Tag: John Green

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

Posted October 17, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Young Adult / 0 Comments

Boy Meets Boy by David LevithanTitle: Boy Meets Boy (Goodreads)
Author: David Levithan
Published: Harper Collins, 2003
Pages: 223
Genres: Young Adult
My Copy: ARC from Netgalley

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Paul is a sophomore in a high school unlike any other. He meets Noah, and thinks he is the one, the person he will spend the rest of his life with. That was until he blew it, the school bookie has the odds 12 to 1 against him. But Paul is determined to not let this get him down; he knows what he wants and will go after it.

This is your typical romantic comedy done in a different way. I want to talk about the world first; in this utopian world sexuality is not an issue. Even in the high school, the homecoming queen is also the quarterback (Her name Infinite Darlene, but her parents called her Daryl) and every click is divided into gay stereotype, except for the straight people who seem to be bunched into an (almost outcast) group. The school has a gay-straight alliance which was formed to teach the straight people to dance. Everything is too perfect; no one struggled with their sexuality or identity.

I’m not sure if it is just me improving as a reader but I spent most of this novel questioning everything and not enjoying the clichés and ease of these people’s lives. No one seemed to have any major issues and for a high school that seems too fake; this is why I’m convinced they live in the utopian world where everything is perfect. These students are highly intelligent and seem to have everything worked out, the only struggles they have are the ones needed to drive the typical romcom plot.

My first experience with David Levithan was his co-written novel Will Grayson, Will Grayson with John Green and while I enjoyed that book enough to try his novels there was just too much that bothered me about this one. I’m assuming this is bad news for any other John Green books that I might read, their styles are very similar but I just couldn’t get past of the unanswered questions that I asked.

I’m glad there are romantic comedies between two guys and I think more GSM (Gender and/or sexual minority or LGBT if you prefer) novels are needed. I just don’t like that no one seems to have real struggles; I want this in all characters. I never expect a teenager in particular to have everything worked out and with their budding sexuality there are so many complex emotions that could be dealt with in a book like this.

One other thing that really bothered me in this book was the excess of nods. I began to think of all the characters as bobble heads rather than humans. It is like excess winking in novels, no human nods or winks that much in real life, why do they do it in books? I know with nodding it is just a way to show that a character agrees but if it is used too much it just feels too unrealistic.

This is an entertaining book that I just had too many issues with, not enough to never try Levithan again (still want to read Two Boys Kissing) but it really bothered me. I know many people loved this book and his style still feels similar to John Green, so I think it’s just me. I will love to know what worked or didn’t work for the people that have read this book. I don’t think I’m missing anything, so why is this much loved YA novel so difficult to enjoy.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Wish Could Have Had Sequels

Posted August 6, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Top Ten Tuesday / 0 Comments

toptentuesdayI think I might be addicted to Top Ten Tuesday, I like joining in and having a set topic to work with. Top Ten Tuesday is a book blogger meme that is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and this week the theme is: Top Ten Books I Wish Could Have Had Sequels. This was a little tough but decided to divide the list and tell you five worlds I’d like to return to and then five stories I would like see been continued; these are normally characters I really enjoy reading about and wonder what happened to them after the book (I know, I know they ceased to exist).

Five worlds I would love to return to;

  1. Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart
  2. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  3. The City & the City by China Miéville
  4. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  5. The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

Five stories that I’d like to see continue;

  1. Gentlemen & Players by Joanne Harris
  2. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  3. The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
  4. Looking for Alaska by John Green
  5. The People of Forever Are Not Afraid by Shani Boianjiu

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Posted July 12, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Young Adult / 0 Comments

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman AlexieTitle: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Goodreads)
Author: Sherman Alexie
Published: Little Brown and Company, 2009
Pages: 230
Genres: Young Adult
My Copy: Personal Copy

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian tells the story of Arnold ‘Junior’ Spirit, a 14 year old cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation who has hydrocephalus (an excess of cerebrospinal fluid in his skull). Junior leaves his school on the ‘rez’ to attend an all-white high school in a nearby farm town in the hopes to gain a better education. The only other Indian at the school is the mascot and Junior finds himself in a whole new world.

I’m really not sure why Sherman Alexie wrote Junior with hydrocephalus, or why he was given poor eyesight, experiences frequent seizures, stutters, and a lisp. It all felt pretty excessive and only really played a factor in the first couple of chapters of this novel. We establish the fact he is different and then it’s a non-issue for the rest of the book. Going to an all-white school was enough to make him different to the rest, so the point really felt redundant. I had a feeling this was a semi-autobiographical novel so I did seem research on Alexie and found out he too was born with hydrocephalus. Alexie underwent brain surgery at six months old. The surgeons expected that he would not survive and if he did he would have a permanent mental disability. So that explains why it was in the story but that lead me wondering at what point does this book remain a novel if the plot is the same. I don’t know enough about Sherman Alexie’s life to know but it was something to consider.

I picked up this novel because I heard it being compared to The Perks of Being a Wallflower one too many times. A similarity that feels stretched; the books follow a similar plot, a realistic teenage life for a protagonist on the outside looking in. There are the same reasons the books were banned in schools, a tragic death of character, alcohol and bullying. That’s where the similarities seem to stop (unless you count first person narrative a similarity but then that would cover a lot of books), The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian was also banned due to content referencing racism, poverty and masturbation. These are a majority of issues teenagers face and I’m often confused at why people don’t want teenagers to read about the issues they are going through. I’m not a parent so I can’t really judge.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian not only looks at the normal teenage issues but really wants to focus on the cultural differences. Junior’s daring move to a new school for a better education may seem to be the right choice for him but there are different obstacles he has never faced before. He has to try and bridge the two cultures, but neither side fully understands the other. This inevitably leads to fights and confrontations and eventually they start to understand each other a little better. The friends he eventually makes at the school are middle class and he isn’t; they expect him to have money due to the casinos on the reservation but in reality the mismanagement and location means no one on the reservation is making money. Arnold is ashamed of this fact and tries to hide it as best as he can, which leads to an economical clash as well as a cultural one.

The big message I got out of this novel and I think it is an important one, is the desire Junior has to be a better person. He couldn’t accept using textbooks that are over thirty years old and he put himself into the world and into the deep end (so to speak) just so he can get a better education. The idea of taking a risk to reap the rewards are often never really discussed in Young Adult literature and it was great to see such a positive message been told.

I personally didn’t think too much of this novel, I wanted it to be more like The Perks of Being a Wallflower or maybe a John Green novel and I never really got over the fact it wasn’t. There were so many interesting themes and messages within this book but I never felt like the narrative worked. It felt more like a book aimed at younger teenagers but this novel is definitely not suitable for a twelve year old. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time seems well received by the masses and for a good reason, I’m just the odd person out which seems to be a regular occurrence.

Monthly Review – February 2013

Posted February 28, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Monthly Reading / 0 Comments

It’s so great to see just how well the reading challenge is going; over 500 books have been read from the group so far. I’m so happy with the response and pleased to see people still had time to read The Fault in our Stars. Plenty of interesting thoughts have come out of this book from the group and while there was some people that didn’t like the book, I’m so glad to see so much great constructive criticism in the threads; this is what we live for. For those who don’t know about the reading challenge, there is still time to join in the fun, so check out my introductory post here.

I’m really impressed with the book club’s efforts this year and as we move into March, I’m looking forward to seeing what people will say about Lolita for our Russian literature theme. In January, I managed to read twenty books but this month I’ve read fifteen, which is not a bad effort and still a number I can be proud of. Five of those books go towards the Literary Exploration Reading Challenge and you can find my own record of the challenge here.

Highlights this month include the epic cyber punk noir novel Altered Carbon and the recently translated German crime blockbuster Snow White Must Die. Also I got to read a modern masterpiece by an author that is quickly become a favourite of mine; Jeffery Eugenides. The Virgin Suicides was his debut novel and it was wonderfully bleak; I can’t recommend it enough. How was February for you and your reading life? Let me know in the comments below.

Monthly Reading

  • Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan
  • Casino Royale by Ian Fleming
  • Dirt by David Vann
  • Fool Moon by Jim Butcher
  • Gun Machine by Warren Ellis
  • Heart-Shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne
  • March Violets by Philip Kerr
  • Occupation Diaries by Raja Shehadeh
  • One for the Books by Joe Queenan
  • Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead
  • Snow White Must Die by Nele Neuhaus
  • The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay
  • The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
  • Young Philby by Robert Littell
  • Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler

So Much to Tell You by John Marsden

Posted January 12, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Young Adult / 0 Comments

So Much to Tell You by John MarsdenTitle: So Much to Tell You (Goodreads)
Author: John Marsden
Published: Walker Books, 1987
Pages: 150
Genres: Young Adult
My Copy: Library Book

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Life is very complicated for Marina. Shipped off to boarding school, in a world she doesn’t fit in with, trying to understand life. She sets out writing a journal for an assignment but she really takes to it and in the journal we find really what is going on within her head. She is socially awkward dealing with a tragic accident that has left her face scarred; and she hasn’t spoken a word since this incident.

I picked up this book on a couple of peoples recommendation; John Marsden really is a stand out Australian author and this is probably the best I’ve read of his works. I like realistic YA novels that features an angsty, socially awkward protagonist. I think it’s just that I relate well with them and ever since discovering John Green I’ve been looking for more books like this.

So Much to Tell You reminds me a lot of Perks of Being A Wallflower, with the way it’s written, slowly we discover these protagonists; all their anger and hurt and frustrations. But there is always a sense of mystery that doesn’t seem to be revealed. With this novel it is how she got these scars and why she hates her father so much. I know she has issues of abandonment but with the scars I know something bad happened; I thought it was a case of her father setting her on fire (but that’s just my disturbing mind).

This is a wonderful story of discovery and understanding. I loved Marina as a characters and finding more and more about her was what really drove this story home for me. But there was one major issue that I had with this novel, without spoiling anything; I had a WTF moment with the way this book ended.

So Much to Tell You is a perfect example of great realistic YA literature and proves that Australian YA authors have so much to offer. This is a very short book but well worth reading. I did feel like this was focused on a younger audience than other YA novels I’ve read. I would have liked it to be a little darker but still a wonderful read.

My Top Five Reads of 2012

Posted December 27, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Top 5 / 0 Comments

top-5I’ve already done a post about 2012 but I wanted to do another. The typical top five post of the best books you’ve read in 2012 but because I split my books into released in 2012 and all others, I think I need two top five lists here. So here are my top reads for the year;

Top Five Reads Released in 2012

5. Talulla Rising by Glen Duncan

4. Dare Me by Megan Abbott

3. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain

2. The Fault in our Stars by John Green

1. Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway

Honourable mentions need to be made to Colour of Milk, The Yellow Birds, The Cocktail WaitressTigers in Red Weather, The Dinner and The Age of Miracles.

Top Five Reads in 2012

5. We by Yevgeny Zamyatin

4. Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes

3. Swimming Home by Deborah Levy

2. The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

1. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

With honourable mentions to When Gravity Fails, The Little Prince, Factotum, He Died With His Eyes Open, The Devil All the Time, The Master and Magarita and Ethan Frome.

Now it’s your turn to let me know of your favourite books, the new releases and the older books. It doesn’t matter; just what you discovered and loved.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Posted August 18, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Young Adult / 0 Comments

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen ChboskyTitle: The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Goodreads)
Author: Stephen Chbosky
Published: MTV Books, 1999
Pages: 224
Genres: Young Adult
My Copy: Paperback

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

I’ve wanted to read The Perks of Being a Wallflower for the simple reason that the synopsis reminded me of John Green’s Looking for Alaska, and let’s face it, John Green writes some great books. Stephen Chbosky’s debut novel is a real knock out; I’m not sure if he will write another one but judging by this book, I hope he does. Charlie is a wallflower, who is writing letters to an unknown friend as a therapeutical way to express his feelings about his life. His only friend is his High School English teacher who keeps giving Charlie great books to read. Charlie’s life changes when he becomes friends with some seniors; Patrick and Sam.

This book is third on the American Library Association’s list of the top ten most frequently challenged books as of 2009 for a few different reasons which I will look into one at a time.

Drugs: Alcohol and Drug experimentation is an issue teenagers have to deal with. While I don’t agree with the use of drugs, banning a book because of drug use is just avoiding the issue at hand.
Homosexuality: This should never be an issue, why do we want to hide the fact that some people have a same sex attraction? I kind of feel like avoiding this issue is a primary cause for the hurt and mistreatment of homosexuals. We should be accepting of everyone.
Sex: If a young adult book isn’t dealing with the issue of sex then you are just saying that teenagers shouldn’t have hormones.
Suicide: This book is not promoting suicide, it is exploring the hurt and the effect of a suicide has on the people closest to the victim.

It is true that I’m opposed to censor and banning books, if we don’t talk about the issues and just avoid them, who will teenagers turn to if they have an issue? We need to allow people to express their feelings and create a world where it is acceptable to have a dialogue about the issues they are facing. Banning a book like this would never have a positive effect except for maybe make teenagers want to read it more.

Now that I’ve had a vent about challenging a book like this, I want to talk about what I love about this book. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a series of letters and I felt like I was having a sneak peek into the life of a struggling teenager that reminds me a lot of myself when I was in High School. The novel covers so many interesting aspects involved with being a teenager from depression, loneliness, sexuality, friendships, relationships and even music and literature.

Charlie is such a great character and I loved peeking into his life. Sam is adorable but I never fell in love with her like I did with Alaska but she still really helped the story. But my favourite character was the English teacher. I like that he encouraged Charlie to read books like The Great Gatsby, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Stranger and even Naked Lunch!

When I think of YA novels, these are the types of novels I really enjoy. John Green is a master at this realistic contemporary young adult novels; The Perks of Being a Wallflower is definitely another highly recommended one. I’m yet to read a David Levithan novel, but I’m looking forward to experiencing more books that are similar to this style.

While the writing did feel very basic, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is driven by the quirky life of Charlie and his letters. I never wanted to stop reading, I felt myself always wanting to know what will happen next. I really enjoyed this book and I’m excited about the coming film adaptation. Author Stephen Chbosky wrote the screenplay and is directing the adaptation so I think that it will be faithful to the novel, I just hope doesn’t lose the charm found in the book.

Monthly Review – July 2012

Posted July 31, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Monthly Reading / 0 Comments

How did everyone enjoy Life of Pi? What were your final thoughts? As you can see by my review, I didn’t think much of this book but I was pleased to see so many others enjoying the book. If you go the Goodreads forum you can see some interesting discussions about the book, zoology, religion, philosophy. This book was a great pick for a group read because of all the elements in the book worth discussing. Next month we are reading a book I’m really excited about; have you got your copy of The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov yet?

July has been a great month for me, mainly because I was on vacation for most of it. Luckily I had plenty of scheduled posts to keep people entertained and I hope there were some enjoyable posts for you. Because of the vacation I feel like my reading dropped off a little, but realistically it does seem to be about the same. Highlights for me this month include The Passage; a book I’ve been putting off but a wonderful and refreshing look at a post-apocalyptic world and the people struggling for survival. My local book club were reading Gold by Chris Cleave and what a wonderful novel this one is; the book follows three Olympic racers through their life leading up to London 2012, the characters really made this book. Lastly, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, a YA novel that reminds me a lot of Looking for Alaska by John Green, it’s a brilliant and addictive read into the life of a high school wallflower.

  • Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith
  • The Informers by Bret Easton Ellis
  • The Forrests by Emily Perkins
  • Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey
  • Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
  • The Dog Stars by Peter Heller
  • Now You See Me by S.J. Bolton 
  • The Passage by Justin Cronin
  • The Trial by Franz Kafka
  • Gold by Chris Cleave
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky 

Question Tuesday: Have You Ever Felt That The Story Ended Just When The Real Story Was About To Begin?

Posted July 3, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Question Tuesday / 0 Comments

There are times when I feel like the book is just getting started when the book ends but then again there are times I feel a sense of closure from a book even if there is more books in the series. I haven’t read the rest of The Hunger Games series because I felt like the book ended at a good place and all I could see is an annoying love triangle if I went any further. But that might be another post; so I will head back to the original question. There are so many books I would love to have seen continued where I felt the story was just getting started or even that there was more of the story to be told. In Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters, Nancy is finally happy and I would like to know what happens next. Or Looking for Alaska by John Green where I feel we can continue Miles story and explore more of his life and the effects Alaska had on him thoughout the rest of his life; even though I think John Green did end the book in a good place. Also speaking of John Green, in Will Grayson Will Grayson, Tiny is finally appreciated at the end, I’m sure there is more of a story to tell there as well.

I know authors finish a story and that’s it, the characters cease to exist beyond that, but it is really hard not to wonder what might happen to these characters that we have formed a bond with. I’m not sure but I think this is why people write fanfic. The fall in love with these great characters and they want them to keep on living in one form or another.

ArmchairBEA 2012: Best of 2012

Posted June 5, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in ArmchairBEA / 0 Comments

As I try to explore books both old and new, a best of 2012 list is difficult. Do I do a list of the best books released in 2012 or just pick from the books that I’ve read in 2012? I took some time to think about what I wanted to do and I decided to would be best to give my top five books I would recommend to read based on the books I’ve read this year. So here they are;

5. Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King

I picked this book because there are so many great YA novels out there but it’s nice to read a book with a protagonist full of angst not only having to deal with her teenage years but also having to deal with love and lost.

4. Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops by Jen Campbell

For all book lovers out there, this is just a fun read. Some great and interesting things have been said in a book store but my favourite from this book would be; “Do you have this children’s book I’ve heard about? It’s supposed to be very good. It’s called Lionel Richie and the Wardrobe.”

3. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

I wanted to pick a classic piece of literature but it’s hard to pick something that you can recommend to everyone.  But A Wrinkle in Time is probably a book that everyone should at least read and I think most people would enjoy.

2. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I do hate that I’ve got two YA novels in this list but when it comes to recommendations they are probably the easiest to recommend because they are a gateway read into the world of finer literature. John Green is a brilliant writer and this book is a touching; it’s hard not to have it as a recommendation.

1. Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway

My favourite book of the year (so far). Combining a plot made for a Bond movie with a writing style that has been compared to Charles Dickens; I think this is an exciting Victorian style adventure well worth reading.

While there are other books I thought were better than some of these books, including Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes, When Gravity Fails by George Alec Effinger, Talulla Rising by Glen Duncan and Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky they really aren’t books you can recommend to everyone for many reasons.

ArmchairBEA is a virtual convention for book blogger who can’t attend Book Expo America and the Book Blogger Convention. Banner by Nina of Nina Reads and button by Sarah of Puss Reboots