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

Monday, December 17, 2012

Endangered VS The Fault in our Stars

 Endangered is the 2012 National Book Award Finalist.   The Fault in our Stars is a #1 New York Times Bestseller—both great books for teenagers. 
I think there must be a new genre out there—stories about surviving conflict in Africa.  Last year had to choose between Wonder and Now is the Time for Running— intense North American relatively minor drama vs. intense and moving stories about survival in Africa.  This is the same.  My choices determined by my skin colour?  Hope not but probably by what I can relate to.
 Endangered is the story of a half Congolese/half American child visiting her mother at a her mother’s bonobo sanctuary  in the Congo who finds herself searching for her mother during a conflict involving machetes and guns (think Hotel Rwanda) and choosing to stay and protect her infant bonobo instead of evacuating.  It is a story about that relationship and her choice.   Not too sure if I believe in her choice and not too sure I believe in her survival journey.  This is because I don’t really get to know her in any real way.  I do believe in the relationship.  I do care about the bonobos.  The story introduces war with clarity and honesty and for our junior high readers is not too emotionally devastating.
This is the second read for me of The Fault in Our Stars—and it still managed to grip me and make me bawl.  This is a love story between two teenagers who meet at a cancer group therapy session and fall in love.  The protagonist, Hazel, passes on her love for an imaginary book to her love interest and the rest of the novel revolves around their desire to find out what happens after the book ends in the lives of the fictional characters.   The book they are fixated on, An Imperial Affliction, is a story about a teenager with cancer and ends in the middle of a sentence and nothing in the story is resolved.  The author is a foul mouthed drunk who is dismissive of those who expect fictional characters to have a history beyond the book’s pages and treats our protagonists with contempt.   Confusing metaphors for me--- not sure I understand what he is saying about characters and writing.  This is a book about death and yet the characters stay or live with us beyond our reading????
John Green does not deal with sentimentality.  His characters have a very adult and irreverent understanding of their emotional lives. There is not much sacred here—cancer is a main character and it is understood from the first page that he will win at the end.  We do care about the characters and their relationship but we don’t feel manipulated.
Both strong books.   I think the book that was more emotionally gripping was The Fault in Our Stars.  So I’ll pick it and feel guilty for quite a while. 

- Wendy


  1. I would be shocked if The Fault in Our Stars doesn't make it far in this Smackdown.

  2. I too really loved The Fault in Our Stars. I just could not put it down and imagine it will make it far in this Smackdown.