Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Four Sentence Book Reviews

Here are some titles that I've recently picked up:

1. Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple: Semple is a quick-witted satirist,which makes the overall tone of this novel delightful. She stocks her story with eccentric characters whose relationships with themselves and with others are complex, but, even after Bee's mother goes missing, Semple manages to keep the mood light. The format of the book is unique in that it is a series of exchanges in various formats between a handful of different characters. The ending of the book feels a bit rushed but will satisfy readers who prefer neat resolutions.

2. The Kill Room by Jeffrey Deaver: This is part of the Lincoln Rhyme series, but it can be read as a standalone novel. This is a dense, intricate mystery, which means that it can be a slow read at times. Some of the murder details are gruesome and might disturb individuals with a weak stomach. The ending is chock full of twists and turns- Deaver will keep you guessing until the last page.

3. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green: A tearjerker about a terminally ill teen who falls in love. Green's adolescent characters use poetic language and may seem larger than life, which can be difficult to swallow, but, all in all, Green tells a beautiful story about love, loss, and hope. While you may forget the plot over time, you won't forget lines like, "I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once." Also, there is something to be said about a writer who makes you want to read a non-existent book that is a favorite of one of his fictional characters.

4. Sleepers by Lorenzo Carcaterra: Based on a true story (purportedly), the brutality and injustices exposed by Carcaterra will haunt you. The courses of four best friends' lives are changed forever the day that they enter Wilkinson Home for Boys where they endure torture- both physically and psychologically. This is a horrifying and touching story of four broken men who come together to take the law into their own hands.

5. The Execution of Noa P. Singleton by Elizabeth L. Silver: Noa P. Singleton is on death row and, as her story unfolds, you'll debate not her innocence but her motivation. By the end of the novel, you'll be preoccupied with the following question: with whom should the guilt rest? The best aspect: an unreliable narrator. My one gripe: Silver's use of metaphor borders on excessive.

6. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black: Black's take on what the world might look like if vampires existed is an interesting and original one albeit with the requisite vampire/human love story thrown into the mix. The characters' motivations in this book are hard to pinpoint at times, and the back-story concerning the creation of coldtowns (towns of debauchery in which vampires and humans are quarantined to their delight) is more than a little unconvincing. The plot drags often throughout the four hundred and nineteen pages.With that being said, I wouldn't be surprised if Hollywood snatches this one right up.

7. I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella: This is a fun, humorous read about a somewhat frivolous, well-intentioned young woman, Poppy Wyatt, who misplaces her engagement ring. You'll fall in love with Poppy and laugh out loud at her frequent social blunders. There is never a dull moment in Kinsella's storytelling despite the predictability of the plot. Plus, a little romance never hurt anyone.

8. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick: Today is Leonard Peacock's 18th birthday. It is also the day that he will kill his best friend, Asher Beal, and then himself. Even with the knowledge of his neglectful upbringing and personal torment, Leonard can be a difficult character to sympathize with because of his "uber" condescending attitude, but, throughout the novel, Quick humanizes him by bringing several people into Leonard's life that offer him solace. Leonard's story is a reminder that one person can change someone's life- both for the worse and for the better.

If you've read any of these titles, I'd love to hear what you think! : )

Sharlene Edwards
Program Director