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Flash Reviews (6th September 2013)

Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan ****
Summer days warrant these witty, fun reads for me.  The books which Cohn and Levithan write are not your usual teen fare.  Rather than being fluffy, simply written and overly predictable (sorry, Sara Dessen, but I’m looking at you), their tales are smart, well constructed, intelligent in their prose and rather unique in terms of the cast of characters they create.  Yes, I suppose that there was an element of predictability here with regard to the ending, but the entire story was so well wrought that it really didn’t matter.  The characters are all marvellous, with perhaps the exclusion of Naomi, whom I found to be an incredibly difficult protagonist to get along with.  I loved the way in which Cohn and Levithan tackled serious issues – the rocky road of teen friendships, homosexuality, trying desperately to conform with peers, and so on.  Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List is a great book, and one which I struggled to put down.

The View From Castle Rock by Alice Munro ***
The View From Castle Rock is ultimately disappointing, particularly in comparison to Munro’s other short stories, which are tiny masterpieces in themselves.  I liked the way in which she wove in her family history, but I simultaneously felt as though it bogged down the tales somewhat, making them rather stolid and plodding in consequence.  The strongest tales here were certainly those written using the first person perspective.  The others I felt incredibly detached from.

The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories, Volume 1 by Joseph Gordon-Levitt *****
I found this gorgeous little book in the Book and Comic Exchange in Notting Hill last year, and read it on the train on the way home in one delicious gulp.  It has been my ‘go to’ book for when I feel unwell or just need a breather from more serious literature.  I was feeling a little under the weather near to the end of August, and my boyfriend read this book to me in its entirety in the hope that it would make me feel better.  It did.  It is stunning, both in terms of the words and lovely illustrations.  I’ve upgraded my rating from my previous four to five stars, because this book is a real treasure.

A Midsummer Tights Dream by Louise Rennison ***
I only purchased this because I so enjoyed the Georgia Nicolson series.  I’m fully aware that I’m far too old for such a book.  Also, let’s face it – the title is rather good as far as puns go.  It is silly frivolous teen fiction, just as I expected it would be.  Tallulah, the protagonist of this volume, does not have the same charisma or silliness which her ‘cousin’ Georgia has, and some of the language which the teens use throughout feels rather outdated.  A Midsummer Tights Dream is rather a fun, quick read, but it would have made far more sense had I read the prequel beforehand.