Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Book Review Club - This Book is not Good for You

This Book is not Good for You
by Pseudonymous Bosch
middle grade

I wanted to like this book. Who wouldn't? It's about chocolate. Delicious, tempting chocolate. Any writer whose been stuck in writer's block h*** has likely turned to the sweet temptress for relief now and again, right?

Which made it so hard to find that the bitter aftertaste of the main protagonist, Cass, made it hard to swallow all of this book.

So why review it?

Because it was a hit with my 9 year old. Granted, the age range for this middle grade may be pretty slim because my 11 year old was not so thrilled. She too thought the main protagonist, Cass, was, in her words "sassy" and "thought she was better than everyone." And here's my favorite part. She thought the writer - who had periodic monologues - talked way too much.

I thought the basic plot idea - kid has to save her mom from an evil society that is trying to make a chocolate that lets you live forever - was very clever. But the Cass' sarcasm and the interruptive monologues really made it hard to finish this piece.

So what is a writer to do with criticism like that? Does it matter?

My theory is that we sometimes learn more from what people don't like than what they do. For me, when it's my work, it tells me that something isn't working. It might not be precisely what the reader doesn't like that needs fixing, but I realize that there are holes big enough that they need to be filled.

So, if you're looking to learn something from holes, check out This Book is not Good for You, and see if you can find what you don't like. AND...what you might fix.

For other stimulating reads, hop over to our fearless leader, Barrie Summy's, blog!

Happy reading!


Sarahlynn said...

Fabulous review! I love that you included your children's reactions, and I, too, read books both for enjoyment and also as an exercise to see what's working (and what's not) for me.

Barrie said...

As I mentioned, this book is next on my TBR pile. (After Revolution) And after your, as usual, terrific review, I am very curious to read it!

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Interesting--and based on your daughter's review, I think I have a niece who would LOVE it.

Ellen Booraem said...

Very insightful review, and helpful even though I haven't read the book. Thanks, Stacy...and thanks for including your kids' reactions. Very, very interesting.

Stacy Nyikos said...

Yeah, the girls sometimes have such different reactions than I do, which really opens my eyes to what they perceive and digest, what they like, what bugs them. It's pretty helpful for me. Keeps me grounded in kiddom.

Sarah Laurence said...

I love the title! I keep a jar of “writer’s chocolate” by my desk. Sometimes my daughter and I disagree on books - she likes the sassier characters that rub me the wrong way.

I doubt I’d like this book, but I loved your review. It helps to hear the good with the bad since I believe your praise the more. Also your criticism is constructive because you analyze WHY it didn’t work for you. I'm sure you're a fine teacher too for that reason.

Staci said...

Very interesting book title for sure...I'm not sure if I would buy this one for my school collection but my students tastes really range!! Thanks for the review!

Stacy said...

Sarcastic narrators are tricky. Like during the chick lit craze when sarcastic narrators were everywhere, there was a fine line between hilarious and obnoxious. If your character is likeable and sympathetic, then the sarcasm usually comes off as funny. If not, yikes!

Great review.