The only advantage to being home sick for the past two days is that it’s afforded me the time to do some serious reading. I’ve become a pro at creating reading nests on the couch, incorporating an easy exit from under the blanket for bathroom runs and within arm-length-reach of my green tea. Don’t forget the sonnet of snoring puppy that fills in the blank air between passing engines of cars and delivery trucks.
Book One: Toys by James Patterson
Thursday, I made it my mission to complete a novel given to me by a student with the best of intentions. Super pleased teacher side of me said, “I’m glad that he’s so excited about reading this novel that he had to share it with his English teacher.” Self-proclaimed-savvy reader side of me said, “Oh. Yea, I can see why a less than excitable reader/ 14 year old boy might like this book.”
The basic plot of the novel actually wasn’t that bad. If I were reading the same synopsis for a movie, I would imagine that Jason Statham or Vin Diesel might be our leading man, and would be also thinking of which excuse would relieve me of the duty of escorting Dan to Tinseltown.
Hays Baker and his wife Lizbeth possess super-human strength, extraordinary intelligence, stunning looks, a sex life to die for, and two beautiful children. Of course they do—they’re Elites, endowed at birth with the very best that the world can offer. The only problem in their perfect world: humans and their toys!
The one with the most toys—dies
The top operative for the Agency of Change, Hays has just won the fiercest battle of his career. He has been praised by the President, and is a national hero. But before he can savor his triumph, he receives an unbelievable shock that overturns everything he thought was true. Suddenly Hays is on the other side of the gun, forced to leave his perfect family and fight for his life.
Now a hunted fugitive, Hays is thrown into a life he never dreamed possible—fighting to save humans everywhere from extinction. He enlists all of his training to uncover the truth that will save millions of lives—maybe even his own.
My review: This is my very first Patterson read and I was completely disappointed. I’m left wondering how so many people could have fallen in love with Patterson series and his general writing style. If you’re up for an easy read, something you would take on vacation or a long flight, this would be the book for you. I found the plot and characters to be quiet flat and far too predictable. The one thing that kept the pages turning was the fact that the chapters were no more than two-to-three pages as the most. I turned reading this book into a game. How much could I read in 30 minutes? I challenged myself to read a chapter a minute, and was able to without simply skimming and scanning. After that feat had been achieved, I then hypothesized that I could SKIP twenty chapters and not be worse for the wear. Again, I was right on. Overall, I would say that this novel would be good for a young person (13-16) or those who want to escape to another world quite easily.
Book Two: Paper Towns by John Green
After yesterday’s post about my love of John Green, there should be no doubt in your mind that this review will definitely be favorable. I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent with Green’s writing style and characters.
Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life–dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge–he follows.
After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues–and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees of the girl he thought he knew.
I’ll be honest with you, the concept of this story really did hit home with me. I found myself able to connect more with the story of Quentin on an individual level and not so much with his pursuit of Margo. I really didn’t feel either way about her specifically. I’ve had people in my youth who were important to me at one point, but once they felt the popularity growth, our friendship basically imploded. I was never popular, I was never chic or mainstream or comfortable in my own skin enough to consider that anyone else found me interesting. Rules were meant to be followed and the only time in which I would consider an alternative to that mantra was when I thought it would translate into popularity or a genuine investment in me from someone else. I was a cheap date in that way. So when Quentin followed Margo around, passing up on his own life and experiences for her, both on the magical opening night of the novel or throughout the remaining 90%, my heart both broke and hoped for him. The mature minded me said, “Ditch that self-serving $@#*!# and quit expecting happiness and contentment to come from her! She’s not thinking about how this adventure will impact you, Quentin! Stand up for yourself and see the genuine friendship from Radar and Ben (two friends who will be seen in public with him).” The naive and wanderluster side of me said, “But what about the Great Perhaps?” DAMN YOU JOHN GREEN AND PUDGE AND ALASKA! So yes, I loved this book and want to put a copy of it in each and every hand of all my students from here to eternity.
Book Three: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Cloud Atlas consists of six nested stories that take the reader from the remote South Pacific in the nineteenth century to a distant, post-apocalyptic future. Each tale is revealed to be a story that is read (or observed) by the main character in the next. The first five stories are interrupted at a key moment. After the sixth story, the other five stories are returned to and closed, in reverse chronological order, and each ends with the main character reading or observing the chronologically previous work in the chain. Eventually, readers end where they started, with Adam Ewing in the nineteenth century South Pacific.
What you need to know first is that I am only 100 pages into this 500 page novel. I have not seen the movie either. This book was chosen by a newly-joined book club that I participate in through Meetup.com. I would NOT have chosen this book on my own because it’s not my style. It’s a little historical fiction, science fiction, and not YA (let’s be honest). However, the structure totally intrigues me. There are six mini stories within the novel as a whole. Each is set in a different time period and has different characters, and you would not expect there to be any connection between the six. I have read through the first two and a half novellas:
The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing.
Letters from Zedelghem
Half-Lives: The First Luisa Rey Mystery
It has taken me FOOOOOOOOOREVER! to get through “The Pacific” and “Letters” because of the tone and language choices. They are set in the past and the language doesn’t do much for me. While I appreciate that many appreciate this stylistic choice of trying to be as authentic to the jargon used at the time, it made me feel disengaged. Again, this novel wasn’t my choice so I am trying to keep as open a mind as I can. I trudged through both of the first pieces and was very pleased with I began reading “Half-Lives” because it was more “main Amanda stream,” as it was set in the 1970s and I could relate more to the vocabulary. On a personal note, it was a learning experience for me because the uncomfortableness that I felt not knowing the terminology must be exactly how my students feel who have a language or cognitive barrier. I’m certainly far from a stupid person (only in my ability to cook outside of a crockpot and when I continue to fail at properly accessorizing) but I questioned myself quite a bit as I read this. I should be able to understand and appreciate this more, right?
I’ll keep you updated as I continue to be a bull in the china shop that is this novel.