What I Read This Week: 5/9/13 – 5/15/13

15 May

A friend just accused me of reading mostly YA lit. Usually, I’d argue, but after this week, I don’t really have a leg to stand on. At least it was the good stuff!

i am the messenger

I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

Ed is an underachiever. He lives with a stinky dog, drives a taxi for a living, and spends a lot of time lusting after his friend Audrey. It’s only when a mysterious ace card with a cryptic message on it arrives for him that his life gets shaken. And boy does it. Now Ed is the messenger, but he needs to figure out exactly what the messages are…

Zusak wrote the absolutely lovely, but heavy The Book Thief, so I knew that this novel wouldn’t be a light, silly read. Although this book has a lot of YA themes (friendship, discovering your calling, a bit of love, etc), it doesn’t ever pander to the reader. Yes. Some things are a bit less subtle than they would be in an adult novel, but the writing is so simplistically beautiful that you don’t care all that much. This is a book that I really do believe would fit in just as well on an adult shelf as it would a thirteen year old’s.

And you know, I came away wanting to do a bit of good in the world, but not feeling conned into it. That has to be a good thing.

code name verity

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Code Name Verity is popping up everywhere, as it is getting a ton of attention for being one of the year’s best YA novels. I heard about it on NPR. You know you’re big when you’ve hit NPR.

I just … I couldn’t get into it as much as other people are. The novel is about two young women who sign up to join in the British war effort in WWII. One is captured by Nazis and interrogated, and the story takes off from there. It’s easy to ruin the plot, so, yes, I’m keeping it vague on purpose.

Yes. The book is a great portrayal of female friendship. Yes. It’s refreshing to not have a love triangle plot. Yes. It’s well-plotted.

But…I just found it kind of boring. I usually have a problem with books about war, as I find myself trying too hard to keep track of all the equipment and missions and subterfuge, etc. I think that keeps me at a distance from the actual emotional heft of the story. So, you all shouldn’t listen to me on this one. I’ll bet you’ll like Code Name Verity more than I do. Everyone else does.

American Born Chinese

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

And to end it all, a YA graphic novel!

American Born Chinese starts as three narratives – the story of China’s Monkey King, a coming of age story about a Chinese kid in a mostly white school, and a satire of a sitcom about a kid whose extremely, horribly stereotyped (buck teeth and everything) Chinese cousin comes to stay. By the end of this slim book, all three stories have interwoven into one powerful message about identity and self-confidence. As always, I’m never sure how to rate a graphic novel, as I’m not very familiar with the genre, but I know that this one really did get to me and made me consider the outcast story in a new way. Recommended.

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One Response to “What I Read This Week: 5/9/13 – 5/15/13”

  1. Kerry (@KerryAnn) May 15, 2013 at 6:08 pm #

    As always, I am in awe of how much you read! I really want to check out American Born Chinese…I’ve been seeing it everywhere!

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