Posts tagged ‘jay asher’

January 9th, 2012

The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: The Future of Us

Authors: Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

Published: November 21st, 2011

Number of Pages: 356

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis:

It’s 1996, and Josh and Emma have been neighbors their whole lives. They’ve been best friends almost as long – at least, up until last November, when Josh did something that changed everything. Things have been weird between them ever since, but when Josh’s family gets a free AOL CD in the mail,his mom makes him bring it over so that Emma can install it on her new computer. When they sign on, they’re automatically logged onto their Facebook pages. But Facebook hasn’t been invented yet. And they’re looking at themselves fifteen years in the future.

By refreshing their pages, they learn that making different decisions now will affect the outcome of their lives later. And as they grapple with the ups and downs of what their futures hold, they’re forced to confront what they’re doing right – and wrong – in the present. [From Goodreads]

No quote. Sorry.

Review:

I wasn’t an enormous fan of Thirteen Reasons Why, as many were, so I tried to approach this book with lower expectations. I severely underestimated it.

The Future of Us is not en epic action, syfy, or love story. There’s nothing particularly incredible about it, but you wrap every scene and character up into one, and you find something very unique, very intriguing, and very, very fun.

I found the premise to be perfectly timely. I’ve recently been sucked into the vortex – the black hole, if you will – that is Facebook, but this book’s message has caused me to look at Facebook, and other social media sites, in an entirely new way. I love that Asher and Mackler managed to create an entertaining, though simple, story that does have an extremely evident point and value infused in it without seeming preachy or insulting readers who just want a fun read.

Emma and Josh are a crucial part of that fun bit. They’re quirky and cute, but most importantly, they are incredibly real. They seem just like kids I’d meet in my high school (the good kids). I loved that they were just as flawed as anyone, but a majority of those flaws were things I was willing to look over or tolerate because they, as a whole, are simply worth it. Josh in particular is a darling. He’s a little misguided, and he tends to flop around like a fish out of water, but it’s all so very endearing. Emma, on the other hand, was sweet and clever, but she was a tad more irritating, due to the fact that she was often melodramatic or short-sighted (very). In the long run, however, both she and Josh developed into two people that I was proud of.

Nothing monumental happens during the course of the book, but I had a feeling that I was on a journey throughout most of it. I can see the book in a timeline, and I can see the events, however small, that had a drastic effect on the story as a whole. It was written in a way that felt wonderfully concise and complete. Asher and Mackler did not waste their scenes. Looking back, I can tell that each one played a role, as did every character. It’s fantastic, as a reader, to feel that I’m in the hands of a person or people that know(s) precisely what they’re doing.

My main problem with the book was that it finished a little earlier than I would have liked. My needs as a reader were finally met, and then it was over. Very disappointing. However, it the scene was perfect. I suppose the writers figured they’d quit while they were ahead!

I think that readers of any sort of contemporary fiction will enjoy this. It’s less tragic than Asher’s first novel, and therefore more fit for any old rainy day. It’s incredible how realistic they make this time-travel-through-the-internet deal feel. I never felt as though I was reading something fantastical or a science fiction novel. The Future of Us is, essentially, a story about a boy and a girl who find themselves in a mysterious pickle and must figure out how to keep their lives in order.

August 8th, 2011

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: Thirteen Reasons Why

Author: Jay Asher

Published: October 18th, 2007

Number of Pages: 304

Rating: 3/5

Synopsis:

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier.

On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out how he made the list.

Through Hannah and Clay’s dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers. [From Goodreads]

Quote:

You can’t stop the future
You can’t rewind the past
The only way to learn the secret
…is to press play.

Review:

This book was supposed to resonate with me. It was supposed to keep my eyes glued to the page, sometimes with plain interest, others with plain horror.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work.

Thirteen Reasons Why is an immensely deep book that relies heavily on its characters and their problems, as any book revolving around a suicide must. Though I found myself intrigued by Hannah’s tapes and her story, my interest steadily decreased as the story went on. Hannah lacked the qualities I look for – the qualities I sympathize with. Of course, I felt sorry that she died. I felt sorry that she found dying a suitable answer to her problems. Feeling sorry doesn’t require a real connection. I can feel sorry for someone whose sad story is mentioned briefly in a newspaper article as cold, hard facts. What I was hoping to find in Hannah was someone I really cared for, and I didn’t. The narrator, Clay, liked Hannah a lot, and I could never find a reason to like her even half as much. I feel kind of guilty admitting I didn’t like the girl who committed suicide, but she simply wasn’t interesting. Perhaps she would have been had she been real, but whatever bit of her I saw in this book did not portray that well enough, in my opinion.

I did find her sarcastic comments entertaining as she relayed her stories, but her stories failed to wow me, too. I realize that it was the combination of these stories and many others that drove her to her fatal decision, but those others must have been heart-wrenchers, because these just didn’t cut it. Much of the time, I was irritated by her. Why on earth was she being so vague? She obviously felt as though people should have helped her, but she never really reached out. And if you get me started on the last tape, you’ll regret it…

Anyway, that’s not to say I hated her or anything. As I said, I certainly felt sorry for her and regretted her choice, but I didn’t feel the same terror and grief that Clay did as he cried/threw up/etc. What made me saddest, probably, were the low standards of some of the people mentioned in the tapes and the fact that Clay had to suffer through them.

Clay was a genuinely nice guy, and I can find no real fault with him. His character is revealed through his reactions to the tapes, and I found myself liking him a good deal. He’s sweet, thoughtful, and simply good. It’s easy to respect and appreciate people like him. I also appreciate that Jay Asher avoided making him nauseatingly perfect.

Jay Asher intended this book to read like a suspense novel, and it did. Though I was pretty disappointed from tape one, I kept reading and finished this book quickly. My curiosity was piqued sufficiently, and I wanted to wrap my head around what had caused this obviously intelligent girl to commit suicide. Thirteen Reasons Why, though not perfect, is definitely a page-turner.

I’d love to say that I loved it, but I apparently didn’t. The essential connection between myself and the characters was lacking. I couldn’t see past the text on the page into the story. It just felt a tad… dry. However, I understand that many have adored this book and perhaps have found solace in its pages, so I do encourage people to read it. It’s full of messages that are invaluable, particularly the importance of considering how our words, actions, and even thoughts affect those around us.