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

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

We Were Liars vs. The Wrap-Up List

The Wrap-Up List is a futuristic (sort of) book about a society where fish-like creatures called "Deaths" stalk the earth and claim people after they have been given a letter notifying them of when they will die. Usually, this occurs within one week. The main character receives such a letter early in the novel and proceeds to write her "wrap-up list," which consists of all of the things she wants to accomplish before she dies. After talking to a priest, she decides the best approach is to try and help others through her list, and ends up writing down all of her friends that she would like to see have their first kiss before she dies. Laura and I both ended up liking this book more than we expected to, but felt that making a list of first kisses was a bit weak for someone's dying wish. It did unfold in somewhat of an intriguing way and some interesting plot twists were introduced as more information was revealed about the Deaths themselves. For example, they each have names, and personalities, and spouses, and have a morbid sense of humor. However, the premise of the book was never fully explained. When did these Deaths come about, and why? What year are we in here anyway? If there was a strong message meant to be given about how to life your life, or how to be selfless, it wasn't very well-executed. Overall, it was an ok read, but not spectacular.

We Were Liars tells the story of a wealthy American family who vacations on their private island each summer. They are superficial and materialistic, and do everything possible to hide their true emotions and preserve the family image. The three sisters, who are the mothers of the teenage main character and her cousins, are only concerned with who will inherit the grandfather's money and possessions when he dies. Most are living off of their trust funds and have done nothing to better themselves or generate income personally. They argue all the time and use their children to try and persuade the grandfather to award them with the most desirable inheritance. Super likeable people. At some point, the main character Cady suffers an injury and spends the rest of the novel trying to piece together the summer she can no longer remember after the trauma and memory loss she experienced. She fears something terrible has happened but does not know what.

Despite the fact that we were not really very sympathetic to any of the characters, this book was mysterious and kept us guessing. Both of us made a prediction about what the big secret was, and neither of us were right in the end. The writing was unexpected and deserved a second read in some places as the author uses many gory, hyperbolic descriptions for how Cady is feeling. It was an enjoyable read and we both liked being surprised in the end. I think this would be a good pick for many of our students as it has the teen romance aspect to it in addition to the suspense and twist ending.

We Were Liars is our pick to move forward!

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