Posts tagged ‘characters’

February 23rd, 2011

5 Reasons Book Boyfriends Are Superior to Real Ones

by Madeleine Rex

Not that I’m in the business of, well, having boyfriends, but this post topic is irresistible! All the credit for this goes to Larissa, Missie, and Audrey.

Ask any female book blogger to name 10 dreamy and devastatingly fictional guys, and she’ll give you thirty names and one hundred and fifty reasons why those thirty boys are incredible.

I suppose it’s our lot in life to chase after relationships fraught with unrequited love. We don’t like to face the searingly saddening reality that these boys are, in fact, words. Why are we so hopelessly in love with fictional boys?

I’ll tell you why!

1. They have a way with words. Literally. I think there’s truly something about the fact that they are words that is appealing to me. After all, what’s more attractive than serifs?

2. If they’re irritating, cheat, or prove to be far lowlier beings than you originally thought, you can dump them [relatively] painlessly and swiftly with a slam of book covers.

3. When they’re fictional, far more of them is captured. Simple movements, tones, and occasionally (and best of all) thoughts that you might miss in a physical, true setting are included and build the character into someone easier to understand and love. It’s always the miniature “somethings” that woo me, and those beautiful snippets of character are portrayed magnificently in books.

4. They’re older. This reason applies to the likes of me – younger girls. When all we have to crush on are 12/13/14/15-year-old boys, crushing becomes less of a pleasure and more of a chore. We’re still putting up with chortles over farts and burps. Heck, half the boys I know will still drown in giggles (yes, giggles) at the word “boob.” A majority of the boys in books are older and more mature – and they’re even better if they don’t mention boobs at all.

5. The most significant and noteworthy reason of all? GILBERT BLYTHE. Need I say more?

Happy Wednesday!

Why don’t all blog posts begin and end with Gilbert Blythe?

January 21st, 2011

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

Author: E. (Emily) Lockhart

Published: March 25th, 2008

Number of Pages: 352

Rating: 4/5

Quote:

She might, in fact, go crazy, as has happened to a lot of people who break the rules. Not the people who play at rebellion but really only solidify their already dominant positions in society but those who take some larger action that disrupts the social order. Who try to push through the doors that are usually closed to them. They do sometimes go crazy, these people, because the world is telling them not to want the things they want. It can seem saner to give up – but then ones goes insane from giving up.

Synopsis:

Frankie Landau-Banks at age 14:
Debate Club.
Her father’s “bunny rabbit.”
A mildly geeky girl attending a highly competitive boarding school.

Frankie Landau-Banks at age 15:
A knockout figure.
A sharp tongue.
A chip on her shoulder.
And a gorgeous new senior boyfriend: the supremely goofy, word-obsessed Matthew Livingston.

Frankie Laundau-Banks.
No longer the kind of girl to take “no” for an answer.
Especially when “no” means she’s excluded from her boyfriend’s all-male secret society.
Not when her ex boyfriend shows up in the strangest of places.
Not when she knows she’s smarter than any of them.
When she knows Matthew’s lying to her.
And when there are so many, many pranks to be done.

Frankie Landau-Banks, at age 16:
Possibly a criminal mastermind.

This is the story of how she got that way.[From Jacket]

Review:

This book is everything I’ve come not to expect from the average YA book.

Now, that’s not to say that I don’t absolutely love some of those “average YA books,” but I certainly appreciate the fact that The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks pushes the boundaries of what some people might deem acceptable. It refuses on all levels to be normal.

I loved it. In fact, I love it for some of the very reason that I didn’t give it five stars.

Frankie Landau-Banks is the perfect sort of main character for readers like myself, readers whose eyes are always peeled and on the look-out for clever, entertaining, even brilliant teen protagonists. My mind immediately jumps to John Green’s characters, but Frankie fits this description perfectly. The beautifully ironic thing is that it’s typically those character’s brilliance and cleverness that leads to whatever trouble they eventually find themselves in. Frankie is no exception, and The Disreputable History is her journey toward that trouble.

It’s written in the form of a detached narrative. It’s analytical in a way I’ve never seen in YA literature, and I was pleased by the effect. I felt as though I was reading a very intriguing, in-depth news article. The language was phenomenal. I don’t mean to sound snooty when I say that I have a pretty expansive vocabulary, but I do (for my age, at least). The Disreputable History absolutely refused to stay within the walls of said expansive vocabulary, and for the first time in a while, I had to ask my mother what a word meant every five pages. I loved it!

Though there were moments when the book felt as though it was being told in first person (which astonished me), it was definitely analytical, as I said before. The downside to this was the fact that I never felt as though I was really inside Frankie’s head. I prefer to have unlimited access to a character’s thoughts and psyche. This was the main reason I did not give the book a five star rating.

On the other hand, there are so many things about this book to love. Namely, the characters and their irresistible cleverness.

Frankie is an apparent mastermind from the start. Her intellect and potential leak through every word she says in the first chapter. She was funny, clever, and the perfect, odd-ball combination of insecure and confident. She wasn’t overly sure of her social standing or appearance, and therefore very true to what it is to be a teenaged girl. Yet, she is supremely confident (almost arrogant) when it comes to her ingenuity. She knows she’s smarter and more thoughtful than the average teen – heck, than the average anyone – and it’s that arrogant confidence that leads her down a very fascinating and entertaining path to “doom”.

Though there’s a collection of characters that add humor to every page, there are only two that I believe must make it into the review. Matthew and Alpha. Matthew originally appears to be the fill-in-the-blank perfect guy that the poor, never truly noticed fill-in-the-blank girl has been pining after for months. While Frankie is not just a filled in blank, Matthew isn’t either. He’s clever and loves to think and discuss anything aside from the things Frankie wants to think about and discuss. I liked him for a good while, but I noticed the distance he kept between Frankie and himself long before Frankie did. What irritated me to an even greater degree was his self-assured attitude (which I think took root in his self-doubt, interestingly enough). I don’t want to go too far, so let me leave it with this: Matthew rubbed me the wrong way.

On the other hand, you have Alpha, who was equally irritating but in more preferable ways. I think it was the fact that I knew the surface-Alpha was, well, just that – the surface. I was acutely aware that there was more to him, and that out-of-reach truthof him was tantalizing. I was always dying for something more – more than I ever got, actually. Alpha remains a mystery. He’s so fun to wonder about, though, that I don’t quite mind. He was infinitely more interesting than Matthew.

The characters, the plot, and the thoughtfulness of everything were wonderful individually. You throw them together and you get The Disreputable History of Frankie-Landau Banks, a book that is deliciously clever, thoughtful, and brilliantly constructed.

October 14th, 2010

Matched by Ally Condie; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: Matched

Author: Ally Condie

Published: November 30th, 2010

Number of Pages: 384

Rating: 5/5

Quote:

Lying in bed, my body and soul bruised and tired, I realize that the Officials are right. Once you want something, everything changes. Now I want everything. More and more and more. I want to pick my work position. Marry who I choose. Eat pie for breakfast and run down a real street instead of on a tracker. Go fast when I want and slow when I want. Decide which poems I want to read and what words I want to write. There is so much that I want. I feel it so much that I am water, a river of want, pooled in the shape of a girl named Cassia.”

Synopsis:

In the Society, Officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.

Cassia has always trusted their choices. It’s barely any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one . . . until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path no one else has ever dared follow—between perfection and passion.

Matched is a story for right now and storytelling with the resonance of a classic. [From Goodreads]

Review:

If you’re a book blogger or are in any way part of the online bookish community (and haven’t been hiding under a mossy rock for months), then you are aware of this book. Not only are you aware of this book, you are aware of the mountains of praise for it and excitement around its upcoming release. You also have high expectations. Like I did.

Do you sense the “but” coming? Well, then your Spidey-Senses are malfunctioning, because there is no “but” in sight. Matched is undoubtedly a phenomenal dystopian novel destined to wow YA readers. Right from the get-go, the reader is aware that this book is something special. Ally Condie takes dystopian to a whole new, disturbing level.

Matched is full of characters that are remarkably round and so full of personality and individuality that it made me so sorry to watch them live in a world where they couldn’t put those unique characteristics to work. In a world where there are no choices and everything is decided logically, these people are full of vigor and passion and love. Making you wonder: How can that be? In the end, it’s all about the things that the Officials cannot change – the bit of us that isn’t really anatomical or physical – love, in it’s shiny omnipotence, and the pieces inside us that make us us.

As you can probably tell from the direction my review is heading, this book focuses a lot on people. Above all that are the evident problems and injustices of the society Cassia lives in, which is interesting in and of itself, but fundamentally, it was that sorriness I mentioned earlier – the regret you feel that the amazing characters cannot rise about the society because it is so oppressing – that kept me reading. I was eager to see them rise above.

The “amazing characters” that I’d like to focus on in this review are Cassia, Ky, and Xander. Yes, oh, yes: A love triangle. The fantastic thing about this particular triangular prism is that it’s evident (at least to me), which of the two boys will win out from very early in the story. On the other hand, I was almost more torn because I felt pity for the boy who didn’t win the prize: Cassia.

Cassia is a great main character. Great’s a terrible adjective when describing people, but I’m running out of others. Anyway, she’s quite enjoyable to read about. Her voice is unique from the start, but familiar in some way. I think that readers will have an easy time relating to her because her voice is so open to interpretation. Her growth in this story is astounding as her mind exercises, her imagination stretches its limits, and she takes a chance that will change the course of her life. And her country. I loved watching her branch out, and I’m sure that all readers will grip their books tightly as the suspense and excitement mounts – as it becomes clear that a monumental change is on the horizon.

Xander is the sort of boy that you love from the very beginning. It’s instinctive. He’s kind, considerate, daring, funny, boy-ish… he’s adorable. Cassia’s friendship with him is entirely believable, as is the admiration other people have for him. He’s kind of the teenage Gilbert Blythe of Matched. I knew from the start that I wanted him to come out on top, that I wanted him to be happy, and that he deserved to be. Ky, on the other hand, is more thoughtful and quiet. He almost seems insignificant. It’s not until Cassia gets to know him better that you realize how much of him is below the surface. He’s unremarkable and uninteresting on the outside, but beneath that is a boy who has gone through more than he should have had to, has stood back up every time he has fallen down, is every bit as intelligent as Xander, and has his own kind of brilliance.

As all good dystopians must, this book has a spotlight on atmosphere, philosophy, and politics. The world in which Matched takes place is incredible. Everything is “predicted” logically, and a majority of the time, people prove to fulfill the predicted outcome. This only reinforces the power the Officials have over the general public. People unquestioningly follow the Officials’ guidance/commands because they’re proven. The likelihood that the Officials will make the people happy is high. And yet, this happiness is faulty in an odd sort of way. It’s only half of what it could ultimately be. As an onlooker, it’s obvious how frighteningly dependent these people are on their dictators. They don’t control their food, they don’t control their transportation, and they don’t know how to do anything they aren’t assigned to do. The way in which these people have succumbed to their rulers is disturbing on so many levels.

Overall, Matched is a thought-provoking, emotionally tense, and suspenseful book. It’s about loving others, loving who you want, and loving yourself. The end is perfect, dribbling off slowly but still managing to leave the faucet dripping. I cannot wait for the next book in the series. I also recommend this book to book clubs because it certainly would make for a great discussion (and is blissfully clean).

I predict that you will be reading late into the night on November 30th, 2010. The likelihood is very high.

Thanks to the Penguin rep at PNBA for getting me beautiful, finished copy for review!