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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

World Book Night: The Fourth Batch

World Book Night has come and gone. I had a blast distributing my books; each year the process has been a little different, and I look forward to next year’s excitement!

Unfortunately, I didn’t complete the list before going out into the world on the Bard’s day, but I’m still reading my way through.

Peter Heller’s The Dog Stars is a post-apocalyptic novel with strong prose and a disregard for writing conventions thus it is frequently compared to McCarthy’s The Road but in my opinion it lacks the overall impact of the earlier novel. Hig is a pilot using a single prop airplane and a cache of weapons to maintain control of small plot of land against marauders and cannibals. Heller describes the relationship between Hig and his dog so well that it is almost painful – this relationship is the final shred of Hig’s humanity and it is stirring and beautiful.
Middle grade fantasy is probably one of my favorite genres and The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan is a really fun addition to the category. This novel about a young apprentice to a ranger (a sort of magician/knight) is perfect of fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. Super quick, fun read!

I spent most of my time reading This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff wishing that I could talk to my grandfather about it. My grandfather used to tell me about his “wild days” with his brothers – sneaking out and wreaking havoc, and this novel about a boy transitioning from childhood to adulthood in the 1950s is something he would have understood and recognized. Wolff looks back on his memories and was able to extract exactly how he was developing into his adult self and describe all of the difficulties and confusion therein.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews falls into another category of young adult fiction that I love – books about outsider teens! This is sad and funny and self-deprecating with a perfect sarcastic tone, but it is ultimately life-affirming (in a totally knowing and nonobnoxious way). Great YA especially for film nerds.
Sadly, Carl Hiaasen’s Hoot may be my least favorite from this batch. This is a novel about a kid fight to save a rare species of owl in the Everglades. The environmentalism is never overbearing and I can see the humor in it, but it never really touched me on either level. I feel like Hiaasen has taken his brand of Florida quirk a little too far for me.

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