The Vast Fields of Ordinary by Nick Burd

Book cover of The Vast Field of OrdinaryThe Vast Fields of Ordinary
by Nick Burd
Published on: May 1st, 2009

From Goodreads:

It’s Dade’s last summer at home, and things are pretty hopeless. He has a crappy job, a “boyfriend” who treats him like dirt, and his parents’ marriage is falling apart. So when he meets and falls in love with the mysterious Alex Kincaid, Dade feels like he’s finally experiencing true happiness. But when a tragedy shatters the final days of summer, he realizes he must face his future and learn how to move forward from his past.

My thoughts:

I read this book a year back. Yup. Long, long time. But just couldn’t get around to talking about it because I tend to lose my coherence when I end up liking something (which, I understand, is a terrible thing to admit on a book blog but whattodo!).

This book is one of my brother’s favourites (the kind that he re-read so much that he actually lost count of how many times he has read it) and he gave it to me at this time last year when I had no idea what I was doing with my life and made the impulsive decision to shift from Calcutta to New Delhi again.

Anyway. I moved to ND almost empty-handed (in terms of books, really) save for this. And thank god for that. What an ache-y, sensitive, beautiful book this was.

I believe the true test of a book lies in holding your attention and making you feel, really feel, when you’ve shut yourself from the rest of the world and kind of hit rock bottom. Everything stops mattering at this point. And if a book ends up mattering, well, you can guess how good a book that must be,

This is an extremely well-written book, exploring that time between high school and college when everything around you is changing and you are not quite sure if you want it to or maybe you’re just torn between wanting it to and not wanting it to. Dade is at that point, wanting to leave high school and his town behind but not quite sure how to, especially when he falls in love with the strangely alluring Alex Kincaid (fictional crush alert, yup). This is a book about relationships, complicated relationships – between divorcing parents, between parents and children with secret lives, between lovers and ex lovers, and it’s all very sensitively handled. It’s a book with a big heart and it’s essentially a bite of a-few-days-in-the-life-of-a-gay-teenager. And it’s done beautifully. And that makes all the difference.

I don’t know if Nick Burd has written any more books. I haven’t come across any more but I wish he does, because I would read it. He is immensely talented. It takes a deft hand to make the everyday so beautiful and significant.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl
by Rainbow Rowell

Release date: September 10th, ’13
From Goodreads:

A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love. 
Cath is a Simon Snow fan.
Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .
But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.
Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.
Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.
For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?
Or will she just go on living inside somebody else’s fiction?

A word about the cover:  I think it’s perfectly adorable. I love illustrated covers and this one is so pretty and sparse and clean it totally gets you into the mood. And I LOVE the blue! Also, the font. And the thought bubbles. And the lanky guy and the nerd girl. It IS perfect.

My Thoughts:

Guys, this book made me feel so good, I can’t even tell you how much. Even thinking about it makes me smile, such heartwarming goodness it was.

When I saw this one up on netgalley I just knew I had to read this. I mean, fandoms (Harry Potter/Supernatural/Game of Thrones, ftw!) and fangirls – such nerdsomeness – what could get better than that?

The first thing for which Fangirl won brownie points from me was the setting. Guys, guys, guys, this book is set in college and I LOVE that. Why aren’t there more books set in college that don’t become just this huge flesh-feasts? Not that there’s anything wrong with that but you know, there’s more to college than just sex. Like, um, classes and roomies and friends-who-aren’t-potential-love-interests and maybe, sometimes, fandoms. (Okay, so maybe I’m being biased about the last thing, but you get what I mean, right? You need things like Harry-Potter-talk because HOW DO YOU SURVIVE OTHERWISE. Okay. I’m going to shut up right now)

My favourite thing about this book was the characters and their relationship with each other, which altered and wavered and stabilised and developed in so many ways throughout the course of the novel. That’s the other thing I really liked about this. The pace. No quick-mode, no insta-anything, nothing overtly dramatic. Fangirl was a leisure ride with things taking place at a realistic pace and in such a believably real-life way.

The characters were so well-rounded. Cath and Wren. Levi. Nick. Rowan (damn, I loved Rowan!). Cath and Wren’s dad! It’s really nice to read books where the parents matter, for a change, and where they aren’t the devil incarnate. And it’s even nicer when the dad is an adorable creative genius.

So this is the first YA book written in third person past that I’ve read in quite a while and it was so well done! The writing was so good that I was inspired to write the next whatever-I-write in third person (and no, I’m never inspired to try third person) – it’s just THAT good.

Read this book, okay? It doesn’t come out till September but pre-order it if you have to, just read it. It doesn’t matter what your reading tastes are, Fangirl, I’m sure, will appeal to everybody.

You know, the kind of coming-of-age that happens in college is different from the coming-of-age that happens before that. It’s just this whole other thing – this living away from home, actually having to take things into your own hand (whether you like it or not) and Rainbow Rowell captures all that in her book with subtle brilliance. Read it for the feels. And the fandom.

Did/do you write fanfiction?

Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma

(Hardcover/Australian Paperback)

Imaginary Girls
by Nova Ren Suma
(Author blog)
Released: June 14th, ’11
From Goodreads:

Chloe’s older sister, Ruby, is the girl everyone looks to and longs for, who can’t be captured or caged. When a night with Ruby’s friends goes horribly wrong and Chloe discovers the dead body of her classmate London Hayes left floating in the reservoir, Chloe is sent away from town and away from Ruby.
But Ruby will do anything to get her sister back, and when Chloe returns to town two years later, deadly surprises await. As Chloe flirts with the truth that Ruby has hidden deeply away, the fragile line between life and death is redrawn by the complex bonds of sisterhood.
With palpable drama and delicious craft, Nova Ren Suma bursts onto the YA scene with the story that everyone will be talking about.

A word about the cover: That hardcover version is the Most. Brilliant. Cover. Ever. Period.
And that paperback below? Hauntingly creepy. But the hardcover wins, hands down.

My Thoughts:

This is quite possibly the most gorgeous book I’ve owned. I doubt I can be coherent at all while talking about this because, honestly, it blew my mind. Wow. Just WOW.

(Paperback)

If you ask me right now which author I so wish I could write like, I’d say Nova Ren Suma in a heartbeat. Not only is the writing oh-so-breathtaking, she blends it in with a story that will sometimes make your heart ache, sometimes put your heart in your mouth and hang on to you even months after you’ve read it (I speak from experience. Yes, it’s been months that I’ve read it. I just didn’t know how to talk about it. Still don’t, but you get what I mean).

This is a story about sisters and obsession, about dead girls and lost towns, sibling love and sacrifice, destruction and resurrection. This is a story about magic. Magic that will make your toes curl yet keep you captivated. This is magic realism at it’s best. The best I’ve read in years.

At it’s heart, Imaginary Girls is a mystery. There’s mystery in every page, in every character, in every action undertaken by a character. Ruby, Chloe’s older sister, is perhaps the biggest mystery, which also makes her the most enticing character of all. Ruby is complex. So complex that sometimes sometimes it’s scary. But she’ll hold you entranced, like she holds Chloe and the rest of the town. Yet in spite of the power she wields, there will never be a time when you even remotely associate her with being bad. That’s the kind of magic Suma crafts with Imaginary Girls. Her characters will make you wonder at their strangeness, yet you get where they are coming from. You might drown in the terror of the situation, yet you’ll have your heartbroken in pages.

It isn’t just the characters. The setting is stunning. I kid you not when I say it’s perhaps the most vividly atmospheric novel I’ve read since Emily Bronte‘s Wuthering Heights. The reservoir which holds a size-able amount of the mystery of Imaginary Girls takes on a life of it’s own. It’s so richly evocative, sometimes I felt myself drowning in it or listening to it breathe in the night, like Chloe did.

Imaginary Girls is the kind of book that is built on paradoxes. Of reality distorted to suit personal interests. The kind of book that manages to be both startlingly beautiful and hair-raisingly disturbing. The kind that makes you wonder what the author feeds on to have come out with such an extraordinary piece of work. The kind that makes you want to give out copies of it to every person you come across just so they can have a piece of its magic too. The kind that makes you pull out your pen or laptop, if only to make you aspire to create something as marvellous.

Do I recommend this? YES, YES AND A THOUSAND TIMES OVER. And then some more.

And just so I can make you a li’l jealous,

OWNED!
Author signed! See? 😀
(I won this at a giveaway)

Glimpse a little of the magic through the trailer:

How often do you read magic realism?