Book: Another Day

"Another Day"

Every day is the same for Rhiannon. She has accepted her life, convinced herself that she deserves her distant, temperamental boyfriend, Justin, even established guidelines by which to live: Don’t be too needy. Avoid upsetting him. Never get your hopes up.

Until the morning everything changes. Justin seems to see her, to want to be with her for the first time, and they share a perfect day–a perfect day Justin doesn’t remember the next morning. Confused, depressed, and desperate for another day as great as that one, Rhiannon starts questioning everything. Then, one day, a stranger tells her that the Justin she spent that day with, the one who made her feel like a real person…wasn’t Justin at all.

Work and, life in general, pulled me away from reading books and writing about them in this blog. And then one book comes along to bring me back. Because how can I not write about David Levithan’s Another Day?

Every Day was one of the best books I’ve read in the last few years, and when I found out that Levithan released a companion book that details the events through Rhiannon’s eyes instead of A’s? I was sold. I had to buy the book. I had to read it immediately after. And unlike some recent readings, Another Day compelled me to write about it as soon as I finished.

And not because I want to rave about it.

It’s not bad. Another Day is actually a very fast and very good read, and I feel like I can discuss the book’s themes of love, gender, identity, appearances, etc. for hours. The writing is solid. Scratch that. The writing is just as amazing as before. And Levithan really takes you back to the first time you’ve read Every Day. He brings you back that feeling of falling in love with a book for the first time–with a story that he’s already told.

But once the feeling passes, you realize… You’re reading a story that he’s already told. And some parts of that story, the ones that really make Every Day stand out before, is no longer present in Another Day. And then, you discover, you don’t actually want to read a recounting of a story you’ve already been told–regardless of the fact that it now centers on a different character, and offers a different perspective.

Reading Another Day makes me want to have a sequel for Every Day. Not just to find out what happens to A, the main protagonist of the book, but also to find out what happens to Rhiannon after the ending she was given.

And this brings me to questioning the need to publish Another Day. Every Day was perfect as it is. The ending might have been open, but it felt like the perfect ending befitting the story that was told. Releasing Another Day feels like riding the coattails of that success, and smells of the publishers pushing to milk a successful book.

How necessary was Another Day? If this becomes as successful as the book from which it was spun off, would this become a precedent for future releases? Will all successful books now be re-released from a different point of view?

It would be a problem if these future possibilities are treated with respect, and are given actual thought, like what happened with Another Day. But what if, instead, we are given something akin to Grey? Do we need more books like those? Do we want this second perspective books to become a fad?

I would rather have sequels or more original stand-alone’s.

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Book: Hold Me Closer

"Hold Me Closer"

Watch out, ex-boyfriends, and get out of the way, homophobic coaches. Tiny Cooper has something to say–and he’s going to say it in a song.

Filled with honestly, humor, and ‘big, lively, belty’ musical numbers, Hold Me Closer is the no-holds-barred (and many-bars-held) entirety of the beloved musical first introduced in Will Grayson, Will Grayson, the award-winning bestseller by John Green and David Levithan.

Tiny Cooper is finally taking center stage…and the world will never be the same again.

What in the world did I just put down?

Hold Me Closer: the Tiny Cooper Story spins off from one of the few John Green novels I could stand: Will Grayson, Will Grayson–and I credit David Levithan for this. So when I found out that Levithan was releasing a book based on the most entertaining character off the Will Grayson book, I thought it would be a fun read. I wish I could say I was right.

I wasn’t wrong, let’s be clear. Hold Me Closer is not in any way a bad book. It is entertaining. But it’s definitely not the book I was expecting from David Levithan. Then again, I wasn’t expecting Every You, Every Me either–so it’s not like this was unprecedented. But unlike Every You, Every Me, I can’t fathom why Levithan would write this book. It’s not experimental. It’s not ground-breaking.

Hold Me Closer brings nothing new to the table, and I feel like I wasted the five hours I spent reading it.

The book isn’t actually a book in the most traditional sense. It is a book–for a musical Tiny Cooper wrote in the Will Grayson, Will Grayson book. But it’s not a new story. Its Tiny Cooper’s life told with songs. And we’ve already had a glimpse of Tiny Cooper’s life in the aforementioned book. The worst part is how this book ends before the source book does. So there really is nothing new in Hold Me Closer.

I guess that’s the risk of doing something like this: publishing a plot device, and pushing it to stand on its own. You have to rely on readers’ nostalgia and good will. But you know what else you can do? Give something new. In the source book, we only get glimpses of Hold Me Closer. So it shouldn’t have been hard to do. But the spin-off didn’t spin. It just took parts of the source book we already know and put it to song. And dialogue. And stage direction.

Hold Me Closer is entertaining. I’ll still give it that. But at the end of the day, for a book to be good, there has to be substance. Which I didn’t see or feel while reading this book. I guess I’ll just have to be grateful that the book wasn’t longer.

Of course, other people will have other opinions about the book too. Let’s check some of them out in the following links:
Caught Read H&nded
BookieMonster
The Young Folks

Book: Invisibility

"Invisibility"

Stephen is used to invisibility. He was born that way. Invisible. Cursed.

Elizabeth sometimes wishes for invisibility. When you’re invisible, no one can hurt you. So when her mother decides to move the family to New York City, Elizabeth is thrilled. It’s easy to blend in there.

Then Stephen and Elizabeth meet. To Stephen’s amazement, she can see him. And to Elizabeth’s amazement, she wants him to be able to see her–all of her. But as the two become closer, an invisible world gets in their way–a world of grudges and misfortunes, spells and curses. And once they’re thrust into this world, Elizabeth and Stephen must decide how deep they’re going to go–because the answer could mean the difference between love and death.

The book had me hooked… up until Elizabeth fell in love with Stephen. The problem is, that’s almost the beginning of the book, and that’s the actual beginning of the story.

You see, Invisibility starts out as a romance. Between a girl and an invisible boy, yes, but it is a romance. Until it suddenly isn’t. Suddenly we have curse casters, and spell seekers, and it’s become much more than a love story, and that should be a good thing… but it isn’t.

It isn’t just about us anymore.” That’s a line from the book. The exact moment I lost complete interest in what was going to happen next. Because the book promised me a love story, and instead I was getting a middling fantasy book that seems to be making up the rules as it goes along.

And that’s the main problem with Invisibility. I know it’s fiction. I know that it is made up. But would it have hurt if everything was set up from the start? Would it have hurt if we had clues as to what was going to happen, so when it does happen, we’re not taking a second look at the book cover and the synopsis to make sure we’re still reading the same book?

I must say, I expected a whole lot more from Invisibility. I’m a fan of David Levithan’s other collaborations (except Every You, Every Me), so I was very disappointed in not liking this book.

I really don’t like this book.

But, hey, maybe other people did. Let’s find out:
Coffee, Books, & Me
Candace’s Book Blog
Chapter by Chapter

Book: The Lover’s Dictionary

"The Lover's Dictionary"

How does one talk about love? Is it even possible to describe something at once utterly mundane and wholly transcendent that has the power to consume our lives completely, while making us feel part of something infinitely larger than ourselves? Taking a unique approach to this age-old problem, the nameless narrator of David Levithan’s Lover’s Dictionary constructs the story of a relationship as a dictionary. Through these sharp entries, he provides an intimate window into the great events and quotidian trifles of coupledom, giving us an indelible and deeply moving portrait of love in our time.

Intimate; adj., private and personal.

I really didn’t know what to make of The Lover’s Dictionary when I started reading it. We begin the story at an unspecified time between two people’s relationship. (Note: I say people because while the gender of the narrator is clear, that of his love interest isn’t.) And what follows is an interesting journey of trying to understand this relationship–aided by words that set the tone of each anecdote.

The narrative isn’t linear. It’s fluid; with the stories coming as they are remembered…as they are defined by the words that are themselves being defined by the story. And it is this format that creates the feeling of intimacy between the reader and the narrator.

He is baring his soul.

David Levithan has another experimental novel out there–Every You, Every Me–which played with the format: photos dictated where the story would go. And I wasn’t impressed. So I’m happy to say that The Lover’s Dictionary, although just as gimmicky, succeeds in having the format support the narrative–to push it into something more than just another story about love.

Because, to be perfectly honest, the story itself isn’t very original. It’s the format that takes the novel to a different level. It’s the format that makes The Lover’s Dictionary a must own.

At least, that’s my opinion. Other people might have see it another way. See, and find out for your self:
Midnight Coffee Monster
Foil the Plot
Paper Plates

Book: Are We There Yet?

"Are We There Yet?"

Elijah and Danny don’t think they have anything in common except their parents. Danny thinks Elijah is a lazy, slacking, clueless dreamer who doesn’t know how to make a living. Elijah thinks Danny is a workaholic, stuck-up, soulless drone who doesn’t know how to make a life. Yes, they’re brothers.

Then their parents trick them into taking a trip to Italy together. Nine days of escape. Nine days of somewhere else.

Elijah and Danny aren’t sure it’s going to work. Until they each meet a girl–the same girl. Julia. And nothing will ever be the same again.

I didn’t like this book as much as I did the other David Levithan books, but this is still way, way better than Every You, Every Me. So least favorite then? I guess.

What I really liked about Are We There Yet? is its focus on brothers. Which is also the reason why I didn’t like the book as much as I did the other Levithan books. Because I was expecting something more from the brothers’ story lines, and it kind of fell flat for me.

A girl was introduced, widened the rift between brothers, and then they were okay in the end. And then they were better brothers. I call bull.

It doesn’t come left of field though. There is development. Except, most of it happens on the side of the older brother. You can actually see him evolve from being a douche to someone who is trying to be better. The other brother just is. He gets pushed around by plot, and doesn’t become a better character for it. Which is frustrating. Really frustrating.

Are We There Yet? has all the ingredients that make a good book. And I feel like it got squandered because the book had an itinerary it wanted to stick to. And instead of enjoying the journey, we get snapshots of possible moments instead.

So did I like it? Enough to actually try understanding why the book wasn’t better. But not enough for me to recommend it to other people. Still, I’m just one person. See what others have to say about the book:
Hiding in the Stacks
Books and Sensibility
Tower of Books

Book: Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist

"Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist"

Nick’s just seen the girl who dumped him walk in…with a new guy. What else can he do but ask the strange girl next to him to be his new girlfriend for the next five minutes?

Norah would do anything to avoid conversation with the not not-friend girl who dumped Nick…and to get over the Evil Ex whom Norah never really totally dumped. What else can she do but answer Nick’s question by making out with him?

With one electric, unexpected kiss, the five-minute couple of Nick and Norah set off on an uncharted adventured called the “first date” that will turn into an infinite night of falling in and out (and in and out, and maybe in and maybe out) of love. Theirs is a first date of music, laughter, heartache, confusion, passion, taxi driver wisdom, and a jacket named Salvatore. And of course a killer soundtrack.

As Nick and Norah wander through the middle-of-the-night mystic maze of Manhattan, they share the kind of night you want to never end, where every minute counts and every moment flickers between love and disaster.

Can you fall in love in the span of one night? Do you believe you can? Because that’s what Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist will ask you to do. Fall in love with good guy Nick and misunderstood Norah. Both are nice enough people. Both are flawed. And both will take you to an adventure of love that takes the whole night.

Confession: I’m not a gig guy. I’ve never been fond of going to bars and clubs because of a band I support. I have, but I’ve always found a way to stand from a distance. I’ve never been the guy to scream within the throngs of people, swaying and jumping and screaming to the beat. Okay, maybe for Jason Mraz, but that’s the limit. And you wouldn’t want to scream a song during a Mraz concert. You sing along, you appreciate, you sway–but you don’t scream.

And I’ve gone off tangent.

So, not a gig guy. But I’ve been to. I sort of understand the thrill. I can definitely understand the energy. And the people described in the novel are just some of the characters you’ll encounter during a trip to the local dive.

I know a Nick. I wish I knew a Norah, but I’m sure we’ve already crossed paths without ever talking to each other. I know a Thom, I know a Caroline… Heck, I know a Tal. And this is why I liked reading Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist.

No, it’s not because I can attribute the characters to people I know. I like the book because the characters feel real. I like the fact that, even though there are two writers, it feels like the book is written by just one because the characters stay consistent.

And I love how Rachel Cohn and David Levithan show us how being neurotic can ruin a relationship even before it begins. I like how they use their characters to push their other characters into doing things that feel natural. Organic, even.

I like how it doesn’t mean that just because you two are the main characters mean you’re already set for life. I love how the obstacles don’t feel forced, and most of them come from our protagonists themselves, and not from outside forces–although they play a part.

I love how their friends act like real people, and not just sounding boards and plot pushers. I love how they have their own lives.

And although I’m iffy about the one night love story, I love the fact that it doesn’t end on happily ever after. The characters are young. Things will happen. And at the risk of spoiling, I love the fact that authors Cohn and Levithan don’t wrap it all up with a nice bow in the end.

There’s a promise. A maybe. But nothing is definite.

Because nothing ever is.

And that is the magic of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. It’s the now. It’s possible and the possiblity.

It’s brilliant.

Book: Wide Awake

"Wide Awake"

Everything seems to be going right in Duncan’s life: The candidate he’s been supporting for president has just won the election. Duncan’s boyfriend, Jimmy, is with him to celebrate. Love and kindness appear to have won the day.

But all too quickly, things start to go wrong. The election is called into question…and Duncan and Jimmy’s relationship is called into question, too. Suddenly Duncan has to decide what he’s willing to risk for something he believes in…and how far he’s willing to go to hold on to the people he holds dear.

Perfectly weaving together a heartfelt love story and a possible political future, David Levithan has crafted an insightfully drawn novel that reminds us how history is built–one action, one person, and one belief at a time.

I really don’t like Duncan’s boyfriend, Jimmy. I understand that this is a weird way to start my reaction piece, but it seemed right that I should begin with that.

Jimmy is a bully, and I don’t like the book completely because I kept thinking that he doesn’t deserve Duncan who just wants to be loved. Oh, sure, he’s not the only gray character in the book, and we actually have a couple of characters who do worse things. But neither one gets a happily ever after, why should Jimmy?

He did not repent. He did not learn anything. He is being rewarded for being a bully.

And I think it’s safe to say that the book really affected me. At the same time, I think this is David Levithan’s most reaching work. Both in a good way, and in a bad way.

The good: Wide Awake has realistic characters. Yes, even bully Jimmy is a realistic portrayal of someone who is maligned, but feels superior to other people.

The way Levithan writes his characters to deal with reality is exceptional. And inspiring. The good characters, like Duncan and Janna (who you’ll meet within the pages of the book), will want you to become a better person. Their actions reach into your heart, touches it, and tells you that it’s okay to go against the grain, to go for what you believe in, provided that you’re not hurting anyone.

And the bad: the whole thing is wrapped up too cleanly, I think. It’s awesome that good triumphs over evil. But come on, after showing us realistic representations, the outcome could’ve been more realistic too.

I mean, I like the happy ending. But in real life, the opponent would’ve put up a bigger fight. Things would not have been that peaceful. And parents would’ve done everything to get their children back into their homes.

Maybe it’s because I’m not American and don’t really have first-hand knowledge of their culture and how parent-children relationships work there. Maybe. But you would think these so-called loving and caring parents would love and care more about their children who are in a few states over, taking a stand in a political rally that they know could go wrong in so many ways.

Wide Awake is a great dream. So long as you set an alarm for a wake up call.