Garage Band by Gipi
When Giuliano’s father loans him the family garage, he and three of his friends form a band. Playing their battered secondhand instruments, the four teenagers find something they love to do, and they find in their friendship and music a refuge from difficult and turbulent home lives. But when their only amp blows a fuse, a desperate search for some new equipment lands them in more trouble than they ever saw coming.
- Loved the art. Harsh lines and watercolor painting. All the characters had very unique faces that were easy to tell apart. Which shouldn’t be special, but it is.
- The art is much stronger than the plot. With 4 lead characters to cover in 114 pages, there wasn’t enough time to care about the band.
- At the end there’s a few pages of concept sketches that I absolutely loved.
Overall rating: B+ (apparently I do ratings now)
Ghost World by Daniel Clowers
I am covet with hyper-realistic dialogue. Dialogue in books usually doesn’t sound like the conversations we have every day. And rightfully so, most conversations are boring to an outsider and in my experience humans only say stuff like “We accept the love we think we deserve” once a month. So I always get excited about books with mundane conversations and abrupt topic changes.
The characters in Ghost World are very human and unapologeticly flawed. The way Enid and Rebecca spoke to each other (Lots of white lies. God I love white lies) was the best part of the book. And there wasn’t much else to the story, it’s very dialogue driven and focused on micromoments in Enid’s life. As much as I loved the dialogue, the actual narrative was pretty one note, with very similar situations repeated with slightly different emotional content. Which is fine for a serial comic, but I wouldn’t recommend reading Ghost World in one sitting.
Basically I loved the boring, but was kind of bored.
The File on Angelyn Stark by Catherine Atkins
Angelyn Stark has a secret.
One day, her neighbor and friend, Nathan, saw something happen. Something between Angelyn and her stepfather. Then he told his grandmother, who was always looking out for Angelyn, and it turned into a mess. But Nathan didn’t know what he was talking about then, and he doesn’t know now.
Three years later, Angelyn is in high school and she thinks she’s getting along fine—but there’s a young teacher who wants to help her. He says she has potential she isn’t living up to. Nobody has ever cared this way about Angelyn, not since Nathan’s grandmother, anyway. But what does Mr. Rossi really want from her? And once Angelyn starts falling for him, does she really care?
The File on Angelyn Stark simply asks the reader to bear witness. In today’s dystopian saturated genre, it’s a small scale story about every day conflict. That the conflict isn’t at all rare is what makes it a shattering read.
The narrative is very clearly told by Angelyn. The dialogue and vernacular as specific to Anngelyn and where she lives, which was very refreshing. Many books in first person are affected by the author’s voice, but it was just Angelyn.
Almost all the prose is dialogue, and any time Angelyn’s thoughts were revealed they were short and reactive. The File on Angelyn Stark has no three paragraph epiphanies. At times the heavy-dialogue format muddled the story. There were many times the characters changed locations without a clear signifyer because there were nearly no descriptions.
However, the format served to make the story very stark. Reading a frank conversation about the sexual abuse Angelyn suffered carried great weight because as a reader, I couldn’t distract myself thinking about what the characters were wearing or what the weather was like. With only dialogue, every painful part of the story demanded your full attention.
Any writers struggling with purple prose should read this book as an example of how minimal language can be effective. It’s a short read, but is quite emotionally exhausting.
Stuck in Neutral by Terry Trueman
Flight by Sherman Alexie
Zits is a teenager who has been in foster care for most of his life. To put it mildly, he’s been pretty messed up from living in the system. When he meets Justice in a holding cell after yet another arrest, it doesn’t take much for his new acquaintance to convince him that it’s time for societal payback.
Zits commits an act of horrific violence. The police are called. He is shot in the head.
And wakes up in the body of an FBI agent named Hank.
I don’t even know what genre to put Flight in. The time traveling and body-jumping calls for fantasy or historical fiction. But the emotions and dialogue are so real, and Zits always manages to bring those emotions and themes back to his present-day problems. Like most of Sherman Alexie’s novels, Flight is very much about the plight of the modern-day American Indian. But it’s also about a teenaged boy who doesn’t know how to process the pain from being abandoned, abused, and forgotten. This is a beautiful book, and you should read it.
Sold by Patricia McCormick: a one-sentence review
Powerful, though I wish it had an epilogue.
A Decidedly Non-YA Review
The first time I read it Howl I was 14. Jess Mariano read it and I wanted to be Jess Mariano. At 14 the rawness and sexual references blew my head off. I didn’t understand any of the thematic significance, I just thought it was really cool.
Now reading it as an adult with more experience with poetry it’s the rhythm that impresses me. The repetition that makes reading it feel you are walking down a staircase and keep expecting it to end, so your foot falls heavy and too far.
By the time I got to “I am with you in Rockland” it felt like I was reading in a dream. I still don’t understand many of the themes or metaphors. I thought I would this time, with my acquired knowledge and trauma. But great difference between knowing what something is about and understanding. And in reading Howl I am hugely aware of that gap.
Reservation Blues by Sherman Alexie
I’m reading Flight, another one of Sherman Alexie’s books right now, and suddenly remembered reading this book in high school.
I had a horrible English teacher junior year, this young blonde woman with an unpronounceable name who probably became a teacher because she couldn’t figure out what else to do with her life. This woman systematically ruined almost every book we read that year, but somehow, I still enjoyed reading Reservation Blues. This book is great.
Haiku Reviews: The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl
Flawed characters tell
Painfully human stories
Impressive and weird
How To Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford
This is a highly spoilerable book, so I am going to avoid that by talking about the Central Plot in code. This will be helped by my uncomfortable dislike of the Central Plot.
When Beatrice moves to Maryland her senior year, she falls into an unexpected friendship with Jonah, who has been called Ghost Boy by his peers since childhood. Together the uncover a mystery concerning Jonah’s dead twin brother (Central Plot).
The main character is lovely. Beatrice is the kind of charming weird that gets you tumblr famous. I would follow her blog in a heartbeat. And it is easy to see why she is charmed by Jonah. Readers will notice everything off about him, but understand why Beatrice follows his hazardous trail.
I don’t quite buy the circumstances of Jonah and Beatrice’s friendship. It is kicked off with the reveal of the Central Plot, but it seemed to me that the closeness that resulted was too instant to be genuine.
The writing is solid, as are the characterizations of Beatrice’s background friends, who could easily be cardboard dolls. And after some time I really loved and believed in Jonah and Beatrice’s friendship. But the Central Plot seems to be a device for resulting character development. While Jonah was fully invested, Beatrice’s involvement didn’t feel genuine, leaving me less interested than I otherwise might have been.
I’m going to say 2.7/5 stars and apologize for every unclear part of this review. There’s a reason it took me a week to write.