Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo: I finished this one last night and really liked it. I don’t think it’s a perfect book, but I do think it’s a very good one. The alternating narrative worked well, and the voices were clear and distinct. I especially liked the way the two narratives pointed to the difference between the characters’ external interactions and internal world. I also liked the way it engaged with bigger topics, although occasionally it seemed a little didactic (and in those moments Chris sometimes came across as mansplainy). But it’s a very engaging book, and well written.
Victoria Rebels by Carolyn Meyer: In my opinion, there’s a fascinating YA novel about the teenage Queen Victoria waiting to be written. But this isn’t it. It’s a well-researched biography, and I think Meyer has captured some of the flavor of Victoria’s diaries (lots of CAPITALS and underlined words). The problem is really with appeal–for the reader who’s not interested in Victorian history/Victoria already, there’s not a lot to engage them. And for the reader who is already interested, there’s no new information. It’s fairly standard, and fairly biographical, without a real sense of plot. I also had problems with the form, which seemed awkwardly stuck between an older Victoria looking over the past and a younger Victoria writing in the present. This is one of the few times I wish the story had been written in present tense. It’s a solid biography but nothing more than that.
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell: I know there are varying opinions on this one. I loved it. Perhaps more for the college experience, which read to me as authentic and enchanting and lovely, than for the fanfic part. And yet, although I’m not a fanfic writer or reader (not on principle, just doesn’t work for me most of the time), I appreciated the fandom aspect as well. All in all, I found a lovely, engrossing read which I genuinely enjoyed. I did wonder about the appeal for teen readers, though; it read to me like a book that would work best for the reader who is attending/has attended college.
The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller: This was a light, enjoyable book about a girl who feels the need to keep her nerdyness undercover while passing as one of the cool kids. I found it very fun while reading it, and quite forgettable after finishing (i.e., I had to think about it for several minutes before I could remember even that plot summary). Definitely recommended for those who want a nice, quick read, though.
Golden Boy by Tara Sullivan: It’s a well-written book, about a fascinating topic I knew nothing about. It doesn’t read as an issues book, although it takes one some heavy topics, and I thought the characters were really well done. I’m not sure about teen appeal, although I thought there was something fascinating about Habo’s journey and relationship with art. It does read fairly young, one of those books that fit awkwardly into the YA/mg system.
The Boy on the Bridge by Natalie Standiford: Well, I was worried about my reaction to the Russian part of this, because I’m super duper picky about depictions of Russian culture. That part was actually fine. But the plot and characterization was so meandering! I’m still not sure how Laura changed (aside from becoming totally irresponsible). I don’t want a moral or anything, but I do generally expect something to happen character-wise.
I read these books for the 2013 Cybils. You’ll be able to see all of my Cybils reviews by clicking here.