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review 2016-12-14 23:31
A thoroughly engrossing story, that's not too angsty to be realistically convincing.
Exit, Pursued by a Bear - E. Russell Johnston Jr.

Book Title:  Exit, Pursued by a Bear

Author:  EK Johnston

Narration:  Jorjeanna Marie

Series:  Stand Alone

Genre:  Contemporary, Realistic Fiction

Source:  Audiobook (Library)

 

⇝Add to Goodreads⇜

 

⇝Buy at Amazon⇜

 

Find my full review including video at Leah's Bookish Obsession

 

 

 

♪♫MY PICK FOR BOOK THEME SONG♫♪

 

Cheerleader by OMI  --for Pauly and Hermione…here's to friends who always got your back.  All the lyrics don't fit, of course…but the chorus is right on. ♫

 

 

 

 

⇝Ratings Breakdown⇜

 

Plot:  4.8/5

Characters:  4.5/5

The Feels:  4.5/5

Addictiveness:  4.8/5

Theme:  5/5

Flow:  5/5

Backdrop (World Building):  5/5

Originality:  4/5

Book Cover:  5/5

Narration: 5/5

Ending:  5/5  Cliffhanger:  No

 

Will I read more from this Author?  I have read two of her books now, so it's probably safe to say that I would.

 

 

 

 

 

⇝My Thoughts⇜ 

 

 

 

I found Hermione's attitude to be enlightening.  With an excellent cast of secondary characters and of course, Pauly, her amazing best friend.  I never felt forced to listen to this, I wanted to.  Narration is very well done by Jorjeanna Marie, I think she nailed Hermione. 

 Being a Cheer Mom, I was drawn to the Cheerleader aspect too.  I personally don't know of any high school co-ed teams, but my daughter assures me that they do exist.  Besides, the setting is Canada; maybe they only have co-ed teams???   Can't say I know much about Canada, other than it's mostly right above me, geographically…oh…and it's freakin' cold.

 

 

⇝Sex Factor⇜ There is a rape, but it's not graphic.

 

 

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review 2016-12-14 19:26
Star Wars Ahsoka - E.K. Johnston

I love Johnston’s books and I love Star Wars, so this seemed like a natural fit! The take on the universe, the aftermathy kind of story, was really interesting to me, and I liked the look at everyday life and resistance. This is about what happens when you lose the war; it seems unfortunately apt at the moment. Also, Ahsoka’s relationship with Kaeden and the way that played out seemed like a story I haven’t seen a lot of, in a way that seems realistic and true to the characters.

Source: bysinginglight.wordpress.com/2016/12/14/november-2016
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review 2016-07-26 02:36
Review: Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston
Exit, Pursued by a Bear - E.K. Johnston

Initial reaction: I am most definitely in the minority of opinions surrounding this book. Having said that, "Exit, Pursued by a Bear" definitely has its heart in the right place and I think had the intention of being an inspiring read with a protagonist who, in the aftermath of her rape, faces life with much conviction and purpose to not allow the experience to define her or what she wants. That's awesome, I have no contention to that since every person's experience with coping with the aftermath of being raped is different.

What I did have contention with is the fact this narrative seems to gloss over some really important issues that occur with Hermione's experience. Plus, one does not need to convey strength or purpose in the aftermath of a horrific event by putting down other reactions - even measures of grief - to such events. There's no one definition of "normal" or "strength" when it comes to discussions of experiences like this, and I feel like the narrative contradicted itself on a number of occasions. Unfortunate, because I think this book could've been even more of a powerhouse for impact in detailing the individual experience of this character. *sighs*

Full review:

"Exit, Pursuit by a Bear" is a loosely based reimaging of Shakespeare's "A Winter's Tale" (more like some characters and references are made to the original play, but it's really its own story. "Exit, pursued by a bear" remains one of my favorite turns of phrase for stage direction though from Shakespeare's plays). Hermione is a young woman who is the peppy, energetic leader of her cheerleading squad. She seems to have an attentive (if a bit pushy) boyfriend, great friends and family surrounding her. Things take a fateful turn after one night when Hermione is drugged and raped - left by a nearby lake at the camp in which her team's competition takes place. She has no memory of what was done to her, and while she has something of a quirky personality and ability to distance herself from horrible things, she fights against having her life defined and maligned by her rape and the spiral of events that follow in the aftermath of it. It really has more ties to Shakespeare rather than Veronica Mars, and I'm thinking the only reason the Veronica Mars comparison comes about has to do with a very pertinent plot point that was a part of the series and Veronica's experiences (and how she was able to open up about it). People who have seen the series probably know the plot point I'm discussing, but Veronica Mars (as a series) had far more time and care taken to develop that conflict than this book chose to delve into. So it's a very odd comparison, to be quite honest.

I was really taken into the story to begin with. I liked Hermione's confident personality, I liked the descriptions of the cheerleading and I loved the supportive friendship between Hermione and Polly. But after a certain point, the quality of this book took a very sharp decline and decided to rush things to heck and back, particularly dealing with some of the repercussions and events that happened after Hermione's rape. I was left disappointed by how the narrative chose to deal with the overarching conflict surrounding Hermione's rape - on numerous levels - and even found myself offended by the suggestions made by the narrative in this measure.

No two people have the same experience and dealings with the aftermath of rape. It's wrong for people to try to box reactions as to how someone will feel after any form of sexual assault. Some may feel more hampered by the weight of their grief, sending them into a spiral from which they may not recover from considering they know their rapist quite well (see Amber Smith's "The Way I Used to Be"). Some may know their rapist and gradually come to terms with acknowledging that not only it happened to them but they find a way to reveal that to their family, friends, loved ones after much hardship (see Laurie Halse Anderson's "Speak" or Courtney C. Stevens "Almost Normal"), some may find themselves the subject of ridicule among their peers and community members from the harmful effects of rape culture (See Aaron Hartzler's "What We Saw", Alina Klein's "Rape Girl", Courtney Summers' "All the Rage" and "Some Girls Are"). There are also narratives that deal with childhood sexual abuse (Barry Lyga's "Boy Toy" and Elizabeth Scott's "Living Dead Girl.") There are also rape narratives that deal with what happens when a friend or family member is accused of rape and the complex emotions that come with recognizing the reality of that (Jenny Downham's "You Against Me").

But in addition to those narratives (notice I'm being inclusive and not excluding these different types of stories, many of these cross in focus if you find yourself perusing the narratives), you may also have a scenario where a young woman makes an attempt to cope with the aftermath of her rape by pushing forward against the pain and reaffirming the things that maker her life worthwhile - by focusing on things that help her keep control of the things she wants her life to be about against the pushback of others who seek to define and demean her experiences. By establishing control over the things she knows, loves and can make sense of. This should've been the story of "Exit, Pursued by a Bear" - at least that's what it seems to aim for. There were places in the narrative where I distinctly saw this and thought it worked for the novel. Sadly though, this narrative actually worked more against that focus than anything else, and there are moments when I was truly taken aback by how it plays into harmful narratives that actually demean those who are coping in the aftermath of sexual assault. The reason I say this is because there are times when Hermione subtly undermines those who feel grief or "fall apart". In that the book sends mixed messages - if you're willing to accept that people think and feel differently in the aftermath of rape and sexual assault, then why establish such a stringent definition of the push towards "normal"? Why diminish the experiences of people who DO fall apart after this experience? To me - it really doesn't make sense.

Instead of establishing Hermione's experiences as being worthwhile in itself and as a part of the different narratives of rape/SA survivors, it instead undermines the myriad of narratives by creating an ideal or best scenario where the conflicts aren't necessarily dealt with, where Hermione's struggles aren't necessarily dimensional for the way they're presented. It's one thing to consider weighing the balance of her emotions at times (which this narrative does considering she doesn't remember the rape, but she still feels the weight of grief in places), but it's another to glide past them by not having her really think about them and recognize the weight they have. Sure, she's doing what she feels is best for her, but it doesn't fully take on the weights and pushes past them without so much in the measure of recognition.

I think "Exit, Pursued by a Bear" is worth reading providing another narrative voice and experience in the aftermath of rape/SA, but I feel disappointed by the way the narrative started off with promise only to really shortchange the discussion by the nature of its presentation. I feel like it could've been a stronger, deeper, and more inclusive narrative in the aftermath of reading it.

Overall score: 3/5 stars.

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review 2016-07-16 17:39
A curiously told reimagining of Arabian Nights…
A Thousand Nights - E.K. Johnston

Book Title:  A Thousand Nights

Author:  E.K.  Johnston

Series:  Stand Alone

Genre:  YA, Fantasy, Retelling

Source:  Kindle E-Book (Library)

"There is a fire in my sister," I said to him, "and I did not want you to have it."  --Hmmm...she has some fire in her too...

 

Ratings Breakdown

 

Plot:  4/5

Characters:  3.5/5

The Feels:  4/5

Addictiveness:  First half -2/5, Last half -4/5

Theme:  4/5

Flow:  2/5

Backdrop (World Building):  3.5/5

Originality:  4/5

Book Cover:  5/5

Ending:  4/5 Cliffhanger:  No

 

Will I read more from this Author?  I'm not sure...

 

 

3.8/5 STARS

 

My Thoughts

 

It was at the 80% mark that I realized no one had names in this book, except Lo-Melkhiin, but that could have been a title for him, and Sokath, His Eyes Uncovered (yeah that's what he was called every time).  Even the main character, the girl, does not have a name, other than Sister or Wife.  Everyone has a title (like brother, sister, or mother) instead of a name…it was all very odd…

 

The writing style in this book is less than desirable for me.  I struggled at the beginning…but then somewhere along the way, I found this story's flow and was more and more interested in where it was going.  Ultimately, I'm glad I stuck with this until the end, because it kind of blew my mind just how beautiful it really was…

 

Sex Factor:  None, hardly even a mention…

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review 2016-04-22 22:04
A fan-fucking-tastic re-telling of The Winter's Tale
Exit, Pursued by a Bear - E.K. Johnston

***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato

This was not my first book by Johnston. I read A Thousand Nights last year and even though I didn’t love it, I fell in love with the author’s writing style so when I heard about this book, I KNEW I WANTED to read it. Little did I know at that time that it was a re-telling of The Winter’s Tale (which I recently read for the first time in my Shakespeare Lit class.) When I found out that that is what the author was going for, my excitement to read the book soared and I really wanted to see how the author would adapt the play into a YA novel.

My verdict is that this book passed with flying colors and everyone needs to read it NOW. I would say that it is more inspired by the play than an actual re-telling but at the same time, the author does an amazing job of incorporating elements from the play and using them to tell her very own story.

So, this book deals with serious issues like rape and pregnancy and in my opinion, the author does these issues justice. Hermione is one of the best female leads I have ever come across. Her strength and her realness endeared her to me. I realize realness is such a vague term but it’s really the only way I can describe her. This book doesn’t present readers with a romanticized version of rape but rather one that is more realistic. The main character is detached from her experience and hates how she is changed by something she cannot even remember. How everyone around her is treating her as if she is fragile and breakable.

One of my favorite things about this book is the way the author writes the relationships. Hermione’s relationships with the people around her are amazing! There is obviously not anything easy about her experience, especially given the rumours going on about her and the way she is casted as an outcast because she is the ‘raped and pregnant’ girl. She has a great set of friends though and her relationship with her therapist and her parents makes me happy. I LOVE LOVE LOVE it when there are positive relationships in books and not everything is hopeless and depressing. I especially love it when therapy isn’t shown as being the worst thing in the world because therapy is actually important for a lot of people.

The reason why this book did not get all 5 stars though was because some things were disjointed including the ending of the book. I think that if the book were a little longer, it would have given the author even more room to explore Hermione’s character and show her growth over the course of the book.

That said, Exit, Pursued by a Bear is an important book and one I would encourage everyone to add to their to-read shelves. It’s not worth missing out on and if you are a bit of a Shakespeare geek or have read The Winter’s Tale, there will be LOTS of interesting happenings and satisfying moments that you might have wished happened in the play.

Note that I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

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