A Slumber Party With The Volturi

Oh, hey guys. What are you up to?

Oh, that’s…um. OK.

What’s with the capes and the bad 80s hair and the gray complexions? I thought you were supposed to sparkle and be gorgeous, not look like Lindsay Lohan’s body doubles.

That’s right. You guys are the Volturi from the Twilight books and movies. You’re like, mega powerful and have special abilities.

You on the left. The guy who looks like he should be on Star Trek: The Next Generation, you’re Aro, right? The leader? And you can read all the thoughts I’ve ever had, right?

Could you tell me if I already took my vitamins today? I can’t remember.

That’s right. Thanks! That was really helpful. Edward was right, you are civilized vampires. And you with the stringy hair, you’re Marcus? You can see when people have strong relationships, so you’re like a Mean Girl from high school.

And Chelsea–you can break people’s relationships up. I knew someone like that in college. We called her Assface.

That’s kind of a lame superpower.

Assface.

And that means that you’re…Caius?

Your superpower is…oh, you don’t have one. Hmm. Doesn’t that get you down that all your buds have these super abilities and you don’t have anything? Even that little girl has that weird pain trick! And you! Nothing!

Yeah, but, I mean, even Edward has more powers than you. Even Bella has more powers than you! And she’s as lame as they come.

Sorry. But honestly, doesn’t it ever make you sad?

Well, I can see how you all got so powerful, and why you’re so terrifying to other vampires. Those special powers are really something! Now I know why I was on the edge of my seat reading Breaking Dawn; it was the threat that you all were going to come and do some serious MEDDLING.

So I can end this blog post now just because I’m tired and don’t want to edit it even though it hasn’t come to any real conclusion?

A Better Vampire

I know Edward Cullen is the ultimate in hot vampire boyfriends. He’s got rock hard abs, he plays classical piano, he can quote Shakespeare and he’s rich and well-dressed and thinks you’re the prettiest girl in the universe. What’s not to like? Soooo hot.

Hmm…I don’t know.

For some reason, Edward isn’t really doing it for me. Maybe I could build a better vampire.

First, I’d take away his firmed up body. Sure, his muscles are so firm they feel like marble, but it’s not quite as fun to cuddle up to kitchen counters as you think.

Still not right. I think maybe Edward is a little too clean cut, don’t you? If he’s virile enough to impregnate teenagers a hundred years after he’s dead, he should be virile enough to grow a little facial hair.

And you know, quoting Shakespeare and playing the piano is fine and all, but it’s not nearly as useful or sexy as being able to rewire the house or know his way around a t-square. I mean, that fence isn’t going to build itself. Plus, I already know a ton about Shakespeare, and I don’t really want to talk about that in any kind of romantical way. You know what’s sexier than Shakespeare? Science.

There, that’s bett–wait, you know what? I don’t think I could live with someone who was such a poor sleeper. Or who didn’t eat pizza. Also? I like blond better.

MUCH BETTER.

Bestseller

I got some advice on writing a good YA novel. I was told by some publishing people that the only books that really sell are those that are exactly like books that have already been written. But also, it has to be totally original. Seriously.

So! I’ve been working for a while, and I’m writing a book that’s good. Really good. I think it’s going to be a bestseller.

It’s about an ordinary girl who falls in love with a mysterious boy.

The mysterious boy is seriously super mysterious, so she does some snooping with her East Asian friend who tells her a secret about the mysterious boy’s family:

The totally ordinary girl does some really poor Googling. Seriously, a second grader could out-Google her, but despite her poor skills, she stumbles upon the ancient secret about her mysterious dude.

That’s right, he’s a fish. A merman, really. The pieces of the puzzle start to come together: how he was always chewing on kelp, how he has no legs, his inability to breathe above water. Still, despite her mystery dude being a fish and how they can never really be together, the ordinary girl is deeply in love and nothing will stop her.

Except that her East Asian friend is totally in love with her, too, despite her complete lameness. He doesn’t want her to give up her life to be a fish.

Plus he has a secret of his own. He’s an East Asian special awesome wizard that needs to save the rest of the wizarding world from impending doom.

What’s worse is that the ordinary girl and the East Asian boy are being televised in a reality show where they have to fight to death in an arena because their crazy President Bush demands it and loves war. But they’re also pretending to be in love with each other.

(Psst, one of them isn’t pretending!)

But! That’s not all! The ordinary girl has a big secret she’s holding on to, one that will decide who she falls in love with, whether she kills her East Asian wizard, whether the East Asian wizard saves his own world, whether the ordinary girl becomes a mermaid to be with her merman, and something really, really important about not having premarital sex. The secret has something to do with choosing a faction in her dystopian world on her sixteenth birthday, a guy named Five, and something about her little sister and a goat dying. I’m not sure; I’m still writing. Oh, and also some Quidditch.

Just kidding. Who the hell wants to read about Quidditch?

I can’t tell you the rest because it would spoil it, but trust me, the fate of the world rests upon this totally ordinary (OR IS SHE?) girl.

Bella Swan-Cullen’s Morning Schedule

5AM: Pretend to wake up; feed Renesmee her bottle of blood. Smile when she puts down the bottle and has a blood mustache. Take a photo.

6AM: Make comment as to handsomeness of husband, chiseledness of his abs, beautious paleness of his face, blah blah blah. Puke due to over-sentimentalism.

7AM: Begin homeschooling little Renesmee, since she clearly can’t pretend to go to any school, as she grows so quickly most people would be creeped out. On today’s agenda: reproductive biology, or how to explain how a dead guy can impregnate a girl.

10AM: Have a brief chat over bloody steak (blood for her, steak for him) with Jacob, your former almost-lover, but now your future son-in-law. Laugh about something, not even slightly aware of the extreme awkwardness of Jacob marrying your six-year-old. Tell Jacob you like his super short jorts.

11AM: Take a phone call from the local authorities as to why there is a marriage license on file for your young daughter to your best friend. Try to explain that it’s not creepy because her BODY is of adult size, and that’s all that matters when it comes to these things. When authorities try to describe emotional maturity, explain your 90-year age separation with your husband, and how it has caused absolutely no problems in YOUR marriage and it isn’t creepy at all that someone so old was lusting after someone so young. Authorities eventually hang up while telling you they’re on their way.

12PM: Have creepy father-in-law explain to authorities that it was all a mistake. Have a little cocktail of blood while Renesmee has her second bottle, because you’re so frazzled at the authorities complete lack of LOGIC.

12:30PM: Next up for homeschooling: personal safety.

It’s going to be a long afternoon.

Review: Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour

Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson (Twitter link; I wish she had a blog where I could stalk read about her.)

Audience: YA

Oh, look, a book review! Honestly, I thought I was over writing book reviews since it’s been so long, but I realize that’s mostly because I hadn’t read a book I wanted to share with all of you with the mandate of READ THIS NOW, SERIOUSLY. Ah, so glad I found one.

Caveat: only read this book if you are a) in love with YA books, b) a romantic, c) a girl. Because I’m not sure this is a very guy-friendly book, despite the moniker being attributed 50% to a guy. But this is pretty much the perfect girl book.

Amy’s father died three months ago, her mother left her in California one month ago to start a job on the East Coast, her brother went to rehab, and she’s left all alone in a house that’s up for sale. She and stranger-to-her Roger are supposed to drive to Amy’s new home in Connecticut in four days, in her mother’s Jeep Liberty.

Roger has some issues of his own. He’s supposed to spend the summer in Philadelphia after bombing his first year of college in Colorado, and it seems like Roger’s girlfriend may have walked all over his heart, too.

So, there you go. Simple set up: a road trip book between two attractive teenagers who, based on the cover, will probably do some handholding (but hopefully not in the middle of the highway). Oh, and they hash out their problems with each other, of course.

This novel reminded me of the best kind of romantic movies, where the characters aren’t just instantly attracted to each other and then “fall in love” forever, whatever that means in the span of a 90 minute movie. These characters seem to genuinely like each other; they care about each other, slowly, throughout the course of the book. And they evolve in a reasonable way: Amy is still sad about her father; Roger is sad about his girlfriend still, too.

And it’s reasonable that the two would maybe-possibly crush on each other. It’s more of a real relationship than most movies and books, and since the majority of the book is Amy talking to Roger, and vice versa, this is good.

There’s also a bunch of nostalgia involved in road-tripping, if you’re a fan. Matson didn’t cover any of the states I roadtripped through heavily (Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Oregon and Washington), but it was still reminiscent of the experience. Oh, and there’s a lot of fast food and a lot of diners. So if you have a soft spot for diners, you may go out and eat some French fries right after reading this book.

Amy & Roger was the perfect light, sweet, romantic YA novel I was looking for to cover up the gaping hole in my heart left by A Visit from the Goon Squad. It was a refreshing change to read about nice people who like each other.

*Bonus, the author photo in the back looks almost exactly like Janssen. Maybe Matson and Janssen are the same person?

I Am Draco Malfoy

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Gregg and I saw the last Harry Potter movie on Saturday. Spoiler: Harry lives, Voldemort dies. Hope I didn’t ruin it for you. Also, Darth Vader is Luke’s father.

Overall, I liked the movie, just as I liked the book, I just wish that it was about more of the minor characters instead of Harry. After all, Hermione is the real hero. She’s the smartest one, after all. She’s the one who saves Harry and Ron about 90% of the time (although I will concede that in this book/movie it is mostly about Harry).

And I identify with Hermione. I was completely the girl who knew all the answers to the questions, who was a perfection, who had the frizzy hair. I was Hermione minus the magic. And minus the confidence, too. That’s what her magic really was: confidence. She knew, most of the time, that she was right. She knew that she could do things that other kids couldn’t do.

I wish I was like Hermione, but I’m not, really. I’m shaky and unsure of myself. I care about how others perceive me. I want to succeed so much, but don’t trust that I will. I’m not Hermione at all.

I’m much more like another minor character, Draco Malfoy. That’s right, I’m identifying with one of the villains. Where the rest of the characters grew into these mature, almost perfect versions of themselves, Draco was left with all his imperfections. So, yeah, I get Draco. I get his pushy parents. It makes sense. Every Indian kid was asked to be a death eater doctor, even if she didn’t want to.

I get that Draco was a miserable husk of a kid, who didn’t want to have his parents, who didn’t want to go to Hogwarts even, who didn’t really know what he was supposed to be doing. He’s, in a sense, the most realistic character in the whole series. He’s got faults. He doesn’t always know the answer. He doesn’t show amazing acts of courage at the age of 18, but is instead kind of a coward. He doesn’t peak in high school (none of us should) (sorry, Harry).

Everyone knows that there is only one Jesus Luke Skywalker Harry Potter. But there are millions of Draco Malfoys, people who make mistakes, people who are jerks and then realize it later, much later, sometimes too late. Sure, I’m not mean like Draco (I hope). But I’m not confident or daring or brave. I’m just this normal person stumbling over the same faults over and over and over again, hoping one day I get it right, hoping one day to stand up to the people or ideals that push me around. Who doesn’t struggle like this?

So, yeah, he’s not popular, or good looking, or confident. He’s not very likeable, but I have a feeling he’s the one who learns the most, who grows the most. In that way, I don’t mind being Draco.

It’s True

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Me: I don’t know how to say the baby’s name from the Twilight books.

Gregg: What is it?

Me: It’s terrible. It’s a mashup of Edward’s mom’s name and Bella’s mom’s name. So it’s like Renee-Esme, or RenEsme or ReneeEsme, which is just a lot of Es to have next to each other.

Gregg: It’s actually pronounced ”stupid name,” like how in French how something is written doesn’t reflect how it’s spoken.

Me: That makes a lot more sense now.

YA Leading Man Archetypes

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The Mr. Darcy: He’s brooding and sullen. He usually has dark hair, for reasons I can’t actually fathom. He hates you, then he loves you, then he hates you again, or so you think, but really he loves you and is waiting to prove his love to you by some dramatic act, which is usually a combination of bravery, stupidity and stalking. He’s usually a jerk and everyone hates him except you. You totally get him. Oh, and he’s extremely intelligent and rich. Of course he is!

Examples: Edward Cullen, Gale from The Hunger Games, Jessie from Gilmore Girls, Oliver from The Last Little Blue Envelope, Pacey from Dawson’s Creek, Conrad from the Summer books by Jenny Han, and also every revered male character in YA literature ever.

The Mr. Bingley: He’s perfect, and also blond. He loves you instantly, and knows you’re The One. He has no faults except that he is afraid that you don’t love him as much as he loves you, and so maybe he doesn’t declare his love as fervently as he should. He’s kind and he’s rich and he’s handsome and he’s the guy everyone lusts after, at least second in line to Mr. Darcy. There are lots of mishaps in your love story, despite him being absolutely freaking perfect. Sometimes he gets overlooked for a Mr. Darcy type, except that it’s usually a guy who’s ACTUALLY a jerk, not just a pretend-jerk like Mr. Darcy. He will make you happy forever and ever. If he wasn’t so annoyingly perfect, he’d be…perfect.

Examples: Peeta from The Hunger Games, Etienne St. Clair from Anna and the French Kiss, Martin from The Mockingbirds, Noah from Back When You Were Easier to Love, Noel from Felicity, that guy who’s name I can neither remember nor find on Google from a foreign country in Peace, Love and Baby Ducks. Hans? I’ll call him Hans.

The Nerd: Oh, he’s not a real nerd. He looks like a male model with his shirt off, but he builds engines for NASA when he’s not bench-pressing your weight at the gym. He’s kind but a little aloof, he doesn’t care what clothes you wear, he’s completely unaffected. There’s almost always a stumbling block in the relationship that’s similar to the Mr. Bingley situation, but unlike Mr. Bingley, time doesn’t heal the wound. No, problem solving and maybe some MATH! help.

Examples: Clark Kent, every romantic hero in Meg Cabot YA, but especially Michael Moskovitz from The Princess Diaries, Brian from My So-Called Life, the guy John Green writes in all his books who I assume is how John Green sees himself as a teenager but now he gets to write that girls like it when he knows about Walt Whitman. Also most male characters in Maureen Johnson novels, especially Girl at Sea and Scarlett Fever.

The Sidekick: He’s not supposed to be the one you love, but then, there he is. He’s your best friend! He knows everything about you! When did he get so handsome? He’s your soulmate, of course.

Example: Dave the Laugh from the Georgia Nicolson books, Teddy from the Luxe novels (although he’s more a Mr. Bingley, isn’t he?). Also sort of, kind of: Peeta (again), and Pacey from Dawson’s Creek.

The Jordan Catalano: Brooding, but unlike Mr. Darcy, he’s kind of dumb. Also, a little bit poor and/or addicted to something. Maybe he’s addicted to you. What he lacks in character he makes up for in looks, and leaning. Yeah, lots of leaning. He’s not very good for you.

Example: Uh, Jordan Catalano. But also Ben Covington from Felicity. Blech. Least favorite!

My favorite? The Nerd (of course). What about you?

Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Where She Went by Gayle Forman

It’s been three years since Mia was in the car accident that killed her entire family, and almost took her life. Three years ago, her boyfriend Adam promised he’d do anything for Mia, even if that meant leaving her alone, if she would stay, and live.

She disappeared from Adam’s life, and now Adam and Mia have one evening together to find out what happened. He has one evening to figure out where she went, and why she never even said goodbye.

I debated not reviewing this book. I only review books that I really, really enjoyed. And here is the problem with this book: it is a sequel. It is a good book, but the first book, If I Stay, was just…just…perfect. It is WHY the YA genre exists and flourishes, because of writers like Forman.

And Where She Went is still a good book. But it’s a sequel, and I never like a sequel as much as an original. Not even The Godfather, Part II. Not even The Empire Strikes Back (my husband and friend Susan are gasping and speed-dialing me right now to tell me I am WRONG WRONG WRONG), but there you have it. I never like the sequel as much. It pales in comparison to the original. Where She Went has the same problem.

It’s also told not from Mia’s perspective, but Adam’s. And Adam is not as complex as Mia. Adam is a rock star. I don’t identify with rock stars. Sorry, I don’t. I don’t know any personally. I know artists and musicians and hippies and Republicans and evangelists and I even know a little bit about the homeless guy who sits outside our grocery store, but rock stars? No. I don’t know anything about them. It’s a bit of an unattainable point of view, in my opinion. Also: ugh. Rock stars, right? Who cares? Not me.

This is where you, the reader of this review, now asks WHY AM I REVIEWING THIS BOOK, if I didn’t like it? But I did! I liked finding out about how Mia handled the catastrophic loss of her family. I liked hearing about the little parts of New York Mia fell in love with while she was at Julliard. I liked hearing about how Mia related (or didn’t relate) to other people after the accident. I liked hearing about how she totally crushed Adam’s heart, rightfully so, I would say.

And the writing is still Forman’s. She’s incredibly talented. And if you like sequels or love stories or If I Stay (so ninety eight percent of the American population), you will like this book. You will. So that’s why I’m writing the review. For people who don’t mind the rock star narration as much as me, and for people who don’t have a thing against sequels.

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

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What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

After a very public and ugly divorce, Mclean chooses to move out of her mother and stepfather’s house and live with her itinerant father instead. In the past two years, she’s travelled all over the country, and now she finds herself starting in her fourth high school. Every time she moves, she reinvents herself as someone new, Liz or Lizbet or Beth, but never Mclean. She doesn’t want Mclean’s baggage. But somehow, when she arrives in Lakeview, she ends up being herself, almost on accident. And that’s when her real life finally has the chance to catch up to her.

Oh, I love Sarah Dessen. I love how she can take a totally ordinary girl and write an extraordinary story about her. This is a quiet book. No one is going to die and nothing is going to explode. It’s funny and perceptive; it’s not bold or brash, and there are no starcrossed lovers reaching toward each other. It’s just the type of book I’m always looking for, the type that aren’t published nearly enough, the type of book that can be hard to write because everything depends on the talent of the author. But she does it.

This story is about how Mclean hates her mother for divorcing her father. It’s a story about how Mclean hates herself for loving anything associated with her mother. It’s how she somehow fails to see all of her father’s faults. Oh, and of course there’s a cute boy that helps her through it.

Dessen’s previous novel, Along for the Ride, is probably my favorite of her ten, so I was hoping this one would be even better. I don’t think it is, but that’s not to say this is bad. It’s still Sarah Dessen. It’s still a great bildungsroman about a girl that’s realistic, that has some great writing in there. The end is better than the beginning, but that’s also because after ten books, Dessen doesn’t have to try and catch our attention. We can read through, and let the story build up naturally. That’s nice.

If you’re a fan of Sarah Dessen, you won’t be disappointed in this book. It is very much like her. If you’ve never read her, may I suggest you start? She’s one of the top YA authors for a reason. She earned it.