Jan 10, 2010

You can blame my absence on books.

So, over the last month, my virtual disappearance is in part, and mostly in whole, due to the fact that I kept picking up great books. Oddly enough, two of them were James Patterson novels, and while I never thought myself to be saying this, they were good!

I read Kristin Cashore's debut novel, "Graceling"

"Graceling" tells the story of a Graced girl named Katsa. Katsa, born of royal blood, is used by the king as a sort of thug, she has a fighting Grace, physically, she is too quick to beat. Emotionally, however, she is bound by the notion that she belongs to her uncle, the king, and that her Grace scares most of the people around her. Despite having some close friends, who are good people, it takes a complete stranger, a prince named Po from a far away kingdom, to bring out of her shell and give her a voice. Despite not trusting Po for much of the story, she learns to not only have faith in him, but she falls in love with him.
Graceling is epic in the sense that There are several story lines that end at different parts of the book. While this can easily cause a book to drag on and on, I felt relieved that so many conflicts were answered and that they were relevant.
For a debut novel, I think Cashore has written a book that will inspire many other authors to take the plunge. I also think "Graceling" is a great book for reluctant readers, because the language is not esoteric and allows the reader to be fully immersed in the story, without being bogged down by attempts at sounding too medieval.

"The Maze Runner", by James Dashner
( currently #6 of my all-time favorites in order)

I'll admit, that even after fifty pages of "The Maze Runner", I was still undecided about the book. The writing was okay enough and clever in the sense that the author created slang words to fit into the odd society of boys who have been stuck in the middle of a maze, some for two years. The books begins with Thomas entering the maze, from below the center. He has no memory, but he remembers words and feelings, just not why he knows them. The description is vivid enough that you get a clear understanding of Thomas's new surroundings. The center of the maze is almost post-apocalyptic in social dynamics and infrastructure. For a couple hundred pages you follow Thomas, the newbie, as he becomes accustomed to his new digs. Thomas is different, however, and that becomes evident when a girl, the first girl, appears through the same elevator Thomas had. She reveals a not that states, "Everything will change". She remains unconscious for a hundred or more pages, and you are forced to follow Thomas as he tries to unravel several mysteries: what is the secret of the maze, why are they there, and who is he, and most importantly why does he 'know' that he and the girl have something to do with why they are all there?

Dashner cunningly gives Thomas the tools to disentangle the mysteries and you are left shocked, over and over again. "The Maze Runner" is the first of three books. the ending of this first book may infuriate a few, but for me, I became restless. I still am half a month later. Waiting for Suzanne Collins, "Catching Fire", was the only time I have literally been itching for a book release. Now I have the second Maze Runner book and the third Hunger Games book to wait for and neither come out until this fall.
Anyway, this book is not pleasant, it is not cute, and it will certainly not make you 'feel good', but it is well-written and presents an idea for the future that is oh so real feeling.

"Paper Towns", John Green's third novel
(currently #21 of my all-time favorites in order)

I had been trying to get "Paper Towns" from the library, on and off, for a year. I was never all that disappointed that I didn't get it, but once I finished the book, I wished I had bought it the day it came out.
"Paper Towns" is not my favorite John Green novel, but it is comparable to both of his previous novels in different ways. Like "An Abundance of Katherines", "Paper Towns" explores the idea of funny awkward kids working their way into the lives of the rare well-grounded social elitist. In the end, they only discover that the well-grounded notion has never been true and that the person is only more messed up than they are. but the two books have many elements. I'd say 30% humor, 30% serious, 30% research oriented, 10% shit, good shit, but shit, kind of like a bag of cheddar and sour cream Ruffles potato chips. "PT" is a more serious that of "AAofK", but it is not lacking laughs. In fact, the laughs in "PT" are presented at such heightened moments of intensity, you will find yourself rofl. You may also shed a tear.

1-03-2010 and 1-07-2010
James Patterson's latest (and third) YA series "Witch and Wizard" and "The Dangerous Days of Daniel X", which is his middle attempt at YA lit

Both of these books/series have adventure, magic-like characters, and annoyingly ├╝ber short chapters. Quick reads and a good fill when you are not quite committed to a well-written, lengthy novel.

Nick Burd's debut novel, "The Vast Fields of Ordinary"
(currently #4 of my all-time favorites in order)

This book will always have a special place in my mind. I am still struggling to find the right things to say. I did email the author this morning, having finished the book last night, to tell him my thoughts and why the book may be the single most motivating thing I have ever read.
I believe that anyone who enjoys YA lit, especially bildungsroman, will like this book. Even though the main character is gay, that is not a central fact of the book. Instead, his exploration and fear of life is. You will find yourself amazed by the realness of each character in this books. At least I was able to find friends of mine in many of the characters. I may be able to write more eloquently on this book in the coming days or weeks, but as of right now, I am too emotional to explore my utter love of this book, and for me, that is a rarity.

A few questions you may have come across in your mind while reading this:

Are you gay?

Yes, I am

Do you really have a list of all-time favorites? And are they really in order?

Yes, I actually do. I have managed to feel that I am an important enough person to rank my favorites in order, as though that makes me a legit person in the literary world. But, for real, I just think it's fun, especially when books from the same author, that are not a part of a series, make it into the top, like two of John Green's YA novels.

Do you read really fast, or do you really have enough time to read all those books in three weeks?

Um, both. I do read really fast. With many YA books, I tend to read mostly dialogue. Like with Twilight. With many of my top favorites, however, I read and reread most of the book, taking in the essence of the writer and hoping some of their brilliance will rub off on me. I have yet to find out if the works. But, also, I only have one lousy job at a movie rental store and I only get about fifteen hours a week. So, naturally I turn to books to escape my financially turbulent world and as I close a book, I will the author of the book, who's picture is almost always at the end of a book, to send me ESP messages on how to become a successful writer and get someone to give me that yes. But, then, I realize that most authors have gone through what I am and that my time will come. Then, I am left with the only remaining self-conscious hurdle-feeling talentless. I know that no matter how much I will an author of a favorite book could pretend will me to become successful, I am the only one who can change this one.

Any other questions? Just ask!

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