Friday, June 29, 2012

House Rules, by Jodi Picoult

Barnes & Noble

When your son can’t look you in the eye . . . does that mean he’s guilty? 
Jacob Hunt is a teen with Asperger’s syndrome. He’s hopeless at reading social cues or expressing himself well to others, though he is brilliant in many ways. But he has a special focus on one subject—forensic analysis. A police scanner in his room clues him in to crime scenes, and he’s always showing up and telling the cops what to do. And he’s usually right. 

But when Jacob’s small hometown is rocked by a terrible murder, law enforcement comes to him. Jacob’s behaviors are hallmark Asperger’s, but they look a lot like guilt to the local police. Suddenly the Hunt family, who only want to fit in, are directly in the spotlight. For Jacob’s mother, Emma, it’s a brutal reminder of the intolerance and misunderstanding that always threaten her family. For his brother, Theo, it’s another indication why nothing is normal because of Jacob.

And over this small family, the soul-searing question looms: Did Jacob commit murder?

This is a great book. I figured out the ending a quarter of the way through, but Picoult had me doubting myself until the very end. I had no idea how it was going to play out, and she did a great job weaving everything together.  

Spoilers after the jump.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Nineteen Minutes, by Jodi Picoult

Barnes & Noble

Sterling is an ordinary New Hampshire town where nothing ever happens--until the day its complacency is shattered by an act of violence. Josie Cormier, the daughter of the judge sitting on the case, should be the state's best witness, but she can't remember what happened before her very own eyes--or can she? As the trial progresses, fault lines between the high school and the adult community begin to show--destroying the closest of friendships and families. Nineteen Minutes asks what it means to be different in our society, who has the right to judge someone else, and whether anyone is ever really who they seem to be.

This was my first Jodi Picoult book and I'm kicking myself for not having read this sooner!  I was completely captivated from the moment the book opened until the final words.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Going Bovine, by Libba Bray

Barnes & Noble

Can Cameron find what he’s looking for?

All 16-year-old Cameron wants is to get through high school—and life in general—with a minimum of effort. It’s not a lot to ask. But that’s before he’s given some bad news: he’s sick and he’s going to die. Which totally sucks. 

Hope arrives in the winged form of Dulcie, a loopy punk angel/possible hallucination with a bad sugar habit. She tells Cam there is a cure—if he’s willing to go in search of it. 

With the help of a death-obsessed, video-gaming dwarf and a yard gnome, Cam sets off on the mother of all road trips through a twisted America into the heart of what matters most.

I'm really glad that Going Bovine wasn't my first introduction to Libba Bray. I absolutely LOVED Beauty Queens, so I naturally assumed that I would love GB just as much.

The premise was brilliant, but the execution just...wasn't. It was way too long and I kept wanting Cameron to...

(Spoilers after the jump)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Blindness, by José Saramago

Barnes & Noble

A city is hit by an epidemic of "white blindness" which spares no one. Authorities confine the blind to an empty mental hospital, but there the criminal element holds everyone captive, stealing food rations and raping women. There is one eyewitness to this nightmare who guides seven strangers--among them a boy with no mother, a girl with dark glasses, a dog of tears--through the barren streets, and the procession becomes as uncanny as the surroundings are harrowing. 

I don't know if it would be freakier to listen to this book (which I did) or to read the novel.

I am so disturbed by this story because of how real it seems; knowing that something like this could happen. Maybe not the "white sickness," but how the government reacts; how people treat each other; and how civilized society morphs into a world full of horror.

Now, I love dystopian fiction. 1984. Brave New World. The Hunger Games. The Handmaid's Tale. But this book freaked me out more than any of the others:

  • The story opens with a normal day: driving; walking; going home; seeing the doctor. Within a matter of a week, life has changed across the board. 
  • There are no names, ages, or physical descriptions to define people. It could be you or me or anyone.
  • The actions in Left Side, Ward Three? Horrifying.
  • A sickness so contagious that all you have to do is look at an infected person.

There is some hope, however:

  • The Doctor's Wife, who never loses her sight. Though she does have her own horrors to live through, there is no doubt in my mind that she is the reason that what remains of her group is still functioning at the end. 
  • For every person who takes advantage of the situation to harm people, there are a dozen who do know right from wrong and still try to make their own areas of this new world civilized.
  • People can adapt to new struggles. It's not easy, but it can be done.

This book is going to stay with me for a long time. I'm really glad that I already have a physical copy of this on my bookshelves.

But man, I need something light and fluffy to read now.