Thursday, September 3, 2015

Reviews: The Pause by John Larkin and Me Being Me is Exactly as Insane as You Being You by Todd Hasak-Lowy

Title: The Pause
Author: John Larkin
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Source: Bookworld

I watch the train emerge from the tunnel. It will be quick. It will be efficient. It will be final.

Declan seems to have it all: a family that loves him, friends he’s known for years, a beautiful girlfriend he would go to the ends of the earth for.

But there’s something in Declan’s past that just won’t go away, that pokes and scratches at his thoughts when he’s at his most vulnerable. Declan feels as if nothing will take away that pain that he has buried deep inside for so long. So he makes the only decision he thinks he has left: the decision to end it all.

Or does he? As the train approaches and Declan teeters at the edge of the platform, two versions of his life are revealed. In one, Declan watches as his body is destroyed and the lives of those who loved him unravel. In the other, Declan pauses before he jumps. And this makes all the difference.

One moment. One pause. One whole new life.

From author of The Shadow Girl, winner of the Victorian Premier's Literary Awards 2012 Prize for Writing for Young Adults, comes a breathtaking new novel that will make you reconsider the road you’re travelling and the tracks you’re leaving behind.
Reviews by Nara

One moment. One pause. One decision to read a great book.

Two versions of your life are revealed. In one, you never read this book. You don't experience the joy of reading a book set in Sydney, Australia, of actually seeing a diverse cast of characters (Italian/Irish protagonist, Chinese and Korean best friends, girlfriend from Hong Kong), of an honestly written book about how one choice changes everything.

In the other, you pause and grab the book. This extremely underrated gem of a book, as most Australian YA novels are. A book with a very jumpy timeline that nevertheless suits the very candid tone of the narration. A book where it almost sounds like a friend who's telling you a story and has to keep going back to tell you background he's forgotten.

So, yeah, it gets a little preachy at times, with constant references to the "choice" the protagonist has made. But I think that's okay. It's okay to emphasise that life is precious. It's okay for the author to want to empower others who suffer from depression. It's okay to show that it's okay to reach for help.

And it's okay for you to pause.

Really liked it
Overall: 8/10
Plot: 4/5
Romance: 4/5
Writing: 4/5
Characters: 5/5
Cover: 3.5/5

Title: Me Being Me is Exactly as Insane as You Being You
Author: Todd Hasak-Lowy
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Source: Simon & Schuster

A heartfelt, humorous story of a teen boy’s impulsive road trip after the shock of his lifetime—told entirely in lists!
Darren hasn't had an easy year.
There was his parents’ divorce, which just so happened to come at the same time his older brother Nate left for college and his longtime best friend moved away. And of course there’s the whole not having a girlfriend thing.
Then one Thursday morning Darren's dad shows up at his house at 6 a.m. with a glazed chocolate doughnut and a revelation that turns Darren’s world inside out. In full freakout mode, Darren, in a totally un-Darren move, ditches school to go visit Nate. Barely twenty-four hours at Nate’s school makes everything much better or much worse—Darren has no idea. It might somehow be both. All he knows for sure is that in addition to trying to figure out why none of his family members are who they used to be, he’s now obsessed with a strangely amazing girl who showed up out of nowhere but then totally disappeared.
Told entirely in lists, Todd Hasak-Lowy's debut YA novel perfectly captures why having anything to do with anyone, including yourself, is:
1. painful
2. unavoidable
3. ridiculously complicated
4. possibly, hopefully the right thing after all.
While the concept of writing an entire book in list form sounds good in theory, unfortunately the execution of it wasn't the best. I just feel like a lot of the chapters were completely redundant, both in terms of not adding any information about the plot, and also not really doing anything in terms of entertainment. I'm not going to lie, I skipped reading some of the lists e.g. a list of all the band members in Darren's high school jazz band (I mean, really, a list of 10+ names isn't going to be useful at all, seeing as though maybe 1 or 2 of them are actually important enough to turn up later on in the novel).

Ignoring all the redundancy and focusing on the plot itself- it was probably quite realistic. But on the other hand, it was so realistic that it was boring. The book honestly just seemed like it was focusing on some average Joe who lives down the street, and while I do like realism in my contemporaries, it was a bit much in this book. The lists also kind of took away from the momentum of the story, and it was hard to connect to any of the characters.

Well, all in all, interesting idea that unfortunately wasn't really successful.

It was okay
Overall: 4/10
Plot: 2/5
Romance: 2/5
Writing: 2.5/5
Characters: 2/5
Cover: 3/5