ningerbil (ningerbil) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

Books 41-44

41. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. This is actually a reread. I read this in high school and hated it. Just didn't get it. I can certainly appreciate it more as an adult. I'm more familiar with the time period, the setting and can understand the underscoring tragedy. Also, there are a lot of corkers in this, as well as a lot of foreshadowing. So yes, I like it now, although it's not going to stand out as a favorite. I can't help subtitling it Incredibly Stupid People With Obscene Amounts of Money Doing Incredibly Stupid Things. Also, I stand by what I've said earlier- this is not a good book for high school, unless the teacher (or another class) has taught something about the Jazz Age and that time period. There are better written books out there, including Gordon Korman's Jake Reinvented (an updated Gatsby) that cover the same themes.

42. Harvey Pekar's Cleveland, with art by Joseph Remnant. This is a black and white graphic novel abotu Harvey Pekar and Cleveland. It's told in first person, and offers not just a look at Pekar's life but at the history of Cleveland, told with a no-holds barred view. Pekar, a comic book writer and music critic, is probably best known for his comic series American Splendor. The book's graphic novel format is highly appropriate given the subject. The book is a fast read, with a conversational tone. Pekar goes through Cleveland's strengths and stumbles, as he has seen during his years in the area. A really good read for fans of Pekar's work and for local history buffs.

43. Wet Work, by Les Roberts. I picked up this one with a bit of trepidation, because this is a sequel to The Strange Death of Father Candy, which I felt lukewarm towards at best. I'm glad I gave this followup, which brings back Dominick Candiotti, a chance. Indeed, I found it hard to put down. Dominick has been working for a shadow agency, his boss only known to his as Og. Dominick is a hired assassin, something he is imminently qualified for due to the nature of his work in the military. Dominick is contracted to take care of threats to the country. However, he starts getting suspicious about his assignments once he starts ferreting information about those he was asked to take care of, and one day Dominick decides he has had enough and wants to quit. He find out very quickly that Og does not let people just walk away, and soon Dominick is running for his life while trying to piece together what The Brownstone Group really is. For readers who like a good action-adventure, Wet Work won't disappoint. It's pedal to the metal from start to finish.

44. The Impossible Knife of Memory, by Laurie Halse Anderson. The general premise of this book is pretty standard for teen lit: Teen who doesn't fit in at all in school believes most everyone else is a petty zombie (Haley's word, in this case), and wouldn't understand how much her life sucks. In the course of the story, she finds out differently. Still, this books is enjoyable for several reasons. It is interesting to see the independent, willful and yet vulnerable Haley grow and change as the school year progresses. The characters are well-written, their struggles believable. And Haley's life is complicated by a father who served overseas in both Afghanistan and Iraq, and suffers from PTSD. Most of the book is from Haley's point of view, but there are several one-page sections where the reader gets a glimpse of father Andy's thoughts and nightmares. Haley and Andy spent several years on the road while Andy worked as a trucker, but came back to their hometown for a more normal life. Unfortunately, Andy's nightmares drag him deeper and deeper into the bottle and into drugs, with Haley trying to both protect him and feel her way around a new school environment. Complicating - and enriching -- her life is Finn, a smart handsome young man (and almost impossibly sweet and understanding) who falls for her. Throughout the book, Haley has to decide how much to let Finn, and others, know about her past and present. All in all a good, fast read.

Currently reading: The Kingdom of Little Wounds by Susann Cokal, and The President and the Assassin, by Scott Miller.
Tags: classic, graphic novel, history, non-fiction, young adult

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