Sunday, November 18, 2007

Before I Die by Jenny Downham


I finally finished Skin Hunger, by Kathleen Duey. It was one of the books nominated for the National Book Award and Patti reviewed it last month. I liked it as much as Patti did. I'm not a reader who will pick a fantasy book up without an introduction to it first. I'm a reluctant fantasy reader (don't even ask about sci-fi) so what I end up reading is usually very good. But this book is more entertaining than Cats. I will read it again and again. Seven stars! If you like to read books, and you like to eat bacon or other fried types of skin, Skin Hunger will keep you hungry for more. It will fill you up but won't let you down. Looking forward to the sequel about the enchanted sausage for sure.

I've been hacked! This is what I get for walking away and answering the phone.

Here's a question: how do you feel about fantasy books, taking place in other time make believe lands, having characters drop the F-Bomb? The author has the characters say/think shit quite a bit, which flustered me at first but then I got over it. When the F-Bomb popped up, it really surprised me. And I found a typo, which is always fun:

He was a violent man. Had be been a cruel boy?

On to the Main Event:

I admittedly didn't want to read it when the ARC was delivered to my library and even after talk surfaced about how amazing it is and how it is a shame that it's a "teen" novel. [note: If anyone can find that quote, I'd appreciate it.] I mean, really, "before I die"... how lame. And depressing. I wasn't in the mood to have my emotions manipulated so easily. Also, the publisher writes such a lusty introduction on how this book is "gold dust" and you must read it. Another turn off. But last night after I finished Skin Hunger I was, well, hungry, to read more and this was on my bookshelf.

I read this article in the NYT last month and looking at it now, I am completely taken back by the fact that the ONE passage I marked to quote here is the exact same one the reviewer quotes. As well as 7-IMP!! This is a wonderfully written novel. I read it all last night. I started at 10 and finished around 2. I didn't turn into a weeping pajama bag until Tessa had sex with Adam... and then it was every other chapter for the rest of the novel. This rarely happens with books for me. In fact, I'm trying to think of the last book I cried over and can't. I will also admit to you, dear reader, that last month I stayed up until 2 A.M. watching Beaches. I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed but would not turn the TV off. This book had the same effect. I had to get through it. I was wrecked and it felt good.

There's nothing new here storywise: sick girl dies. Downham's language is spot-on fantastic and it lifts the novel out of the realm of "one of those hideous book where the girl dies." This is most certainly a teen novel. Of course adults will like it, just like my girlfriends and I watched the adult drama Beaches over and over and over back in the day. No one is far from the mystery of death and the fact that your life will end. Your loved ones will go on and you will not. Unlike the car accident that she sees, Tessa has a little time. She is a perfect guide on this journey to "the edge" as she calls it. She'll haunt you like Liz and what a beautiful spirit she'll be.


Patti said...

I liked Before I Die a whole bunch too. I thought her voice was spot on. I just believed everything she was telling me. I cried a lot too - especially at the end. When she's drifting in and out of consciousness. Gah!

Funny stuff on Skin Hunger. I forgot that it was really all about bacon (but really, isn't all of life?). I don't know how, it was so central to the plot :)

joanna said...

Oh yes, I can't wait for the sausage edition. As if I wasn't starving through Skin Hunger as it was.

I'm listening to the songs that Tessa wants played at her funeral. I admit I was taken back that she wanted Tim McGraw. ??

Michelle said...

That was the most confusing blog ever! What were you talking about in the middle part? Hacking? Was that you????

joanna said...

Greg got a hold of my post when I went to answer the phone. I kept it in there b/c I think it's muy funny.