Monday, March 11, 2013

Bookseller Taste Exchange: Josh & Sarah, Part 2

So Josh and Sarah read from the other's taste. Here's what they thought.

Josh's reaction: I don’t read many books for young people, but whenever I do, I try to drag as much of myself at the appropriate age out of the dark recesses of my memory to experience the reading. I want to see the book with adult eyes and kid eyes. Of course, at 11, 12, 13, I wouldn’t have read this either. I was reading Dragonlance books and lots of them. So, in a strange way, adult Josh related a lot more to Rennison’s goals than middle school Josh ever could. (Perhaps it’s because my cat is also a pretty terrible person.) So here’s what mostly adult Josh thought of Angus, Thongs, & Full Frontal Snogging.

I would gladly recommend this book to anyone at that age. Georgia is funny and smart (though, as my partner pointed out, you don’t usually see stupid protagonists in books), and if her worldview is a little “limited,” I think that is a mostly accurate (if occasionally parodic) presentation of a young teenager’s worldview. It wasn’t the humor that won adult Josh over, but Georgia’s relationship with her toddler sister Libby. Even filtered through her own drama-laden perspective, it was clear that Georgia was more responsible with Libby than you would expect a teenager to be, especially given how hard Georgia worked to be the totally shallow image obsessed teenagers magazines have instructed us to be believe in. Of course, the role of this relationship might have been solely to add a little depth of character to Georgia, but in a funny work of YA entertainment, it works perfectly.

[Spoiler Alert] I did have one plot critique though. I think I would rather the Sex God not have landed. I remember enough from middle school to know I drew much of my identity from how I perceived my peers were perceiving what they perceived including their perceptions of me, so that she defines herself by her relationships with boys is just one of those facts of early adolescence that helps make it such a miserable experience for everyone involved. But (and this is definitely adult Josh) I think YA books should find happy endings that don’t involve getting the boy or the girl. Georgia certainly had enough smarts and sass to be happy just being herself. (Of course, there might be plenty of those books out there.)

To sum up, I can’t say I liked reading Angus, Thongs, and Full-frontal Snogging (I’m a bit more of a Weetzie Bat kinda guy), but finding something to like wasn’t really the point. I read a book I never would have read otherwise and, bonus, one I would gladly handsell to customers.

Sarah's reaction: I tried to go into The Interrogative Mood with an open mind. I really did. And I made it all the way to page 9 before I wanted to smack the narrator. Which is not to say that it's in any way a bad book -- I'm just not the right reader for it.

Based on your initial pitch, I was expecting a novel? That would be impossible to read? Without thinking of the Valley Girl dialect? But no. This book is one giant series of questions, both open-ended and not, hypothetical and factual, reasonable and absurd, but not really an actual plot. Some of the questions refer back to earlier questions, but that's as close as we get to a sequence of events.

They're good questions. Creative ones. This is a great book for someone who wants to pore over language, to stop and think about the answers, to marvel over how much is crammed into one rather short text, to wonder about what it all means.

You can probably tell by now that I am not that someone. I skim when I read, and you can't do that with this book. I like my novels character-driven, and there really aren't any here. I'm not much for stopping and thinking in the middle of reading, and this book demands it.

So to sum up: Not my thing, but I will absolutely recommend it to someone who likes that kind of fiction.

No comments:

Blog Archive