Book reviews: Some fabulous YA lit

Looking for Alaska, by John Green

Oh, John Green, there you go again, breaking my heart. John Green is also the author of The Fault in Our Stars. You’ve read The Fault in Our Stars, right? I read it before I started this blog so I don’t have a review but as I recently told somebody, if I did write about it, I would write: I am shattered. If you haven’t read this, please put down whatever book you have in front of you and go and get that book.

Looking for Alaska is also very good, although maybe not quite equal to that last one. I have realized the Green has a bit of an obsession with death, but I think this works with YA. The questions of life and death seem that much more potent when we’re teenagers, on the cusp of discovering some of life’s secrets. The whys and the mysteries seem so much bigger before we’re enveloped by the little matters of life.

I’m not going to tell you what it’s about. There is a lot of anticipation build up for this one that was excellently done that I enjoyed, even as I chewed my fingernails during the count down. Very highly recommended. This man knows how to get you where you feel it.

Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro

While not precisely a young adult book, the most important parts of this fictional memoir, Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro, occur during the students’ formative years. The book is a little twisted and a little sad, about clones who are brought up to be organ donors when they are adults. I think it has a nice element of naivety on the part of the narrator as she looks back at her upbringing, preparing her and her colleagues for their gruesome fate.

One thing did bother me, though. Not once did any of the clones ever suggest running away and not donating their organs. They spoke of a longing to live, but didn’t do anything about it. Wouldn’t at least some of them try to cut and run? Even on the road, it would be more life than what they were given. That question was always at the back of my head as I read this.

Jellicoe Road, by Melina Marchetta

This book, about a young girl at boarding school wishing she had a family as she leads her classmates in a prank war against the cadets and the townies, was brilliantly done. I’ll admit at first I found it confusing – there were so many elements going on that I would have to stop and go back, trying to sort them all out. But Marchetta does sort it all out, effortlessly tying up all the ends together that made this such a satisfying read. A few times it even gave me shivers. Another must-read.


The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, by Michael Lewis

This book has absolutely nothing to do with young adult literature, but rather is a non-fiction about what went wrong with the markets leading to the collapse in 2007, and the players who were betting against the whole system. It was a fairly interesting read, but I’ll admit that a good part of it still went over my head, with all the talk of CDOs and bond rating systems. This area is definitely not my forte. I just came away with the impression that there are a lot of assholes in Wall Street. And most of them don’t have a better understanding of the bond market than I do. This also gave me chills, but for very different reasons.

Word of the day:

Consecration: the act of consecrating; dedication to the service and worship ofa deity


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