Basically, O.W.L. results for books is a feature I do sometimes on the blog as a way of
lazily writing reviews keeping things fun and different for books I didn’t feel like or just COULDN’T write a full review for. I grade each book as if they sat down to take an Ordinary Wizarding Level exam from Harry Potter. Each class corresponds with a different feature of writing(for example, potions=plot).
Here are the O.W.L. Grades:
Exceeds Expectations (E)
Today I’m grading a few books. The first up is. . .
The Dust of 100 Dogs
In the late seventeenth century, famed teenage pirate Emer Morrisey was on the cusp of escaping the pirate life with her one true love and unfathomable riches when she was slain and cursed with “the dust of one hundred dogs,” dooming her to one hundred lives as a dog before returning to a human body-with her memories intact.
Now she’s a contemporary American teenager and all she needs is a shovel and a ride to Jamaica.
I would like to peek inside A.S. King’s brain, because she does come up with the most original story premises, even when they don’t always work for me. The Dust of 100 Dogs is like nothing I’ve ever read before in any genre. After living 100 dog lives, Emer is reincarnated as Saffron, an American teenager in the 1970s. Well, sort of. Saffron is her own person too, with her own experiences and thoughts, but Emer is still there, in the background. The storyline of The Dust of 100 Dogs spans centuries, going back and forth between Emer in the 1700s and Saffron in the 1970s. It’s unique, filled with history, pirates, and revenge, but something kept me from loving this book–mainly the characters. I can’t deny that A.S. King is a great writer, and her characters are certainly fully realized, but they never really get time to sink into the reader’s hearts and minds. I was interested in the story, but felt no pull or curiosity towards the characters, which made me struggle with this one a little as a character-driven reader. I’m glad I gave it the chance, but I don’t feel particularly strong towards it.
He Forget to Say Goodbye by Benjamin Alire Saenz
Ramiro Lopez and Jake Upthegrove don’t appear to have much in common. Ram lives in the Mexican-American working-class barrio of El Paso called “Dizzy Land.” His brother is sinking into a world of drugs, wreaking havoc in their household. Jake is a rich West Side white boy who has developed a problem managing his anger. An only child, he is a misfit in his mother’s shallow and materialistic world. But Ram and Jake do have one thing in common: They are lost boys who have never met their fathers. This sad fact has left both of them undeniably scarred and obsessed with the men who abandoned them. As Jake and Ram overcome their suspicions of each other, they begin to move away from their loner existences and realize that they are capable of reaching out beyond their wounds and the neighborhoods that they grew up in. Their friendship becomes a healing in a world of hurt.
If you know me at all, you know that Saenz’s Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is one of my favorite books, if not my favorite book. With that in mind, I’ve slowly been reading the rest of his works, and He Forget to Say Goodbye was up first. While it definitely was not as strong as Aristotle and Dante, the writing was just as beautiful. Saenz is just great with word choice–it’s always simple, but there’s always something beautiful in the simplicity. I got sucked into the writing just as much with this one.
I liked the way the two main characters, Ramiro and Jake, tied together, and how, as the summary says, a friendship of “healing in a world of hurt”. There’s a lot of pure pain in this book, which took me by surprise, but it was always done well. The downside, however, was the pacing. The first 75 pages were so slow–basically just inner monologues. I really considered putting it down but preserved because I loved the writing. I was glad I kept up with it, but the poor pacing definitely threw me off a bit. I ended up giving it 3 stars on Goodreads, but I’d say it’s about a 3.5.