Bookit Review: Paper Covers Rock by Jenny Hubbard

I am still trying to learn and remember all the different types of literary and book awards that are out there, and can lead us to fantastic reading experiences. This was my first time coming across the William C. Morris YA Debut Award, an annual award given to a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens. This award was first given in 2009 by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) a division of the American Library Association (ALA). The award is named after an innovator of the publishing world, who was a strong advocate of promoting literature for children and teens. Paper Covers Rock is one of five 2012 finalists, and the 2012 winner is Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley (which also won the 2012 Michael L. Printz Award).

From Goodreads:

At the beginning of his junior year at a boys’ boarding school, 16-year-old Alex is devastated when he fails to save a drowning friend. When questioned, Alex and his friend Glenn, who was also at the river, begin weaving their web of lies. Plagued by guilt, Alex takes refuge in the library, telling his tale in a journal he hides behind Moby-Dick. Caught in the web with Alex and Glenn is their English teacher, Miss Dovecott, fresh out of Princeton, who suspects there’s more to what happened at the river when she perceives guilt in Alex’s writing for class. She also sees poetic talent in Alex, which she encourages. As Alex responds to her attention, he discovers his true voice, one that goes against the boarding school bravado that Glenn embraces. When Glenn becomes convinced that Miss Dovecott is out to get them, Alex must choose between them.

I do not usually enjoy reading books that deal with depressing topics such as drinking fatalities, blackmail, and betrayal despite their strong messages for readers. However, I found the author’s writing abilities captivating. She was able to weave Alex’s guilt ridden confession into a poetic yet fast paced unravelling of secrets and life altering moments. Author Jenny Hubbard’s gift for writing poetry and language comes out not only in the poems that Alex writes for his English teacher, Miss. Dovecott, but throughout the entire book. Written in diary form the reader is able to fully grasp the complex emotions and thoughts that the main character is dealing with from his anguish over the death of his friend to the sexual desire yet respect he has for Miss. Dovecott.

I was also fascinated by the private all boys boarding school culture that the author captures through the story. All be it is quite a negative one and set in the 1980s, she brings forth the pressures these boys faced and may still face in fitting in, in living up to the expectations of their family legacies, of the sexism and objectification towards females, and of the connotations with being gay. However, what also shines through is their dedication to higher education, which shines through in Miss. Dovecott’s English class as they study American literature and poetry and she helps to mentor the gift for poetry she sees in Alex as well as his soul.

She calls me a natural-born poet. As she says all of these things that no one has ever said to me before, she follows my eyes with hers, which are dark and deep like pockets.

“You are on my side,” she says.

“What side is that?” I ask.

“The winning side,” she says, and smiles. “The team of artists.”

“Who are we playing?”

“The barbarians,” she says. “We are always playing them.” (Hubbard, p. 67)

I give it 4 out of 5.

Happy reading,

Bookit

p.s. I think that this book pairs well with the movies Dead Poets Society and The Emperor’s Club.

Bookit Review: The Pledge by Kimberly Derting (Guest Post!)

I picked this title up when it was returned by one our avid teen readers. I don’t know how she has time to do anything but read with all the books she takes out. Oh what a life! I am jealous.

 

 

From Goodreads:

In the violent country of Ludania, the classes are strictly divided by the language they speak. The smallest transgression, like looking a member of a higher class in the eye while they are speaking their native tongue, results in immediate execution. Seventeen-year-old Charlaina has always been able to understand the languages of all classes, and she’s spent her life trying to hide her secret. The only place she can really be free is the drug-fueled underground clubs where people go to shake off the oppressive rules of the world they live in. It’s there that she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy named Max who speaks a language she’s never heard before . . . and her secret is almost exposed. Charlie is intensely attracted to Max, even though she can’t be sure where his real loyalties lie. As the emergency drills give way to real crisis and the violence escalates, it becomes clear that Charlie is the key to something much bigger: her country’s only chance for freedom from the terrible power of a deadly regime.

This book is described as a dystopian fiction novel, but it also ventures into the fantasy realm. Seventeen year old Charlie, nicknamed Chuck by her best friend Brook, lives in a world of hierarchy classes ruled by an evil queen with magical powers. I am a fan of both genres, but for those of you who prefer high-tech gadgets and more scientific explanations of the future you will find this text lacking. The dystopian aspects come in the form of mandatory ID badges and ranks, armed checkpoints, underground clubs and rebel hideouts. These aspects converge with the historical storyline of fallen kingdoms, anarchy, castle ruins, and Charlie’s quest to discover more about herself and her family. Charlie’s innate secret power to comprehend all forms of communication (from verbal and body language to ancient pictographs) is a blessing and curse.  When a war fuelled by rebels and outcasts breaches Charlie’s door-step, she is forced to re-evaluate the safety of the life she has always known and her own ideological beliefs.

Overall I liked the storyline of the book because it was fast paced and contained many of the genre elements I enjoy. Thus, it was a quick interesting read. However, it did not rock my socks off. I found some of the character relationships and story plot decisions not fully explained or rationalized. Although, Charlie posses this special communication power that should give her the ability to easily understand others, she discovers that her best friend and her own family has hidden many secrets from her. Also Max claims not to be interested in her because of her ability, but no other explanations are given, and their romantic relationship heats up quickly despite her inability to uncover the mystery of his intentions. Furthermore, the explanation as to why a ruling female monarch is deemed necessary in order for the country to live happily ever after is filled with wholes of inquisition.

After finishing the book I flipped to the front and read the acknowledgments. There I discovered that the premise for The Pledge and the character Angelina, Charlie’s little sister, came from the survival stories of a woman who lived through WWII as a child and had shared many of her experiences with the author. This real world connection can be used to bridge this book with other young adult war stories, and even create conversation about comparisons between Charlie’s world and our own. I was really glad my eyes feel upon this tiny portion of the book, and in the future I will definitely make sure I don’t just skim the acknowledgement section. You never know what you might find out, and where the inspiration for a story comes from.

I give it 3 out of 5 J

Happy reading,

Bookit

Bookit Review: Legend by Marie Lu

I saw this book highlighted on Facebook in a “What to get your Teen for Christmas” reading wish list by my local library, and I also came across it in eBook format through the popular library downloading database Overdrive. Knowing that eReader devices would be a popular present this holiday season, I was excited to dive into a read that I could share with tech savvy teens that enjoy reading on electronic devices.

Legend (Legend, #1) 

 

From Goodreads:

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths – until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’ death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills.

I really enjoyed this book, especially since I had recently finished The Hunger Games. Dystopian fiction is a popular genre, and Legend makes a great next read for those that enjoyed The Hunger Games and are interested in escaping into what the future may be like (past 2012)! What is the world like after surviving horrific natural disasters? Are the children in the dystopian world of Legend also subjected to some sort of cruel process?  Does the government have a hidden agenda? Could a romance bloom between two characters who were supposed to be lethally opposed to one another?

Set in the Republic of America, what was once Los Angeles, California in the year 2031 we find the two main characters Day and June. Chapter one features Day perspective (in gold print), the following chapter is of June’s (in black print), and the book continues like this flipping back and forth so that the reader is able to understand their experiences and become attached to both as their characters develop.

When we first meet Day he has just seen one of the many JumboTrons displaying a ‘wanted’ add for his arrest:

WANTED BY THE REPUBLIC

FILE NO: 462178-3233 “DAY”

——————————-

WANTED FOR ASSULT, ARSON, THEFT,

DESTRUCTION OF MILITARY PROPERTY,

AND HINDERING THE WAR EFFORT

200,000 REPUBLIC NOTES FOR

INFORMATION LEADING TO ARREST

The author Marie Lu’s effort to put in unique text add-ins, such as the one above, and changing the print colour, aid in creating the ambiance for the story. Her writing style of bouncing between the two characters also creates foreshadowing, while at the same time she puts in plot twists that make this a suspenseful read you don’t want to put down.   

Like many YA titles, Legend is the first book of a planned series. Currently, the release date for the next title is unknown, but let’s hope it’s not too far away! I give it a good 4 out of 5.

Happy reading, Bookit

p.s. for more information about the author or book visit her website

Announcing Monthly Guest Posts by Bookit!

Hi followers!

I’ve been super busy lately—interviews, last week of work, and trip to Jamaica. Coming up– Christmas, moving to new city and apartment, and new job! ahh!  Although I try my best to update the blog frequently, sometimes I do fall behind. So I’ve invited my friend Bookit to write monthly book reviews to post here.  I’m really looking forward to her reviews!

Here is her own introduction:

Hello, my fellow Books in Transit followers!

I am big fan, friend, and librarian colleague to our lovely Books in Transit author and have been asked to share some of my own reviews on recent YA titles with you.

I love reading, and although I try to read within a variety of genres and age groups, my heart of heart reading lies with YA materials. The characters are bursting with emotions, and they are often encountering life altering experiences that make for fast paced page turners. I have a weakness for funny characters that make you laugh till you have tears (Confessions of Georgia Nicolson), supernatural powers I wish I had (Hermione is my hero), and oh yes, a little romance (one of favourite series is Julie Kagawa’s  Iron Fey)!

Look out for monthly posts,

Bookit

Blog Stats

  • 31,991 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 138 other followers

Goodreads

Check out my books on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/3608158-brie