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

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Crazy Nest

Between Crazy, by Linda Phillips and The Nest, by Kenneth Opel, I have to choose Crazy.  Dia immediately sent me an email asking for me to explain myself when I sent in my vote…so I’ll try.
18136729 If you know me, other than The Crossover, I have a serious dislike for novels in verse.  When I read the majority of novels in prose, I feel disconnected from the protagonist or I feel like nothing is fully explained.  But with Crazy, I got Laura.  Coming from a family with mental illness sprinkled here and there, I understood her deep rooted issues with her mother.  The raw emotions in this book were felt deeply by me.  When Laura’s mother went back to the hospital for shock treatments, I hated her mother with her, but I also felt a sense of compassion.  I, like Laura was conflicted.  Should her mother come home?  Should Laura open herself up to be hurt again by her mother…by the world?  I just found it so moving and somewhere in Laura’s dark world I could see myself.  Laura’s fear of becoming her mother and hiding her passion for painting in hopes that she could hide from mental illness too is something I can relate to.  My grandmother passed this year after struggling with Alzheimer’s for over a decade.  The fear that I too may spend my last year’s struggling to find myself in a lonely abyss sends a prickling fear through me that I quickly package away to deal with when I’m ready.   Linda Phillips just dug into the core of me and gave words to my fears, which is something Kenneth Oppel was not able to do.

23271637The Nest…what?  Disturbing.  Confusing.  Those are only a few things I felt while quickly making my way through The Nest.  Now, I have nothing bad to say about the book.  In fact, I gave both novels a 4 out of 5 on Goodreads, but I sure didn’t connect with The Nest.  Yes, normally I would love a book that makes me question if what the character is seeing is real.  But this…this was just plain strange and not a charming strange.  Can anyone tell me if there was actually a cunning bee queen intent on feasting on the carcass of a dead baby?  I’m still completely confused…  But somewhere in this deeply disturbing world, Steve learned a beautiful lesson.  I do wonder though, if the wasp Queen had promised his real baby brother would be taken care of, if Steve would have allowed for the exchange to happen.  Surprisingly, I felt that The Nest paralleled the theme of Monster’s Call.  Both boys were facing difficult family situations and were visited by an ominous character that taught each boy a life lesson.  Monster’s Call ended with an ugly cry, whereas The Nest ended with a stunned silence.  I’ll keep The Nest in mind for the zombie pick, but for now I place my vote with Crazy.  
Tristin Pawluk


  1. That's the fantastical thing about books. They hold out different treasures to different readers. Crazy did none of what it did for you for me, however, there was magic for the right reader. What did I find? The creepy, spooky feel of a small book called Nest.

    1. That is the amazing thing about Smackdown... we all see different things. I've had some pretty intense disagreements with my colleagues over these books! That is FUN.

  2. Creepy Spooky Nest... left me with too disturbed. I think I have moved beyond horror.