Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Lisa Schroeder Verse Novel Mini-Reviews: Chasing Brooklyn & The Day Before


Title: Chasing Brooklyn

Author: Lisa Schroeder

Rating: 3 Stars

Schroeder is one of the top names when it comes to verse novels and I can now see why. Although I often stay away from these poetry-bound novels, Schroeder assuaged most of my fears and managed to suck me into her beautiful tale. I wasn't expected it, but Chasing Brooklyn managed to contain deep and well-rounded characters I truly felt for. Brooklyn, the protagonist who lost her boyfriend and is now haunted by her friend who overdosed is a heroine we can get behind, struggling to maintain a facade of being alright and caring for her dad while her mother and two younger brothers remain elsewhere. And then there's Nico, more of a protagonist himself than a love interest, and his fragile self-esteem combined with his delicate relationship with his parents made him so very real. When put together on the page, their story is gripping and lovely; a novel of dealing with grief and moving on with life, all told in a very unique style that is hard to forget.

And yet, there were still so many flaws with this novel. For one, I find that most grief novels tend to depict the deceased as perfect human beings, which is not only disappointing but also renders their characters to be very flat. And while that didn't bother me too much with this book, it still existed. Instead, what really bothered me about this novel was the ghost plot line itself. Now, I'm not a big fan of ghosts and the plot line with nightmares and terrifying dreams was all just a little too overstated and obvious to have much of an impact. All of Brooklyn's dreams were filled with typical metaphors and symbols that spelled things out for her too easily. I wish that Brooklyn's journey had been more about herself and Nico than about how their ghosts brought them together. It was all too convenient and cliched for my liking. Additionally, by the end of the novel I felt as if the effectiveness of the prose really began to wear off. With this type of style, it's hard to get behind too many topics and cover them all in-depth - I wanted to know more about the secondary characters, more about Brooklyn's father, more about these parents who were also grieving. Nevertheless, all things considered - especially my aversion to verse novels - I'd call this read a success. It's short and sweet and I'll certainly be on the lookout for more of Schroeder in the future.

Title: The Day Before

Author: Lisa Schroeder

Rating: 3 Stars

Once again, Lisa Schroeder manages to stun...and disappoint. From the beginning itself, The Day Before has a rocky start, throwing together two strangers - Amber and Cade - without reason. It is evident, though, that both these teens are hurting in their own way and as the story progresses, the truth about their pasts unravel. Unfortunately, what Schroeder's verse novels lack is plausibility. Is it really that believable for two teenage strangers to decide to be one another's companions for the day? Doubtful. And yet, despite this rocky set-up, Schroeder can write. On more than one occasion, her poems were heartfelt and touched a hidden part of me. Furthermore, despite the slenderness of this volume, she managed to make me feel for these characters and I can assure you that the romance in this novel, though very insta-love (and certainly not as believable as Just One Day's love story), has no shortage of swoon-worthy moments.

For me, this is why Schroeder excels: in her ability to make us, the reader, feel emotion with just a few mere words strung together. Not only does she choose unique topics and even more original ways of discussing them, but her characters feel so very realistic and jump out of the page. Sadly, though, for me her verse novels don't begin to compare to the fullness of a solid book. I always find myself wishing for more - more closure, more detail, just more. And this, I fear, is a personal qualm. Nevertheless, if you're a fan of verse novels then Schroeder is undoubtedly one of the best out there. Even I can admit that.

12 comments:

  1. I'd lie if I said that I wasn't surprised. I mean I enjoyed Lisa's books so much and for me she writes one of the best verse novels. I'm glad you enjoyed these overall :) I hope you'll read I heart you, You Hunt Me :)

    Great reviews :)

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  2. Honestly, I've not particularly heard of verse novels, but I'm not sure they'll be my thing anyway. However, I'm glad in giving them a shot, you found you could enjoy the prose, Tana.

    Definitely a shame about the plausibility of the storylines and the lack of depth at times to characters!

    Lovely mini-reviews! :-)

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  3. I struggle with verse novels, Keertana. Perhaps the poetic nature of them eludes me, but they really feel a bit too thin, if that makes sense. Lisa does have a talent for descriptiveness though, so I'm glad both of these lived up, for the most part. Great honest reviews, doll :)

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  4. I actually haven't ever read a novel that's written in verse. I did read a short story in an anthology and loved it, but I haven't given a full length novel a try yet. Her writing sounds absolutely stunning, but my concern is exactly what you mentioned - that it won't quite compare to the fullness of an actual book. Still, I think it's something I definitely need to try and Lisa is clearly a go-to author for verse!

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  5. I've never actually read a verse novel, though they seem to work for most people on the whole. It sounds like Schroeder has a gorgeous writing style, yet unfortunately lacks those extra qualities which would help you enjoy her books more. Sorry these didn't completely work for you Keertana - especially The Day Before - but brilliant reviews as always. :)

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  6. I actually haven't read any Schroeder novels yet, but at least I know what to look for now! Her verse stories honestly sound very touching emotional to me--which I love-- but the fact that there are so many flaws makes me a bit wary. I definitely don't like novels that are too "convenient and cliched". I've lowered my expectations for her books, thanks for the honest reviews, Keertana!

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  7. I love verse novels SO MUCH. Of these, I've only read Chasing Brooklyn, which may have been my first verse if I remember correctly. There's just something about the sparse verbage that I find so freeing - it tells you just what you need to know without the extra STUFF. I liked this one a ton. I haven't read the second book you mention but I really enjoyed Chasing Brooklyn. I've read quite a few other verse novels besides this one and I've actually enjoyed them all, probably even more than this one.

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  8. Oh sorry you didn't like Chasing Brooklyn so well. I personally loved this story and thought sparse wording made it all the more powerful. I loved how it gave me shivers in the creepy bits.

    I haven't read The Day Before but teenagers that just meet and spend the whole day together isn't as far fetched as you might think. I ended up sort of on my own one day skiing when I was a teenager and I spent the whole day with a guy my age who I met on the lift up. We just clicked and had a great time.

    I have this verse novel, I just need the time to read it. Great review, Keertana. :)

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  9. Wonderful review as always, Keertana. I have only read one book by Lisa Schroeder, but I remember how stunning her diction is. She's such a talented author who can play with readers' emotion with the use of few words. But it's true that authors tend to mention the deceased as perfect human beings. I think we can't help but remember only good things of deceased people. :)

    Anyways, thank you for the amazing review! :)

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  10. I'm sorry that both books didn't work out for you as much as you'd hoped Keertana. I've only read The Day Before which I loved, I liked how it could evoke so many different emotions within me. But I can understand how you were always left wanting more. I hope you'll eventually find a Schroeder novel that you will fully appreciate! :)

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  11. I always find myself wishing for more - more closure, more detail, just more.

    I think that perfectly describes my problem with verse novels. I've read very few, admittedly, but the ones that I have tried haven't stuck with me in the same way that full, solid books have. Still, I've yet to try anything by this author. I've heard mostly good things and it's great to see that, despite the issues, you liked both of these overall. Lovely reviews, Keertana!

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