Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Off Topic: If I Stay Movie

WOW! The book hasn't even been published yet and already Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight, Thirteen, Lords of Dogtown) is being tapped to direct the movie version of Gayle Forman's If I Stay.

Read about it here. Too bad the author of the article predicts that it will be an annoying Young Adult movie... but you already read my rant about that when I blogged about the Twilight Movie...

Personally, I can't wait for the film. If I Stay was a fabulous book and it will be very interesting to see how they adapt it for the movie... plus if they film in in Portland, OR that would be an even bigger bonus!

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Forest of Hands and Teeth-- Carrie Ryan

Imagine that your whole life was confined to a medieval-like village surrounded by a series of gates and fences that confine the Unconsecrated to the massive forest beyond. What would it feel like to know that the survival of your village rests on your ability to reproduce, as fire and disease has lowered the birthrate dangerously? What would life be like if the entire existence of the remaining human race was sheltered within those fences... would you try to escape? Would you risk becoming one of them, one of the Unconsecrated, just to see what else is out there?

Mary has lived her entire life within these confinements. When her mother becomes one of the Unconsecrated and no man speaks for her, Mary is required to live with the Sisterhood (a group of holy women who protect the village from the Unconsecrated who live in the Forest of Hands and Teeth just beyond the fences). Mary wants more than confinement and religion in her life. She wants love, she wants freedom, and more than anything, she wants to see the ocean. Mary grew up listening to the tales her mother wove about the world beyond the fences, and it's thoughts of the ocean that help Mary manage her burdens.

But one day, the Unconsecrated break through their barriers and Mary is forced to make a choice: should she stay and fight or flee to discover freedom for the first time in her life?

Oh, and what are the Unconsecrated? They're ZOMBIES of course!

While I won't say this is the finest piece of literature I have read, there is something about this book that really stuck with me. I find that although I finished it three days ago, certain aspects of the plot keep jumping to mind. I think teens will like it, and it's a little bit fantasy, a little bit horror and a great, classic tale of zombie. I would recommend this to teens who like futuristic dystopias, zombie books, or tales of unrequited love.

To be published April 2009.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Suicide Notes-- Michael Thomas Ford

Do you remember what it was like to experience a humiliation so terrible, that just not existing seems like the only solution? It's been a while for me (thankfully!!) but I remember feeling that way a lot in High School... and Jr. High for that matter.

In Suicide Notes we meet Jeff, a fifteen year old teen who celebrated the New Year by slitting his wrists and waking up in the psych ward of the local hospital. But the Jeff we meet doesn't seem depressed. In fact, he seems witty, with-it, silly, fun, and like a totally normal teen... except he's in the psych ward and has bandages on his wrists. Even meeting the other teens in the ward, all through Jeff's perspective mind you, gives the feeling that Jeff is totally alright and he just made a silly little mistake.

But then, as a good book (and good therapy) often does, little by little outer layers are removed, and we can see Jeff for who he really is. Without giving to much away, I will say this book deals with issues of friendship, trust, sexuality, and family all through Jeff's authentically teenage voice.

I would recommend this to teens who want books like Brent Runyan's Burn Journals, Peter Cameron's Someday this Pain will be Useful to You, Patricia McCormick's Cut, and maybe Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Wintergirls-- Laurie Halse Anderson

I have always loved it when poets use seasons as a way to describe an emotion or a feeling... one of my favorite examples, historically, is "In the Springtime of his Voodoo" (Tori Amos). When I first heard that Laurie Halse Anderson was writing a book called Wintergirls, I was picturing girls in fluffy coats and woolly hats frolicking in the snow not unlike Let it Snow by John Green, Lauren Myracle, and Maureen Johnson. And boy was I wrong.

Wintergirls isn't about snowbunnies. It's about girls who are trapped in the winter of their lives. They are encased in giant bricks of ice that just won't thaw. Wintergirls are tenaciously weak, stubborn starving survivors. Wintergirls are poets, obsessors, emotional/less. Wintergirls are anorexics, bulimics, and addicts.

Lia is a wintergirl. She is also anorexic, though I don't remember her ever referring to herself in that way. When her fellow wintergirl, her recently former BFF Cassie dies in a grotesquely tragic way, Lia tumbles from her precarious point of stability and falls deeply into the throws of her eating disorder. Laurie Halse Anderson gets it right; she manages to communicate both the physical and emotional causes and repercussions of a severe eating disorder while maintaining a very believable first person narrative. She uses such lyrical, poetic language, and while sometimes it's hard to tell what is actual fact and what's a product of Lia's jumbled brain, the smudging of the lines of reality add to the overall tone and atmosphere of the book.

Can you tell I loved it?

I would recommend this book for girls who want to read about eating disorders, death of a friend, and relationships with other teens in general. I would also pass this on to teens who like verse-novels, even though this isn't one.

This book will be published in March of 2009.

**UPDATE** LHA just posted a link to this review on her blog!! I am freaking out with joy over here!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

If I Stay-- Gayle Forman

Ooooohhhh, a ghost story! But not just any ghost story... If I Stay is a novel of love, family, music, and the most important decision a girl could ever make: should Mia stay in her body and in the earthly realm, or should she go to the ethers and beyond?

Mia is a teenage cello prodigy. Her boyfriend is a punkrocker whose band is just starting to get national attention. Her parents are so cool, they almost seem fake (her mother wore pleather to her own wedding and her father is one of those retro-chic dudes). Although Mia has some tough decisions to make, and she has to work extremely hard for all the successes she's had, her life is pretty darn amazing... And she knows it. But then the unthinkable happens: while cruising down the road in a freak Oregon snowstorm, her dad crashes the car she and her entire immediate family are riding in... and in that moment, everything for Mia changes forever.

It seems like I just spoiled the plot for you a little, by telling you that Mia gets in this big car crash, doesn't it? Well, perk up, I didn't spoil anything! That happens in, like, the first chapter. This book instantly sucks you in; it's compelling, haunting, achingly beautiful, and well written. I also appreciated that Mia had a good relationship with her parents (I think parents and adults in general get a little demonized in teen fiction). Overall, this was a very enjoyable book, and I expect to see it receive many positive reviews (it will be published on 4/2/09).

I would recommend this book to teen girls who liked Whitcomb's A Certain Slant of Light, Zevin's Elsewhere, or to teens who enjoy books that focus on relationships between people in general.