Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Book List Update

So I've been doing a lot of reading. A lot. Which is good - I feel most centered, most inspired, most thoughtful when I've got lots of good literature bumping about in my head. But apparently I'm a fast reader, burning through about a book a day (unless the book strikes me as potentially life-altering, in which case I purposefully slow down to savor the words a little more). Which makes keeping up with reviewing them a little difficult. I finally decided I'd just jump in and do quickie one-paragraph reviews.

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
Good. Not quite as good as I thought it was going to be - I got lost about halfway through, gave up trying to solve the mystery myself, and just read for pleasure from then on - but certainly a good old-fashioned mystery novel. Loved the ending. :) If I were the sort of person to write out diagrams and charts while I was reading, I probably would have adored this book, but the truth is, I'm just not. The characters are easy to love and relate to, though, and the style is fun and engaging to read.

The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan
I enjoyed this book, not particularly because of the writing style (Riordan isn't really my cup of tea) but because of the premise and the overall "just plain fun" factor, teamed with just a hint of slightly ridiculous hilarity. :) While I find these books slightly overpriced (I acquired mine through after seeing that they were more than $12 at Target!), they're fun reads, reminiscent of Lemony Snicket's "Series of Unfortunate Events." Clean, fun.

Impulse by Ellen Hopkins
Not for the faint of heart, Impulse is an often dark, sometimes redeeming, always heartbreaking novel written in free-form poetry (similar to Helen Frost, who I adore) about three adolescents who find themselves in a psych ward after attempting suicide. The good: I was surprised by how exquisitely this novel is crafted, the form lending itself perfectly to the content, and by the excellent development of the characters. Hopkins also takes care to give her readers a sympathetic glimpse into what it feels like to experience bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, etc.
The bad: this novel is gritty. The things that drove the characters to their suicide attempts - sexual abuse, destructive behaviors, addiction, mental illness - are explicitly and frankly brought into the novel, and the language can be offensive at times. I felt the ending was too "stylized," so much so that it almost undid the admiration I had for the book throughout.

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