Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sleepwalk Society by Kendare Blake

Violet Monroe has just fumbled her way through the first year of college. All she wants now is to go home and have one great summer with her best friends, Terran, the beautiful one, and Joey, the perpetually angry underachiever.

But when she goes home, she finds that everything has changed: Joey's charismatic cousin, Brandon, has come to town, and pays more attention to plain girl Violet than she's used to. Terran and Joey meanwhile, decide to give in to their mutual attraction, only to deal with a troubling aftermath. In the midst of everything, Violet must decide who she is, something which her parents insist is intrinsically linked to what kind of job she gets after graduating.

Review:

SSLEEPWALK SOCIETY really--truly and honestly--blew me away. Violet has one of the strongest voices of any character's I've read before, and that means a lot, especially coming from me. She isn't a kick-ass heroine, she isn't a CIA agent, she isn't in love with a vampire or werewolf--she's an 18 year old girl, and that is, in it's aches and pains, more real and more raw than any other book I've picked up in a while.

If you've read my reviews before, you know that something I value the most in novels is character development, and if the characters in these books aren't developed thoroughly, than I've never read a decent book before. Violet, as I've said, is stunning; she is constantly searching for a moment of clarity, a moment where, for just that one moment, everything will make sense, and she'll know who she is, and what she wants to do--who she wants to be. But, of course, it's rare that we have those moments at all, and even rarer if you can cling to that feeling of lucidity for more than a single second, before it slips through your fingers and is gone for good.

Violet is brimming with the heart-warming thoughts and daydreams of a teenager who doesn't quite know what to do with herself. She can't grasp the one thing that most of us need to grasp at her age: how can I decide, now, what I want to do for the rest of my life? Because, really, nobody wants to risk making the wrong choice; we all want to do something that we're good at, that we're better at than anything else--but can you ever really know?

She questions the meaning of the four-letter-word we'd all like to hear--what does it really mean to love someone? ". . . And it's beyond my energy to explain why I don't think that four-letter word that everyone's so obsessed over and that gets everyone into so much trouble and pretty much makes everyone behave like an ass can live in a place like this. Somewhere during dry cleaning, details, and missed meals, it flakes away and what you're left with is married people with a tolerable affinity for each other. . . This place of dull details and irksome obligations is a home only to other four-letter words, which are used much more frequently."It's these things, that we, as people, cling to--does he really mean it, when he tells me he loves me? And it's these thoughts of Violet that make this book so innocent and wonderful, even with all of the awful things that happen around and to this eighteen year old girl.

Some people may complain about the mature content, drug references, and drinking in the novel, but my response to that is simply: if you're looking for real life, this is it--this is the real life of teenagers today. Not all, but most; and even if you're not the one directly involved, it's still there, around us, every day. Real teens in real life do these things--and worse--and that is the terrible truth that we need to face. And it's probably not going to change.

Sleepwalk Society is a true, honest, coming-of-age novel that girls and boys of all ages can't miss out on. It isn't just about school, and finding who you are--it's finding out who we are, people as whole, and deals with so many little things that we don't ever think about, even fleetingly, but once you finally do, you can't help but turn it over in your head again and again, trying to find some hidden meaning--because things can't actually be what they are; there needs to be a reason, an answer to the why? that we tag onto the end of almost every single thing that comes out of our mouths.

This book is drowning in it's simplicity--the value of love, the value of life, and the value of actually living. And it's absolutely stunning because of it!


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