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

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Gabi: A Girl in Pieces > The Tyrant's Daughter

I agree with my group on this one. I actually enjoyed Gabi a fair amount. I'm sometimes put off by YA novels that have ALL the teenager problems (and Gabi and her crew collectively have ALL the problems), but Quintero did a fine job of either keeping them subtle or spreading them around to multiple characters in a way that felt believable. I liked all the references to poets and poetry, and wondered as I was reading it if students would be inclined to follow up on those allusions. I also liked the additional insights into Mexican-American culture and found, as was pointed out last round, that there was usually enough context to figure out the Spanish phrases.

I really wasn't a fan of the Tyrant's Daughter. I understand Carleson's decision not to make the family from any particular country, but I found that as a result the characters just seemed like an inauthentic pastiche of Middle Eastern cultures. The plot, while reasonably engaging, seemed far-fetched and Laila's relationships with everyone around her seemed hollow (despite the Kirkus Review's assertion that she was "complex and layered.") I thought Gabi was a much more relatable character with much more relatable issues (I suspect more teens have experienced body image issues, then have dealt with the legacy of a dictator-father).

I vote for Gabi.

In other Smackdown News: John Green recently named M.T. Anderson's Symphony for the City of the Dead one of the top books he read this year. I think I'm regretting eliminating it in favour of that awful graphic novel (let's hope that one dies this round!)

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