After the technological horrors of the assignment due Tuesday (you don’t even want to know, trust me, your eyes will glaze over – even my sibling computer geek wasn’t interested) I decided to go dark for a while.  I “turned in” the assignment, turned off my computer near midnight, and didn’t turn it on again until this morning.  I didn’t care if there was an asteroid headed for Earth or there was a snowstorm on its way or the group project had self-imploded (I wouldn’t be surprised).  I Did Not Care.  I was spending a day without turning on my computer (sadly, I still had to do the computer thing at work).

Now I’m back!  With energy!  And coffee in my system!  And books read!  And real food prepared and eaten, instead of mouthfuls of curry (take out from across the street) while hunched over my laptop!  And, um, can I take a nap please?

Most of my reading lately has been for this mock Printz thing.  Usually I read for pure pleasure – if I like a book, great, I recommend it.  If not, eh.  I don’t necessarily put into words what I did or didn’t like.  Okay, that’s not true.  I do.  But I don’t try to make coherent arguments.  I just go with my gut.  I don’t say things like, “while I found the book hard to put down, I wouldn’t call it truly distinguished because I never quite believed in the main character.”

Okay, this is all a lie.  I DO say things like that.  I’m realizing the truth about myself as we speak.

What I’m TRYING to say is that I never really encounter opposition to my ideas.  But remembering the mock Newbery last year, where I was appalled to find that many people (and, indeed, the actual Newbery committee) loved the book that most grated on my nerves,  I’m trying to prepare arguments in my head.  Basically, I’m trying to support my hypothesis that Octavian Nothing Rules (we’ll call that the ONR (pronounced ‘honor’) model of YA lit).  As I read each book, I think, “well, yes, it had its moments but really, ONR.”

The Rules of Survival: incredibly painful, in a well written way.  As in, I felt the world and all its pain closing in on me.  I was there with Matthew and I couldn’t see a way out.  Jarring.  Complex characters.  But – sometimes I felt like Matthew almost had too much perspective.  Granted, he’s telling the story several years later.  And he’s obviously tried to distance himself from it.  But it felt like she (Nancy Werlin) wanted the benefits of first person and of third person simultaneously.

Stay With Me: hard to put down.  But not quite in a “this is so amazing” way – more in a “dear Lord, why has yet another storyline been introduced?” kind of way.  It was one of those stories that I would’ve loved as a teen.  Sort of a romantic haze over the whole thing.  Not quite enough real world.  All the names are too much to be true – too carefully chosen, like I would’ve done writing a story at age 15.  The whole older man thing – what was the point of that?  I liked the sister relationships.  But, oh, how convenient that her parents go to Poland for the year.  And every has a Career that they Love.  And the whole hotel thing, like the older man thing – doesn’t really lead to anything.  The plot could’ve been the basis for a much more substantial novel.  Covering spans of years and showing Leila growing up, etc.  A multi-generational saga or something.  Oh!  I got it!  It’s a bit like a Rosamunde Pilcher story – very engrossing but too good to be true.  Not coincidentally, I loved Pilcher in high school.  I guess I still do, in a sense – but not in a “this is a Great Book – read it” sort of way.

Which is what I want from a Printz book – like How I Live Now or Looking for Alaska.

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