Posts tagged ‘matthewquick’

July 1st, 2013

Boy21 by Matthew Quick; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: Boy21

Author: Matthew Quick

Published: June 2013

Number of Pages: 250

Rating: 4/5


Basketball has always been an escape for Finley. He lives in gray, broken Bellmont, a town ruled by the Irish Mob, drugs, violence, and racially charged rivalries. At home, he takes care of his disabled grandfather, and at school he’s called “White Rabbit”, the only white kid on the varsity basketball team. He’s always dreamed of getting out somehow with his girlfriend, Erin. But until then, when he puts on his number 21, everything seems to make sense.

Russ has just moved to the neighborhood. A former teen basketball phenom from a privileged home, his life has been turned upside down by tragedy. Cut off from everyone he knows, he now answers only to the name Boy21—his former jersey number—and has an unusual obsession with outer space.

As their final year of high school brings these two boys together, “Boy21” may turn out to be the answer they both need [From Goodreads]


“Someday an opportunity will come. Think about Harry Potter. His life is terrible, but then a letter arrives, he gets on a train, and everything is different for him afterward. Better. Magical.”

“That’s just a story.”

“So are we- we’re stories too.”


As you would know if you were following my blog long ago when I posted a review of Sorta Like a Rockstar, I’m sorta like a Matthew Quick fan. I loved SLARS because it was inspiring and sweet and funny all at the same time. Those were the qualities I was hoping to find in Boy21, and each was represented in a quirky, highly unusual way.

I suppose that’s what stood out most about Boy21. It is a charmingly unusual book. I can honestly say that I have never read anything like it. It deals with issues that I see on TV but have never experienced through a novel, and it deals with them in a way that makes them accessible. Somehow, I found that I was able to understand Finley’s situation, though I’ve never experienced anything even remotely close to what he does. His environment and family are vastly different from mine, but Quick illustrates them in a simple but detailed way that allowed me to feel entirely immersed in Finley’s life.

And, as he did in SLARS, Matthew Quick has introduced readers to another set of wildly lovable characters. For me, there was a distinct sense that I was being introduced to these people, as opposed to a sense that they had been created to tell a story. This story belongs to them, not to the reader or the author. When I realize that, I know that a book is good. The characters have lives of their own, a presence, a realness to them that allows the reader to befriend them. I loved that little attributes of the characters took on more significance as the story was relayed – take Finley’s quietness, for instance.

In fact, that is one of the most remarkable features of the novel – seemingly innocuous things have hidden significance. I eventually realized that this book is a riddle to be puzzled out before it’s understood. As I neared the end, all the little details that had been clattering about in my head fit themselves together into a very complete and very beautiful story of the lives of two boys. It became undeniable that the story belongs to both of them and that it was absolutely essential that Finley and Russ became friends.

If there’s one way to make Madeleine happy, it’s to make friendship a key part of a novel, and that’s what Matthew Quick seems to have done with both SLARS and Boy21. It’s clear that friendship and family have a way of holding together lives that should be falling apart. I find that to be quite inspiring and true. So does Finley, in the end. And that’s why I loved Boy21.

December 22nd, 2010

Five Challenge: Debuts

by Madeleine Rex

Persnickety Snark has a neat challenge/meme going for the last days of the year. I’m terrible at rephrasing things, so I’m going to quote directly:

It’s called the Persnickety Snark FIVE Challenge

From December 21st to 31st I posted daily on different elements of YA. I chose my top five titles/series/moments for each day. It was purely subjective / opinion based but I thought it would be fun to share my thoughts on YA for the year.  I am doing the same for 2010.  You can read last year’s efforts here.

I have included the themes for each day below so should you choose to join me you can. It’s a busy time of year so you might even pre-schedule posts or only chime in on the topics that interest you.

The challenge began yesterday, but instead of posting twice on one day, I’m going to skip the re-reads category (I hardly re-read anyway, so it won’t make much of a difference). Today’s (really yesterday’s) challenge? 5 Great Debuts… But it will actually be three because I haven’t read enough debuts.

1. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

Evie’s always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals’ glamours.

But Evie’s about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.

So much for normal.

My Review

2. Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers

Frannie Cavanaugh is a good Catholic girl with a bit of a wicked streak. She has spent years keeping everyone at a distance—-even her closest friends—-and it seems as if her senior year is going to be more of the same . . . until Luc Cain enrolls in her class. No one knows where he came from, but Frannie can’t seem to stay away from him.

What she doesn’t know is that Luc is on a mission. He’s been sent from Hell itself to claim Frannie’s soul. It should be easy—-all he has to do is get her to sin, and Luc is as tempting as they come. Frannie doesn’t stand a chance. But he has to work fast, because if the infernals are after her, the celestials can’t be far behind. And sure enough, it’s not long before the angel Gabriel shows up, willing to do anything to keep Luc from getting what he came for. It isn’t long before they find themselves fighting for more than just Frannie’s soul.

But if Luc fails, there will be Hell to pay . . . for all of them.

My Review

3. Sorta Like a Rock Star by Matthew Quick

Amber Appleton lives in a bus. Ever since her mom’s boyfriend kicked them out, Amber, her mom, and her totally loyal dog, Bobby Big Boy (aka Thrice B) have been camped out in the back of Hello Yellow (the school bus her mom drives). Still, Amber, the self-proclaimed princess of hope and girl of unyielding optimism, refuses to sweat the bad stuff. But when a fatal tragedy threatens Amber’s optimism–and her way of life, can Amber continue to be the rock star of hope? With an oddball cast of characters, and a heartwarming, inspiring story, this novel unveils a beautifully beaten-up world of laughs, loyalty, and hard-earned hope.

My Review

All three of these were fantastic books, but I have to step up and say that more people need to read Sorta Like a Rock Star! The other two have gotten so much more hype, but the third deserves just as much!

Anyway, I’m hoping that I’ll actually be able to deliver the desired five books tomorrow with 5 Great Covers!

Good night!

P.S. Exclamation point, exclamation point, exclamation point…

April 30th, 2010

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Author: Seth Grahame-Smith

Published: March 2, 2010 by Grand Central Pub.

Number of Pages: 352

Rating: 4/5


I have come to believe that the only peace in this life is the end of it. Let me wake from this nightmare…this brief, meaningless nightmare of loss and struggle.”


First of all, I apologize for being such a lame blogger this week. I did so well last week and hoped that my driven-ness would slide over to this week as well, but it didn’t. Anyway, here’s a post, and I hope next week will be better. Also: Holy crow! You’re running out of time to enter to win one of five copies of Matthew Quick’s [Interview] fabulous Sorta Like a Rock Star [Review]! The giveaway ends May eleventh. If you’d like to enter, click. (Rereading this paragraph gives me whiplash. I went from apologetic to hopeful to freakishly excited. Whew!)

I was absolutely fascinated by this book, and quite honestly, even more surprised. I did not intend to finish this book with any sort of admiration for Seth Grahame-Smith, no offense to him personally, but, really, he wrote a book called Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I still haven’t mustered up the courage to read that book.

But I would be lying if I didn’t say that this book will challenge everything you think you know. Grahame-Smith has you nearly convinced that the government is conspiring to ensure that the American public does not realize that vampires do, indeed, exist. The factual approach to the fiction is remarkable. I was totally in awe when I finished.

Although the book felt like non-fiction, it definitely read like fiction – as in you were incredibly engrossed in every word and were turning the pages so quickly that you were lucky you avoided a paper cut. My dad read about two chapters when he was sitting with me in my room one day (I believe I was writing), and he’s planning on reading the book as well (as soon as he finishes The Bourne Identity…).

I was caught up in the very idea from the start, and the style in which Grahame-Smith wrote captivated me. I enjoyed alternating cleanly between the first-person journal entries and narrative. You get an insider’s view and the advantage of knowing more than the protagonist.

Speaking of a protagonist…

Abraham Lincoln’s mother died of milk sickness when he was young. Or so he was told. In reality, she was killed by vampires. Lincoln first learns of vampires’ existence from his father. As a very young man, he resolves to rid the world of as many vampires as possible.

Along the way, he learns of the vampire’s key role in the Civil War and slave trade, of their influence on the powerful men of America, and he learns that not every vampire is a blood-sucking bundle of Hell. But most of them are. Henry, a vampire that Lincoln gets to know very well, said something wonderfully interesting, which I’ll quote, because I know you want to read it:

Judge us not equally, Abraham. We all may deserve hell, but some of us sooner than others”

Lincoln was a strong character, one who you learn to admire and sympathize with. He’s extremely motivated, clearly, and he’s just as human as the rest of us, not idolized. Of course, part of his character was fictionalized, because I don’t believe the author was close friends with the man in question, but all the same, he was a character you could happily cheer on, which is what I believe every reader is looking for.

Grahame-Smith did a fabulous job of blending fiction with the non. The historical fact was expertly woven into the story, again creating the sense of reality to the entire book. I loved the fact that I couldn’t differentiate between fact and fiction at times. I sat with the book in my lap, staring at my bedroom wall, and simply mulled over the idea, the impossibilities that, for a moment, seemed possible.

Quite honestly, I don’t have anything even semibad to say about this novel. It’s enjoyable, informative, well-written, fascinating, and beautifully controversial. Grahame-Smith took a leap of faith, just as he did with his previous and even more controversial book, and he landed firmly on both feet. I’d most definitely recommend this book and believe it would make for a fabulous book club discussion.

Alright, that was a short review for me at not quite 600 words. How was it? I’m beginning to realize that I really cannot take an hour and half to write 800-word long reviews any longer. Was there something missing? I’m just trying to figure out how much time I can spend writing a blog post while still satisfying anybody who reads my review. I’d appreciate input!

Have a wonderful weekend! I’m going to work a bit on my idea for The Lemonites (working title), which is the novel with the pestering main character, Pepto. Also, my LA (Language Arts) teacher gave me the assignment of compiling as much research as possible on the Nook, Kindle, and iPad (e-reader wise) by Monday. If you have anything to say in regards to any of those, please say it!