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 16, 2013

A comic about a serial killer or Dan Brown for teens? What a choice!

Jacquelyn's thoughts:
First off, we are not two shrinking violets out here in Sherwood Park; we enjoy dark subject matter in our literature and don’t shy away from controversial themes.  Honestly, we were both really looking forward to reading the Dahmer graphic novel!

 I simply found the narration very cavalier.  Here he is, now an adult looking back on his treatment of a young Jeffrey Dahmer.  Numerous times in the text our narrator states, “We weren’t bullying him---just having fun”.  But yes, they were bullying him!!!!

As a teenager in the 70s, I can see the young author believing that, but the graphic was written by a 50+ year old in 2012----he should recognize it as bullying!  He also reiterates numerous times the lack of adult intervention in Dahmer’s life, once again I agree, but none of his so called “friends”, including the author, ever said anything and they knew much more!

If this were a fiction piece I could handle the blasé treatment of the situation, but this is pseudo non-fiction, and as a text we are intending to recommend to young adults, I fear it sends a dangerous message in 2013.

Wasserman’s novel is a delight, if only for the excellent writing.  Although some may find it a bit “Dan Brownish”, I say Bah Humbug!  There’s nothing I love better than to learn as I read( I’m not really a “read to escape” girl), and I learned TONS!  And I was in Prague while doing it!  I’m not saying Book of Smoke and Blood will be our eventual champion, but it deserves to move on.

Carolyn's thoughts:

While I appreciated Wasserman's artistic choices in Book of Smoke and Blood, I have to admit, it left me empty.  The narrator's constant dithering about her love life annoyed me and ultimately, I really didn't care about any of the characters.  Wasserman hooked me in the beginning - wow, what an opening - but the pace for the remainder of the book slowed and for me, was fairly implausible.  However, I do commend her on penning an imaginative tale for teens that plays on the Dan Brown craze and for that and because my partner threatened to beat me up, I allowed this title to move forward.

I was haunted by the Dahmer piece. Obviously, the subject matter is similar to rubber-necking at a traffic accident, but as an educator, to catch a glimpse of the teen before he started making heinous choices, was fascinating.  I did have difficulty marrying the Cracked/Mad-like drawings with the serious nature of the subject and like Jacquelyn, did take issue to the teens' treatment of Dahmer, but ultimately, it's an important perspective on a twisted and disturbed soul.  Read it.

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