It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme started by Book Journey. The folks over atTeach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers have given it a children’s/YA spin. I thought it would be a fun way to recap last week’s reading and give a sneak peek of my TBR pile.
Last Week’s Books:
Francine Prose’s modern-day retelling of Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw sounded promisingly creepy. And it was creepy, at times. In this version, a teenage boy named Jack sets off for a remote island where he will spend the summer babysitting two children, without the help of TV, video games. or wi-fi. Once there, he is freaked out (as is the reader) by the strange behavior of the children and the tragic stories surrounding the island. Although the adult cook and caretaker, Linda, is at the house as well, she is little help as Jack falls prey to the two ghosts of clandestine lovers Norris and Lucy. Jack’s mind begins to unravel as he discovers the terrible influence Norris had over the children and Lucy and as he begins to fall in love with Lucy’s ghosts. This is a case in which I wished the execution was more successful. This is an epistolary novel; however, even at the beginning before he reaches the island, Jack’s voice is not that of a typical teenager and dialogue often hits a wrong note. Still, as his letters to once-girlfriend Sophie get angrier and more bizarre, one can’t help but feel a shudder or two. This book counts for my Horror Reading Challenge 2015–it’s #2 so far.
And now for Andrew Smith’s The Alex Crow, which was a brilliantly written genre-buster of a book. Here and there I have seen Smith called the “Kurt Vonnegut of YA,” and this book puts me in mind of Slaughterhouse Five. It blends the story of Ariel, a war refugee recently adopted by an American family who is attending summer camp with “brother” Max; the Melting Man, who is driving across country with a bomb in his truck and Joseph Stalin’s voice in his head; and a failed arctic expedition from the late nineteenth-century. That is not all, of course, and it is first challenging to get a handle on this tale. However, Smith not only makes it all makes sense, but makes it all about finding humanity in the midst of inhumanity. This inhumanity is fiercely and often disturbingly described, but without such treatment, I think it would seem less horrifying and make less of an impact on the reader.
Currently Reading/Listening To: