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

Friday, February 24, 2017

Wolf by Wolf, vs. Echo

I read Echo to my grade 8 daughter Rhea, and she did not want to stop reading despite the late hours!  My Wife:   "Rhea has to go to bed!!!"   Rhea:   "Just one more chapter dad.   I promise to get up early tomorrow."  When it came to Wolves, Rhea had no where near the same reaction.  Now I know... this is n=1 research, but at least anecdotally / qualitatively I can call out the research card.  ☺

Wolves started so well.   It was interesting, engaging, and a bit creepy...   a whole new twist on the WW II holocaust genre.  Admittedly it was a bit of a far fetched scenario scientifically, but I could overlook that for the sake of a good story.   Well, almost overlook it.  We have a girl that can change skin color, hair thickness, tallness, her facial bone structure, but can't deal with road rash.  And if a person can skin shift, why does she need tatoos??   And why cover the newly created tatoos (cut in to your skin just prior to a road race???) and then cover them with filthy gauze, and risk infection, possibly failing at the sole reason you are in the race at all???   Everything really deteriorated for me when, within paragraphs,  cruelty in concentration camps was followed by "a hot guy's abs".   Admittedly, that went beyond eye rolling to irritation.   Then came the protracted, drawn out , endless, stupefying motorcycle race, (skim skim skim)  with bits of reprieve during flashbacks to concentration camp torture... I was bored, then repulsed, then bored, then....    talk about a negative spiral of emotions.  The author is skilled at describing the horror of the concentration camps, and the very opening sentence is gripping.   Why trivialize this powerful historical truth, with trite and shallow fiction, (Hitler flirting, hot guys, endless road races, etc. etc. etc.) 

Echo was a joy from beginning to end.  I could hear the music, and admittedly, enjoying music as I do, I listened to many of the pieces.  The variety of  musical genre, the accurate research behind the humble harmonica, the thread of courage and strength resulting from music and the mysterious traveling woodwind.... the images and prose...   it was all positive and powerful.  Three stories that all end in seeming tragedy come together with a wrote,  "I was equal parts relieved and angry when the story resolved itself and the characters' stories all intertwined at the end.  It was a simple ending, but being that it is playing within the fable/fairy tale genre, it is fitting that the story should resolve so neatly with such a clear message about the power of music and the struggles that we all endure."     

I was won over by the themes of strength, tolerance, bravery, kindness and love.   OK.  I know that I am a sap, but is that not the character traits in which we want our children immersed?  I believe this book sings!!!

Love, love, love Echo.  

Now, I will get on my motorcycle and head home.  

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