Two Quick Novels

This week has been completely exhausting. Everything is winding down, but all of my projects are determined to go out with a bang. By far my most time consuming and satisfying victory was on my Chuck Close-style self portrait, which I finished just this morning, in perfect time to display at the art show next week. I honestly believe that it’s one of the best works I’ve ever done. I’ve literally spent the past 72 hours solid perfecting it, with at least one not-tiny-in-any-way-shape-or-form breakdown that was expertly fielded by my sister, who did the best that could be expected of her and then even better when she didn’t snap at me for calling her at eleven o’clock.

So, if you life in or around Winthrop, I hereby invite you to the Festival of the Arts next Wednesday, May 11, from six to eight PM. There will be food, artwork from all ages, and since I’m an honorary senior, a whole section devoted to my work. If you love me, let me know.

Needless to say, this hasn’t left much time for reading- after Wednesday, I was more or less left with the time that I had in the car when we were driving. So, the first one was…

This was one of those books that you see in the library (when you weren’t planning on checking out a book), read the inside cover, and borrow even though you’re so busy and you have so many other books from the library already, you can’t help it.

The Graveyard Book is the story of Nobody Owens, a young boy whose family was murdered by a mysterious killer known as “the man Jack.” A toddler, Nobody (though that wasn’t his name at the time, we don’t know his birth name) crawled down the stairs, out the front door, and down the hill, into the local cemetery. There he’s found by Mrs. and Mr. Owens, two long-dead ghosts who never had a child of their own. As they die, Nobody’s original parents float through in anguish and beg Mrs. Owens to protect their child from the man who killed them. The spirits of the graveyard argue for a bit, and finally the boy is granted the freedom of the graveyard and permitted to stay.

While Mr. and Mrs. Owens can parent the child (whom they named Nobody), they can’t actually take care of a living being, given that they are, you know, dead. The responsibility of feeding and clothing Nobody therefore falls upon a mysterious figure named Silas, a man who is not quite alive, nor dead, but has also been granted the freedom of the graveyard. He can traverse the living world, and therefore is capable of getting food for Nobody.

And this is how the boy is raised.

There. Aren’t you fascinated? I wasn’t disappointed- this book gripped me from the first pages. The first half of the book or so is all about the characters- each chapter is a vignette about Nobody’s life in the graveyard, detailing someone he meets and something he does with them, some mini-adventure he goes on. The second half is as Nobody is older (about twelve) and becomes curious about his original family and the man who killed them; Silas tells him that there is still danger for him if he leaves the graveyard, and Nobody decides that he must prepare to meet the man Jack.

I loved this book. And the truth is that I’ve had more than one person tell me to read Neil Gaiman, so now I can also say that I’ve done that (though not the specific ones I had recommended, those I still have to get to). Given that I truly loved this book, I will definitely explore him in the future.

This is the one I just finished, moments ago. This book is by Markus Zusak, who is a very well-known author at this point after The Book Thief and I Am the Messenger- both of which I’ve read, both of which were fantastic, which is why I decided to pursue his earlier novels.

Markus wrote three novels before The Book Thief, all in the Wolfe series. I don’t remember the other titles right now, and I don’t remember what order they go in- I’m pretty sure it’s not a coherency thing, just a series of books focusing on this band of brothers. This book is about a thousand times more obscure than his others, and I might have even had to loan from out of state to get it. It took weeks to come in at the library.

Getting the Girl is about the Wolfe brothers- Cameron, Ruben, and Steve. The story is told by Cameron, who is “something of a lonely bastard,” in Rube’s words. Steve has already moved out and lives in his own apartment, but Cam and Rube share a room at home. Rube is a tough womanizer with a reputation, devilishly handsome and hopping girlfriends every few weeks or so. At the start of the book, Rube is dating a girl named Octavia.

Cam, who’s never had a girlfriend, or friends, really, things Octavia is beautiful and sexy, but more than that. Unlike Rube, he doesn’t see her as a piece of leg to be fondled. Of course, he would never act on it- until she came and asked him to, after Rube had dumped her.

From there, this is basically the story of Cam ascending from loserdome to someone admirable and serious. It’s far from typical, though- he doesn’t get the girl and keep the girl for the entire book, and then ride off on the shoulders of all the boys who previously walked on him. Far, far from it. This story is about a winner, but he’s probably the most unassuming winner you’ve ever met.

I admit, with this one, that when I reached the 100-page mark I wasn’t actually sure whether to keep going. It was interesting, but also very bizarre. It was one of Zusak’s first books (and he’s a rather young man now, so), and his writing style is clearly developing into something masterful. It’s good, but if you’ve read his more popular works, it has the feeling of not quite being there, you know?

Either way, I’m glad I continued on. This book didn’t grip me like The Graveyard Book did, but it provoked more thought- I spent more time staring seriously out the window, contemplating, than I did while reading TGB.

I think I have five books out from the library right now. Another of my loans came in a couple of days ago- I think that makes all of the ones I was waiting on, anyway…

Oh, hey. Did you guys know that there’s a Harry Potter cookbook? Every single food ever mentioned in the book. I definitely want to make cauldron cakes.

Published in: on May 6, 2011 at 7:36 pm  Comments (6)  

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Have you seen your blog on an iPad? It’s AMAZING. Good reviews, I’m much more interested in the Gaiman than the other. I have about 4 days where I can indulge in unrequired reading. I’m glad you and Emma are there for each other.

    • I have seen it on iPad, actually! I showed it to one of my fifth graders who was nervous about presenting a book report. The Gaiman was FANTASTIC and you should certainly read it.

  2. You should have presented your blog to show that kid that giving a book report is actually quite easy! That would have been cool 🙂

  3. Gaiman is God. That is all ^^

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