Tag Archives: characterization

If We Survive

8 Apr

If We SurviveAndrew Klavan

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Publication Date: 2012

Paperback: 340 pages

Book Blurb:

They
 came on a mission of mercy, but now they’re in a fight for their lives.

High schooler Will Peterson and three
friends journeyed to Central America to help rebuild a school. In a poor,
secluded mountain village, they won the hearts of the local people with their
energy and kindness.

But in one sudden moment, everything
went horribly wrong. A revolution swept the country. Now, guns and terror are
everywhere—and Americans are being targeted as the first to die.

Will and his friends have got to get
out fast. But streets full of killers . . .hills patrolled by armies . . . and
a jungle rife with danger stand between them and the border. Their one hope of
escape lies with a veteran warrior who has lost his faith and may betray them
at any moment. Their one dream is to reach freedom and safety and home.

If they can just survive.

Stand alone or series: Stand alone.

Why I read this book: I was searching for books outside my usual genre on the Thomas Nelson website and came across this novel.

Review:

Boy, this book was a shock to the system. It starts with a bang, quiet literally. Will Peterson went to Costa Verdes to build a wall, and to get away from his parents. When an upheaval takes place on the last day of their mission trip, he doesn’t know if he’ll ever see his parents again. Now he, and the five Americans with him, are trapped in a hostile land.

This novel was… breathtaking, gut-wrenching, heart stopping. The adrenaline-pumped pace starts on the first sentence of the prologue and it doesn’t stop. I couldn’t eat before, during, or after reading because the story made my stomach turn. It’s incredibly well written, but certainly not for a young audience. Violence abounds. The violence is not gratuitous, it fits perfectly into the story and scenario, nevertheless it’s hard to read.

The author’s pacing is impeccable. The plot goes hard and fast for much longer than made me comfortable. Then, just when I thought I couldn’t take it anymore, Klavan allows the reader a breath… Just for a second. Just long enough to make me think I could get through to the end.

The characterization was also superb. The group is small, just a band of six, so we get the time and detail to really learn about, and care for, each of them. We know their quirk, their reactions, their thought processes, and their flaws. We become invested in the survival of each character. The stakes rise higher and higher the more we care.

The writing is masterful, but the content is not for everyone. The entire time I read it I felt unsettled, edgy, and stressed. I read it fast because I couldn’t handle the panicky feeling it instilled in me. But I know I tend to be more squeamish than average.  So if you like action and don’t mind the violence as much this novel is perfect for you. You are in for a treat.

(For parents, this book is geared mainly towards boys and I would suggest caution. I would place the age range of this novel at at least 17+.)

Perfectly Dateless

17 Dec

Perfectly Dateless

Kristen Billerbeck

Publisher: Revell

Publication Date: 2010

Paperback: 257

Book Blurb:

Daisy Crispin has 196 days to find the right date for the prom. There’s only one problem—her parents won’t let her date or even talk to a guy on the phone. Oh, and she’s totally invisible at school, wears lame homemade clothes, and possesses no social skills. Okay, so maybe there’s more than one problem.

Can she talk her parents into letting her go to the prom? Or will they succeed at their obvious attempts to completely ruin her life?

Perfectly Dateless is hilarious, shocking, and totally real. You’ll fall in love with Daisy’s sharp wit and resourcefulness as she navigates the world of boys, fashion, family and friendship.

Stand alone or series: Series! Thank goodness, I just can’t get enough of Daisy and her mom.

Why I read this book: Daisy reminded me of me. An A type personality who has a lot of trouble fitting in in high school, who loves to write, works hard and saves like crazy, and tries to follow God’s will even when it’s hard.

Review:

Daisy is a character that I can relate to. She wants to fit in, but can’t get it quite right. She’s an uptight girl who makes a plan then executes it down to the T. Daisy is too focused on working hard, whether that’s getting the grade or saving up some money. But it’s these smarts that make her so sassy. Her snappy quips hit the mark every time and had me rolling or shaking my head in agreement.

If there’s one thing Kristen Billersbeck excels at in this novel is characterization. The quirky cast of Perfectly Dateless is vividly drawn, from the boys she crushes on to her crushingly strict parents. Claire is Daisy’s best friend who goes through phases like they’re days of the week—her Goth period is complete with dark poetry and a plastic spider nose ring. Amber’s “lanky, mile long body” is equipped with golden tresses and a razor-sharp tongue that can be sweet as sugar when she’s trying to steal the hazel-eyed Chase Doogle. And then there’s Mrs. Crispin…

Besides Daisy, I think Mrs. Crispin is the best written character. She would get barely a sentence out and my hands would start to clench. According to Daisy, her mom’s favorite word is irreverent and she believes that keeping her daughter in ugly, ill-fitted clothes is suffering for her faith and not suffering for bad fashion choices.

My favorite, and possibly the most painful, scenes to read where between Daisy and her mother. This is where Kristen Billerbeck’s wit really begins to shine as words fly between mother and daughter. But what made it more interesting than the hundreds of other mother daughter conflicts was how God centered it was. Even though Daisy disagreed she always tried to be respectful towards her mother. And some ages old Christian debates about modesty, dating and what it means to live a Christian played out between them in a way that left me wanting to hear more.

I could go on about plots and twists and boys, but I don’t want to spoil it! I would recommend this book to teens and moms as a fun read that will not only leave you laughing but also leave you thinking about where you stand on these issues.