Until this afternoon, I had only managed to read one book this week. That is almost unheard of for me! This is probably because I have been so poorly and, when I am struggling like this, my concentration goes and a book becomes too much. I then resort to reading trivia online. Not good.
As I am not up to writing much today, I will copy across the reviews I wrote for Goodreads.
The first book of the week was Ben Kane’s Spartacus: The Gladiator:
The problems, for me, with reading a book about Spartacus are 1) that I know how things will turn out and 2) that I can’t get the Kirk Douglas film version out of my head. Well, I just can’t!
This was a well written book in the main, with plenty of action, fighting, gore and violence. Some of the violence, particularly the main rape scene, was a bit too much to take. The female characters were few as well and not very well drawn. I usually read books quickly, but I kept putting this one aside as I got a bit bogged down and began to lose interest at times. But I think I might try something else by this author, perhaps a book where I am not so familiar with the outcome!
Mind you, after reading more about this author’s work on Goodreads, I may leave his books alone for a while and try some other writers’ versions of the Ancient World.
This afternoon I read Release by Patrick Ness – isn’t this a great cover? This is what I wrote on Goodreads just a few minutes ago:
I have not read a YA novel for several years because YA reminded me too much of all that I have lost – my beloved career as a school librarian. It was almost a phobia. I simply couldn’t allow myself to pick up a book and, instead, I lost myself in reading crime, detective, thrillers and other adult genres.
When I last visited the public library, I picked this book up and broke my fast. I read the book in one sitting today. Ness has been one of my favourite authors, since I read The Knife of Never Letting Go. This book, Release, is exceptional and I wish I were still working so that I could encourage my students to read it too. I am stunned by it and I am sure that it will linger on in my mind for a long, long time.
The book’s influences, according to the author, are Judy Blume’s Forever and Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway. As a school librarian who worked from the 1980s onwards, I think it must be inevitable that I have read Forever. Mind you, it was difficult to get hold of a copy because it was the most stolen or misshelved book in the library! Unfortunately, I haven’t read Mrs Dalloway, so cannot write about the influence of that book. Let me just say that you can easily see Forever in Release, but without “Ralph” and the lurid green condom (I think it was green, wasn’t it?). Please read the other reviews and the synopsis of the book on Goodreads before giving this book to a young person. It is highly recommended, but be aware that Ness writes very frank descriptions of gay sex in the book. None of the scenes are unnecessary and they are written in a gentle and tender way, much better than depictions available to teens from other sources, such as porn.
Now that I have broken out of my phobia, I hope to start reading more YA again. Can anyone recommend the best books for older teens from the last two or three years? You know what I mean – the really stunning and important ones? I can’t wait to get reading…