Posts Tagged: young adult

The Fever by Megan Abbott

August 8, 2014 Book Reviews, Books 10 ★★★★

The Fever by Megan AbbottThe Fever
by megan abbott
Published by Little Brown and Company
on June 17th 2014
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 320
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
The panic unleashed by a mysterious contagion threatens the bonds of family and community in a seemingly idyllic suburban community.

The Nash family is close-knit. Tom is a popular teacher, father of two teens: Eli, a hockey star and girl magnet, and his sister Deenie, a diligent student. Their seeming stability, however, is thrown into chaos when Deenie's best friend is struck by a terrifying, unexplained seizure in class. Rumors of a hazardous outbreak spread through the family, school and community.

As hysteria and contagion swell, a series of tightly held secrets emerges, threatening to unravel friendships, families and the town's fragile idea of security.


I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


As we read in Ms. Abbott’s guest post yesterday, The Fever deals with hysteria and how it is a “woman’s disease.”

There’s no easy answer to that question and no easy way to talk about the long and twisty history of hysteria and women.  On the most basic level, how many women out there have been told, when expressing anger, or even a firmly held opinion, has been told they are being “hysterical”? It’s a loaded term, and it always will be.

The Fever, set in a small town high school, is the perfect place to breed rumors and panic. When Deenie Nash’s best friend Lise collapses in the middle of class, no one knows what to think. The hospital won’t release any information. No one is allowed to see Lise. Then Deenie’s friend Gabby has a similar episode. Then another girl. Then another. Before the fever is spreading like wildfire among the girls at the school and parents are panicking. Could it be the nasty local lake? Is it the HPV vaccine? Is it a virus? ARE THEY ALL GOING TO DIE?

I read The Fever on my vacation and it was the perfect time to do so. As soon as I picked it up, I didn’t want to put it down. From the beginning of the book, there are questions that I couldn’t wait to have answered. What happened to Lise? The other girls? Is there a disease spreading amongst the school and why is it only the girls? And why is Deenie the only girl NOT getting sick? Abbott keeps the narrative tight and twisty. It was a delight for me, a reader who likes the occasional dark plot line and has a morbid sense of humor. This pretty much made The Fever a delight for me and Megan Abbott is now officially on my watch list.

Would you like to win a copy of The Fever? The publisher was kind enough to give me an extra copy of the book, so I’m giving away BOTH. Fill out the Rafflecopter and enter to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway



We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

June 13, 2014 Book Reviews, Books 7 ★★★★½

We Were Liars by E. LockhartWe Were Liars
by E. Lockhart
(Website, Blog, Twitter, Goodreads)
Published by Delacorte Press
on May 13th 2014
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 240
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart. 

Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


Wow. Just…wow.

Go into it blind. Get it right now. Before it’s spoiled for you. Just read it. Since I AM NOT going to be the one to spoil it, that’s all I’m going to say. Except to say, pick a time when you can read it straight through. You are NOT going to want to put down this study of wealth, priviledge, love, hate, prejudice, greed, and mystery.

About E. Lockhart


E. Lockhart is the author of We Were Liars, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, The Boyfriend List and several other novels.



Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando

December 20, 2013 Books 7 ★★★★

Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara AltebrandoRoomies
by Sara Zarr, Tara Altebrando
(Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers
on December 24, 2013
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 224
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Buy the Book
It's time to meet your new roomie.

When East Coast native Elizabeth receives her freshman-year roommate assignment, she shoots off an e-mail to coordinate the basics: television, microwave, mini-fridge. That first note to San Franciscan Lauren sparks a series of e-mails that alters the landscape of each girl's summer -- and raises questions about how two girls who are so different will ever share a dorm room.

As the countdown to college begins, life at home becomes increasingly complex. With family relationships and childhood friendships strained by change, it suddenly seems that the only people Elizabeth and Lauren can rely on are the complicated new boys in their lives . . . and each other. Even though they've never met.

National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr and acclaimed author Tara Altebrando join forces for a novel about growing up, leaving home, and getting that one fateful e-mail that assigns your college roommate.

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


Reading this book made me realize something. I missed out in college.

My first two years of college were spent at the local community college, which is less that 5 miles from my childhood home. Then I transferred to the local University and commuted. So I never left home, I never had a roommate, and I never had that unique freedom of being by myself in a new city. Not that regret my path, not really, but I do find myself wondering what that would have been like.

Roomies gave me a picture of what it would have been like. Of course, the title is a misnomer really…the two girls in this book are not roomies, yet. They are just going to be roomies once the school year starts.


The dual narration was interesting. Having never read either author before, I’m not sure who wrote what and honestly, it felt pretty seamless to me. With both girls coming from very different parts of the country, different types of families, and different world views, the dual authorship made each girl feel very separate and complete in themselves. In other words, it worked. The girls have never met, but after finding out they will be roommates in their first year of college, they start emailing each other to start the process of getting to know each other a little early. Their differences immediately start coming out. One is an only child and happy to have a roommate. The other is the oldest of 5 and wanted a single room. In typical fashion, an email note meant in jest is taken the wrong way. Yet they begin sharing things with each other they haven’t shared with anyone. One has a gay father who abandoned her as a baby. One is striking up something interesting with a black friend and she worries about what others will think. They become close confidants. But then something happens, a trust is broken, and they go to wondering if they can even live together.

I really appreciated how both authors used their characters to illustrate real world problems and would think many a soon-to-be freshman could appreciate what these two girls go through. I know it is one I would like my own children to read someday for real guidance on what it’s like to be not only embarking on college life, but to be embarking on Real Life itself. This is the first book I’ve read by both Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando and look forward to exploring their works further.

About Sara Zarr


Sara Zarr is the acclaimed author of four novels for young adults: Story of a Girl (National Book Award Finalist), Sweethearts (Cybil Award Finalist), Once Was Lost (a Kirkus Best Book of 2009) and How to Save a Life. Her short fiction and essays have also appeared in Image, Hunger Mountain, and several anthologies.

About Tara Altebrando


Tara is the author of THE BEST NIGHT OF YOUR (PATHETIC) LIFE, and three previous books for Young Adults, including DREAMLAND SOCIAL CLUB, which was a Kirkus Reviews Best Books for Teens of 2011, THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS and WHAT HAPPENS HERE.



Reading Notes: September 26, 2013

September 26, 2013 Books 3

7926790Yes ma’am, I am back! I officially can. not. put. down. Prisoners in the Palace. After listening to a podcast by The History Chicks (have you started listening to them yet? Why not?) about Queen Victoria (in which they recommended PitP) I knew I had to read more about her. She was FASCINATING.

Small history lesson. This is going to be hard. Okay.

King William IV, Victoria’s uncle, did not have an official heir. He had 10 bastard children, but his wife, Queen Adelaide, was unable to carry a child to term. This left Princess Victoria as next in line to the throne. The Princess’s mother, the Duchess of Kent, being a widow and German, decided to bank on her daughter’s hopeful succession and become Queen Regent should William IV die before Victoria came of age. The Duchess relied heavily on Sir John Conroy, an officer she engaged as her personal secretary. A charming, dynamic man, Conroy used the Duchess, hoping to help her become Regent and therefore gain power for himself.

Luckily for Victoria, William IV and his brothers all died without providing a legitimate heir and she gained the throne at age 18.

Prisoners in the Palace is a fictionalized look at the Princess Victoria in the year before she gained the throne. Told by her maid, Liza Hastings, an orphaned child of titled gentry, she is forced to seek a place as a ladies maid, in the hopes of avoiding the poor house, the streets, and in regaining her status as a lady herself. Liza decides to help Victoria circumnavigate Sir John and the Duchess and attain her throne without their stealing it from her.

It is GOOD. I can’t wait to finish it. Also, this is a beautifully produced book. Love all the artistic flourishes the publisher did to it.

On deck, oh my gosh, I have so many. But I have this one book in at the library, that I found quite by accident (I was looking for another book) and I can’t wait to pick it up. I hope it is as good as it’s title: The American resting place : four hundred years of history through our cemeteries and burial grounds by Marilyn Yalom. Obviously this is for RIP VIII. Doesn’t that sound great? I also have Night Film by Marisha Pessl in and I discovered (also by accident!) that Elizabeth Hand wrote a sequel to Illyria, which I LOVED. It’s called Radiant Days and I have it on hold. I hope I can pick it up when I go tomorrow.

Now I just need some days off to read read read!

What are you reading lately that has you excited?







Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

July 25, 2013 Book Reviews, Books 9


Code Name Verity (my review) was my favorite book of last year. So, it was a given that I would read the next thing Elizabeth Wein wrote. When browsing NetGalley one day, I came across a book with her name on it. I was so excited! Needless to say, I didn’t even read the description. I just put in a request for it, and rejoiced when I got the email saying I was approved.

I didn’t take me long to dig in either.

So, you can probably imagine how surprised and delighted to find that Maddie and Anna Engel, characters from Code Name Verity briefly appears in Rose Under Fire! Honestly, I was beyond excited. Even if they aren’t really main characters, as Rose Under Fire is more of a companion novel that a direct sequel, it was nice to see how they have been after the events of Code Name Verity.

The main character of Rose Under Fire is the eponymous Rose. Rose Justice, a young American teenager and friend of Maddie, is also a female pilot and she is helping deliver planes during WWII. It is during a routine delivery that she is captured by Nazis and sent to Ravensbruck, a women’s concentration camp. Ravensbruck is beyond brutal. If Wein was pulling her punches, it makes me sick to think how bad Ravensbruck really was, because Wein’s version is intense. Rose struggles to survive with her health, her sanity, and her friends until the war is over.

Ravensbruck was truly horrifying. Just reading about the “Rabbits”—Polish prisoners who were experimented on in grotesque and abused in terribly painful ways—is painful. All the residents of the camp, women from the Red Army, the Polish, the Jews, and a scattering of Americans are all deplorably “cared” for. The things they are made to do…. *shudder* Yet, there is an under-current of hope amid all this pain that can’t be denied. Knowing Wein’s attention to detail and research skills, I can only hope the read “Rabbits” had the same mentality as Wein’s. As with most accounts of WWII and the Holocaust—in fiction and nonfiction—I came away feeling both emotionally drained, moved, and haunted.

Elizabeth Wein’s characters live and breathe. That’s the only way I can think to describe them. They all feel so real, with all their feelings, loves, desires, hatreds, friendships, opinions, fears and souls. Their stories are intense and shocking, heartbreaking and disturbing. Wein’s writing is just as powerful in Rose Under Fire as it was in Code Name Verity, even with Rose telling her story after the fact, whereas Maddie and Julie’s stories felt more immediate and dangerous as their stories were told more as it happened. As you can probably guess, I highly recommended both books.

Barrie Hardymon of NPR, compared Rose Under Fire to Code Name Verity, wrote that Rose Under Fire is “a quieter, less breathless read, which ultimately makes it that much more devastating.”

I completely agree with that remark. Get Code Name Verity, if you haven’t already read it, then get Rose Under Fire, which will be released September 10.

Rose Under Fire
By Elizabeth Wein
Published by Disney-Hyperion
Released September 10, 2013
368 pages, Hardcover
ISBN 9781423183099
Acquired from NetGalley; thank you to the publisher for
allowing me to read and review this book.
Rated: 5/5




Reboot by Amy Tintera

July 19, 2013 Books 4

13517455Y’all. I did something the other day I haven’t done in…oh…ages. If ever. I bought, and read, a book…in one day. In one day people. Can you believe that? I surely can’t. And it was this book, Reboot, by Amy Tintera.

Reboot is a zombie book. The word “zombie” is never used in the book, but it is a zombie book, just not in the traditional sense. The zombies in this book are exactly the way they were in life; except better. Stronger, faster, smarter, they don’t get sick, they don’t decay – they are like the ultimate soldier. And, like most YA dystopian books, it is a fast read. Obviously, since I read it in one day! The description from the book summary sums it up neatly; “…this fast-paced dystopian thrill ride…” Yet, I feel that Reboot is more than your typical YA dystopian thrill ride.

Wren Connolly died five years ago. She was dead, from three gunshot wounds to the chest. After 178 minutes, she woke up. Since Wren was dead so long before she came back, she is stronger, less emotional, and heals almost instantly, in a word, she is one of the deadliest Reboots HARC (Human Advancement and Repopulation Corporation) has ever had. Her job? Capturing the sick, the Rebooted, and the criminal from the slums of the Republic of Texas.

Callum, dead 22 minutes, is just the opposite. Having been dead for such a short time left him with more humanity than the desirable, violent, and controllabe, reboots. And all his attention seems to be on Wren. Wren, confused by all this unwanted attention, is caught off guard. In a strange turn of events (for her) she takes him on as his trainer. And what starts as a challenge for both of them, becomes more than either ever dreamed. And I’m not just talking romance here, people.

Wren goes through quite a metamorphosis in this book and really presents Tintera’s skill. Before Callum, Wren is hard as nails, by the book, complete and Total Reboot. After Callum, well…Lenore (from her review at Presenting Lenore) called this the “second rebooting of Wren” which I think is the perfect description for what happens here. Wren learns, or relearns, things long forgotten about herself and, quite possibly, begins to redefine what being a Reboot is. Like most typical YA, there is a central romance, and yes, I was pulling for the couple, but I found Tintera’s play with her characters far more interesting, especially Wren; a delightfully conflicted character. Tintera’s commentary on humanity and what it means to be human, not to mention our treatment of each other, was fascinating. Plus, the romance isn’t all saccharine sweetness. Tintera did a good job of balancing the “hey, I just met you, and this is crazy, but gosh I think I love you” chemistry with all the lovely conflict, without making it too angsty.

In short, I really enjoyed this novel and look forward to the next in the series. Yes, you know it. It’s a series!

Reboot by Amy Tintera
ISBN-13: 9780062217073
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 5/7/2013
Pages: 365
Rating: 4/5



The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

June 6, 2013 Book Reviews, Books, eBooks 10

13326831Remember how I said a few weeks ago that book comparisons make me nervous?

Well, I’m about to make one. And yes, this makes me nervous.

The Testing seems to be the latest dystopian YA “IT” novel, heir-apparent to The Hunger Games. Cia Vale lives with her family in the Five Lakes Colony, one of the few colonies left in what was America after the Seven Stages War. The Seven Stages War left the country is ruins, the land almost completely barren, and the water mostly undrinkable. The few who remain struggle to get the things they need from the ravaged land. Cia’s father and brothers are some of the citizens who work with the land, developing new crops that can flourish and sustain their colony.

Cia, who is graduating from high school, seems to be living her life to go to university, so that she can be like her father. To go to university, however, one must go through a process called Testing. It has been 15 years since anyone from Five Lakes Colony has been picked for testing. She’s hoping this year will be different.

At first, it appears it’s not.

But later, she finds out she has been picked. I’m not going into the politics of what happens with that, as it would be giving away tooooooo much. Let’s just say she gets picked. She goes to Testing.

All of this, before the shift to the Testing, was fascinating to me. I loved the world building, the way the colony worked, the interaction between Cia and her family. It was just too brief. Because this is YA dystopia, and YA dystopia doesn’t take long to GET TO THE POINT.

The point is to get to the Testing. Once there, the book begins to feel suspiciously familiar.

The Testing consists of 4 parts. The first three test basic skills. The fourth. Well. The fourth is where things begin to feel very, very familiar.

Spoiler alert:

It felt like a complete rip off of The Hunger Games. Except with a gun instead of arrows.

Spoiler over.

There is a lot of politics, and of course the environmental message (which actually didn’t bother me), and OF COURSE the romance between the two hometown friends. Which felt very forced and unnecessary to me. Actually, most of it felt forced to me. And derivative. The beginning was so good, I was so into it and all, and then it just went down hill. But, that is too me. I think I’ve read too much YA lately.  But, let me be blunt. If you are looking for another Hunger Games, as much as it makes me nervous to say it, this book is for you. If you’re tired of the formula, but think it sounds good, give it a try! You’ll probably like it (I did LIKE some of it, I’m just disappointed I didn’t LOVE it). If you are really tired of the formula, I’d keep on moving. To me, the book had a lot of potential it just didn’t live up to. I may read the next in the series (because of course, it’s a trilogy). I’m going to wait to read the description before I decide though.

The Testing
By Joelle Charbonneau
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children (June 4, 2013)
336 pages (hardcover)
Acquired from NetGalley
Rated 3/5



Splintered by A. G. Howard

June 5, 2013 Books, eBooks 5

9781419704284_p0_v1_s600 Before I get into my thoughts on this book, let me just say, I think it’s very ballsy to put “Welcome to the real Wonderland” on the cover of this book, as if the Wonderland Lewis Carroll created wasn’t the real one. Really ballsy. Especially when you’re taking a classic, beloved by many book, and, well, making it your own.

Lucky for Amulet Books and Ms. Howard, I loved the book. With a few reservations. Number one: That Cover. I mean, really.


Alyssa Gardner hears things. Not just any things, but voices. The voices of bugs and plants. It’s the family disease. A descendant of Alice Liddell, THE Alice Liddell of Alice in Wonderland fame, all the women of her line have heard voices. Her mother is in an institution. Her grandmother leapt from a window shortly after Alyssa’s mother was born, believing she could fly. Alyssa lives in the shadow of these events and dreads her own future. But when her mother takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that it may not actually be a disease. It may actually be a curse.

Okay, so you probably all know by now that I love it when authors take classic stories and turn them on their ear, at least when the do it well. Howard, in this case, does it pretty well. I loved this premise. And I loved, loved, LOVED the way she took it and made it darker. More sinister. And infinitely more twisted that Carroll ever did. And I loved Alyssa’s journey through Wonderland, undoing all the “mistakes” Alice made originally. The cast of characters was great. Alyssa was great. I love a flawed protagonist in a coming-of-age story. You could say I’m a sucker for them.

My few reservations. Mostly, YET ANOTHER LOVE TRIANGLE. And yet another perfect perfect boy who loves the girl. From Edward Cullen on down, I am sick of the beautiful perfect boys. And of COURSE, to balance him out, the other guy is the dark, mysterious, slightly dangerous type. OF COURSE. And damn it, I still like it. It’s a love/hate relationship; me and these characters. Always has been, always will be.

Bits I liked:

“Tearing down the rest of the world won’t make you happy. Look inside yourself. Because finding who you were meant to be? What you were put into this world to do? That’s what fills the emptiness. It’s the only things that can.”

“Do you really think these are Alice’s tears?” I ask. “That I’m supposed to make them go away somehow?”

“I’m the wrong guy to ask. I just saw a skeleton with antlers and a forest of aphid-noshing flower zombies.” (Me: I don’t know why, but this just struck me as hilarious.)

“No one knows what he or she is capable of until things are at their darkest.”

by A. G. Howard
Amulet Books
January 1, 2013
384 Pages
ISBN-13: 9781419704284
Got it from: NetGalley
Rated: 4/5



Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

May 3, 2013 Book Reviews, Books, eBooks 13

Some of my bookish besties were talking/discussing/raving about this book in an email the other day, right before the readathon, so on a whim, I bought it. I read it during the readathon, with barely stopping to eat, go to the bathroom, and even doing my hosting duties. Yes, it is that good. Thank you Chris and Ana.

Now, onto what it’s about. Besides being about awesomeness.

Gosh. Where do I start? I know! The summary!

”Bono met his wife in high school,” Park says.
“So did Jerry Lee Lewis,” Eleanor answers.
“I’m not kidding,” he says.
“You should be,” she says, “we’re sixteen.”
“What about Romeo and Juliet?”
“Shallow, confused, then dead.”
”I love you,” Park says.
“Wherefore art thou,” Eleanor answers.
“I’m not kidding,” he says.
“You should be.”

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

Hmm…that doesn’t really say enough. Okay. The book starts on the school bus. Park, half-Korean fan of comics and punk and New Wave, is listening to music, pointedly ignoring the clueless bullies behind him, when on walks Eleanor. The New Girl. Eleanor immediately stands out for her red hair, her odd clothing, her size, and by the fact that she can’t seem to find a seat. Finally, out of impatient kindness, Park lets her sit beside him. Days of silence between the two stretch on until one day, Park notices something. Eleanor is reading the comics in his lap. Slowly, their relationship deepens to conversation, and then feelings. Oh, the feelings.

Eleanor’s home life is heartbreaking. She shares a room with her four siblings. They are forced to tiptoe around their violent step-father. Her mother turns a blind eye to the things happening right under her nose. Park, and the world he represents, becomes Eleanor’s haven. Things are not good for Eleanor, except for her relationship with Park. Told in alternating voices, it is impossible to not fall in love with Eleanor and Park, separately and together. They are, to be cliché (which they hate), quite adorable.

And I don’t want to say much more than that. I went into this book not knowing much more than the summary above and that my readerly friends loved this book. Hopefully you will trust me as much as I trusted them. Rainbow Rowell’s writing is exquisite. I loved every syllable of this novel. She pulled me in, she kept me there, and she made me reluctant to leave. She took what could be misconstrued as a typical young adult romance and made it into so. much. more. And she gave me Eleanor. So tough. So fragile. And Park. So kind. Two teens with so many awkward, typical teenager tropes, and made you fall in love with them. Hopelessly.

Favorite bits:

“I love you,” he said.

She looked up at him, her eyes shiny and black, then looked away. “I know,” she said.

He pulled one of his arms out from under her and traced her outline against the couch. He could spend all day like this, running his hand down her ribs, into her waist, out to her hips and back again…. If he had all day, he would. If she weren’t made of so many other miracles.

“You know?” he repeated. She smiled, so he kissed her. “You’re not the Han Solo in this relationship, you know.”

“I’m totally the Han Solo,” she whispered. It was good to hear her. It was good to remember it was Eleanor under all this new flesh.

“Well, I’m not the Princess Leia,” he said.

“Don’t get so hung up on gender roles,” Eleanor said.”

“You can be Han Solo,” he said, kissing her throat. “And I’ll be Boba Fett. I’ll cross the sky for you.”

“What do you want to show me?”

“Nothing, really. I just want to be alone with you for a minute.”

He pulled her to the back of the driveway, where they were almost completely hidden by a line of trees and the RV and the garage.

“Seriously?” she said. “That was so lame.”

“I know,” he said, turning to her. “Next time, I’ll just say, ‘Eleanor, follow me down this dark alley, I want to kiss you.'”

She didn’t roll her eyes. She took a breath, then closed her mouth. He was learning how to catch her off guard.

She pushed her hands deeper in her pockets, so he put his hands on her elbows. “Next time,” he said, “I’ll just say, ‘Eleanor, duck behind these bushes with me, I’m going to lose my mind if I don’t kiss you.'”

She didn’t move, so he thought it was probably okay to touch her face. Her skin was as soft as it looked, white and smooth as freckled porcelain.

“I’ll just say, ‘Eleanor, follow me down this rabbit hole…'”

He laid his thumb on her lips to see if she’d pull away. She didn’t. He leaned closer. He wanted to close his eyes, but he didn’t trust her not to leave him standing there.”

Title: Eleanor & Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Published: 2/26/2013
ISBN: 9781250012579
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
I got it from Barnes & Noble with my own monies.



I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

March 25, 2013 Book Reviews, Books, eBooks 5


I Hunt Killers
By Barry Lyga
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Published 4/3/2012
Pages: 359
Gift from a friend (Thanks Andi!)

I have so many thoughts on this book that, even a couple months after I read it and cogitated on it, I still don’t quite know what to say. It is a conundrum.

Firstly, let me tell you what the book is about, if you haven’t heard of it already.

Since I can’t seem to think of a way to describe it without giving too much away, here is the description from the book:

It was a beautiful day. It was a beautiful field.
Except for the body.

Jazz is a likable teenager. A charmer, some might say.

But he’s also the son of the world’s most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, “Take Your Son to Work Day” was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could–from the criminals’ point of view.

And now, even though Dad has been in jail for years, bodies are piling up in the sleepy town of Lobo’s Nod. Again.

In an effort to prove murder doesn’t run in the family, Jazz joins the police in the hunt for this new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret–could he be more like his father than anyone knows?

From acclaimed author Barry Lyga comes a riveting thriller about a teenager trying to control his own destiny in the face of overwhelming odds.

Goodness me, but I am unforgivably conflicted over this book. Or was. I had a hard time coming to terms with my feelings about this story. I admit to having that tendency (one I’m working on, believe me) of seeing someone as just plain evil, these people who just love to kill people, and not seeing them as having a mental illness. This is unforgiveable of me, and like I said, something I’m working on. The dichotomy of Jazz and his father actually perfectly mirrors this. Jazz’s father just seems to glorify in his evilness -he loves it – while Jazz struggles with the mental illness of this compulsion to kill. Billy Dent loves his “profession.” Jazz wants to do everything he can NOT to end up like Dear Old Dad. And, while not many people have to fight a compulsion to kill exactly, they do have other compulsions to fight; lying, cheating, stealing, eating, greediness, laziness, etc., etc. So I can see where readers could identify with Jazz – if they can get over the distaste of a character who daydreams about knives, blood, and what it would be like to marry the two. I was able to get over that distaste simply because Jazz is such a great character. Brilliant, charming, and more than a little troubled; Jazz is the ultimate conflicted, unreliable character. We all have a capacity for violence, for temptation, for desire, for love, for hate, and we all have the capacity to fight it…or not. It’s our choices that make us what we are. Jazz is constantly fighting his compulsion, he chooses to be good, he chooses to fight by catching killers. There is something amazingly enthralling about that. I felt… all the feelings… for Jazz, mainly because he never quite believes he IS good. I can’t wait to read the next book to see how he’s doing.

Barry Lyga did some intricate plotting with this novel. All the little details like the reason Jazz dates Connie, his best friend Howie with his blood disorder, Jazz’s crazy grandmother,

Favorite bits:

Jazz hadn’t given her many details of exactly what life in the Dent house had been like, but he’d told her enough that she knew it wasn’t hearts and flowers. Well, except for the occasional heart cut from a chest. And the kind of flowers you send to funerals.

Jazz spent a chunk of the day fantasizing about ways to kill his grandmother, plotting them and planning them in the most excruciating, gruesome detail his imagination would allow. It turned out his imagination allowed quite a bit. He spent the rest of the day convincing himself–over and over–not to do it.

“This is why I forgive, but I don’t forget. When you forget someone, the forgiveness doesn’t mean anything anymore.”