Smackdown Books 2019

Piecing Me Together
We Are Okay
Hello, Universe
Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow
The Marrow Thieves
The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives
The Poet X
Children of Blood and Bone
Far from the Tree
Long Way Down
The Goat
Amina's Voice
Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess
The First Rule of Punk
24 Hours in Nowhere
The Astonishing Color of After
Obsessed: : A Memoir of My Life with OCD
Train I Ride

Monday, February 25, 2013

Inside Out & Back Again vs. The Raven Boys

Inside Out & Back Again surpassed my expectations. I am not a big fan of free verse but I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  It kept me interested from beginning to end. I loved Ha. I laughed out loud and shed a tear or two. I think it’s a great book for anyone coming into contact with students new to Canada (and with those new students themselves). The fact that it’s semi-autobiographical makes it all the more interesting. I probably wouldn’t have read Inside Out & Back Again if it wasn’t’ in the Smackdown and I hadn’t met the author at the Alan Workshop. That’s its downfall. It won’t jump off the shelf. You have to talk people into reading it but once they do they really enjoy it.

I loved this book in the beginning. The idea of Blue being the only one in her family without psychic powers and the fact that she knows that she will kiss a boy and he will die is intriguing. What I don’t love is a set up book. After a while I didn’t want to hear about ley linezzz,zzz,zzz, (oops! Excuse me I must have dozed off) anymore. And about the revelation about Noah – really? No one noticed for 7 years? Really? Also, I couldn’t figure out why I was reading about some of the characters. Stiefvater mentions that there are 3 Lynch brothers -Ronan, Declan and never mentions the third one (I guess he’s the one in the red shirt) so why not just say there are 2 brothers? Maybe he shows up in book 2 or 3. And what’s the point of Declan? The book could easily have done without that character. Maybe he plays a bigger role in book 2 or 3 but really I don’t care. I wanted Stiefvater to get on with it already! I think my eyes glazed over from page 85 to page 190 when things finally pick up and the main characters go up in the helicopter. From this point on the story gets quite interesting.  I don’t think this is the next great YA novel but it will find readers. Scorpio Races doesn’t go off the shelf unless it’s booktalked. I think this one will do better. I liked Raven Boys. I really wanted to love it but I didn’t. Do I have any interest in what happens next? Sure but not enough to read any more books in the trilogy. I’ll happily let someone else fill me in. I have already read books I enjoyed more in the Smackdown.

So, bottom line…I again vote for the book I enjoyed the most: Inside Out & Back Again.

Inside Out & Back Again 
I wasn't excited when I found out I had to read this book for the Smackdown.  I first took notice of the award winning book in Chicago when I heard Thanhha Lai, speak.  But based on what little I knew of the subject matter and the fact that it was written in verse I didn't feel compelled to read it.  Sometimes though, the best treats are the unexpected ones.  Inside Out & Back Again touched me on so many levels.  I first started teaching at an inner city school where many of the students were 'boat children', recently arrived in Canada with few possessions, and many without one or both of their parents.  I remember being touched by their stories, and realizing that though they couldn't communicate easily in English, many were bright (and frustrated) and many were just lost in their new surroundings.  How amazing to hear one of their stories so beautifully told in the voice of 10 year old Ha!!  As a teacher, a parent and as the daughter of a mother who came to Canada as a child from another country, also not knowing English I was immediately immersed and overwhelmed.  The events, the cruelty of some, and the kindness of others drew me in and made me laugh and cry. 

The Raven Boys 
Blue comes from a family of psychics, and has always been told that a kiss from her will kill her true love.  While she doesn't have the same psychic ability as the women in her family, she acts like a power booster and strengthens the gifts of others.  She meets Gansey, a rich private school boy, obsessed with finding mystical ley lines, a king named Glendower and the magic that surrounds the town that they live in, Henrietta.  Adam, Ronan and Noah are private school friends of Gansey, and make up an odd foursome who share the search and their own troubles.  Blue joins the boys and together they start to unravel some of the magic and mystery.  The book starts off slowly, and while the characters are engaging, it was not until about half way through that the story started to capture me. From there I can honestly say the rest of the story completely captivated me.  It was entertaining with unexpected twists and turns. Wouldn't mind knowing what happens next, but don't think I'll commit to reading any more in the series.

Having said all that, and while I truly loved Inside Out & Back Again and would recommend it to certain students, I don't know that kids would be as enthralled as I was with the story.  In many ways, I believe that adults would enjoy this book more. 
I think (somewhat reluctantly)  the book I would recommend to my students first would not be Inside Out & Back Again, and I therefore cast my vote, though not my heart for The Raven Boys.

We (Barb and Mona) cancel each other out!! So now it's up to Brent, Shelley, Chandra and Brad.  We're pretty sure we know which way it will go. Live long and prosper!! Peace out!!