Sunday, April 25, 2010

Book Review - Frankenstein

Okay, so I know this isn't a "current" book, YA, and it has nothing to do with writing. But I am a firm believer that a writer should take into account everything read, and so I'm leaving my thoughts.

(Plus, I just finished reading it for school, so I'm letting out my thoughts on it here.)

So, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Also knows as "the modern Prometheus." In France in the seventeen-hundreds, Victor Frankenstein, obsessed with his studies, discovers the secret to bringing life to inanimate life-forms, and thus the "creature" is born! (This is where I will state that referring to the creature as Frankenstein only promotes your own ignorance. Hollywood exploited this incorrect name. In fact, the creature has no name! the book anyway.)

So Frankenstein creates a monster, and all hell breaks loose, in his world that is. I'm not going to spoil it for anyone who may have had a desire to read it, so that's as far as I go.

Now, overall, I can't say I enjoyed this book too much. It's written in a language that, as an eighteen-year-old, I can't understand as well. It's easy to get lost in the text and gloss over the story that is being told. That being said, if you can manage to pay attention, there are some intense scenes that warrant Mary Shelley's legitimacy as being one of the greatest authors of all time.

One thing that I thoroughly enjoyed is a great literary element called the "frame story." In Frankenstein, you can count at least four different stories. It starts with Walton, writing letters to his sister. He comes across Frankenstein, who tells him his story, which is written by Walton in the letters. In the middle of Frankenstein's story, his creature tells him his own story of his life after being created. In the middle of that story, he tells the story of a group of cottagers. When that story is over, the creature continues. When the creature is finished, Frankenstein continues. And when Frankenstein ends his story, Walton continues in a few final letters to his sister.

It is a lot to keep track of, but it is definitely something that you don't see everywhere. It forces the mind to think. I wouldn't mind coming across this kind of story somewhere else.

Now I'm going to throw out another literary term for you all -- epistolary. An epistolary is a story that is told from a letter, journal, etc. How many people have written stories/novels like this, not knowing that there was a proper literary term for this?

All in all, Frankenstein isn't a horrible read, but you have to have yourself invested if you want to get through it. And if you think it's going to be like the movies -- the classic monster with the bolts in his neck and the lightning, and all those other cliches -- stop it now. It's nothing like that, and for that, it's probably better.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Book Review - Writing Great Books for Young Adults

My first installment of book reviewing is with the book Writing Great Books for Young Adults by Regina Brooks.

All in all, this book isn't the worst thing I've ever read. Now I know that's sort of a backhanded compliment, but I do have some qualms about it. I'll list the negative first, and then the positive.

  • Typos - I know it's not uncommon to see typos in published books, even through large, reputable publishers, but I counted quite a few. I saw them in every form--missing spaces, missing words, misspelled words, repeated words. It's a little concerning to see that many.
  • Pacing - It moved too fast if you ask me. It fits in everything from coming up with the idea to gaining an agent. While all that information is vital, it was squeezed in. Which brings me to...
  • Information - the important stuff was glossed over, and the easy stuff was repeated and broken down. Stuff I already knew about was broken down into lists and had multiple pages devoted to it. Stuff I didn't quite understand had maybe a paragraph or two.
  • Current - the listings, references, etc, are current. Anything in there is "now" rather than, ten or twenty years ago. So it's up-to-date, which is a good thing for a book about getting published.
  • Style - it isn't dry, stuffy, or boring. It's got a younger voice, so it's almost relatable.
  • Appendix - there are some great things in there, ranging from a list of major publishers, to a list of writing resources.
  • Do's and Don'ts - there were some detailed lists of cliches to avoid, which I really like.
  • Focus - there is a lot of focus on YA fiction, which is good. That's what it was supposed to have.
All in all, I'll recommend this book. It's easy to get through, and it deals out a lot of useful information. That being said, I wouldn't rely on it as the only book if you're looking to get published. If anything, I'd say this should be the first book you pick up. Don't necessarily take it with a grain of salt... (oh goodness! A cliche!) Take it with a little bit more than that. Put it on your bookshelf, or at least get it out of the library. It's worth your time if you're a serious YA writer, but don't make it your only resource.

If you want some of the stuff in there better explained, I'd suggest also purchasing (don't just get this one out of the library, you'll never get through it in time to return it) The Sell Your Novel Toolkit by Elizabeth Lyon.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

First Blog Post

As the title suggests, this is my first blog post for my first blog. I figure as an aspiring author, and an avid writer, it's time to get up to speed and get myself a blog. Here it is! This is mostly for convenience, but I'll probably update in one way or another. Book reviews, music reviews... both likely. News, thoughts, contests, and things about writing, also likely. Enjoy! I am Writer-Renegade... writing what might not be the norm...