Friday, July 04, 2008

Deep Fears

I've just started Gossip Girl--actually, It Had to Be You: A Gossip Girl Prequel. I'm only one page in and already I have a terrible fear that I'm going to enjoy it a lot and not be able to stop reading the whole series. This just seems like a terrible fate--I mean, do I need more trashy stuff on my list? Forgive my use of the pejorative, but come on. Uber-high-society teenagers, already jaded about sex and partying and consumption, turn to intrigue to fill their empty lives. This is not where I want my reading life to go, but I can see it shooting off in that direction, because so far, the book is just juicy. Sigh.

I've also started Grace After Midnight, by Felicia "Snoop" Pearson, which is interesting. The actress/memoirist has a coauthor/ghostwriter, and the book does a great job of capturing her voice--it's very street, with short sentences using the grammar of speech ("I still got my braids." "Those jams were poppin' everywhere I went.") My initial reaction to this was complicated--I really like it as a style, especially since it's clearly the voice of the person writing the story. This is not a woman who came from the streets and is now teaching at Harvard; she's an actress now, but the characters she plays are based on the life she's led. And, although it takes time to get used to the rhythm, once you are into it, it's musical and communicates a lot.

But I had a much more prim reaction, too, which is that young, reluctant readers shouldn't be reading this and learning this terrible grammar! Luckily, that part of me shut up in about three seconds, because reading to better your grammar is not, I'm happy to say, a major swaying factor for most people. My role is not to push people toward complex sentences that use pronouns and adverbs properly. These aren't typos--it's the language of speech, and if I love it, then it's for sharing.

Anyway, so far so good. In other reading news, Maria V. Snyder has joined Shannon Hale on my list of writers I'm dying to read more of and kind of want to be when I grow up. Her style is not as polished as Hale's, but she makes up for it with note-perfect plots that are well-paced and full of absolutely enthralling characters. Poison Study and Magic Study are great, and now I'm itching to get at Fire Study. I'm trying to ignore the fact that they're published by the fantasy division at Harlequin--it's not a romance, and you can sort of tell that the romantic part of the plot (while integral) has been beefed up a bit in lavishness to fulfill the publisher's needs, maybe. Still, absolutely fabulous fantasy.

And I finished The Dead and the Gone in two days. It was everything I hoped--quite different in many ways from Life as We Knew It, with characters coming from very different places in life, a whole different set of troubles, and a much more raw, gritty grimness. But there's also more of a sense of hope, I think--community means more, and faith is much more of an issue. I think if I had to pick I'd choose Life as We Knew It for my favorite, but I still really hope she produces one more about this before she finishes.

So it's been a busy week. I'll have more to say about these two that I've just started, before too long. Till then!

1 comment:

Linda Braun said...

I own all of the Gossip Girls books - they are well worth it. (Well at least in my mind.) However, after the first 5 or so, Cecily VZ didn't write them anymore and they aren't quite as good. The prequel is written by her which gives you a really good sense of what the books started out as.

When I read your thoughts about Snoop's book I was reminded of what one of the Printz winners said during her speech, it was something like "We shouldn't be expecting teens to read something because they need to learn something." That's not a direct quote but the idea is that we shouldn't focus on reading being an EDUCATIONAL experience. I don't think that reading Snoop's book is going to cause teens to start behaving or writing in particular ways. Teens are smarter than that.