Sunday, April 11, 2010

ABNA "Vines" Reviews

Here are the full reviews mentioned here.  As with any review, I agree with some points (and made changes to address those a while ago) and not with others.  It's probably a good thing the first reviewer didn't get to see more of the story since ... um, yeah, it's sci-fi/fantasy.  (Gulp!)

Review #1

What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?

The main characters of this book are well sketched out and intriguing. Not over the top, utterly believable. (I would change the twins' names, though. Tasmin... all I could think of was tasmanian devil. Lareina... how do you pronounce that? It was distracting.) I would think the author has had some experience with the foster care system or with children having disabilities and disorders. 
I like that the author stays with the same set of characters from the first to the second chapter, adding new ones in gradually. Every other excerpt I've read jumps from one set of characters to another. The author is spinning out her story from one chapter to the next, building on the growing foundation. It's likely the narrative will follow a well-thought-out arc, not bounce around in episodic vignettes.

What aspect needs the most work?

Although I like all the many and varied characters, there is the possibility of the author going over the top with quirky and unbelievable characters. He/she will have to show some restraint, given the group home setting with the wide range of disabilities and disorders. While it is refreshing to see that these characters are normalized and treated sensitively, I also would not like the author to start imbuing them with extraordinary abilities or senses... like the deaf Tasmin staring off in her trance-like state or the autistic Ryan: "Sometimes I think you see more than we give you credit for." 
Also, for what it's worth, I did't like the almost-rape scene. It could have been grittier or more detailed, so I'm grateful the author left something to the imagination, but nevertheless, all I can say is that I think it's uncalled for. Perhaps I'm out of touch with the reality of young adult fiction. I know The House on Mango Street is on reading lists for this age group, and I didn't like the rape scene there either, literary or not. I know the world is a hard place, yadda, yadda, yadda, but I don't feel like we need to shove it in a child's face every time she/he opens a book. (If the scene must be left in, I would rethink it. Lareina gets out from under Jonathan far too easily. She must be outweighed. How does she do it? The author implies Jonathan's in some sort of pain, but I wasn't sure why. What was Lareina doing to him?)

What is your overall opinion of this excerpt?

Of the excerpts I've read thus far, this is the book I'd be most likely to continue reading. The school setting resonates with young adults, as well as the varied peer interactions. The dialog sounds genuine for the age group, and the main character doesn't display any preternatural wisdom beyond her years. The author has given Lareina a sly sense of humor and a natural, though not cloying, sensitivity to others. I'd be happy to spend more time in her company in this book.

Review #2

What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?

What a novel idea: two twin girls, one hearing impaired, growing up in a foster system, going to high school. The author takes this idea and runs with it, immediately drawing the reader into the story with great storytelling, some gentle ape appropriate humor, and immediate tension towards the end of the second chapter. By then, you are drawn to these diverse characters, and the event that ends the excerpt is truly surprising. This story has the potential to explore some interesting topics not frequently explored in youth adult fiction.

What aspect needs the most work?

My only hope that the attack at the end of the second chapter turns out well for these girls. By this time, you know and like them, and to have something so hideous happen concerns me greatly. I don't want this to be yet another female protagonist victim story, but one of empowerment for our girls.

What is your overall opinion of this excerpt?

This is truly unlike much of what I've been reading; two complete, interesting characters, set in an interesting setting, offers so many possibilities of what can happen. I am drawn to the uniqueness and novelty of the story, and feel that it is in great hands!


Gail Zerrade w/a Clarissa Southwick said...

Wow. These are great reviews. I applaud you for posting them. Good luck in the next round.

Gail Zerrade
From Baghdad with Love
ABNA quarterfinalist

Denise said...

Wonderful reviews!!! I'm irked by Review #2's use of "hearing impaired"... she is DEAF. :) Just my 2 cents. I'm proud of you lady!