Wednesday, February 25, 2009

To Be Read Lists and Antagonists

Have any of you heard about this book, If I Stay by Gayle Forman (Dutton Juvenile)? it should hit bookshelves April 2, I believe.

It's herald as being a "...simple, (yet) beautifully told story of a girl's experiences after a horrific car crash. Forman deals with this difficult topic in a way that is striking and unusual, and thoroughly impressive.”—Suzanna Hermans, Oblong Books & Music, Rhinebeck, NY

Sounds really interesting to me. I am putting it on my To Be Read List.
Here are my top 4 To Be Reads...
  1. Graveyard by Neil Gaiman (I know we've debated the first chapter of this book as being appropriate or not. But I am intrigued and want to decide for myself. I can't make a decision either way until I've read it.) (Harper Collins)
  2. The Higher Power of Luck by Susan Patron (Simon & Schuster)
  3. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
  4. Half Blood Prince by Jk Rowling - OF COURSE! I have to re-read before the movie comes out. I CANNOT WAIT!!!!!

Oh and lately, some of us have been talking about covers... if you like the ones with people or things on it? I have to say looking at the cover for If I Stay and Jerry Spinelli's Eggs, I have decided unequivocally, that I find I am much more drawn to covers with things on it. I love this cover. I love it's soft blue hue and the while tree and the dash of orangy-red. I love it's simplicity. The same holds true for Eggs. That cover doesn't even say the title on it. And yet, it is still clear and simple.

Presently, I just, just began reading Savvy by Ingrid Law. I am not yet loving it. But, again, I'm not far enough into it yet that I can give my full opinion. I've had my predictions for the ending since, I don't know, around page 1. If it ends exactly as I've already predicted, I might be disappointed that there was no surprise or tension. BUT... I wonder would a ten year old be able to figure it out so early? Not sure. I'll have to give it to my ten year old when I'm done.

As usual, I'll keep you posted as soon as I finish. If I finish. I might just go onto another of my MUST READS.

If you've read any of the above mentioned books, please let us know how you felt about them without giving anything away. Thanks!

Who are the Bad Guys, Anway - more on Antagonists

Recently, in my work in progress, my MC is struggling with who the "bad guy" is. She is realizing that everyone, herself included, has a dark side and that everyone has a reason to do the things they do (except for really heinous criminals). She is wrestling with the idea that who she has always believed to be the "bad guy" just might not be after all. So, now I turn our discussion over to something we've talked about before, but in a different light... Bad Guys.

I love writing bad guys. The true antagonist in my story is truly evil and my MC doesn't even know of her existence yet. But the people in her life who she has always seen as "against" her, she will soon figure out, they've always had her best interest in mind, even if their ways of expressing it have been jarring at times.

Let's talk about examples in literature (or in life) when this might have been true. Have you read a book (or experienced in life) where this is the theme? There are many examples of a twist. THis is not exactly the same thing... where you think someone's bad and you think someone's good and then at the end you discover quite the opposite is true. I am speaking more about the grey areas in life, about prespective, about mitigation.

For me, a prime example is My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Piccoult. Here, in chapter one, you believe the "bad guys/gals" are the parents and older sister. You HATE them. You question how they could do such a thing. THEN a few chapters later, you read from the mother's POV and you understand. You then read from the sister's POV and you are thoroughly confused. Who are the bad guys anyway, you wonder. THIS is what I am talking about. Grey.

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, by Jon Scieszka, a picture book, brilliantly explores the wolf's side of the story. He wasn't evil. He was hungry. He is a carnivore, after all. Mitigation.

I believe ALL our characters need areas of grey and mitigation, especially our "bad guys." What do you think? Have any suggestions on more books with blurred line between good and bad, right and wrong?


Jean Wogaman said...

I've read THE GRAVEYARD BOOK and THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE and loved them both. Last year I listened to THE HIGHER POWER OF LUCKY on audio while I was drawing. I remember liking it - strong themes and descriptions of the southwest - but my attention was occasionally divided.

I haven't read IF I STAY. I'll be interested to know what you think. I agree with you about the cover. I've seen it displayed on book designers' blogs as an example of strong design. I haven't read SAVVY either, but a lot of bloggers have raved about it.

As to antagonists, the bad guys in my novels are trouble mainly because they are struggling to improve their own lot in life but with a calloused disregard for the needs of the people around them. I think you could draw the conclusion that they wouldn't be so bad if they'd been given a better start in life.

Sheri Perl-Oshins said...

So far, I have not heard one person who has read Graveyard say they didn't like it. Any negative I hear is more in the trepidation to read it because of that opening scene. I LOVED the Half-Blood Prince and cannot wait to read it again but more than that, I am waiting on pins and needles to see the movie. The trailer looks excellent!

Your point on antagonists is very interesting. I like your POV that they believe they are trying to improve their life, even at the expense of others, and that if their lives had started differently maybe they'd have turned out differently. This is like Voldemort. Perhaps if someone had loved in when he was a boy, the "World" would never have known such evil.

PJ Hoover said...

It's funny because in many ways, the later HP books are way scarier than The Graveyard Book.
And yes on bad guys! They are fun! Have fun with it.

Angie Frazier said...

I cannot wait to read The Graveyard Book! Your TBR list sounds like things I'd like, too.

As for bad guys (great discussion!), the ultimate example for me, is Snape from Harry Potter. I loved, LOVED what JKR did with Snape. Besides Ron Weasley, Snape is my fave character from that series. I actually bawled at the close of the final book like I have never bawled before :-)

Sheri Perl-Oshins said...

Thanks PJ. I will. Good to know about HP being scarier then Graveyard.

Angie! It's great to see you. I need to visit you all on your blogs. I can't stand how busy I've been. And you bring up an excellent example in Snape. JK DID do an amazing job mitigating him and boy did he ride that grey tight-rope line between good and evil. Excellent example! Oh G-d, it was just soooooooo good! To write something so intricately interweaved, yet so simply told...

Rebecca Gomez said...


Your list of to-be-read books sounds interesting. I'll have to keep some of those books in mind.

Your discussion on antagonists makes me think of the book I'm currently reading--Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat. Great book! I'm almost finished with it. It's one of those books in which you are horrified at someone's actions and think they are the "bad guy" but then something comes to light which makes you think differently. Can't be specific without spoiling it.

What about in Because of Winn Dixie, with Opal's preconceptions about certain characters, like the Dewberry brothers and "pinch-faced" Amanda? (did I get those names right?)

I love bad guys, especially the misunderstood ones that aren't "all bad." They're interesting characters.

Sheri Perl-Oshins said...

Thanks for your insight. I haven't read Emmy and THe incredibly Shrinking Rat. You can go ahead and give it away by telling us more if you'd like. I'd like to hear more about this character.

Because of Winn DIxie - I suppose that was the whole point of that novel wasn't it? That the dog helped the MC meet people and shed some new light on them.

Thanks for sharing these two great examples.

Clementine said...

Hmmm. As for covers, I have to agree with you. I like things on the front more than pictures of people, with one exception. Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson has a powerful cover, but it's an animated person.

Keri Mikulski said...

Love antagonists.. :) They make writing so fun..

And love the cover of IF I STAY.


Kelly H-Y said...

Ooooh, I've got to check out "The True Story of the Three Little Pigs" ... sounds interesting!

Clementine said...

Sheri, the meter on the novel is over 45,000 words! Congratulations. You must be rolling!

“Personal limitation exists only in our ideas of who we are. Give up all notions of who you are and your limitations will vanish.”

- Anonymous