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YA Book Review: Twisted

YA Book Review of Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson - Lit Mama Homeschool

I’ve been  a kind-of sideline fan of Laurie Halse Anderson for a couple of years now.  I’ve read Fever 1793 and Wintergirls, and I liked them okay.  Anderson is a decent storyteller and she likes to write about difficult subjects.

Twisted is no different.

It’s about a boy named Tyler, a boy trying to find his way in the world without a true role model.  I mean, his dad is still in the picture, but the dude is just about as abusive as a parent can be without actually beating the crap out of his kids.  Tyler is Con.Fused.  And it seems like everything he tries to do right turns out wrong.  His crush on the popular girl (who also happens to be the daughter of his dad’s boss) is the one thing that keeps him going.  And when she starts to be nice to him, he believes he just may have a shot.  But Tyler has a reputation in town thanks to a prank he pulled last year, and when a party leads to a police investigation, Ty realizes just how flimsy relationships can be.  He’s tired.  He’s had enough of being picked on and blamed and accused.  So he decides to do something about it.

Listen, it’s a good book.  But I’m not gonna lie to you, either: the ending is trite.  It could have been a powerful book, a scary book, a book that made teens stop and think, a book that deserved this opening page:

Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson Inside Cover Page - Review by Lit Mama Homeschool

Seriously, when I saw that, I thought, “Aha!  Now we’re going to get into the nitty gritty.”

Well, we didn’t.  Not so much.  I mean, we got to the nitty gritty from maybe a 12-year-old’s standpoint, but we didn’t get to Real Life nitty gritty.  In fact, the ending was so trite I almost through the book through a window.  No, really, I tossed it across the room and it hit a window.  Because the book is about teen depression and abuse and suicide and I expected a little more Real from it.  Real life doesn’t always (actually, it seldom does) work out like it worked out in the book.  This book would be a good starting-off point for a discussion about suicide with your younger teens who aren’t depressed, but I wouldn’t recommend giving it to someone who is already depressed or suffering from abuse.  I feel like it would just point out to them how their own situation is not unfolding in the same way.  And it could make things worse.

That said, Twisted truly is a good book.  Tyler is a very likeable guy with real problems that kids can relate to on some level.  The world is unfair to him, and everyone has experienced that.  I just would have liked a more realistic ending.  I’m not telling you not to read it or not to let your teens read it, I’m just saying to be careful with it.  Remind yourself and your kids that while the book offers hope it may not be in the most realistic way it could have done.  Then you can enjoy the very good story without being let down in the end.

Love wins,

KT

YA Book Review: Matched

YA Book Review: The Dystopia Novel Matched by Ally Condie

Y’all, I’ve been struggling.

See, I’ve read several YA books in the past couple weeks, but none of them were worthy of sharing with you.  One started out good, then took this weird turn into… I dunno… Oz?  With fairies and unicorns?  Blech.  Gah.  Poorly done, trite fantasy?  No, thank you.  Another was actually a pretty good story (The 100 Lies of Lizzie Lovett), but it had teen drinking and teen smoking and teen sex in it, and I just didn’t feel it was appropriate as a recommendation for my lovely readers.  The others?  Not worth mentioning, my dears.

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YA Book Review: Loki’s Wolves

Loki's Wolves

If you have a little who loves Percy Jackson, he or she is going to love love love Loki’s Wolves by K.L. Armstrong and M. A. Marr.  I am not kidding.  This is a fun ride.

Not just another book review

Rick Riordan gave us the Olympians, but Marr and Armstrong give us Thor, Loki, Odin and Balder in all their glory, told through the eyes of their young teen descendents.  I have to admit, I have a soft spot for the Norse gods.  Not the comic book heroes, but the real pantheon and all the myths about them.  I have been utterly fascinated by the culture that believed in them for many years.  What I love about this book is that it nods to the comics but believes in the myths.  Which means your littles will get a bit more understanding of what Norse mythology really was.

Ragnarok is coming

Matt Thorsen is just a regular kid, living his life in a town that still holds festivals like the Vikings did.  He’s trying to live up to his brothers’ example and stay out of trouble so his sheriff dad isn’t disappointed in him.  If only he could stay out of the path of Fen Brekke, who wreaks havoc wherever he goes and somehow seems to always be in Matt’s way.  Then there’s Fen’s cousin, Laurie, who might not be as bad as Fen but is always with the troublemaker when trouble happens.  And Matt knows they are descendants of Loki and may well be his enemies.

Matt tries to keep his head down, even though he knows he is a true descendant of Thor and that his law-abiding family has special powers.  He just wants to win his next boxing match and do well in the upcoming science fair.

Chosen champion

All that changes when Matt is chosen by his extended family to be their champion in the upcoming battle for Earth.  The seers have pronounced it–the runes have spoken.  Matt barely believes any of it is real, let alone that he could be a champion.  But then he starts meeting weird women who turn out to be Norns-the Norse version of the fates.  Just as he starts to believe what is happening to him, he and Fen are attacked and must fight off shape-shifting wolves.

And the fun begins.

The quest

Matt, Fen, and Laurie set out across the Dakotas to find the rest of the descendants of the Norse gods.  Because Ragnorak is definitely coming, and they will need all the help they can get.  Valkyries, trolls, and traitors are just a few of the trials the trio goes through as they collect the other descendants.  Nevermind that they also have to find Thor’s hammer, Mjölnir, a shield that Fen has already stolen, and some feathers.  Feathers?  I bet I know where they come from.

This is the first book in a series that is shaping up to be utterly amazing.  I love that the authors don’t talk down to their audience, but have written the book to be enjoyed by all ages.

I am not making this up.  Get over to Amazon and buy this book for your littles.  This is adventure in its highest form.

Love wins,

KT

YA Book Review: Enter Title Here

YA Book Review: Enter Title Here

If you only read one YA book this year, make it this one. I know, it’s only June (July?), and I will read and review over 20 more books by year’s end, but this one has the stuff, my friends.

In spades.

You can order  Enter Title Here by Rahul Kanakia on Amazon right now and it will be magically whisked to your Kindle on August 2.  And you want to do that.  I promise.

It’s a fascinating read just because it is written like an original manuscript.  Not the prettied-up version you find in a published book, but the version written by a teenage overachiever who lands an agent before she even considers writing a novel.  It’s written more like her first or second draft.  Honest.  Raw.  Exposed.

If you only read one YA book this year, make it this one.

That is cool enough, but the story line is Amazing. A. maz. ing.  See, Reshma is a high school senior and valedictorian at her posh high school, and all she wants out of life is to get into Stanford.  And she believes wholeheartedly she will do Whatever It Takes to get in.  But she needs a hook.  So when she writes an article for Huffington Post and gains an agent who wants her to write a novel, she knows she has her hook.  Published Teen Writer and valedictorian?  Yeah, that’s the hook.

Because her SAT scores?  Well, they were pretty average.  All three times.  How does a girl who works harder than anyone else, is top in her class, and has an agent get average SAT scores?

What Reshma reveals about herself throughout her story will make you question the entire system.  And yourself.  Because you will not understand how you could possibly feel sympathy for her.  But you will, indeed, sympathize.

This book touches so many things, not the least of which being how a person Should Not behave in order to reach the top.  And how family dynamics play into our lives on a daily basis.  But it also touches on prejudice, and how even those who think of themselves as being open-minded can carry a seed they don’t even recognize.  I think, though that was a subplot, it was my favorite part.  We should always question ourselves and those around us, ensure that we are not letting those seeds take root.

I loved that seeing the story through the filter of Reshma’s mind meant that I couldn’t quite trust everything I was reading.  Even when I thought I felt one way about a plot, I found myself questioning how true that plot was and how it might have played out in another character’s reality.  Reshma is a bitch; there is no doubt of that.  But she’s a kind of lovable bitch, even when you aren’t sure what’s really going on.

Yeah.  Read this book. Question Everything.

Always.

Love wins,

KT