Friday, November 19, 2010

This Week's Books (You, Hush, The Unidentified)

So...I've read three books this week, but haven't posted reviews of any of them. Why, I'm not really sure. I've posted not-glowing reviews before, so I'm not really afraid of hurting anyone's feelings. And anyway, it's not that I didn't like the books I read, just that they left me feeling...strange. Two of the three left me feeling apathetic, and the third was just more than I can handle, I think.

So I'll post them here--summaries from Goodreads and my brief thoughts. Maybe someone can chime in?

You by Charles Benoit
Harper Teen, 2010

This wasn't the way it was supposed to go.
You're just a typical fifteen-year-old sophomore, an average guy named Kyle Chase. This can't be happening to you. But then, how do you explain all the blood? How do you explain how you got here in the first place?
There had to have been signs, had to have been some clues it was coming. Did you miss them, or ignore them? Maybe if you can figure out where it all went wrong, you can still make it right. Or is it already too late? Think fast, Kyle. Time's running out. How did this happen?
You is the riveting story of fifteen-year-old Kyle and the small choices he does and doesn't make that lead to his own destruction.
In his stunning young-adult debut, Charles Benoit mixes riveting tension with an insightful—and unsettling—portrait of an ordinary teen in a tale that is taut, powerful, and shattering.

I had heard such good things about this book, and actually held off on reading it because I thought it was going to be so fantastic. I was less than thrilled with it, though. I never really felt any empathy towards Kyle. Much has been made of the fact that Kyle is just an average boy, not bad, not good. I just didn't think he was much of anything, and I didn't really care about him.

Hush by Eishes Chayil
Walker Books for Young Readers, 2010
Inside the closed community of Borough Park, where most Chassidim live, the rules of life are very clear, determined by an ancient script written thousands of years before down to the last detail—and abuse has never been a part of it. But when thirteen-year-old Gittel learns of the abuse her best friend has suffered at the hands of her own family member, the adults in her community try to persuade Gittel, and themselves, that nothing happened. Forced to remain silent, Gittel begins to question everything she was raised to believe.
A richly detailed and nuanced book, one of both humor and depth, understanding and horror, this story explains a complex world that remains an echo of its past, and illuminates the conflict between yesterday's traditions and today's reality.
I thought this was a very interesting look into a culture I'm not that familiar with. It was a very disturbing story, however, made more so by the fact that the events in this story are obviously based on fact (at some point). I read an ARC of this (received from the publisher), and the ARC didn't have the glossary or pronunciation guide, which I think would have made the reading a lot easier for me!

The Unidentified
The Unidentified by Rae Mariz
Balzer & Bray, 2010

Kid knows her school’s corporate sponsors not-so-secretly monitor her friendships and activities for market research. It’s all a part of the Game; the alternative education system designed to use the addictive kick from video games to encourage academic learning. Everyday, a captive audience of students ages 13-17 enter the nationwide chain store-like Game locations to play.

When a group calling themselves The Unidentified simulates a suicide to protest the power structure of their school, Kid’s investigation into their pranks attracts unwanted attention from the sponsors. As Kid finds out she doesn't have rights to her ideas, her privacy, or identity, she and her friends look for a way to revolt in a place where all acts of rebellion are just spun into the next new ad campaign.
I was really looking forward to this book. I love me a good dystopian novel, and I thought this had all the components. I've heard that it resembles Feed, by M.T. Anderson, and I think I should add that one to my to-read list. I think more could have been made of the loss of control that Kid feels, instead of just complaining that Mom won't sync her Game Card so she can ride the Metro. And I didn't get any sense of why this world is the way it is. Why are teens not allowed to be out in public? It's not that this book was bad, I was just underwhelmed with it.

Yeah, so it wasn't a great week for me, book-wise. Like I said, it's not that I didn't like the books, it's just that You and The Unidentified didn't live up to my expectations, and while Hush was good, it just didn't read as though it was written for the "layperson," as it were.

Sigh. Hopefully next week is better!
Enjoy your reading!

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