Day: October 5, 2014

Torn Away – Jennifer Brown

Torn Away

Torn Away

Author: Jennifer Brown

Publish Date: May 6th, 2014

Number of Pages: 288

Genre: YA, Contemporary

Jersey Cameron has always loved a good storm. Watching the clouds roll in and the wind pick up. Smelling the electricity in the air. Dancing barefoot in the rain. She lives in the Midwest, after all, where the weather is sure to keep you guessing. Jersey knows what to do when the tornado sirens sound. But she never could have prepared for this.

When her town is devastated by a tornado, Jersey loses everything. As she struggles to overcome her grief, she’s sent to live with relatives she hardly knows-family who might as well be strangers. In an unfamiliar place, can Jersey discover that even on the darkest of days, there are some things no tornado can destroy?

In this powerful and poignant novel, acclaimed author Jennifer Brown delivers a story of love, loss, hope, and survival.


Review

This was my first Jennifer Brown book and I have to say that I love it.

I honestly wasn’t expecting much from this book. I knew that it had gotten extremely good reviews but I wasn’t expecting it to make me cry. I rarely cry when it comes to books but this one easily made me tear up.

Torn Away was a fantastically poignant novel. It captured every aspect of loss. The characters were written amazingly well. On top of this, the writing and voice of Jersey fit. You know how sometimes the book is about teenagers but then the characters and the writing doesn’t really sound like them? (cough John Green cough) In some cases, it’s bearable, but most of the time, I prefer to have characters that sound like their own age (of course there are exceptions based on the circumstances). In Torn Away I loved the writing and I loved the characters. Jersey was one of the most believable characters I have ever read about. She has that bratty teenage personality and she isn’t perfect. When she realizes what had happened to her town, she kind of panics (which is expected) and the way she handled everything was so realistic. A lot of the things she does are what I would have done in the same situation. I would have begged to stay with a broken guardian. I would have begged my friends to ask their parents if I could stay with them. I would have faced the situation similarly. And that’s what made this novel shine. The characters were raw and nothing was left to the imagination. Everything from her opinion on her parents, siblings, friends, and the aftermath is explored.

One of the biggest things that this book explores well is the question of if your family was right or wrong. In Jersey’s case, her mother had always said that her father and grandparents had abandoned her. With the tornado, everything she had begun to believe about her family is brought into question. The grieving is portrayed extremely well.

In the end, what caused me to tear up wasn’t the death of anybody. It was the desperate way that Jersey tried to defend her dead family when her bitchy half-sisters crudely insulted them. The painful emotions that she felt because of the lack of support she had. That was what caused me to cry.

“Growing up, we were taught over and over again what steps to take in case of an approaching tornado. Listen for sirens, go to your basement or cellar, or a closet in the center of your house, duck and cover, wait it out. We had drills twice a year, every year, in school. We talked about it in class. We talked about it at home. The newscasters reminded us. We went to the basement. We practiced, practiced, practiced.

But we’d never–not once–discussed what to do after.”

Page 23

The plot was well-done, but not really the type that I love. It showed how when you lose everything you’ve ever known, finding a home can be difficult. Jersey is bounced around non-stop, none of her family ever actually wanting to keep her. It felt believable, but while reading, I found that it felt kind of aimless. I had no clue how Jersey would ever find a place to stay. It all worked in the end though.

I really liked that romance was the last aspect addressed. In a lot of books, as soon as something bad happens, the female protagonist goes into the arms of a boy she likes. Someone “nice” that she’s had a crush on for a while or a friend that she opens up to in a moment of weakness. Jersey clearly had better things to worry about than boys. Ain’t nobody got time to worry about love when they don’t have a home. Kolby was a good character. He was somebody that Jersey leaned on at times, but never once during the rising action or climax did they become anything more than friends (which is how it should be during traumatizing events).

4.5/5 Stars

Should The Monstrumologist Be Made Into a Movie?

The Monstrumologist

Should It Be Made Into a Movie?

I don’t know if they are making this book into a movie but they make a lot books into a movie at some point. The movie rights are snapped up but then nobody ever makes it. In this case, the movie rights have been taken by Warner Bros but I’m not sure the movie will be made anytime soon.

So now I’m wondering, should The Monstrumologist be made into a movie or not?

It would be a different type of film than half of the movies made targeted at the teenage/young adult demographic. It’s set in the past, while most released movies are set in the present or future. It’s a paranormal/horror genre. I think it could be a pretty interesting movie if it was adapted.

But then there are some other issues.

For one, the book explores the relationship between an eccentric doctor and a 12-year-old boy. I highly doubt that any teenager would want to watch a movie where the main character is a 12-year-old boy. Most people only watch these movies to ogle the hot guys. Key case in question, the fact that I’ve HEARD my friends say that they only watched The Mazerunner to stare at hot, shirtless guys. Not a bad reason to watch the movie but it supports the argument that even if this movie was made, that is one less incentive for watching it.

Secondly, the book has a lot of action, but more of it is focused on the down parts. That is, the past of Dr. Warthrop and Will Henry. It’s interesting for the readers, but I don’t know if it would be possible to cram all of the background information into a two-hour long film and also be able to sufficiently portray the battles of the Anthropophagi. Taking out all of these parts would only warp the personalities of the characters.

It’s too juvenile for the adults, too gory for young children, and not relatable enough for teenagers. I hope that even with these technicalities, that the movie will be successful. Besides, Yancey’s book, The 5th Wave, is already in the works to become a movie that’s coming out in 2016. I can just wait for that movie to tide me over until The Monstrumologist comes out.

Here is an article that talk about the movie.

http://thefandomnews.net/2014/06/25/warner-bros-picks-up-movie-rights-for-rick-yanceys-the-monstrumologist-series/

Let’s be honest though. Books are better than the movies 99.9999999% of the time.

Book Meme Idea?

Book Meme Idea?

I figured that if I’m going to continue to do this book blogging thing, I should make my own book meme that sets me apart from the rest of the bloggers. I’m currently bouncing around ideas. I want something that’s going to be fun but I also want something that has substance. I don’t want to make an idea that’s flimsy or something that I can’t really talk about. There are a lot of different book memes out (Stacking the Shelves, The Sunday Post, Top Ten Tuesdays, etc) and I’m not sure if my idea has been done before, but I figured that I’d make a post about this because this came to me while I was thinking of posts to write for my English project.

Expectations Vs. Reality

Has a nice ring to it right?

Obviously, this isn’t a new concept at all (what with the bajillion memes and posts about it) and I’m really surprised I haven’t seen it done on other blogs. How many times, as readers, have we expected a book to be fantastic, only to have it flop? For me, far too many times to even begin to count.

So I have thought

up this little feature, which I think will be tons of fun (lots t-charts, lists, gifs, and me ranting). I will be comparing what my initial expectations of the book to what the book actually had or maybe what unreasonable expectations the book ends up giving me compared to real life. Just stuff like that

Guys I don’t know how many times I’ve wanted to read a book in a bath. Now that I’m older, I wouldn’t even try to bring my babies anywhere near water (not even the pool) so taking a bubble bath and reading a book is out of the question. 😦

The Monstrumologist – Analysis of the Main Characters

Analysis of the Characters in The

Monstrumologist

As readers, there are numerous aspects within books that we find crucial to our enjoyment. Great settings, interesting plots, well-developed relationships, etc. Everything in the book is a part of what we analyze to figure out whether we enjoy a book or not.

But what I find most important to a book is the characters. Characterization can make or a break a book. Whether or not an author adds multiple layers and facets to a character’s personality are evident in their writing. Nobody likes the Mary-Sue characters that don’t have flaws. Nobody likes the characters that have all of the terrible traits layered on like thick makeup. A character has to be realistic. Oftentimes, if the characters are unbearable, I won’t even enjoy a book. They are the people narrating the book and the people that readers learn about. It’s no good if the characters scare away readers.

In the The Monstrumologist, one of my favorite parts of the book were the characters. I loved the quirky doctor and the utterly creepy personality of Kearns. Both Dr. Warthrop and Will Henry were dynamic, changing in their understandings of each other. I loved reading about how the two slowly grew closer to each other by the end of the novel.


Will Henry, Our Protagonist

The novel is from Will Henry’s point-of-view. I presume that he had written it much later, not at the time of the experience, because the doctor would have most likely scolded him for wasting his time that way.

Family and Connection to Dr. Warthrop

Will Henry’s father had been the late assistant of Dr. Warthrop. His father had idolized Dr. Warthrop, choosing to help the man instead of take care of his family. This reverence became a wedge between his father and his mother and was a constant topic in their arguments.

At one point, his father had taken a trip with Dr. Warthrop to Northern Africa. While there, a type of worm had infected his body, causing him to become terminally ill. While ill, he had gone crazy and accidentally caused a fire to spread. Will Henry’s mother had yelled at him to run, so he obeyed, resulting in him being the only survivor of the fire. Following their deaths, Dr. Warthrop took in Will Henry and made him his assistant.

As a result of his father’s idolization of Dr. Warthrop, Will Henry wonders if he is supposed to become exactly like him.

Character Changes Throughout the Novel

Will Henry starts out as a pretty spineless character. He lives and works as the assistant of the doctor, who is definitely not the best caregiver. His lifestyle is one where he is constantly woken up in the wee hours of the morning and he has taken to becoming the person who takes care of the doctor (even though he’s the child). In the beginning of the book, he constantly questions the reasons that the doctor took him in. He wonders if it’s out of obligation, pity, or the belief that he should continue his father’s legacy. He doesn’t understand why the doctor treats him the way he does or even why the doctor has mood swings. It all becomes clear by the end of the novel.

Will Henry is constantly struggling to figure out what are the right things to believe and what the right courses of action. Dr. Warthrop makes life difficult for Will Henry because he’s not exactly the best role model and now that his parents are gone, he doesn’t have any good models to follow (not that his parents were any better).

He’s recovering from the experience of witnessing the deaths of his parents, even though his mourning is not at the forefront of his thoughts. He has a hat that he reveres because it’s the last connection he has to his family.

By the time Will Henry has to kill Anthropophagi, he has become more brave. He feels the triumph of downing them and he no longer feels as if the doctor belittles him. In the life-and-death situation of killing the Anthropophagi, Dr. Warthrop had revealed just how much Will Henry meant to him.

Dr. Warthrop

Dr. Warthrop is a highly confusing character. He’s a little crazy and has the mood swings of a teenage girl. His catchphrase is “Snap to, Will Henry!” He rarely ever eats or sleeps and when he does, it’s because he wants to stay in bed because of some ailment or difficulty in an experiment. He seems to have the personality of a child, yet whenever a serious matter occurs, he instantly becomes composed and difficult. He doesn’t really understand emotions or how to project affection due to the fact that he didn’t spend time with his family as a child. His father was negligent, ignoring his letters in favor of his scientific studies. He hides his past, instead choosing to portray himself as a cheerful man. Will Henry learns more about Warthrop as the book progresses through letters and accounts from others.

As the Anthropophagi matter becomes more and more dangerous, other people come to help with the case, most notably Kearns, a man that specializes in the extermination of Anthropophagi. Kearns has a similar personality as Dr. Warthrop but in his case, his cheerful nature masks a merciless, scientific mind. He contrasts with Dr. Warthrop, making him appear to be less rude. With the appearance of Kearns, Dr. Warthrop quickly becomes more serious. Warthrop realizes the danger of the expedition and wants Will Henry to stay more careful.

At the same time as their adventure, Dr. Warthrop unveils a trunk of memories. It was his father’s. It contains

all his unread letters, artifacts, his father’s journal, etc, and it’s a painful scar of his past. The similarity between Dr. Warthrop and Will Henry is that both are desperately trying to stop clinging to their depressing past lives. Dr. Warthrop’s pain is a result of his father’s abandonment. He had grown up in a boarding school.

Will Henry had sneakily read one of the letters, curious as to why every single one was sealed. It had been written by Dr. Warthrop and sent to his father, who never bothered to read it. This is evidence of neglect which is the reason that Dr. Warthrop doesn’t really know how to act as a parent. He never had one.

Dr. Warthrop doesn’t really know how to show affection. He always says that Will Henry is his “most indispensable assistant”. Will Henry often questions how valid this statement is.

But in the end, Dr. Warthrop does show concern, manifesting in his characteristic scolding tone. It’s clear that Dr. Warthrop cares deeply for Will Henry and this care is shown more freely by the time the story is over. In the final chapter, both of them are shown to have come to a sort of peace with each other. They both understand and respect each other.

A Question in The Monstrumologist

A Question in The Monstrumologist

Yeah I know. This is probably the third or fourth post I’ve written about theme/symbolism/deep stuff. I’m super sorry if it’s starting to get annoying but after I get this project done, I’ll be writing and posting like three book reviews. (I’m really backed up on writing them :/)

This particular “theme” probably doesn’t really fall within the category of a theme. I guess it’s more like a discussion.

“When does the man becomes the monster he hunts?”

Dr. Warthrop is a very unique character, hardly the average person that lived during the late-1800’s. His wacky personality and mindset is what ends up being one of the possible causes of the massacre of Malachi’s family. Ironically enough, Dr. Warthrop had proclaimed that “The unfortunate Mr. Gray should keep them satisfied, at least for another day or two,” just the previous night. While they slept, Malachi’s family had been killed.

During one of their conversations, Will Henry had brought up the question of whether they should contact the town constable. Dr. Warthrop, quite prideful, had proclaimed that they would be able to exterminate the entire population themselves. Clearly he was wrong as the constable quickly got involved with another death.

Does this withholding of information make Dr. Warthrop a monster? Pride is a human emotion but it can often get in the way of someone’s success. But hubris doesn’t necessarily make a person a monster. Although Malachi does call Dr. Warthrop “a monster” at one point in the book, it seems to serve as a foil to Kearns, who is introduced in the next chapter.

“‘If a rabid hound runs amok, what fool looks instead for the creature that made it sick?’ he asked. ‘Shoot the hound first, and then find the source of its madness if you must.’

‘He thought we had time-“

‘Well, he was wrong, wasn’t he? And now my family is dead. Me, too, Will,’ he added matter-of-factly, without a shred of self-pity or melodrama. ‘I am dead too. I feel your hand; I see you sitting there; I breathe. But inside there is nothing.’

I nodded. How well I understood! I gave his hand a squeeze.

‘It will get better,’ I assured him. ‘It did for me. It will never be the same, but it will get better. And I promise you the doctor will kill these things, down to the last one.’

Malachi slowly shook his head, his eyes ablaze. ‘He is your master and rescued you from the bleak life of the orphanage,’ he whispered. ‘I understand, Will. You feel bound to excuse and forgive him, but I cannot excuse and I will not forgive this…this…What did you say he was?’

‘A monstrumologist.’

‘Yes, that’s right. A monster hunter…. Well, he is what he hunts.’…..

He is what he hunts, Malachi had said. I did not believe that but understood how Malachi might judge him, and the rest of the town as well, once it learned of the Anthropophagi onslaught.

I did not think the doctor was a monster who hunted monsters, but I was about to meet a man who did-and was.”

Page 261-262

Kearns, who is introduced in the next chapter, comes off as an odd person. His kind of funny, laid-back personality is similar to the doctor’s. However, the key difference between these two people is that while Dr. Warthrop is cheerful in nature and most likely uses it to hide his pain from being neglected, Kearns is cheerful to masquerade his psychopathic personality. They are two similar characters but their motives are completely different.

In this case, would it be appropriate to label Dr. Warthrop as a “monster”? He might not be good at comprehending emotions but does it warrant a monster? The true monster would be Kearns, would it not? Kearns, who kidnaps women to use as bait and is willing to sacrifice his friends to feel the thrill of killing a monster.

Returning to the quoted question, when exactly does the man become what he hunts? Does it depend on his motives? If he enjoys the work he does?

Personally, I feel as though it depends on the finesse and empathy of the worker. I think that it depends solely on if the person feels empathetic or tries their best to make their job more humane. If they were to hunt in a way that makes the quarry feel every single blow of pain and they enjoyed it, I think I would classify them as a monster.

But readers, what do you think? What is the point in which a man becomes a monster?