& Review: The Secret Place by Tana French

The Secret Place by Tana French. Publisher: Viking Adult

The Secret Place by Tana French.
Mystery. Publisher: Viking Adult

The Book Itself: The dust jacket is textured – every strut in the window pane is raised, as if it were really there. Cool touch, almost eerie. I’ve loved French’s simple yet skin-tingly covers ever since her first. Her books have included a dusty mirror, a white empty room, vines taking over the title letters, and the peeling boards of an old house.

My Review: I’ve got to be honest with you: I go into reading this book, and writing this review a little biased. But only in the sense that I’ve loved this author’s work consistently. Even in the lackluster additions to the series, she somehow manages to be good. I’ve written down many a quote from her books because she’s just do damn good at writing a sentence. Plus, all the characters speak in Irish slang, so that’s pretty fun.

The Secret Place does what French has done for her whole series: takes a character that had a small role in one book and makes him or her the star of a different mystery. Stephen Moran, our protagonist detective in Secret Place, played a role in the investigation in Faithful Place, the third in French’s series (more on the series installments below this review). In fact, it is Frank Mackey’s (the main detective in Faithful Place) daughter who provides a clue that reopens a case from a year ago at an all-girl’s Catholic school. A boy from the nearby boy’s school is found dead on the grounds of the girl’s school, and the murderer was never found. Moran brings the new evidence to the head detective of the case a year ago, Antoinette Conway, hoping that this will get him a foot in the door to be a part of the Murder Squad. Conway allows him to take the lead on a lot of the interviews, as he shows skill for tailoring his approach to each girl interviewed and Conway herself is, well…a bit prickly.

This book does what French’s other books haven’t done: half of the narrative is told from the girls’ perspective, the suspects and victim’s perspectives (and which count down ominously. In each flashback, Chris Harper is steadily given less time to live – three months and two weeks, then two months, then three weeks, etc.)

My issues: I think the book takes place over a single 24-hour period. Stretching 24-hours over over 400 pages is just that: a stretch. Even though the mindless string of interviews is interspersed with those glimpses into the school life and deeply personal friendships of the girls, it starts to feel tedious.

And it seems to be a rather weird theme in French’s books that a little something takes place that is never explained. I’m hesitant to tell you what that thing is in Secret Place, but let’s just say that there are ghosts and levitation involved, and I think it should have been given way more room to develop, or it should not have been included.

And the detectives! Way too much time is spent going through all eight girls involved (two groups of four friends who try to point the blame to the other), that no real attention is spent on our detectives! This probably threw me off the most, because in French’s other books, the detectives were real focal points. Their personal lives were enmeshed with the cases. They had histories. All that I know of Moran and Conway are that Moran wants in, and Conway is on thin ice because she couldn’t get a solve a year ago. And she’s a woman, so she gets a lot of crap from the male Murder detectives. For a 400+ page tome, I want to know the people who are solving the case with me, know what I mean?!

The But: BUT, French is so good at wrap-up. The conclusions of her mysteries are by far my favorite parts. The last hundred pages must be devoured in one sitting, because that’s how you figure out the big hows and whysSecret Place is no different. I get the most character out of our detectives here. Not that I get a lot of backstory out of them, but they show conflict, they show depth of emotion. Within twenty pages, there is great failure and then great breakthrough. And I was wrong about whodunit this time! I called someone early on and it was someone else.

Overall, it’s kind of a departure from her other mysteries, but French kept me reading, like always. I kind of want the stony Conway to be the focus of the next installment!

My Grade: C

Where French has been before:

inthewoods thelikeness

faithfulplace

brokenharbor

In the Woods follows Rob Ryan, our first detective on the Dublin Murder Squad. Ryan was discovered, as a child, clutching a tree trunk in the woods behind his house, with scratches all down his back and his shoes filled with blood. His playmates are never found. Unfortunately, that spine-tingly premise is not the focus of this story, which solves a murder right next to those same woods. In fact (and this is a tad spoiler-y, so read the next sentence at your own risk): you never find out what happened to Ryan in the woods as a kid. And it’s not hinted at in following books, as might be expected. It’s a pet peeve of mine, that it is never resolved. But the story is immersive and bittersweet the whole way through. French’s style hooked me into reading the rest of her series.

The Likeness is my favorite so far in the series. If you can suspend your disbelief that our main character this time – Cassie Maddox (the partner of Rob Ryan in In the Woods) looks so similar to the murder victim that she can go undercover as the victim and live among the victim’s roommates…it’s a great ride of a story. It’s probably the least eeries of the series, but it’s so, so solid.

Faithful Place follows Frank Mackey, Cassie Maddox’s undercover mentor. He returns to his hometown (and sometimes vicious family), to revisit the disappearance of the girl he was slated to run away with as a young man. Honestly, this one’s my least favorite, and I can’t tell you much more about it, 1) because that would be major spoilers and 2) I honestly don’t remember all the intricate twists and turns. I sort of remember whodunit, but I don’t remember the reasoning/the twists along the way.

Broken Harbor is my second favorite of the series. It follows Scorcher Kennedy, a colleague of Frank Mackey. And it’s the eeriest, the saddest, the one with the most atmosphere, in my opinion. A father and two children are found dead in a half-built string of estate houses. But there are video cameras pointing at holes in all the walls of the house. And Kennedy’s mother committed suicide in the same resort town many years ago. So it’s gets understandably complicated.

Food for Thought Fridays

Photo Credit: My Instagram

Photo Credit: My Instagram

I love clever book dedications! I found both of these while perusing books at the Powell’s Used Bookstore stationed in the Portland International Airport (the best store there, and it’s unfortunately closing! Nooooooo!!). The top one is from Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes by Cory O’Brien, and the bottom one from Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson. Both humorous books, but you don’t have to be writing a funny book to have a funny dedication. Check out this Buzzfeed article for other great/deep and meaningful dedications.

If you wrote a book, humorous or otherwise, who/what would you dedicate it to? I’d like to be witty, but I’d of course have to shout out to Miss Moyle, the student teacher in my sixth grade classroom who read a story I was writing over my shoulder and passed me a note that read Have you ever thought about getting published? Planting the seeds early!

On another note: Acknowledgements. I rarely read them, because, heck, I don’t know anyone the author is talking about! But Lexicon by Max Barry has a really witty Acknowledgements section. That, you know, acknowledges how weird acknowledgments are. How weird a word is acknowledgment?!

Mentioned here:

zeusgrantsstupidwishesletspretendthisneverhappened

Lexicon by Max Barry. Sci-fi/Fantasy. Publisher: Penguin Books.

Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes: A No-Bullshit Guide to World Mythology by  Cory O’Brien, Sarah Melville (Illustrations)

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson

Lexicon by Max Barry. My review here.

 

& Review: Lock In by John Scalzi

Lock In by John Scalzi. Publisher: Tor Books

Lock In by John Scalzi. Hardcover. Sci-Fi/Fantasy.
Publisher: Tor Books

The Book Itself: Awesome cover, even without knowing the premise. Stark, graphic, intriguing. The figures dyed in red are the 1-4% of people affected by the fictitious disease in the book known as “Hadens” (I would assume that’s what they represent). Some of the figures are keeled over in the corner, but most are milling around. I find it to be subtly ominous.

My Review: “Fifteen years from now, a new virus sweeps the globe. 95% of those afflicted experience nothing worse than fever and headaches. Four percent suffer acute meningitis, creating the largest medical crisis in history. And one percent find themselvs “locked in”—fully awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to stimulus.

One per cent doesn’t seem like a lot. But in the United States, that’s 1.7 million people “locked in”…including the President’s wife and daughter.

Spurred by grief and the sheer magnitude of the suffering, America undertakes a massive scientific initiative. Nothing can restore the ability to control their own bodies to the locked in. But then two new technologies emerge. One is a virtual-reality environment, “The Agora,” in which the locked-in can interact with other humans, both locked-in and not. The other is the discovery that a few rare individuals have brains that are receptive to being controlled by others, meaning that from time to time, those who are locked in can “ride” these people and use their bodies as if they were their own.

This skill is quickly regulated, licensed, bonded, and controlled. Nothing can go wrong. Certainly nobody would be tempted to misuse it, for murder, for political power, or worse…”

This is a police procedural. With robots. And political underpinnings about the prosecution of minority groups/the disabled. It’s got the basic structure of your typical procedural: crime (several big crime scenes involving Hadens and their “threeps,” aka the android bodies they use to move around), search (our protagonist is paired with an able-bodied human partner in the FBI’s Haden Division), clues (suspects that keep popping up, a concerning new technology, a law going into power that will affect all the Hadens-infected forever), harrowing close scrapes, and resolution where they Get Their Guy (or Girl). The sci-fi aspect of some of the characters spices it up a little, but I found the whole crime build up and conclusion rather ho-hum. In fact, it got very confusing. There were too many balls in the air: one of the victims is from the Navajo Reservation community, a law concerning Hadens causes mass riots and protests that complicate EVERYTHING, the protagonist (Shane) is a poster child for the disease, and his father is running for office, so…more political color there. Plus, the protagonist is new in town and has to find a place to live and friends to confide in.

I would buy into the premise and the procedural more if I found the characters more open and relatable. Shane contracted Hadens and experienced “lock in” at two years old. He’s been using android bodies since then to experience the world, so it’s the only life he’s really known: being able to literally dial down pain sensors and his sense of smell, never eating food, recharging every night versus sleeping. And I found his speech a little stunted. A little, well…robotic. Which would be fine. It could even be endearing. If everyone around him didn’t talk the same way, Hadens or not. Shane’s partner, Vann, is a gruff, grunt-y female cop with a chip on her shoulder the size of Texas. And she talks exactly like Shane. They aren’t foils to each other. They don’t have an entertaining back and forth, because I often have to remind myself who is saying what. It’s often terse, one-word exchanges. (One conversation literally goes: “Dead.” “How.” “Grenade.” “The f***.”) And every suspect, every ally sounds similarly. They keep me at an emotional distance, and I don’t feel close to any of them. You never learn enough to truly like anyone, either. It took me until the last couple of chapters to learn that Shane and his family are African-American!

And then there’s Shane’s description of the Agora, a virtual reality where Hadens visit with one another in the visage of their real bodies versus threeps. Shane “describes” it thusly:

“Explaining how the Agora works to someone who is not a Haden is like explaining the color green to someone  who is colorblind. They get a sense of it, but have no way to appreciate the richness and complexity of it because their brains literally don’t work that way…It’s the ultimate in ‘you have to be there.'”

No one likes to hear that! “You had to be there.” UGH. This is a terrible way to describe something to readers. Mostly because it doesn’t describe anything. It cheats. As a non-Hadens-affected reader, we just couldn’t understand this virtual reality world…so Shane is just not going to try. This makes me hate Shane a little. I’m annoyed, Shane. I want to know how this world, supposedly fifteen years in my future, differs from my present. I want to know how Hadens live and how people live with Hadens-affected friends and relatives. As it is, I’m left at an arms distance.

In a way, I think Scalzi leaves this open for a sequel, or sequels. At least it would make sense to humanize Vann more, explain more about Shane’s life and the consequences of this case (which are hurriedly swept under the rug – never mind the result have big implications for most of the characters). Not sure I’d pick up a sequel, but if you’re into police procedurals, and you like robots, go for it.

My Grade: C

Food for Thought Fridays

halsirowitzquote

 

Hello, my friends! This here’s a poem I was introduced to via Good Poems, edited by Garrison Keillor. I loved it because it had to do with books (of course), but it’s also a love poem, a caution, a comedic burst.

Who do you trust to borrow your books? Who do you borrow books from (besides your friendly local library)? And do you know any great poems having to do with books? Tell me your knowledge! Share your stories! And let me know if this Food for Thought Fridays (title under construction) idea is totally lame or not.

& Review: The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber. Fiction. Publisher: Hogarth

The Book Itself: I picked this ARC (current release date is October 28th, 2014) from the pile of ARCs at my work mostly because of this book’s somewhat gimmicky appeal: gold, gilt-edged pages, the kind you’d find on an old school Bible. That’s right, I picked it because it was shiny. I like the biblical and sci-fi allusions on the cover, too: the two halves of this book’s story.

Peter-devoted pastor, dedicated missionary, and loving husband to his wife, Bea-has just accepted a demanding and perilous new job. He’s to travel to a new planet, Oasis, to work for a mysterious corporation called USIC. He’s tasked with reaching out to the indigenous race, to make sure they are as peaceful as they seem. Resolutely devout and strengthened by his letters from Bea at home, Peter undertakes his job with complete focus. The Oasans are shockingly open to his teachings, but things start to unravel when Bea’s missives from Earth take a dark tone. Earth appears to be coming apart at the seams: typhoons and earthquakes are devastating whole countries and governments are crumbling. Even the hospital where she works has ceased to function. Their unearthly divide is testing Peter and Bea’s relationship to a startlingly degree. Peter is thrown into crisis. USIC might be hiding its true motives in developing Oasis, and the Oasans themselves are frustratingly opaque. Bea’s desperate letters are only fomenting his doubt. Peter is suddenly faced with an impossible-and dangerous-decision: to follow his faith, or follow his heart. His life depends on it.

Review:  If I were allowed only two words to describe this book, I’d use these: quietly powerful. Which is a little surprising, as I was somewhat expecting this to be more action-packed than it was, more dangerous. I was also (worriedly) expecting it to be more preachy. It turns out I am glad it was neither. I didn’t want a book that would try to convert me to religion. I wanted a story, not a sermon, in other words.

That quiet power comes not from Peter’s mysterious employer: USIC (why the heck he’d take a job with a company he knew nothing about that would require him to hyperjump into outer space and then make contact with an alien race and try to convert them to religion, not knowing if they were violent and/or dangerous is a mystery to me. Seriously, Peter, think these things through…). It comes not from the docile race of “Oasians” he encounters (who have conveniently already found Jesus, how about that). But from his wife, and the world he left behind. He can only communicate with her through monitored e-mails (USIC doesn’t allow videochatting or phone calls…this sounds like an awful, fishy gig, man…). And when the world around her starts to crumble, and she can’t communicate with him, and he is, let’s face it, a little removed and distracted by other things on another planet, she understandably gets a little shaken. She loses the faith that brought them together, and all he can do to reassure her is write some words on a screen. I found this to be a very modern, very believable problem – the impersonal feel of e-mail in the face of real problems, how a lack of real communication can test, even unravel a strong relationship.

The biggest event to happen in the book…I’m not going to tell you about. Because 1.) Hello spoilers, and 2.) It sounds inconsequential on paper, until you read about the characters and the slow fatigue of her faith and situation on Earth, and his lack of ability to empathize. The event itself is sad, but commonplace. But it is what happens because of the event, and how the news is delivered that really packs a punch. I was gutted by the climax, even though it wasn’t a huge event. I was gutted because of the emotions of the characters, and the bleak, eerie situation they found themselves in. Don’t you love when book reviews are intentionally vague so you can “enjoy the story”? Hate that.

So while some of the events the synopsis outlines do not explode out of the gate like you expect them to, it’s a great book. Wonderfully written. The only real missed opportunity is USIC – you have to suspend your disbelief about Peter actually taking the job. Conveniently, he feels called by God to help this alien race. Otherwise, if I were him, there’s no way I’d take a job from such a mysterious company. He doesn’t even get paid a truckload of money! And when you finally find out USIC’s true mission…it’s not that surprising. The clues are there from the beginning (from the synopsis of the book, really). USIC is not the huge looming crux of the story as it maybe should be. But I’m over it.

It’s an amazing book. Just don’t read it for scenes of action, for a fast-paced, typical sci-fi book. Read it for the well-built, slow tension and the characters and story that stay with you long after you close its gold gilt pages.

My Grade: A

Recommended:

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

Wool by Hugh Howey

Wool by Hugh Howey

In The Poisonwood Bible, the protagonist, attempting to convert citizens in an African village to God, accidentally tells his constituents that Jesus is poisonwood (not the best angle). And Hugh Howey is just excellent. Read Wool if you like dystopian fiction at all.

 

& Review: Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer.  Publisher: FSG Originals

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer.
Publisher: FSG Originals

“That’s how the madness of the world tries to colonize you: from the outside in, forcing you to live in its reality.”

The Book Itself: It’s eye-catching, but this cover actually makes the cover kind of hard to read! A couple of friends asked “What are you reading” when I pulled this out and I showed them…and they still couldn’t tell 😛 It’s appropriately moody and dramatic, all while being simple, graphic, awesome!

My Review: “Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; all the members of the second expedition committed suicide; the third expedition died in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another; the members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within months of their return, all had died of aggressive cancer.

This is the twelfth expedition.

Their group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain and collect specimens; to record all their observations, scientific and otherwise, of their surroundings and of one another; and, above all, to avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.

They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers—they discover a massive topographic anomaly and life forms that surpass understanding—but it’s the surprises that came across the border with them, and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another, that change everything”

This is the arc of this book: weird, weirder, weirdest…end. And I’m going to say it now: don’t expect the answers you’re looking for. Why are their freaky animals everywhere? What the hell is with the spores? Why does she feel like she’s glowing all the time? What the hell is happening here?! At best, you get speculations about it all. Hopefully the rest of the series gets us more than guesswork.

The story does have one thing, and that is mood. It is eerie up to its gills, and the tension you feel and the trepidation that winds you up towards the end is well crafted. I do have a more than small-ish issue with why on Earth someone would sign up for a mission like this when every single other person in eleven previous missions has died. But who am I to point out blatant absurdism. Suspend my belief, right? Alright.

You never get names for these women trapped in the jungle, which oddly I liked. It ramped up the eerie-ness. They are nameless, without identity. The situation, the setting wipes the characters clean of identifying features. It swallows them whole.

But there is a flipside to this. All characters here are scientific and analytical. They discuss things. They bring their fields into the conversation, not their personal backgrounds. Which means we don’t get to know them too personally. Not even our protagonist. Even she is too aloof. Even the several glimpses into her past don’t get us too close to her. You do get the sense that there is great pain there, and her work is one great big mask for that. But her main character flaw is the need and deep-rooted desire to be alone with her own thoughts. Which makes for a sometimes standoffish narrator.

I’m going to continue the series for the sheer head-scratchery that is this mysterious Area X. Why any more expeditions would want to get in there baffles me, but hey, there are two more books so…someone’s gotta do it.

My Grade: C

& Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

If I Stay by Gayle Forman. ebook. YA Fiction. Publisher: Penguin Group

If I Stay by Gayle Forman. ebook. YA Fiction. Publisher: Penguin Group

The Book Itself: I cheated, and read the ebook, but I have seen (and held) the paperback before, so I’m not completely without perspective. The cover is all YA-cliche: dramatic picture of a pretty girl. The front cover opens up to a two page blurb spread of other authors and reviewers praising the book, set on a background image of broken glass. A little hair-raising. The inside of the cover is better than the outside 😛

My Review:
“Choices. Seventeen-year-old Mia is faced with some tough ones: Stay true to her first love—music—even if it means losing her boyfriend and leaving her family and friends behind?

Then one February morning Mia goes for a drive with her family, and in an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, all the choices are gone, except one. And it’s the only one that matters.”

My biggest issue is with how the premise of this book was executed. The idea is that Mia gets in a car accident, along with her mother and father and younger brother. She has an out of body experience while she is in a coma (my issues with this a little laterrr), and is given the chance to decide whether to stay without all/some of her family.

Okay. My issue: the book is a giant set-up. What I mean is, the entire book is spent setting up for her even acknowledging she might want to go. I think it was on page…87 of my ebook’s 120 pages? On page 87, Mia actually thought about whether or not she wanted to stay. That’s 72 percent of the book, taken up by flashbacks on family moments, dates with her boyfriend, and anxious wanderings through hospital hallways, seeing which of her friends and extended family have arrived. It takes too long to get to the actual book! Plus, it ends where it should begin: once she makes a decision. It felt like one big lead up to…..nothing. Plus, you kind of sort of guess what her decision is going to be all along…especially since she takes until page 87 to consider other options, plus there’s a sequel.

Mia’s out of body/ghostly experience is shaky at best. She determines early on that she cannot waft through walls like a spirit. She has to slip through doors when people open them. So she has some solidity. But that leads me to question if she’s solid enough that people could feel her? She never tries to touch a loved one (and wouldn’t you?! I’m speaking too much for myself here, but if my boyfriend, my grandparent, my best friend were there and I was scared and distraught and super super vulnerable, I’d want to seek comfort. Apparently Mia doesn’t, which personally distances me from her). She’s an aloof character, this Mia. For being such an emotionally charged book, I was surprised she didn’t seem affected by much, either as a live person in flashbacks or as a non-ghost post-accident (at least not until page 87). I think she’s supposed to be a little unlike herself as a non-ghost, but she seems pretty deadpan and numb either way.

I can see how it could be heart-wrenching, gutting, emotionally exhausting. And it’s certainly sad reading the accident scene and peeking in on the family when they were happiest. But the book didn’t have a plot until more than halfway through. I felt like I was either slogging through memories, or twiddling my thumbs in a hospital waiting room, watching Mia’s friends try dumb, implausible things to attempt to see her.

Not sure if I’ll see the movie, even less enthused about reading the sequel. Maybe on RedBox, maybe as a library borrow.

My Grade: C-

& Review: Lexicon by Max Barry

Lexicon by Max Barry. Sci-fi/Fantasy. Publisher: Penguin Books.

Lexicon by Max Barry.
Sci-fi/Fantasy. Publisher: Penguin Books.

The Book Itself: Awesome graphic, that the white background color lets take center stage – an eye that dissolves into words, then letters. It has a lot of blurbs from authors and news sources, both inside the first pages and on the cover. I get a little irked by this, usually (I just want to know if find it to be a good book. You can yell at me that it is phenomenal, I’m still going to form my own opinion). All the same, those two accolades at the top (A Time Magazine Top 10 Fiction Book of the Year, and an NPR Best Book of the Year) are pretty dang impressive. The hardcover jacket was pretty cool too: typography-based with contrasting colors.

My Review: I actually think the synopsis printed on book websites (Goodreads, B&N, Amazon) are VERY spoiler-y! I much preferred this synopsis, printed on the back of the book:
“They recruited Emily Ruff from the streets. They said it was because she’s good with words. 

They’ll live to regret it.

They said Wil Parke survived something he shouldn’t have. But he doesn’t remember.

Now they’re after him and he doesn’t know why.

There’s a word, they say. A word that kills.

And they want it back…”

I mean, it’s not a lot to go on, but it’s certainly really ominous and spooky (maybe a tad melodramatic?) Don’t read other descriptions if you can help it. I’m glad I didn’t before I read this one.

This is a book to be devoured. Rarely have I read a book with such a strong beginning section, and such a well-balanced overall structure. The story is told from two perspectives. In one, a man is suddenly on a run for his life, following a stoic man who claims that some people kill others with just their words, and Will himself might be the only person ever immune to it. The other perspective is a woman pulled from the streets to attend a school to do just that: compel people with language. The stories do connect, although I do think where they connect were supposed to be twists…and I predicted both, easily, before they happened.

All the same, I fell in love with the beginning of the book. Both sides of the story were well-written and fascinating (I love people-being-recruited-to-go-to-mysterious-maybe-magical-school stories. Stems from my love of Harry Potter. Lev Grossman’s The Magicians is another one I love for this reason). It does lag a bit in the middle, and the ending is a tad sloppy, but the beginning is just so damn strong, the stakes so high and characters plausible.

It does have its issues, like most any other story. A few key questions are left unanswered: Why do the other poets (people who can use language to convince people to do things) suddenly follow Woolf? Why did this school to learn the tricks of language start in the first place? And most crucially: What is their goal??

That would have to be the one that sticks in my craw the most. This is a great book. Fast-paced and tense with an awesome premise….but you never fully understand the premise. Why control people with words? I would guess to take over the world (because what other goal would there be with a tool that can essentially bend anyone to your will?), but our antagonist never says as much. I’m guessing at the goal, instead of ever truly understanding it.

But it’s a really great book! Again, I hope you only have the synopsis on the back of the book to go off of, as I got to formulate most of the story spoiler-free, but even if you have read other descriptions, pick this one up.

My Grade: A

I Answer “The Questions”:
In the book, poets tend to ask people four questions. I’m not going to tell you why they do this, but let’s just say that if I lived in the world of this book, showing you these answers might spell bad news for me…

Are you a cat person or a dog person?
Cat person

What is your favorite color?
Yellow? Burgundy red?

Select a random number between 1 and 10:
4

Do you love your family?
More than anything.

Why did you do it?
Do what? I haven’t done anythi–okay, because I had to!