The Wolf and Me

cover artThe Wolf and Me is part of The Seven Sequels series. It is a series that follows The Seven Series. The series is set up in such a way that the books compliment one another but it is not essential to read them in a certain order.

This installment of the series by Richard Scrimger is about the character Bunny who has been kidnapped. Bunny is below average intelligence for a 15 year-old and this shows in the first person narration. Homonyms are mixed up, spelling errors are rampant but the reader always has the sense that these errors are intentional by Scrimger to establish Bunny’s voice.

Bunny’s child-like logic is endearing. His naive interpretations of his situation are strangely insightful. I love when he calls 911 and is baffled that he receives an automated message “what if I was on fire!”. He knows he needs to get away but doesn’t grasp the gravity of what is going on. It is left for the reader to infer what is truly happening.

I dislike the trend of not using quotation marks for dialogue. It lacks clarity. This is something I’ve noticed in a number of novels this year.

This series seems like it will appeal to those who have grown out of 39 clues but like adventures shared by several authors.

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Finding Melissa

The novel Finding Melissa by Cora Taylor is about a family torn apart when a small child is kidnapped. There are three perspectives in the story. It focuses mainly on the sisters living completely separate lives but there are the occasional chapters about the kidnapper who changed their lives.

The plot is predictable. I anticipated the moves of the antagonist and the young women. There are connections between two police cases that seem stretched and unrealistic.

What made the book worthwhile was the relationships. Leesa’s connection with the kids she babysits and Aunt Rosie are the best parts of the novel. The plights of the sister who remained have been explored in many other stories but it still evoked sympathy. She has survival’s guilt and neglectful parents, as is often the case when a family is devastated by the loss of a child.

Held

*I received Held by Edeet Ravel as part of my YABA jury duties.

I was dreading this book because I hate horror movies and I was sure that I was going to be horrified but what I read. I was wrong, it was amazing.

This novel was incredibly compelling, and managed never to drag even though much of it takes place in the same room with little action. It’s mastery lies in the psychology and the artfully crafted narration.

I felt as though I was going through the stages that Chloe, the kidnapped girl, did. I was afraid when she was afraid, I was sad when she was sad, and even though I think falling in love with your captor sounds ridiculous in theory, I was convinced by the way Ravel had their relationship unfold. I had mixed feelings about him at the same times she did, I questioned what it is to be a good person, how far people can take things and still be decent human beings. Although I didn’t always agree with Chloe’s emotions or conclusions I could see where they were coming from, how the isolation could lead to this.

I thoroughly enjoyed that between each chapter we got a view from the outside world: a letter, an e-mail, a website, a newspaper article… These reactions of her family, friends and the media framed the story beautifully and created a whole new side to the story. I particularly identified with the best friend’s disgust at how everyone at their school and in their town jumped on the bandwagon and acted like they’d always loved Chloe. People who bullied her or ignored her or broke up with her suddenly thought she was awesome just because she was gone and they wanted their moment in the limelight being interviewed, or they wanted to be a part of the drama of the missing girl. Their hypocrisy and falseness is terrible, and yet it contributes to the cause of helping her so again there is a thin line between the good and the bad.

The ending is a bit post-modern, and it makes you question everything. I love a book that makes me ask questions.

First Impressions of Wither

Wither (Chemical Garden, #1)I’m about 4 chapters into Wither by Lauren DeStefano and I feel like writing a mini review for what I’ve experienced so far. More to follow of course!

The novel starts off darker and more disturbing than I expected, which I realize is naive of me having read on the blurb on the back.

“In the not-too distant future, because of genetic engineering every human is a ticking time bomb. Males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. To keep the population from dying out, girls are kidnapped and sold into polygamous marriages. “

Of course a book with that plot is going to be disturbing, but the gritty realism is almost too much for me.  The first chapter left me feeling like this should be an adult book about young characters, not a book for teens. The age of the character is often used to determine where a book is placed, but this isn’t always right. I actually think the target age group here should be emerging adults, the term I’ve heard used to describe 19-30 year olds who are still in the transition between being a teen and being an adult. Some people skip the emerging adult stage and go right into full-fledged adult hood, with their careers and kids, but there’s a big group who stay students into their mid-twenties (yea that’s me), live with their parents longer, or have  a wild party lifestyle that they plan to settle down from eventually. I think these emerging adults, who would be dead already in the world Wither presents are the ones who will be most fascinated and horrified by it. 

The way the servants are there to make the young kidnapping victims look good for their future husband/captor and spend their time fussing with her hair and clothes reminds me of the Hunger Games. Her mixed feelings for these ladies and children are reminiscent of Katniss’ view of her prep team.

I like that all of the kidnapped girls respond differently to the trauma. Becoming ill, angry or depressed are all valid, understandable responses to the situation. It makes me wonder how I would respond, and I’m sure most readers will question themselves about this.

DeStafano puts a lot of symbolism into flowers. Her use of flowers starts with

“red roses that always look rubbery or parched in the windows. They, like humanity, are chemical replicas of what they should be” (pg 10)

 and continues with the white oleanders that represent the beautiful but dangerous place she is brought to.  There are also flowers on the back cover of the book, and I’ll be on the lookout for more flowers later in the novel.

I’m both excited and afraid to see what else Wither has in store, I have a feeling Rhine’s in for a rough time.

*I received the ARC from Simon and Schuster Canada