Posts Tagged ‘YA Fiction’

Book Club Pick: February 2019

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Title: Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Author: John Green and David Levithan

Series: Stand alone novel

Country: United States of America

Publisher: Dutton Juvenile

First Published: 2010

Pages: 310

Publisher Description:

One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two teens—both named Will Grayson—are about to cross paths. As their worlds collide and intertwine, the Will Graysons find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, building toward romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history’s most fabulous high school musical.

Review:

The novel is told from the perspective of two Illinois teenagers that share the same name – Will Grayson.

The odd numbered chapters are narrated by heterosexual Chicago high school teenager Will Grayson. He is the only male heterosexual-identifying member of his school’s Gay Straight Alliance. He is living in the shadow (literally) of his best friend Tiny Cooper, an ironic name considering his size and personality. Tiny is larger-than-life, flamboyant, openly gay and much to Will’s distain writing an autobiographical musical, which features a character loosely (obviously) based on Will.

The even number chapters are told from the perspective of Will Grayson, an angry and depressed closeted gay teenager from Naperville, Illinois. He is taking medication for his depression. The only light in his life is Issac, a boy he chats with online.

John Green wrote all the odd-numbered chapters (capitalised Will Grayson), while David Levithan wrote all the even-numbered chapters (lowercase will grayson). Green’s chapters are written with correct punctuation, while Levithan’s chapters use lowercase letters and the language is more vulgar. This is a simple way of clearly distinguishing the two characters.

While the characters stories start off separately they each become interwoven when the two Will Graysons meet in a porn store.

The novel was the first LGBT-themed novel on the New York Times children’s best seller list.

Links:

John Green Official Website

John Green on Facebook

John Green on Twitter

John Green on Instagram

Vlogbrothers YouTube Channel (with brother Hank Green)

 

David Levithan Official Website

David Levithan on Facebook

David Levithan on Twitter

 

Source: I borrowed this book from my public library.

Book Club Pick: January 2019

CruelSummer

Title: Cruel Summer

Author: Juno Dawson (originally published under James Dawson)

Series: Stand alone novel

Country: Great Britain

Publisher: Indigo

First Published: 2013

Pages: 324

Publisher Description:

Ryan is looking forward to spending the summer with his old school friends at Katie’s luxurious Spanish villa. He hadn’t seen the gang since their friend, Janey, committed suicide a year ago.
He hopes this summer they’ll be able to put the past behind them and move on – until someone else arrives, claiming to have proof that Janey’s suicide was murder!

Ryan was hoping for sun, sea and sand.
Suddenly, he’s facing a long, hot summer of death, drama and deceit…

Review:

Cruel Summer is largely told from the point-of-view of gay aspiring actor Ryan Hayward, who with a flair for gossip and drama narrates the story as if it is an imaginary television show about his life. This allows for the novel to have flashbacks and quickly change viewpoints amongst the young cast of characters. The chapters are titled scene or flashback.

Ryan labels his friends as if they are characters in a teen television drama – The Good Girl (Katie), The Bad Girl (Alisha), The Jock (Alisha’s twin brother Greg), The Geek (Katie’s ex-boyfriend Ben), and The New Girl (Greg’s girlfriend Erin).

The group of former high school friends are meeting up again for the summer in Spain at Katie’s family’s remote, luxurious Mediterranean villa after their first year at university.

The main mystery of the novel is when Roxanne Dent – the ‘high-school Lolita, boyfriend stealer and best friend turned arch-nemesis of Alisha’ turns up unexpectedly and announces that she has proof that Janey Bradshaw’s suicide the year before was murder – one of them is a murderer.

There are plenty of twists in turns in this tongue-a-cheek teenage soap opera style whodunnit.

 

Links:

Juno Dawson Official Website

Juno Dawson on Twitter

Juno Dawson on Facebook

Juno Dawson on Instagram

Juno Dawson on Tumblr


Source: I borrowed this book from my public library.

Book Club Pick: December 2018

BornScared

Title: Born Scared

Author: Kevin Brooks

Series: Stand alone novel

Country: Great Britain

Publisher: Electric Monkey

First Published: 2016

Pages: 244

Publisher Description:

Elliot is terrified of almost everything.
The only thing that keeps his fears in check are the pills that he takes every day, and his mother, the one person he loves and trusts.

A mistake means that Elliot’s medication is almost gone. His mother nips out to collect his prescription. It’s just 482 metres down the road – but she doesn’t back back. Does Elliot stay and wait, or does he try to find her? It’s only 482 metres. It might as well be 482 miles…

Review:

When one thinks of a Christmas story they probably think of a cosy, warm hearted story filled with Christmas cheer. This year I choose read something a bit different – a psychological teen thriller that takes place on Christmas Eve.

Thirteen-year-old Elliot suffers from a severe anxiety disorder. He is terrified over almost everything. Elliot claims to remember his birth and his twin sister Ellamay, who died at birth. He has internal conversations with Ellamay.

It is Christmas Eve, there has been a snowstorm, and there has been a mix-up with Elliot’s medication. Elliot’s mother sets out leaving him home alone after Elliot’s aunt, who agreed to collect the medication from the pharmacy is late and unreachable by phone.

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We also see two robbers dressed in Santa suits and the office Christmas party, which sees a bank manager on a drug-fuelled bender that involves a police chase.

All these elements connect together for a gripping, tense, intelligent exploration of mental illness with an explosive ending.

If you are looking for a more upbeat holiday fare please check out my past Christmas themed book reviews – What Light by Jay Asher and Let it Snow by Maureen Johnson, John Green & Lauren Myracle

 

Source: I borrowed this book from my public library.

Book Club Pick: November 2018

HateUGive

Title: The Hate U Give

Author: Angie Thomas

Series: Stand alone novel

Country: United the States of America

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

First Published: 2017

Pages: 464

Publisher Description:

Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice.

Review:

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is caught between two words – Garden Heights, her predominantly black impoverished neighbourhood, and Williamson Prep, her affluent, majority-white private school.

She has a white boyfriend Chris from her school that she is keeping a secret from her father. But this secret romance is only a minor subplot in the story.

The focus is the events in Starr’s life after she witnesses the fatal police shooting of her unarmed childhood friend Khalil, following a routine traffic stop.

Thomas splits her 464 page novel into five parts: Part 1: When It Happens, Parts 2: Five Weeks After It, Part 3: Eight Weeks After It, Part 4: Ten Weeks After It, and Part 5: The Decision – Thirteen Weeks After It.

This is a powerful piece for a debut novelist. Thomas began the project as a short story for her senior project at Belhaven University. Her project was in response to the 2009 police shooting of Oscar Grant.

The novel features strong language and drug references, which I believe is appropriate for the nature of the story, but as a result the novel is controversial and appears on challenged / banned book lists.

A feature film adaptation directed by George Tillman Jr. was released in the US last month. It stars Amanda Stenberg, Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby, KJ Apa, Algee Smith, Lamar Johnson, Issa Rae, Sabrina Carpenter, Common, and Anthony Mackie.

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Book Club Pick: September 2018

TwoBoysKissing

Book Details:

Title: Two Boys Kissing

Author: David Levithan

Series: Stand alone novel

Country: United States of America

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf

First Published: 2013

Pages: 196

Publisher Description:

The two boys kissing are Craig and Harry. They’re hoping to set the world record for the longest kiss. They’re not a couple, but they used to be.

Peter and Neil are a couple. Their kisses are different.

Avery and Ryan have only just met and are trying to figure out what happens next. Both of them worry that something will go wrong.

Cooper is alone. It’s getting to the point where he doesn’t really feel things anymore.

These boys, along with their friends and families, form a tapestry that will reveal love of all kinds: open and eager, tentative and cautious, pained and scared. New York Times bestselling author David Levithan has sewn together their lives into a redemptive whole that will captivate, illuminate, and move readers.

Review:

Two Boys Kissing follows four separate stories that focus on seven gay teenage boys that are all coming to terms with their sexuality. These four stories take place over a period of about 48 hours in a small American town.

The title comes from a World Record that Harry and Craig are trying to set – the longest kiss. They use to date but are now just friends. This part of the story is inspired by a real life event when college students Matty Daley and Bobby Canciello kissed for thirty-two hours, thirty minutes, and forty-seven seconds to break a Guinness World Record for the longest continuous kiss.

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Matty Daley and Bobby Canciello

There are two other stories that focus on couples. Peter and Neil are a couple and have been dating awhile. On the other hand blue haired Ryan and pink haired Avery have just met and are beginning to date. Avery is a transgender teen and personally would have liked to have seen more of Avery and Ryan’s story.

The last story follows Cooper, who is closeted, alone and lives in a world where he pretends to be other people online. His story is probably the darker of the four.

The novel is narrated by Greek chorus of gay men who lost their lives during the AIDs epidemic and recall a time where society was less accepting of homosexuality. That is not to say that Levithan’s world is entirely accepting – there are protests against Harry and Craig’s kissing record, and other characters experience instances of homophobia or people not being accepting.

Click here to read my review David Levithan’s novel Boy Meets Boy.

 

Links:

David Levithan Official Website

David Levithan on Facebook

David Levithan on Twitter

 

Source: I borrowed this book from my public library.

Book Club Pick: August 2018

Flipped

Book Details:

Title: Flipped

Author: Wendelin Van Draanen

Series: Stand alone novel

Country: United States of America

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf

First Published: 2001

Pages: 212

Publisher Description:

The first time she saw him, she flipped. The first time he saw her, he ran.

And from the second grade to the seventh, that’s how it was. She says: “My Bryce. Still walking around with my first kiss.” He says: “It’s been six years of strategic avoidance and social discomfort.”

But in the eighth grade, their views of the world – and each other – turned upside. He says: “I’d spent so many years avoiding Juli Baker that I’d never really looked at her, but now I couldn’t stop.” And she says: “I felt a cold, hard knot tighten in my heart. I was through with Bryce Loski.

Is there hope for happiness in junior high? Have you flipped?

Review:

Bryce Loski and Juli Baker have known each other since he moved in across the road the summer before second grade. When Juli first sees him she knows that he will be her first kiss. Bryce has been trying to avoid her ever since.

This continues until in the eighth grade when the characters views of each other begin to change. Bryce begins to look at Julie in a different way and realises she is not what he thought. Unfortunately Julie’s view is also changing – she is beginning to realise that this Bryce is not the boy she thought he was.

The narrative is told with Bryce and Julie alternating chapters each giving their perspective – a he-said-she-said narrative. This can be risky for an author to do because it can slow down the pace of the novel with characters retelling the same points of plot. Van Draanen does a good job at offering two different perspectives in an entertaining and often amusing way. Also at just over 200 pages it is a relatively quick and easy read.

Flipped is going to most likely appeal to younger teens. Although an older nostalgic reader might recognise something in the characters and think was I like that at that age?

A film adaptation directed Rob Reiner and starring Callan McAuliffe and Madeline Carroll was released in 2010.

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Links:

Wendelin Van Draanen Official Website

Wendelin Van Draanen on Twitter

Wendelin Van Draanen on Instagram

 

Source: I borrowed this book from my public library.

Book vs. Film

Harry_Potter_and_the_Philosopher's_Stone_Book_Cover                                                    HarryPotterPoster

A film adaptation can never be exactly the same. Often for timing and pacing reasons not everything can be included – it can be disappointing for book fans to learn that a favourite moment or character has been cut.

That being said I feel that the film is a reasonably faithful adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s novel Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

Below are some differences between the book and the film. This is by no means comprehensive.

Mr. Dursley’s very weird day

The first chapter of the novel is from the viewpoint of Vernon and Petunia Dursley, before their infant nephew Harry turns up on their doorstep. The film skips this and begins with Dumbledore, McGonagall, and Hagrid delivering baby Harry to the Dursley’s.

‘Young Sirius Black’

In the novel Hagrid tells Dumbledore the he borrowed the motorcycle from ‘young Sirius Black. Good foreshadowing on Rowling’s part for when Sirius appears later in the series. This line is omitted from the film.

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Baby Harry

Mrs. Figg

The book also mentions Mrs. Figg who looks after Harry occasionally. This character has importance later in the series. She is also not mentioned on the film.

Harry’s blue eyes

In the book Harry has green eyes in the film he has blue eyes. The film did attempt to have Daniel Radcliffe wear coloured contacts but he was unable to because they irritated his eyes.

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Harry has blue eyes in the film

Dudley and Petunia have dark hair

In the novel Mrs. Dursley is described as ‘thin and blonde’ in the film actress Fiona Shaw has very dark hair. Dudley is also described as being blonde in the book. He also has darker hair like his mother in the film.

Boa constrictor to Burmese python

In the film Harry talks to a Burmese python at the zoo in the novel it is Boa Constrictor. Also in the novel Dudley’s best friend Piers Polkiss accompanies the Dursleys and Harry to the zoo. The Piers character is not included in the film.

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The Burmese python

Harry and Draco’s first meeting

In the novel Harry and Draco first meet in Madam Malkin’s robes shop. They meet again on the Hogwarts Express. In the film Draco and Harry meet at Hogwarts before entering the Grand Hall for the Sorting Hat Ceremony.

Hagrid takes Harry to Kings Cross Station

In the book the Dursleys drop Harry off at Kings Cross Station to catch the Hogwarts Express. In the film Hagrid takes Harry.

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London to Hogwarts

Sorting Hat and School Song

In the novel the Sorting Hat sings a song. This and the school song are both cut from the film.

The Mirror of Erised

In the book Harry sees his entire extended family standing behind him when he looks at the Mirror of Erised. In the film only his parents are standing behind him.

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Mirror of Erised

Detention in the Forbidden Forest

In the novel Harry and Hermione are given a detention after being caught by Filch after hours. Draco and Neville receive a detention from Proessor McGonagall when she catches them in the corridor. In the film Harry, Hermione and Ron receive a detention after Draco tells McGongall that he saw them in Hagrid’s hut after hours. Malfoy also receives a detention because he too was out of bed after hours.

Norbert and Charlie Weasley

In the novel Charlie Weasley and his friends take Norbert to Romania. In the film it is briefly mentioned that Norbert was taken away by Dumbledore.

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Norbert, a Norwegian Ridgeback Dragon

Hufflepuff-Gryffindor Quidditch Match

The Hufflepuff-Gryffindor match that Snape referees is not included in the film. This means the part where Ron and Neville get into a fight with Draco, Crabbe and Goyle at the game is not in the film.

Professor Binns

Professor Binns is the History of Magic professor at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. In the novel we learn that he died in his sleep in the staffroom and he has continued to teach as a ghost. This character was not included in the film.

Peeves

Another ghost not in the film is the troublesome mischievous Peeves. The late comedian and actor Rik Mayal was cast as Peeves but his scenes were cut from the film.

 

I would be interested of any other differences between the book and film that you may have noticed.