04 November 2011

Book Review: Two YA Duds

I am so happy to be able to write this blog post.  Why is that?  I'm so glad you asked.  Our power went out during a freak October snowstorm last Saturday and only came back on yesterday (Thursday).  Yes, it was cold.  Overnight temperatures dropped to the 40s overnight in the house.  But the real kicker was not being without heat, it was being without running water.  You see, we live in a house on a hill in the middle of the woods and our water comes from a well.  So we actually had to scoop up huge kettles of snow to melt on our stove top (gas, thank goodness!) just so we could flush our toilets.  Dirty dishes stacked up in the sink.  And by the week's end we'd nearly run out of candles and batteries for our flashlights.  Uncharacteristically, we were well-stocked with bottled water because of the hurricane scare back in August, which was surely fortunate because by the time we could get down our driveway and into civilization, bottled water couldn't be found in stores for any amount of love or money.  Let me just say, it was a rather trying time.  But stinky bathrooms aside, it was also cozy.  We rose at dawn, retired just an hour or two after sunset, and never have I cuddled so much with my husband as we did this week.  Our three cats reached a detente and all piled up on the bed with us, sweet purring bundles whose gentle vibrations warmed us seemingly from the inside, out.

It also gave me time to read, and I selected two books for the express purpose of transporting me away from our cold, cold house to a place where I could forget about my surroundings and be completely immersed in the story.  Sadly, neither one lived up to the promise I saw in them. And both of them are well-beloved books, so I'm likely to get flamed here.

The first one was Fracture by Megan Miranda, the story of a girl who falls through the ice when crossing a pond and is without oxygen for 11 minutes.  After several days in a coma, she wakes up--basically a medical miracle, considering how much brain damage her MRI shows.  Everyone cautiously rejoices and she goes home, guarding the secret that whilst in the hospital, somebody tried to kill her.  And oh, yeah--now she can see dead people sense people dying.

I'm growing weary of wishy-washy heroines who cannot seem to react properly when somebody menaces them. Did they just not get the memo?  You're not supposed to feel sorry for, kiss, or fall in love with young men who try to kill you, then act like it's no big deal, then try to kill you again.  These don't seem like difficult concepts to me.  I expected this book to fall somewhere on the spectrum between If I Stay (a great YA novel) and The Sixth Sense. It was much less engaging than it should have been.

The second book, Delirium by Lauren Oliver, I fully expected to be enthralled by.  The premise: in a futuristic society, they've found a cure for love, the most dreaded of all ailments.  On your 18th birthday or shortly thereafter, you undergo a procedure that saves you from all of the passions and pitfalls of love so that you can live a calm and sedate and pleasant life, pair yourself with a compatible partner, raise your children with the proper sense of civic duty and detachment, and fulfill your role in society. 

I loved the premise of this book and after the first 250 pages or so, I thought it was excellent.  But isn't there something wrong in and of itself if you have to wade through 250 pages before becoming truly engaged? Honestly, if I hadn't been housebound and without extraneous entertainment, I never would have stuck with this book long enough to get to the good parts.  I read Matched by Ally Condie not long ago, which pubbed about a year before this book did.  I know enough of publishing to realize that Oliver couldn't have possibly read Matched before this book came out, and yet from start to finish it felt completely derivative of Matched. If I hadn't devoured Condie's two books in her dystopian trilogy, I probably would have enjoyed Delirium a good bit more than I did, but sadly it suffered greatly in comparison. 

NB: A sales rep gave me an ARC of Fracture some time ago and I picked up a comp copy of Delirium (and its sequel, Pandemonium) at the NEIBA fall conference last month. 


  1. Take THAT, crappy YA lit!

    And I totally forgot people were without power in the East. :O Thereby making me feel like a bad let's-all-be-a-unified-country American. I'm glad you're ok, though! And that it wasn't a totally horrific time. Stock up on more bottled water and batteries? I hear this winter's going to suck.

  2. Man, that kind of bites. No power and two disappointing reads.

  3. Oh, I loved Delirium, especially because I used to live in Portland, so when she's describing the characters hanging out in different parts of the city I could totally, totally visualize all of it.

    I loved the cover for Fracture, but haven't heard anything about it yet really. It sounds disappointing!

  4. Madigan, I'm curious whether you've also read Matched and if so, which book you read first. I have to think that if I'd read them in the other order that I might feel the opposite, but of course, who can say?


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