Posts tagged ‘reviewcopy’

January 18th, 2011

Gentlemen by Michael Northrop; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: Gentlemen

Author: Michael Northrop

Published: November 1st, 2010 by Scholastic*

Number of Pages: 240

Rating: 3/5


Official Review:

Gentlemen is not the book I thought it would be. With the many surprises and course changes throughout, my mind tripped over itself as the story unfolded. However, it was Mike that caught my attention with his rugged and unexpectedly thoughtful voice. Northrop does an outstanding job of creating characters who are nearly the opposite of how they originally appear – characters who I gradually learned to love or love to hate. At the very least, Gentlemen is a book that will keep you on your toes.

Synopsis:

Micheal, Tommy, Mixer, and Bones aren’t just from the wrong side of the tracks–they’re from the wrong side of everything. Except for Mr. Haberman, their remedial English teacher, no one at their high school takes them seriously. Haberman calls them “gentlemen,” but everyone else ignores them–or, in Bones’s case, is dead afraid of them. When one of their close-knit group goes missing, the clues all seem to point in one direction: to Mr. Haberman.

Gritty, fast-paced, and brutally real, this debut takes an unflinching look at what binds friends together–and what can tear them apart. [From Goodreads]

Review:

This book definitely surprised me – in all the right ways.

Namely, the main character. I did not expect Mike to be the clever, funny, intelligent boy that he is. He does a fabulous job of hiding his potential and intuitiveness. I loved reading his rough but unarguably thoughtful and contemplative voice. He’s a kid made up of contradictions. He wears a stereotype like a badge, but is anything but on the inside.

That’s not to say he’s a perfect person. He does some terrible, terrible things. He’s dark and his priorities are skewed. I wouldn’t want to know him personally. So, while I thoroughly enjoyed reading about him, I’m glad I we’re not actually acquainted.

Gentlemen is primarily a murder mystery, even if it was the main character that awed me. The plot is interesting, but it would be nothing (in my opinion, anyway) if it weren’t for the fabulous way that Michael Northrop weaves Crime and Punishment into the story. As Mike sat in his English class, turning over possibilities in his head, I was absorbed in the actual proceedings of the class. I’ve been eager to get my hands on a copy of Crime and Punishment ever since.

As the mystery unfolds, the boys’ suspicions travel from person to person, but invariably return to Haberman. What they claim are clues are sketchy at best, but once an idea is thought of, it’s hard to shake. I spent a majority of the book full of anticipation because, despite the unreliability of the evidence, it’s still convincing. I floundered and wondered alongside the characters.

It’s not until the boys take matters into their own hands and act that nervousness overpowered my anticipation. I wanted to crawl into a hole and close my eyes until the book was over. My apprehension mirrored Mike’s. In just a few pages, the many possible endings are eliminated, and the conclusion is inevitable (and dreaded).

Though Gentlemen is anything but cheery, I appreciated the hard-hitting honesty. The characters who did wrong are duly punished, and those who did nothing at all are let free. My mind did trip over itself, but I realized in the end that everything unfolded as it should have and everyone lands in the right place. I was also pleased by the fact that the book induces thoughts on various odd-ball subjects that I might not have pondered otherwise.

I’d recommend this book to anyone looking for something that will keep their minds alert and ready for anything, particularly something out of the ordinary. I would certainly consider it a great book for discussion and book clubs.

I must warn you: You will be surprised, you will be upset, you will feel a little queasy. It’s a roller-coaster.

Thanks to Scholastic for the review copy!

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!