Saturday, July 30, 2011

don't try to be fancy


Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
Rating: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
Genre: historical fiction, fiction
Challenges: 100 Book Challenge 2011, 2011 Page to Screen Reading Challenge
Review: In order for a narrative conceit to work, it can't get in the way of the story.  In this book, de Rosnay employs two conceits, one of which, alternating chapters between 1942 and present day, works fairly well.  Unfortunately, I felt like I was continuously tripping over the other conceit, that of referring to the main character of the historical chapters as "the girl".  It seems completely unnecessary to refer to her that way, since the reader can easily guess her name, and it's eventual revelation is completely anticlimactic.  Ditto for the revelation of the name of "the child" later in the book.

The story itself is engaging, if somewhat predictable.  Certainly, de Rosnay is to be given credit for bringing to light a part of the Holocaust - the Vel' d'Hiv' roundup in Paris - that gets little attention.  She's not exactly subtle about it, but her point is well-taken.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

why all the buzz?

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Rating: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
Genre: historical fiction
Challenges: 100 Book Challenge 2011, 2011 Page to Screen Reading Challenge
Review: Occasionally, a book lives up to the hype.  I'm not completely sure that this one does, but it comes close.  I can certainly see where all the hype comes from.  The characters (for the most part) are well-drawn and realistic, the plot is compelling, the tension believable, and the premise interesting.  So, I definitely enjoyed this book, but I'm not sure it deserves all the buzz.  I can't quite put my finger on why.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

a girl and her dog

Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)
Genre: children's fiction
Challenges: 100 Book Challenge 2011, 2011 Page to Screen Reading Challenge
Review: Writing a review of a children's book as an adult can be a tricky thing because you have to remember that you're not really the intended audience the author was writing for.  Some children's books speak to everyone, regardless of age.  Others really are meant to appeal only to children, and that's not a bad thing at all.  It just makes a reviewer's life a little more difficult!

I think this book is one of those that really appeal more to children.  Personally, I found it saccharine.  Certainly others must find more of value in this book, since it's been made into a fairly successful movie.  There are lessons about confidence and kindness and not being judgmental that go down faily easy.  And I suppose any book that has a dog who smiles so big he sneezes is bound to have fans.