Smackdown Books 2017

Arlene's smackdown17 book montage

The Memory of Things
Hour of the Bees
The Gospel Truth
Ultraman, Vol. 1
The Bunker Diary
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
All American Boys

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Nest Vs Crazy - Ellerslie

The Nest by Kenneth Oppel
Ellerslie is voting for the Nest
Scary stories work best when they can be grounded in real fears. Although many writers may try to create fear with T. Rexes rising from reconstituted DNA, or evil wizards intent on destroying Muggle lives, no adolescent really obsesses over these imaginary horrors.  But, generate fear from the massive anxieties that kids carry around with them daily, and you have horror in its larval stage (heh heh) that will keep young readers up at night.  Wasps as villains, kids who worry if they are really crazy, a psychiatrist who diagnoses OCD, a sibling who is critically ill, and the fear of a family in stress... all the makings of adolescent imagination explosion.  Consider that the protagonist, Steve, in a dream, in a shimmering cave, is greeted by "angels", offering to heal, the ailing baby, but the angels, become wasps, the cave, becomes a large nest, the baby, becomes wasp carrion, the flawless baby, an intentional re-creation, of a part of Steve, a boy, suffering, (according to the adults),  from OCD, etc. etc.  (Grammar intended).  I loved the description of the larval Theo as "Slimy, with two black dots sunk into the front of its soggy body.  Underneath the eyes it had a kind of hole, and it was eating.  All around it, stuck to the nest ceiling, were insects - a dead spider, headless bees, and other things that I couldn't quite recognize, but there was a bit of something that looked like it had hair on it."   I loved this book.  I felt tension, claustrophobia, a continual confusion around what was real and what was imagined, who were the protagonists / antagonists, whether the predicament is real or imagined.


We feel that it is “crazy” that Crazy made it this far. None of us really enjoyed the book at all, and couldn’t think of any student that we would recommend this book to. Some of us found it pretentious, some of us found it depressing. Some of us would commend the author for the style of prose, but not high on a high interest book for our readers.

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