Monday, November 3, 2014

Quick YA Reads: Green, Shimko, & Lockhart

Reviews by Christy H

You Know What You Have to Do by: Bonnie Shimko
“Dexter meets Judy Blume”? Well, that’s what the back cover of You Know What You Have to Do promised me, and I think I can say it (somewhat) delivered. In a lot of ways Mary-Magdalene is a typical 15 year old girl: she’s fairly good at school, has a new crush, and her mother exasperates her on a regular basis. Somewhat atypical: she’s a murderer. A voice in her head tells her when to kill (usually when someone is mistreating her or her loved ones.) But then the voice starts urging her to kill innocent people who’ve never done her any harm – a crying baby, a man riding a bicycle on the side of the road, etc.  But this teen girl isn’t all bad. The book doesn’t paint “Maggie” as a two dimensional monster. She loves her step-dad to pieces and worries what her best friend will think when Maggie realizes they like the same boy. You feel bad for kind of rooting for her because, of course, murder is wrong. But it’s the voice that’s making her do horrible things – this girl doesn’t mean it! This girl is so sweet! This girl, however, is dangerous.
This novel isn’t perfect, though. My main quibble is that I didn’t really understand why the voice in Maggie’s head was a male. It seemed like an effort on the author’s part to separate Maggie from her crimes, which I didn’t really find necessary. Anti-heroines can be fun. Dark stories can be interesting. This slim book certainly had room to expand in that regard. But it was enjoyable, and I’d recommend it for a speedy read.

The Fault in Our Stars by: John Green
Despite the surrounding hype for this book, it was just ok for me. The more I thought about it the less I liked it, honestly. I just wasn't a fan of the know-it-all personalities of the main protagonists, and maybe that's why I never could really connect to the story. After my lukewarm reaction to Paper Towns, and then this, maybe John Green just isn’t for me.
However, this is definitely a minority opinion. 

We Were Liars by: E. Lockhart
            I read these novels back to back and, of the three, this one is my favorite. The main character Cady is part of the rich and powerful Sinclairs. They even own their own island near Martha’s Vineyard where the whole family congregates each summer. On this island there is a house for the matriarch and patriarch and a house for each of their three daughters, including Cady’s mother. Cady is happy with this arrangement because each summer she gets to be one of the Liars again – the three eldest cousins plus the son of an aunt’s boyfriend. But during “Summer Fifteen” there is a terrible accident that keeps Cady away for two years. She suffers blinding migraines and can’t remember most of that summer. When she finally returns to the island she is determined to piece everything together.
            I don’t want to give too much away but I will say that the “twist” isn’t really revolutionary. However, I didn’t think that lessened its impact. I’ve also seen critiques of the prose being too flowery in some places and disjointed in others. I didn’t personally feel that way. I enjoyed the descriptive language, and the disjointed areas made sense to me since it was usually when Cady was trying to remember something. This is the first book I’ve read by E. Lockhart but it does make me want to check out her other novels.

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