Wednesday, November 25, 2015

This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

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This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp
Available January 5th

So, if you haven't heard anything about this one be warned, it is not an easy read. It's a very intimate story of a school massacre, it is not a shooting. There are several narrators in the story and each one added something complex and valuable to the story except one, Claire. Every time I read her narrative she took me out of the story so that I ended up skipping her parts eventually. They added nothing to the story to me and actually made me think of her as a very self absorbed person.

I enjoyed the different perspectives. It kept the story interesting although honestly I don't know how you couldn't be interested in this story once you commit to reading about something like this. It's a hard decision to make. I have kids in school and I am a substitute teacher. There is an elementary school next door to me. This stuff scares the shit out of me. But I can't pretend it doesn't happen.  So I took a chance on this one. And I think I picked the right book to take a chance on. It took me five hours to read this book without stopping for a sip of water or dinner or even to go to the bathroom. It was that good. The author does a great job of putting you right in that auditorium, but more importantly, in the heads of the narrators and what they are feeling. (except Claire, I just didn't connect with her).

The writing isn't cluttered by too many messy emotions. There are a few story lines going on but they don't tangle the main thread, there is a shooter in the auditorium, the entire school is in there and the doors are chained from the outside. Flashbacks show us what has happened to the various narrators to form their relationships and how they are connected to the shooter. There isn't a lot of focus on the aftermath or healing. This is strictly the terror of being in that auditorium, of being hunted down by the shooter. If you want police tactics and psychology and all that, this is not the book for you. 

*****Spoilers below this line*****
Now, a little more on Claire, she can't take a certain car because she can't deal with the fact of who used to own that car. So instead of taking the car to call for help she and a fellow runner take off running down the road to the nearest gas station. (Drama Queen) Claire gets a boyfriend during all of this while she is waiting to see if her brother is dead or alive. Just don't feel like that's appropriate during this situation. Claire also dated the shooter but broke up with him when he assaulted another girl at prom. Ding, ding, ding. She also knew he was getting beaten by his father. And then he quit school right after the prom. HELLO?????? Can you connect the dots? He quit school as a junior. They dated two years and she didn't think there might be something wrong??? This is where I think maybe some self reflection should have come in and she might have said, "Oh, maybe that out of character assault and the abuse and his sudden quitting of school are all connected." People always say there were no signs, there were signs. This part irks me, there were signs.

I will say that I read the e-galley and perhaps a few details have been cleaned up since then. I certainly hope so because Claire just doesn't stand up to the rest of the characters or the rest of the book. It is a finely written book and one that I would highly recommend on this subject. Just skip the Claire parts.


Monday, November 23, 2015

Unforgiven by Lauren Kate

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Unforgiven by Lauren Kate
A Fallen Novel
Available Now

Let's just start with the fact that I cut my YA teeth on Fallen by Lauren Kate. I was a newbie to this genre and I was browsing the very lean shelves when I saw that gorgeous cover of Luce. How could I pass that up? I was so tired of reading the same tired mysteries and I wasn't interested in other adult genres or Oprah's latest pick. I devoured that book and fell for the storyline instantly. But almost six years later.....it is a newbie story to my tastes now. I will always have a special place in my heart for Daniel and Luce's story, but let's face it, I didn't even read the last book, just the last few pages to see if I got my HEA. 

Cam was never ever a factor for me but I was hoping to recapture some of that newbie magic. It didn't happen. Lauren Kate doesn't seem to have developed much as a writer from Daniel and Luce's story. Maybe she intended it to be very much like their story. The story though is weak and sappy. Bad boy Cam is so against his nature in this book, it's really hard to buy. And then, there is my biggest problem ***spoiler alert**** a rumor is spread that Cam's last girlfriend killed herself when she and Cam broke up. The kids at school and Lucille, the girl he is trying to win over, all shun him and blame him for this. This is an extreme no-no in my opinion. NEVER, EVER should a writer use this tactic to shun a character. If you have read my reviews in the past you know I get upset about the way mental illness is shown in books, but in YA? It's the worst! To blame someone for another person taking their life because they broke up? It wasn't a case of bullying or something like that. It was heartbreak and I don't believe we should start blaming people who become depressed and commit suicide.**** End of spoiler.

So, yes, I had a huge problem with that part of the book. However, Kate shows that appearance doesn't matter when it comes to love in the same book. Lucille never notices changes in Cam's appearance that others are grossed out by. So on one hand she's teaching the lesson that love is more than looks but on the other that it's okay to blame another person when a couple breaks up and one who needs help doesn't get it and commits suicide. There's a lot more to who it is that commits suicide but suffice it to say that this will not be on a favorite or even on my keep shelf.

Authors, please, I beg you, think about what you write. No you don't have to teach a lesson in your book but every time you perpetuate a misrepresentation or a lie about mental illness, you are contributing to the problem. And it sticks with your young and old readers. Stop it please! If you can't find something better to use than a tired misconception than blame the boyfriend for a girl's suicide then you need to go back to the well.

I gave this two stars on Goodreads. It is okay. But not really. I finished it because it was a mindless read for me and I could get through it. I did not have to think at all reading this it. Usually I want to be carried to another world when I read but this one didn't take me anywhere but out of my reluctance to write a review because I was so riled about the spoiler thing I wrote about. I think Lauren Kate is an okay writer, much better than this book. 

I really don't recommend this one. If you are a die hard fan of Cam, you won't see him in this book. If you really must read it, go ahead. I don't have a rating bar for this one. So I'm leaving it off.


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