“Going Bovine” by Libba Bray

Going Bovine Book Cover Going Bovine
Libba Bray
Juvenile Fiction
Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers
2009
ebook
480
Overdrive

2010 Michael L Printz Award Winner

In an attempt to find a cure after being diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob (aka mad cow) disease, Cameron Smith, a disaffected sixteen-year-old boy, sets off on a road trip with a death-obsessed video gaming dwarf he meets in the hospital.

“Going Bovine” is a strange trip of a book. I read this a few years ago, probably close to when it was first published. I enjoyed a lot of it, but frankly, I felt like there was too much of it for me. It’s based on “Don Quixote” and like it’s source material, the adventures ramble on. And on.

I’m also thinking that the emotional impact of the story was lessened by the fact that it was a reread. This might have also been why it felt so long: I knew what was coming, and kept checking the progress meter (I read an ebook this time), wondering if I was done yet.

I can see why it won many awards, and the message about what it means to actually live, and not just exist, is something more of us need to think about. Even though I had a bit of a struggle getting through it, I think a first time reader would get more out of it, and I would definitely recommend it to teenage readers.

 

“Jellicoe Road” by Melina Marchetta #printzproject

Jellicoe Road Book Cover Jellicoe Road
Melina Marchetta
Abandoned children
Harper Collins
2006
290
Oyster

Michael L Printz Award Winner 2009

I'm dreaming of the boy in the tree. I tell him stories. About the Jellicoe School and the Townies and the Cadets from a school in Sydney. I tell him about the war between us for territory. And I tell him about Hannah, who lives in the unfinished house by the river. Hannah, who is too young to be hiding away from the world. Hannah, who found me on the Jellicoe Road six years ago.

Taylor is leader of the boarders at the Jellicoe School. She has to keep the upper hand in the territory wars and deal with Jonah Griggs—the enigmatic leader of the cadets, and someone she thought she would never see again.

And now Hannah, the person Taylor had come to rely on, has disappeared. Taylor's only clue is a manuscript about five kids who lived in Jellicoe eighteen years ago. She needs to find out more, but this means confronting her own story, making sense of her strange, recurring dream, and finding her mother—who abandoned her on the Jellicoe Road.

The moving, joyous and brilliantly compelling new novel from the best-selling, multi-award-winning author of Looking for Alibrandi and Saving Francesca.

Not that anyone’s wondering, but I have continued to read, even though I pretty much completely stopped posting. I’ll be honest: I got completely bogged down by a book, and let it derail me. I’ve also been reading some other stuff.

(My arbitrary reading goal for 2015 is 100 books. I’m at 93 and it’s just the end of September….)

This book, “Jellicoe Road” — I had a hard time with this one to start. I did NOT get the appeal until I was about halfway through and then I couldn’t put it down. It was about that point that I realized that the ebook edition I was reading was lacking in formatting or notation that would have made things make a lot more sense. The book switches between different narrators, from different time periods, and there was absolutely NO delineation. I believe that in the print versions, the text was set in different typeface (or italics, or something?) — what a difference that would have made!

It’s been almost 2 months since I actually read this, and I see that when I marked it in Goodreads, I only gave it 3 stars. In the time since, I guess I have reimagined what I thought of it, because I was sure I had rated it higher.

So here’s the struggle with having waited so long to write about this book: I’m not sure what to say! It was good, it was award-worthy, and if you do read it, make sure you read it on paper, so that you aren’t completely confused for half the book about what’s going on!

“The White Darkness” by Geraldine McCaughrean

The White Darkness Book Cover The White Darkness
Geraldine McCaughrean
Juvenile Fiction
Harper Collins
2008-12-30
Paperback
400
Owned

2008 Michael L Printz Award Winner

I have been in love with Titus Oates for quite a while now—which is ridiculous, since he's been dead for ninety years. But look at it this way. In ninety years I'll be dead, too, and the age difference won't matter. Sym is not your average teenage girl. She is obsessed with the Antarctic and the brave, romantic figure of Captain Oates from Scott's doomed expedition to the South Pole. In fact, Oates is the secret confidant to whom she spills all her hopes and fears. But Sym's uncle Victor is even more obsessed—and when he takes her on a dream trip into the bleak Antarctic wilderness, it turns into a nightmarish struggle for survival that will challenge everything she knows and loves. In her first contemporary young adult novel, Carnegie Medalist and three-time Whitbread Award winner Geraldine McCaughrean delivers a spellbinding journey into the frozen heart of darkness.

This was….a strange and intense book. Having gone on my own little adventure a few years ago, on a rafting trip through the Grand Canyon, I find reading about other adventurers to be very captivating. Not that my adventure in any way compares to what Symone, the main character in this book, experiences when she goes on a “vacation” to Antarctica.

From the start, you suspect that something is off, and the whole book is one big descent into madness. I found myself unable to look away as everything horrible happened, and just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, it did, and in ways I didn’t expect.

This is another one of those books that won’t be up your alley if you don’t like unreliable narrators, or need happy endings for your books.

“American Born Chinese” by Gene Luen Yang

American Born Chinese Book Cover American Born Chinese
Gene Luen Yang
Juvenile Fiction
Macmillan
2006-09-05
Paperback
233
Purchased

2007 Michael L Printz Award Winner

All Jin Wang wants is to fit in. When his family moves to a new neighborhood, he suddenly finds that he's the only Chinese American student at his school. Jocks and bullies pick on him constantly, and he has hardly any friends. Then, to make matters worse, he falls in love with an all-American girl...

Born to rule over all the monkeys in the world, the story of the Monkey King is one of the oldest and greatest Chinese fables. Adored by his subjects, master of the arts of kung-fu, he is the most powerful monkey on earth. But the Monkey King doesn't want to be a monkey. He wants to be hailed as a god...

Chin-Kee is the ultimate negative Chinese stereotype, and he's ruining his cousin Danny's life. Danny's a popular kid at school, but every year Chin-Kee comes to visit, and every year Danny has to transfer to a new school to escape the shame. This year, though, things quickly go from bad to worse...

These three apparently unrelated tales come together with an unexpected twist, in a modern fable that is hilarious, poignant and action-packed. American Born Chinese is an amazing rise, all the way up to the astonishing climax--and confirms what a growing number of readers already know: Gene Yang is a major talent.

Hey! A graphic novel — the first to show up as a Printz honoree — and it won the 2007 award. This is a very quirky quick read of a book. It might seem to be simple, but it’s actually a pretty complex tale that I thoroughly enjoyed.

As soon as I finished it, I handed it to one of my teenaged boys. He flew through it, and when he was done, I asked what he thought. He let a grin slip, shrugged, and said  “It was kind of weird.” I could be mistaken, but I think that counts as a thumbs-up kind of a review.

 

“Looking For Alaska” by John Green

Looking for Alaska Book Cover Looking for Alaska
John Green
Juvenile Fiction
Penguin
2005
ebook
232
Purchased

2006 Michael L. Printz Award Winner

Before. Miles "Pudge" Halter's whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the "Great Perhaps" (François Rabelais, poet) even more. He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.

After. Nothing is ever the same.

I first read this book in 2011. This was the “review” I posted to Goodreads:

I just don’t really have the words for this one. Such a good book. I was bawling over my Cheerios the other day.

Because I had read the book already, the emotional impact wasn’t quite as strong the second time through. You’ll note in the book description that it refers to BEFORE and AFTER, and I’ll admit that as the THING that happens got closer (you can tell, because Miles counts down how many days BEFORE), I read more slowly, and had to put it down for a day or so before I could read through and keep going.

I’m a big John Green fan, so I’m predisposed to like anything he does. I had a harder time with this book, the second time through, though, because my own teenage boys will be juniors in high school in the fall, and as a parent, I can’t help but be horrified by the drinking and smoking and sex that was going on. I want to stick my fingers in my ears and close my eyes and sing really loud and pretend it doesn’t exist.

And it’s hard to write about a book when you have your eyes closed and ears plugged with your fingers. Avoiding this post has stopped me from writing about any of the other books I’ve read — the project was not only to read the books, but to reflect on them. Most of the time, I don’t feel quite up to the task about writing about the really good books, the ones with sentences and paragraphs and chapters that take your breath away.

So, after more. than a week of having read this and trying to say something, I’m going to leave this incoherent mess and move on.