Review #3: Written for a teen audience
March by John Lewis
“We are going to stay here in Selma until every person of color can register and vote.”
– March Book 3
In this intense political climate we live in today, it’s important to learn from both the failures and victories of our past. March is a series that shows some of the uglier moments in American history, but it’s also a hopeful story of proud activists who demanded that their voices be heard.
John Lewis grew up very poor in segregated Alabama. Determined to bring about change, he allied himself with like minded people and became an activist for racial justice. These activists began by participating in peaceful sit in protests. This led Lewis to bigger, more dangerous protests, including the 1963 March on Washington. The winner of the 2016 National Book Award, March is a three book graphic novel series with beautiful black and white illustrations by Nate Powell.
Personally, I love a good underdog tale. I love stories of characters who succeed against “the man”, despite the odds being stacked against them. That’s why March was a series I went into knowing I’d enjoy it, and I wasn’t wrong! If you like compelling nonfiction stories about underdogs who triumph, check out March.
Review #4: Written for a teen audience
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, Inspired by Siobhan Dowd (Narrated by Jason Isaacs)
To refresh my memory on this book for the review, I decided to listen to the audiobook.
“The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do.”
I dare you to read this and not use a single tissue.
A Monster Calls is an emotional fantasy-horror novel. Conor’s mother is sick with cancer. At night he receives a visit from a monster, who tells him three stories before telling Conor that he must tell his own story and reveal his “truth”. The first half of the book is a little confusing, as the stories the monster tells are pointless even to Conor. However, the way the monster ties these stories together in order to help Conor understand his truth in the end is both profound and heartbreaking. If you’ve ever lost a loved one, you will likely relate to Conor. The book is worth reading, as it contains gorgeous illustrations, but I think the audiobook is also worth giving a listen. Narrator Jason Isaacs also does an excellent job portraying the monster!
This book is a fantastical journey of love, loneliness, and acceptance. If you like like compelling, emotional stories with a character driven plot, then A Monster Calls will likely be a great fit for you.
For the professional reviews, I consulted The New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and Kirkus Reviews. I also consulted a Goodreads reviewer, as well as a Canadian blogger at Burning x Impossibly x Bright (who also reviewed the audiobook!).
– Tone it Down
The biggest difference between the amateur and professional reviews is, unsurprisingly, the tone. The amateur reviews are less formal, especially the blogger. She frequently uses exclamatory statements, and very openly expresses her adoration of the book. The word “fangirl” would be appropriate here. She also encourages her audience to join in on the conversation (“And is anyone else a fan of going back and listening to an audiobook version of their favourite stories?”), and is the only reviewer to do so.
– All the Feels
The Goodreads reviewer, the blog, and Publishers Weekly all wrote glowing reviews. The New York Times and Kirkus Reviews weren’t as generous, but still very positive as well. The New York Times, and the Goodreads reviewer all wrote emotional reviews, where they admit to crying. The blog was also very emotional, but in a positive way. She frequently “gushes” over the book.
– Picture This
All of the reviewers comment on the book’s illustrations, except for the blogger because she reviewed the audiobook. The Goodreads reviewer says the book is worth buying a copy of for the pictures alone. Kirkus Reviews compliments the way the illustrations and the text work together.
– Listen Up
Audiobook reviews were harder to find! I’m glad I found the blogger’s review for this reason. It was also a review of her experience rereading A Monster Calls, which was interesting. She talks about how she enjoys going back to books she’s already read and listening to the audiobook version of it, as it gives her a different experience with a story she already likes.
– Cover Story
There is none! None of these reviews mention the cover anywhere. This might have to do with the fact that most of them took the time to comment on the illustrations. I did notice that the Goodreads reviewer has a shelf called “Coverly Love” on her account, which A Monster Calls was not shelved on, though this doesn’t necessarily mean she doesn’t like the cover.