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, April 15, 2013

Fault in Our Stars vs Inside Out and Back Again
I had read Fault in Our Stars prior to this duel.  Considering I cried for the last few chapters of Fault in our Stars, I was biased towards it for evoking such feelings in my emotionally stagnant self.  Inside Out and Back Again had an uphill battle for me, because I've never been a fan of books that were written in verse.  For me, the depth just isn't there for the reader to truly connect with the characters.  As Arlene once taught me, people read books for different reasons and they go through different doors to enter a story.  I go through the doorway of character development and if verse doesn't develop a realistic character for me then all is lost.  That’s why I was surprised when Lai’s novel made me care about Ha.  Ha is an authentic character that took me through her journey of immigration without making me feel like an outsider.  I've read many books about immigration, and with each I felt like I was the odd woman out.  It seemed as if there was a wall between the character and I, like unless I wore the badge of having gone through immigration I couldn't truly understand the character’s plight.  I felt like Lai didn't care whether or not I could relate to her character’s story, but that I could find something about myself in Ha, which was her deep connection to family.  In the end, the book was a quick poignant read, but it couldn't overtake Fault in Our Stars.
               John Green has a talent that many YA novelists have to force, which is that he can submerge himself in whatever character he is writing from the perspective of and he’s believable.  Hazel reminds me of a couple students I've had the great experience of teaching, they did not have terminal cancer, but they had her wit and charm.  The voice of Hazel is straight up; she doesn't hide behind pretense and says it like it is.  I guess when you could die at any time, there is no point sugar coating life.  Her wit, displayed prominently when she describes her support group, is intoxicating.  It was difficult to put the book down.  She talks about death like I talk about what I did this past weekend.  Death and cancer aren't topics I’m well versed in, I shy away from them and separate myself from the feelings they involve.  In Green’s novel there is no hiding, just like Hazel, he doesn't try to make you feel better about the topic.  When Augustus enters the support group, I thought the story was just going to be another teen angst love story with a different spin.  Instead, it was the painful journey of two teenagers who knew their mortality and wanted to minimize the damage of their deaths on the people they loved.  The love story was raw and bittersweet.  It was beautiful to watch them give into their feelings for each other, but we all knew the inevitable was going to happen.  I just didn't think it would be a snot fest that required Kleenex and my sleeve to get through.  It’ll be one of those novels that will stay with me for a very long time.  Thus, Fault in Our Stars is my vote to continue.


  1. I enjoy verse novels, or novels in verse, but found Inside Out to be a bit long; I would have liked to have seen it shorter. Despite that, I did order multiple copies for a Lit Circle group and tie in with Grade 9 Social. I read TFiOS sometime last spring. I have read many books in the last year but nothing else has compared. In addition to that, I don't think it has received the credit that it is deserved. Why is it that a book that is loved by young people, who post all kinds of things related to it online as Brad mentioned, does not cash in on any/many of the prestigious YA awards? The Fault is Our Stars is my vote to move forward. I don't have a zombie pick.

  2. I at first thought I was going to do my post in the style of novel in verse but that became way harder for my creatively zapped brain than first anticipated! Thank you to Tristin for leaving her comments for me to simply add to rather than start from scratch!
    I know many did not like Inside Out as it was the same story that has been told several times before, or it was not as inspiring as it should be but I enjoyed it. So much that I am reading it with a group of girls. The girls so far are enjoying as they too have seen some of the struggles of immigration and families being separated. A few commented that they like it mostly because they feel they can get to the end and it is not 300 full pages of text that scares them before they start. I enjoyed the story and although nor read a lot of novels about this time in history felt that it was truly told from a young girls perspective and what she must be thinking during her struggles. I loved the simplicity of her concern for her Papaya and the want to please everyone in her family. Arlene mentioned she felt it was a bit long but I felt I wanted to hear more of how they coped in America especially after coming to the realization their father was never to return.
    FIOS is still the best book I have read in many years!! I have recommended to many others and will continue to do so. Nothing has made me as emotional as this book yet laugh at the same time from the wit of the characters! I predict it will win everything.
    As for a Zombie pick....Everybody Sees the Ants? Really Brad?!! By the previous posts I think Raven Boys should get another chance.

  3. Okay, okay...maybe Raven Boys should get another chance. Thank you for reminding me of this, Donna. I have not read it and want to so if it came back from the dead I would certainly do so. Dia, Raven Boys is my zombie pick1