RTW: Book of the Month for April, 2013

Every month, the YA Highway team invite people to pick their favorite read from the past month and talk about it as part of their Road Trip Wednesday blog hop. Well, today’s the day we answer the question…

What was the best book you read in April?

I read some good books in April, but the hands-down winner was…

UNRAVEL ME by Tahereh Mafi. No surprise, perhaps, given that Tahereh’s SHATTER ME was my book of the year for 2012. First, a brief, spoiler-free teaser of the story without giving anything away for those who haven’t yet read SHATTER ME: Stuff happens.

Okay, let’s see if I can do better than that. Here’s what I said in my Goodreads review:

This second book in the series picks up with Juliette having joined with those resisting The Reestablishment. Aside from struggling with her own insecurities, learning about herself, her power, and what possible use she might be to the resistance, she also has to deal with trust issues, making friends, and the increasingly awkward situation with Adam and Warner… which doesn’t get any better!

Tahereh Mafi writes such poetic prose, and while I’m not a big poetry fan (see RTW two weeks ago), this is poetry I can really appreciate. There’s so much feeling and depth to the writing, you can’t help but connect with Juliette, the MC and first-person narrator. If studying poetry can make you this good of a writer, then I need to study more poetry.

A couple of points about the book that didn’t sit well with me. First, the romantic stuff–the hot-and-heavy scenes–while beautifully and tastefully written, went on a bit too long, IMO. After a while I started to feel uncomfortable, like I was the awkward third person at the table–what we used to call a “gooseberry.” I understand the plot point being made by these scenes, the need to show the emotional attachment between the characters, but, as I said, I think Tahereh and her silken pen got a little carried away with themselves.

Another thing that threw me out of the story a bit was our initial introduction to Brendan, an English character. He seems to be relatively young, but the first line out of his mouth is, “Winston’s always a bit beastly this early in the morning.” There is no way any English person I know would ever refer to someone as “beastly”–unless they’re trying to be humorous, and I’m sure the joke would be lost on his largely American audience. It reads toΒ  me as if Tahereh was trying to convey his “British-ness” and resorted to stereotypical “British” vocabulary to do so. If I’m right, this failed BIG TIME. He might as well have said, “Alright, guvnah! You seen any bobbies around, or are we ready to tally-ho and eat some bangers?” My entire secondary education (11-18 years old) was at an English “public school” (i.e., centuries-old private school)–the kind of place where you might expect to hear people talk like that. Not one, of my peers used that kind of language, except in parody–they weren’t serious.

All that said, this is an excellent book, a worthy successor to SHATTER ME, and I’m really really looking forward to the forthcoming novella (as yet untitled, to be released later this year) and the final installment of the story (also as yet untitled, to be released next year–*sigh*). I highly recommend it.

Do you have thoughts to share about UNRAVEL ME? What was your favorite read in April? You can comment below, or join the Road Trip (see the YA Highway blog for details).

12 thoughts on “RTW: Book of the Month for April, 2013

  1. Robin Moran

    Can vouch as a former (but only just former) teenager that beastly has never been used in a youth’s vocabulary. I’m afraid that would nag at me quite a bit.

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      Thankfully, this was the only offense. It bugged me at the time, but as I continued with the story, I was able to move on. The rest of the book, Brendan speaks like a normal person (sorry to all the old-school Etonians I might have just offended; beastly, aren’t I! πŸ˜€ ). So, don’t let that be the reason you don’t read this. If you’ve read SHATTER ME, you’ll enjoy it. If you haven’t read SHATTER ME, and you like some dystopian (with a touch of sci-fi), you should. πŸ™‚

      Reply
  2. Miss Jersey

    I can also back up Robin – I have also never used beastly in modern society. I have read a book where the English character in it had all of his speech written phonetically, which meant that I had to read it aloud in a OTT ‘posh’ English accent just to understand what he was supposed to be saying (perhaps an accent like your Old Etonian friends’ πŸ˜‰ )

    * Just have to mention in reference to your A – Z post, you’ve definitely turned American – there is no S in offence! πŸ˜‰

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      I don’t think I have any Etonian friends, actually. Wot wot jolly ho, spiffing and super duper and all that rot. πŸ˜€

      What can I say? I’m bi-lingual, so I often slip into Americaneze… or is that Americanese…? πŸ˜‰

      Reply
      1. Miss Jersey

        It has to be an S. I don’t hold for this Z nonsense! I have to add though, today at work, one of our members of staff who is incredibly posh actually commented that something he was doing was ‘beastly’. He was stood right next to me. I may or may not have snorted with laughter. He may or may not have looked at me like I was insane.

        Reply
        1. cds Post author

          LOL! And did you turn to him and say, “Oh, I’m terribly sorry, dear chap. How completely dastardly of me!”? πŸ˜€

          Reply
  3. E.Maree

    I skipped over the “beastly” line, figuring that it was a deliberately overdone ‘pompous’ accent being used by the character for the sake of exaggeration. Warner’s accent seemed different in this book, though — was he described as English in “Shatter Me”? I really don’t remember him using “love” so much.

    I also found some of the action scenes difficult to follow this time around — Juliette’s moment when she sees the testing area, for instance. I couldn’t follow what was happening at all when the description turned flowery, and I had to re-read the chapter a few times.

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      I wondered that about him being deliberately pompous, Emma, but that was on reflection. I didn’t get that sense at all when I first read it. I read “English,” saw that line, and groaned. Maybe there’s a lesson here. If Tahereh wanted us to see he was being pompous with this line, maybe she should have established his character first: given us some “ordinary” Brendan dialog with which to compare, or shown his regular character, so we would understand this is not how he usually speaks.

      As for Warner, I don’t think he’s supposed to be English. I think his use of “love” was a bit creepy, but I think it marks a change in his attitude. In SHATTER ME, he had no reason to call anyone “love”–now he does. He’s not used to it, so perhaps he overdoes it a bit. That’s my theory.

      I don’t recall having the same issue with the action scenes, but maybe I wasn’t paying as close attention. πŸ™‚

      Reply
  4. Beck

    I haven’t read Shatter Me yet but I’ve heard great things. Knowing there’s a good follow up might push me over the edge to read.

    Reply
  5. Stephanie Allen

    Yet again I find myself with the need to rearrange my TBR list…

    At least the romantic scenes were well-written? I mentioned on my post I’ve tended to steer away from romance novels and this is one of the major reasons why.

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      The romance here is well-written (I think), and tasteful. The scenes go on a bit longer than I would prefer, but I’m sure there are those who feel they weren’t long enough! This is not a romance series, however there is romance in the story. But from what I can tell so far, the emotional attachments are key to character development and plot, so they are kind of necessary. I think, anyway.

      Reply

Share your thoughts... I usually reply!