Category Archives: Don’t Read This!

Jonathan Safran Foer: A Teen’s Take

20 Under 40I stumbled upon Jonathan Safran Foer by accident. See, my family was on vacation and I really, really needed a book. I was desperate enough to go for a—gasp—supernatural teen romance, but instead, was lucky enough to grab Twenty Under Forty, a New Yorker collection of short stories. This book changed my life, in a large part due to Foer’s addition, called “Here We Aren’t, So Quickly.”  His piece is short, only a few pages long, but it opened up what fiction could be for me. Stuck in the world of YA fiction, usually written in the first or third person with limited character development and plenty of action/romance, here was something revolutionary. Each sentence in the work starts with “You,” “I,” or “We,” and explains life married life through deceptively simple sentences. Strange? Completely. Transfixing? Absolutely. Here’s an excerpt:

You were terrible in emergencies. You were wonderful in “The Cherry Orchard.” I was always never complaining, because confrontation was death to me, and because everything was pretty much always pretty much O.K. with me. You were not able to approach the ocean at night. I didn’t know where my voice was between my phone and yours.

Everything is Illuminated

One would assume that as soon as I read that, I would go hunting for anything and everything else by Foer. I didn’t. I don’t know if I was worried that the rest of his work would ruin the perfection of that short story, or maybe I just didn’t want to know. Then, I walked into my English teacher’s classroom, and I spotted Foer’s first book, Everything is Illuminated. With only a little bit of begging, the book was mine for a week. Again, I was transfixed. It was brilliant, weaving generations of stories across its pages. It’s funny. It’s clever. It made me cry on the bus.

Extremely LoudI’m currently reading Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Thus far, I AM REALLY DISAPPOINTED. I LOVE FOER’S OTHER BOOKS AND THEN HE GOES AND WRITES THIS?!? I know, this may seem unfair, but let me explain. Foer is incredible in the other two works I mentioned. Then, you get Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, expecting the same quality. Instead, there is a nine-year-old boy that would have to be a genius in order to know and say what he does in the book, but there is no mention of his special abilities in the book itself. (The kid is reading A Brief History of Time, but attends school at an average grade level). If this were the only flaw, I could deal with that, I really could, but the rhythm feels “off.” Foer’s usual writing has a pulse, a steady beat that forms a backbone in his writing. This, however, feels forced, as if someone made him write the plot, and all the lines that would normally be poetic or would reveal something “deeper” about life just feel pretentious. The take away: read Everything is Illuminated. Hunt down “Here We Aren’t, So Quickly.” Don’t even look at Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. It’s not worth your time.

-Teen Blogger

Bombay Blues – Dimple travels to Bombay, experiences life

Bombay BluesTitle:  Bombay Blues

Author: Tanuja Desai Hidier

Six Word Review: Dimple travels to Bombay, experiences life.

Summary: Dimple Lala is a college student and avid photographer living in New York City, with her boyfriend Karsh.  She travels to Bombay with Karsh to celebrate her cousin’s wedding.  Together they also plan to explore their homeland, each in search of questions about their heritage and themselves.  Dimple encounters many things during her summer in Bombay—most of which she was not expecting.  Karsh distances himself and her family is topsy-turvy with the wedding plans.  Dimple realizes she must explore Bombay on her own and she finds out more than she ever imagined about her culture, her family and love.

I started reading because: The cover looked really interesting (admit it, you judge books by their covers, too) and the first few pages were engaging.

I kept reading because: I hate to leave books unfinished.

I would give this book 5/10 stars, because the poetic, stream-of-consciousness writing style got monotonous halfway through, the plot didn’t seem to be going anywhere, and the dreamy quality of the storyline made it hard to follow.  However, I liked Dimple’s charming, determined and inquisitive personality.

I loved the detailed descriptions of Dimple’s family and life in colorful, exciting Bombay.

I hated the descriptions of everything when they became excessive and the stream-of-consciousness style.  The poetic style seemed more suited to a shorter story.

If the lead character Dimple were stuck on a deserted island, she would take pictures of everything because she sees the world through the eyes of her precious film camera.

Anything else we should know? This book is loooooooooong. It’s 550 pages of poetic rambling, which didn’t really work for me, but maybe it’s your thing.  If it is, you will really enjoy this book!  Also, dialogue is denoted by dashes, instead of the usual quotation marks, which can be confusing at first, but I got used to it.

–Gabriella, Ballard, Teen Blogger

BAL

World Soul: Telepathy sci-fi with Soviet undertones

worldsoulWorld Soul, an interesting look at the quasi-communist applications of telepathy.

Without giving too much of the book away, the premise is that a biotosis (plant thing) is created that allows people intense telepathic communication with each other. Not just of simply reading minds but of actually becoming someone else. This book takes the overused sci-fi concept of telepathy and takes an interesting spin on the subject, with obvious Soviet undertones.

This book is a great read for people who enjoy the concept of telepathy but are tired of its overused and cliché execution, along with lovers of 70’s sci-fi. Beware sci-fi readers who are interested in a quick, easy, and fun read, for you will not find it here.

–Sam, Greenwood Teen Blogger

GWD

Don’t Read This! Blood Ninja

Blood Ninja

Title: Blood Ninja

Author: Nick Lake

Summary:  A boy in warring states period Japan (1500s) becomes a vampire after ninjas kill his dad and goes on an adventure with destiny and good ninjas and vampires and nobility.

Gut reaction:  It was OK …but later I realized it really sucked.

Why:  The writing style is professional and it feels (while you’re still reading) that it’s good but given time to reflect, it’s the worst book ever. It’s very historically inaccurate and the characters get away with all sorts of stuff they shouldn’t.

Who would like this book:  people who like Japan but don’t know much about it, people who like cheap vampire novels, people who like fantasy adventures – it’s really a very European story.

Spoiler-filled Rant (don’t read if you intend to read the book): Continue reading