Withering Tights (Misadventures of Tallulah Casey, #1)
Author: Louise Rennison
Publication Date: 6/28/11
Publisher: Harper Teen
Wow. This is it. This is me growing up. On my own, going to Performing Arts College. This is good-bye, Tallulah, you long, gangly thing, and hellooooo, Lullah, star of stage.
Tallulah Casey is ready to find her inner artist. And some new mates. And maybe a boy or two or three.
The ticket to achieving these lofty goals? Enrolling in a summer performing arts program, of course. She's bound for the wilds of Yorkshire Dales—eerily similar to the windswept moors of Wuthering Heights
. Tallulah expects new friends, less parental interference, and lots of drama. Acting? Tights? Moors? Check, check, check.
What she doesn't expect is feeling like a tiny bat's barging around in her mouth when she has her first snog.
Bestselling author Louise Rennison returns with her trademark wit, a hilarious new cast, and a brand-new cheeky heroine who is poised to discover plenty of opportunities for (mis)adventure! Review:
A new series from Louise Rennison
and, thank vati, it does not disappoint.
Talullah Casey is Georgia Nicolson's 14.5-year old cousin and an aspiring performer. She is lucky to have been accepted to a performing arts college Dother Hall for for the summer semester. Here she acquires new (mad) mates and surrenders herself to the wonders of theatre. What is disappointing though is that it turns out, Dother Hall is an all-girl school. How are girls supposed to enhance their love lives if there are no lads around? Will their sexual experiences remain limited to: getting her bottom felt at a bus stop (Tallulah); having her bra undone through a T-shirt by an unknown guy who ran right away on a bike (Jo); having her cousin put an ice cube down the front of her T-shirt and then offer to get it out for her (Vaisey); watching a boy wear her freshly-washed pants on his head (Flossie)? Luckily, some boy-toys emerge - there are Phil and Charlie shipped to the nearby Woolfe Academy to be taught how to become decent citizens, a local emo boy-band headed by a very-very bad cad appropriately named Cain, then there is an "older man" Alex, the list goes on... Let the summer of theatre and love begin!
I thoroughly enjoyed this romp. It might not be quite as hilarious as Georgia's books, but it still gave me a lot of laughs. Tallulah is much less flamboyant than her cousin, shier and more subdued, but has her moments. The mates are weird and funny, the lads are vair attractive but hard to understand, as usual.
On the negative side, the ending is very open. There is hardly any resolution to any love drama. And secondly, Withering Tights
is pretty much the same thing as Georgia's diaries. The setting and the players are different, but the plot is the same - boy troubles, lippies, body insecurities (non-existent corkers a.k.a nungas and knobbly knees - compare to Georgia's nose misfortunes), mad mates, and snogging experiences. But I won't complain, I love this stuff and I am ready to read about these adventures once again. And the theatre bits are a hoot too. I've always known artistic people were crazy, here is another confirmation.Withering Tights
is a great, very light, funny read. I am looking forward to the next book in this series. Have one request for Rennison though - can we get an update on Georgia/Dave relationship? After all, Lullah is G's cousin, she should know what's what, right? 4/5 stars
On the Bright Side, I'm Now the Girlfriend of a Sex God (Confessions of Georgia Nicolson, #2)
Author: Louise Rennison
Publication Date: Harper Teen
Blurb: Georgia Nicolson has started dating the Sex God (aka Robbie). So life should be perfect . . . except in Georgia's life, nothing is ever perfect. Her cat, Angus (the size of a small Labrador), is terrorizing the neighborhood. Her sister, Libby (who is slightly mad), hides her pooey knickers at the bottom of Georgia's bed. Then the Sex God breaks it off because she's too young. It's time for a plan. It's time for a Red Herring. It's time for Georgia to become a "heartless boy magnet!"
The only thing I am going to say here is that Dave the Laugh is the best boyfriend ever. I have no idea why, for so long, I thought the Sex God Robbie was a good choice for Georgia. Dave is a total dream boat...
...and yes, I know I am twice his age.
This snippet is for my present and future entertainment:
You can make a sort of nose sling out of pair of knickers [panties:]! Like a sort of antigravity device. You put a leg hole over each ear and the middley bit supports your nose. It's quite comfy. I'm not saying that it looks very glamorous. I'm just saying it's comfy.
It's not something I would wear outside of the privacy of my own bedroom.
It's a good view from my windowsill. I can see Mr. Next Door with his stupid poodles. He's all happy now that Angus has gone off poodle baiting in favor of the Burmese sex kitten.
Oh hello, here comes Mark, my ex, the breast fondler. At this rate he will be the one and only fondler. I will die unfondled. He must be coming home from footie practice. I don't know how I could ever have thought about snogging him; he wears extremely tragic trousers. He is looking up at my window. He has seen me. He's stopped walking and is looking up at my window. Staring at me. Well, you know what they say - once a boy magnet always a boy magnet. I'm just going to stare back in a really cool way. All right, Mr. Big Gob, Mr. Dumper. I might be the dumpee but you still can't take your eyes away from me though, can you??? I still fascinate him. He's just looking up at me. Just staring and staring.
Mesmerized by me.
Oh my god! I am still wearing my nose hammock made out of knickers.
Mark will tell all his mates.
He will now call me a knicker-sniffer as well as a lesbian...
Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging (Confessions of Georgia Nicolson, #1)
Author: Louise Rennison
Publication Date: Harper Teen
My mixed-breed cat, half domestic tabby, half Scottish wildcat. The size of a small Labrador, only mad.
Stupid underwear. What's the point of them, anyway? They just go up your bum, as far as I can tell.
Kissing with all the trimmings, lip to lip, open mouth, tongues ... everything.
Her dad's got the mentality of a Teletubby (only not so developed). Her cat, Angus, is trying to eat the poodle next door. And her best friend thinks she looks like an alien -- just because she accidentally shaved off her eyebrows. Ergghhhlack. Still, add a little boy-stalking, teacher-baiting, and full-frontal snogging with a Sex God, and Georgia's year just might turn out to be the most fabbitty fab fab ever!Review:
There are times when I just HAVE to read something to perk me up, something light and silly and mindless. Louise Rennison
's books always do the trick. It doesn't hurt either that this first book in Confessions of Georgia Nicolson
series is a winner of Printz Honor
, proving that even the silliest story about make-up, boys, and snogging can be written brilliantly. Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging
never takes itself seriously or tries to teach some kind of moral lesson. Instead, its only aim is to provide tons of fun; and the book succeeds at it every time I read it. I do not think there is any point for me to sing this novel any more praise to convince you to give it a try, rather, I will list some quotes here for you to see if Louise Rennison
's humor is your cup of tea.Thursday, October 15th
I wish I'd never started this snogging business. I feel like I've been attacked by whelks. I can't see Peter anymore. Why is he so keen on seeing me, anyway? I haven't had a chance to say more than two words before I am attacked by the whelks again. I can't go out with him anymore. How can I tell him though?
I'll make Jas do it.
Friday, October 16th
I just got Jas to dump Peter for me. I said for her to let him down gently, so she told him that I had a personal problem. He asked what, and she said that I thought I was a lesbian. Cheers, Jas.
Monday, October 19th
It's all around school that I am a lesbian...
* * *
Wednesday, December 2nd.
Dashing out of the house, Jas and I almost fell into Mark, waiting by the corner. Jas (big pal) said she had to run to her house first and she would see me at school. I went a bit red and walked on with him walking beside me. He said, "Have you got a boyfriend?"
I was speechless. What is the right answer to that question? I tell you what the right answer is... a lie, that's the right answer. So I said, "I've just come out of a heavy thing and I'm giving myself a bit of space."
He looked at me. He really did have the biggest gob [mouth:] I have ever seen. "So is that no?"
And I just stood there and then this really weird thing happened... he touched my breast!!! I don't mean he ripped my blouse off, he just rested his hand on the front of my breast. Just for a second, before he turned and went off to school.
What does it mean when a boy rests his hand on your breast? Does it mean he has a megahorn? Or was his hand just tired?
Why am I even thinking about this? No sign of Mark (the breast molester) when I got home, thank goodness.
Still, you would think if a boy rests his hand on your breast he might bother to see you sometime.
* * *
Sunday, February 7th
Got dressed in short skirt, then me and Jas walked up and down to the main road. We wanted to see how many cars with boys in them hooted at us. Ten!! (We had to walk up and down for four hours... still, ten is ten!!!)
Oh, how I wish I could tell I never participated in this last activity!4/5 stars
Cracked Up To Be
Author: Courtney Summers
Publication Date: 12/23/08
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Blurb(GR): Perfect Parker Fadley isn’t so perfect anymore. She’s quit the cheerleading squad, she’s dumped her perfect boyfriend, and she’s failing school. Her parents are on a constant suicide watch and her counselors think she’s playing games…but what they don’t know, the real reason for this whole mess, isn’t something she can say out loud. It isn’t even something she can say to herself. A horrible thing has happened and it just might be her fault. If she can just remove herself from everybody--be totally alone--then everything will be okay...The problem is, nobody will let her.Review:
So, I guess I just read these in opposite order…3…2…1. It’s hard to pick a favorite but this one definitely hits the closest to home. I don’t know why, but I had it in my head that Cracked Up to Be
and Some Girls Are
were going to be similar novels – like twin manifestos on the psychology of mean girls. Parker and Regina may both sort into the mean girl category, but they arecompletely
different, as are these two novels. I think that Some Girls Are
is a book about moving forward and away, but this book is about moving inward; it’s about going back to where you lost control.
Parker was popular, captain of the cheerleading squad, at the top of her class, and in a long term relationship with Chris, her male counterpart. Now she’s failing, drinking in school, and sabotaging her friendships. She may not even graduate. It all seems to relate back to a party last spring, but what really happened?
I may not have loved every character in this book, but I felt like I knew them all. Parker will probably be hard to sympathize with, but she’s nauseatingly familiar to me. I think that a large part of my teenage self was
Parker Fadley. Parker may be a gorgeous, former queen bee/cheerleading captain, while I…uh…wasn’t, but that really doesn’t matter. Courtney Summers has portrayed Parker’s inner self: her anxiety, her guilt, and her self-imposed exile with such complete definition that it doesn’t matter what her outer circumstances are. For me, it’s impossible not to relate to Parker.
The supporting cast is also completely well-defined. There are two boys in the picture, but I would never call this a love triangle. Both characters have moments of mature sensitivity and kindness, but Courtney Summers never shies away from letting them be realistic teenage boys – sex-obsessed idiocy and all. The insecure and bitter rival Becky still managed to tug at my sympathy.
If you love uncompromising reality in your contemporary YA’s, then you definitely need to check out Courtney Summers. Toward the end I had a few worried moments, when I feared that Parker would become a soft, repentant,healed
person, or that everything would get wrapped up with a big happily ever after for Parker’s new relationship. But I really should have known better. Summers stays true to Parker’s bitchy, insulting, defensive voice. The relationship isn’t a magic balm that’s going to heal all of her issues; only she can do that. And it’s going to take a lot of work. The ending is hopeful, but still stays true to reality. Perfect Musical Pairing
Fiona Apple – Fast As You Can
Fiona Apple: creating anthems for angry bitches since 1996.
Parker brings me so uncomfortably close to my former self that I had to choose something that I listened to as a 16 year old (probably while shut up in my room, hating myself and brooding). This song is a warning - get away from me before I screw you over.
Some Girls Are
Author: Courtney Summers
Publication Date: 1/5/2010
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Blurb(GR): Climbing to the top of the social ladder is hard--falling from it is even harder. Regina Afton used to be a member of the Fearsome Fivesome, an all-girl clique both feared and revered by the students at Hallowell High... until vicious rumors about her and her best friend's boyfriend start going around. Now Regina's been "frozen out" and her ex-best friends are out for revenge. If Regina was guilty, it would be one thing, but the rumors are far from the terrifying truth and the bullying is getting more intense by the day. She takes solace in the company of Michael Hayden, a misfit with a tragic past who she herself used to bully. Friendship doesn't come easily for these onetime enemies, and as Regina works hard to make amends for her past, she realizes Michael could be more than just a friend... if threats from the Fearsome Foursome don't break them both first.
Tensions grow and the abuse worsens as the final days of senior year march toward an explosive conclusion in this dark new tale from the author of Cracked Up To Be.Review:
Wow. Well, I can’t say that this was enjoyable. It made me feel uncomfortable, disgusted, and horrified. The ending, while maybe a bit
hopeful, was pretty bleak. But still I say, Wow. This is an extremely unflinching, harsh look at the twisted dynamics of teenage girl “friendship,” and a much more comprehensive picture of the mean-girl psyche than other one-note portrayals I’ve seen.
Regina Afton is the beta to Anna Morrison’s alpha in Hallowell High. She’s been the messenger, the lookout, the tormentor, the bully. She’s ruined the social lives of friends and enemies alike, all on the whim of Anna. But when she finds herself the subject of vicious rumors, Anna cuts her out, and she becomes the target.
It would have been easy to paint Regina as the unwitting accomplice, or the mean girl with a squishy soft heart of gold trapped inside, but the author never lets that happen. She challenges the reader with Regina’s rage, her spines, and her cowardice. Regina is a damaged girl, who really doesn’t know how to deal with her tormentors except through violence and revenge. It would also have been easy to write off Regina as a complete bitch, unworthy of sympathy, but that never happens either. This is a story about guilt and forgiveness, and about coming to terms with the ugly things that you have done.
It was extremely hard to watch Regina fall right into Anna’s hands, to be outwitted time and again. But it was her lack of flair that also gave me hope for her. I’m not sure that I believed, at the end, that Regina was going to be okay, or that the romance was even a healthy one. This book never takes the easy road; there’s no neat and pretty ending for these characters. I really respect Ms. Summers for writing it that way. It rings true, however difficult it is to read.Perfect Musical Pairing
Taylor Swift – Mean
I feel like this is exactly how mean girls are typically portrayed: oversimplified characters who exist to be torn down for everyone’s enjoyment (and what does that say about us?). So, this isn’t a pairing that fits right alongside its book; it’s more like a contrast pairing. Listening to this song just makes me realize how complex and thought-provoking Some Girls Are really is. This song, in all its simplicity, makes me like the book even more, and I say that that makes it about perfect.
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making
Author: Catherynne M. Valente
Publication Date: 5/10/2011
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Blurb(GR): Twelve-year-old September lives in Omaha, and used to have an ordinary life, until her father went to war and her mother went to work. One day, September is met at her kitchen window by a Green Wind (taking the form of a gentleman in a green jacket), who invites her on an adventure, implying that her help is needed in Fairyland. The new Marquess is unpredictable and fickle, and also not much older than September. Only September can retrieve a talisman the Marquess wants from the enchanted woods, and if she doesn’t . . . then the Marquess will make life impossible for the inhabitants of Fairyland. September is already making new friends, including a book-loving Wyvern and a mysterious boy named Saturday. With exquisite illustrations by acclaimed artist Ana Juan, Fairyland lives up to the sensation it created when the author first posted it online. For readers of all ages who love the charm of Alice in Wonderland and the soul of The Golden Compass, here is a reading experience unto itself: unforgettable, and so very beautiful.Review:
I am generally one for simple, blunt truth. My brain doesn’t like to decipher complex and ornate metaphors and I hate reading through layer upon layer of language. I’m usually just waiting
for the author to get to the point.
But then, something like this comes along and just makes me question everything that I thought I knew about myself. The writing here is highly imaginative and odd and funny and a bit absurd. It’s descriptive and clever and maybe occasionally just a bit fussy. But, all this shine and glimmer and show has some real substance underneath it. (And honestly…I liked the shine and glimmer most of the time. There isn’t one page of this book that I couldn’t pull a gorgeous quote from.) Ms. Valente certainly does
“get to the point” and the point is real, honest, emotion and a gorgeous coming of age story.
September is a twelve year old girl who finds her life dull and tedious, and so, when the Green Wind flows in one day with a flying Leopard to take her off to Fairyland, she goes without a thought. She doesn’t even spare a goodbye for her parents, who are both rather missing in her life anyway. In Fairyland she initially gets swept up in novelty and adventure, as she meets glorious new friends and takes on a random quest. But she soon realizes that all is not well: the Marquesse reigns, imposing strict taxes, restrictions, and bureaucracy on every citizen.
The similarities to Alice in Wonderland are evident, but this book also makes little nods to many other notable fantasy series. (And I seriously doubt Alice would ever fashion her own boat out of fairy drift-scepters and then sail it bald and in the nude.) The writing reminds me of Neil Gaiman, or I think that if China Mieville had a sweet, optimistic little sister she might write a book like this. However, even with all of these nods, this book feels inventive and original.
I do love fantasy that’s character-driven and relatable, but sometimes Ireally
crave fantasy like this: where everything is brand new. I want to think about what it might be like to be born half a person, or created out of soap. I want to imagine that I can have my courage cleaned and find a jacket that loves me and cares for me. I want to know what kind of adventures my shadow would get up to if we were ever separated.
But even with all of these oddities and inventions, this book has a strong undercurrent of the real. September’s growth and loss of innocence is so painful and so wonderful. I felt so much sympathy for Lye, left all alone without instruction, or Saturday, who must always be forced to submit. And I laughed with A through L, the stalwart wyvern-library hybrid. But the most affecting of all turned out to be someone I least expected.Perfect Musical Pairing
Joanna Newsom – Bridges and Balloons
“ We sailed away on a winter's day
With fate as malleable as clay”
That about says it. This song is so quirky and oddly beautiful. I think that it's about risking a horrible fate to go out and live and see glorious sights. And I think that “funny little thing” might be the perfect description for this book.
Podkayne of MarsAuthor: Robert HeinleinNarrator: Emily Janice CardPublication Date: 10/1/09Publisher: Blackstone Audio[Goodreads | Amazon | Audible]Blurb (GR):
Meet Podkayne Fries, a thoroughly Martian Ms. who thinks that Earth is not really fit for habitation and that humanity evolved on the now-exploded Fifth Planet
Paddy has one goal in life; to be the first female
starship captain.She has her strategy all scoped out, and with her determination, looks and I.Q. she'll get there, never you doubt!
But all work and no play would make Poddy a Dull Girl, so when a chance comes her way to travel to distant Earth to Venus witrh her elderly uncle, Paddy jumps at it, even if it does mean having her loathsome little brother along for the trip. Travel, Adventure, the chance to cuddle up (in a nice way) with real spaceship officers and ruthlessly pump their brains- she'll have it all!
What Poddy doesn't know is that "Unca Tom" is more than her warmly supportive relative: he is also the Ambassador Plenipotentiary from Mars to the Three-Planets Conference (travelling not quite incognito enough) and that certain parties will stop at nothing to gain control of his vote -including kidnapping and doing terrible things to sweetly innocent Poddy Fries....
Review: So this was a bit ridiculous. I listened to all five discs rather quickly, as it started out as a fun space story. Then suddenly I was on disc four and thinking to myself, "Sooo, nothing much has happened yet." This book is about creating a world, setting the stage for what could be a cool story about a future female space pilot and then having the main character talk herself out of her ambitions because childbirth and mothering are the most important aspirations for women in the world and blahbitty blah blah blah. Thanks, Robert A. Heinlein, I definitely needed the reminder of how women should act. In case you're reading this review and wondering what kinds of awesome tidbits the main character shares in her journal, they are statements about hiding your intelligence from men, never letting a man see that you are better at anything than he is, and accepting that you should never have aspirations that will hinder your ability to find a man and reproduce for the good of the universe.
This book hints at so many possible plotlines and they go nowhere. The actual plot/action doesn't even start to occur until at least halfway through, probably further. Heinlein hints at a possible romance; it goes nowhere. He describes a lot of planets and governmental structures; it's all irrelevant. He spends the first half of the book on a space journey; it has very little bearing on the overall plot. The book ends more abruptly than any I've ever read. Honestly, this felt like the first part in a serialized story. (Ha! I just looked it up on Wikipedia
and the book itself started out as a serialized story.)
Emily Janice Card did a good job voicing the teenage protagonist and her 11-year old genius brother. The side characters, including one or two with southern accents, were distinguishable, which isn't always the case in audiobooks. I do enjoy her narrations but unfortunately, I always keep thinking about her father's politics and it takes me away from the story she's reading. I know this isn't the case for everyone but it IS the case for me, even if she doesn't share the same beliefs. (I don't know one way or the other)
Skip this one unless you're a writer who is looking for a world that was created and then just disregarded. There are lots of ideas to be had here! 2/5 stars
The Treasure Map of Boys: Noel, Jackson, Finn, Hutch, Gideon—and me, Ruby Oliver (Ruby Oliver #3)
Author: E. Lockhart
Publication Date: 7/28/09
Publisher: Delacorte Books For Young Readers
Ruby is back at Tate Prep, and it’s her thirty-seventh week in the state of Noboyfriend. Her panic attacks are bad, her love life is even worse, and what’s more:
Noel is writing her notes, Jackson is giving her frogs, Gideon is helping her cook, and Finn is making her brownies. Rumors are flying, and Ruby’s already-sucky reputation is heading downhill.
Not only that, she’s also: running a bake sale, learning the secrets of heavymetal therapy, encountering some seriously smelly feet, defending the rights of pygmy goats, and bodyguarding Noel from unwanted advances.
In this companion novel to The Boyfriend List
and The Boy Book,
Ruby struggles to secure some sort of mental health, to understand what constitutes a real friendship, and to find true love—if such a thing exists.Review:
The fourth book in this series is most definitely my favorite, but it’s this one that really cemented Ruby Oliver into my fictional-soul-sister-for-life hall of fame forever and ever. In book two, Ruby was struggling to be a better friend – to be more considerate and thoughtful – while at the same time stand up for herself and respect her own feelings. But how far should she go in the name of friendship? How much should she sacrifice? It’s easier to see that line with frenemies like Kim and bad-news-boys like Jackson, but what about friends she genuinely cares about and wants to keep? How much of herself should she repress in order to do so?“And why was it that I had to lie to my friend in order to do the right thing by her? In order to be a good person, I had to pretend I didn’t feel the way I felt. Was that what good people did? Denied their feelings and acted fake?”
I think that this is Ruby’s book about taking a stand. It’s about recognizing her real
friends and saying goodbye to bad ones. And for the friends who lie somewhere in between, it’s about vocalizing all of her thoughts and grievances and feelings, and giving them a chance to respond. Maybe it will destroy the friendship, or maybe it will forge even stronger bonds, but either way it’s better than repressing everything. And I absolutely love that Ruby doesn’t ever get everything “right.”
Two of my favorite aspects of this series as a whole are Ruby’s parents. Ruby’s mom is a serial health-craze follower, performance artist, poor listener, and a loud mouth. Ruby’s dad is a specialty gardener, kumbaya-lover, emotional analyzer, and is generally irresponsible. They both make a ton of mistakes, don’t really get Ruby, and argue with each other at almost every turn. AND YET. And yet, they are both caring parents who have a healthy marriage. I love this passage from Ruby:
“ In life, there’s no happily-ever-after-into-the-sunset. There’s a marriage, complete with arguments, bad hair, lost hair, mentally unstable children, weird diets, dogs that fur up the couch, not enough money. Like my parents. That’s their life I just described – but then, there they were, talking on the phone about my dad massaging my mom’s groin area after yoga; cuddling on the couch; holding hands and wearing stupid Great Dane paraphernalia.
That’s all we can really hope for. In fact, I think it’s as close to happily-ever-after as things get.”
The ability of E. Lockhart to write quirky, hilarious, three-dimensional characters who I inevitably fall in love with is amazing!
Perfect Musical Pairing
Cyndi Lauper – I Don’t Want To Be Your Friend
This song is such an anthem! I loved seeing Ruby finally stand up and tell Jackson exactly how she felt. And the showdown at the CHUBS bake sale was hilarious! No more Ms. Passive Nice Girl, Ruby!
The False Prince (Ascendance Trilogy #1)
Author: Jennifer A. Neilsen
Publication Date: 4/1/2012
THE FALSE PRINCE is the thrilling first book in a brand-new trilogy filled with danger and deceit and hidden identities that will have readers rushing breathlessly to the end.
In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king's long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner's motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword's point -- he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage's rivals have their own agendas as well.
As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner's sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.
An extraordinary adventure filled with danger and action, lies and deadly truths that will have readers clinging to the edge of their seats.Review:
This book makes me want to put on my blandest Mr. Darcy voice and declare it “tolerable…but not handsome enough to tempt me
.” This book is fine. I think many of you will notice its exercise-brightened eyes and charming irreverence and fall for it. But for me, it was just okay.
If you’ve read any amount of young adult fantasy, you probably know where this book is heading just from reading the synopsis – or hell, even the title! I had a lot of hope that this book would go in an unexpected direction or bring something new to the table, but it didn’t. Of course I had to stick around for the ending just to make sure but hopefully I can now save someone else the time. If you think you know where this book is going, you probably do.
I have read other books (like Finnikin of the Rock
) that had predictable outcomes as well, but that one at least had gorgeous writing, three dimensional characters, and impeccable world-building to keep me satisfied. This book had none of the above. My friend Tatiana recently used the term “fantasy lite”
in one of her reviews and I think this book fits that label perfectly. The world-building is very simplistic and barely deserves the title “fantasy”: a vaguely historical setting with almost no real culture, religion, or background. There is some small mention of a conflict with a few neighboring nations that is never developed. The main character is an argumentative, willful, scrappy boy who’s discovered in an orphanage by a man looking to train and install a look-alike as king (a puppet king, of course). He talks back, he pretends to be foolish, and of course he’s so much more than he appears to be. In summary: he’s Eugenides-lite.
None of the other characters left more than surface impressions on me and I found it difficult to care about any of them. There is an attempt here at an unreliable first-person narrator that doesn’t quite succeed. Yes, Sage lies and pretends to be something he’s not, but the “little hints” about his true identity that are frequently dropped are so obvious that it’s hard not to get frustrated. And even his deception starts to feel illogical by the end. Why is he hiding who he is again? Why doesn’t he tell Mott? Or Imogen? Or Tobias? I can think of no reason except to possibly heighten the drama of his eventual reveal, which is so long in coming that I felt no excitement - only relief - when it finally came.
Additionally, any intimacy that I felt with Sage’s point of view is effectively ruined by two sections of the book that are written in the third person. Why? I can think of nothing that is gained by showing us those two scenes in the third person. Yes, there is important action going on while the narrator is not present and yes, his entrance is supposed to be a big, climactic scene so in theory it might be nice to be able to see it as a member of the audience. But when you’ve committed the entire book to Sage’s point of view, it feels glaring and alienating to suddenly be thrust into a third person perspective. There are also a few scenes where Sage “checks out” for hours at a time. His narration is allowed convenient lapses so that he may go off and do secret-secret things without the reader knowing about it. It all feels as if the author didn’t quite know how to negotiate between an intimate first person narrator and the number of secrets that she wanted to keep from the reader. The end result is a very obvious, distanced, boring narrative.
Wow. I thought that I was so-so about this book but apparently I disliked it more than I realized. I was originally thinking that even though I didn’t quite like it, it might still be a good recommendation for younger readers. But don’t young readers deserve to have great characters, world-building, and writing too? Why not read Finnikin of the Rock, The Thief, Book of a Thousand Days, Graceling, Crown Duel
, or the many other well-written young adult fantasy novels instead?2/5 Stars
Fly on the Wall: How One Girl Saw Everything
Author: E. Lockhart
Publication Date: 3/14/06
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Blurb: At the Manhattan School for Art and Music, where everyone is “different” and everyone is “special,” Gretchen Yee feels ordinary. She’s the kind of girl who sits alone at lunch, drawing pictures of Spider-Man, so she won’t have to talk to anyone; who has a crush on Titus but won’t do anything about it; who has no one to hang out with when her best (and only real) friend Katya is busy.
One day, Gretchen wishes that she could be a fly on the wall in the boys’ locker room–just to learn more about guys. What are they really like? What do they really talk about? Are they really cretins most of the time?
Fly on the Wall is the story of how that wish comes true.
I am a huge fan of E. Lockharts, but I have to admit, at first I couldn't quite get into this book. Maybe because of its artsy-ish tone - the heroine Gretchen Yee is a student at the Manhattan Art School, so everything about her (and for that matter everybody in the school) is art oriented and I can't quite identify with imaginative and artistic types. Or maybe because of a bizarre twist in the middle, when the story becomes somewhat fantasy-like - Gretchen finds that her wish of becoming a fly on the wall a boys locker room, quite literally comes true.
However the story really takes off (at least in my opinion) when we start learning about the world of male relationships, insecurities, secrets - the world which is a mystery to me up to this day. From then on the book is very hard to put down.
The major themes of all Lockhart's creations - facing difficulties instead of hiding from them, taking charge of one's life, and women empowerment - are very present in this book and delivered, as always, very well.
Another great book by E. Lockhart. Not my favorite of hers, but still worth your attention.