Invisible Monsters, More Than This, and If I Stay

Yikes, it’s been a while! That’s what happens when I get sucked into schoolwork, though. I may try to incorporate some of my school readings into commentary on here, but we’ll see.

Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahnuik – So messed up. A commentary of physical beauty, the shallowness of modeling professions and culture, family, and consumerism. It was very hard to like the protagonist in this one, which was why it was difficult for me to read. In addition, Palahnuik’s narrative arc is one that sprinkles explanations through the course of events, leaving the reader in confusion until the “reveals” at the end. It was a little frustrating for me. I just didn’t know what was going on. That being said, I can see why so many people love this book. It is astoundingly well done. That doesn’t mean, however, that it’s pretty. Invisible Monsters really freaked me out, which is probably what it was supposed to do. I just can’t say it was fun to read.
Rating: 3/5 Stars

More Than This by Patrick Ness – I picked this one up because it was only $8 and was featured at my local independent bookstore. I’m glad I did. Ness unfolds an immersing and complex world that has the reader asking questions with the protagonist from the beginning. There are many twists and turns, and I have to admit they took me by surprise so much that I was very vocal while I was reading this book. Vast strings of profanities flew from my mouth at several points in the book. That’s one of the really cool things about More Than This: the surprise never ends, really. You think you’ve figured out the puzzle, then you’re hit with a plot twist that shakes your whole perception of Seth’s world. Also, props for POC main characters and LGBT representation that seemed authentic. That ending though. It didn’t end the way I wanted it to, but I want MORE. Please everyone, read this. I finished it in just a few days even though I was also juggling readings for several classes. Now I have to read everything else Ness has written.
Rating: 4/5 Stars

If I Stay by Gayle Forman – Alright I have to admit that I went into this book with an assumption, and was completely off the mark. We saw a clip from the movie adaptation at LeakyCon, and somehow I grabbed the idea that the story was going to revolve around a purgatory-esque place, and have a romance within it. Basically I was expecting a book about afterlife or inbetweenlife but that’s not what this book was about. It’s about life. If I Stay is told in alternating sections of present and past events. The two complement each other and build tension, and maybe it’s because I had just finished More Than This, but I kept expecting another person to show up in the present story. It just seemed so lonely. However, I did enjoy the characters. There was a punk crowd (with briefly mentioned lesbians in a pink car!) that encouraged many cool references to rockers. The Kathleen Hanna ref made my day. Family life was brilliantly depicted, especially the musical differences within. And props for acknowledging diversity within Jewish cultures. My favorite aspect of continuity in this book was the classical music. I was heavily involved in music when I was in high school, so I know how dominating the discourse and activities can be on a person’s worldview, especially when they enjoy it so much. Every time I saw a music metaphor or term, I smiled a little smile because of how real that made the main character. Also, Shostakovich was mentioned more than a few times, which brought out my inner nerd. The cello is my favorite instrument, so I really loved all of the stories involving it. I did find it super interesting though, that the main character, Mia, had never played in a group setting until she went to summer camp. Just goes to show that everyone learns differently, and great musicians can come from many different places, including a post-punk household.
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Books I’m currently chomping at the bit to read: Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle (of The Mountain Goats) and Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld. The former I have preordered and am going to pick up at an event with the author on Oct 6, the latter I’m trying to hold off on until I can buy it at the TX Teen Book Festival on Oct 18, at which Scott will be present. We’ll see how that goes. I may break and buy Afterworlds on kindle before the 18th rolls around – I really can’t wait to read it.

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