Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Nerds Heart YA Comparison and Winner

Welcome back to Round 1 of the Nerds Heart YA book tournament! As I explained this morning, Angela of Bookish Blather and I were asked to read The World Is Mine (Come Up) and Donut Days.

After discussing each book, we compared the two and picked a winner to move on in the tournament.

Angela
So as for the monumental task of starting to compare these books - like I mentioned before, we have two protagonists who are trying to define themselves as separate from their parents (even though The World is Mine has multiple narrators, I considered Blue the main protagonist since he got more chapters to narrate and his big plans were what drove the plot). While on the surface they seem like two totally different books, at their heart the stories are quite similar. It's the outer trappings that take the stories in wildly different directions - urban vs. suburban settings, watching friendships fall apart (The World is Mine) vs. friendships coming back together (Donut Days).

Lorin
The issue in comparing any two books is not in picking which one I prefer, it's in trying to pin down the why. Thinking about it, I realized that while Emma and Blue's problems aren't terribly different, Donut Days had much more heart than The World is Mine, and that's what makes the big difference for me. I'm not trying to disparage the goal of breaking into entertainment - I know that creative fields require just as much work as any other career. But Blue doesn't seem to have any larger goal than "coming up" and getting power for the sake of getting powerful. Add to that, he wasn't the most sympathetic character, and it all sums up to making it harder for me to care about his struggles (especially since some of them could have been so easily solved).

Angela
Every once in awhile it looked like Blue was going to connect with a deeper goal - I was encouraged when he was researching other entertainment entrepreneurs and when he was looking to the former NFL/music exec as a mentor, but yes, ultimately it seemed like all he wanted was to improve his own standing rather than connect with a larger community. He didn't want to throw awesome parties for the sake of the party goers - he just wanted the reputation as an awesome party planner, and he was even willing to sacrifice his friends (and the friends of friends) in order to achieve that.

Lorin
Emma could be bratty, but I felt like she was concerned with more than just herself and her own issues. She was angry at her parents, but mostly she was worried about them. She was angry with Nat, but she also recognized that she missed her friend. She was angry with her much of her congregation, but still concerned that they weren't taken advantage of. It just all made me care much more.

Angela
I pretty much agree with everything you're saying about Emma.

Lorin
I do want to make sure I'm not just drawn to Emma more than Blue because my experiences more closely match hers than they do Blue's.

Angela
I also had to really think and make sure I wasn't just leaning towards Donut Days because it was easier for me to relate to. I also don't want to put some sort of value judgement on Blue's goals vs. Emma's - I'm afraid I'm sounding like all books must have some great moral message in order to be considered valuable, which isn't at all how I feel. I just think Blue's methods of achieving his goals fell flat, and since I could never empathize with him I was never invested in his goal. Add this to the weaknesses I felt with the writing (over-explanation of the slang, the abrupt ending), and The World is Mine just didn't hold up well for me. Emma could be bratty, but I could empathize even with her brattiness because we could see exactly where it was coming from - she clearly values science over faith, doesn't hold the Bible as infallible, and thinks her parents have unreasonable expectations. Even if I didn't agree with her positions or her reasoning, at least I could understand where she was coming from. I never quite felt I understood Blue and his shortcomings in the same way.

Lorin
We're in agreement. The World is Mine had a lot going for it, but couldn't hold its own up against Donut Days.


Congratulations to Donut Days and author Laura Zielin!

1 comment:

  1. I really like how you worked together to come to a winner! I hope Donut Days makes it all the way to the final - cause I want to read it!

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