Jodi Picoult's first YA novel—which she co-wrote with her daughter, Samantha van Leer—is $1.99 today.
I bought it, because A) I've never read a Jodi Picoult book, which seems vaguely silly as she's so popular with the teen demographic, B) even if I detest it, I'm out less than $2, and C) because of this.
As I always get a giggle out of Travis Jonker's One Star Review Guess Who posts, I figured I'd swipe the idea and post the occasional one-star Amazon review of a much-lauded YA title.
So, can you guess what book this disappointed reader is reviewing?:
[Title], by [author] is a book that does not deserve its Newberry. The story has a terrible plot, involving a girl named [heroine] who has a drunken father who is looking for a husband for her. She has some close calls and a big one with suitors, but is repetitive and sulky about her life. The entire story is written in diary form about her life, and it seems like something is going to happen, but nothing really does. [Heroine] really does not enjoy her life. She is mad that suitors are coming and just wants to be free. She sometimes drives you to insanity with her complaining. This book does not deserve its popularity, and it is not written in a suitable way. It is written with only one point of view [Heroine]'s so if your favorite character is not [Heroine] you are IN DEEP DO DO. You just never get someone else's opinion. The book only takes sides with the main character in arguments so it leaves you hanging. What does her father think? To bad, you will never know.
There is one positive about this book. The setting takes place in Briton in the Middle Ages on a farm. It was an exciting place, but in this book nothing happens. The topic of the book stays the same the whole time, so you only have to read to page 60 to know what happens, because in children's' books they all turn out the same. Go ahead and read the book if you feel like it, but remember if you don't like it I said dont read it.
“Esiotrot” is tortoise spelled backwards. It’s also the title of a very popular 1990 Roald Dahl illustrated children’s story that involves a love story between two mature adults. And I can tell you that Dustin Hoffman and Dame Judi Dench are going to play the main characters. “Esiotrot” will film next month in England. Hoffman told me he’s a little nervous. “She’s Judi Dench!” But something tells me these two will hit it off famously.
After all of the descriptions of Emily's 'red ropey hair' in the first book, the model on the cover doesn't really jive with the image of her in my mind. Ah, well. Anyway.
It could be argued that I was hard on the firsttwo books in Kady Cross' Steampunk Chronicles. So in the interest of being all fair-minded and whatnot, I will say that they do have some attractive qualities:
They're fast-paced and often quite exciting.
While the characters haven't moved beyond their basic trope-types (see my column about the first one for more on that), they are mostly quite likable and enjoyable to be around. (I could do without Finley and Griffin, but I suspect that that's more due to a personality conflict on my part than on anything objective.)
Cross' use of similes are generally entertainingly in keeping with the world and the genre: A sound like breaking ice followed as pressure from the outside pushed against the glass, demanding to get inside like a rowdy drunkard at a tavern door. (That one's a bit long for my tastes, but you get the drift.)
There are rapid and regular switches in perspective, which speak to some amount of confidence in the reader's ability to keep up.
Automatons are always cool, and there's a thread about What It Means To Be Human that will appeal to anyone who's spent far too much time combing through Data fanfic. (I ADMIT NOTHING.)
Fans of the first two books are likely to like this third installment which, as you've probably gathered by the cover art and the title, focuses mostly on Emily, the Girl Genius Who Can Control Automatons With Her Mind. She gets kidnapped by a Bad Robot (<--heh) who wants her to use her Mechanical Prowess to move the Machinist's brain out of his mostly-dead body and into a fancy new automaton-human hybrid.
It's an undertaking that, not-so-surprisingly, she has issues with beyond the whole abduction thing: bringing the Machinist back would be bad enough, but worse for soft-hearted Emily is the fact that the automaton-human hybrid is a sentient being whose mind, personality, and soul will be destroyed when her body is co-opted by the Machinist. (All of which also serves to allow Emily to come to terms with the sexual assault she survived back in Ireland.)
Yet again, for me, the major issue—beyond the lack of character development—is the repetitive language.
Emily continues to 'wee' this and 'wee' that, which is grating, but once again, it was the eyebrows that killed me. I read The Girl with the Iron Touch in review copy form, so I double-checked the following quotes against the Google Books preview and the Amazon preview, and it looks to me that they all made it into the finished copy:
Jack arched a brow at her bad manners. (p. 37)
Mr. Isley arched a brow but wisely remained silent. (p. 51)
She arched a brow, and didn't care that he saw it. (p. 149)
Jack raised a brow at Sam. (p. 157)
Jack raised one brow ever so slightly as his gaze locked with hers. (p. 161)
Emily's heart skipped a beat even as her brow gave a dubious lift. (p. 170)
She arched a brow. (p. 180)
Emily arched a brow. (p. 206)
He arched a brow. (p. 247)
She arched a brow. (p. 256)
Finley arched a brow. (p. 299)
He arched a brow. (p. 321)
Now she was the one whose brow rose. (p. 321)
Griffin swore—the kind of language that made Finley arch a brow. (p. 326)
And, of course, keep in mind that I didn't count any of the 'lowering' or 'pulling together' or 'shooting up'. All in all, these characters expend more energy waggling their eyebrows around than you or I would while working out to a Jillian Michaels DVD.
So, there you have it: if that sort of thing drives you bananas, I'd say give the series a miss and wait for the (hopefully inevitable) CW show.
Legendary author Judy Blume joined the fight against the book's removal from Glen Ellyn District 41, and maybe her clout helped turn the tide. School board members voted 6-1 Monday evening to reinstate the book.
Blume mentioned the Glen Ellyn controversy while appearing Sunday at the Printers Row Lit Fest, where she accepted the Tribune's Young Adult Literary Prize. Blume said she planned to donate the award's $5,000 prize to the National Coalition Against Censorship, which also opposes the book's removal, in the students' honor.
"In this ultra-connected age, young people face countless challenges and temptations. Books like "perks" help kids to anticipate what they will likely encounter," said Brett Cooper, a teacher at Hadley Junior High School, speaking in support of the book. "Parents may benefit, too, by reading the book, discussing it with their kids and contemplating alternative responses to similarly challenging circumstances."
Janet Gurtler's Who I Kissed is $1.99, and I totally bought it: I've read two of her other books and enjoyed them wholeheartedly.
It occurs to me that I've never written about her books, and I shall have to rectify that situation soon, but in the meantime, know this: she'd make a great pick for fans of YA contemporary romance/friendship stories a la Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, and Elizabeth Scott.
Through June 21st, check out The Neighborhood School's Save the Library Auction for that and lots and lots of other stuff, including pieces by Maira Kalman, Sophie Blackall, Paul O. Zelinsky, Nancy Carpenter, Javaka Steptoe, Disney, Betsy and Ted Lewin, Emily Arnold McCully, Raina Telgemeier, Beth Krommes, Greg Pizzoli, and more.
PLUS, it's for a good cause:
Oh, it is ON like Bilbo's Song. The Neighborhood School's Save the Library Auction runs from June 10 (Maurice Sendak's birthday) to June 21, 2013, with proceeds going to The Neighborhood School to help save our beloved library. You can get one-of-a-kind art and autographed books from some of the greatest children's book artists working today, so alert the kids, buy new-baby gifts, decorate a child's room, find the perfect piece for your favorite hipster, and LET THE BIDDING BEGIN.
Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin’s A Really Awesome Mess is a he-said, she-said story about finding your way through pain, anger, loneliness and grief...through love, forgiveness and friendship. And just in case it’s starting to sound a bit too mushy for your tastes, keep in mind that there are also plenty of hijinks, including lots of illegally obtained porn and a purloined piglet.