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WIB: Dec 15-21

January 27, 2014

Life is going to be insanely hectic for the next couple of months, so I’m going to try to knock this out now instead of putting it off and putting it off.  Which means I’m doing this instead of other stuff I should be doing, but hey.  Who needs food or to clean the house or whatever?  Plus, I’m at least four weeks behind in my WIBs.

First off: the biggie.  I actually made it through all the pages of the incomplete Midnight Sun, an Edward Cullen’s-perspective rewriting of Twilight.  Once leaked to the internet, Meyer declared she was sick of it.  She also says she knows who leaked it, because different copies had different indicators.  She’s never said who, which is only PART of the reason why I think it’s R Pattz.

This book could’ve gone one of two ways: it could’ve been a glimpse into the world of Edward Cullen, where his family becomes less the cardboard cutouts they are in the first book, or a focus on the Bella/Edward relationship from the other side.  Perhaps Meyer tries to do both.  She fails with either.  Now, admittedly, this is supposed to be a first draft, but it’s really bad.  Edward barely becomes real with it, his siblings are barely more than convenient, and poor Esme is the biggest waste of space in the world.  I’d say that’s because Meyer’s religion doesn’t have much of a place for adult women, but I don’t actually believe that’s true.  Esme should be the heart of the family.  We’re certainly told she is.  But she doesn’t seem like it.

What DOES she do all day?

All Meyer does in this book is tells tells tells.  But we already KNOW most of the things she’s telling us, so it’s bad writing twice over.  There’s little about Edward that we get here that we didn’t know from Twilight.  I wish she could see the character with some distance, so that she could write him better, but she’s never been able to do that.

I have never been a Twilight basher, although I think it’s a problematic series and I’ve addressed that here before.  I’ve always said that Meyer’s fame rested on her ability to recreate teenage longing.  But unfortunately, she couldn’t pull it off from the other side.

*

My next four books were for my book club’s Nostalgia Month: The Popularity Trap (The Fabulous Five), Logan Likes Mary Anne! (The Baby Sitters Club), It’s an Aardvark-Eat-Turtle World, and Can You Keep a Secret?

The Fabulous Five was a generic series about a bunch of friends who went to middle school, dealt with crushes and parents, and had the strangest rivalry I’ve ever read.  Not that it’s unrealistic.  The middle school farms from three elementary schools, and the kids pretty much align themselves with their elementary and everyone else is looked upon fairly suspiciously.  I wonder if my own middle school got around this by having the kids (from five elementaries, if I remember correctly) farmed into three “halls” (later four, and later another elementary school too), so that hall pride became bigger than elementary school pride.  Or we were just hella more mature than these kids, IDK.  The interesting thing is that it was a spin-off of a less serial series about a snobby girl named Taffy Sinclair, who barely shows up in these books.

In this one, we get the perspective of Christie, the, um, I forget.  Is she the smart one?  In these kinds of books, you’re really only allowed one trait.  Jana is the leader, Beth is the actress or something, Melanie is the boy-crazy one, and Katie is the super feminist?  I think.  Christie might be the doormat, because that’s what she is in this book.  Her friends nominate her for class president because her mom is the principal of an elementary school so she’s got an “in” with the administration.  Her parents and principal set her up to tutor her crush.  Her dad harps on her to get better at tennis.  Christie doesn’t get to be Christie very much, although of course by the end of the book she’s found a happy medium and a boyfriend.

It’s a rushed, fluffy book, like many of them are, but inoffensive.

*

Some more book club C&Ps, sorry:

Logan Likes Mary Anne! is the tenth Baby-Sitters Club book. I actually really liked it. I liked that Mary Anne’s “shyness” contains actual anxiety and freakouts, and that Logan calls her out for it, if gently, and does make it known that he doesn’t want to be with someone who can’t do what’s best for themselves. It kinda irks me that Mary Anne is basically known as “Logan’s girlfriend” for, like, ever after, and it’s still weird that they’re TWELVE and taking care of kids, but I still thought this was a good one.

It’s an Aardvark-Eat-Turtle World, by Paula Danziger, is the sequel to The Divorce Express, where bffs and now step-siblings Rosie and Phoebe have to adjust to their new living situation and family. Phoebe is a giant mess; Rosie is too willing to have everyone walk all over her. The parents are amazing, big on communication, but far from perfect. Rosie is half-black, half-white, and that adds another interesting dimension to the book. It’s basically a “morals” book–the moral of the story is X for Rosie and Y for Phoebe–(one person on Goodreads calls it an Issue book, which probably fits even better) but I like those kinds of books when they have good characters and conflicts, and this one does. It’s definitely not Danziger’s best, but it’s very good.

Finally for the nostalgia picks, I read Can You Keep a Secret? by Elizabeth van Steenwyk, which I THOUGHT I’d read as a kid, but if I did, I only read it once and it made NO impression on me, because I remembered NOTHING, and I have a really good memory. I KNOW I’ve read the back of the book, but maybe I never read what was inside? Inside is not much–it’s a brief story about middle schoolers who act like high schoolers (maybe this is a generational thing because all three books had middle-school age kids doing things like dating and going to parties and whatnot) who have a seeeekrit club and then it’s all “I feel bad about being in the secret club, but I love the secret club!” Everything is just too quick, too surface, and too sitcom-pat; the main character barely gets a personality, let alone any real problems. The most interesting character is the prettiest, most popular girl, but even that seems like the author was trying to say, “See? Pretty people can have problems too!” in much too heavy-handed of a way. Still, not a bad book for tween girls, if you can get your hands on it.

*

The last book of the week was Parenting: Illustrated with Crappy Pictures, by Amber Dusick, a BEA book (signed!) that I knew I could just blow through.  It is actually quite funny, but unlike other scribble-blogs, or whatever you want to call them, most of the pictures are a huge waste of time.  Sometimes I laughed, but then I’d instantly be annoyed at the fact that the text then basically just told you what the picture was.  Which is fine, if you’re writing for the blind or whatever, but it seemed more that she just doesn’t know how to let the pictures tell the story.  Which is too bad.  Either pictures or text would’ve been fine, or better-edited text.  But it’s still a laugh-out-loud book that I really enjoyed.  My husband read it a day or two later–he of the raised-my-kid-only-from-age-twelve–and he enjoyed it too.

Next up: 22nd-28th, all of two books.  I’m okay with that.

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