Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Swan Thieves versus 13 Reasons Why

And the winner is 13 Reasons Why. It might not seem like a fair match-up since The Swan Thieves is a very long, obsessive love story that weaves the past and the present together. 13 Reasons Why is a clever format for exploring teenage suicide readable in a day or two.

Neither book was outstanding.

I preferred Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian, which gathered together castle ruins, old letters, and vampire lore to create a wonderful, if uneven, read. She used the old letter technique with less success in The Swan Thieves. Often the flashbacks seemed an interruption of the story rather than moving it along. After pages and pages the ending seemed rushed and less than hoped for. I was fascinated by the inclusion of information on how painters work and the historical information about the Impressionists. The author's website is extensive with information and lists of additional resources.

13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher is a young adult title that has been around since 2007. The author uses the device of intertwining dialogue: a voice on tape in italics and the reactions in the mind of the listener. The story is accessible (even to reluctant readers) and probably more accurate in its portrayal of teen angst that can lead to suicide than many other attempts to deal with this difficult subject. Another helpful and interesting website is provided as well as a presence on Facebook.

It took me forever to plod through The Swan Thieves. I devoured 13 Reasons Why in two days filled with other activities.

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