Title: The Well’s End
Author: Seth Fishman
Summary: The Well’s End follows the perspective of a 16-year-old girl named Mia Kish. Mia is like a typical high schooler (albeit in a ridiculously fancy, upper class prep school) except for her earliest memory, falling down a well as an infant, which earned her the nickname Baby Mia. However, when her school comes down with a virus that ages its victims to death in just days and the school is quarantined by soldiers in hazmat suits who aren’t afraid to shoot children, she and a handful of others, including her best friend, Jo, and a mysterious new transfer who knows things like the distance that gunfire travels, must follow the directions that her father left her to get to safety from the plague.
I loved that his novel is extremely inventive and action-packed. This book is the definition of a page-turner. The virus is a suitably terrifying threat, capable of aging a healthy adult to death in just hours. Mia is an ideal protagonist – she is smart, capable, and despite the immense amount of suffering that she undergoes, stays likable and lucid. The interactions between the characters is one of the strong points of the book, as they support each other and keep each other sane throughout. Overall, the book is primarily plot-driven, but the characters are deep enough to be interesting in their own right. I really liked how the characters fit into both the “realistic” and “science-fiction” elements of the story. I think one of the signs of good characters is if they can be likable heroes, able to think more clearly, recover more quickly, and keep fighting longer than most of us, while still retaining their unique personality and staying relatable. These characters definitely achieved that. Continue reading
Title: Cut the Lights
Author: Karen Krossing
Gut Reaction: An enjoyable and relatable book, but lacks depth.
You must read this book because… This novel explores the art of theatre through the lens of aspiring director Briar as she set out to produce her very first play, Wish Upon a Star at her performing arts high school. Along the way she must manage an unruly cast, a lethargic stage manager, and hostility from a fellow director, as she quickly discovers that the reality of her production may be very different from her original vision of the “perfect” play.
Cut the Lights is a novel heavily geared to the teenage demographic, even more so than your typical Young Adult book. The characters, setting, and primary conflict are all designed to revolve around one’s life in high school. The novel itself is written in realistic fiction format and as such intends to make the issues it addresses as relatable to the reader as possible. In that aspect the novel is quite successful as the author depicts believable characters facing problems and exhibiting emotions that appear genuine, thus allowing for greater empathy with the protagonist. The beginning of each chapter reads like a play and even includes a series of stage directions. These quirks along with the general humor scattered throughout the novel both add to its appeal.
The glaring issue with the novel lies in its attempt to cover too many issues. The novel is only a short 129 pages, yet introduces topics ranging from difficulty in compromising one’s own ideas to suicide. This causes the novel to seem overly simplistic and superficial. The author brings so much subjects into her novel, yet fails to sufficiently develop and maintain them throughout the novel. A secondary problem stemmed from the sections in the book where the author seems to have fallen into using clichés. The overarching story arc that Krossing utilizes in which protagonist receives challenging task, protagonist endeavors to succeed in their task, everything falls apart and it seems the situation is hopeless, but then the protagonist miraculously succeeding and pulls everything together, is in my opinion, a bit trite and made the ending all too predictable.
Despite its shortcomings, I did find Cut the Lights to be an interesting read. I recommend the novel to anyone looking for a light and quick read, though as I mentioned previously the book is clearly written with teenagers in mind.
Read this if you like…