Monthly Archives: May 2015

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

abundanceLindsey Lee Wells reached down and grabbed the notebook from Hassan. She read it slowly. Finally, she said, “What the hell is K-19?” Colin put a hand down in the caked-dry earth and pushed himself up. “The what’s a who,” he answered. “Katherine XIX. I’ve dated nineteen girls named Katherine.” Lindsey Lee Wells and Colin stared at each other dead in the eye for a very long time, until finally her smile collapsed into a gentle laugh, “What?” Colin asked……”it’s nothing. Just–I’ve only dated one boy.” “Why’s that funny?” Colin asked. “It’s funny,” she explained, “because his name is Colin.” ~pp. 43-44

Though The Fault In Our Stars will permanently be on my list of favorite books, I’ve had mixed feelings about John Green books before (especially Paper Towns, which I hear they’re now making into a movie). But An Abundance of Katherines was amazing–just amazing. A joy to read from start to finish. It’s definitely classic John Green–smart, witty writing, pristine word choice, quirky, loveable, though sometimes spoiled and self-centered characters. I can definitely see echoes of Colin (the main character in Abundance) in Augustus Waters’ (of Fault In Our Stars) desperate desire to do something important, to matter to the world and universe. But let’s face it, this is something nearly all of John Green’s protagonists have dealt with on some level even since Looking for Alaska. I liked Colin, Hassan, Lindsey Lee Wells, and the town of Gutshot, Tennessee. I LOVED the anagramming, the word play, the multiple languages (Arabic, French, German, etc.) that Colin speaks with different characters. I wanted to live with them, inside the book, and to see the full story of Colin’s nineteen Katherines. If John Green is successful in nothing else, he is at least successful in drawing you into his story and making you want to stay there and NOT ending it with a grace and style all his own. That’s ridiculous though–he’s successful in many things. Craft elements, structure, humor, etc. This is a book about a summer road trip and therefore is the perfect book for someone longing to go on a road trip, but unable to (as I am this summer).

Also, just a note: In this book there are footnotes and there is math (Colin is a prodigy, after all). I happen to love footnotes and hate math. But I enjoyed both equally in this book.

What’s up next: I will be re-reading the first two books in the Chronicle of Faerie by O.R. Melling and FINALLY reading the third. I fell out of reading them when I got to college (the third and fourth were published after I graduated). However, this book series was incredibly important to me–I learned a little Gaelic, some of the geography of Ireland, and a lot about Celtic history and mythology from these books. My family is Irish, so these books really helped me connect with my ancestral roots….and fueled my desire to see Ireland–which I’m hoping to see a year from now, May 2016!!!!!!


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Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Ship Breaker CoverThe blood bond was nothing. It was the people that mattered. If they covered your back, and you covered theirs, then maybe that was worth calling family. Everything else was just so much smoke and lies. P. 274

I have finally begun to go through all the YA books I bought last year that have been sitting on my shelf, waiting patiently for me to read them. After finishing up my last paper of the semester, I wanted to read something COMPLETELY different than the two novels I researched and wrote on. I thought Ship Breaker would be a good choice, and it turns out I was right! Bacigalupi certainly earned those two prestigious stickers on the cover of this book. I can see the appeal for both the Printz and the National Book Award (of which this novel was a finalist).

Nailer and Pima are infectiously likeable, multi-dimensional characters. They have both grown up in the bleakest of places: Bright Sands Beach, the shipyard. Nailer is a ship breaker on light crew–he scurries through big, landed, oil tankers taking copper, wiring, and whatever other light materials he can scavenge. Nailer and Pima are on the same crew–all crews swear a blood oath to protect one another. All of Nailer’s former knowledge and assumptions about blood bonds, family, even genetic destiny are challenged when he meets Lucky Girl–a “swank” from Boston who survived a “city killer” hurricane and is faced with the impossible choice of stealing her jewels, worth more than what he’d make in a lifetime of ship breaking (enough to escape his terrible father) or saving her life, which could be the scavenge of a century…if she’s not lying about who she is. Ship Breaker is an incredibly sophisticated look at our world, what our world could be in the midst of the destructive effects of climate change. It’s not your average YA dystopia or science fiction novel. It’s grimy, gritty, real, but also incredibly enjoyable to read. In fact, I couldn’t stop reading this once I’d started–I HAD to finish it in one night. I recommend Ship Breaker to those who are looking to read something a little different this summer. It would also make for a good companion book to read before watching Mad Max: Fury Road coming out soon!!!!

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