Smackdown Books 2017

Arlene's smackdown17 book montage

The Memory of Things
Hour of the Bees
The Gospel Truth
Ultraman, Vol. 1
The Bunker Diary
Trouble Is a Friend of Mine
Footer Davis Probably Is Crazy
The Hired Girl
An Ember in the Ashes
The Porcupine of Truth
Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir
Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans
Goodbye Stranger
Beautiful Blue World
The Blackthorn Key
All American Boys

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

no split here

Real bad dad, teen angst,
and soccer. What’s not to like?
Then, a monster called.

I don’t think this was really much of a contest. Split certainly offered much of what one might want in young adult fiction: a sympathetic, yet edgy (and, of course, as we’re told ad nauseum, sexy) protagonist; a clearly defined villain; several burgeoning love stories; and healthy doses of suspense throughout. I would imagine that there would be aspects of this novel that many of our students would enjoy and some would undoubtedly appreciate the way the whole thing is packaged. And therein lies the problem. This novel struck me as a YA package, even though the author is clearly trying to show us that she has moved beyond some YA tropes (which is, in itself, part of the package, but, I digress). A Monster Calls, on the other hand, was original, thought-provoking and moving. I have a lot to say about both of these works, but I’ll respect the spirit of the haiku round and stop in a second. As I mentioned, there are aspects of Split that are appealing, but there were many more that I found sublimely irritating, however, a detailed bashing wouldn’t seem to offer much at this point. If anyone needs convincing (I’m looking at you, Dia!), just let me know, and I’ll lay out my case. As for A Monster Calls, I’ll refer you to Brad’s eloquent and detailed review from a couple of rounds back. I think he covered everything that I could possibly address. It’s quite lovely.  Here’s the bottom line for me: Split is the kind of book that someone writes when they are trying to write”YA” fiction; A Monster Calls was a story that needed to be told and that story will appeal to young adults, as well as everyone else.

A Zombie Pick? Hmm. A Monster Calls was the best book I read during the smackdown. Beauty Queens, Sign Language, A Tale Dark and Grimm and Yummy all offered more, for my money, than either Split or Okay for Now, but I don’t think any of them are in the same league as A Monster Calls. Can I choose not to put forth a zombie pick?


  1. You can look at me all you want Brent, but Henry is still an irritant for me. Having said that I personally loved A Monster Calls just wondering about junior high kids. Which means I really should test drive it with some. No, you don't have to have a zombie pick.

  2. Unless, we for some reason need A Monster Calls to be a zombie pick! Then put me in for that one, too! I totally I agree that I think Monster Calls could win it all this time.