trifecta of book reviews

January 19, 2009

Hell Week by Rosemary Clement-Moore: This is a sequel to Prom Nights from Hell, a book that I enjoyed very much, so I was excited to see that it seems to be an ongoing series. What I like about this book is that the characters are interesting, there’s a complex female friendship, and Clement-Moore doesn’t shy away from the concept of religion in her demon fighting. What’s also really cool is that she tackles sororities as being an excellent site of evil because of the rituals and secrecy already inherent in them. (For the record: sororities are not bad in and of themselves, but the cloak of secrecy around them allows–in the book anyway–dirty dealings to go on kind of without question because of the secrecy. If that makes sense.) Reading the book, I was kind of on the fence about how I feel about it, but the more I think about it (and the fact that I think about it after reading!), the more I like it.

Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan: I had actually tried to read this before and didn’t really care for it so quit. Mostly I found the narrative really annoying. Like, REALLY annoying. However, after seeing the movie, which I liked a lot, I gave it another go. I still find the narrative annoying, but it was easier to get through because I kept picturing the movie in my head. I also still much prefer the movie to the book. (One of my favorite bits from the movie–the bit about holding hands–was lifted straight from the book.) But the book wasn’t quite as obnoxious as I first found it. Don’t get me wrong! It is still obnoxious. Just not so much that I couldn’t get through it this time.

Also, I’ve read some of the reviews over on Goodreads that complain about the language, and I have to say that although I, too, was annoyed by the dropping of the f-bomb and the fact that the girls referred to each other as “bitch,” I found that to be pretty realistic, so it didn’t bug me as much as some of the other reviewers.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J. K. Rowling: My favorite two tales are “The Fountain of Fair Fortune” and the “The Tale of the Three Brothers.” Otherwise, I found the stories cute and/or horrific, depending. It’s an easy breezy read made better by all of the anti-censorship comments and the fact that Dumbledore uses “simulacrum.” I seriously got a kick out of that. Here’s an anti-censorship bit:

Mrs. Bluxam believed that The Tales of Beedle the Bard were damaging to children, because of what she called “their unhealthy preoccupation with the most horrid subjects, such as death, disease, bloodshed, wicked magic, unwholesome characters, and bodily effusions and eruptions of the most disgusting kind.” Mrs. Bloxam took a variety of old stories, including several of Beedle’s, and rewrote them according to her ideals, which she expressed as “filling the pure minds of our little angels with healthy, happy thoughts, keeping their sweet slumber free of wicked dreams, and protecting the precious flower of their innocence.” […] Mrs. Bloxam’s tale has met the same response from generations of Wizarding children: uncontrollable retching, followed by an immediate demand to have the book taken from them and mashed into a pulp.

Hahaha! I love that so much. I plan on using that excerpt when we get to Harry Potter in the class. How the authors respond to censorship is kind of a big deal and that she did it pretty explicitly in one of her books is fantastic.

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