Monday, July 19, 2010

Lessons From a Dead Girl

Lessons From a Dead Girl by Jo Knowles

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Candlewick
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0763632791
ISBN-13: 978-0763632793
From Amazon: Leah Greene is dead. For Laine, knowing what really happened and the awful feeling that she is, in some way, responsible set her on a journey of painful self-discovery. Yes, she wished for this. She hated Leah that much. Hated her for all the times in the closet, when Leah made her do those things. They were just practicing, Leah said. But why did Leah choose her? Was she special, or just easy to control? And why didn’t Laine make it stop sooner? In the aftermath of the tragedy, Laine is left to explore the devastating lessons Leah taught her, find some meaning in them, and decide whether she can forgive Leah and, ultimately, herself.
This slim book was so compelling that I read it in on sitting. With every turn of the page, the antagonist Leah Greene, is consistently harassing, to the point of abusing, her "so called" friend forever, Laine McCarthy.

It was so easy for me to see signs of "battered woman syndrome" in Laine, wanting to be a part of Leah's "in group," up to the point of allowing herself to be abused. Leah and Laine are like night and day, and they barely seem to meet in the middle.

The title of the book gives you a clue as to the ending of the book, but still you are not ready for the ending and you keep hoping things will turn out better. The control vs. submissive games or "practice" played out by these little girls, gives the brain food for thought on how these patterns may haunt other young children and teens. This story is definitely not one of those "feel good" teen books, but it makes you look at a different side of bullying and abuse. It is not until the end of the book that we understand the reason Leah has tormented Laine.

This is the first book I have read by Knowles and I look forward to more of her work in the future.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (#3 in the Millennium Trilogy) by Stieg Larsson

Hardcover: 576 pages
Publisher: Knopf
Language: English
ISBN-10: 030726999X
ISBN-13: 978-0307269997
Amazon Best Books of the Month, May 2010: As the finale to Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest is not content to merely match the adrenaline-charged pace that made international bestsellers out of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played with Fire. Instead, it roars with an explosive storyline that blows the doors off the series and announces that the very best has been saved for last. A familiar evil lies in wait for Lisbeth Salander, but this time, she must do more than confront the miscreants of her past; she must destroy them. Much to her chagrin, survival requires her to place a great deal of faith in journalist Mikael Blomkvist and trust his judgment when the stakes are highest. To reveal more of the plot would be criminal, as Larsson's mastery of the unexpected is why millions have fallen hard for his work. But rest assured that the odds are again stacked, the challenges personal, and the action fraught with neck-snapping revelations in this snarling conclusion to a thrilling triad. This closing chapter to The Girl's pursuit of justice is guaranteed to leave readers both satisfied and saddened once the final page has been turned.
I love Lisbeth Salander - she is the perfect hero. Treated violently throughout her childhood and involuntarily committed to an insane asylum at the age of 11, she has had to fight and claw her way to a somewhat "normal" existence. This last book sees Lisbeth come full circle and open herself to the few friends she truly has in her life.

I was so sad to see this book end because I know there will be not further books by Larsson (he died in 2004, shortly after turning in the manuscripts for all 3 books). There is rumor of a 1/2 finished 4th book, but I'm not sure if this is true.

Without giving away much of the plot, I can honestly say I was happy with the way the trilogy ended. I have told everyone in my life they need to read these books. Larsson had a way with words that truly sucks you right into the story.

There is currently a Swedish film for the first book - entitled "The Man Who Hated Women." They are also in pre-production for an American film and it will have the same title as the American book, "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." I currently have the Swedish film in my Netflix queue waiting patiently to watch it.