aka YA Literature

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

So Yesterday

So, this is the second book by Scott Westerfeld that I've read (ie. listened to) and I like his books, but they just aren't in the "A" range for me and I've been trying to figure out why. I would totally recommend them to teens and especially to teachers to include in their curriculum. I'd love to use them for a book discussion group. So what is the problem? I think it's that he's like the Michael Crichton of YA lit for me. His books take interesting topics and issues and create very suspenseful and well-written plots. What is missing for me are more complex and developed characters and an emphasis on attention to language.

The Book: So Yesterday
The Author: Scott Westerfeld
The Narrator: Scott Brick
Book Rating: B/B+
Audio Rating: C+

The Book:
I didn't totally get the project that the Jammers were working on. While I'm a nerd and like historical allusions and such, I thought Hunter/Westerfeld spent a little too much time explaining historical events. Maybe it's because he's writing for a teen audience and feels the need to be explanatory, but it sometimes feels didactic. If he took the historical allusions and condensed them way down and had more confidence in his readers, I think this would move the plot along faster and address some of the things I mentioned in my Westerfeld into. Readers, even teen readers, are smart! They can get it. And if they miss some stuff here and there, that's okay. We don't have to be told everything. In fact, I kind of like it better that way. I love when I can go back and "get" more from books I read before, either because I know more, am older and wiser, or I just notice things I didn't the first time. That's one reason I love The Handmaid's Tale so much. I know I didn't get all the allusions and symbolism in it, but its complexity is what made it so great. I find the historical explanations interesting, but it gets in the way of my enjoyment of the fiction. I really did like Hunter's parents--very realistic reactions.


The Good:
Let me preface this by saying that if you like straight-up narration without voices for each character, then you'll probably like this performance a lot better than I did. Brick's interview with Audiofile said that he "understands the author's intent," and I would certainly agree. I can't think of any places in the book where I thought he wasn't capturing Westerfeld just as I interpreted him.

The Bad:
Like I said, one of my main drawbacks was the lack of character voices and differentiation. Also, I thought his voice was just way too old for Hunter and didn't fit. Brick sounded like the guy who narrated this video on advertising that I used to show my students (ironic, eh?).

P.S. I LOVE the cover of this book! Westerfeld's website for this book is also pretty cool.

No comments: