Smackdown Books 2017

Arlene's smackdown17 book montage

The Memory of Things
Hour of the Bees
The Gospel Truth
Ultraman, Vol. 1
Ghost
The Bunker Diary
Echo
Trouble Is a Friend of Mine
Footer Davis Probably Is Crazy
The Hired Girl
An Ember in the Ashes
The Porcupine of Truth
Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir
Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans
Goodbye Stranger
Beautiful Blue World
The Blackthorn Key
One
Updraft
All American Boys
»

Monday, April 14, 2014



More Than a Bomb?

On behalf of Team Suburbs (that would be Jyoti and I), we both agree that Patrick Ness’ More Than This should move ahead over Bomb.  Bomb is certainly enjoyable, and more than a bit of a surprise:  a non-fiction YA book that reads like fiction:  Noweigian saboteurs, dastardly Soviet spies, scientists working through the night…great stuff, and, at times, wildly engrossing.  And at other times…not so much.  Sometimes the juxtaposing threadlines were whip smart, catalyzing the same sort of excitement that the last minute of a great episodic television show inspires, to have an immediate payoff by flipping the page.  But then, other times, we felt that the intent was there in the intricate structure of the threadlines, but there was no payoff.  Ultimately inconsistent, and more than a bit plodding, eventually.   But we both learned a lot, and when Bomb is good, it is very, very good.

We wrote about More Than This earlier in the Smackdown—we both stand by our convictions.  And both agree that some of the situations and imagery has stuck with us.  So, as far as we are concerned, Mr. Ness makes it to the Finals for the second year in a row!

Speaking of “sticking with you.”  Zombie Pick.  Well, we certainly discussed  (and not just for a moment, but a good, long while) resurrecting The Children and the Wolves.  Unsettling.  Terrifying.  And, pound for pound, the best written book of the Smackdown this year.  And there is some weird, perhaps masochistic, streak in both of us that wants others to read it so they, too, can experience the horrors (but also the sublime pleasures of reading something this good) of this slender novel.  But…this isn’t a book for our students.

So…in a complete 180, we both agreed that our Zombie Pick is…The One and Only Ivan.  It sort of got the rap of being perhaps too juvenile for YA readers, but both Jyoti and agree that it is so well-written, and so clever, and so affecting that we would teach it in High School.  No joke.  In an IB class.  It is a real treat to read something ostensibly for younger students that, upon closer scrutiny, reveals a real craft:  masterful characterization, syntactical prowess, and deceptively simplistic (but actually ridiculously clever) structure and form.  Also, a bit of a masterclass in voice.  Everyone should read it.  And we defy you not to have at least one heaving sob while doing so.

1 comment:

  1. I think Jyoti's ability to get Brad to post on time are worth extra Smack points - totals of which allow you an extra zombie pick! I did love Bomb but in a way I reserve for short stories. I'm always hopeful going in but so few pay off in the end and I think Bomb falls (ha!) easily in this criteria. I haven't read More Than This (which currently holds a middle spot in my TBR pile) but I think Ness may not go further...actually while waiting on a few votes the new math tells me Bomb moves on. I guess, out of book guilt, I'll have to move Ness up the pile. Who knows maybe it comes back from the dead.

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