Sunday, 19 May 2013

Review: Amy and Roger's Epic Detour

Title: Amy and Roger's Epic Detour
Author: Morgan Matson
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
First Published: May 2010
Format and Number of Pages: Paperback, 368

Amy's life has been in total upheaval since her father's death several months ago.  Her brother is in rehab and her mother has moved to Connecticut where she expects Amy to join her even though it's Amy's senior year of high school.  Amy's mom needs her to drive the family car from their home in California to Connecticut but Amy doesn't drive. That's where Roger comes in, the son of a family friend but a total stranger to Amy.  Amy's mom carefully plans the trip, limiting their adventures to boring towns, state highways and chain hotels.  So Amy and Roger decide to make their own route to Connecticut, taking one epic detour.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  Amy and Roger are awesome characters and I loved reading about what sounds like one of the funnest road trips ever.  Amy tells the story and I really liked her narration.  She's been through a lot in a very short amount of time and it shows in a realistic way.  She's pessimistic, distant and hesitant to leave her room, much less go on a road trip with a stranger.  But I related to her and it's clear from early on that this Amy is just a shadow of her old self.  Which is why it was a lot of fun to read about her adventure and see how she changes throughout the trip.  Amy's a great character and I wanted everything to work out for her.  Roger is also a really likable character.  He's sweet and fun but he's also very perceptive and accommodating towards Amy.  But Roger also has his problems and I liked watching him come to terms with things throughout the book as well.  I liked watching their relationship develop as they got to know each other and grew to trust and rely upon each other.  There were lots of side characters as well and even if we only saw them for a chapter or two they were well developed characters with their own back story which really added to the overall narrative.

Besides Amy and Roger, the setting was my favourite part of the book.  After reading this I feel like my understanding and appreciation for the United States has grown quite a lot.  When I think of the States I tend to focus on the big cities and so I don't know much about a lot of the places mentioned in this book.  It showed another part of the U.S. I never really considered and it made me want to visit a lot of these places myself.  Each destination that Amy and Roger visit felt unique and awesome in it's own way which added to the whole adventure aspect of the road trip.

This is a fast moving book.  It takes place over the span of a few days and many different locations.  I was always curious to see where Amy and Roger would end up next.  Morgan Matson added pictures, receipts and drawings to the book which really add to the overall story telling.  It makes reading this book a real experience and I felt like I was going along with them.  It adds another dimension to the story and lets the reader get a better understanding of Amy and Roger's relationship outside a traditional narrative.  It definitely made reading this book a lot of fun.

Overall I really liked this book.  Amy and Roger were likable characters and I loved watching their relationship develop.  This book is fast paced and a lot of fun and highlights a part of the United States I know very little about.  I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a fun, light read.  Definitely perfect for the upcoming summer!

Rating: 4/5

Review: Lock and Key by Sara Dessen

Lock and Key
Author: Sara Dessen
Publisher: Speak
First Published: April 2008
Format and Number of Pages: Paperback, 422

Ruby has lived most of her life depending only on herself.  Her mother has struggled for years with addiction and keeping a steady job, relying heavily on Ruby for help, until she suddenly disappears.  Ruby is fine with living on her own but her situation is discovered and she is forced to live with her older sister Cora who she hasn't seen in years.  Ruby is given the chance to start her life over in a new neighbourhood, attending a new school with a new friend in the adorable boy-next-door Nate.  She has the chance for a real future - but she won't be able to do it on her own.  But Ruby has only been able to trust and depend on herself for so long...can she really rely on the help of others? 

I was surprised at how many serious topics this book covered.  I picked this book up last summer thinking it would be a light romance.  I was surprised to find that this definitely wasn't the case.  The story is told by Ruby and she is a flawed character with a lot of difficult problems.  She's pessimistic and thinks everyone has an ulterior motive, a perspective I had a hard time sympathising with or liking.  But I understand why Ruby thinks and acts the way she does, she's been through a lot and I really wanted to see her overcome what she's been through and have a happy ending.  I enjoyed reading about Ruby because she grows a lot over the course of the book in a realistic way.  She stumbles quite a bit but it was interesting to watch her change and come to terms with what has happened.  

I enjoyed reading about most of the side characters as well.  Everyone has their own distinct personalities, back stories and problems.  There were a lot of little side stories that added to the larger story and made Ruby's world feel more complete.  I liked how Ruby interacted with the other characters and how she reacted to their problems and used her experiences with them to better understand herself.  I also loved reading about Ruby's relationship with her sister Cora.  I had expected the main focus to be on Ruby's relationship with Nate so I was pleasantly surprised when the sisters' relationship became a main focus.  

This book took me a long time to get through.  I found that the pace was very slow throughout most of the book.  While reading I was interested in what would happen to Ruby but I never felt much of a drive to pick it back up and keep reading.  I also felt that towards the end of the book Nate's story became more of a focus but I wasn't that interested in him or his story.  Though after finishing the book I was happy I had read it and was content with how things ended.

Overall I enjoyed this book.  Ruby's story had a lot more to it than I initially expected and I really enjoyed reading about her family.  I found the book to be slow paced but it was an interesting read.  I would recommend this book for fans of YA contemporary fiction or fans of Sara Dessen.  I think I'll pick up another book by her in the future! 

Rating: 3.5/5

What's your favourite Sara Dessen book?  Let me know in the comments!

Tag: 20th Century Books

This tag was started by Leslie at WordsofaReader.  You can check out her original video here.  The idea is that you pick a book that you have read that was written in (or takes place in) each decade of the 1900's.  I had a lot of fun doing this tag, it was quite challenging for me to find a book that was published in each decade.  So here are my picks! 

1900's: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum barely made the cut for the first decade of the 1900's as it was first published in 1900.  I read this book last year and thoroughly enjoyed following Dorthy on her adventures in Oz. 

1910's: For this I chose another childhood classic, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, first published in 1911.  This was one of my favourite books as a child and made me want a secret garden of my own!

1920's: Probably the easiest pick on this list; The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, first published in 1925, is considered by many to be the embodiment of the 1920's. 

1930's: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier was first published in 1938 and it's one of my all time favourite books.  I highly recommend it to anyone who loves Gothic literature. 

1940's: Another book targeted towards younger readers; A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, first published in 1943, is a fantastic coming of age story about a young girl in early 1900's Brooklyn. 

1950's: Another easy pick, The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, first published in 1954 is another childhood favourite.

1960's: My favourite book that I was forced to read in high school; To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, first published in 1960, is one of those quintessential American classics everyone should read at some point.

1970's: I was told once that I hadn't read "proper" vampire fiction until I had read The Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice, first published in 1976. 

1980's: This was the hardest decade for me to find a book for.  I ended up picking Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murikami, first published in 1987.

1990's: There were several childhood favourites I could have gone with for this decade but I ended up picking The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman, first published in 1995.

 What books would you pick for each decade?  Do the tag yourself or leave your answers in the comments below!