Choker - Elizabeth Woods
*January 4th, 2011 Simon & Schuster
First off, how striking is the cover for Choker? The graphic design work on it is pretty cool. Now, Choker. Honestly, kind of mixed feelings about this one. When I'd first picked it up, a couple pages in was the "cafeteria scene" - and it was basically very textbook, cliche, standard "expected" cafeteria scene - described by clique and how each clique sat at specific tables, etc. etc. (Now, let me just say, having experienced multiple high school cafeterias - we're talking upwards of 4 here - nowhere have I encountered a cafeteria with dividing lines laid out so precisely thus.) And that was basically the point at which I put the book down.
A couple weeks later, bored, I ended up picking it up again. The majority of the book is fairly decently written. (There were a couple of instances of characters having already done an action, and then repeating it a few paragraphs later, though.) But the really redeeming factor for Choker is its ending twist. It's the sort of ending that makes you go, "whoa" and quite of re-question all the narrative that came prior. It's the kind of ending that leaves you thinking, leaves you churning the story over in your head long after the last page has been turned, searching, marveling, trying to piece it together.
It's a little unfortunate that the rest of the novel didn't have the same intensity, the same pow! factor as the ending, but Choker is definitely a thriller still well worth reading.
The Sky is Everywhere - Jandy Nelson
*March 9th, 2010 Dial
There's been a ton of great buzz about Jandy Nelson's The Sky is Everywhere. Basically just reporting in that it lives up to the hype!
The Sky is Everywhere is a touching, charismatic sketch of loss and love, of going forward but remembering the past, of growing up. Lennie (who has a very cool name!) is voiced wonderfully and uniquely by Nelson. But what really stands out is Nelson's style. The writing is very different from a lot of what's out there in YA these days (a fair amount of short, choppy phrasing, a fair amount of long, flowy diction, etc.). There's something poetic and lyrical and almost artistic about Nelson's writing.
Basically, Jandy Nelson's The Sky is Everywhere is pretty exquisite.