Saturday, June 22, 2013

Shorter Musings: Contemporary YA

Sometimes I read a book, and I even enjoy it, but I don't have much to say about it. I jot down a few thoughts and then I move on. Some of those are starting to pile up so I thought I would put them all together in one post.

Some recent Contemporary YA reads, one of which I LOVED:

The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle 
This is a well written and heart wrenching account of grieving and the process of moving on from tragedy. It is not a happy book to say the least, though it does have its lighter moments and the end is hopeful. It certainly had an effect on my mood when I was reading it, which says a lot for the strength of the writing. It is long and very character driven, there is little excitement in the plot. It is about a girl coming to terms with losing her family, being at peace with the person responsible, and making a new life for herself. I can't say I enjoyed it because it made me seriously gloomy, but I appreciate it what it for what it is. 

Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo
I really liked Amelia. I think she is genuinely teen in a world where too many YA protags are not. She is also smart and thinks about things. Chris I had a harder time with, and not because he was such a jerk loser sometimes. I love characters who are flawed, and he could have been a bigger jerk. At least he knew he couldn't and shouldn't fool around with Amelia. I guess my problem is I really liked him but wanted to see him realize he could do better for himself? He is getting there by the end of the book, but he has a looooong way to go. I couldn't help feeling he was a lot like Tom in The Piper's Son, but I respected Tom more. Maybe because he chose to face down his demons rather than run from them? One aspect of this book I loved was the discussions on gender roles and feminism. That part was fabulous. This should be required reading for every teenager for that alone.

The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller
So. Much. Fun. This is a wonderful, light, summer read. I had a hard time connecting with Maddie at first because I never really cared much about the whole popularity thing, and I thought she was a little over the top with her need to suppress what she really loved. Yet I felt sympathetic towards her and I love the whole world of this novel: the comic shop and the role playing. And I adored Logan in all of his nerdy awesomeness. It didn't hurt that he's a DJ. As my husband was an awesomely nerdy DJ when I met him this made me inclined to fall for Logan right along with Maddie. 

This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
I really enjoyed The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight and was looking forward to this. This is another attempt at the same sort of story: unlikely meeting, relationship that develops through communication rather than physicality, stressful family issues. It didn't work as well with this set up though. There was a little too much going on and at times it goes over the top. It is still a light fun read but not nearly as engrossing or engaging as I was expecting.  



Sunny Duvall said...

I agree with you for The Beginning of After! It was really gloomy and I appreciate that, but it didn't WOW me. Love and Other Perishable Items looks so great, I want to read it very much! I'm thrilled that the MC is actually teenager-like because like you said, not a lot are nowadays, unfortunately. The Summer I Became a Nerd certainly looks fun and I've been dying to read it! Great reviews :)

Brandy said...

Amelia is very typical teen, but the book does have mature situations because Chris is 21 and MESSED UP. Amelia is sort of oblivious to it all which emphasizes how young and naive she is. The book uses both points of view though so the reader isn't spared Chris's more questionable behavior.

I LOVED The Summer I Became a Nerd. So much fun.

Anonymous said...

I read the Aussie edition of Laura Buzo's book and I really liked it although I didn't fall head over heels in love with it like with other Aussie titles (like The Piper's Son, which you mentioned). The Summer I Became a Nerd seems like such a fun book, I should check it out. Sorry to hear that This is What Happy Looks Like wasn't as good as The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight (what is it with Jennifer Smith and long titles), that makes me less excited to read it.

Brandy said...

I liked Buzo's writing style, but Chris was so messed up I had hard time enjoying the story.

Yeah...This is What Happy Looks Like was more weighed down and less happy, ironically, than Statistical Probability.