Monday, June 22, 2009
A Bunch More Reviews
Bring on the mini-reviews!
Zel by Donna Jo Napoli
Reason for Reading: Once Upon a Time Reading Challenge, YA reading challenge
One paragraph plot summary: In this retelling of the classic story of Rapuzel, Napoli delves deeply into the psyches of Zel and her mother. Zel, who suffers many years of imprisonment in a lonely tower by herself, teeters close to the brink of madness, while her mother privately justifies to herself why she has taken such extreme measures to hide her daughter away from the world.
One paragraph review: Although this is a fantasy novel, Napoli manages to portray in a very short amount of space the helplessness, the craziness that Zel feels while she is imprisoned in the tower. Zel finds herself making friends with ticks and roaches to pass the time. The character of Mother is slyly written; although unhesitatingly evil, she is the only character who is written in first person, and we sympathize with her just a little, despite ourselves. If the romance between Zel and her suitor seems a bit thin, well, it is a fairy tale after all.
Laika by Nick Abadzis
Reason for Reading: Graphic Novel Challenge
One paragraph summary: With the soviets having recently won the first battle of the space race with their successful launch of Sputnik One, the soviet premier had a new goal in mind: a live space traveler. Based on the true story, this graphic novel is about Laika, a dog who was the first living creature in space.
One paragraph review: Oh my. Where to start. First of all, if you know any history of the space program, you already know Laika's eventual fate. I knew it going in, but I still found myself hoping against hope for Laika to somehow survive the journey. This book is about Laika, but it is also about the true historical people who worked on the mission and the conflict they surely must have felt about sending a small dog on a one-way mission. Laika walked a delicate balance of appealing to the reader's emotions without oversentimentalizing the story, and I think precisely because of that, I was bawling by the end. (Note: I do not cry over books). Highly recommended.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephan Chbosky
Reason for Reading: YA Reading Challenge
One paragraph plot summary: The book is a series of letters written by a teenager who calls himself "Charlie" to an anonymous person who he does not know personally. Each letter is like a diary entry as Charlie, a freshman in high school, talks about what's happening in his life, and reflects on trying to fit in or remaining a wallflower.
One paragraph review: Charlie is a heck of a narrator. He's shy, bookish, and a bit of an outcast, although he begins to find a place with a group of seniors at his high school. Although he feels most comfortable experiencing life from the outside, his new friends and a friendly English teacher help him to step outside his comfort zone. Chbosky takes the reader through all sorts of difficult topics that high schoolers face, and I think everyone will relate, at least a little, to Charlie.