.... Look, you guys! I read these three books, and I'm reviewing them right away. Instead of continuing to build up such a big stack of books to review that it's daunting and anxiety-inducing! Why, you ask? Because the city of Philadelphia, after much hemming and hawing, have finally decided to pave my street and I basically can't leave my house until the stinky trucks and tough looking road crew call it a day.
Linda has a rare heart condition that manifests during a diving competition. Confronted at age thirteen with her mortality she decides to get busy crossing items off her bucket list. She meets a strange new friend named Zak and together they seek out adventure in unlikely places.
Translated from Norwegian, Rossland's spare, gorgeous writing style makes for a haunting read. Linda's restlessness and anger make her a more realistic character than many other terminally ill protagonists in YA lit. She is more nuanced and dimensional than many of the characters in other sick lit. Being sick doesn't absolve her from being a normal kid. It doesn't make her kinder or more likable. It just gives her the catalyst to create action around her.
In the end, Minus Me, came full circle in a way that was satisfying without being trite. If I'd read this book at age thirteen, it would have wrecked me. As an adult, I was still surprised by the two big blot twists and achingly sad when the book was over.
This isn't meant to be high literature, and I'm grateful for that. I have read each of McLaughlin and Kraus's novels quickly. They're well written, action packed, and weirdly poignant in a way that is both funny and not overly sentimental. I enjoy these books on a totally superficial level that I don't relate to at all. I find the weirdly out of place brand name dropping to be hilarious and strange, a quirk of the writing. This is the definition of brain candy - as easily forgotten as it is consumed, but a whole lot of fun while it lasts.
Mike is an average guy in a school full of indie kids. Kids with unusual names and special powers who are chosen to fight the forces of darkness around them. Mike's friends are average too. While the indie kids are fighting the good fight, the rest of the student body is struggling with stuff like eating disorders, mental health, sexuality, parents, and prom.
I'm unfamiliar with Patrick Ness's other work but I was impressed with his intentional inclusiveness and the easy, eloquent way his prose moved the story along. His lengthy chapter titles tell us what's going on with the indie kids, but the bulk of the novel is dedicated to illustrating the mundane forces that lots of teenagers outside of the book might relate to. His character's issues don't define them, but are written in a way that makes them refreshingly real and startlingly hopeful. In the end, this book is about so much more than good versus evil. It's about the human condition and navigating the world we live in. As instruction manuals go, I think Ness has written a pretty good one.