Eleanor & Park, Book Review

Author: Rainbow Rowell 

Published: 2013 by St. Martin’s Press

Yet again, I have found another Rainbow Rowell novel that resonated with me. This book is so wonderfully nice. I don’t mean that in a bad way, at all. I mean, I just enjoyed sitting and reading it, taking the journey with these two cool people, watching them fall in love and watching their world change and mould and crumble around them.

imageEleanor is so very much a younger version of myself in so many ways (despite my being born two years after the book is set), she is somewhat reserved, outwardly, doesn’t seem to care what people think, but inwardly is so hateful of herself it makes it hard for her to love anyone else. Also, she deals with being a little bit chubby – and I love that, cos its HARD. And Park, funnily enough, reminds me of my boyfriend in some ways too. But we didn’t meet when we were teenagers, regardless of how many times we have fantasised together about just that.

The process of their falling for each other is so awkward and clunky – it is exactly how two teenagers would behave. Rowell gets inside a teenagers head so well that it feels like a teenager has written it themselves. With all the unsurety and insecurity that teenagers hold close to their hearts the story has a real sense of truth about it. The book explores the emotions of the two protagonists in so much back and forth without all that much happening until the story comes to a head in the last few chapters and shit really hits the fan. It doesn’t even feel like that much of a build up, just subtle hints along the way at one point the penny dropped and I just thought ‘Oh, shit.’

Rainbow Rowell has once more written a world that both teens and adults alike can get lost with the characters in, and it’s really, really good.

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4outof5  

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Popsugar 2015 Reading Challenge: A book set in High School


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Playlist for the Dead, Book Review

Published: 2015 by HarperTeen

 

As he listens to song after song, Sam tries to face up to what happened the night Hayden killed himself. But it’s only by taking out his earbuds and opening his eyes to the people around him that he will finally be able to piece together his best friend’s story. And maybe have a chance to change his own.

I’m going to admit something a little strange – I purchased this book based solely on the names of the main characters: Sam and Hayden. For those of you that know me, that may make sense, even though it isn’t all that significant. But for anyone else, a little clarification:

My name is Sam, and my first serious relationship was with a guy called Hayden. It’s a long way in the past now, and has no real significant bearing on my life, but it was funny, so I bought the book.

Looking past my reason for buying it, I did read the blurb and the premise of the story was promising, simply and clear. The story itself though is emotional and complicated, and that’s a good thing. The story centres around the suicide of Hayden, Sam’s best friend. Sam finds Hayden the morning after a party, withnote to sam PFTDno note, but instead, a USB stick, with a scrap of paper…

Each chapter is set to the melancholy tune of one of the songs from Hayden’s playlist, with tracks like Blink 182’s Adam’s Song and Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit. (You can find a playlist of all the songs oer on 8tracks, made by sydneyteresa). The songs are fitting, dreary, sad, hopeless, and the consequential chapters flow around each song, exploring Sam’s emotions and his struggle to figure out why. The novel is well written, but still very easy to read, without being over-the-top or obnoxious at all. The language is that a teenager would probably use in daily life, and that just makes the book all the more relatable. Reading the book, I fully believed I was in the mind of a 15-year-old boy. It was refreshingly simple.

The themes explored though, are contrastingly not. Suicide, primarily, but also Sam’s guilt for what he feels is his part of the blame, guilt for seemingly moving on, first love and the feelings associated with attraction to the opposite sex, depression and also the frustration he feels at wanting the others he believes are at fault to pay for their crimes.

playlist of the dead

Told from Sam’s perspective, we experience the journey through his eyes, and we see the characters as he wants to see them – the bullies as bullies without their own problems, and Astrid as a gorgeous, amazing person, and not the sneaky deviant that she actually is. As Sam learns that these people aren’t what they may have always seemed to him, he begins to realise that maybe Hayden wasn’t all he seemed either, and he begins, slowly, to somewhat understand why Hayden might have committed suicide. He also begins to unravel the stories that tie them all together regarding Hayden’s decision.

Having had a fight the night before at a party, which they wouldn’t normally have gone to, Sam blames himself for the whole thing. But the more people he opens up to, and finds out about, the more he startsimageto figure out what actually happened, and that there was more to it than just what he had experienced. Falkoff writes this in such a way, bit by bit, that you can’t help but want to keep reading just to find out what happened. It was this clever way of spreading out how Sam found out each piece of the story that kept me reading, and why mention that the story is more complicated than just Sam dealing with his grief over the death of his friend.

The book is a little similar to Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why, though not quite as isolated and intense (I preferred Thirteen Reasons Why), however it is a nice easy read and keeps you hooked long enough to finished it.

4outof5

 

Popsugar 2015 Reading Challenge: A book published this year
 
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2015 Reading Challenge 

So I have decided to attempt the 2015 reading challenge set by popsugar.

The challenges has 50 characteristics for each book you tick off the list, and I’m already a fair way behind. While I know I won’t be able to tick every box without doubling up a little, I just want to try and get as many as I can and read as many books as I can – I think I managed to read about two last year, and I plan to totally smash that this year.

I actually have quite a large number of books sitting in my room, next to my bed and on my book shelf that I haven’t had the chance to read yet. So I’ll be tackling them through the months also. Here is a sneak preview:

As you might know, recently, I’ve read Fangirl, which actually ticks off a lot of the boxes for this competition, but I think I’m going to place it under A Book by a female Author. (Although that may change depending on the other books I read haha.)

It’s great to see so many other people out there doing this challenge and posting about it. It’s really inspiring seeing all the other posts and books people have chosen to read. I’m going to be ticking off each category as I read each book, so keep your eyes out for follow ups!

Here is the challenge if you wanted to take part:

Fangirl, Book Review

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Published 2014 by Pan Macmillan, 461 Pages

A light-hearted frollick through the turbulence of teen fangirling.

It’s true, teen fangirling is a big deal. It is a life altering, game changing thing. Falling into a fandom, and becoming part of something amazing, bigger than you, always changing and so, SO inclusive is wonderful. It fills you up and takes you away. It is an escape. You can go anywhere you like, and share experiences with a multitude of different characters, whether they be from your favourite book, TV show, movie or game – there is a fandom for everything and we are not limited to one. Being a geek is the ultimate escape from reality, there is always a side window to sneak out of, a forest to run away to, a community waiting for you online to comfort, console and share in all the wonders that are created by artists all over the world – fiction.

It’s funny, how much I actually related to this book. It’s been a long time since I was at Uni, andFANGIRL book cover it’s so different to American college, but it’s been even longer since I was 18. But I still remember how it felt. The insecurity of it all. I studied English, and creative writing, like our main protagonist, Cath, and I used to write fanfiction too… In fact, I wrote fanfiction about Harry Potter falling in love with Draco Malfoy – much the way Cath write about the fictional world of Simon Snow, and how the protagonist of her fandom is falling for his nemesis. I saw so much of myself in Cath that this book dragged me in head first, very quickly.

I’m not judging my feelings, or my judgment of this book on my own connections to it. Fangirl is incredibly intuitive, it glides through the (short) storyline with ease, and the events draw out the perfect amount of empathy, sympathy and nostalgia. There is nothing obnoxious about this book, it is simple and pleasant and easy t0 read, and has a nice solid flow to it. Nothing really seems out of place and it feels quite natural, the way life generally flows, with ups and downs and busy and quiet. It has plenty to relate to, both for the introverts and extroverts of the world, perfectly represented in the twin protagonists Cath and Wren. The situations that unfold: partying, feeling alone, anxiety, teenage drinking, love, sex – all of these are made relatable through the eyes of the opposing views of the twins, and the other utterly believable characters around them, and that leads me to me next point…

FanGirlCOLOURWhat really makes this book is the characters. This is a bunch of characters a minimum of nine years younger than me, most of them closer to twelve years younger, and yet I can still relate to them all. (Perhaps it’s because I’m still so young at heart!) But there characters are real, and flawed and honest and not, and all of them human. They each make mistakes and sometimes deal with them poorly, they stumble and don’t always have exactly the right thing to say. The book does, indeed, read smoothly, but it has the expected jaggedness of a coming of age story, that stop/start kind of ebb that slowly pushes the protagonists to breaking point, to the point of change, where they learn something and grow up, just a little bit.

IamafangirlAt the end of it all, even though it was only a shirt journey with the characters as they transitioned from high school to college, and from freshmen to their second year, this was a delightful romp in a cute little world with some very likeable characters, the nerdy references made it all the more enjoyable for me, all the little in jokes that only a fellow nerd would get. Rainbow Rowell creates magic with the ease that this story, and even the Simon Snow stories within the story, read. I truly enjoyed this book, in fact, I devoured it in a day – and I haven’t done that with a book in a very, very long time.

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But it Here:

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Popsugar 2015 Reading Challenge: A book by a female author

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