What makes Dry so brilliant is that it doesn't hold back. It hits hard. Without spoiling anything specific, the Shusterman boys don't hide from the harsh realities of humanity lost. We all like to think we know what we would do, how we would act in these kinds of situations. The truth is until we are in that situation, we don't know what we will do or who we will become. Until our lives, our loved ones lives are on the line. Until it is literally life or death. Your life or someone else's life? You don't know what you are going to do. Dry was dedicated "to all those struggling to undo the disastrous effects of climate change". It was meant to send a message. For 360 pages it sent that message loud and clear.
I wanted to do a different spin on the Top ____ Tuesday and so I came up with an idea. There was NO DOUBT a landslide of Young Adult books that led me to start Novel Lives. I am not going to review or even attempt a mini-review of each. I went on a YA reading binge between June 2017 until Novel Lives launched in July 2018 and no they weren't all home-runs. Even for those that were all home-runs. For some it is a more horrific draw... an attachment based on being placed between empathy and disgust, and four days of insomnia (you know who you are). While, for others it is a love for the gift they've brought to the world. Others have provided desperately needed escapes and some desperately needed hope I can turn to, while others provided hope, taught me about the world, about myself and for one it is for a plan, a future I never got to live out and I miss it with every beat of my heart. They are all too meaningful and too different in their respective purpose to single out and say one belongs before another. That is not what we do to art. And all of these are pieces of art.
The Disasters is a laugh out loud mash-up of characters so diverse that even when you think you know where they lie on the spectrum of diversity, two chapters later you realize they have a multi-cultural and sexual orientation chasm going on in one character. Meanwhile I don't remember any of this being mentioned in the promotion for the book, nor the overriding Middle-Eastern themes. Well done on the England and HarperTeen's part to let that be a surprise welcome. This book is being promoted on the the plot, characters and overall fun to be had. Oh and the dedication, which I love. To everyone who's ever felt like a disaster. Here, have a spaceship! Now fly.
Warnings (mentioned by author in book): Mental illness (bipolar), blood use in magic, gun violence, war, colonialism, racism, descriptions of dead bodies, mention of reproductive coercion, mentions of torture, mention of suicide Heidi Heilig has created a piece of art that is multi-faceted in characters, writing structures and plot points. Within this she has interwoven an own voice struggle as a bipolar woman through the main character, Jetta, who simply refers to it as her malheur, the french word for misfortune. Heilig discusses writing a bipolar heroine at the end of the book. She balances writing Jetta's manic highs driving her family's successful shadow plays, her ability to defend herself and control spirits through necromancy. However, it also causes rash decisions and leads to actions that harms herself and those she cares the most about. This comes with the depressive lows where she withdraws, panics and sleeps due to the exhaustion of fighting it all because of a driving resilience, intelligence and need to not have her malheur define who she is nor her life.
If poetry could be prose then Nova Ren Suma would be the Beatles of it. Her lyrical and often mesmerizing phrasing pulls beauty and atmosphere off the page and fills your senses. Much like an pointillist painter gives you a whole scene from afar but it becomes a blur of tiny points of paint the closest one gets to the portrait.
Parker Peevyhouse turns out a solid 3.5 star debut in Echo room, which begins with a ground hog day motif. This tool could have dragged on but works because like Rhett and Brynn, readers have no clue what is happening.
Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani interlaces coming of age rituals, best friends and foreshadowing to set-up the fictional retelling of 2014's terrorist raid of a Nigerian village based on the stories of those women that survived.