Monday, May 7, 2012

Review: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Happy Monday, everyone! Today I’ve posted a review of Rebecca Stead’s young adult novel, When You Reach Me. Enjoy!  
Synopsis: "
Four mysterious letters change Miranda’s world forever.

By sixth grade, Miranda and her best friend, Sal, know how to navigate their New York City neighborhood. They know where it’s safe to go, like the local grocery store, and they know whom to avoid, like the crazy guy on the corner.

But things start to unravel. Sal gets punched by a new kid for what seems like no reason, and he shuts Miranda out of his life. The apartment key that Miranda’s mom keeps hidden for emergencies is stolen. And then Miranda finds a mysterious note scrawled on a tiny slip of paper:

I am coming to save your friend’s life, and my own.
I must ask two favors. First, you must write me a letter.

The notes keep coming, and Miranda slowly realizes that whoever is leaving them knows all about her, including things that have not even happened yet. Each message brings her closer to believing that only she can prevent a tragic death. Until the final note makes her think she’s too late.”

Genre: Young Adult—contemporary, light sci-fi, time-travel

First Sentences: "So Mom got the postcard today. It says Congratulations in big curly letters, and at the very top is the address of the Studio TV-15 on West 58th Street. After three years of trying, she has actually made it. She’s going to be a contestant on The $20,000 Pyramid, which is hosted by Dick Clark." I must admit, this book didn’t grab me from the very opening. Once I kept reading for a little while, I slowly got into the book more and more. The voice is what kept me going, even when in the beginning the plot didn’t keep me intrigued. For those who plan to read it, I suggest that you don’t give up and set it down too quickly.

Brownie Points: I love Rebecca Stead’s voice—it was strong from the very beginning and by the end of the book I really felt like I knew the heroine, Miranda. She and her friends were compelling and interesting. Also, despite that the story takes place in 1978, I never once felt as if the time period of the novel was being thrown in my face, which I find can sometimes happen with historical novels. In When You Reach Me, the setting and time period comes second, as it should, to the characters, plot, and overall story. Because of this, the setting only added to the novel; it did not detract.

Beefs: Directly after I finished When You Reach Me, I was so pleased with the ending that I didn’t have any beefs with the book. However, looking back now, I wish the plot in the beginning had been slightly more compelling. This is just a matter of personal taste—though I ultimately adore character driven novels, I like action packed plots, and at the beginning of this novel there wasn’t quite enough action for me.

Ending: The ending of this book was PHENOMENAL!—by far its best part. All the mysteries of the novel became clear in the end in a way that was totally unexpected to me. I could not have predicted the ending, but I also couldn’t have been any more pleased with it. One of the testaments to Rebecca Stead’s abilities is that she’ll keep you guessing throughout your whole reading experience. Though I was sad for the story to end, the ending was my favorite section of the book.

Recommendation and General Comments: This novel is truly like a puzzle. At the beginning, you see all the scattered pieces and you might not be very interested in working to get to the finish line. But if you keep going, the picture starts to slowly come together, and you become more and more intrigued until at the very end you’re on the edge of your seat, waiting to see the whole picture. When You Reach Me may start out on the slower side, but the strong voice of the novel hooks you and will keep you reading until the grand finale.

I loved this novel and I recommend it to all who enjoy the young adult genre, especially those interested in light sci-fi and time-travel. Despite that the novel pays homage to Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, even if you didn’t enjoy L’Engle’s work, you’re sure to love this one.For this reason, I give When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead a rating of full moon.

This is the mother of all ratings! Full moon means you HAVE to read this book. I have a feeling you won't regret it =)

Thank you to all of you who entered the FB Fan Page giveaway! Don't forget to check in when I announce the winner of Laura Kaye's paranormal romance novella, In the Service of the King at 11AM today!  See you on Wednesday for our regular post! =D

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