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review 2015-12-30 02:51
Simon vs.The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda - Becky Albertalli

By far my favorite book I've read this year. I'm experiencing an amazingly wonderful book high right now and cannot stop smiling. Simon Spier's narrative voice is so distinct and it's impossible not to fall in love with his character, as well as his friends and family.  If you're looking for a feel-good story, please consider giving this book a chance.

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review 2014-10-28 00:43
Naughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman
Naughts & Crosses - Malorie Blackman

How have I never heard of this book until a few weeks ago!? The madness!!!!


Naughts and Crosses is a heart-wrenching tale of young forbidden love and how two people who grew up together and think they know everything about each other are still bound to societal pressures to behave and act in a certain way.  Sephy and Callum have been best friends since childhood.  Callum is a "naught" and belongs to an oppressed class of people who were enslaved for many years while Sephy is a "cross" and the daughter of a wealthy politician.  As Callum and Sephy grow older and their attachment progresses to something more meaningful, they must face their own biases and make tough decisions that go against society and their family's beliefs.


There are other books that have attempted to reverse the race discussion and failed miserably (i.e. white people belong to an oppressed minority while black people are the ruling majority) - usually because the context of the story is so unrealistic or implicitly racist.  However, Blackman pulls it off and the reason the story is effective is because many parallels are drawn from the history of slavery and imperialism in the world in which we belong.  Yet, there are enough differences given to the reader to make Sephy and Callum's world feel distinct and plausible.


My one teeny tiny criticism of this book is that it's literally defined by blackness and whiteness.  It's a tad bit too simplistic.  The book mentions biracial characters but it's more of a glance in passing than an actual exploration of characters who don't fit neatly into the definition of "naught" or "cross."  Perhaps other books in the series explore this issue more in depth, but I view it as a missed opportunity to add a bit of complexity to the discussion.  I also found it slightly irritating that women in this book are portrayed exactly as they are in our world, which is powerless and slightly dim-witted.  The female characters were either preoccupied with mothering, shopping, getting wasted on a daily basis, reading gossip magazines, or too busy flirting with a boy to focus on their vigilante activities.


Despite these criticisms, I enjoyed this book immensely.  I think it is a thoughtful commentary on civil and human rights and could be used effectively by educators to engage in discussions with young teens and adults about racism, education and poverty.  I wish this book was publicized more because it's a worthwhile read.  I wouldn't have found it had it not been for other book bloggers and social media.  I hope I can read the next book in this series soon!


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review 2013-11-12 02:00
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Fangirl - Rainbow Rowell


I love Rainbow Rowell. 


I could waste a tremendous amount of time pulling out passages I loved from Fangirl, such as this pop culture reference:


“Reagan was sitting up at Cath's desk when Cath woke up."
"Are you awake?"
"Have you been watching me sleep?"
"Yes, Bella. Are you awake?"


Or this description:


"But even small things seemed to irritate Wren - the way Courtney wore heels with jeans, or the way she thought "boughten" was the past participle of "bought."


Rowell's use of humor and sarcasm is simple, but effective.  Many authors fail miserably in this area by writing "funny" passages that sound completely unnatural and cliched.  Rowell understands how to balance humor with serious moments, which made Cath's college experiences that much more believable. 


Cather - wow, I feel sorry for that girl.  Not only because of her unfortunate name, but also because I completely relate to the intense level of anxiety she felt as she attended college for the first time.   I graduated a few years ago and I'm in the process of changing my career.  Change, no matter what form it takes, is terrifying. 


Cath's solution to her social struggles is to pretend the world doesn't exist and lock herself in her dorm room to write Simon Snow fanfiction.  Of course, her passion for writing fanfiction gradually bleeds into real life, creating some serious personal and academic conflicts.


For me, the weakest part of the story was the fanfiction itself.  I'll admit I skimmed some of the Simon Snow material.  However, I enjoyed seeing how Cath's love for writing fanfiction impacted her relationships, particularly with Wren, Levi, and Reagan.  The stuff involving her parents was okay, albeit melodramatic.  Why are most fictional parents absent, crazy or drunk?  WHY????


Anyway, the characters in this book were brilliant and possessed distinct personalities.  With the exception of a certain self-serving asshole character, they will all have a special place in my heart.  The romance in this book is also very sweet, although somewhat chaste for a college relationship.  Still, I'm happy with the end result. 


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