Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Tomorrow When the Blog Began

I want to write, at least occasionally, about books that do not necessarily have a big buzz factor, that are not the new darlings of the YA publishing world. Books that move me, of course, that I think are well done and finely written. Not reviews, as such, but more my personal reactions. Of course, I will write about the happy children of the publishing world, too, as I also read those books and admire many.

One book currently on my mind (and in almost direct contradiction to the step-child books that I just mentioned) is While I Live, by John Marsden, the first book of a new series called The Ellie Chronicles, which follows The Tomorrow series. I loved The Tomorrow series, even though I felt that none of the books was as good as the first, Tomorrow, When the War Began. I will provide no spoilers for While I Live, but will only say it moves at a different speed and thump than the previous books. One of the things I admire about all these books is how well they convey, by exact description and landscape-provoked mood, the nitty gritty aspects of farm life, life in the Australian bush, and life as both someone hunted and someone hunting someone else. I think that is hard to pull off--I could certainly never do it--and I admire Marsden tremendously for it.

As for my reaction to While I Live, I had difficulty transferring my expectations to the new focus, mood and pace of the book, and found myself speeding--skimming, really--through the last few chapters just to find out how it ended. However, once done, I felt miserable and haunted, as if I'd left something valuable behind by reading simply to satisfy only my own emotional needs, and not to fully experience what the author intended. I decided, as a solution, to read the series all over again, starting with Tomorrow, When the War Began, this time allowing myself a more leisurely pace to properly admire the workings of the books, and so that I might arrive once more at While I Live with a more balanced expectation.

Well, that's the plan.

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