The Last Few Books I’ve Read And Loved

This is one of those books E has been begging me to read for a while now: The Perks of Being A Wallflower. I’ll tell you the honest reason why you should read it, because they’re filming the movie right now and the cast list is AMAZING. Observe: Emma Watson, Nina Dobrev, Paul Rudd, and Mae Whitman. That’s some of my favorite actors right there. But also? The book is probably something all parents of teenagers should read. If you have had a teenager in the last 10+ years or so, they’ve probably read it. I get the impression it went through phases around here of being THE BOOK THAT EVERYONE IN HIGH SCHOOL IS READING RIGHT NOW…so if you have a teenager who reads? They’ve probably read it.

I really like the story and the characters. My only complaint is that it’s written in a “Dear Person, ” format. I have a hard time with gimmicky author tricks like that. Chronological jumps, weird author voices, (Loved The Art Of Racing In the Rain, hated it was told from the perspective of the dog.) or strange narrative formats. I just want to read a story. So the gimmicks get to me, this book was no exception. I am not even sure I would have stuck with it if it wasn’t so important to E that I do so. I also had another complaint, but I’m not sure it mattered and it could spoil the story for you, so I’ll keep it for myself. DEFINITELY read it if your kid has ever read it, and DEFINITELY read it if you like character-driven stories (not plot- or action-driven) that may err on the darker side of the teenage existence. Otherwise? Just wait for the movie.

Oh, MAN. This book is SOOOO GOOD. If you loved Hunger Games you will want to have Dystopian Babies with Divergent. I think the lead character, Tris, could totally kick Katniss’s ASS. I loved her so much more than Katniss and I have a few theories why, but I’m going to reserve those until I read it again. It’s definitely a Dystopian Young Adult, and if you’re sick of those (like I was) you should still read it. IT’S THAT GOOD. Let me tell you why it seemed different, because it allows females to be badasses physically, without every questioning whether they should be in that role. It’s just the way it is. Girls can kick ass too. The end. No discussions, no references to dissent of opinions, not even an attempt to keep girls from fighting boys. OF COURSE THEY FIGHT BOYS. I loved it. And I pink-puffy-heart love Tris too. Even if she could kick my ass.

The thing I don’t love is it looks like it’s part of a Trilogy. Which, I don’t mind series books in theory, but this tendency towards them all being TRILOGIES now makes me a little irritated. If you’re going to do a series, can you make it NOT three books long? I don’t know why this is bugging me but it is. And I’m a bit sick of the cliffhangers too. This one wasn’t awful, you know where the book is going next, but it’s still you left wondering…WHEN IS THE NEXT ONE COMING OUT? And I get frustrated with that. The Harry Potter books only left you “hanging” towards the end of the series. Before that, you wanted the next book, because you wanted the story, but each book had an ending. I get frustrated with the trend to end these series book in a way that makes you growl a little bit. I DO NOT LIKE GROWLING. But, this one wasn’t the worse offender I’ve ever seen, so I’m not going to mark too much against it.

If you’re sick of Dystopian YA books? DON’T READ THIS ONE. It will probably make you roll your eyes. But, if you’re not sick of it and looking from more in the genre (which is how I was after having taken a break for awhile) this is an interesting twist. Basically? Someone decided X amount of years ago that the problems in the world were caused by LOVE. So, they figured out how to do a procedure on kids when they turn 18 to keep them from ever feeling it. That’s the society depicted in this book. It’s totally interesting the way they handle emotions in such a scientific and pragmatic manner. It’s also (of course) about revolt, which I love about Dystopian fictions. There’s always some faction of society that doesn’t agree with the new world order, which is what pulls me to these books in the first place.

HOWEVER…it does have that element of cheesiness you would expect in a book that basically is fighting for the right to love. Which is why – if you’re already a little sick of the Dystopian thing – you should probably avoid this one. BUT — if you’re on a kick like I was? It may be right up your alley!

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SO, have YOU read any good books lately?

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23 Responses

  1. Julie says:

    I first read Perks as a teenager, and have read it every few years since then. Love it. Had no idea they were making a movie. Thanks so much for the heads up.

  2. Monica says:

    I recently read Matched by Ally Condie, which I though was similar to Delirium in the whole someone-else-decides-who-you-marry plot. But it was good. Unfortunately it is part of a trilogy, too. I enjoyed Delirium. I think I needed a little cheese in my dystopian YA story. I’ve read some great non-YA fiction lately. I’m going to have to get Divergent next.

    On a different note, I see on your sidebar(?) that you’re following the filming of The Hunger Games. I live really close to Peeta’s Bakery’s site! I could not believe it when they came to film here. I grew up driving by the old mill village where they’ve been filming and thinking what a cool looking area it was.

    • zoot says:

      I loved Matched! Love the secretive poetry aspect of the story…thought it was a great revolutionary idea to have to memorize restricted verse. Loved it!

      I love those pictures from that Mill! I wish I could come see that area and watch some filming, I’d probably die of the thrill!

      • Monica says:

        They will not let us near the filming! Roads are blocked off going into that area and the police are enforcing it. Even the fire department had to arrange an agreement with the neighboring county for emergencies because they can’t use the road through there. Filming here is supposed to be completed today and then they move on to the town where you see the big warehouse with District 12 painted on the side. I think they may have a harder time enforcing the Keep Out zone there since it’s a more open area in a bigger town.

  3. JenE says:

    Long-time reader but been away from your blog for a bit. I apologize if you’ve already discussed these books, but I was completely pulled into If I Stay by Gayle Foreman. It is YA but with such a heartbreaking message for any reader. The follow-up – Where She Went – was just as good.

    I read Delirium and enjoyed it. However, I felt that Lauren Oliver’s first book – Before I Fall – was a much stronger book.

    Last rec is a general author rec – Joshilyn Jackson. Gods in Alabama and a side-book called Backseat Saints are good, solid reads. Her other two – Between, Georgia and The Girl Who Stopped Swimming – are also on my favorites shelf.

  4. Courtney says:

    I really liked Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall. I listened to it and LOVED the recording. The actress who plays Kepner on Grey’s Anatomy read it and did a wonderful job.

    I’ve been recommended to read “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian”, “The Mockingbirds”, and a couple of others I can’t think of right now.

    I loved Racing in the Rain, but I skipped over all the racing analogies and chapters. I did kinda like that it was told from the perspective of a dog because Joel and I constantly pretend play that our dogs have voices in their heads. It’s the funniest thing b/c we are TOTALLY sterrotypical in our dogs – the girl is a dingbat/airhead and the boy is always trying to be the tough guy. That book made me look at them a little differently and I liked it.

    I don’t know if you like nonfiction, but Alexandra Robbins has some great nonfiction out there. She writes about high schoolers and college students. I like her style and her message that she send through her books. I have Pledged and I’m reading the Overachievers. I like it so far.

    My issues with the series is that they are YEARS apart. I didn’t read the HP series until AFTER they were all out. So I guess I’m spoiled on the series front.

  5. -R- says:

    My husband and I both loved The Long Walk, the true story of a group of men escaping from a Siberian labor camp. I can’t recommend it enough.

    I’m almost done with Husband and Wife by Leah Stewart, which is also really good.

  6. Cara says:

    Right now I’m reading a non-fiction book, The Idle Parent, that has me alternately nodding my head in agreement, rolling my eyes, and groaning. Often on the same page. I suspect some of it is tongue in cheek, because surely no one is seriously basing their parenting on what allows them to get drunk and then sleep off the hangover? At times, lots of times, it is overly idealistic and filled with down-with-modern-society fist shaking that annoys me. But, it also addresses the need to just let kids be kids, the idea that parents letting kids fend for themselves actually grows stronger kids and that we make life too complicated. I’ve been wrestling with how to incorporate my own beliefs along those lines in to my parenting, and so I’m still reading for the reinforcement it gives me.

  7. bad penguin says:

    I just finished Divergent and loved it. I picked it up because you mentioned it on Twitter and we tend to like the same stuff — so thanks for the recommendation! I was actually just looking at Delirium in the Kindle store this morning, so maybe I’ll get that.

    I’ve been on a big YA kick lately. Before Divergent I read Shade and Shift by Jeri Smith-Ready, which were great.

  8. cagey says:

    I had to step away from dystopia for awhile. Maybe I’ll jump back in with these recs.

    I just read Girl In Translation and it was amazing. I finished it in one sitting Monday morning and I am still thinking about it. It’s about a girl who comes to the US from Hong Kong when she is in 6th grade – she juggles school with working in a sweatshop. It is set in contemporary time – I believe in the early 80s, judging from some of the prices mentioned (a can of soda is 20 cents, for example) VERY good reading.

  9. Maggie says:

    I just finished So You Wanna Be a Rock & Roll Star by Jacob Slichter (the drummer from Semisonic). It is an eye-opener about the business of making records. I found it fascinating to learn about the entire process behind producing and promoting an album.

  10. Karly says:

    I’ve been reading a bunch of lame books, so I’m so glad that you posted these. I love every book you ever post about and was just thinking to myself “I wonder what Zoot is reading…”

  11. Jamie says:

    I read Perks when I was like 18, so about 9 years ago (wow, that makes me feel old) and it was definitely one of my favorites. I think it’s one of the books that I’ll skip out on the movie. I feel like I have it so perfect pictured that I don’t want anything outside to ruin it. I know that sound so silly. Plus, you know how ridiculous I am when it comes to books turned movies based off our Hunger Games casting commentary on Reader! hahahah

    I do think I’m going to dig out my beat and highlighted copy of Perks though and re-read it now though so thanks!

    Also, I had Delirium, Divergent and Matched all on hold at the library for awhile now. Hopefully they get here soon!

  12. Procrastamom says:

    My 13 year-old son just bought Divergent the other day, based on your recommendation, and I cannot get him to put it down! He and my 15 year-old daughter read the Hunger Games trilogy last year too…again, based on your recommendation. You are basically our YA Guru! I will show him this post today. I’m sure he will want to read the other two books also.

  13. Leah says:

    I didn’t read them, I listened to the audio books but man did I ever enjoy them :) The Sookie Stackhouse novels. I am embaressed to say I listened to all of them (11 now!) in under two weeks.

    Thanks for your picks, I always seem to enjoy them.

  14. Cindi B. says:

    You might like this website: http://www.myhungergames.com/

    It updates on the filming of The Hunger Games.

  15. EmilysHollow says:

    I love your book recs because they’re always the books I’ve read or would like to read. I loved Divergent! A lot. I loved the balance of selflessness without becoming a martyr. Thanks to you I’m also on a big Sarah Dessen kick right now. I think I’m on my third book of hers and have pretty much the rest of them on hold at the library.

    I felt the same about Wallflower; hated the narration, liked the character development. I think I found it a bit….melodramatic at times. But it’s been a while.

    A while ago I read The Book of Lost Things. Very good. Not dystopian, but middle grade/young adult.

  16. Alex says:

    just testing

  17. Amber says:

    I know you are tired of trilogies and possibly more dystopian YA, but I am in the middle of the Chaos Walking trilogy and it is SO ORIGINAL and DIFFERENT and good! It’s sci-fi, set on another planet. There are aliens and a weird germ that makes the thoughts of men audible/visible (they just call it Noise in the book) and NO WOMEN because supposedly the germ killed them all, and some really creepy bad guys, and then suddenly there ARE women and, well, I’m rambling. But it’s good. The first one is The Knife of Never Letting Go and I’m in the middle of The Ask and The Answer, and it has not disappointed.

    I feel like it’s something Stephen King would write if he was so inclined to write dystopian YA. Sort of.

    Anyway, give it a go if you haven’t already!

  18. Secha says:

    I’m sad now – I just went to go check to see if I could borrow any of those books on the kindle and none of them are lendable!! =( But I will have to check them out.

    I’ve been reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy. It’s great but.. it’s hard to get through the first 1/3 of the first book. Other than that, it’s awesome. Other than that… I’ve been reading college work. So that doesn’t really count.

  19. Melizzard says:

    Hmm read Matched and Bumped in the last month – both seemed to just try too hard. I must be getting over the genre. Either that or there was just so much good stuff before them the bar is raised fairly high despite it being YA.

    Were you the one that recommended Sarah Dessen? Just finished “What Happened to Goodbye?” and fell in love with it – oh if only my 14 year old self could have had that book and realized I wasn’t the only person who had gone through that with my mother. I found a bunch of her stuff on sale at the Scholastic Warehouse Sale and bought it for summer reads.

    Think I’ll save the Walflower book for later considering P is still gobbling up Judy Moody these days :-) We’ve been devouring them all over again in prep for the movie opening next week. Double Rare.

  20. Alimomof3 says:

    Read Wallflower based on your recommendation. I really liked it — even with the letter format (I also LOVED that The Art of Racing in the Rain was from the dog’s perspective, so I guess we differ there!). Wallflower was heartbreaking and there were parts I wasn’t sure about. I wonder if we have the same thoughts.

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