Friday, May 6, 2016
And though I only have six books to review, it's a tad longer of a post than usual because I had to rant about a couple of books.
It had to be done.
Without any further delay, here's what I read in March and April:
How to Start A Fire by Lisa Lutz—A story that follows the friendship of three women who meet in college. It's told in third person omniscient with a non-linear time frame. It's interesting, but the time jumps were, on occasion, hard to keep up with. I had to go back and forth through the book to help keep everything straight. The characters were complex and often infuriating, especially Kate and George. But yeah, it was an interesting and occasionally engrossing and other times maddening read.
The Passenger by Lisa Lutz—A story about a woman on the run. She's really an anti-heroine who does some immoral things, and there were times when I wasn't sure if I liked her or not. I kept reading because I wanted to know how it would end...and then I was kind of disappointed when I got there. So, not my favorite book, but I still think the author's great.
Jolissa: An Anti-Princess Story by Tara Tyler—A story about a young girl with a bad attitude who goes on a quest to find her dog, and ends up doing that and a whole lot more. This story is funny and imaginative. I really didn't see that ending coming, and I thought it was great. I really did. There's also a video storybook available on YouTube. It has songs. I love that. I'm looking forward to the next book in the Unconventional Princesses series.
Find Her by Lisa Gardner—The latest installment in the D.D. Warren series. I like D.D. Warren a lot, so I read everything in which she shows up. For the most part, I really enjoyed this novel. I had a hard time figuring out the end. It was not immediately obvious to me, which is not generally the case. I did not care for the villain monologue that took place toward the end. While reading it, I could only think of that Disney movie The Incredibles where the bad guy starts laying out his entire plan to the good guy, but then says something like, "Oh, look at that; you got me monologuing. Can't believe it." But that aside, there are parts of this that are incredibly engrossing and moving.
Between The Lines by Jodi Picout and Samantha van Leer—All right, so this book has inspired me to rant. Which means this will be long. And will include spoilers. Consider yourselves warned. Okay, so this is the tale of a terribly selfish/self-centered 15-year-old girl who discovers this beautiful fairy tale book in her school library which tells the story of a cowardly prince who goes on a quest to save a beautiful princess. She becomes obsessed with the book, reading it over and over until one day she notices a slight change in an illustration: a chessboard drawn in the sand on a beach. What? How could this happen? Well, I'll tell you: this is because the characters in the story, once the book has been closed, have a life that doesn't include the story. They may play chess, they may bake. There's a pirate who's a dentist. Whatever. You get the idea. When the book is opened, the characters are dragged back to their role in the story and are forced to perform it, like a play. This is not the part with which I have a problem. It's actually an interesting concept. Someone else should take a crack at writing it, though, because this story is a gigantic hot mess. Anyway, the girl, Delilah, and the oh-so-perfect handsome (British) prince, Oliver, discover that they are aware of one another, and that they can have real actual conversations, and that they have this deep instant connection because both of them grew up without a father. Here's the thing about that, though: It is stated that Oliver's father died the day Oliver was born, so he would have grown up never knowing his father. But later in the book it's stated that his storybook mother isn't really his mother—instead they're like two actors on a set who play mother and son, but aren't actually related. So why are we getting all precious about Oliver never knowing his fake father? But that's only part of it, because it is also stated that Delilah's father left five years prior when Delilah was 10. Delilah is now 15, so the majority of her life DELILAH WOULD HAVE KNOWN WHAT IT WAS LIKE TO GROW UP WITH HER FATHER. Anyway, it turns out that Oliver doesn't want to be in the fairy tale anymore because he's bored with having to do the same thing over and over again, and doesn't actually love the princess he's forced to rescue and marry every time the story is read. He wants to go out into the real world where he can live a real life and be a real boy. Because he's so dreamy and perfect and wonderful, Delilah decides to help him by stealing a library book (like the librarian wouldn't be able to figure out who had the book, as Delilah was literally the only student to ever check it out, and then did so repeatedly) and completely blowing off her supposed best friend to spend time instead with a two-dimensional (in more ways than one) fictional character. Together, Delilah and Oliver brainstorm different ideas to spring Oliver from the book. They do not work. At one point, Oliver is so desperate to at least be with Delilah that he has her painted into the story. This is when Delilah meets the mermaids. In the fairy tale, the mermaids are boy crazy. In the life outside of the story, they are not. They do not like men at all. Delilah calls them hard-core feminists. And now I must rant in all caps. JUST BECAUSE A MERMAID/WOMAN DISLIKES MEN, IT DOES NOT MAKE HER A FEMINIST, HARD-CORE OR OTHERWISE. A FEMINIST IS SOMEONE WHO BELIEVES IN EQUALITY FOR MEN AND WOMEN. IF ANYTHING, THE MERMAIDS ARE MISANDRISTS. MISANDRISTS ARE PEOPLE/MERMAIDS WHO DESPISE OR ARE STRONGLY PREJUDICED AGAINST MEN. Sigh. Okay, so where was I? Right. Delilah's still trying to get Oliver out of the book because he's so dreamy and beautiful and she loves him and can't live without him. (Blech.) She apologies to the best friend and promises to be a better friend (which she does not do, by the way, in this book or the next) in order to get the friend to drive her four hours away to the town where the author of the fairy tale book lives. Her plan is to get the author to rewrite the ending to something where Oliver gets to live in the real world with Delilah. The author's like, uh, no, but please come in and spend the night. Hey, here's my (American) son, Edgar, who just happens to be Oliver's identical twin because I wrote the story for Edgar when he was a young boy, and so I imagined Edgar as a teenager and based the illustrations off that. Good thing I was so spot on, right? So Delilah tells Edgar her sad tale, and Edgar decides to swap places with Oliver, and the book ends with Oliver in the real world, preparing to take the place of Edgar, while Edgar is in the fairy tale preparing to change the story into some kind of space-based video game tale. All without, you know, mentioning this to EDGAR'S MOTHER who will never notice that her son is a suddenly polite British kid who has no idea what a sandwich is (but does, for some reason, know what a fire extinguisher is. Which is good for fire safety, I guess, but not so good for continuity.) By the way, there's no real explanation of how this is even possible. It just kind of happens. Off page. And keep in mind, that all of this in being told in rotating POVs that for some reason alternate between three different fonts in three different colors. (The third color's black.) Why? Especially the three different colors. Why? Did they run out of black ink at the printer or something? Did they think the readers would be so confused by the shifts in POV that it had better be differentiated by more than just the character's name at the top of each chapter? Why? There are some very nice illustrations in the story, though. Those I enjoyed. I know there are many people out in the world who did enjoy this novel, but overall, this book was not for me. You know, in case I hadn't made that clear.
Off The Page by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer—Otherwise known as 'What Happens When Authors Write Fan Fiction For Their Own Stories.' This novel is the sequel to the book about which I just ranted. Yes, I read it because I have a horrible sickness to do these things, and also because I really wanted to know how the author (Jessamyn) didn't realize that her son had been replaced. And yes, I will rant some more. Unless I decide I'm just too tired from the first rant. But I probably won't do that. So, okay, at the beginning of this book, Oliver as Edgar (in his best American accent) has convinced his not-mother to move them to Delilah's town because their love is just so beautiful and pure and whatever, and the mother agrees because why not? Which, okay, is...whatever, but here's the thing: Oliver wants to get out of the fairy tale so badly so he can have choices about things, including the girl he's with. Then he gets out of the fairy tale, and he settles with the very first girl he meets. And can I just tell you, Oliver, I think you could probably do better. Delilah is the sort of character that makes you roll your eyes so damn often, you're surprised when they're still in your head by the end of the book. But sure. You two are special snowflakes. I'll go with it. So Oliver starts high school and is immediately popular and beloved by all clichés (yes, I know it should be 'cliques', I'm just making a point). He knows absolutely nothing about chemistry or math or how to use a locker, but fortunately they're reading Shakespeare in his English class. (Romeo and Juliet. Naturally.) And then, like, almost immediately, he's taking the SATs. Fine, you want me to suspend my disbelief about your special, perfect insta-love, okay. (Note: I have no real issue with insta-love when it's done well. It was not done well in this book.) But don't ask me to believe that a student can take the SATs without having registered for them ahead of time, and then spend the entire time filling in the little bubbles on the answer page in such a manner to create the most beautifully aesthetic design (he draws a dragon) and get a perfect score. No. No. No. No. No. I write and read fantasy, and that SAT nonsense is probably the most unrealistic thing I've ever read in a book. (Well, okay, fine, that's not true, but I'm amped up and ranting, so for the purposes of this particular rant, yes it is.) I can tell you for a fact that drawing aesthetically pleasing designs in one's answer booklet does not get one a perfect score on the SATs. Plus, isn't there an essay portion? What did you do for that, Oliver? Okay, enough about the SAT travesty. Meanwhile, back in the fairy tale book/Space opera, no one likes Edgar's new story, and he's sad and hates it there and wants to leave, but that would mean Oliver would have to go back into the story. Then, for some reason, Delilah's woefully neglected best friend gets sucked into the story. Then she gets out again, but not before she and Edgar experience some insta-love of their own. Then it is discovered that Jessamyn is sick with a brain tumor that made her think her son was an impostor (which, of course he is, but it's nice that she actually had a brain tumor, I guess?) and as she doesn't have long to live, it's decided that Oliver has to go back into the story so Edgar can be with his mother, so they switch places, and everyone's all sad, especially Delilah who's all, "I can't live without my boyfriend!" Ugh. Edgar and the best friend are sad because they can't be together because Edgar has to masquerade as Delilah's boyfriend because the entire high school thinks that Edgar is Delilah's boyfriend. Because they totally couldn't just stage a break-up. That would be ridiculous. But then, it's okay because Edgar decides that he and his mother will take the place of Oliver and his fairy tale mother because in the fairy tale, his mother would live forever. Oh Happy Day! And all the travel to and from the book is made possible by an overuse of Deus Ex Machina, and gets very repetitive and very dull. (Look! Another portal, just when we so badly needed one! Thank goodness we thought to look here!) So then Edgar and Jessamyn go into the book, and Oliver and his book-mother comes out, and Delilah and Oliver get to be together, and the book-mother bakes cupcakes, and everyone lives happily ever after. Except for Edgar and the best friend. But who cares, so long as the special snowflakes get to be together. Oh, also there's a needless subplot where the vapid princess from the first book is transported to the real world, and Delilah takes her shopping at Victoria's Secret because the princess has larger breasts than Delilah. It felt like it was added for the sole purpose of having Oliver be embarrassed by the concept of Victoria's Secret. And FYI, kids, Victoria's Secret is not the only place where one may purchase undergarments. And seriously, for a kid who is said to have not a lot of money, there are far cheaper places, too. Just saying. Also, stop it with the font color changes. Stop it, stop it, stop it. Another book that was not for me.
And on that note, I will also stop it, because that's the end of my list for this month. Tune in again next month when I will actually review some books that don't make me rant.
Thanks for stopping by. Enjoy your weekend, everyone!