I’ve had this post partially written, waiting in the wings for the past three months. Given that my next YA Quarterly box arrived on Saturday, I need to get this post finished. It’s taken me this long because I got it into my head that it would take too much time to think through (even though the bulk of it was written ages ago). Horrible logic, I know.
I’ve been participating in Book Riot’s YA Quarterly box since it began last year. The 4th round was the first that made me squee upon opening it. White Rabbit socks? Check. Postcard-size Enchanted Forest coloring pages? Check. We Are the Ants? Check…I was a very happy girl. More so when I realized that Ana of California used Anne of Green Gables as a starting platform. This was shaping up to be an awesome box.
Three months on, and I’ve read both books (one = love, one = meh), the socks are well-loved, and the postcards are uncolored because I haven’t made the time to sit down and do coloring of any kind.
Title: We Are the Ants
Author: Shaun David Hutchinson
Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 2016
Date Completed: January 24, 2016
Synopsis: Henry has been abducted by aliens multiple times. This time, the aliens tell him the world is going to end and give him the choice to save it or destroy it. He has 144 days to decide whether to push the “save” button or not. Because of all the turbulence and changes happening in his life, Henry doesn’t know if he wants to save the world.
Thoughts: The story is wonderful. The characters are perfectly imperfect. Beautiful, fractured, and broken people, each coping with their own demons and (perceived) faults and flaws. I also liked the ant analogy in the opening.
It was a fast read, but aspects of the story felt shallow or glossed over. In keeping a level of detachment and ambiguity with Henry’s mental illness, we never really get to go deeper. Readers are held at a distance, though this might be done on purpose since Henry holds everyone at a distance and doesn’t seem to be aware of having a mental illness.
Title: Ana of California
Author: Andi Teran
Publishing Info: Penguin Books, 2015
Date Completed: February 7, 2016
Synopsis: Ana has been bouncing around foster families and group homes for 10 years. As a last chance, she is sent from East L.A. to a farm in Northern California for the summer. Will Ana be able to make a place for herself on the farm, or will she be sent to a group home when the summer is over?
Thoughts: Initially, Ana of California feels like Ann of Green Gables plonked down in Northern CA. The opening felt like it was picked up from Edwardian Canada and put down in CA – a copycat more than an adaptation or homage.
The book was bumpy, and I ultimately did not like it. There was too much hidden special – too many people with problems/secrets/double lives/hidden talents/hidden angst. One or two special characters are fine, but when almost all of the first and second players are special, it becomes overwhelming. Everyone starts feeling like a stereotype or cliche – or trying to prove they are not. Rye was one of the worst offenders. I did not like how she treated Ana and used her as a scapegoat. She was annoying, petty, and self-absorbed. Rye was NOT best friend material. Frenemy, at best.