Two high school girls have a romance while they're taking college classes at a summer camp for gifted kids. The only way this could have possibly been more up my alley would have been if "gifted" was in the "Charles Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters" sense.

Nicola, amateur artist and aspiring archaeologist, narrates the book in first person, with occasional excerpts from her diary, also in first person but with a different typeface and no capitalization. This may sound annoying, but it's actually adorable. Here's an excerpt from her diary. The "angst crows" are Goths, and the context is that she's looking around campus to see if she can spot any other queer kids:

and there's another boy i've seen, i think he's in katrina's class, who often wears long velvet skirts and lots of black eyeliner. but i believe this to be a fashion statement rather than a declaration of sexuality, since i have observed him making out with various angst crows.

i suppose he could like boys, too, though.

i of all people should remember that.


Though the romance between Nic and the remarkably named Battle Hall Davies is the main plotline, Ryan spends a lot of time on an ensemble of new friends, their friendships and romances and individual character growth, classes and picnics and dances. The emotions are realistic and sometimes angsty, but the whole summer has a shimmery nostalgic glow. The book is also very funny. Ryan has a great gift for comic setup/payoff, of which one of my favorites, a small moment but one which made me laugh and laugh, involved a boy's attempt to bypass the disgusting cafeteria food by claiming to keep kosher.

On the one hand, this is a perfect little book. On the other hand, I wish it had been longer. Battle had a lot of stuff going on that I got, but would have liked to have seen explored more. Also, I just wanted to keep on reading.

It reminds me a bit of Maureen Johnson's The Bermudez Triangle, another very funny book which mostly takes place over a summer and involves female friendship, female romance, and the complexity of sexual identity.

Empress of the World
killing_rose: Raven/corvid in the frozen surf (Default)

From: [personal profile] killing_rose


There's a sequel that's all about Battle. Rules for Hearts is...a very different feel though. More about the relationships between siblings and parents and growing up and realizing things aren't as cut and dry as you thought they were.
killing_rose: Raven/corvid in the frozen surf (Default)

From: [personal profile] killing_rose


I liked both Empress and Rules, but for different reasons. I liked Rules in part because it's more of a transition to how complicated things can get. There's also (if I am recalling correctly, with a hell of a migraine) more complicated discussion about how sexuality isn't just lesbian/gay, and that feelings don't always work the way Battle is hell-bent on thinking they do. I rather liked that part.

(If I am recalling correctly, I originally read Empress after Rules, and was quite startled by how fast Battle was trying to grow up/had grown up between the two books.)
meara: (Default)

From: [personal profile] meara


I was about to mention this! I read it quite some time after Empress, and it was ok, but I didn't like it near as much.
holyschist: Image of a medieval crocodile from Herodotus, eating a person, with the caption "om nom nom" (Default)

From: [personal profile] holyschist


I found it weirdly white for a gifted kids camp, but it was a fun book.

From: [identity profile] sartorias.livejournal.com


Agreed. Loved it. (And thought the author totally dropped the ball on the sequel.)

From: [identity profile] sartorias.livejournal.com


The storyline that I thought best was dropped flat as if it never existed, and all the wit and verve vanished. I've forgotten most of it now, but it seems to be it became an angst-fest about Battle's brother, if I recall right.

From: [identity profile] lnhammer.livejournal.com


I liked this one a lot, as well.

And also found the sequel disappointing. I don't remember the details, but it went off onto threads I wasn't really interested in, and the author didn't sell me on, as opposed what I did want to follow.

---L.

From: [identity profile] http://users.livejournal.com/_profiterole_/


I thought the same about Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters.

But I was a bit disappointed by the book. It started great, but then it didn't go well between the girls, and at the end I hoped they would get back together... I haven't read the sequel but apparently it's about something else. I guess it's realistic that their relationship doesn't work out, but I'm a romantic at heart and like happy romance in my books.

From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com


I assumed they were going to at least try to keep things going via email. But it sounds like in the sequel, that didn't happen?

From: [identity profile] marfisa.livejournal.com


Apparently the problem (at least one of them) is supposed to be that Battle is an artist who isn't very good with words. So trying to express her feelings by writing, even just an e-mail, feels awkward and wooden to her to the point of being counterproductive. Too bad the sequel was written when Skype was a lot more rarely used than it is now. If Battle could have at least seen Nic and talked to her face to face, if only via video, things might have gone better.

From: [identity profile] sdn.livejournal.com


We've just reissued the paperback with three graphic novel stories about the characters (that help bridge the two books) and lots of interesting back matter. Signed, The Editor

From: [identity profile] pameladean.livejournal.com


I loved this book, too; but I also loved the sequel. Enough time had passed before I got my hands on it that, while disappointed about its comparative lack of connection to the first book, I found that it was an interior fictional disappointment rather than a "YOU WROTE THIS WRONG" reaction. And it's about a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

P.
.

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