Some shorter musings on books I've read recently.
Booked by Kwame Alexander
I'm so sad that this was incredibly disappointing to me. I LOVED [book:The Crossover|18263725]. From the moment I finished it, it was my choice for the Newbery and I was so excited when it won. Maybe my expectations for the follow-up were too high, but I think it was more of a case of this being rushed and having a different agenda other than magnificent storytelling. The first poem is laughably bad. Terrible rhyming picture book about soccer level of bad. After that the poems improve somewhat, but it doesn't have the rhythm and flow I was expecting. It's more verse for the sake of being verse. It's exactly the sort of verse novel I don't like.
Some other things that bothered me:
*It's in 2nd person. NOTHING keeps me further away from a character than 2nd person narration. It is never a good idea to use if you want rounded real characters.
*There is a lot of book title dropping that is why too much *wink wink nudge nudge*. It's like the intended audience is librarians rather than children.
*There is an ultra cool hip librarian dude and I could write a fairly long rant about this trend in books but let me just say in this case it just had me rolling my eyes. Dude didn't even contribute anything substantive character or plot wise.
*Way too much of a deal was made about this random box thing the librarian had, and I honestly could not have cared less about what was inside. Alexander failed to make me care or show me what the motivation was. And then he pulls a trick with that at the end that actually made me laugh because I think I was supposed to be moved to curiosity or passion about what was in it, but I my reaction was more along the lines of "what a dumb way to end this book, who cared about that box?".
I think this will circulate well no matter what. Kids who love <i>The Crossover</i> will want to read it. Others will want to try it because it is a short quick read with soccer. Alexander definitely has an inspiring way with students too so promoting his work is never a bad thing. This far from being the best example of what he can do as a writer though.
An Inheritance of Ashes by Leah Bobet
This is an excellent fantasy that takes a look at the aftermath and impact war. It is after the great heroic battle with evil is fought and men are coming back from the front (or not). Victory is never as easy as just winning. Bobet uses fantasy elements and excellent characterization to show how war can haunt those who fought it and those left behind. At its core it is a story about growing up, family, and community. I highly recommend it.
The Pages Between Us by Lindsey Leavitt and Robin Mellom
I was so excited when I stumbled upon this in the new arrivals section of the library. I typically love Lindsey Leavitt's books. I also typically love epistolary novels. This is should have been right up my alley. It is a wonderful concept. Two best friends find themselves only sharing one class in their first year of middle school so they exchange a notebook every day, writing back and forth about what their thinking and feeling. As they begin to try new things and make new friends, their friendship faces challenges. It is an age old story, but there is always room for a new one as new middle schoolers face this problem every year. The issue with this book is about 150 page too long. Many of the journal entries are rambling and could have used more editing. There will still be an audience for this book, but I was hoping to like it more myself.
A Tangle of Gold by Jaclyn Moriarty
This was awesome. I'm not going to write a full review for the blog as it is the last in the trilogy, and so much of what it is great about it depends on an understanding of A Corner of White and The Cracks in the Kingdom. Now is a good time to read the whole thing all at once since. It is well worth it. For already fans of the books I will say that I was quite satisfied with the conclusion and felt like it was perfect for the story Moriarty has been building all along. Not everything is perfectly wrapped up, but she does it in a way that is satisfying and still leaves room for the imagination to take over. (No ponderous details Epilogue! No Epilogue at all! YAY) It also contained a delightful moment where I was able to pump my arm in victory and yell, "I KNEW IT!" (Except I didn't really because Moriarty never made obvious and gave me enough cause to doubt myself that I was never completely sure.) There were plenty of twists and turns. My favorite part of the book though is that the plot involves a true split between Madeleine and Elliot for the first time. They both go through dark hard times but don't have the strength of each other's voices in the night to depend on. But I love how Moriarty uses that in the end. That power that's always existed between the two of them. How their voices in the dark mattered to them and both their worlds. Basically the book was everything I wanted it to be and some things I didn't even know I wanted but loved anyway.