwing out titles for next month's book? If we come up with a few books to choose from, we can vote on them as we did last month.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

13 Reasons Why...

...I hated this book. Spoiler alert, as well, for those of you still reading it... I'm not sure I can muster the energy to come up with 13 reasons, so I'll go with the biggest ones:

  • Narrator who overreacts at every turn. (I ditched the book in the library's book drop the other day, so I will be creating some of the dialog from memory.) "Hm, I just got a box of tapes from a dead girl. I listened to 5 minutes of them. OH MY GOD WHY DID I EVER GET THESE TAPES???? WHAT CAN IT MEAN??? WHY AM I CURSED??? HANNAH, WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME???"
  • Bad writing. Don't even have any examples of this. Didn't want to keep it in my house.
  • Horribly manipulative main character - I'm still trying to wrap my mind around this: she's teased, she's groped...and she kills herself? I don't have a daughter (yet) or a son, for that matter, but what am I supposed to do with this? What kind of message is this sending - the subtext implies that the only path for Hannah is a permanent exit. Sure, a few teachers don't listen to her, which would be awful, but then she kills herself? Because the some of her classmates are sexist and bullies (although one does sound like a bona fide sex offender)? I'm not sure it hangs together logically (perhaps I've blocked Hannah's main motivation for suicide - I was just pissed at her more than anything for hiding in the closet during the rape scene) and if it does, it's a really disturbing message.
Ranting is fun. Although it does make me wonder if it's clouded my mind for any redeeming messages from the book. If you read it, what do you think?

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Update on Looking for Alaska

Click here for an article updating you on the situation with John Green's novel, Looking for Alaska, and the challenge it's facing in New York.