Friday, October 19, 2012

Review: Narrative Loserdom by Ryan Collins

Narrative Loserdom: From Journal OneNarrative Loserdom: From Journal One by Ryan Collins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Description: "Justin Taggart doesn’t know anything (about being a loser). He likes girls and plays sports and has some friends. Unfortunately his fear of rejection outweighs his ability to deal with these well. Mostly there’s Sterling, the girl of his dreams who knows how to stop his heart by not knowing he likes her. Another thing is trying to get money with Adam, who’s rich anyway so it’s more about hanging out. As for Justin, he makes ends meet by mowing people’s yards with Adam, and sometimes by breaking into vending machines and selling late-night cable programming to peers (also with Adam). But it’s not like he doesn’t feel bad about it, since Jesus died for his sins. School is pretty terrible with all the work and practice, but there are a few people there worth mentioning. Anyone who picks up his journal will be in for something, if they feel like getting through a lot of grammar and spelling problems. They’ll probably end up seeing that they shouldn’t have looked at it anyway, because this is someone’s private anthem of girls, grass, and loserdom."

My Thoughts: 

I really enjoyed this retro, slice of life, diary-style story told from a teenage guy's point-of-view. The diary format reminded me a little of the narrators from "Perks of Being A Wallflower" and "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian". There's certainly some guy humor in it that I can't get into being a female, however, it didn't bother me much, cause I know boys will be boys. Overall, the story made me nostalgic, cause the journal is set from 2001 to 2002, the same time frame I was in high school. There the story chronicles the day-to-day mischief, hopes, dreams, loses, failures, and crushes of a guy and his friends.

My one criticism is that the journal stops, in my opinion, very abruptly. While reading the journal, I started to care and wonder if the guy ever did get the girl of his dreams or another girlfriend. Does he graduate high school? What does he go on to do with his life? None of those questions were answered for me. I'm not sure if the author is planning to write a sequel, but I'd like to see it.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Review: The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

**Big Disappointment Ahead...** :(

The Casual VacancyThe Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well, to write that it wasn't what I was expecting would be an understatement. I spend a long time waiting with high hopes for this book. I was thinking it would be on the level of "To Kill A Mockingbird" or a John Steinbeck novel.

But to sum it up best as I can, what I got was a tragic story riddled with profanity, sexual references, and rape. Now, I guess a lot of people would claim that I'm just being a prude. But, having read "Push" by Sapphire and a few of Ellen Hopkins' novels, I feel that I've handled stories with some serious graphic matter. I guess, what I'm trying to say is, I can bare it if it's essential to the plot. However, in J.K. Rowling's case, all of it just seems so needless. I feel like she purposely wanted to shock people. Almost like a child star or singer who wants to create a scandal to prove they're not sweet and innocent. As to say, "I can be dirty and bad, too! Just watch!"

It makes me more curious about who J.K. Rowling really is...can it be the same person that wrote Harry Potter? Should I compare her to George Carlin on Thomas the Tank Engine or Bob Saget on Full House...someone who's been holding all of this in, in front of the kids, and finally is able to let it all out?

I'm left thinking a quote that a character in the book mentions could be a statement from Rowling herself:
"I do not want believers, I think I am too malicious to believe in myself...I have a terrible fear I shall one day be pronounced holy...I do not want to be a saint, rather even a buffoon...perhaps I am a buffoon..."

After this book, I doubt she'll ever be thought of as a saint. But what's really sad is, her master work, the Harry Potter series, is now tainted as well. I can just see EVEN MORE PEOPLE not allowing their kids to read the series because they know how needlessly vulgar and dirty she was in this book. I've read that she's planning a new children's series, and I have a bad feeling that they'll be a lot of parents against that one as well.

So, yeah, I'm disappointed. If this book hadn't been by J.K. Rowling, based on the synopsis, I'd probably have never bought it cause it didn't sound like something I'd be interested in. And even if I had picked it up, if it hadn't been J.K. Rowling, I would have quit by page 50. I stuck with it, hoping it would get better. In some ways it did...the vulgarness died down some and I was rooting for the underprivileged characters in this book. I was seriously hoping that this had a point or meaning or would all tie together somehow in J.K. Rowling-Harry-Potter-plot-mystery-fashion. But it didn't. It ends sadly. No one is happier, no one is redeemed. It's a grim slice of real life. Read this if you want to be depressed.

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