When You Reach Me, Scott Pilgrim

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Thursday, March 10, 2011
Scott Pilgrim 1-6 by Bryan Lee O'Malley: I re-read all of these before I watched the movie (on DVD), and as charming as they were one at a time, they made a lot more sense all together. If you liked the movie but are unsure about the books, let me offer this assurance: you will love them! The movie did a good job of getting the romantic/action/comedy/crazypants tone of the books, but was understandably limited. The books are funny, insightful, and contain the vegan police, super-fans, crushes, love, cluelessness, cluefulness, faulty memory, very faulty memory, misunderstandings, battle of the bands, the visual and spoken language of video games, diners, mooching, Toronto, evil exes, roommates, battling INERTIA ninja-style, poor choices, wise choices, psychic powers, hilarity, Wallace Wells, Kim Pine, growing up, and a subspace highway right through YOUR BRAIN.

MAYBE SPOILER, BUT NOT REALLY: One thing that bothers me about some of the stuff I've read online about the books/movie is the sentiment that "Scott picked the wrong girl - he should've stayed with Knives." (I don't think that's really a spoiler…) Anyway - I disagree. My first reaction was WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?! Knives is in high school, Scott Pilgrim (23 years old) is an adult. (of sorts  - the legal sort.) Furthermore, Knives deserves better than Scott who uses her thoughtlessly and takes her devotion for granted - she's too besotted for most of the story to realize this, but as a reader/viewer/ person older than her, I was mentally yelling "Oh, honey don't   - you can do better!!" I asked a co-worker who's read the series what she thought about this Scott with Knives stuff to gauge if I was overreacting and she delivered her opinion in one word: Gross. Vindicated! There you have it, anonymous internet dude(s) who thought Scott should have pursued the slavishly devoted teenager for whom he had very limited romantic feelings instead of the complicated, just as messed up as he was woman of a mysterious (but legal) age with whom he had an actual relationship: it would have been gross. 

(Rated FOUR POINT FIVE stars overall. Or 4.75. Really high. I give this series my heart eyes seal of approval.) (Re-read in Sept. 2010)

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead - I really enjoyed this story.  It's a middle reader (I would say it's middle/ younger YA) set in the 70s or early 80s. If you ever loved A Wrinkle in Time, I recommend this quick read - it's charming, clever, and a little nostalgic (or at least nostalgic for those of us who were kids in that era), but it also hits on some classic childhood issues like growing apart from old friends, making new friends, the embarrassments of being poor, ambition, compassion, cruelty, imagination, etc. That makes it sound like some kind of after school special, but it isn't.  I don't want to give too much away, but there's a great little puzzle going on throughout as well. Pick it up!  It won the Newbery Award for 2010 and will take almost no time at all to read. Here's the blurb from the Newbery page: "Twelve-year-old Miranda encounters shifting friendships, a sudden punch, a strange homeless man and mysterious notes that hint at knowledge of the future. These and other seemingly random events converge in a brilliantly constructed plot."  

There are mysterious notes, people! MYSTERIOUS NOTES. Just read it and/or give it to your cousin/niece/nephew/kid who knows what's what re: the awesomeness of mysterious notes.

Rated FOUR STARS (read in early 2010) (The cover art is by the super-groovy Sophie Blackall of Missed Connections.

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