The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl

August 4, 2008

by Barry Lyga.

(Try to ignore the bombastic title.)

Skinny guy living in his mother’s basement, computer and comic book geek, bullied at school, convinced everyone hates him. Self-proclaimed brainiac loser and his bullet, good liar, surviving from week to week between gym classes, hoping to start over in college. Sounds familiar? Sometimes it’s good to know, there are people worse off.

With more than a fair deal of unrealistic moments (IM date, Dina) and obvious plot turns (stolen bullet, step-fascist helps, she’s at the con), this novel is only as good as its sarcastic narrator. I liked the ending a lot, though.

Quotes:

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Looking for Alaska

July 27, 2008

by John Green.

A novel which made me wonder about so many things.

Miles “Pudge” Halter, 16, decides to leave his friendless and uneventful home town and seek the Great Perhaps at an out-of-state boarding school. There he meets Chip “The Colonel”, Alaska, and Takumi, and their undying love for mischief soon introduces him to the world of smoking, drinking, and pranking. Miles notices:

The phrase booze and mischief left me worrying I’d stumbled into what my mother referred to as “the wrong crowd”; but for the wrong crowd, they both seemed awfully smart.

It’s interesting to see how Miles becomes a different person (in many ways) by associating himself with these people. But this is just the setup scene for what is about to happen, and it will leave nobody unaffected.

This is about as much as I can tell you without spoiling your reading pleasure. So you’d better stop here and read the book.

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Nineteen Minutes

February 10, 2008

What could possibly make a person walk into a school with four guns and kill ten people? You’ll give a different answer after reading this book.

I could hardly put it out of my mind after the first sentence, and probably for a lot of time after the last one. I loved the way Jodi Picoult gets inside the minds of the characters, without judging them. I also loved the way the book is structured: starting with the incident and then, like a movie, alternating between moments of time before and after. These clear-cut scenes are interspersed with short insights from Peter, which carry the most emotional charge (To anyone who cares…). If you are like me and find it hard to remember the characters’ names initially, you might find this exposition technique somewhat confusing, but I bet you’ll appreciate it in the end.

Overall this is one of the best novels I’ve read. I’m definitely going to look for more books by the author. If I could change one thing about this one though, I would cut in half the amount of text dedicated to the courtroom.

Some ideas that this book touches upon:

  • High school, like any society, is divided into two categories of people: the cool and popular (unhappy because they have to wear a mask all the time), and the uncool and unpopular (unhappy because they are lonely etc.)
  • Some people see suicide as an extreme communication device.
  • Life/society/school/democracy sucks, but it’s the best thing we’ve got so far.
  • When we’re sitting in front of the TV, we appreciate the fact that the media is able to keep us informed, but we rarely think of how the same media intrudes in the lives of those we see on the screen.
  • The fear of losing control; the desire to live within predictability, and what happens when that balance is lost.
  • What happens when someone we love does something we would never have expected (Peter — Lacy and Lewis; Josie — Alex).
  • There is no clearly-defined line between childhood and adulthood, yet the rights we give a person and the way we judge them are a function of biological age.
  • How the same thing carries different meanings to different people.
  • Do you still want the truth if it hurts?
  • Nothing we do is guaranteed to be good or bad in the long run.
  • Ultimately, revenge doesn’t change anything.
  • Life goes on. The human capacity to get over things is sometimes astounding.

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