Posts Tagged ‘reading’

Just When I Thought I’d Gotten Over Young Adult Books

I was first introduced to the Skinjacker trilogy when the first novel, ‘Everlost’ was a reading option for my Sophomore high school final project. The storyline sounded absolutely breathtaking. The book follows two children, Nick and Allie, who get into a car accident one day and end up lost in this world between life and death. The three books in the series follow the aspirations of them, as well as those of several other characters along the way. Each character has something that defines them and entwines them with this story.

Nick represents the child who has died, forgets himself in this world of limbo, and works to discover that his real purpose is helping greensouls (newly dead children) to make their way off into the “light at the end of the tunnel”, or the metaphorical afterlife. In the meantime, he transforms into a sort of ‘chocolate ogre’ after he forgets his original appearance. Everything that a person wears on himself transfers into this world of Everlost, and because Nick had a smudge of chocolate on his face upon dying, this insignificant feature eventually took him over and turned him into a beast. For Nick especially, it was interesting to watch how manipulations has a strong impact on him throughout this series, yet up the end, he stayed true to himself thanks to Allie.

Allie is a rather complex character; she is a very independent person who sticks up for her beliefs when attacked. Allie seeks to befriend the beast known as the McGill, who other Everlost children have grown to fear. What is great about Allie is that she transcends all omens or rumors thrown at her about how spooky and scary a place Everlost is. In a Beauty and The Beast Story, the two of them fall in love with one another over time and the McGill transforms back into his original  human state as Mikey McGill and sticks close to Allie for the rest of the trilogy. What is unique about Allie is her possession of the rare power of skinjacking, which is when an Everlost soul can jump into the lives of the living world. This power comes to be very useful in her victory in book three. She discovers that those who can skinjack aren’t really dead, but actually in a coma. Knowing this, she forms the deep wish to make things right before going back and possessing her own body again, returning to her old life. Of course, you may ask why would Allie want to settle disputes in Everlost first, instead of jumping straight back. Well, this is because of the heartless, despicable afterlight (Everlost inhabitant) that you will grow to hate, Mary Hightower.

Throughout this series, I’ve grown to hate everything that Mary stands for more and more. Although her views aren’t necessarily wrong or twisted, which makes her a credible antagonist, they tamper with the forces of the living world. Mary Hightower has the strong view that Everlost souls are in this world to stay in this state of limbo and continue out the same routine for the rest of eternity, instead of going off “into the light”. She becomes a power-hungry, manipulating backstabber, taking advantage of the hearts of many skinjackers, giving them the duty to take over bodies in the living world and mass murder as many people as they can, which is why Allie wants to stay to put a stop to Mary’s scheme. By killing bodies and capturing souls before they go off “into the light” Mary plans to build up an army of afterlights and become the greatest ruler of Everlost. What bothers me the most about Mary is that she has such a polite and innocent façade, yet has dark ambitions of wiping out every living creature on Earth. Just like every other character in this book, Mary is just very complex. When we first meet her in the first novel, she seems to be the greatest source of knowledge and understanding in this unknown world, which is why many, including myself, draw to her, she even writes her own guides to give to new souls on how to “live” in this new land. Her views originally seem so right and just, until over the course of the trilogy we come across a plethora of viewpoints that make Mary seem like a snot-nosed brat.

Throughout the trilogy, I’ve grown attached to these plot changes that Neal Shusterman has thrown into the mix of this delightful read. Nothing in this series is ever predictable, which makes me want to drool over each page like a hungry dog. The main idea that swirls throughout the batter of this entire trilogy is the meaning of time spent in one’s afterlife, which becomes a heated source of debate in this cold lifeless world of Everlost. I would definitely recommend this series to anyone.

Michael

P.S: Happy 200th Post to myself 🙂

That Abandoned Idea

(June 11th, 2010)
Dear thank-god-its-summer-break Planet Earth,

Sometimes I think this idea is gonna be so great. And maybe it is. But then other times I remember other things I thought would be great… What if this all bombs out? Then in a few years I’ll look back and think, Boy, was I stupid.” ~ Trevor McKinney

As a child, you are given little to no freedom. Making a difference in the world is left for the big, strong adult figures in society… everyone else just fades to the background and lets the world change around them as they go on with their normal lives. To adjust the normal rhythm of events would be too enormous for a child, supposedly. Even after thinking you come close, there is always someone to drag you down and say that the brilliant idea won’t work and how you should just move on.

Thirteen-year-old Trevor managed to go against the flow of the world and bring about positive difference. Living with an alcoholic mother and a father who abandoned him, Trevor puts aside his problems to think about how he can actually spark change in the world around him. Through the concept of “paying it forward” he passes on good deeds to the needy people around him: he helps a homeless man make a living,  helps an elderly woman with her dream garden, and helps save the life of man getting mugged. His whole plan acts as a long chain: one is supposed to help three people, and each of those three are supposed to help another three and it keeps going on until all the world is performing kind acts. Faced with the imperfections in society, Trevor just about abandons his theory thinking that no one in their right mind would pass it on. It takes a reporter: Chris Chandler, to trace his way from the other side of the country to find Trevor and tell him that he has created an enormous movement, sparked the interest of the media, and lowered crime rates eighty percent. Out of nowhere, Trevor is whisked to stardom for his development of a simple idea.

I was introduced to Pay It Forward in Eighth Grade in one of my elective classes for a unit on inspirational people. I don’t even remember why I was forced to take such a pointless class, but that doesn’t matter: I pulled something great out of the experience. After watching the movie, I at once fell in love with the sweet, warm plot line and it dawned on me that this was something I would want to revisit in the future. This past week I decided to read the book version of the novel and get even deeper into the lives of the characters that I had known  solely on the surface after seeing the movie. It seems like everyone always says that the book version is better than the movie, and I can’t disagree with that. I just adored watching the hidden progress of the movement and exploring the lives of the characters through their own various perspectives and inputs. Each chapter focuses on a different character who was affected by Trevor’s idea, which helped me understand the movement as a whole. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in mystery novels, since there is quite a bit of profound investigation. Pay It Forward also has numerous heartwarming moments; these charitable characters painted intricately by the author will appeal to any reader. The ending was such an incredible twist of events; you’ll enjoy it.


A Marvelous Adventure of Hide and Seek

(March 24th, 2010) Dear Planet Earth,

It was deafeningly bloodcurdling having to put myself through Richard’s conversations with the white men in Black Boy. Having to pick out his sentences word-for-word, I was anxious of the possible consequences that would come into effect if Richard had slipped on a single syllable during his conversation with Mr. Pease. I was enraged with fury in my mind with the shattering of such a bright, innocuous day when Richard had inadvertently forgot to complete Mr. Pease’s surname in a sentence and had dismally retreated from his employment. Such tension between the blacks and whites will draw in any reader to the treacherous conflict in this novel. Richard’s struggle to control his speech leads to a feeling of a profound sympathy for his pitiful predicaments.

Richard’s curiosity for going against the strong current in life is something that any free-thinker can relate to. His grandmother consistently bogs him down with religion, which is portrayed as a metal cage, sucking him into the crowd of Christian believers and drawing him away from his desires. She yells about how he is going to burn up in hell after he reads Bluebeard and His Seven Wives, alleged to be “work of the Devil”. Richard has a strong grasp on what he believes is right. By sneaking slowly into the dimmer side of society, he starts reading about new ideas, such as the ones formed by H. L. Mencken: a man who colored everything he saw, heard, and did. A vivid transformation takes place: he finally feels the throbbing heartbeat of life and aspires to be more rebellious. Richard in Black Boy will surely appeal to the majority of youth, since this book wraps around the obscure phase of discovering who you are inside.

Reading

(March 23rd, 2010) Dear Planet Earth,

Wild, exotic, adventurous, and vastly descriptive. I’ve caught myself in a pretty captivating adventure book called The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear. It had stood out to me greatly at Borders and I wanted to give an adventure story a shot, since this genre is completely unfamiliar with me. The book reminded me of all of the picture books I’ve read when I was little — expanded to appeal to the adult audience. The story follows a blue bear that is trying to find a place to fit in with society. The book starts out with Blue bear on a boat in the middle of the ocean and continues with a variety of random events and adventures. Any person can connect Blue bear’s development to the development of their own childhood, because just like a human, Blue bear eventually is taught how to speak by talking waves in the ocean, learns early life lessons from a mysterious island that lures him in with desire, and is shown the world on the back of a flying dinosaur. He has formed a couple strong bonds of friendship with many of the characters he has encountered, while in the meantime has been strongly betrayed. Blue bear consistently is cast away from the communities that he grows to be apart of, and so it is a little saddening. At the same time, I find it to be probably one of the most descriptive novels I have ever encountered, since it spends such a large number of pages just to describe the physical characteristics of the ever changing landscape or the many species of creative characters that the author, Walter Moers, has formed. Blue bear’s journey is throughout the land known as Zamonia, which was supposedly a continent formed millions of years ago and had been in the middle of the Atlantic. I would recommend this read to anyone with lots of time on their hands and open to a captivating journey of adventure.