Book Review: Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston

Exit, Pursued by a BearAuthor: E.K. Johnston

Genre: YA, Contemporary

Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: March 15, 2016

248 pages, hardcover

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

I won’t lie – I was first attracted to this book by its title. “Exit, pursued by a bear” is my favorite stage direction EVER, and I was so excited about a book with that title. And then I read it, and WOAH.

EXIT, PURSUED BY A BEAR is so important. The best part of this book, in my opinion, is that it shows a different way to react to, cope with, and live after a sexual assault. There are a lot of different ways to deal with something like this, and it’s good that we’ve got a book here that shows something other than the girl who is completely consumed by what has happened to her. Those stories are definitely important too, but we need books about ALL the ways to react to this situation.

I LOVE best friend stories, and the best friend in this book – Polly – is the best of the best friends. She’s so supportive but also honest, sometimes brutally so (this was one of the instances where I wasn’t quite so fond of the book).

Hermione Winters (I love the allusions to the play that the title comes from – Hermione is a main character in The Winter’s Tale, hence Hermione Winters – but Johnston also updated it and mentioned her dad’s love of HP) refuses to be a victim. She will not quit, and she doesn’t let what’s happened to her define who she will be in the future. And I really, really appreciate this.

The bottom line: A quick, significant, emotional story about an important topic, a beautiful, supportive friendship, and a fierce, strong MC. It’s worth your time.

Rating: 7 – pretty good

 

Book Review: The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith

The Alex Crow by Andrew SmithAuthor:  Andrew Smith

Genre: young adult, sci-fi, contemporary

Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: March 10, 2015

336 pages, hardcover

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

The Alex Crow was my first Andrew Smith book, and I was pretty blown away. This book is nuts, you guys. It’s remarkably strange and different and weird, and I loved it. I’m not even really sure how to review it because of how weird it was, but I’ll try.

Andrew Smith expertly weaves together three seemingly separate story lines about a melting man who was told by Joseph Stalin to build a bomb and travel hundreds of miles to set it off, an exploratory ship from the 1880s (called The Alex Crow) on its way to the North Pole, and a Middle Eastern boy named Ariel (AH-riel, get it straight) who is the lone survivor of his village being murdered by a terrorist group and is now living in the US. It’s surprisingly hard to go into much detail about the plot of this book without giving anything away, but I was completely enthralled and shocked with how it all came together.

I loved the focus on friendship in this book. Ariel, his adoptive brother Max (aka he of the innumerable euphemisms for masturbation), and Cobie, the only other sane kid at the camp where the three of them are sent, bond over the uncontrollable situation they’ve been thrown into. They go through a lot of crazy stuff, and it brings them closer.

This is a layered, complicated story that actually goes a lot deeper than what meets the eye. It brings up a lot of hard issues like morality, race, gender, friendship, and kindness. It’s not always the easiest book to read nor is it like anything else you’ve ever read (or at least anything I’ve ever read). This book is messy and complicated and just so so good.

The bottom line: I honestly cannot wait to read another of Andrew Smith’s books. The Alex Crow was disturbing, weird, awkward, hilarious, and absolutely wonderful.

Rating: 8 – freaking fantastic