This is Our Story

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme held by Breaking the Spine


Author: Ashley Elston
Publication Date: November 15
Publisher: Disney Press

No one knows what happened that morning at River Point. Five boys went hunting. Four came back. The boys won’t say who fired the shot that killed their friend, Grant; the evidence shows it could have been any one of them.

Kate Marino’s senior year internship at the District Attorney’s Office isn’t exactly glamorous-more like an excuse to leave school early that looks good on college applications. Then the DA hands her boss, Mr. Stone, the biggest case her small town of Belle Terre has ever seen. The River Point Boys are all anyone can talk about. Despite their damning toxicology reports the morning of the accident, the DA wants the boys’ case swept under the rug. He owes his political office to their powerful families.

Kate won’t let that happen. Digging up secrets without revealing her own is a dangerous line to walk; Kate has personal reasons for seeking justice for Grant. As she investigates with Stone-the aging prosecutor relying on Kate to see and hear what he cannot-she realizes that nothing about the case-or the boys-is what it seems. Grant wasn’t who she thought he was, and neither is Stone’s prime suspect. As Kate gets dangerously close to the truth, it becomes clear that the early morning accident might not have been an accident at all-and if Kate doesn’t uncover the true killer, more than one life could be on the line including her own.

Jess, Chunk, and the Road Trip to Infinity

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme held by Breaking the Spine

Author: Kristin Elizabeth Clark
Publication Date: November 8
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

The last time Jess saw her father, she was a boy. Now she’s a high school graduate, soon to be on her way to art school. But first she has some unfinished business with her dad. So she’s driving halfway across the country to his wedding. He happens to be marrying her mom’s ex-best friend. It’s not like Jess wasn’t invited; she was. She just never told anyone she was coming. Surprise!

Luckily, Jess isn’t making this trip alone. Her best friend, Christophe—nicknamed Chunk—is joining her.

Along the way, Jess and Chunk learn a few things about themselves—and each other—which call their feelings about their relationship into question.

As someone with Trans friends, I’m always excited when I see books with trans characters because I want to read them a) so I can recommend them to my friends, and b) to help me understand them better.

This one throws in the “life changing road trip” trope that I am all here for, so its definitely going on my TBR

Novels of Ideas

I stumbled across a lovely phrase that really stuck with me in a Crash Course video the other day: Novels of Ideas.

A novel of ideas (which I shall be calling NOI for the sake of simplicity), according to John Green, is a novel that is “primarily about its ideas” rather than being about the story itself. This includes books such as William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, George Orwell’s 1984, and many more. Now what do all of these books have in common besides being a NOI? I hate them.

“A novel of ideas is only as good or as bad as its ideas.”

– John Green

I must agree with the above sentiment from John Green, which is expressed in the video that inspired this blog post/rant/discussion. A NOI is, after all, written to teach a moral and therefore is better to be read in philosophy class rather than read for fun. It wants to teach you something, is a genre (overwhelming) written by old white males, and is (thankfully) going out of style in more recent years. It seems that today NOI are being published overwhelmingly in the Christian Literature genre. In these novels there is a very easy to find ‘flaw’ in the main character, and, once it is resolved, she (because that is almost always who the main character is) is able to settle down with a Good Christian husband and lead a Good Christian life. This is a bit different from NOI where often there were religious themes, however, there was seldom such a happy ending. (Please don’t think I’m mocking any religion by comparing it to NOI, I am not, I am however, not a fan of Christian Lit.)

Another thing that could be compared to NOI (and, for that matter, Christian Lit) are the ancient epics which tell tales of humanity and its many, many, many flaws (take for example The Odyssey by Homer where the main character messes up constantly, has PTSD, murders a ton of people, and is still regarded as a great hero). Epics were written to tell tales, but at the same time they were meant to teach important lessons (because many ancient religions lacked a ‘main’ religious text similar to The Bible or the Quran, people had to read into the texts to see how they were supposed to act. As such you could justify almost any action in Ancient Greece, including sleeping with your mother (I’m looking at you Oedipus).

I believe a NOI is not the same as a satire. A NOI takes itself very seriously and thinks it is an interesting work, a satire, on the other hand, does not take itself too seriously (on the outside), and knows when to take a break from the lesson and throw in some fun. At the end of the day the author of a novel of ideas is – for better or for worse – trying to impose their moral views on you rather than just tell you a story.

“Some books are undeservedly forgotten. None are undeservedly remembered.”

– W.H. Auden

Is that a bad thing? Of course not, there are many books that both tell a story and teach a lesson. Harry Potter by JK Rowling comes to mind. Harry Potter is, at its core, a book about the most true form of magic: friendship and love. But very few would argue that it is not still a good story. The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien teaches about the value of friendship and over coming differences and the strengths of the underdog. George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire teaches the very true lesson that incest will not end well and rape will be ignored as long as the perpetrator is a good looking or powerful man. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins manages to tackle some of the same issues as 1984 – like governmental power and media bias and corruption – and still tell a very interesting story at the same time.

So, now for the big question: what do you think about a so-called Novel of Ideas?

Going Geek

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme held by Breaking the Spine


Author: Charlotte Huang
Publication Date: September 13
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books

A girl forced out of her comfort zone finds that being true to herself is the best way to live her life, in this second novel from the author of For the Record.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Skylar Hoffman’s senior year at her preppy East Coast boarding school should have been perfect:

  • amazing boyfriend
  • the coolest friends
  • the most desirable dorm

But it’s far from it. To her dismay, Skylar’s not going to rule senior year because she’s stuck in Abbot House, a tiny dorm known for, well, nothing. Living with a group of strangers everyone thinks is lame is bad enough. Worse is that Skylar wasn’t exactly truthful about how she spent summer break in Los Angeles—and her little white lie is causing her once rock-solid romance to crumble fast. And when it turns out that Skylar’s best friend is the one responsible for having her booted from Lincoln? It’s an all-out war.

Stepping out of her comfort zone never felt so scary—or necessary. But everything is different now. Including, maybe, Skylar herself . . .

The Hawkweed Prophecy

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme held by Breaking the Spine

Title: The Hawkweed Prophecy
Author: Irena Brignull
Publication Date: September 6
Publisher: Weinstein Publishing

In order to ensure her own daughter becomes the prophesized leader of her people, powerful witch Raven Hawkweed uses magic to switch her sister’s daughter with a human child at birth. More than 15 years later, the two girls, Ember and Poppy, finally meet. Both feel out of place in their lives—Ember living among witches but unable to cast a spell, and Poppy dogged by strange occurrences she can’t explain, as she overflows with magic she doesn’t understand—and they form a hungry friendship that brings them into tantalizing contact with the lives they should have had. As they come closer to learning the truth about themselves, the danger rises in both the magical and mundane worlds.

I’m always excited for witches and the “swapped at birth” trope. Yes its over done, but it can be very interesting!! I also love stories of young girls dealing with things that are out of their control – in this case, magic – and struggling with their families.

Ocarina of Time 3D

Media Monday
Game Review

I cannot express my love for this game enough, its simply phenomenal. I can’t get over the characters, the story, the graphics…. any of it! Its certainly one of my favorite – if not my absolute favorite – Zelda game of all time (and I’ve played quite a few).

The Story

Fun Fact: Shortly before the game starts, there was a massive civil war in Hyrule that is what caused Link to be orphaned, and its when Gannondorf swore allegiance to the king (which, as we all know, lasted no time at all).

Then the game as we know it starts with Link growing up in the village as the boy without a fairy. Princess Zelda grows up in the castle, keeping a sharp eye on Gannondorf who she doesn’t trust (rightly so).

A fun fact: In one of the earlier games, the king of Hyrule was tricked into putting his sister, Princess Zelda, into a permanent sleep. After realizing he had royally screwed up he made a royal decree that all girls born into their family would be named after her. Although this is complicated by the timeline splits I talk about later, its still interesting.

Thats when Link goes to Zelda, and Gannondorf attacks. Thats when the game gets complicated, with Link jumping back and forth between his youngerself and his older self in order to save Hyrule.

Fun Fact: Link’s time hopping actually causes the timeline to spit into three more timelines. If he is successful he creates two timelines: the child era becomes the timeline where Majora’s Mask, Twilight Princess, and the Four Swords take place; the adult era creates the timeline of the Wind Waker, the Phantom Hourglass, and Spirit Tracks. If he is defeated he creates the timeline of Link to the Past, Oracle of Ages/Seasons, Link’s Awakening, The Legend of Zelda, and Adventure of Link. You can see a cool graph that shows this here.

The Gameplay

This was the first time I ever played a handheld Zelda game that wasn’t the childish, cartoony style of Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks and I love it. It really brings Hyrule to life in a way that the childish ones weren’t ever able to do for me (even though I didn’t realize it at the time). At the time I loved those two games more than anything, but after having played this and Majora’s Mask I realized how simple they really were in comparison to the rest of the Zelda Franchise.

Fun Fact: After defeating Gannon, Link wakes up as a child and runs and warns Zelda. He then goes wandering aimlessly and that’s when he stumbles upon the Skull Kid and Majora’s Mask starts.

The controls are intuitive and easy to get the hang of, and the few masks you can pick up and play with are really great teasers for the sequel Majora’s Mask. I love running around Hyrule, but my only complaint is the sheer amount of time that it takes to run across Hyrule field. Yes I know that, at the time the game was first produced, such a large world was a huge deal, but did the field have to be that big?

Overall

This is one of my favorite Zelda games (and I’ve played quite a few) and really got me hooked on the more detailed style of Majora’s Mask, Skyward Sword, and Twilight Princess.

Now, speaking of large worlds, who’s ready for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild?