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BOOK HUNGRY: A Twitter Book Club -- Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Posted by Elizabeth Ryann on 8:53 AM in , , , , , , , ,
This month's selection was Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why.  And if you haven't read it, then careful, because my review is chock full of spoilers.  Though once you've read the summary, there's not really much left to spoil.  This is one of those books that's more about the journey than the destination, since you're aware from the beginning how it's all going to end.

I didn't love it. It felt self-indulgent, and it made me feel like a jerk for not caring that much about Hannah. I did like Clay a lot, but I thought what Hannah did to him, and Mr. Porter, and even Tony, was ridiculously cruel, especially while she was indulging herself by encouraging so much negative attention.

And I'm sorry, sometimes a haircut is just a haircut. It is not always a cry for help. Everyone gets split ends.  I was planning on getting a haircut this month actually.  (NOTE TO MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY: I'm doing okay, I promise.) If that was really her one big gesture to the world that they should be nicer to her because she was suffering from depression, then I don't think she was trying very hard. And it didn't even really seem like she was depressed. Instead, it seemed almost like she was empowered by the negativity of it all, so she constantly sought it out. (Not that what the other people did was okay, at all. But for heaven's sake, she could have reported things to the police or someone at school: peeping Tom, the car accident, the rape. This particular crowd would likely start to avoid her. They didn't strike me as super motivated bullies.)

See? I told you it made me feel like a jerk. It was just that Hannah was so incredibly passive throughout the entire thing that I couldn't help but get frustrated with her. Obviously, these tapes are her revenge/justification, but I feel like the way she was treated at school probably had a lot to do with that attitude. If the only thing she responds to is negative attention, and she consistently places herself with people that she knows will provide that, and she never ever seeks out anyone pleasant, then she is, in a way, sowing what she reaps. She herself never reaches out to a single person. She never makes an attempt to help Jessica. She never even really clears up what went on with Alex (and what the hell happened at that coffee shop that Jessica attacked her and left a fingernail in her forehead (??) and no one else seemed to notice? Why didn't someone call the cops or something? That was bizarre.) She never even approached Jessica herself, that was the guidance counselor's doing. She never sought out anyone else who was wandering around looking as friendless as she supposedly felt. It's not like she noticed Skye. Even with Clay, he sought her out at the party, he was the one who tried to talk to her at work.

It's just that, in order for the book to work, it had to deal with a big subject like suicide or rape. And that just left me with the same feeling that I usually got in writing classes, that the writer is talking about the subject that's the "deepest" in order to earn literary merit, rather than saying anything new. Yes, the message that you should speak up and talk to other people, especially ones you like or ones you notice might be having a hard time, is good. And I approve of that. But it all just seems really artificial, and I think that can be really dangerous when you're talking about an issue like this.

I should probably admit I have my own issues surrounding suicides, and those people left behind, because I feel like I'm certainly coming across like a cold-hearted snake or whatever. And those are probably informing my reading of this. But in the end, I guess the point is that I didn't really care for the book. It's not one I'll read again, though I did appreciate the way Clay's character was constructed from a writing standpoint. It was really easy to sympathize with him without him really doing much of anything at all, which is interesting. Little things, like his Mom bringing him the tapes and giving him cash to buy a milkshake, just really underscored how young and vulnerable he is, which I thought was well done.  Though I did think it was slightly strange that apparently two of his girlfriends (the only two girls we're told about that he likes, even) were suffering in such a way.  That seems like a really specific type, especially since we don't know much about either girl beyond her warning signs.

Anyway, I didn't love this, but the rest of the book club did.  Feel free to check out their reviews on their blogs:

http://karlanellenbach-lastword.blogspot.com/
patriciablount.wordpress.com
http://kellybreakey.blogspot.com/
http://vanessapnoble.wordpress.com/

Next month: Susan Elizabeth Phillips' Natural Born Charmer. Which I'm psyched about, since I'm a big SEP fan.  Spoiler Alert: I've already read it, and it's adorable!

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8

BOOK HUNGRY: A Twitter Book Club -- Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Posted by Elizabeth Ryann on 10:37 AM in , , , , , ,
This month's selection was Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go.  I didn't read it.  I didn't even start it.  I had good intentions since I've missed out on several of the last few books, which I do intend to catch up on, but once my book club started reading it and the incredibly "meh" reactions started pouring in... I had a hard time finding the motivation to pick the book up.  I'm already operating from the disadvantage of having a hard time reading a book that's been recommended to me over one that I choose, which I believe I've mentioned as a weird personal issue before.

So instead, here's a few of the books I've read in the last month (beginning on 12/20), all of which I'd be happy to discuss: Sarah Mayberry's The Best Laid Plans (because a friend on GoodReads really seems impressed with her), Eloisa James's Storming The Castle and The Lady Most Likely (with Julia Quinn and Connie Brockway), Meg Cabot's Jinx and Twilight (Mediator Series #6) (because I LOVE her blog and realized I don't read enough of her books), Lora Leigh's The Breed Next Door, Ava Gray's Skin Heat, Jo Davis's Ride The Fire, Kait Nolan's Forsaken By Shadow, Kristine Kathryn Rusch's Domestic Magic, Sara Gruen's Water For Elephants (I really wanted to read this one before the movie came out), Amanda Hocking's Ascend (Trylle Trilogy #3), Marjorie M. Liu's A Wild Light (Hunter Kiss Series #3), Susan Elizabeth Phillips' Call Me Irresistible, and Karen Marie Moning's Shadowfever (Fever Series #5).

As you can see, my preferred method of procrastinating is reading.  And the more I procrastinate, the more I read.

But next month's book is 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher, which I actually do want to read, so I hope I'll be better about doing my homework.  Cross your fingers for me!  I'd appreciate it.

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9

MIA...Oops

Hey, guys.

So it's been pointed out to me that I haven't blogged since October.  Honestly, I haven't written much of anything since October, including tweets, which has made me feel a bit guilty, but not guilty enough to find the time to continue blogging more regularly.  But I'm finally feeling like things are back under control, so I think it's time to return to blogging spontaneously and irregularly, just like in the good old days.  So here's what you missed, in picture form:

I went to my cousin's wedding in Atlanta, which was a fun whirlwind of two days of cross-country travel.  I don't think I slept at all the entire time, since I hadn't seen most of the family in attendance in almost ten years.  The highlight was definitely getting to meet (finally!) my little cousins though.  They are ridiculously adorable.  And now I know for sure that the rumors are true and I'm not the only girl anymore.  It only took 21 years, but the wait was worth it.  (P.S. I didn't do my hair, a very nice, but overworked girl did it.  So I'm not responsible for the slightly lopsided dome thing.)  Incidentally, these are the last pictures of me with glasses, since five days later I had LASIK surgery done.

LASIK, by the way, is both cooler than I expected it to be, but also required more extensive recovery time than I had thought.  It really is surgery.  On your eyeballs.  Lasers or not, there's recuperating that needs to happen, and it takes three months for them to be fully healed.  Which means that I can finally rub at my eyes when they get tired in four days!  Yay!  That has been torture.  What has not been torture is the fact that I have 20/15 vision.  20/10 if I squint slightly.  THAT PART IS AWESOME.

Halloween was fun because it was the first day I was allowed to wear makeup again.  Of course, I had to kind of rejigger my costume a bit since the construction was bananas and it was impossible to put it on without tearing it a bit.  Apparently I wasn't the only one with that complaint, though, and the Disney store was cool enough to give me a refund.  Although they also promised some store credit that never came.  But allow me to give you this cautionary tale: as cute as the live-action Alice costume looks in pictures?  It is NOT worth it.  I mean, the underskirt is actually made of that paper fabric from which vacuum cleaner bags are made.  That is the kind of quality materials were talking about here.  Also, even wearing that, it is still possible to see your underpants, so...you know, caveat emptor and all that. 

And finally, Christmas!  Which is also known as THE HAPPIEST TIME OF YEAR in kitty land:


There was not a single present, drop of water, or blade of pine that they didn't lick, I don't think.  They heart Christmas with a sort of single-minded intensity that's terrifying, but also admirable in its commitment and focus.  So that was exciting.  But I started a new tradition this year of making a bunch of ornaments -- I invited friends over to help -- and it might be my new favorite Christmas tradition:


Check out that awesome rendition of Bonecrusher that my BFF Liz made for me.  You can't see it, but she also gave him a butt bow.  So awesome.

So what's new with all of you guys?  I hope the holidays treated you well.  Do you happen to remember where I left all of my writing motivation, by any chance?  Thanks, if so!  I've been looking for it everywhere.

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