A Writer’s Review: Playlist For The Dead

When I first read the synopsis for Michelle Falkoff’s Playlist For The Dead, I for a moment thought that it had some striking similarities to Jay Asher’s 13 Reasons Why. Thankfully it wasn’t too similar. The story was unique even with its reminders of the girl who doesn’t want to fit in any more, like in Jennifer Niven’s All The Bright Places. And how she starts to become the shoulder to lean on for the boy who’s struggling. This book deals with suicide because of bullying, which does indeed to some degree catch some similarities with 13 reasons. But at the same time there wasn’t any connection with sexual abuse and whilst yes, this is a story about mental health, it’s portraying it in another light.

One thing that I struggled with to some degree while reading this book, was keeping track of who’s who. There were quite a few characters with usual names, like Jack, Jake, Jason etc… The introductions to some characters that we saw quite often like Sam’s sister were rather brief, however much we continued to see her pop up during the story. With that said, I don’t think that’s a drawback. It may just be my inability to concentrate that could be getting in the way. As always, the reason I review this book with satisfaction is because of its ability to draw me into the story. I noticed myself smiling at moments of joy, and concentrating deeply for moments of conflict. All in all, it was a book that I enjoyed to the end and was happy being able to keep turning page after page.

– Michael Topschij.

A Writer’s Review: An Abundance of Katherines

A novel that is one of the less famed works from John Green, An Abundance of Katherines tells the story of a boy who has only ever dated girls named Katherine. I think the reason this novel confused me, was because it was trying to be an extremely intellectual book. A novel that tried to combine logic and math with a story of teenage romance. It plagued some abstract writing styles that included making various references at the bottom of a page to something as if the story was some kind of a Wikipedia article. In fact the wikipedia article on this novel features a cover that looks like this is a 1980’s high school math textbook.

There were some hard things to grasp with this, such as details on Colin’s ethnicity. Lately these days, culture is extremely trying to be kind towards different genders, race, sexual identity etc… It’s something I’ve started to notice growing up, especially over the last few years. This book seems like it was somewhat of an early start at keying its way into that club, the club of everybody’s equal and everyone should get some stardom. Colin was a jew, I think? His friend was named Hassan and he was Muslim.

The overall story seemed to primarily be about Colin meeting a girl named Lindsey and this being a break in his cycle of dating girls named Katherine. Whilst I was looking forward to diving into another novel from my favorite author, I really struggled to enjoy this book, and unfortunately see why it is one of the less well known/received books from John.

– Michael Topschij.

It was good! And pathetic.

I’ve just completed reading through; ‘Me Earl and the Dying Girl”. It was a good book, that was pathetic. As a dedication to a novel that accepted no boundaries for a novel. And the fact I can’t be bothered really writing this all up, I’ll sum it up in the same style this book used frequently:

INT Michael’s Review.

• The book used some unique styles
• The story made sense
• My second novel I’ve read about cancer
• It highlighted how pathetic high school students are
• The story was slow building until it quickly got into some movement
• I loved how it was a fictional character writing a book
• I’m confused if I appreciate the realness of this story, or not

END SCENE.
… Michael Topschij.

A Writer’s Review: The Way We Roll

I love goats! My first ever pet was a goat and his name was Zack. I was disappointed that CeC in The Way We Roll (the goat in this story) was only introduced so far into the plot. But, the Way We Roll was an enjoyable and funny novel. I loved how the characters were portrayed in a certain light, that their introduction was made when needed. I will admit, I did struggle to grasp the importance of who was who until the story progressed further, but eventually understanding who was who’s sister, friend, girlfriend etc…

The Way We Roll is a story about a young boy who’s father did something that caused him to run away from home. I will admit, I know that feeling. Not the, father doing something, but the running away from home thing. I’ve ran away from New Zealand all the way to California when I was 17. And this story showed me what it could have been like, if I didn’t have family there. We saw Will smuggle himself into the underground of a bowling alley, sleep underneath freeways and flat with friends from his work as a supermarket trolley pusher. We learn about girlfriend sex tapes, and even make friends with a security guard goat who lives next door. It was definitely great to see an enjoyable story come from just across the ditch in Australia.

– Michael Topschij. 

A Writer’s Review: The Catcher in the Rye

I hate being cynical. I even hate that I’m going to be making some critical comments about a well known classic. But quite simply, everything is different to different people. I unfortunately did not really enjoy reading through The Catcher in the Rye. I of course apologize to this well renowned classic novel. And also to those that enjoy this work. But for me, I sigh, because it did not do anything for me. I lacked anticipation to keep turning pages, and couldn’t wait for the final page to be turned. I struggled to grasp myself into the story, and follow along with seeing where things were going. The introduction of characters was not clear for me, and the progression of events felt sloppy and almost useless in some parts. In fact, if someone asked me to explain what this novel was about, I would almost have to say, I don’t know.

I loved being taken back in time, to the more vintage american feel. Exploring the rugged and wild times in New York City. I definitely connected with Holden (not referencing to Australian motor cars here) when he went night clubbing on a wild night for him. It was definitely fascinating to see an experience like that through his eyes. One other thing that would definitely be a positive for this, was the language and way characters were portrayed. I could almost say that Holden was providing a tutorial to readers for chatting up girls, and picking fights with flatmates. He introduced me to some new words for my vocabulary like “Necking”, “Chrissake” and “Crumby-like”. With all of that being said, I have to ask myself; Why am I being critical of something that is published by one of the largest publishing houses in the world? Well, because I have an opinion. And I don’t want to make false statements of admiration for something that simply, doesn’t do it for me. Perhaps I’m acting too much like someone of my age, and not appreciating things of a classic nature. And maybe that means I need to wear some different glasses when reading, have a fresh look at novels that have built up such a bold reputation.

– Michael Topschij.

A Writer’s Review: This Raging Light

I’m not sure how I should start my introduction, when I know in a few sentences I’m going to be negative or critical. Should I be? I’m not sure, but I’m going to be anyhow. I’ve completed reading This Raging Light by Estelle Laure. It’s unfortunate the feeling it gave me of the novel reading experience. I wanted the page turning to go faster and faster, because it just wasn’t getting anywhere. The story was lengthy, but, there wasn’t really a story. It was a simple love story at best, that essentially introduced us to a person who’s having some trouble in life and has to deal with puppy love in the meanwhile. In theory, that’s an iconic theme used throughout many top selling works. But for this, I’m going to say again, it just didn’t go anywhere. For lack of a better word, it was, boring… I definitely enjoyed some aspects of it, there were some parts of the story that really wrapped me into what was going on, and it was definitely well written those parts that did such. I was sitting on a train in California whilst I was heavily focused on the story, and I appreciated the message that this was trying to deliver. I just, don’t feel it did the best job it could.

To summarise, I feel that there was no beginning, middle and end. It was really, a middle that just carried on until a small final plot twist that wasn’t really a plot twist at all. With, all of that entire journey of criticism, I will still add this to books I love. That seems like an extreme act of hypocrisy from me, but I will explain why. The good…

This novel still did a golden act that well written books should do… Take you somewhere else and bring you into the story. I felt the characters emotions, I saw the events that were taking place and I understood the chaos that was unfolding almost before my eyes. Such talent of writing, was what kept me turning pages. Because there was still the desire, to see this through to the end.

– Michael Topschij.