Size Doesn’t Matter (73): The Peculiar Night of the Blue Heart; Saving Francesca; The Forgetting

I received this book for free from ALA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (73): The Peculiar Night of the Blue Heart; Saving Francesca; The ForgettingThe Peculiar Night of the Blue Heart by Lauren DeStefano
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on September 13, 2016
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 208
Format: ARC
Source: ALA
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four-stars

Lionel is a wild boy, who doesn’t much like to be around other people. He’d rather be a purring cat or a wolf stalking the woods.

Marybeth is a nice girl. She doesn’t need to be told to comb her hair or brush her teeth, and she’s kind to everyone at the orphanage . . . Lionel most of all.

Different though they are, Lionel and Marybeth are best friends in a world that has forgotten about them. So when a mysterious blue spirit possesses Marybeth—and starts to take control—they know they must stop it before the real Marybeth fades away forever.

Lauren DeStefano has really found her calling as an author with middle grade. Her first YA series enraged me (seriously, do not ask unless you have hours), and I really didn’t think I’d give her another chance with how terrible that was, but the magic of her writing hits perfectly with middle grade fiction. The Peculiar Night of the Blue Heart doesn’t tell the most original story, but it tells that story beautifully.

Both Lionel and Marybeth are quite charming, and they have an unusual connection to one another. It’s sort of the bad boy (who thinks he’s a variety of animals) and the good girl, but in adorable middle grade ship form. Lauren DeStefano seriously rocks the “when they grow up this will be amazing” pre-ship ships. (This sounds like utter nonsense. Good work, Christina.)

Considering that much of the book questions what has happened to Marybeth, the title gives away the “twist” a bit, but I don’t really think that matters. Where The Peculiar Night of the Blue Heart really succeeds is in the emotional responses. The underlying theme of humanity and whether its good strikes a really great note. You’ve probably read a ghost story like this before, but it’s still worth reading this one.

Like A Curious Tale of the In-Between before it, The Peculiar Night of the Blue Heart is thoroughly lovely.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

gif i like animals more than humans

Size Doesn’t Matter (73): The Peculiar Night of the Blue Heart; Saving Francesca; The ForgettingSaving Francesca by Melina Marchetta
Published by Knopf BFYR on May 9, 2006
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 245
Format: Paperback
Source: Gifted
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three-half-stars

Francesca is stuck at St. Sebastians, a boys' school that's pretends it's coed by giving the girls their own bathroom. Her only female companions are an ultra-feminist, a rumored slut, and an an impossibly dorky accordion player. The boys are no better, from Thomas who specializes in musical burping to Will, the perpetually frowning, smug moron that Francesca can't seem to stop thinking about.

Then there's Francesca's mother, who always thinks she knows what's best for Francesca—until she is suddenly stricken with acute depression, leaving Francesca lost, alone, and without an inkling who she really is. Simultaneously humorous, poignant, and impossible to put down, this is the story of a girl who must summon the strength to save her family, her social life and—hardest of all—herself.

Oh dear. Saving Francesca worked better for me than Looking for Alibrandi did, but Marchetta’s contemporaries still aren’t quite clicking. Saving Francesca does an amazing job with the family relationships and character arc, but everything else left me a bit cold.

At the start, Saving Francesca had so much promise. Francesca and Will hated each other at first meeting and hello yes ship, but then it just runs into the ground. I actually started shipping Francesca with Tom, which obviously wasn’t going to happen but damn it. View Spoiler »

Setting aside my ship disappointment (which is hard to do since in my mind Marchetta is queen of ships because of Lumatere but oh well), Saving Francesca deals most with Francesca’s family. Her mother’s been stricken with acute depression and can’t get out of bed. Mia used to be the driving force of the family, waking everyone up with songs and pep talks, and the family doesn’t know how to function without her. The slow beginning makes sense because Francesca’s so closed off, cold, and sad when the novel opens. The family feels are intense.

I also love Francesca’s character arc. In her prior school, Francesca ceased being herself in exchange for having cool friends. They told her not to be so dramatic or outgoing, not to be such a show-off. Basically, she’s hid her real personality, and with that and Mia’s depression, she’s completely lost. Over the course of the novel, she comes to love her weird, quirky friends and to embrace her own weirdness.

Saving Francesca‘s excellent, but I do wish it have lived up to the reverse harem shippy promise of girls at a predominantly male school.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

gif we just have to act like everything's fine

Size Doesn’t Matter (73): The Peculiar Night of the Blue Heart; Saving Francesca; The ForgettingThe Forgetting by Sharon Cameron
Published by Scholastic on September 13, 2016
Genres: Science Fiction, Romance
Pages: 416
Format: ARC
Source: ALA
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
three-half-stars

What isn't written, isn't remembered. Even your crimes.

Nadia lives in the city of Canaan, where life is safe and structured, hemmed in by white stone walls and no memory of what came before. But every twelve years the city descends into the bloody chaos of the Forgetting, a day of no remorse, when each person's memories – of parents, children, love, life, and self – are lost. Unless they have been written.

In Canaan, your book is your truth and your identity, and Nadia knows exactly who hasn't written the truth. Because Nadia is the only person in Canaan who has never forgotten.

But when Nadia begins to use her memories to solve the mysteries of Canaan, she discovers truths about herself and Gray, the handsome glassblower, that will change her world forever. As the anarchy of the Forgetting approaches, Nadia and Gray must stop an unseen enemy that threatens both their city and their own existence – before the people can forget the truth. And before Gray can forget her.

Sharon Cameron’s debut novel, The Dark Unwinding, was one of my favorite reads in 2012. The Forgotten didn’t reach that level for me, but it’s another good effort from Cameron.

The concept here is very cool, and Cameron really looked into the dark corners of it in a way that I admire. In the city of Canaan, everyone forgets everything every twelve years: their names, their family, their occupations, everything. Everyone in town deals with this by keeping a book in which they write the truth of their lives. However, this system is obviously flawed, resulting in some people being Lost each year or some changing books near the end of the cycle.

Nadia, the heroine, remembers. For some reason, her memory doesn’t get wiped like everyone else’s. Here is the first issue I had with The Forgetting. The plot often runs to the convenient in a way that the world building really doesn’t. Nadia’s remembering is what makes everything possible, and the special heroine thing is a bit overdone. It would have been fine if the ending hadn’t been so conveniently cliched as well. View Spoiler »

The characterization’s not bad, for a novel in which most people don’t know themselves that well, but it doesn’t run to banter. The romance is actually pretty cute, despite the lack of banter. Gray and Nadia get along well and make a good team. Also, I like the way the little love triangle of sorts was resolved (I say of sorts because it was just someone else with a crush but it could have been MEGA DRAMA but it wasn’t).

3.5 stars for the originality of the premise and the excellent world building, but I’d hoped for a bit more emotion out of this one.

 Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

gif i can't remember what i've forgotten hp

One response to “Size Doesn’t Matter (73): The Peculiar Night of the Blue Heart; Saving Francesca; The Forgetting”

  1. Hannah says:

    Francesca was the second of Marchetta’s books that I read – her fantasy books hadn’t been written yet. I really loved it, but I wonder if I would feel differently if I had read her fantasy works first, since IMO her Lumatere Chronicles are the pinnacle of her work.
    Hannah recently posted…Mini Reviews #3My Profile

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