friendship

A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend

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This week on Novel Ideas, we are discussing a listener suggested book, A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend by Emily Horner. In this episode, we have a bit of a role reversal at the top of the episode due to an attempted technical workaround that didn’t end up working. Or perhaps it’s better if we don’t explain these things and you just chalk up it up to Ben’s idiocy. In fact, from now on assume that all issues you have with the show are related to Ben’s idiocy. Issues like repeatedly referencing The Hunger Games even though it has nothing to do with this book, or not knowing the proper terminology for bike riders cyclists. In this episode we will also delve into the YA teen death genre, shy survivor types, unusual treatments of sexuality, and shallow characterization. We also discuss why teen writing sucks, the dead girl is annoyingly perfect, the badassery of Quakers, and causes of YA death. We’ll also cover, though not specifically (nor in detail) what the acronym in the episode title stands for (it’s also in the tags.)

Administrative note: We said a bunch of stuff about the next episode that is not correct. For example, Cursed Child has already been posted. Next episode will be Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi.

The music bump is “Ninjas of the Night” from an Youtube video of ancient vintage, but is nonetheless perfectly in line with the depiction of ninjas in this book.

A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend (AFBAADT)

Our Recommendation: Meh. It’s kind of two books trying to be one book.

Ben: 5/10. At various points I was pretty sure I disliked this book. And then when it was over, I still didn’t like it. But I didn’t dislike it enough to argue for or against. So it has that going for it.

Gabs: 8/10 for could have been with the bike trip story. 5/10 for what actually happened with mediocre ninjas.

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Never Let Me Go

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Novel Ideas returns with Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. This book is speculative fiction, or dare we say, science fiction? It is a work that raises a lot of questions, questions that we mostly don’t have answers for. Listen to the episode for our thoughts on subtlety, discrimination, sex, and possible themes. Or if you prefer, listen for our discussions of the stiff upper lip, elephant triggered bullying, silly YA adaptations, and the drama llama.

The music bump is the title track, “Never Let Me Go” by Judy Bridgewater.

Never Let Me Go – Hopes and Dreams and Clone Souls

Recommendations:

An interesting book with a lot of conversation points, and a compelling read despite nothing happening in the traditional sense of the word.

Ben: 7.5/10 One point for each of my favorite organs.

Gabs: 7.5/10 One point for each of Ben’s organs to be transplanted in the future.

Ben: Do I get a say in this?

The Neverending Story

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This week on Novel Ideas, we discuss The Neverending Story by Michael Ende, a fantasy/YA classic that many people remember fondly from their childhood. Of course, we never read it as children. Listen to the episode to hear us talk about classic v. modern YA, Mary Sue characters, fate and luck and how they effect problem solving, and world building. And possibly feminism. We also discuss generic hero boys, Fantastican revisionism, unannoying Tom Bombadil, and the power of love.

The music bump is Frank Mantooth’s version of “Imagination,” a tune that I used for a previous episode but didn’t remember until it was too late. If you never listen again, I won’t blame you.

The Neverending Story – Three Dub

Recommendations:

A story full of ideas and imagination that isn’t fully developed and ultimately goes nowhere.

Gabs: 6/10 for the first half, 3/10 for the second half.

Ben: 3/10 for going 200 pages past the point where I cared.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

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Novel Ideas returns after a week off with The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. This is the first book we’ve read for the podcast written by a Native American and it definitely grants some insights into the culture and conditions on an Indian reservation. This selection also continues banned book month, though it’s hard to find real reasons to challenge this particular book. In our discussion, we talk about alcoholism, race, illustrations complementing the text, and the significance of community. We also cover whether “Junior” is a weird name, trains, bro relationships, and boners. Lots of boners.

This week’s header was taken from a larger piece of fan art by Kristina Wayte. You can check out the original here.

The music bump is “Spokane” by Ho Lan, which is not traditional Spokane Indian music, but is a newly composed piece with traditional elements in it.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian – Boner Time

Recommendations:

Read this one. The narrator has an interesting voice and there are cultural details about reservation life that you may not have been exposed to before. Warning: may not contain plot.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

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Welcome back to Draco Malfoy Talk, a podcast devoted to analyzing Draco Malfoy and his hilarious antics. Or maybe it’s just starting to feel that way. This week on Novel Ideas, we discuss Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling, the third book in the Harry Potter series. In this episode we don’t just talk a whole bunch about Draco and his continued status as a dick, we also talk about good teachers, possible metaphors for discrimination, overcoming fear, and holy crap plot twists. We also discuss the logic of divination, alternate universe Snape, ideas for improving the Hogwarts curriculum, and the plight of those poor flobberworms.

The music bump this week is “Seven Potters” by the Remus Lupins, a Harry Potter tribute band. They are nerdy as hell and probably more enthusiastic than talented, but I can appreciate the principle behind them.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Recommendations:

Best of the series so far! Also, if you’ve gotten this far and you’re still not convinced that you like this series, it probably isn’t for you…

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

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The first of July is here; it’s time to kick off the Novel Ideas Harry Potter Extravaganza. We open, of course, with the first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. In this episode we discuss child abuse, friendship, and standard juvenile/YA themes. We also cover untagonists, wizard racism, and possible benefits of having sly people on your side. Fan geeking is relatively low this week, though we do delve into reasons why Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff probably should be more competitive for the house cup and Ben’s irritation with the rule of quidditch.

The music bump is “Goin’ Back to Hogwarts” from A Very Potter Musical. The music and lyrics are by Darren Criss and A.J. Holmes.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Recommendations:

Read it! If you’ve managed to somehow avoid it this long, check it out. It will read a little kid-ish, but it’s fun and easy to read.