All right, let’s try this again. I ended up losing my previous post when I unintentionally closed my browser window and forgot to save, but I’m going to be extra careful on this post so that none of my thoughts are lost. *rubs hands together*
So on Day 29 of this respective challenge, I’m going to name some which I liked or loved that many people hated. This is an interesting prompt for me personally because most of the time – this doesn’t happen. Very rarely do I find books where I say “ZOMG, this is the best book ever!” and other people think “Are you nuts?” It’s usually the opposite scenario, when people say, “Yay, this is awesome” and I’m reacting to it saying “Uh…I hate to ruin the party, but…”
This should be interesting. More beneath the cut.
So basically how I chose the books in this challenge was to go through my Goodreads list of “read” books, sorting through all the books with an overall average rating below 3.5. Some of these only barely sport an average just above 3, which kind of blows my mind. A few of these are actually books where the dissent lies with its respective controversy (whether because of the author’s viewpoints or the book’s subject matter). So quite a grab bag here.
I’m going to start with Ilsa J. Bick’s “The Sin Eater’s Confession”. I loved this book, it ran my brain and heart through the paper shredder several times, so to speak. I was definitely teary eyed through the events of it. As far as the subject matter goes? It’s rough.
I definitely know why many people don’t like it and understand the reasons behind it. It involves a hate crime surrounding the death of a GLBT teen, and the protagonist is an elder teen who feels guilt over not only having partial witness to said boy’s death, but actually being paralyzed over the events themselves and confessing his inactions/sins over the entire event. As much as I raged over the fact that the teen pushed the boy away at every opportunity and then after the boy’s death, he didn’t do much to help matters in the investigation – I did feel like Bick captured the guilt, conflicts, and emotional turmoil the teen felt after the fact and in the overarching confessions as he’s telling the tale in a series of letters during his tour in war. It’s a complex book with a lot of emotional resonance for a subject matter that’s bound to get under the reader’s skin, for a lot of reasons.
Dude, where do I begin my reflections on “Ender’s Game”? This hurts to write because, on the one hand, “Ender’s Game” is one of my all-time favorite books for its overarching themes on power, responsibility, political rifts and war, and it is one of the books that shaped my writing style in quite a few measures.
But on the other hand, I’m all too aware of Orson Scott Card’s homophobia and misogyny. It hurts, and I would be remiss if I didn’t say that it had an effect on me picking up more of his work. I’d read “Ender’s Game” three times and a few of OSC’s other works before learning of his problematic perspectives. Time will only tell if I decide to pick up more of his work in the future (but it will likely be via library reads or borrowing from friends). But I figure I still love “Ender’s Game” for what it offers to the table in construction and its impact on me personally.
I sincerely think that Sarah McCarry’s “All Our Pretty Songs” was marketed towards the wrong audience. It read more literary fiction for adults than a YA audience (though it features a teen protagonist, the references are definitely obscure and it features a lot of reference to sex, drugs, and mature themes). I wouldn’t say I loved it, but I definitely liked it a lot more than other people, and look forward to seeing what the author does for the sequel. It’s basically a shoegaze/punk/indie rock version of the myth surrounding Orpheus. It has a very convoluted writing style – probably in the same vein as Alaya Dawn Johnston’s “The Summer Prince” – beautiful imagery, but a lack of cohesion with respect to the story and characterizations. The majority consensus on this read was something akin to “WTF happened here? And what are all these references?” In any case, I think this was a hit or miss read that I hope evens out in the follow-up, but it had some brilliant ideas and imagery in the mix.
Personally speaking, I thought Justine Larbalestier’s “Liar” was brilliant. Part of the reason why it had such a mixed reaction was because of the convoluted narrative of the unreliable protagonist – Micah. But I’ll admit that Micah had a strong, compelling voice that blended the lines between truth and lies. I was drawn in and loved how it leaves you pondering even after the last page is turned (though I have a pretty strong idea of where she ended up, in the end.) The other part was because of the story’s genre shift about halfway through the narrative (which was a similar reaction to Dan Wells’ “John Cleaver” series, which I also loved).
I’m really surprised at the low average ratings for “A Match Made in Heaven” and “Fitz” because both of these books were really strong for the subject matter and genre they were in. But it may be that there weren’t a lot of people reviewing these titles and probably just a matter of personal taste.
“A Match Made in Heaven” is a Middle Grade book that’s part of an illustrated/manga series called “My Boyfriend is a Monster”. It’s about a girl who’s bullied and has a best friend with a very troubled home life, yet they both meet a mysterious boy who actually turns out to be an angel in disguise (though the name is a dead giveaway). The protagonist ends up having a nice romantic relationship with said angel. I rarely see characters of color in such comics, let alone those with positively reinforced female relationships. The story itself is really cute, yet bittersweet.
“Fitz” is a story of a boy who loves jazz and seems to have a normal homelife, but one day, he cracks – grabs a gun and goes marching after the man whom he’s never truly known as his father, demanding answers on why the man abandoned Fitz’s family. I thought that while the motivations of the character weren’t completely vetted out, it was still a powerful story for what it offered in the scheme of YA. This also had below a 3.50 average on Goodreads, but I think it’s a give and take for what it offered.
I think that’s all to this feature, and last entry in this respective series will come soon.
Until next entry,