Book H00t #36 13 R3asons Why

The blurb:
Clay Jensen returns home from school one day to find a box sitting on his doorstep. Upon opening it, he discovers that it is a shoebox containing seven cassette tapes recorded by the late Hannah Baker, his classmate and  crush who recently committed suicide. The tapes were initially mailed to one classmate with instructions to pass them from one student to another. On the tapes, Hannah explains to thirteen people how they played a role in her death, by giving thirteen reasons to explain why she took her life. Curiosity and fear of exposure keep the people on the list listening to the tapes, and through the audio narrative Hannah reveals her pain, and her slide into depression that ultimately leads to her suicide.

Thirteen reasons why I didn't love this book:

1.  Stupid number/ letter title.
2.  The main character Clay, is on Hannah's list when he hasn't wronged her in any way- it's all a narrative ruse.
3. The premise that teenagers would pass on tapes- tapes!- to others thereby incriminating themselves and opening themselves up to derision. Would. not. happen.
4. Dark, dark theme. No likable characters, no sensible adults, only a glimmer of light at the end.
5. Suicide is represented as easy. I think this is dangerous- just last week I heard on radio that in Australia, every day, six people take their own lives.
6. The representation of school as being the worst possible place for Hannah, isn't realistic for me. Naive?
7. The narrative voices were annoying for me. I thought Clay's responses to Hannah's comments interrupted the flow and dragged the plot's heels.
8. I've read that some people find this book 'preachy'. It's just NOT preachy enough.
9. The English teacher acting as a 'substitute' counselor was a bit too neat in gathering the poetry and lack of sensible advice together.
10. It makes the reader into a voyeur.
11. I wanted it to be better, I wanted the suicide to be a ruse, another rumour and the revenge to be ramped up as a result.
12. Hannah is not nice. The revenge seems petty at times.
13.Hannah is a victim- weak right from the get go. Not someone I would want a teenage girl emulating, or even thinking about too much.

2 hoots/ 5

Happy tales, and happier books!

Barking Owl

Book H00T #35 Fly Girl

What a lovely little read this is. It ticks all my boxes: spunky female protagonist, a series of challenging episodes, lovely writing and some real issues for later discussion.

Ida May Jones is a twenty year old young woman who is desperate to take to the skies again. Her departed father taught her how to fly and she has experience crop dusting. But as a black maid she has to work hard to make this dream a reality. Ida May dreams of going to Chicago’s Coffey School of Aeronautics to obtain her license. Also, when her brother enlists and is sent to the Pacific, Ida Mae promises to stay and look after her family and the strawberry farm.

Temptation comes when Ida Mae hears about the WASP, Women’s Airforce Service Pilots, scheme. She wants to do her part for the war effort and as a woman, let alone an African American woman, it is going to take some swift moves and clever thinking. Ida's light skin and 'good hair' certainly helps her "pass" as white, but this also leads to some crises of conscience.

Based on the real WASP, to whom last year President Obama awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, this book teaches history and civil rights without ever feeling like a lesson. “. . .If you’re colored, you get the short end of the stick. If you’re a woman, you get the short end of the stick. So what do we get for being colored and women?”

 The characters are warm and well drawn, and the narrative is pacy.  You'll be itching to get airborne too!

Five hoots!

Until next time happy tales,
Barking Owl

H00t #34 The Rosie Black Chronicles: Book 1 Genesis

Great cover don't you think?
I'm not a fan of some science fiction, let's get that out of the way from the get go. But,  I do love dystopian fiction and Lara Morgan's  Rosie Black Chronicles looks to be a great series in this genre.

Book One is set in a futuristic Australia, Newperth to be precise, and being a Perth  native, this piqued my interest. Morgan devises an apocalyptic event which is frighteningly possible; the "Melt" has sunk coastal cities. In the author's notes, she credits Tim Flannery's The Weather Makers as her inspiration. I'll be honest here, I wanted much more to take place in this setting of futuristic Perth. The action moves "off-world" far too quickly for my liking. Perhaps Book Two might have the action closer to home?

The division of the people of Newperth into the "Centrals, Have-nots, Bankers and Ferals" is also realistic and credible for Western Australian readers. The division of our city into those who are North, those who are South, and those who live in Fremantle certainly rang true. I also found myself thinking about the geography of the setting; where would Central East Darling Grove be on current maps?

Rosie finds a mysterious box in the first few pages that sets the action of the narrative into motion. And the action and suspense is pretty relentless for much of the book. There's drama and romance in there too, but for the most part the reader is on a rocket-ride lurching from event to event.

Rosie is certainly clever, gutsy and likable. Teens, and YA fans who enjoyed dystopias such as Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking Trilogy, Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games books, Susan Beth Pfeffer's Moon Trilogy, or John Marsden’s Tomorrow When the War Began will love it. 

One final point to Morgan's credit, there's no forehead smacking cliff-hanging moment at the end. I know some readers hate that.

Three and a half hoots out of five.

Until next time,
Happy tales,

Barking Owl