Tuesday, July 21, 2015

I Crawl Through It (a book review)

I Crawl Through It by A.S. King

Released: September 22, 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown
Pages: 336

A boldly surreal novel from one of the best YA writers working today.

Four talented teenagers are traumatized-coping with grief, surviving trauma, facing the anxiety of standardized tests and the neglect of self-absorbed adults--and they'll do anything to escape the pressure. They'll even build an invisible helicopter, to fly far away to a place where everyone will understand them... until they learn the only way to escape reality is to fly right into it.

Buy a SIGNED COPY at Aaron's Books

I Crawl Through It was my first dip into the surrealism genre. And it was a great first read. It took me a little bit to get into at first, but then the rest of it flew by. It's a bizarre book, but in a good way. It definitely stands out from everything else I've read.

The story mainly follows four characters: Stanzi, Gustav, China, and Lansdale. Stanzi is a girl who feels as if she's two people crammed into one body. She loves dissection and thinks her mother is Hawkeye Pierce. Gustav is a boy who's building an invisible helicopter able to be seen by very few (even Stanzi can only see it on Tuesdays). Lansdale is a compulsive liar whose hair grows like Pinocchio's nose. China is a girl who sometimes turns herself inside out. She writes poetry to be heard.

The plot is simple, but it's the details that really make the story. Everything about it is short and to the point, but poetic. It's a story about not fitting into boxes (or in this case, ovals) and understanding the questions before you can know the answers.

As for the characters, I can't pick a favorite. They were all so unique. I did feel incredibly sorry for each of them, though. The adults in this book were absent, negligent, and avoided tough topics to the point of letting the teens stew in their own guilt and grief. You're never quite sure what exactly happened to each of them throughout the book until the end when everything starts to piece together, and I loved that.

Overall, it was a fantastic read. I'd love to be able to compare it to another book or two, but it's impossible to categorize since the whole story is about not being categorized. So I'll recommend it to everyone. Once you accept the fact that you can swallow yourself or let your hair grow ten feet in one night or fly an invisible helicopter, you'll hardly even notice the time passing.

Meet the author:

A.S. King is best known for her award-winning young adult novels, though she writes novel-length and short fiction for adults as well. After more than a decade in Ireland dividing herself between self-sufficiency, restoring her farm, teaching adult literacy, and writing novels, she returned to the US in 2004. Amy now lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and children, teaches  writing at Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program, and is a huge fan of Kurt Vonnegut, corn on the cob, libraries, and roller skating.

Connect with A.S. King:
Twitter: @AS_King
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/as.king.author

What are your favorite delightfully bizarre books? Leave a comment!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Happy End-of-the-World-that-Wasn't!

Today--July 15th, 2015--marks the day Grijalva would've hit if it hadn't missed. Celebrate by reading your favorite Fauxpocalypse stories! You can buy a copy at Aaron's Books. Here's my contribution to the anthology, It's the End of the World As We Know It:


Tomorrow my life will end.
    Hold up, I'm not talking about suicide or anything. Nothing that dramatic. No, I'm talking about the end of the world.
    Hold the screaming! I know the scientists have proven it. I know everyone's at home, hugging family and friends and saying their goodbyes, but I'm not.
    Why waste your time on something that's never going to happen?
    I know I said that my life was going to end tomorrow, but that was just a trap to get you to read my story.
    Did it work?
    My story is just way too interesting for anybody to ignore.
    Little Rock, AR, USA--14July2015. 3:00 p.m.
    "Aren't you worried?" my best friend Ellie asks me in her Southern drawl.
    "Worried about what?" I ask, licking a drip of ice cream off of my hand.
    "Worried about what's going to happen after tomorrow."
    "What's going on tomorrow?"
    Ellie stares at me as if I'm an alien riding the comet that's supposed to destroy the world.
    "You can't be serious, Natalie."
    "Ohhh," I say, smacking my forehead with the palm of my hand. "That. No, I'm not worried. Not at all. It shouldn't hurt if it's supposed to hit the Earth and destroy it in a few seconds, right? I mean, it should just be like, boom! Life over. World destroyed. Kablooie!"
    Ellie shakes her head with her lower lip stuck out.
    "What? What did I say?"
    "That wasn't what I meant. I meant, aren't you worried what's going to happen after the world ends?"
    "It's not gonna end, Ells," I say, rolling my eyes. "I'm sure of it."
    I’m sure of it. Part of me wonders if I’m saying all of this just to convince myself. I shake off the doubt quickly and listen to Ellie’s next outrageous statement.
    "The sooner you accept it, the better. You need to spend time thinking about your sins."
    "My what?"
    "Your sins. You know, the things that you've done wrong. Think about the people you've hurt, including yourself. What have you done wrong?"
    "What twisted guilt trip is this?"
    "Natalie you need to repent. Don't worry, God will forgive you."
    "God doesn't exist," I say with a shrug.
    Ellie gasps and covers her mouth, her brown eyes round with pain and worry. "You'd better repent fast. You don't want to end up in hell. Forever's a long time."
    I turn to face Ellie and put my hands on her shoulder. It's an easy reach, since I'm a good three or four inches taller than her.
    "The. World. Is. Not. Going. To. End," I say slowly, shaking her gently for emphasis. "And God doesn't exist. Neither does the devil or Satan or whatever the heck you call him. Where's the proof?"
    "There is no proof. Not like science. You can feel him in your heart."
    She places her hand over her heart and closes her eyes, taking a deep breath. She takes my hand and places it over my heart.
    "What do you feel?" she says seriously, gazing up at me.
    I raise my eyebrows. "The beating of a healthy heart. Why?"
    Ellie backs away, looking concerned. She takes my hand and squeezes it. "If you end up in hell, I want you to know that I will always be your best friend."
    "Good to know. Thanks for that. Now if you will please exit the church?”
    Ellie rolls her eyes.
    11:00 p.m.
That night, my mom and dad spent what feels like forever hugging and kissing me. They assure me that they love me and will always love me and that it shouldn't hurt when the world ends. I humor them by hugging them back, refraining from letting some sarcastic comment slip from my lips.
    The only good things are that they don't make me go to bed, and I'm allowed to have whatever I want for dinner.
    "You should enjoy your last day on Earth," Mom says with tears in her eyes.
    "Do whatever you want," Dad says. "We love you."
    I hug them and trot off happily to the kitchen, where I gorge myself on cookies and order pizza delivery.
    My parents, along with most of our highly religious neighbors, have decided that they should spend their last day on Earth at home with their family. Unlike most of the world, they don't want to hop on planes to go to Disneyland or Europe before they die. They just want to sit around, holding hands and making bargains with God.
    “I can’t believe I managed to get pizza delivery tonight of all nights,” I say. I hand the pizza delivery guy some money and take the pizza box. It smells like cheese and doughy bread.
    The pizza guy shrugs.
    “I just don’t buy it,” he says. “The apocalypse? Really? This is the sort of stuff you hear about in sci-fi movies set in the year three-thousand.”
    I grin and high-five him before he leaves.
    The night is a long one. No one sleeps, no one eats, no one does anything but curl up on the couch and wait for the end.
    It's eleven thirty at night and we're moping around like someone's just died. I start to feel little twinges in my stomach despite the fact that I firmly believe we’ll be okay. For the most part.
    When the grandfather clock in our house chimes twelve, my mom squeals and hugs my dad. Dad makes me join the group hug. I can't make out what either of them are saying, due to all of the snot and tears trickling into their mouths.
    "I don't wanna die!" Mom says. "I don't want the world to end!"
    "It's the end of the world as we know it," I sing to myself.
    Dad glares at me.
    "As the comet comes closer to Earth, we bid everyone farewell and a pleasant afterlife," the man on the news channel says. His voice cracks at the end of his report and the screen goes black.
    I manage to squirm away from the group hug and glance out the window. I don't see any sign of a comet or anything remotely scary-looking.
    I see my drum set out of the corner of my eyes. An idea pops into my head and I sneak over to it.
My mom and dad jump about a foot in the air and I drop onto the floor, laughing like a madman. The bass drum is still ringing, but no one can hear it because my parents are screaming at me for playing "such a nasty trick" on them. My laughter drowns them out.
    The minute hand moves forward on the clock, indicating that: one, the world didn't end; two, we all look like idiots now (except for me); three, we've wasted a whole day of our lives doing nothing but sit around and look depressed; and, four, I'm going to puke from the amount of junk food I've eaten for the past two days.
    "Jesus Christ," Mom says weakly. It's a mark of how shocked she is, taking the Lord's name in vain. She stands up, legs shaking, and looks out the window.
    "The world didn't end," Dad says. He's staring at the clock. It's now 12:02 a.m. "The world didn't end!"
    The realization dawns on them and they jump up and down, hugging each other and squealing with delight. Tears of joy roll down their face and they squeeze each other, babbling incoherently.
    I just vomit all over the carpet.

What would you do if you thought it was your last day on Earth? What are your favorite stories from the Fauxpocalypse anthology? Leave a comment and happy doomsday!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

June Wrap-Up

Books I Read

The Martian by Andy Weir


This was a really good sci-fi read, but it doesn't really feel like sci-fi. It seems like the kind of story that could actually happen in real life. The beginning was really good, and the second half of the book especially excellent. Some of the middle parts were slow, and there were a lot of nitty gritty details that I ended up skimming because of how long it got. But overall, great book. (And they're making it into a movie, which I'm really excited for.)

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven


If Eleanor & Park and Paper Towns got together and had a book baby, this would be the result. It's fantastic. It grabs you right away, keeps your attention the whole way through, and leaves you in tears at the end. There's not much more you can ask for in a book. (And they're making this one into a movie, too!)

Movies I Watched

"Home Alone 3"


This movie was just "meh," but I was watching it with a couple of friends and we had more fun making sarcastic commentary the whole time than we did actually watching it. It's a great movie for that.

"Inside Out"


One of my all-time favorite Pixar movies. It makes you laugh, makes you cry, and is totally clever. All of the characters in it were unique and interesting, and there were a ton of female leads! Go watch it immediately.

"Ferris Beuler's Day Off" (a rewatch)


This is one of my favorite eighties movies. It's so goofy, but so good. Simple plot, small cast of characters, and good music. It's a good summer movie and tons of fun.

"The Princess Bride" (a rewatch)


Out of every eighties movie I've watched so far, this is probably my favorite. It's delightfully cheesy, very quotable, and funny. Although Buttercup drives me crazy, I love every other character in it.

Obsessions I Acquired

Mindy Gledhill She has a very unique voice and great music! My favorite song by her is probably "Pocketful of Poetry," although it's all good. I love the music video, too.

Picture of the Month

This is so perfect. And it includes some of my favorite characters from three of my major fandoms.

How was your June?