Friday, March 30, 2012

Wanderlove and First Day on Earth

I'm so happy to have read these books back to back. Two great books in a row! And more than that--two books so different from much of what I've been seeing in the YA section.

                 

Cecil Castellucci's First Day on Earth features a male narrator, Malcolm, who is struggling with an alcoholic mother and an absent father. Also, he doesn't fit in at school. But this is anything but a typical problem novel: he also believes he was abducted by aliens, and that a man he's just met may be an extraterrestrial being. Is Malcolm delusional--are these alien-abduction fantasies just his way of coping with a difficult life? And is his new friend just another delusional person? Or is Malcolm really in touch with life on other planets?

I mention this book especially because I think people who like my work would like it: male narrator, spare style, short length, and despite the reference to extraterrestrials, it reads like a realistic contemporary novel.

Wanderlove, by Kirsten Hubbard (no relation to me), is about an art student's trip to Guatemala and Belize. Except that she's not an art student--she gave that up for her (now ex-)boyfriend. Except that maybe it wasn't really him, but her own fears, that pushed her away from her dream.

What I most like about Wanderlove is its setting. The main character, Bria, starts out cautiously with a tour group, but is then invited to leave the group and travel with a few backpackers. Kirsten Hubbard perfectly captures the joys and disorientation of traveling, the conflict between taking risks and staying safe: how absorbing new sights can be, but how scary it can be to plunge into life where you don't know the rules, the customs, the culture--the insects!

source of recommended reads: bought

11 comments:

  1. Jennifer, you have such good taste! You're so right in Castellucci's novel sharing similarities to yours - there's a power to it despite the short length, and she, like you, gets the male narration spot-on.

    I just recently read Hubbard's novel last weekend, myself. It was a pure dream. It really transports the reader into its setting - and the characters are so human that it frustrates but at the same time makes the story magical.

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    1. I'm not surprised that you like these books, too! I was so excited, because they were both so original.

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    2. I like a lot of books, but these left very strong impressions (in the good way, naturally). I love the trend of more unusual YA novels coming out - it's quite refreshing.

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  2. I just bought Wanderlove and can't wait to read it! After Try Not to Breathe, though. :)

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    1. Thank you. ;-) Whichever order you choose, hope you enjoy them!

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    2. I'm sure I'll like both! Natalie Whipple is the one who suggested Wanderlove. I've never read Kristen's stuff before. Are you related to her? Do you get asked that all the time? Hah. :)

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    3. Kirsten (LIKE MANDARIN, WANDERLOVE), Mandy (PRADA & PREJUDICE, YOU WISH, RIPPLE), Jenny (PAPER COVERS ROCK) Hubbard and I are not related. We're just applying our general Hubbard Power to YA literature. ;-)

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  3. Thanks for sharing! I actually have both these books already (well Wanderlove is in the mail, I'm reading Like Mandarin at the moment!) and I had initially shyed away from First Day on Earth because of the alien thing, great to hear it reads like a contemporary cause those are my favourites!

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    1. Zoe: I'm the same way, and I really liked this book!

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