I have been reading quite as much recently, thanks to school. Regardless, I still have thoughts about books, even if I don’t review them fully. So here we have Go Set A Watchman, The Rest of Us Just Live Here, Wither, and One. As always, covers link to Goodreads. So, Mini Reviews!
I really liked this! I just loved the characters and the way they weren’t important, but there was beauty in the ordinariness. I also loved how the relationships between the characters worked, mostly. Also The family aspects were perfect. I also liked that ordinary kids knew they were smart, because that s a thing. I had just a few complaints: it was sort of plotless. It stretched out. and the themes of friendship, and family, but it needed a little more plot I think. I felt like Patrick Ness tried to write the perfect not Chosen One, diverse, friendship box, but I felt like maybe he tried a bit too hard to tick all the right boxes. I also didn’t like Henna and Mikey’s relationship very much, and I didn’t feel like that was healthy for either of them, though I could see why it was there. I really enjoyed it though! And this quote:
“Kindness is the most important thing of all. Pity is an insult. Kindness is a miracle”
There is a word for when you keep on loving people after you know terrible things about them. It might be called grace. It might be called forgiveness. It might be called compassion or acceptance or understanding.
It is this concept that Go Set a Watchman deals with. It talks about peoples unwillingness to accept change, the destruction of our “tin gods” and the knowledge that family doesn’t mean they are the same as you. As Jean Louise comes to the terrible realisation that her morals and her fathers have diverged, she has to accept that. She has to know that it is possible to keep on loving him. I totally appreciated seeing the characters in this new way- it makes sense in the TKaM context, though it would have worked just as well with different character names. It isn’t To Kill a Mockingbird version one, or To Kill a Mockingbird number two. It is something else entirely. I struggled at times with the internal dialogue- it was awkward in places, testing the waters but not committing to them. I loved the way that the snippets of conversation worked, though. Everyone is going on an an about how “Atticus is racist” -an in a way, he is. But that change is chronicled, and I think that in the end it’s consistent with the Atticus we see in TKaM. And maybe change and empowerment should be gradual, but as Jean Louise pints out, it ultimately needs to be humanifying (rather than say, ethnicityfying) And while I appreciated the honest when she said that she wouldn’t marry a black person, it irritated me a lot, because if my parents had had the same thoughts about Indians and Pakeha New Zealanders I probably wouldn’t be around. And being around is sort of important to me. The first half of Go Set a Watchman was sort of unnecessary setting the scene, and I don’t really think that Hank needed to be there (he didn’t really achieve anything, but was an interesting character) But overall I loved the themes developed in this book and the characters and the brutal honesty.
*I’m reviewing this entirely outside the publishing controversy, because that is a different issue entirely and I still liked this book*
As always, Lauren De Stefano’s writing is beautiful and a delight to read. I loved Rhine’s story, and found the elements that developed with the sister wives and the attendants and the entire premise amazing. All of the characters are very well developed. And Linden is a fascinating pseudo villain, while Vaughn scares the heck out of me.
The only problem I had was 1) with the love triangle. It hasn’t really developed, and Rhine was aware of that, but I feel like a friendship with the (no spoilers) other person would have been sufficient plot impetuous, and there wasn’t much chemistry in my opinion. 2) this is a tiny thing… but how was Rhine so used to luxury? we get a distinct impression that it wasn’t easy in Manhattan and she lived in the basement and saw people killed. Yet she doesn’t remark on the luxury and how that money could be better spent at all. With some protagonists (like Katniss) it can get grating, but she didn’t seem to think about it much. And I felt that her all consuming hate for being a wife could have been conveyed better.
One by Sarah Crossan (3.5 stars)
This book was really interesting. I’m a fraternal twin, so it did feel particularly relevant to me in terms of the quest for identity, and it’s lovely and short. I liked the story, though the plot wasn’t really fleshed out- I knew that ending would be coming and as for all the school factors… But I did like how it was brutally honest and quite diverse. Sure, I wouldn’t make some of the choices that Grace and Tippi did, but I appreciated that the reasons behind that was shown effectively) Conjoined twins are the stuff of sensationalist stories, and I’ve never met two/one (obviously) but I liked the One examined that aspect. And I like that The Media weren’t demons like they are in a lot of contemporary YA around these stories (I do edit a newspaper and take a Media Studies class so…)I really liked the themes in this book as well, and how it examined the relationships between characters (especially sisters), the idea of normal, the theme of identity and individuality, and the idea of looking beyond the physical.I think that because of the free verse and also because of the brevity, some opportunities for plot and character developments were missed out on, but overall, it was an interesting story about the relationships between sisters and the implications of single choice.
Have you read any of these? What’s more important to you: the themes or the values of a book? How would you cope with sudden luxury? tell me in the comments!