Posts Tagged ‘Review’

Review: Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist

 

nicknorah

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist

Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

New York: Alfred A. Knopf, c2006

183 p., pbk, $9.99 CAN

ISBN: 978-0-375-84614-4

Broken-hearted Nick can’t believe it when he sees his ex-girlfriend Tris walk into the club with another guy.  Turning to the girl beside him, he does the only thing he can think of to save face.  Norah is preoccupied with her own complicated life, but when Nick turns and asks her to pretend to be his girlfriend for five minutes, she somehow finds herself agreeing.  One electrifying kiss later, Nick and Norah find themselves traveling together through New York, a city sizzling with sexual energy, and alive with the beat of the music that serves as the soundtrack to their experiences.  In one incredible night, they come to terms with past mistakes, confront the realities of unsatisfying relationships, accept the challenges of the unknown future, and discover the exhilarating prospect of real love.  Acclaimed YA authors Rachel Cohn and David Levithan came together to write this trendy novel.  Chapters switch back and forth between Nick’s perspective and Norah’s, an engaging narrative style that is both convincing and funny.  The authors bring the energy, lights, and sounds of New York City to vivid life.  The fast-paced narrative makes this a quick read, but the insightful characterization and themes encourage thoughtful reflection long after the book is finished.  The print is clear and large, and the lightweight paperback is comfortable to handle.  Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist will appeal to teen boys and girls, especially those interested in the contemporary music scene.  However, explicit language and graphic sexuality make this novel more appropriate for older teens.

Recommended with reservations. 4P. 5Q.

Eragon, by Christopher Paolini

Eragon

Christopher Paolini

New York: Laurel-Leaf, 2007, c2003

754 p., pbk, $9.99

ISBN: 978-0-440-24073-0

When Eragon discovers the mysterious blue stone in the mountains, the teenager has no idea how it will change his life.  But when the stone hatches to reveal a dragon, Eragon is pushed from his simple farm life into a world of magic, adventure, and danger.  Book One of Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Trilogy introduces readers to Algaesia, a magical world populated with fascinating characters and creatures, and ruled by an evil king who reigns with violence and terror.  Only fifteen when he began Eragon, the author demonstrates surprising skill and maturity.  The plot borrows heavily from the heroic fantasy tradition, but Paolini’s fluid narrative is brought to life by dynamic characters and imaginative settings.  Paolini deftly unfolds Algaesia’s history, using it to add depth to the plot and to create a background for the novel’s thrilling action.  Much of the 754 pages are taken up by descriptions of the land through which Eragon travels.  While this attention to detail will appeal to readers who enjoy having the story fleshed out, it may be tiresome for those more focused on plot movement.  Names and phrases from an imagined language add richness to the novel.  The print is clear and large enough to allow for comfortable reading.  Despite the book’s length the paperback is manageable.  Eragon will appeal to all fantasy readers.  However, frightening themes and violent action scenes may make Eragon inappropriate for younger readers.

 Recommended. 4P. 4Q.

YA Magazines

I visited the bookstore this weekend to buy a magazine for my YA magazine review.  I have never been a devoted reader of magazines.  My experience with them is mostly limited to doctors’ offices, staff rooms, and checkout displays.  As a girl I bought the odd Tiger Beat or Big Bop.  There was never much to read inside – just a lot of glossy posters of television and movie stars, which I dutifully hung on my bedroom walls.  When I was in high-school, the covers of magazines like Seventeen, YM and even Cosmopolitan would occasionally grab me with promises of beauty, love and happiness, but they always failed to deliver anything truly meaningful.  After our discussion in class about the recent explosion of YA literature, I expected to find a similar growth and an increase in quality among teen magazines.  What I found on the shelf were the same empty products offered to my generation ten years ago.  What a disappointment.  The magazines were predominately aimed at a female audience, and focused on beauty, fashion, dating and celebrities.  There were only a handful of magazines that weren’t specifically targeting girls.  The topics included sports, video games, and toy collecting, and of these the only title I recognized was Mad.  Surely this couldn’t be it?  When I arrived home, I desperately searched the internet for alternatives.  I found a lot of the same magazines (and their close relatives) that were available at the bookstore.  It was a relief to find titles like Thrasher (a skateboarding magazine), BMX Plus! (devoted to BMX biking), and SciFi Magazine which targeted a larger audience than those aimed at ensnaring fashion and dating obsessed girls.  The London Public Library has provided links to several online magazines in the Teen section of their website, featuring topics such as music, art, games, movies, health and fitness, news and politics.  A Google search for YA Magazines produced links to libraries from all over the world that have organized lists of recommended print and online magazines for teens.  The most interesting title I found was TeenInk, an American magazine written by and for teens.  It covers every topic under the sun (entertainment, book reviews, artwork, photography, travel, school, family, friendship, politics, history, health, fitness, racism, eating disorders, etc.).  It is a fantastic resource for teens, and for anyone interested in teens’ perspectives. 

It’s a shame that the market is flooded with magazines that recycle and regurgitate the same articles, the same fashion trends, the same relationship quizzes month after month.  So many YA magazines seem to be little more than vehicles for advertising products.  In our first class we discussed the concept of YA materials as a commercial enterprise.  Teen magazines seem to me to offer overwhelming evidence in support of this argument.

Welcome

This is my first post!  I am excited to have this space in which to voice my ideas and opinions about libraries and young adult/teen materials.  And, admittedly, I am a bit nervous as well.  It’s a daunting task, preparing one’s thoughts for public view.  I am sure I’ll have no difficulty, however, forming ideas about the course material.  The topics of discussion sound very promising.

A note on the name and look of my blog.  I took the picture that I’ve used as my header this afternoon.  This is how my clever brain works.  It convinced me that it was absolutely all-important to pull off of my shelves as many YA books and movies that moved with me to grad school, line them up, and take photos for use on my blog – all this instead of getting down to the gnitty-gritty & often excrutiatingly uninspiring work of writing papers (you know, the kind of thing that actually earns you your masters?).  As for the name of my blog, well, it’s lame, I know.  I confess, I am having trouble thinking of something.  It shouldn’t be this difficult.  I don’t want it to be something boring (“Holly’s YA Materials Blog”), but at the same time I really don’t want anything forced – the ghost of teen-Holly writhes with embarrassment everytime adult-Holly thinks of something she thinks might be clever and appealing to “young adults”.  So, for now, I’m stuck with quotation marks dot-dot-dot.  Nameless Blog.  The Blog with an uncertain identity.  Now that’s something teen-Holly and adult-Holly can somehow grin at each other about.  Sigh. 

I finished reading one of the assigned books: Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak.  It is actually our read for Week 5 (“Misfits, Outcasts and Criminals”).  I happened to open it first, and didn’t end up putting it down until I’d finished it.  What a fantastic book!  As I read it, I found myself wishing that I’d had it to read when I was a teen.  Melinda, the novel’s heroine, was touched by a personal tragedy I am thankful to have never suffered, but she expresses feelings I think most (if not all) of us experience to some degree as we struggle through highschool.  Terrible anxiety, fear, self-loathing, the desire to fit in, the desire to stand out, moments of joy and humour, hopefulness for our future, and a constant battle to “find” ourselves, to define our character and to speak with our own voice.  The book manages to tackle profound, dark, scary issues without sinking into off-putting morbidity.  Melinda’s opinions of her teachers, peers, parents, and the world around her are downright funny at times, so much so that I found myself laughing out loud!  I look forward to the opportunity to pass this fantastic read on.  I’ll be adding to my Reader’s Advisory arsenal.

Very soon I will be posting my first “official” report (the Library/Bookstore Visit).  An inspirational quote, then, to tide you over (bless the powers of internet reference):

[L]earn as much by writing as by reading; be not content with the best book; seek sidelights from the others.” ~ Lord Acton