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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Shards & Ashes

By: Kelley Armstrong, Rachel Caine, Kami Garcia, Nancy Holder, Melissa Marr, Beth Revis, Veronica Roth, Carrie Ryan, and Margaret Stohl

When you want to try a new dessert there is almost always a taster tray.  The book Shards & Ashes was just like a taster tray.  Taster trays are great except for the fact that a taste of each dessert is never quite enough of each dessert.  After each short story I couldn't help but feel unfinished.  I always wanted to know more.  
Although the writing in the book was amazing, the plots didn’t seem finished.  At the end of each story I wanted to flip the page and begin the next chapter.  There was only one problem with that; there was no next chapter.  All of them felt like an introduction into something bigger. 
Many of the stories felt post-apocalyptic or almost dystopian.  I wasn’t completely sure how some of the stories were related to the others.  The first story, “Hearken,” was like a cheesecake while the rest of the stories were some sort of chocolate.  It was my favorite but didn’t fit with the others very well.  
The second story of the book is called “Branded.”  It is about a girl named Rayne.  In the world Rayne lives in there is the town and then the outside.  She is in the town.  The town walls protect those inside from werewolves and animal-human hybrids that live outside.  Rayne’s friend, Braedon, was discovered to be a werewolf and forced out of the town.  The rest of the story is about how Rayne uses another girl, Pricilla, to go into the outside.  Both Rayne and Pricilla end up looking for Braedon.  By the end, one leg of their journey is completed but not the rest.  I wanted to know what happened after the story ended.  The ending felt abrupt and not really like an ending.  
All of the stories were really good until your spoon hit the bottom of the bowl and came up empty.  If each story was longer I would have given the book a 4 but because none of them had a satisfactory conclusion this book is a 2.5.

Boy Toy

By Barry Lyga, Published in 2007

       This book follows the development of Josh Mendel as he relieves and faces his past where he was molested by his seventh-grade history teacher. Now, let me tell you: this book is not for the faint of heart. A lot of this book directly relieves those encounters with his teacher, so you might get pretty uncomfortable. This is a book that might be pulled from more conservative shelves, if you know what I mean.
        But, that's only part of it. In fact, this level of description is probably intrinsic to the story, and allows you to come to a higher level of understanding with Josh and find a deeper meaning with the novel that would have been lost without this fearless exploration of Josh's past.
        Anyway, if this book was to be written at all, I think Barry Lyga was the perfect author to do it. In many parts, I found his writing to be both beautiful and inspiring; he is obviously skilled at his trade and should definitely keep doing what he does best. Take this quote for example, found on page 228-229 ( no spoilers, I promise!)

        "See, forgiveness doesn't happen all at once. It's not an event—it's a process. Forgiveness happens while you're asleep, while you're dreaming, while you're in line at the coffee shop, while you're showering, eating, farting, jerking off. It happens in the back of your mind, and then one day you realize that you don't hate the person anymore, that your anger has gone away somewhere. And you understand. You've forgiven them. You don't know how or why. It sneaked up on you. It happened in the small spaces between thoughts and in the seconds between ideas and blinks. That's where forgiveness happens. Because anger and hatred, when left unfed, bleed away like air from a punctured tire, over time and days and years.
        Forgiveness is stealth.
        At least, that's what I hope."

        Just beautiful. When I read this, I stopped just to read it again. I think I love this book. I'll probably go and read his other teen novel, The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl, right after this. Adults, you're missing out.

        The topic in this book was written with undeterred fingers. And it probably wasn't easy to write; it's not often that you get writing that so closely examines something that can be so shocking. However shocking it may be, throughout the novel you can definitely bond with Josh. In this book I could feel his anger, sadness, regret, empathy, love, humor, and everything in between. In short, this book was expertly written with a skilled hand that shouldn't be forgotten in the midst of the topic. As the novel progresses, you see true change and development in Josh that winds up into a truly cathartic and satisfying ending.
        To me, this book was worth reading and experiencing. It's definitely worth its salt. It was deft, complex, meaningful, and explored a new path that has left important meaning with Josh, the author, and me. If you give it the chance that it deserves, it can do the same for you.
        I rate this book a 5 out of 5. It deserves it. If it could be a food, it's sushi. Something strange and interesting that you've never tried before and curious about. Raw fish might be too much for you to handle, but if you can, it's delicious and totally worth it.

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