Category Archives: Book Reviews

Nicola Yoon Author Event

 

If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe

Carl Sagan (via The Sun is Also a Star)

Nicola Yoon visited R.J. Julia, an independent bookstore in Madison, on Thursday, December 1 to promote her latest book The Sun is Also a Star. Yoon gained notoriety when John Green re-tweeted Yoon’s #weneeddiversebooks campagin photo. This exposed her first novel, Everything, Everything, to a wider reading audience. By the time The Sun is Also a Star was named a National Book Award finalist for the Young People’s Literature category, Yoon was already a popular figure in the YA reading community.

All of this, in addition to simply loving her books, led to a very excited librarian walking into R.J. Julia a few minutes before the free event began. I was elated to find the room packed with teens, and Yoon must have felt similar excitement. Instead of a traditional reading, Yoon decided to use a Q&A format, allowing several readers to ask insightful, funny, and interesting questions. Although most audience members had clearly read The Sun is Also a Star, Yoon was careful to refrain from any plot spoilers. Instead, she discussed the inspiration for writing a book about a scientifically-minded Jamaican American girl meeting a poetry-loving Korean American boy and connecting over the course of a single day in New York City. Yoon explained why she used the specific title (Carl Sagan), what inspired the Natasha character’s worldview (Carl Sagan), and some of the “aside” chapters that delve into cultural, scientific, or moral concepts (Carl Sagan).  Finally, Yoon was more than happy to answer any questions about her previous novel, Everything, Everything.

Yoon then held a book signing for which, of course, this librarian stood in line. Overall, Yoon was funny, engaging, and open to all kinds of questions. From a timid question about the cover art to complex questions about being Jamaican-American, Yoon was a hit with all the adults and teens in the room. This librarian gives two thumbs up.

To hear and read more about Yoon and The Sun is Also a Star, watch this reading and read this interview.

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2016 Summer Reading Blurbs – Writing Semester, Ms. Davis

Ms. Davis asked her Writing Semester students to pick one summer reading book and write a short blurb in the style of Stephen King, Charlotte Bronte, or themselves. Please read their contributions, and enjoy their writing “masks”!

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A Blurb on Melancholy Play, by Sarah Ruhl

Written by Andrew Roberge in the Style of Stephen King

Melancholy Play by Sarah Ruhl was uniquely beautiful, intensively introspective, and unlike any piece that I had ever read. My reading experience was entirely cerebral, provoked countless life-altering thoughts, and left me with a mix of satisfaction, and a general feeling only expressible by the word “…What?” Melancholy Play follows Tilly, a bank teller; Frank, a tailor; Joan, a nurse; Lorenzo, a shrink; Frances, a hairdresser; and Julian, a talented cellist. The general plot of this play, similar to the waning effects of an acid trip, leaves the reader starstruck as it details the turmoil caused by the divinely attractive melancholy Tilly who suddenly becomes “violently” and “monstrously” happy. Every character in the play falls in love with the melancholy Tilly, and watches their life fall apart as “the result of her great happiness.” Playwright Sarah Ruhl alluringly shows the reader or audience the power and potentially great effects of unbridled emotion, examples of endlessly devoted friendship and lust, the effects of sudden dramatic change, and the powerful symbolism of the solitary almond. You’ll just have to read it to figure that last bit out. Trust me, this modern day theatrical masterpiece is worth a look.

A Blurb On Twelve Angry Men, by Reginald Rose

Written by Gyan Maria in the Style of Stephen King

In this play, Rose lets the story do what I think all authors should do: let the story write itself and the characters do what they want. At the beginning of the play, each of the jurors takes on his own prejudices, his own decision for a verdict, his own life, and his own interest in the whether or not there is a reasonable doubt in the case. Then throughout the play, he lets the jurors influence each other through their personalities, until the original vote of eleven to one in favor of guilty had become twelve to none in favor of not guilty. Most of the influencing happens in two places: the bathroom or at a table in the main room. At the table, the jurors used mostly logic and evidence from the case to convince each other. The table is also where the reader could see the progression of change in vote. But in the bathroom, the jurors used much more personal means to convince each other. They would talk about their own and each other’s lives at home and at work as a way to connect, hoping to sway the verdict to what that juror thought was right.

 

 

 

 

A Blurb On If I Stay, by Gayle Forman

Written by Marion Conklin in the style of Stephen King

I find movies to be unintellectual forms of books. Directors of movies have an idea in their head of what they want you to feel when you watch a certain scene in a film play out on screen. For authors of books, it should be different. I do not expect or want all of the readers of my writing to have the same response from a passage as I do. People should have to think on their own, and ride the wave of uncertainty that is known as fiction, until they have finished the book. Throughout the entire novel they should be constantly thinking about the words that they just read, or about the story that is still to come. This is not the case in If I Stay, however, because the foreshadowing is overdone, and the suspense (or lack thereof) does not require thinking. In fact, just by the title the reader can figure out that Mia, who was in a terrible car accident, was going to survive.

 

 

 

 

A Blurb on Collected Poems, by T.S. Eliot

Written by Clay Wackerman in the Style of Clay Wackerman

Although I’m not quite cultured enough to fully understand all of Eliot’s poems, I sure can enjoy them. Even if I have no clue what he’s trying to get across, just the sound of the words was enough to make me feel something. He has a way with syllables and consonants that makes everything very pleasing to read aloud. His works are brimming with literary devices and historical references, but what really gets me is the imagery. In my head, I create these tiny realms, little spaces for my mind to wander. Each poem inspires a whole different world I can walk around in. Every poem evokes something beautiful, but the feelings were more abstract than simple love and darkness. Eliot combines emotions that are not often put together; some poems are whimsically fearful, and others pensively joyful, or fulfillingly broken. All these things arouse a sort of happy confusion inside the heart.

A Blurb on The Girl Who Played With Fire, by Stieg Larsson

Written by Lucas Henderson in My Own Style

I loved reading The Girl Who Played With Fire, by Stieg Larsson. In fact it was one of my favorite books of all time. I thoroughly enjoyed how the characters developed, and how gritty and (somewhat) realistic the story was. On top of that, I felt that all the characters were believable and essential to the story, including the supporting cast. One example of this is Lisbeth Salander’s caretaker/ guardian, Nils Bjurman. In the first book, he played an abusive and overpowering character, but in this second installment, Bjurman is finally submissive, for reasons I won’t ruin. How Salander deals with Bjurman’s new position in her life was realistic and it really struck me. Finally, the storytelling in this book is something I can only aspire to in my writing. I could not put this book down with all of the cliffhangers and exciting sequences. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone.

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A Blurb on Transfer of Power, by Vince Flynn

Written by Nikhil Etikela in the style of Stephen King

A few weeks ago, I was talking to my dad about hypothetical situations on a car ride to school. One thing that popped up was the idea of the White House and President being taken hostage by terrorists. As we were talking, my dad noticed and mentioned an interesting point – we weren’t considering this scenario from a terrorist’s eyes. Vince Flynn’s Transfer of Power entertains the bad-guy perspective while still showing us the rational thinking behind each move that our country made without the president (who was locked up in a vault at the time and couldn’t communicate with the outside world due to a frequency jammer). Seeing the action play out from the terrorist Rafique Aziz’s point of view is very interesting; there is a thirst to get something done that most of us have never even considered, let alone felt. But behind all that drive and motivation is a very powerful mind, which planned to create and maintain a two-step advantage at all times. Everything was planned out so well, that when HRT and SEALs began flooding the White House, our terrorist escaped. It’s very intriguing to see Flynn create an insightful character out of someone who we would all brand an enemy.

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A Blurb On The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky

Written by Annie Banks in the style of Stephen King

Charlie. An interesting boy, stuck in the dark tunnel that adolescence is. But, I would bet my left hand and then some that if he somehow found a way to skip these years, his situation would be a whole lot worse. Back when I was in the midst of my teenage years, damn I was lost and confused. With all the babysitters outgrown, and no one to screw around with, David and I had nothing to do. All the fun was gone, but I must admit, by the end of this flat out awkward time, I did find the light. Charlie is a great kid. Despite his occasional usage of adverbs, I found myself to grow quite fond of him. In the end, he did gain perspective, but I gotta say, my teenage years were a breeze compared to his. He just about went through hell from witnessing Ponytail Derek physically abusing his older sister to experiencing the suicide of his only friend. The stuff he saw sure as hell messed with the kid; however, they did lead him to realize his aunt, Helen, raped him back when he was a youngster and this realization drove him to get help. If you ask me, his parents should have kept a closer eye on him. It would have saved him a boat load of trouble, but who gives a damn about what I think. All that said and done, Charlie’s therapy did help him, and now that he is feeling better, I think I could make a hell of a writer outta him. Between his letters and his essays for Bill, he must write close to 1000 words a day. That’s the first and most important step. With a little help from my memoir and the obliteration of adverbs, the kid has potential to go places.

 

 

 

 

A Blurb on Room, by Emma Donoghue

Written by Galen Smith in My Own Style

Over the summer I read the novel Room, by Emma Donoghue. What stood out to me among the many themes was the relationship between Joyce and her son,  Jack. The hardships that they endure are beyond what most people could imagine, yet their bond is only strengthened. As most mothers do, Joyce shields Jack from the real world, convincing him that the room they live in is all there is, therefore creating the fantasy that besides their kidnapper,  Jack and Joyce are the only humans living on earth. Instead of questioning this reality, Jack embraces it and uses it as an excuse to grow closer to his mother, finding comfort in their solidarity.  Jack, unlike other children his age, lacks interaction with anyone but his mother. She serves as his playmate, his cook, his doctor, his teacher, and everything in between. She is the only person that Jack has in this world, which forms a bond almost too strong for Joyce to handle. When they finally escape and are thrust back into reality, Jack yearns for the closeness to his mother that he had in ‘room’.  Joyce, however, does not look back and tries to introduce Jack to the other wonders the world has to offer besides her love. At first, Jack doesn’t understand and resents their escape and the independence that ensues, but eventually he accepts his role in the real world and the fact that he can love his mother while also living his own life.

A Blurb on Bringing Down the House, by Ben Mezrich

Written by Jimmy D’Amato in My Own Style

One of the books I read this summer was Bringing Down the house, by Ben Mezrich. This book is about a group of men and women who are able to cheat the Vegas casinos for millions. These individuals are a group of M.I.T. students, supersmart “nerds,” who excel in mathematics. The game in which they “cracked the code” for is blackjack, one of the more simple casino card games. While the profit was huge, and these college students instantly became millionaires with, essentially, all the money they could ever need, the risk was high. Cheating the game is illegal, and if caught the consequences are huge. The students did not only figure out how to cheat the game, but also devised a whole system in which they would act as a team in the casinos. There would be designated “players” who played in the casinos and won all the money, while others had jobs including one to lookout for security and others to indicate certain things to do in game. I found the book very entertaining, and very exciting.

A Blurb on The Red Tent, by Anita Diamant

Written by Olivia Conway in the style of Olivia Conway

The Red Tent follows Dinah, a character from the bible who’s story is often glossed over as a small part in the larger, more important portion about her father, Jacob, and her brothers. In the bible the story is that her brothers protected her honor after she was defiled by the prince of Shechem. What actually happened, in Diamant’s version of the story at least, was that they wanted to protect their family’s honor when they felt that the prince did not treat their sister the way they thought she should have been treated, even though he actually had feelings for Dinah and her own for him. This results in the deaths of the prince and all the members of family and staff being murdered in the night by the brothers. From here Dinah leaves home and makes a name for herself as a midwife in Egypt, using the practices taught to her by her mother and aunts from birth within the female sanctuary of the red tent. She eventually finds love again and rebuilds her relationship with her brother Joseph. When returning to her homeland with Joseph she realizes that while the men of Jacob’s tribe had forgotten all about her, her mother and the women of the tribe kept her story alive along with the vibrant practices that took place within the red tent.

A Blurb on Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain

Written by Helena Lyng-Olsen in the style of Charlotte Brontë

One can at times find lengthy books of knowledge to be rather dry, which is understandable when considering how passion can induce a writer to flood the reader with details piquant to the former but irrelevant to the latter. Nevertheless, in an exception to prior experiences, I came upon a factual book that sparked the mind and enlightened the conscience. I had purchased it a few months before when contemplating the contents of a shelf in back of a dimly lit bookstore; the voice and subject matter of the opening pages had spoken deeply to the events that have taken place in my life thus far. In the volume, the author eloquently weaves together a tale noting the societal preference for a dominant extrovert, an inclination evident in various spheres of professional and even adolescent life. Having thus described the circumstances in which her research, and our lives, takes place, she then explores various qualities, many to be lauded, that introverts possess; she alludes with care to the poignancy of the discrepancy between their role in society and their inherent ability. With the word count I am held to, along with the lengthy nature of my sentences, I am no longer able to continue; I shall now conclude this piece of writing, the scrap of my mind that it is.

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A Blurb on War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy

Written by Ana Sotelo-Emery in My Own Style

Leo Tolstoy pays great attention to detail in his character’s emotions, physical actions, facial expressions, language, and character development. He describes a character’s complicated emotions in a way in which you can understand their inner turmoil or thought process, and their transition from one emotion to another. He has a clear understanding of their character, and he makes it obvious to you through their thought process, even if their physical actions contradict those thoughts. He can describe the emotion of a character simply in the way they lift their lip, or in which language they speak to others. Through his detailed analysis of his characters’s thoughts and actions, you feel as if you know them, and through whatever hardship they endure and every happy moment they experience, you can see them evolving on the page, growing in character and in spirit.

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, by J.K. Rowling (kind of)

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

*Note: I rarely crucify prequels, sequels, adaptations, spin-offs, etc. Especially when produced by the original creator, or with their approval and input. If you are interested in a Cursed Child bashing, the Internet shall provide*

Try as I might, I couldn’t get a copy of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child from my local bookstore. I definitely couldn’t get it from my local public library – the waiting list was longer than Snape’s nose. Besides, any Potterhead worth their salt will scrape and fight to own all the HP books in all the lands. So, I Amazon’d Cursed Child to my front door and promptly read the entire script in one sitting on a beautiful summer day.

I read quickly, so sometimes I miss structure and detail. After reading the first few pages of the two-part script, I immediately started over again. Like many, I’m sure, I dove in reading as if Cursed Child is a novel. It’s not. It is the published script of a two-part play (still) running on London’s West End. Once I slowed down, I started catching more of the beats and nuance between old familiars and the new cast of characters. Whenever a play direction didn’t make a ton of sense, I did my best to visualize the production in action, and moved on. Since my reading of Cursed Child, more photos of the production have been released. Many are citing the set designs and special effects as hugely impactful on the story of Albus Severus Potter and his dad, Harry.

Let’s be clear about the question mark in this blog post’s title. Cursed Child was written by playwright Jack Thorne, based on a story created by directory John Tiffany, Thorne, and Rowling. This is causing controversy among Potterheads and critics alike. Some say this is the worst kind of Rowling-approved fan fiction.  I think the purists need a bit more muggle blood in their lives. Without spoiling too much, the play picks up right where the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows epilogue leaves off. When we read the scene as it was originally published and intended, it reads as an (overly) sentimental close to the Harry Potter story. Harry is happy and safe. Ron is happy and safe. Hermoine is happy and safe (and probably taking over the world in a good way). Fast-forward to Cursed Child, and we now hear Harry Potter’s heartfelt, well-intentioned speech as it is received by his prepubescent son, Albus.

Ho boy that is a lot of pressure for an eleven-year-old kid. Not only is his dad the single greatest bad a** in wizarding history, Albus is also named after two of the other greatest bad a**** in wizarding history. And to top it off, Albus’ older brother James is seemingly perfect at everything. Good luck, kid. Hope Hopkins/Hogwarts is fun!

Is Harry Potter and the Cursed Child perfect. Nope. But, Cursed Child gave me an excuse to re-enter my absolutely favorite fictional world. I fell right back into the magic without a hitch. I had fewer complaints than the average critic regarding character development for Harry, Ron, and Hermoine. Harry never had a consistent father figure, so he struggles with fatherhood. Hermoine was a boss, and now she’s the boss. Ron was Ron, and now he’s Ron. As for the new cast, I think Scorpius Malfoy is the best addition to the HP universe since Luna Lovegood. Albus’ emo, adolescent characterization can be exhausting, but so was 15-year-old Harry in Order of the Phoenix. In fact, I would argue this as the most significant marker of excellent continuity.

Finally, the plot. Actually, nevermind. I don’t want to give anything away. Ok, one thing. THANK YOU for revisiting one of the magical elements/artifacts/accessories I had the most questions about when I finished the original seven book series.

Maybe I’m not one to complain about the particulars, and maybe I’m a sentimental sap, but I was thankful to have a few more hours in the magical world of Harry Potter.

Read if you like: Harry Potter the books, Harry Potter the movies, Harry Potter everything

Avoid if you don’t like: Harry Potter

Book Review: The Fifth Season, by N. K. Jemisin

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I picked up The Fifth Season for two reasons: one, it’s by N. K. Jemisin, whose Inheritance Trilogy I greatly enjoyed, and two, it recently won the Hugo Award for Best Novel. Those two reasons are why when I was tempted to put the book down and walk away (twice in the first fifty pages), I kept going.

The Fifth Season starts slow, or as slow as a book that starts with a murder and a cataclysm can. The story is told from three different perspectives, and each viewpoint character (and their supporting cast) needs to be introduced. One viewpoint is told entirely in the second person. There is a lot of setup.

Fortunately, there’s a lot of payoff, too. Jemisin is really good at fitting things together, at making these disparate accounts converge in a satisfying way. She’s a master of world-building – the Stillness feels rich and alive, with a deep history.

The Fifth Season takes place in a world that is literally coming apart. Earthquakes and volcanoes are a constant threat, and everyone knows the rules for living through a “fifth season”  – an extra-long winter brought on by the ash and dust kicked up by an event. Orogenes are people with the power to control the earth, and they are used to quiet quakes and protect the empire.

This is not a happy story. It begins with the murder of one child and the loss of another. Orogones are seen as monsters or tools to be controlled rather than human, and that attitude is reflected in their treatment.  The school for orogones is like a Hogwarts run entirely by Umbridges. The empire is built on a system of castes and oppression. And from the beginning, the book tells you this is a story of the end.

Oh, but what an end.

Read if you like: interesting magic systems, deep world-building, diverse characters.

Avoid if you don’t like: Constant impending doom.

Book Review: The Rest of Us Just Live Here

Patrick Ness proved his YA writing chops with A Monster Calls (soon to be a major motion picture!). In The Rest of Us Just Live Here, Ness flips the “chosen one” trope over and puts it on the back burner. Ever-present in literature (particularly of the fantasy genre), the “chosen ones” are known for their ability to bear the weight of the world while they battle the forces of darkness/evil/supernatural to save the day.

But what if the plights and perils of the chosen ones – or “indie kids”, using Ness’ terminology – were secondary to the real story? What if the real story lay with the never-gonna-be-chosens? The no-way-never-indie kids? The sidekicks? The acquaintances?  What if instead of Harry Potter, we had Seamus Finnigan? What if the Hunger Games was Prim’s story, not Katniss’?

In The Rest of Us Just Live Here, Ness cleverly puts the indie kids in the background. Each chapter begins with a small, bolded excerpt of the latest indie kid development before quickly turning to Mikey and his friends. Set against the backdrop of “a suburb of a suburb of a suburb of a suburb of a city that takes about an hour to get to,” Mikey just wants to get through his last month of senior year. Sure he’s worried the indie kids might have to blow up the school again, but he has bigger concerns. Will he be able to puzzle out his feelings for Henna before she leaves on a mission trip to the Central African Republic? Why is Mikey’s OCD deciding now is the right time to get worse? Maybe Mikey has more to cope with than the typical indie kid. He may not be battling blue-eyed zombie people, but he looks after his older sister Mel while she recovers from anorexia, shields his younger sister from the worst influences of his politically driven mom and alcoholic dad, and tries to support his best friend Jared: the cat whisperer (you’ll see).

Ness asks us to consider what it really means to be chosen, and Mikey must face what it really means to be a hero. I loved this book for two reasons: 1. it is good, and 2. it harks back to one of my top 5 favorite Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes: season 3, episode 13 The Zeppo. It is the moment when Buffy, literally the Chosen One, and her apocalyptic battles take a backseat to Xander. The best friend. The one with no powers. The sidekick. The one who just gets knocked out by vampires on the reg. In that episode, Xander finds the opportunity to be a hero. Maybe Mikey finds that chance in The Rest of Us Just Live Here.

Book Review: The Queen of the Tearling Trilogy (so far)

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Kelsea Raleigh grew up in hiding, training for her future on the throne as Queen of the Tearling. Although she received the best education any fledgling Queen could hope to receive, Kelsea grew up in ignorance of the problems that plagued her realm. She wasn’t surprised when the Queen’s Guard came for her, after all, she was always meant to take the throne back from her uncle. What Queen Kelsea did not anticipate were the dangers she would encounter before she even ascended the throne. Dodging the elite assassins hired by her uncle become the least of Kelsea’s worries when she enters the Tearling capital and discovers the internal chaos and corruption destroying her realm. But even this pales in comparison to the threat of neighboring Mortmesne and its leader, the Red Queen.

Kelsea may have Queen’s blood in her veins and questionably magical sapphires to prove it, but is her cunning and strength enough to save the Tearling from internal chaos, making ready to face the Red Queen’s impending attack? How is Kelsea supposed to rule when she falls victim to pre-Tearling flashbacks, rendering her catatonic for hours? Can the Queen’s Guard set aside its own internal disputes to support Kelsea Raleigh in her attempts to bring justice to her realm? And who is the mysterious, handsome Fetch? Why does he show up precisely when Kelsea needs him most?

The Queen of the Tearling trilogy is being hailed as the YA version of A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones, to you HBO watchers). However, the comparison is not made to belittle Erika Johansen’s work as little more than a rip off. The Tearling‘s similarities lie in its complexity and uncensored approach to medieval-like rule. George R.R. Martin refuses to create wholly good or wholly bad characters, asking questions like: what happens to the realm when the war is over, after the “good guys” win? Johansen’s characters and their motives defy easy categorization. I think what makes this book a YA fantasy novel (rather than high-level fantasy, like Martin’s work) is Kelsea Raleigh’s POV, which naturally leads the reader to root primarily for her cause. However, Tearling‘s hero and her world leans far closer towards Westeros than Hogwarts. Despite initial appearances, there’s few clear good and bad guys in this series.

My main complaint for Tearling was world building. I use was purposefully. Although I was enamored with the story in Johansen’s first installment, I was disappointed in the lackluster and unclear depiction of the Tearling. I was wistfully remembering the fantastic world building of Seraphina or Harry Potter. Then I read the second Tearling installment. As Johansen further reveals the mysterious crossing to the reader, more world building falls into place. I can’t say much more without being spoilery, but I want to suggest being patient with a couple world building holes in the first novel.

Overall, two thumbs up for the Tearling trilogy. Shout out to Hollywood for nabbing film rights and for the rumors that Emma Watson will play Kelsea in the film version!

-Signing off, Jenny Barrows (who is also reading A Song of Ice and Fire and is starting to wonder why her world is so suspiciously fantasy-free)

 

Book Review – Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell

Two years ago (!), Ms. Barrows and I were singing the praises of Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell. The book stars Cath, a young woman in her first year of college. Cath loves the Simon Snow books, and writes fanfiction while awaiting the last book in the series. While reading Fangirl,  I desperately wanted to read the Simon Snow books that Cath was so obsessed with. I must not have been alone, since Rowell went ahead and wrote that last book.

Carry On is the eighth book in the Simon Snow series, but it’s also the only one that actually exists. Reading it is almost like reading Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows without having read the six other books that came before it. It’s a fitting comparison – Simon Snow is a student at a magical boarding school. He’s an orphan. The school’s headmaster is his mentor. He has a smart, bossy friend. He’s supposed to save the magical world from a big bad guy. There’s a groups of old magical families who oppose the headmaster and his policies. Simon’s nemesis at school, Baz, is from one of those families. Baz is Simon’s roommate, he might be a vampire, and Simon wants to punch him. Maybe.

I’m not going to claim this is deep fiction. I found the central mystery pretty easy to figure out. And the hazard in writing a standalone book that is also (supposedly) the last in a series is that there are lots of callbacks to past events and adventures that feel both too fleshed out and not fleshed out enough. But it’s a fun book, and it was nice to spend time with these characters. The relationship between Simon and Baz is the real draw of the book. Rowell switches perspective between characters, and Baz’s chapters are probably the best of the lot. Come for the quasi-meta-fanfiction, stay for the scene that is essentially “Harry Potter has dinner at Malfoy Manor.”
Signing off, James Gette (if Hogwarts won’t take me, maybe Watford will?)