Thursday, April 16, 2009


Lately I've been reading a lot of contemporary Young Adult fiction, which generally isn't my thing. I'm more of a mystery/sci-fi/fantasy kind of girl. For some reason, though, I've been really into high school drama types of books these days, and I've been surprised to find that I've really loved some of them. So here are some reviews!

20 Boy Summer
by Sarah Ockler
Young Adult Fiction
Due June 2009

This book was so good. I was expecting a lighthearted summer vacation story, in which two girls experiment with makeup and boys. The experimentation definitely happens, but this book is far from lighthearted. It's about Anna, whose best friend Frankie lost her brother in a car accident about a year ago. Since then, Frankie has taken up smoking, experimented with boys, and become preoccupied with her appearance. Meanwhile, Anna is handling her own grief over Matt's death--and her guilt that she and Matt never told Frankie about their secret relationship. As Anna and Frankie try to meet 20 boys during their beach vacation, Anna begins to come to terms with the way Matt left them, and the things that she has hidden from Frankie. This book has all the things you want in YA fiction: a secret, a romance, a friendship, and great writing.

Something, Maybe
by Elizabeth Scott
Young Adult fiction
Available now in hardcover

I read this one because Sarah Dessen raved about it. It's about a girl, Hannah, who tries to fade into the background because her father is an aging celebrity womanizer and her mother is a minor internet celebrity. Hannah goes to a normal school and has a normal job, and she likes it that way--until she starts to want attention from the boy she likes. When Hannah's dad tries to rekindle their relationship (and his t.v. ratings), Hannah has to decide what kind of person she really wants to be. My favorite character is Hannah's friend Teagan, who a left a program in fashion design to take care of her mother and is stuck in a retail job she doesn't like.

The Pillow Book of Lotus Lowenstein
by Libby Schmais
Young Adult fiction
Due December 2009

Lotus Lowenstein's dream life involves Paris, an adoring existentialist Frenchman, a slightly less full-figured silhouette, and more Paris. Her real life involves Brooklyn, crazy parents, liking the same boy as her best friend, and failing French. To meet her goals, Lotus must get creative. This is the diary of a year in Lotus's life, and a funnier year was never had by anyone. Lotus is such a vibrant character: headstrong, opinionated, sometimes a little bit misguided, you'll find yourself wishing that you knew her.

Child 44
by Tom Rob Smith
Adult Mystery
Available now in paperback
A literary mystery set in Stalin's Russia! Heaven! Even if you're not a Slavophile like me, this is definitely worth reading. Leo Demidov is a government agent, an enforcer of the law, and he believes wholeheartedly in the Communist ideals. But when he is forced to make a difficult choice, he begins to question the truth beneath the propaganda. Leo embarks on a hunt to discover the identity of a serial killer--but he must keep his search a secret, because in Soviet Russia, crime doesn't exist. The story takes a lot of twists and turns, and you're never sure what the result of any action will be. Child 44 will keep you guessing until the extremely satisfying ending.

Never Let Me Go
by Kazuo Ishiguro
Adult Science Fiction
Available now in paperback

Usually I choose to read a certain book because I want to know if it's something I can sell to customers. Other times, it's just something I feel like reading. But sometimes, when a bunch of people have told me I HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK, I take it as a sign that I should read that book. Never Let Me Go was one of those. Unfortunately, I don't think it could have lived up to all the many people had told me how "surprising" and "weird" and "unexpected" it was. Maybe I was expecting a surprise ending, but I finished the book a little disappointed that all the suspense had just kind of fizzled out. Don't get me wrong, this is a great book (I don't want to tell you anything about the plot because the book is one giant spoiler), I think I was just expecting something a little more surprising.

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