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

Thursday, January 23, 2014

When going to battle, it is best to arrive late. - ERs Tzu

Total disclosure: it was plain that my last posting had all the nuance of a flying mallet (hmm, do I have a latent tendency toward violence?), so "as brevity is the soul of wit..." (my tendency toward irony, obvious.)

While I am rarely accused of being perceptive, indictments for my total lack of understanding when it comes to women are many, and it is with this caveat that I approach The Thing About Luck, by Cynthia Kadohata.  I can accept that the period of early adolescence must be a tumultuous one for young women, as evidenced in the hoards of novels I read on the subject, of which The Thing About Luck is one.  It would stand to reason then, that successful authors the likes of Sarah Dressen and Betty Smith would be well received by their audiences -- even at a prematurely-decrepit 36, I can find merit in their work.  But let's be frank (forgive the pun), Kadohata's latest may have received a National Book Award, it's no tree in Brooklyn.  My cohort agreed that, aside from the protagonist's strangely comical preoccupation with mosquitoes, most of this material was old hat.

Bomb, by Steve Sheinkin, on the other hand, was a revelation.  As one who does not often 'go-in' for non-fiction, I found Sheinkin's account of the desperation and subterfuge that underpinned the race for the ultimate weapon riveting.  I would imagine that it might be difficult to craft an account of the advancements of quantum physics, pre-Cold War politics and military strategy in a way that is accessible to teens -- I remember struggling through a biography of Oppenheimer when I was in junior high -- but, I genuinely appreciated the tone taken throughout, as it wasn't the least bit condescending.  My comrades and I (bad pun) often found ourselves reveling in the fantastic odds against which the Allies fought, and frequently shared our favourable impressions of the book with others; a testament to it's ascendancy.

Notwithstanding the fact that these were wildly disparate books, and would naturally appeal to different subsets of our clientele, we unanimously agreed that Bomb was, by far, the more compelling read, and thus deserving of a place in the next round of the Smackdown.

Readers of the Illustrious DDM

1 comment:

  1. Yeah!!!! I too avoided Bomb but once read I couldn't believe I had waited so long. I'll be watching Monday to see if The Thing About Luck ends up nabbing a Newbery...not that that would change my vote.