Wednesday, 19 June 2013

First Day on Earth

First Day on EarthFirst Day on Earth by Cecil Castellucci
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"We are all in the gutter,
but some of us are looking at the stars."
- Oscar Wilde

Beautiful, short, but thoughtful, novel. First Day on Earth tackles the subject of alienation - both literal and metaphorical - as well as abandonment, belonging and... space travel. The protagonist, Mal, belongs to Alateen, as well as a support group for alien abductees. A complicated life. There's also enough teenage kick in this book to gain the interest of most YA readers.

I would have liked to have seen the resolution with Mal's father issue handled in a more complex way. Other than that, the novel makes the reader deeply empathize with Mal's heartbreak.

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Monday, 17 June 2013

Lost Cause

Lost Cause (Seven, #2)Lost Cause by John Wilson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Love the concept of this series. A grandfather leaves his seven grandsons specific tasks and adventures in his will.

LOST CAUSE concerns Steve discovering his grandfather's involvement in the Spanish Civil War. The book does a great job at weaving in historical facts and ambiguities. I would say that is a good choice for a reluctant readers, except that sometimes I found the writing a bit patronizing.

The series could be used for literature circles, as well as research on the contexts and locals of each novel.

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Wednesday, 12 June 2013

The Rehearsal

The RehearsalThe Rehearsal by Eleanor Catton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women are merely players;”

So it seems in Eleanor Catton’s dazzling debut novel, The Rehearsal. “What am I?” one of the characters asks. The question of identity is explored in the intersecting plotlines involving a high school sex scandal, an acting institute, a burgeoning lesbian relationship, and lost love. It would be interesting to teach this book to girls in high school, especially since an all-girls’ academy is the primary setting. The desire to protect teens may not be the best thing for them. As the saxophone teachers says wearily to one of her student’s mothers:

[R]emember that these years of your daughter’s life are only the rehearsal for everything that comes after. Remember that it’s in her best interests for everything to go wrong. It’s in her best interests to slip up now, while she’s still safe in the Green Room...Don’t wait until she’s out in the savage white light of the floods, where everyone can see.

Catton’s novel is tightly written and keenly observant. She describes one student, a loner, as being “too bright for the slutty girls and two savage for the bright girls, haunting the edges and corners of the school like a sullen, disillusioned ghost and pursued by frightened vicious rumours that she is possibly probably gay.”

The structure is fantastic and experimental, just like a good teenage-hood should be.

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