It’s been a long, long while since I’ve posted on here, but thought I’d give it another whirl.
As a result of attending the CBCA(Vic) 2015 Clayton’s night recently and then seeing the announcement of the longlist for the Inside A Dog Inky Awards, as well as a recent general urge to mix up my reading habits a little bit, I decided to set myself a little reading project. I hadn’t read any of mentioned young adult novels, and being partial to a bit of ‘YA’ reading (but usually only those of the post-apocalyptic or dystopian variety) I thought I’d give these books a go. Working in a high school, some insight into new novels the students might be interested in could certainly be helpful. In order to keep my mind fresh on what I’d read I also thought I’d jot down some of my feelings about these books here on the blog. I decided not to give a plot summary of each book as these can easily be found through the Inside A Dog website at http://insideadog.com.au/blog/presenting-2015-inky-awards-longlist.
I started with the couple of books we already had available in the school library and a couple of others I could easily get my hands on. The first book I read was ‘Laurinda’ by Alice Pung. While I enjoyed this book and found it easy to read, I was left feeling a little underwhelmed. I didn’t really connect with any of the book characters particularly, didn’t really feel strongly about anything that happened and overall I found it a ‘nice’ read. (The word ‘nice’ being used here in a not particularly positive way). I wondered if maybe my lack of similar experience was the reason that I didn’t really connect with this novel. I didn’t go to a posh school and my memories of high school don’t really include a lot of bitchiness or back-stabbing. I found myself getting a bit sick of the epiphanies she seemed to find in every conversation in the last quarter of the book. I’d probably recommend this book to other people, particularly those who went to or are going to this kind of school but I wasn’t really blown away by it. (3 stars)
The next book I picked up was ‘The Intern’ by Gabrielle Tozer. This was a fun book, and while the previous book reminded me of the movie ‘Mean Girls’, this one had obviously similarities to ‘The Devil Wears Prada’. It was a rom-com in book form and it followed a fairly standard pattern, girl-gets-boy/possible-dream-job, girl-loses-boy/possible-dream-job…….and well you can probably guess the rest. A nice book to read between getting your nails done and eating ice-cream. (3 stars)
I had really enjoyed Claire Zorn’s previous book ‘The Sky So Heavy’ which is not surprising as it fit well into my normal preferred reading of post-apocalyptic survival story. The subject matter of ‘The Protected’ was very different but I was blown away by this tale of grief, love, hatred and guilt. It ripped my guts out and had me bawling like a baby. It reminded me that a really great book doesn’t need you to have direct experience of the subject matter, it grabs you and drags you through these experiences as though they are your own and spits you out the other end stunned. I loved this book. I recently read ‘Eleanor and Park’ by Rainbow Rowell and I felt like this book had shades of that, a grittier, rawer version, an anti-E&P, forgoing the lovey-dovey boy-girl thing for the much more complicated love that exists in families and amping up the bullying to 11. (5 stars)
The next book I read was ‘The Other Side of Nowhere’ by Steve Johnston. My initial impression of this book was that it was going to be more action than substance but the story turned out to be really well-rounded. The mystery of it kept me hooked and I really liked where they went with it. The characters were engaging and what they found on the island (trying to avoid spoilers) was an interesting twist I thought. (4 stars).
Lastly in this batch, I read ‘Nona and Me’ by Clare Atkins. I found this a beautifully written insight into the complicated issues of Indigenous communities and the (often casual) racism which seems to be so deeply ingrained in Australian society. Again I was reminded how a good book can take you into circumstances of which you don’t have direct experience and leave you feeling like you’ve learnt something. (4 stars)
Anyway, I’m going to a library tonight to pick up a whole stack more of the longlisted books so hopefully I’ll have some more to write about soon.