Making Waves by Cassandra King. A re-read. I've been drawn to books that are told from the viewpoints of multiple characters, to study how the "same" story can be told by different voices. I've tried to do this in my own fiction, and worry that it doesn't play out right. Making Waves was a great study because each character was vastly different, which meant not only was each voice unique, but also they had their own spin to put on the story.
How to be Popular by Meg Cabot. A young adult novel, clearly. I wanted a quick read, and I kind of expected it to be a bit fluffy, like the Princess Diaries books got over time. Instead, this book was really enjoyable, if not predictable (but aren't most contemporary YA?). There were actually lessons that I learned right along with Steph. It almost made me wish I could go back and give high school another whirl. Almost.
I'd Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman. Read on the nook. The emotion was a little lacking in this book, which made me have to stare at the cover just now to remember what it was actually about. (It's an abduction novel, you'd think that would stick with me and haunt me as much as the others did…) The kidnapper is finally being put to death, and the story is told in flashbacks to Eliza's abduction as a teen. There is the initial suspense when she actually encounters the guy (in flashback) and you as a reader know what's going to happen, but overall it was pretty passive. I was always aware I was reading; I never felt like I had been abducted along with her (which can be both good and bad, I suppose…). I'm still torn on flashbacks: we learn in writing workshops to avoid them like the plague, but sometimes they can be well-done. In this case, they were definitely necessary, but I didn't like them much. I can't really think of a way the experience could have been seamlessly entered into the book otherwise.
The Book of One Hundred Truths by Julie Schumacher. A young adult novel. It was easy to slip into Thea's world, but again, this book was a little lacking in emotion. It was a quick read, and so I got swept away by it. The build up was intriguing, but the resolution was a let-down. The ending could have been so much bigger, but it left me deflated.
If the Witness Lied by Caroline B. Cooney. A young adult book. Cooney was one of my favorite authors as a kid, because her books were dark and suspenseful. This one definitely delivered. It was told from multiple points of view, which was necessary, but the way it was done made me aware I was reading. I wish each character had gotten a chapter dedicated to them, instead of smaller sections where you had to read and figure out who was who. As a result, the two sisters (Smithy and Madison) kind of run together in my mind. Jack was definitely the stand-out, but I understand how this story needed multiple viewpoints. The premise itself was really interesting and believable. The best part of the book was the suspenseful build up, while the resolution was "Well, yeah, what else could have happened?"
Still Missing by Chevy Stevens. Read on the nook. Another abduction novel. It's told like we're either Annie's therapist, or in the room during the session. I loved this set up for the novel. This way, Annie went over what happened leading up to the abduction, the kidnapping itself, being held against her will for a year, and her difficulties trying to assimilate back to real life. Nothing is linear - some sessions deal with her adjusting, some focus on her trying to figure out why she was kidnapped and who the man was. We're right along with her as new developments come up in her case, and the resolution is the case's closing. Very well-written and suspenseful. It sucked me in, and I found myself thinking about it whenever I wasn't reading it. I'm still thinking about it, really. Definitely one I'll re-read each year.
The Sweet Hereafter by Russell Banks. This is the story of a school bus crash in a small town. It's also told from multiple points of view, including the bus driver, the father of a dead child, one of the injured children, and an ambulance-chasing lawyer. Obviously this meant each character had an entirely different spin to put on the story. I really enjoyed this book because it was an interesting concept and was well-written, but my favorite part was the emotional factor. There wasn't really one. I know I complained about that in a few books above, but here, it was imperative. How easy would it be to get swept up in the tragedy of losing so many school-aged children? The book could have been a big sob-fest, forcing sentimental mush on the reader. While the tragedy isn't glossed over, Banks gently turns our focus to how the town is coping.
Her and Me and You by Lauren Strasnick. Read on the nook. A young adult novel. I'd heard a lot about Strasnick's books, so I bought both of them and decided to read this one (her second) first. I'm glad I did, otherwise I would have been left with a low opinion of the author. The book has potential to be interesting, but it's not. It's not even typical high school drama - Alex, the new girl, allows herself to be emotionally manipulated by twins Fred and Adina. I'd buy that if it were her character, but Alex has no problem standing up to the popular kids in school. Each time she forgave the twins, I'd groan and dread turning another page, because she'd just get used by them again. This is the only book I can remember where I didn't like any of the characters. It ended with no real resolution.
Nothing Like You by Lauren Strasnick. Read on the nook. A young adult novel. This was Strasnick's first book, and it was much better than her second effort. Holly is sleeping with Paul, a guy in her high school who already has a girlfriend. She really likes Paul, even though they have to keep their relationship secret. Then she gets to know his girlfriend, and they become close. Well, of course everything has to blow up in Holly's face, including her relationship with her childhood best friend Nils. It's very engaging and well-written, and the ending is realistic, not wrapped up in a nice, hard-to-swallow package.
The Duff: Designated Ugly Fat Friend by Kody Keplinger. Read on the nook. A young adult book. This novel was easy to read and get sucked into. All of the characters were realistic, and made me think of my own high school friends and classmates. The ending was, of course, a little sappy and predictable, but the majority of the story is strong enough to stand up despite the wimpy resolution.
Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah. The premise of this book reminded me a lot of Summer Sisters - two girls become friends as preteens, and stay in each others' lives for decades. The similarities end there. I thought the book might be fluffy, but it's not. There's no glossing over important moments, or lives apart, like there is in Summer Sisters. We live life alongside Tully and Kate, but it's never too much information. We just don't miss out on years of their lives. The ending, while fairly predictable, is still well-written and touching without being sentimental.
Hoot by Carl Hiaasen. A young adult book. Maybe younger than young adult. The story was slow starting, but eventually picked up. It's worth trucking through to the end, but it was hard to not just discard it, even at the halfway point. It didn't seem very realistic, but at the end it's a nice feel-good, environmentally-friendly, stand-up-for-what-you-believe book for kids.
Alice in Charge by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. I've always loved the Alice series! Now Alice is a senior in high school, and she's tackling serious issues. Well, I guess she always has, but it used to seem more fun. In this book, I could really feel the stress of college visits and applications, not to mention the racist group terrorizing her high school. It was still well done for me to feel all of that, but I kind of miss Alice worrying about french-kissing Patrick the summer before 8th grade.... ahh well, you can't go back! (Except it's a book, so... you can.)
Born to Rock by Gordon Korman. A young adult book. Very funny, in a dry way. A kid loses his scholarship to Harvard, but finds out that his father is the frontman of the biggest American punk band. He meets his father and goes on tour with the band, and learns about himself and family. Feel good book, but with humor. Warning: it will make you want to go on tour with a band.