November 24, 2014

Recent Reads

162. The Giver
I've had this on my TBR for ages, and wanted to read it before seeing the movie adaptation. 

Targeted at the young adult reader, this is an interesting story about what we gain and what we lose when we give up the messiness of what it means to be human. This is a dystopian novel of sorts - though without an apocalypse trigger. Everyone has assigned roles, everyone is the same, everyone knows what is expected of them, everyone is safe. Until they are not. Our glimpse into this community is through the eyes of 12 year old Jonas. At 12, all kids gets assigned their roles for life, but Jonas does not get assigned a role, he gets selected to be The Receiver. What this means, and the consequences of "sameness" changes his life.

This is a fast read, and being an adult reader, I found it rather predictable as I knew things that Jonas did not know as of yet. I quite liked the exploration of what we gain and what we lose in a color blind and amnesiac world. I plan to read the next book in the series to see where the author takes this story. Rating: 3 stars.

163. Prom
Book blurb: The high school prom is an American tradition, a rite of passage, and one of the most important rituals of youth in this country. The internationally recognized documentary photographer Mary Ellen Mark took on the extraordinary challenge of working with the Polaroid 20x24 Land camera to produce this fascinating look at dozens of young people from a diverse range of backgrounds on this memorable night in their lives.

Having not grown up in the States, the only prom I attended was my college one, and I find that there is something precious, and fleeting, and captivating about high school proms. Maybe it is that these kids are on the cusp of the rest of their lives. Maybe it is because at that age, many wear their hopes and dreams and fears right out there for everyone to see. These 127 large-format, black and white photographs are a wonderful window into the souls of these kids at the very brink of adulthood. 

Note: This book comes with a DVD of a film with the same title that the photographer's husband produced featuring interviews with the students. I have yet to watch it. Rating: 4 stars.

164. Theories of Everything: Selected, Collected, and Health-Inspected Cartoons, 1978-2006
This is a collection of the author's cartoons and covers her work from 1978 to 2006. That is a huge span of time, and while this is a good introduction to her body of work for someone like me who had not read her standalone cartoons, it suffers for the same reason that most collected works do. There are sublime pieces, really funny ones, and ones that were simply meh. Some of the things that go on in her head made me laugh out loud, but overall I did not love this collection. Still, 3 stars means I liked it, and think it is worth a read. Rating: 3 stars.

165. Seconds
This graphic novel is targeted for a teen audience and is quite a fun read. 

Katie is a 20-something talented chef with a successful restaurant. She has plans to open a bigger, better one, when suddenly things go awry. Who does not have moments that we wish we could do over again? Well, Katie is given a second chance. All she has to do is:

1. Write your mistake
2. Ingest one mushroom
3. Go to sleep
4. Wake anew

And viola! you get a do-over. A Mulligan. But as we all know, magic does not come without strings attached, and Katie gets addicted to do-overs. If she can make her life better, can she take it a step further and make it perfect? Do-over junkie Katie spirals out of control. Will she stop before it is too late? Rating: 3 stars.

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