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
March
Unbecoming
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
OCDaniel
Girl in the Blue Coat
Refugee
Defy the Stars

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.

Crazy

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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