Genre: YA (or more likely NA) Contemporary with a twist
For: Book Club
From: my own precious signed copy that I don't remember where I bought
We decided last year to read this book for book club since many of our members where familiar with The Book Thief but not this one. So, it was time they were all introduced to this one too! For me, it was the third time through it.
For those who haven't read it yet, this is the story of a young man living in Australia and his handful of friends. They don't do much of anything except play cards. One day, after foiling a bank robbery, Ed Kennedy starts getting cards with clues on them in the mail. The clues lead him to different people who seem to need his help in some way. So, he has to figure that out and then help them. He gets better and better at this and starts to thrive on the feeling it gives him to be part of something greater. As it goes on, the people that need helping get closer and closer to home. Suddenly, the "game" gets very very personal.
In my first time through (review found here) I was a bit shocked by the abundance of gritty language and all the sex thoughts (tame though they are) in our main character's head. I think many people who read this book for the first time notice these things and are a bit surprised Thus, the reason why I, and many others, find that it shouldn't be marketed as YA. The new New Adult category would fit it well though I think. Anyway, despite that, the first time through I was blown away by the message of the book itself.
The second time through (review found here) I remember falling in love with Ed Kennedy and realizing that he really is quite the good kid, and wow, the difference he makes in people's lives is so cool, but really the coolest thing is the difference he makes in his own life. The character development from beginning to end is powerful.
THIS time through the thing that stood out most to me was all the beautiful things... the stuff Ed notices. He really can see life in a whole different way that makes you, the reader, become aware of how awesome the people are around us. For instance.... eating ice cream, swinging legs when your feet don't quite touch the ground, walking hand in hand with a young child after playing on the swings, watching a girl running barefoot in a race, the sweet relationship between a husband and wife and their kids. Paying attention to these small beauties around us I think is another big lesson to be learned from this book.
Bottom line: Of course, I STILL love it! Beautiful writing, beautiful message.
What the book club thought:
- Everyone seemed to enjoy that the story was about REAL stuff. Real life, real situations, real people. And ordinary normal every day people.
- We had one guy in attendance and he said the sex thoughts were really quite tame considering what's going through a 19 year old boy's head at any given time!
- We loved The Doorman! Ed's sweet but stinky dog! We remembered that Markus Zusak told us when he came here two (wow!) years ago that this dog was in another story that he scrapped, but he had to save the dog and he ended up in this story.
- We loved how Ed was forced to get to know his friends better through the tasks he had to accomplish. We found it crazy that he could be spending so much time with them, but not really know them until this experience happened. Made us wonder about our own friends and how well do we know them, or not.
- Some people are bugged by the strange twist at the end, where the author breaks a pretty big writing rule! However, this book club crowd seemed to enjoy it! Some of them, after a bit, admitted that they didn't catch it! (I didn't catch it the first time through either!) And so we explained and then everyone was like... OH. MY. GOSH!!! So awesome.
- Everyone enjoyed the fact that Ed and his friends were forced to confront their problems and actually solve them instead of continuing to ignore and gloss over everything.
- But mostly, we all love the message of this book... which is to serve other people that everyone has a story, that we need to be involved in what's going on around us. Or, to quote from the book: "Everyone can live beyond what they're capable of."
Bottom line: I think it was a success at book club!
Other books mentioned , talked about and being read by our book members recently:
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
Furies of Calderan by John Butcher
Incarnate by Jodi Meadows
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale
Some Day, Some Day Maybe by Lauren Graham
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead
Gave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
Jekyll Loves Hyde by Beth Fantaskey
Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple
Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa
World War Z by Max Brooks