Saturday, June 12, 2010

Reviews: If I Stay & Wintergirls

First, a brief explanation. A lot of my reviews tend to be on the longer side, and as such take a while and a fair amount of thought to write. And after having set a sort of standard with longer reviews, it feels like it would be weird to have them suddenly interspersed with much shorter ones. But the fact of the matter is, some books are simply able to be reviewed much more succinctly. That and some days longer reviews just feel so daunting, especially when there's a backlog and a ton of other stuff to do.

As such, some books - usually those with less things to say about, or those shorter in length, or those read not specifically for the purpose of reviewing - will be reviewed in compilations. Books specifically for review will continue to receive full-length reviews in the format of "[Book Title] Review" while mini-reviews
1 will carry the title formatting of "Reviews: [Book Title] & [Book Title]". Feel free to comment below with any feedback on this!

And now, to kick things off:
If I Stay - Gayle Forman
April 9th, 2009 Dutton

Gayle Forman's If I Stay is a heartbreaking musing on life and death, the in between, and the decision to go one way or the other. As a story, Forman has accomplished some really remarkable things with it. For one thing, the whole course of it takes place within a very short period of time, but through flashbacks we get a sense of all of the characters. The emotions are very raw and the characterization is very intense. The relationships between characters are portrayed very dynamically.

Personally, I'm not particularly fond of the reasons for Mia's final decision; it felt a little abrupt and easy and sort of brought down the whole book a little. 3 It's undeniable though that Forman's got a great way with words.

With beautiful writing, great descriptions and a unique story-telling style, Forman's If I Stay is an gorgeously heartbreaking story.

Wintergirls - Laurie Halse Anderson
March 19th, 2009 Viking

Laurie Halse Anderson is one of the big-shot names in YA today, which sets Wintergirls up with high expectations - it definitely does not disappoint. Halse Anderson is known for tackling difficult and controversial issues pertinent to today's youth. Wintergirls deals with eating disorders - but it such away that makes the deadly disease come alive. It's almost like it was personified as another character or something, which was really remarkable to see.

There's also something about the writing: the diction choice, the phrasing, the metaphors... it's so unique, so specifically branded as 'Laurie Halse Anderson'. There are so many passages of sheer beauty:
"The snow drifts into our zombie mouths crawling with grease and curses and tabacco flakes and cavities and boyfriend/girlfriend juice, the stain of lies. For one moment we are not failed tests and broken condoms and cheating on essays; we are crayons and lunch boxes and swinging so high our sneakers punch holes in the clouds" (Halse Anderson 15)4.
How beautiful is that? Wow, just breathtaking. Alas, I didn't connect with the characters (particularly Lia) as much as I would've liked. There's something about Wintergirls though, something that just stays with you. Hours after you finish reading it, the words continue to play out in your head, the scenarios repeat themselves, and your mind just continues to contemplate the story.

Memorable and riveting, Wintergirls is a breathtaking story about an all-too-real issue plaguing today's youth. Laurie Halse Anderson has created a vividly real story that unfortunately plays out in real life all too often.

1 Awhile ago I do recall seeing a feature/meme about mini-reviews, but there were a bunch of restrictions (i.e. word count-wise) that didn't really fit what I wanted to do.
2 Book titles link to the Goodreads pages for summaries, etc.
3 I also seem to recall reading a description about spiderwebs being fragile (can't find the exact location now) which was a little jarring, as spider webs are supposed to be one of the strongest substances out there...
4 Halse Anderson, Laurie. Wintergirls. New York: Speak, 2009.


kay - Infinite Shelf said...

I read both and enjoyed them, if "enjoy" is the right word! I agree that Lia was difficult to connect with though.

As for Mia's decision, maybe the sequel will give us more answers?

Splendibird said...

I really like your idea - it is something I had been considering. Like you, my reviews are normally fairly long but sometimes I find a book that I would like to mention, but not fully analyse. I'd thought about doing a mini-review post every month just briefly outlining the books that I had read but not reviewed. Now that I've seen how well your post works, I think I might go for it (if you don't mind, of course!).

deltay said...

kay - Seriously, there's going to be a sequel to IF I STAY? :O *goes off to google*

Splendibird - Thanks, I'm glad to hear that it's working well :) And hey, it's one of those obvious ideas that lots of people think up individually so I've got no ownership over it. ;) Feel free to go for it! Good luck!

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