Monday, March 30, 2015

Utopia, Iowa by Brian Yansky


Genre:  Supernatural

"It's a place that was and can never be again," he said.  "Now you be careful.  The young should never want the past more than the future."  - The Boatman when taking Jack and Ash to the Great Beyond

Jack Bell can talk to ghosts.  But that's not such a big deal in his town.  Most people have some kind of gift - or curse depending on your point of view.  Lately, the ghosts have been really pushy.  Someone is murdering the girls in his town and they are all trying to get him involved with solving the crime.  Too bad he has become the prime suspect!

What I Liked
This book was a lot of fun for what it was.  It didn't take itself too seriously - which I appreciated  The main character was very likable and I liked the way that he interacted with his parents and his friends.  I thought it was very realistic for how a kid his age would be.  I really liked his relationship with his sister.  Jack is a great big brother and puts up with a lot from his little sister (who just happens to be pretty powerful in her own right).  

I also appreciated the ending of this book. In a world of so many sequels, this was a great change of pace with a satisfying ending.  It left it open to possibilities without making you angry that ever read it in the first place.  

What I Didn't Like
Some of the quirky ways of writing got a little distracting.  Like the way he would always compare things to movies that he knew about and would proceed to give a parenthetical notation about that movie.  But, even that was part of who the character was since he was an aspiring screenwriter.  The only problem was that it didn't feel like that was very much a part of the plot at all.  

There was also a side story of a few evil characters who were wreaking havoc on this sweet little town.  The side story took place well before Jack's generation, and it eventually played a big part in the plot, but it was a little difficult to blend together until closer to the end of the book.  

Quintessential Quote:
One of my favorite things in this book was the mom and dad's relationship.  They were going through a tough time and were arguing a lot, but you could tell they still loved each other.  Jack and his sister were worried that it was worse.  When Jack finally talked to his mom about it, she gave us the Quintessential Quote for this book found on pages 319 - 320.

"The Princess Bride is a love story, but it's a fairy tale love story.  Your dad and I are a love story, too.  But a real one.  Here's the thing, Jack.  It's hard sometimes to love someone, hard in a way that isn't cinematic or romantic.  It takes work.  But it's still a love story."  

This quote also represents the relationship between Jack and his best friend/secret crush, Ashley.  Theirs is a love story, but it has taken their whole lives to become that.  Sometimes it just takes time to find out that your best friend really is the one you have been waiting for all this time.  And that can be pretty cinematic and romantic, too!