Friday, April 6, 2012

The Epic Reading List Mark Two Updated: Where Things Come Back

List Mark Two Updated: 4/6

1. Mockingjay -Suzanne Collins

2. First Test -Tamora Pierce
3. Darkness Falls -Cate Tiernan
4. Page -Tamora Pierce

5. Where Things Come Back -John Corey Whaley
6. Squire -Tamora Pierce
7. Beautiful Darkness -Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
8. Lady Knight -Tamora Pierce
9. Cinder -Marissa Meyer
10. Trickster's Choice -Tamora Pierce
11. The Statistical Probability of Love At First Sight - Jennifer E. Smith
12. Trickster's Queen -Tamora Pierce
13. Halfway to the Grave -Jeanine Frost
14. Tortall and Other Lands -Tamora Pierce
15. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer -Michelle Hodkin

It seems like there will always be at least one snag in my reading list. In the last it was while reading A Tale of Two Cities and this time it was before I started Where Things Come Back. I could list off the reasons why it took so long but I'll save that for the next post (perhaps tomorrow?) where I talk about some writing realizations and such but now some gushing.

I love Where Things Come Back.

This book took me ages to get. I had heard about it in the fall but couldn't find it in any of the bookstores. I did the next obvious thing and ordered it from Amazon. My order was in but I didn't get it and then it was out of stock and I was angry so I cancelled it. Then I tacked it on to another order I put in and finally got it in January. By then, I was in the middle of the first list and couldn't read it. I was pretty much just excited to have it at that point. There may have been some happy dancing. Just a little.

Even with my twitter love for John Corey Whaley, seriously he's wonderful, I was a little worried going in. I'd seen a lot where people compared it to Catcher in the Rye. I am not a Catcher in the Rye fan. So, I was excited and a little apprehensive. I didn't need to be (or maybe I'd appreciate Catcher more now and I should give it another shot?).

I adored just about every character in that book. Cullen and I have a very similar cynical/snarky world view. I would love to have a chat with him even if our conversations wouldn't get anywhere around the sarcasm. Good or bad in some places I did sort of feel like I was reading about a male version of myself. I can't even tell how many times I've gotten myself in trouble with my sarcasm. As a 23 year old who looks about 18 the conversation between Cullen and the man in line for corn dogs who tells him:

"Oh. You look young. Lucky. Hold on to that. One day you'll appreciate it."

made me laugh because that is exactly how it happens. I have had that exact conversation so many times I can do the whole thing myself. I just wanted to hang out with Cullen. He can drink diet Coke and I'll have some juice, while we sit far enough to not touch (I don't really like touching people either). It'll be a snark party.

 I loved Lucas and when he punched John Barling just to prove he cared I wanted to hug him. He's the perfect imperfect best friend for Cullen. They have such a comfortable, real relationship that it was almost impossible not to smile a little when they were on page together.

Gabriel is just impossible not to like. He's just so inherently good but without seeming unreal or unlikely. And he and Cullen are the perfect set of siblings. I just keep thinking of that moment where Cullen shouts "ornithological cannibalism!" as he runs out of the room. It's such a sibling thing to yell something like that as you run out of a room.

Which leads me to something else, page 175. Page 175 was the first time reading it I felt like my heart was breaking. It had cracked a little earlier when he talked about not being about to watch the news about the Lazarus that should have been about Gabriel and a couple other scenes like it but this page hit me hard. Especially the part that reads:

"Stories about us could, from then on, be told from only one perspective. Memories could be told but not shared."

I have four sisters. I'm the middle of five and that whole segment about losing a sibling hurt to consider. It's so totally true. As much as it hurts to consider, losing a parent is terrible but almost feels inevitable but you don't lose siblings (as illogical as it seems). It's not the same. And the way that Cullen shows his grief hit me as just so right. It's easier to be active about it when you are even a step back, like Lucas. Cullen's coping cynicism is just perfect. I read a lot of the book after page 175 with a tightened chest. I gasped and even teared up just a little with the flashlight. I was legitimately concerned with how it would end.

John Corey Whaley is a narration delight. The situation Cullen is in isn't like anything else. It wouldn't be right to compare it to something else but while writing it's almost impossible not to because of the nature of how things are described. People look "like someone kicked their puppy" and other overused phrases. Whaley doesn't that and I love him for it. The descriptions are very literal. Characters look at each other the way a guy who's lost a brother looks at a friend who says something in an attempt to be consoling and things like that. It's a wonderful way to highlight how not typical the situation is.

There were so many Life Lessons Learned From Books I wanted to take from Where Things Come Back. I got some but others I didn't want to stop reading long enough to tweet and others still were just too long to do.

There's just something undeniably striking about this book. The cynicism that's so inextricably laced with hope for something better that Cullen doesn't want to acknowledge. The underlying sadness and feeling of being helpless and stuck in your circumstances, It's a Y-A book that stretches so far beyond that age group.

I guess my only comment (and I'm really trying to find something) is that some of the Enoch stuff lost me a little. I think it is only because A. I am the least religious person I know and B. I've read other takes of nephilim and such and none of them really line up. But this wasn't 100% vital to the plot. It's important and I really feel like I got what I was supposed to from them and how it fit in but I guess it's more that I don't understand Cabot's obsession with it. Which is just my inability to relate, not a fault with Whaley's writing.

I could go on and on but I have to be up for work in four and a half hours.

Overall rating: Beyond Epic

Next up in the reading should be Squire by Tamora Pierce but will be Holly Black's Black Heart. This is one of those books I said I'd make an exception for. I'm so excited it is finally out!

Until next time my lovelies,


P.S. You should really follow John Corey Whaley on twitter or at the very least check out the Awkward author videos.

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