July 28, 2009

The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson

The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson
Date Started: July 28, 2009 Date Finished:July 28, 2009

Summary: Nina, Avery, and Melanie have been friends for a very long time. During the summer of junior year, Nina goes off to a precollege at Stanford University for ten weeks. During that time she meets Steve, an ecowarrior from Portland, Oregon who was raised by three generation of hippies. While she's away Mel realizes her feelings for the opposite sex and her affections have transfered to her friend, Avery. The two girls start dating. When Nina returns, she feels left out and ultimately walks in on her two friends making out in the fitting rooms. Now Nina is caught in the middle between her two friends, Avery who is confused about her sexuality and Melanie who is sure about her sexuality but is too afraid to come out to her single parent father and her distant and status obsessed mother.

Likes: I liked this story and the different conflicts between the characters. They story was believable and bittersweet. The characters were also real people in my opinion and didn't seem like cardboard cutouts for the most part. Sure they were types, Nina being the hardworking A+++ student, Avery the cynical wise ass,and Mel, the unexpected lesbian (but for some reason no one seemed surprised). Johnson has alot of types in her story, but she gives them defining characteristics that seem more than the average types.

Dislikes: Johnson is a huge fan of roadtrip stories. In my opinion, it's starting to get a little predictable. It's interesting but it's starting to become a trope that Johnson often refers to get characters together and work things out. It's a really annoying habit that I hope starts to get phased out of her other works (which my email just informed me are currently available for pick-up.) because there are other ways of getting characters to talk things out. Other than that major pet peeve, there doesn't seem to be anything else that bugged me. Some of the storylines never seemed to go anywhere and never got any closure, which also seems to be the case in some of Johnson's other works. Sometimes there just needs to be another chapter to sum up the state of how things may be. 
Overall: I liked this book. It's a different type of story than Johnson's other works and it explores the dynamics of friendship more closely than her other works as well. It has a good ending, but it still needs a little closure. Instead of an ending, it seems like it's a new beginning. It's an interesting way to read a story and it's a refreshing and satisfying ending for the most part.

July 17, 2009

Rx by Tracy Lynn

Rx By Tracy Lynn
Date Started: July 17, 2009 Date Finished:July 18, 2009

Summary: Thyme Gilcrest is barely in the top twenty of the schools best students. To keep up, she steals a bottle of Ritalin from one of her friends and uses it to keep her focused on school work. She starts dealing to classmates in exchange for Ritalin to keep her from going through a withdraw. Senior year, she becomes the talk of the school, being invited to the coolest parties and ditching all her old friends

Likes: The characters are pretty interesting. The tone of the story is entertaining and the character's voice is interesting. I liked the concept of the story it was a fun read but it was a little bit on the strange side. It makes you think about what drugs could probably do in your life if you had access to them. And what the consequences are if you take them. It also makes you wonder how many people are hooked on prescription drugs. This story doesn't have a moral to it, even though the events to tell the story are a little heavy handed and over blown, the character doesn't learn her lesson, which is frustrating and a bit refreshing in a way. As a reader, I wasn't pounded over the head with the lesson "Hugs not Drugs" type of thing which was nice given the subject matter. It didn't read like a public service announcement.

Dislikes: This was a stagnant story. Nothing really changes from beginning to the end. The character never changes and never has a shocking revelation, despite all the situations that are thrown in for shock value. The bare bones of the story are non existent despite everything else that is wonderful about it, such as the tone and the characters. While I was reading I was wondering how I was supposed to be feel. I didn't feel sorry for Thyme because everything she did worry about (and subsequently the other Twenty students) was all superficial. I didn't feel saddened when Sonia committed suicide because she wasn't that important in the story. Suze's pregnancy and vague miscarriage wasn't striking because it wasn't specifically clear what happened and the way she got pregnant was stupid and irresponsible. All the things that were supposed to have an impact didn't impact the Thyme, the other characters (except for Meera), and didn't impact me either. I didn't know what to feel. I didn't feel sympathy, or empathy, or even understanding because a lot of the reasoning behind the situation didn't seem logical. I know teens aren't the most logical, but there were no consequences. Thyme never gets caught by the way, she almost does, but even then you know she won't. Everything ends so perfectly, it's annoying. 
Overall: All in all, I will say that I liked the book. It was entertaining, but it didn't have any depth. Nothing ever gets solved and the main character always manages to have the best luck. I wanted to see Thyme get in trouble for something, any little thing, but she doesn't and that doesn't make for an enjoyable read. The concept was interesting, but the execution needs(ed) a lot of work.

Burned by Ellen Hopkins

Burned by Ellen Hopkins
Date Started: July 15, 2009 Date Finished: July 17, 2009

Summary: Pattyn is the oldest of seven daughters from a religious but abuse family. Her father gets drunk and often beats their mother. Their mother stands by submissively because that is the woman's role in this particular religion. Pattyn starts to question herself and everything she's ever believed in when she starts dating a jerk named Derek. After having somewhat of a mental breakdown, Pattyn is sent to live with her Aunt in the wilds of Nevada. There Pattyn finds acceptance and love, only to have to return back home a few months later to a home even more chaotic than before.
Likes: I liked the story's format. It skipped all the frills and purple prose that we sometimes find in prose poetry. The story was straight to the point without dodging around the issues of sex, relationships, and other highlights in Pattyn's growth from sheltered religious girl to liberated woman. The characters were believable and the situation was very realistic. Certain parts were a little bit vague, but they didn't require a lot of detail.
Dislikes: The ending was sad and a little bit off. A part of me wishes to see what would happened had the story been allowed to play out for just a few pages more. A part of me wishes that it wasn't as sad as it should have been or could have been. It almost seems like the ending was done for shock value and although it was sad, it's sadness wasn't played up as well as it could have been. There just needed to be a little bit more to continue the story instead of leaving the reader hanging.
Overall: I really like prose poetry format. It's a bit refreshing to read and amazing for the clarity of thought and depth of story contained in such small poems. It's inspiring. At some point, I want to try my own hand at it. Ellen Hopkins is known for her prose poetry novels and the story Crank, was the first one. I believe I've read another one before, but I can't remember. I want to read the other two novels of hers as well.

July 15, 2009

The Realm of Possibility by David Levithan

The Realm of Possibility by David Levithan
Date Started: July 13, 2009 Date Finished:July 15, 2009
Summary: The story spans several high school students during their trials and tribulations of their relationships. Told through free verse prose poetry from the point of view of homosexuals, heterosexuals, bitches, goths, loners, and jocks.
Likes: Each different poem deals with a problem or triumph about one particular stereotype. It breaks most of the stereotypes of the groups by showing depth and character development through the eyes of the character and the eyes of the characters around them. Most of the time, the only way you know who the character is is by looking at the heading of the different sections. In the poems themselves, it barely mentions the name and it doesn't mention a set stereotypical group for that character. You only find out this information as the story is told and as the details are given to you. The only way you get these labels is through other characters. I enjoyed this aspect because it didn't fall back on the different tropes associated with different labels. Each character stands out as an individual, much like real life high school students do.
Dislikes: The story about the bitch. I like that she was trying to be different, but reading about people like that is never entertaining. It gets a little cheesy and sentimental at some points, almost to the point of being overdone. I wish there would have been an anime geek or a general nerd included in the narrative, but most of the characters were pretty unique and interesting to read about (aside from the characters I already mentioned.
Overall: The back of the book puts so much emphasis on some of the characters being gay. In the book, there isn't an emphasis on being gay or straight which is a relief. The story lets you suspend disbelief for a moment. I never thought that the situations presented in the story couldn't be real. For the two days that I read the book, the events were real and emotional at times (a little bit too much),but it didn't detract from enjoying the book as a whole. My favorite one was "The Gospel". We rarely hear from a religious perspective and when we do it's a negative perspective (or fanatical). This perspective was enjoyable and refreshing.


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