Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Pick Up Your Ninja Stars and Fight (or not)

Hey, all! How are you today? Were your holidays fantastic? -waits patiently for answer- Oh, good. That's very good -- except for those that weren't. And for you, I suggest cookies. Or Starburst. Either will work wonders, I promise.
So. Christmas is over. Target is no longer a place where you might lose appendages to rabid shoppers, and there will be no more obnoxious music being blasted on the radio. (Well. No more seasonal obnoxious music, at least.) But the stories of Christmas stay around, right? The heart warming ones -- the ones that you hear in school, or occasionally on the television (when the news isn't telling us how we're all going to die, that is) or the ones you just see. This is the time of year that good things happen. That brave and strong people are highlighted in stories.
Which leads to this thought -- why don't we always highlight brave and strong? Why does it take a Christmas story?
And--what is brave? And what is strong?
In movies, it's easy to identify. Look for the red eyes. The covert-behind-the-heroine's-back nod at the not-so-clean-ally. You'll have found the bad guy.
(Most of the time. Sometimes, it could look like this, and then end up way confusing, and we all die a little on the inside.)

But think about books. And think about life. Brave is hard to identify sometimes. We can see cowards without skipping a beat -- the boy who picks the easy way out, the girl who lets herself fall apart without fighting and is too scared to stand on her own, the people who put themselves before everyone, even children, -- but seeing heroes can be harder. The boy who chose to be on his own instead of hurting the people he cares about, the girl who fights for herself, the people who give up their time and energy to take care of children -- are they brave?
I think so.
But we overlook just how brave, and just important, those moments of courage are. We admire them, but defining them as anything more than temporarily admirable is kind of rare. And figuring out brave?
Yeah. Not easy.
Very few of us look at our life and can say that we've always been courageous. That we've always fought for something, some idea, some moral, or some prospect. The only way to get stronger is to fight, but we don't always do it. It's certainly easier not to. But if we read a book a that the character didn't fight, didn't try to be their best, would we keep reading?
Probably not. I mean, we don't like cowards, right? And if someone isn't always brave, then they are indeed a coward. Right? (-insert sarcasm here-)
It's one thing to have a moment of weakness. But inherent weakness? Inherent cowardliness? We would put the book down. Wrinkle our noses.
Despite the fact that we, ourselves, are not always inherently brave. Despite the fact that we don't even acknowledge bravery when we do see it.
Welcome to my Wonderland » <3 Danbo -Roaring Fox

In school, situations go bad fast. Drama, fireworks, whispered rumors, passive aggressive Facebook posts (I'm not kidding. Facebook is a battle ground, yo, and sometimes, there be blood) and flat out meanness can come out of tiny situations. When the situation grows, so can the fallout. And the people who start bandaging problems, who start fixing things, who don't cry, scream, or proclaim that they are going to die, are viewed positively. Brave, even. But take it out of school. Take situations out in the real world. Would simply fixing conflict be brave? Or is confronting the one causing the problem braver? Is it weak to want things to fit back to normal, or would it be wrong to let life crumble?
Courage is relative. It's hard to figure out, and it's messy. Sometimes being brave sucks. When you look to Scarlet O'Hara, a character who is often very brave, but not very nice, we get a character that many people don't like. But she is almost universally admired; I mean, there's a reason that thousands of people have slogged through the hundreds of pages of Gone With The Wind, and it's not just for the corsets.
Because we like to read about heroes. In situations that we never thought we would have to face. In situations we are scared of. In situations that sometimes, aren't even possible. But we read about heroes because we can see bravery, we can figure it out. It's like those Christmas stories -- seeing bravery, seeing heroes, gives us hope and happiness and other fuzzy, sparkly stuff that would totally bake into an awesome cake.
We like making our characters infallible. But it's not brave to fight when you have nothing to lose. It's one of those things in writing that has to be addressed -- weakness is what makes us strong.
Make your characters brave, guys. Make them strong. But remember -- the best heroes are the ones who are like us. Who aren't always brave. Who aren't always strong. Who, sometimes, are scared to fight -- but ultimately, pull out their sword, their machete, or their wicked awesome ninja stars, and fight anyway. Katniss Everdeen, Harry Potter, even Bella Swan are brave, in the end, because they are scared and fight anyway.  Those are the real heroes.
 (Are you still wrinkling your nose because I called Bella brave? I feel like you are.) (Siggggh.)
More later, guys, probably in the form of reviews. I've got a lot to catch up on. I hope your holiday remainder is fan-flipping-tabulous, all, and don't have too much fun come New Years.
(Or do. I don't judge.)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Delirium, by Lauren Oliver

Release Date: February 1st, 2011

Good Reads Says: Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love - the deliria - blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy. 

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

I Say:
Holy monkeys and pandas, dude.
This book?
Nightmares. Do you know the last book that gave me nightmares?
Oh. You don't? (Wait, you don't know my every thought? -blinks- Huh.)
Anyway, I guess I can't be too annoyed by that since I don't even remember.  And yet, I woke up at 3 in the morning, decided to finish the book, and went back to sleep at 4. I then went on to dream and wake up totally freaked out.
Here's the thing that makes Delirium scary--it makes sense.
I have had a sucky time with boys lately. I don't like feeling sad, depressed, angry, that whole shebang. So when I picked up Delirium, I was half thinking, hey, a government that takes away the side affects of that? Creepy, I guess, but not that bad.
That bad.
Lena is ready. Lena doesn't want to feel love. She's scared of it. Doesn't even want to say the word. She lives in a world that is eerily similar to ours, and at the same time, is incredibly different. She doesn't know what poetry is, and a mother that declared love is considered shameful. A mark on her record. Lena wants her emotions gone. And--I mean, as creepy as it is, there's a weird sense to it.
But then you see it in action.
And Lauren Oliver's writing is so flipping beautiful. The writing is not as pretty as that of Before I Fall, but there are still brilliant moments. The plot is not always fast, but I promise--the end? Yeah. The last ten pages are so slam packed and so heart jolting that its definitely worth getting there.
The back of the book compared Delirium to the danger of Hunger Games and the romance of Romeo and Juliet. It's scary in a different way than Hunger Games, because it seems, in a way, more realistic. And as for romance? The boy Lena falls for is -- interesting. She falls pretty quickly, but at the same time, it makes sense. She's never even talked to boys before, and the budding relationship seemed realistic enough. But the way the story built and twined and grew?
Waaaaay more romantic than Romeo and Juliet. (Of course, I do have a low opinion of that play. Cept the version with Leonardo Di Caprio as Romeo.)

(Lord, the boy be pretty.)
Bottom line: Sometimes, true enough, the story did drag. The prose was beautiful, and the characters/society were believable, if not as mind numbingly fantastic as those in Before I Fall (which, actually, is one of my top reads, though -- so yeah) (Actually, had a friend start randomly talking about BIF yesterday. Seriously. She had no idea that I loved it, but she raved for like, ten minutes. It was kind of great.) But Lauren Oliver shows you a society that is absolutely terrifying. And I am thinking about it. I am unsettled and bothered and that, to me, is what makes a good book. I can't get the dang thing out of my head.
And now?
I don't want my feelings gone. These crappy feelings, these awful feelings -- they're better than nothing. Indifference is terrifying. I've always believed it, but I gotta say, Delirium reminded me. And kind of smacked me in the process. With a ten pound weight.
It's thought provoking, y'all. Be ready. And, to finish it off, the Amazon quote--

Ninety-five days, and then I'll be safe. I wonder whether the procedure will hurt. I want to get it over with. It's hard to be patient. It's hard not to be afraid while I'm still uncured, though so far the deliria hasn't touched me yet. Still, I worry. They say that in the old days, love drove people to madness. The deadliest of all deadly things: It kills you both when you have it and when you don't.

Gah. -shivers-
More later, everyone. 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Here come the holidays

Hey all! How are you? Freezing? Dancing around with hot chocolate and apple cider? Wearing fuzzy socks?
Why not?
Hi There
Anyway, the holidays are here or coming, depending on your denomination, and I think we should CELEBRATE. And how should we do that?
Well. With books, obviously.
Every year, my mom buys books for Christmas. Seriously, there are usually quite a few books. This year, I know several of the ones I'm getting, though. (How? She let me pick them out. AND THEN SHE TOOK THEM AWAY. Yes. My mother is mean.) (Hi, mom. Love you oodles. :P )
Do you give books for Christmas? I'm always nervous to hand people book babies, because what if they don't like them? Seriously, that would be no bueno. (Why yes, I am in Spanish III. Can't you tell?) However, there are a few that I know are usually good bets. And now we segue into the point of this post.
What books make good presents? Now. I know. You can't give the same book to everyone. It would be BAD. Giving me a book on the intricacies of tuna, for instance, would not go over well. But there are some blanket books that work relatively well, I think.
 For instance, for little girls?
This one.
Seriously. I loved this book dearly when I was younger. It has LESSONS and PRINCESSES and dude, it even has monkeys.
This is obviously the sign of supremacy in the book world.
I'd offer up Harry Potter, but everyone in their right mind has already read it. If you haven't, you should.
 (-cough-Maggie-cough-) (Someday, she'll get sick of me harassing her and read them. And I will be very pleased.)
For the teenage set, I can definately recommend one this year. Serious, I wasn't joking. Need a present for a teenage girl? I suggest Anna And The French Kiss.

It's funny. It's sweet. It's everything that you want for Christmas. I actually can't think of a friend that probably wouldn't like it. I'm generally the most cynical of my group, and I thought it was adorable. And dude, I don't use that word often. Only when it comes to puppies, boys, sparkles, monkeys, pandas, more boys, waving cats, movies, aliens, other boys, Glee, and some books. So really, it's a pretty dang exclusive list.
This usually goes over pretty well, also. Now the movie is coming out, too, which means reading it is imperative. Seriously, City Of Bones is great.
Seriously. I actually haven't heard a teenager say they DIDN'T love this book. (Jace be hot, y'all.)
-ponders other books-
This was good for adult-like things. (AND THIS MOVIE IS COMING OUT TOO ZOMG. Why the caps? Because it's Rob Pattinson, and when he is not sparkly, he is really really hot.)

I don't usually like adult stuff (because, hello, I'm 16 and have severe Peter Pan syndrome) but Water for Elephants actually has kept me entertained.
I'm reading The Inferno now, but I don't really suggest that. I mean, I guess it's probably good to read, but for Christmas? I suggest brain candy. Candy is good. And it's Christmas, so candy implies peppermint. Win!
Dude. Is it just me, or does that look REALLY good?
Anyway. School is almost out for semester, which means a couple weeks of sleeping, Disney movies, reading, writing, and hopefully, no more petty school drama. You have no idea how excited I am for all of that. I will be delving into the worlds of fictional characters and drinking yummy peppermint chocolate. For realz, yo.
What about you? What are your plans for the holidays? And what books would you suggest as gifts?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Hey, girls, let's talk

Remember that, okay?
I've been watching too many of my friends ripping themselves apart, too many strangers checking themselves in the mirror. I've heard too many freshman asking me quietly if I thought they were pretty, too many boys making rude comments about a girl's hair or clothes or face. I walked into the bathroom at a debate tournament to find a girl crying; at the next tournament, there was one hiding in a hallway, crying. Crying, crying, crying, all because they didn't think they were good enough.
And I've checked the mirror too many times. I've searched for that compliment, I've turned to the boy I knew would give it. And guess what? It's not needed. Not for me, not for you. 
No girl should be fourteen and crying in the bathroom. No girl should be any age and crying in the bathroom. No boy should be dragged down by the stupid, petty comments people make. It's not cool, it's not okay, and it's so not needed. 
And it's worse with creative people. I've noticed something about writers -- and specifically, teens that write. There are these moments -- these really dark moments. We all seem to get them. They are everywhere. Where the world seems too small, too bleak. Where we aren't good enough. And then, we're the girl or the guy with the problem. Luckily, there are enough people to pull us out, and luckily, most of us can pull ourselves out. But those moments still lurk. 
You know. Those moments. The stupid ones that refuse to go away.
And that's normal.
But dwelling on it is bad. So let's not dwell. We know we're worth it, right? Even in the darkest moments, we need to remember that. The bathroom is not the place to cry. 
We're better than this, y'all. All of us, guys and girls alike. The little stuff isn't worth it, and the big stuff will work its way out. And someday, it'll make a good story to tell.
(And yes. I promise, I will have book reviews up soon.) (Not that I don't mean everything I posted. I totally do.)
Anyways. More later.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Books are Famous

-looks down in shame-
-wonders if whining about debate and finals will make it better that I've totally been neglecting my blog-
-hands you cookies-


Ahem. Anyway. Moving on.
Guess what?
Seriously. Guess.
....You aren't guessing. Fine. Whatever. I suppose that's okay. I'll survive. More importantly, THIS came out last week.

(And because of debate, I was not able to start it until yesterday. I would like to point out that this is a sign of how much of my life debate eats away. I'm not just neglecting you, dear people. I'm neglecting shmexy vampire boy things. So...yeah. -hands over more cookies- )
Anyway. I would give a book review, but there are plenty of those. Plus, I've still got like, twenty pages left. Stupid teachers keep teaching and making me pay attention to things like molecular geometry instead of, you know, finishing the book.
There is something fascinating about this book. And no. It isn't just the shmexy boys or the pretty cover (mygodiwanttolooklikethaaaat.) It's the reaction people keep giving.
To this point, there have been four people that have grabbed book, petted book, read parts of book, asked me about book, and one that about had a break down when I tried to talk about it. (On the upside, it was really kind of funny.)
I have never seen that reaction to a movie. To a magazine. To a video game, even.
(Fine. Maybe I have. Shut up.)
(Oh, crap, don't shut up. I'm sorry. Come back.) (Here. Take this. Please?)
Seriously. It was the best thing ever. People I've never talked to, people I thought were stuck up or annoying, people who think I'm pretentious and spend too much time talking about debate (ahemiprobablydocoughahem) suddenly engaged in deep conversation about the hotness of Dimitri/Adrian, the prettiness of the cover, the love of Lissa, and holycrapohmygoodness, who will Rose chose? 
I find this wonderful. I find this fascinating.
I find it a sign that books are now the new cool accessory.
Well. Fine. Ipods might still win. Or puppies.
Puppies might win. Or sparkly debate trophies. 
But personally, I would totally rather have the book.
(Okay. Fine. I want debate trophies too.) (And puppies.) 
But yeah.  The book is still best.