Before we finish 2012, I would like to finally review the books I've read this year. I'm going to start with the books in English and in the next entry, those read in Catalan and Spanish. The books are, as usual, sorted out alphabetically and not taking into consideration when I read them.
Anna and the French Kiss. Stephanie Perkins.
The story is about... Anna is a 17 year-old girl from Atlanta whose father, a famous author of romantic novels, sends her to a boarding school in Paris, France, to spend her senior year. Anna is anything but happy about this, as leaving Atlanta also means leaving her best friend and her love interest behind for a whole year. Also, she doesn't speak a single word of French. But when she gets there and meets dream-boy Étienne St. Clair, Anna starts thinking that maybe Paris is not as bad as she thought.
My thoughts about it... Oh, Anna. I'm not sure whether to like you or hate you. Sometimes I really wanted to slap you with my Paris tourist guide for being unable to think about, you know, getting one, before flying there. Sometimes my 15 year-old me came back and really emphatized with you. Sometimes I found you an obnoxious, pretentious bitch. Sometimes I found your being so profoundly American charming. Sometimes I hated your puns (especially as the deadline was approaching and I couldn't find a suitable translation for your Jingle Bells version about Batman and Robin). Overall, I enjoyed the ride (both as a reader and as a translator) but I'm not sure if I want to take you with me next time I fly to Paris. Maybe if I were a teenager again. (Don't get me started on St. Clair. Seriously, teenage girls, what's wrong with your concept of an "ideal man"? -asked she who has often proved an awful taste at men-).
For whom the bell tolls. Ernest Hemingway.
The story is about... Robert Jordan, an American fighting for the Republican army in the Spanish Civil War, is sent on a mission with a group of guerrilla fighters that could change the course of the war. And there he meets the young María.
My thoughts about it... Ernest Hemingway, where have you been all my life? (Apparently, in my father's library). I took this book from the school library because I needed something for my almost one hour-long bus-and-train ride, and I'd always wanted to read Hemingway, especially after we translated a fragment of this specific work in class. His sometimes failed attempts at Spanish aside, Hemingway describes beautifully not only the landscape but also the people and human relationships. The story felt a bit too dense in specific parts where he talks about war strategies and arms, but I thought and think it is one of those novels you have to read before you die and it has some of the best quotes I've read in a while. As a side note, funny how Hemingway thinks "boredom" is a word that only makes full sense in Spanish.
The Pretty Little Liars series. Sara Shepard.
(Pretty Little Liars, Flawless, Perfect, Unbelievable, Wicked, Killer, Heartless, Wanted)
The story is about... Aria, Hanna, Emily and Spencer have one thing in common: they are Alison DiLaurentis's best friend. Alison is the queen bee of the Rosewood High School, the meanest of mean girls. So when she goes missing in the summer before 7th grade, the clique dissolves. Three years later, the girls get reunited again when Alison's corpse is found and they start getting thretening anonymous messages from somebody called A and who seems to know all their secrets... Secrets that only Alison knew about.
My thoughts about it... I started watching the Pretty Little Liars show from ABC when I started to lose interest in Gossip Girl (around season 4) and I discovered it was also based on a series of books for teenagers/young adults. I found a box with the first four books on sale in the Book Depository and said "why not?". Sincerely, I like the books a lot more, they feel more real (within its universe, of course, but you can recognize behaviours from your own high school time in the characters).
I have to make a difference between the first four books (1 to 4) and the last four (5 to 8, although apparently four more have been released in the US). The first book is very introductory but it leaves you wanting more, so you almost literaly devour the next three volumes (I couldn't go to sleep until I'd finished the last third of Perfect) because the author manages to keep the mistery alive. The second set of four books is also interesting but you can tell that the author "had to" write them because they were really popular. The ending was satisfactory, though, the only reason why I feel no need to read books 9 to 12. A nice change after reading some bad or "meh" YA novels, and a fresh writing style. Just out of curiosity I'd like to see how they translated the slang into Spanish and German.
State of Wonder. Ann Patchett.
The story is about... After learning of her co-worker and friend Anders's death, Dr. Marina Singh is sent to Brazil to look for Dr. Annick Swenson in the heart of the Amazon rainforest. Dr. Swenson is doing research on a drug that could be a revolution in the field of reproduction, as it could turn any woman of any age fertile. Anders had been sent there to check on Dr. Swenson's progress, and now Marina takes his place. But what she will find is not what she expected.
My thoughts about it... My last experience with Ann Patchett, The Magician's Assistant, was not bad but not as satisfactory as Bel Canto (the first novel that I read by her) or Patron Saint of Liars (my favorite to date), so I was not so sure that I wanted to read this one, but I'm glad I did because Patchett's writing is as brilliant as usual. And not only the plot kept me interested from the very first pages but I was actually pleased with the ending (a rare thing with Patchett's works)! I'll admit some parts make the pace of the narration slow down too much for my taste (the first third could be considered a bit too dense and turn off readers) but as the story progresses things start to make sense and the ending is perfect, exactly what I thought it should be.