Mini-reviews: The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler; The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane; and A Place on Earth by Wendell Berry

Title: The Future of Us
Author: Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
Genre: YA fiction, science fiction
Publisher: Razorbill
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from my personal library
First line: I can’t break up with Graham today, even though I told my friends I’d do it the next time I saw him.

I love the premise of this book: two high school friends in 1986 sign up for America Online, back when the internet isn’t in every home. They are automatically logged in to Facebook – which doesn’t exist yet – and see their profiles for 15 years in the future. They also discover that every time they hit refresh, their profiles change. Understanding how the decisions they make resonate into the future is most of what this story is about – but it’s also got a great love story, too.

Title: The Red Badge of Courage
Author: Stephen Crane
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Various
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Source: Audiobook from the public library
Audiobook reader: Frank Muller
First line: The cold passed reluctantly from the earth, and the retiring fogs revealed an army stretched out on the hills, resting.

This was my last pick for the War Through the Generations Challenge this year – and it was just okay. The audiobook reader did a great job with the narration; I’m not sure I could have made it through in print. The author refers to the main character as “the youth” and this tactic distances the reader from the character and the things he is experiencing. I know this one is a classic, and the descriptions of the conditions in the Civil War are very well-written – and disturbing – but it wasn’t a favorite.

Title: A Place on Earth
Author: Wendell Berry
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Counterpoint
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from my personal library
First line: The seed bins are empty.

What can I say? I am so glad I hosted the Wendell Berry Challenge this year. I’m not sure that anyone else completed their challenge goal – not many people signed up to begin with. But if the only thing the challenge accomplished was to prompt me to read more of this amazing man’s work, it was more than worth it. Coming in a close second to Hannah Coulter, A Place on Earth is my second favorite of his books. It isn’t a linear novel, but a collection of scenes that describe the conditions of Port William and the emotions of its inhabitants during World War II. Focusing mainly on Mat Feltner as he waits for word of his son Virgil, who is in Europe fighting, Berry shows how the war devastated not only the young soldiers, but their parents, wives, and families left behind. It is truly a beautiful book.

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17 Responses to Mini-reviews: The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler; The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane; and A Place on Earth by Wendell Berry

  1. Melissa
    Twitter: myeclecticbooks

    The Future of Us sounds like a great premise!

    And I am determined to finish my measly 2 books for the Berry Challenge! I still have 1.5 weeks!!

    Melissa @ Melissa’s Eclectic Bookshelf

  2. Sandy
    Twitter: youvegottaread

    The Future of Us is the next review I need to write. I did enjoy it. It was an interesting premise, and a nice (but predictable) love story, and was light entertainment. I’m waffling between a 3.5 and 4 on that one.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Sandy – yes, it was a bit predictable. I think it was the uniqueness of the premise that pushed it into the 4-star range for me. πŸ™‚

  3. bermudaonion (Kathy)
    Twitter: bermudaonion

    The Future of Us sounds like a winner to me!

  4. Jeane says:

    I tried reading Red Badge of Courage once and it was not very engaging. It’s one of my sister’s favorite books, though.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Jeane – I always feel a bit guilty when I don’t like a “classic.” πŸ™‚

  5. irene says:

    I almost read Red Badge of Courage, for this challenge also, but could not find it. My last choice is Scarecrows in Grey.

  6. Vasilly
    Twitter: Vasilly

    The Future of Us sounds interesting. Great reviews.

  7. heidenkind says:

    I had to read Red Badge of Courage three times because it was assigned in middle school, high school, and college. I really really hate that book. Actually, I don’t hate the book, I just hate the main character. And also the book. πŸ˜›

  8. Kailana says:

    I didn’t even remember seeing mention of the Wendell Berry challenge until you started talking about your challenges for the year lately… I think I missed out! You have me intrigued, though, so I will probably try and read him next year.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Kelly – I am so happy at the thought of more people giving Wendell Berry a try!

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