Smackdown Books 2018

Wolf Hollow
Salt to the Sea
The Serpent King
Optimists Die First
The Hate U Give
Orphan Island
Dan vs. Nature
The Female of the Species
Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere
Paper Girls, Vol. 1
The Passion of Dolssa
The Distance Between Us
When We Collided
Louis parmi les spectres
Girl in the Blue Coat
Defy the Stars

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Flash Burnout vs. Whisper

Hmmm. I'm not so sure the books I'm reading are getting better and better. What I have noticed is that they're getting more similar, but maybe that's just the luck (or not) of the draw. Flash Burnout was a great read. I especially like the little photography text "excerpts" at the start of each chapter, although I'm not sure kids would get the metaphors. I like to be entertained and learn something when I invest my precious time in a novel. This book didn't fail on either of those accounts. Now I know a bit about photography, like what "flash burnout" means! I thought the love triangle in this story was a bit boring, actually. Very predictable. But the relationships between the main players and their siblings and parents were complex and diverse (from an adolescent's point of view). In addition, those characters brought other interesting story lines -- with the medical-examiner dad, and the "hurtling" brother, oh, and the drug-addicted, tattooed mom. There's lots here for the YA crowd. I like a bit of action/grittiness in a story; and although this book delivers some, it's mild. Even the sex scene is "tasteful". What appeals to me most as a teacher is that Flash Burnout isn't a chick book. Girls would definitely enjoy this book, but it is told from a boy's perspective. I think it's important that kids get to see boys struggling with relationships and involved in activities other than sports. ...I'm not sure the cover sells the story (and that's important to me); I think kids would pick up the book expecting some kind of thriller or mystery, but that's not really what's delivered. Whisper is a chick book. It's a really interesting story, not unlike many others that are on the shelves right now -- a (perfect) girl struggles with her special powers and meets up with a (messed-up) boy struggling with his special powers... you get the picture. I enjoyed the read. However, I think that the first three-quarters of the book is so full of girliness that boys wouldn't wade through it. There's a lot of description of what the girls are wearing, who their friends are, what their hair is like, and cupcakes and lattes, etc., etc. So that being said, it's definitely going to appeal to girls, and the main character, although she starts out as one of those "goody-two-shoes" types, does develop some gutsiness as the story progresses. She ends up being a resourceful heroine, just as you would expect. I guess that's what I disliked about this book; it's very predictable. On the other hand, who doesn't like to imagine what it would be like to read minds? The perks and challenges of that power make for an interesting story. The alternate point of view, with the messed-up sister and perfect brother, would have also been an interesting story (with a bit more grittiness). Nevertheless, this book would be an easy sell to the grade 8 and 9 girls I teach. My vote is for Flash Burnout. (There's nothing like a little friendly competition.)


  1. Thanks for sending it to a tie-breaker! I can't disagree with anything you said. I just enjoyed Whisper more for myself at the time I was reading it (I admit that it really is only a "girl book").
    "Tasteful" or not, I was still ticked at the excuses for not being faithful to a relationship and disappointed that that was the focus of the climax of Flash Burnout. But the photography quotes were fun and I, too, enjoyed the other relationships in that book.
    May the best book win!

  2. I love it when a disagreement hits. I was all ready for a huge cat fight, books being thrown and now here is Laura being all gracious...we'll see when Jaylene weighs in with the deciding vote.

  3. I'm saving my cattiness for the final round! Then I may not be willing to be the loser!