Friday, August 27, 2010

Book Review: You by Charles Benoit and a Giveaway!

You by Charles Benoit
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication date: August 2010
ISBN: 9780061947049

Source: ARC provided by publisher


Kyle Chase is an ordinary teen.  He's just like you and me.  Though his story ends with a horrible incident, it unfolds just like every day of our lives.  Small choices, little things, lead him to where he ends up.  Somewhere he doesn't want to be.

Things I Liked:
I had really high expectations of this one.  In some ways, I was not disappointed.  I really enjoyed the unique second person narrative.  I've never read anything that pulled that off before.  I was impressed.  Admittedly, sometimes it was distracting or confusing, but still unique and interesting enough to keep my attention.  The story itself was a bit slow to start.  After that attention-grabbing beginning, it slows down and we get a lot of the day-to-day life of Kyle.  I think that was intentional, since it is his daily experiences that lead him to the inevitable ending.  I liked Kyle, I thought he was a good kid, even when he did stupid things over and over again.  I will admit the ending had me surprised - it was not as I expected, which was quite obviously the point.

The teachers complain that the students today are all lazy, ignorant, and stupid.  But the truth is that you're smarter than they are.  You're not even old enough to drive and you already know that none of this matters.  Not the English or the social studies or the math or the science.  If it did, if it really mattered, they'd teach it in a way that made you want to learn it.  But no, they've got to teach it in the most mind-numbing way possible, moving on without any real discussion to get to the next thing that's going to be on the test - the standardized test. p 35-36 of ARC
You want to tell her that what's wrong is the whole stupid assignment, that all it teaches kids is that there's one way to think, one way to act, so that by the time they reach high school all they have to do is look at somebody and they can tell if he's cool or a nerd or a jock or a hoodie.  That way if somebody starts thinking for himself, starts acting all weird, like wearing a sport coat to school, they'll be easy to spot. p 110-111 of ARC
Your whole life is a chain of choices - your choices. p 215 of ARC
Things I Didn't Like:
As mentioned above, I liked Kyle, but I really wanted to slap him upside the head.  He could have used that.  Sometimes things coming from his perspective sounded very didactic (just look at those quotes I have above - they sound rather preachy, don't they).  Zack was intriguing, but kept making me angry as well, though he was supposed to. 
I am quite sure if I had any kind of similar experiences when I was a teen, this book would have been life changing.  However, I was really not like Kyle, so it didn't resonate with me as much as it will with others.  While I was surprised by the ending, I was terribly confused the first two or three times I read it.  I guess I'm a little slow, but it wasn't immediately apparent to me exactly what happened.  Definitely a unique book with an audience that will adore it.  I'm just not in that audience.

A bit like Chris Crutcher and Gail Giles and other 'edgy' YA authors

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

s-factor: !
not as many as expected

mrg-factor: XX
definitely implied, though not described

v-factor: ->->
a few incidents, but not a lot of detail

Overall rating: ****

It just so happens I have an extra ARC of this book for one lucky reader (US only, sorry).  Leave me a comment telling me of a book that you read as a teen that really impacted you in some way (and a way for me to contact you).  I'll pick a winner next Friday.  Good luck!

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage


  1. Judith Guest's Ordinary People really affected me as a teenager. I had never lost anyone close to me nor did I grow up in a home devoid of emotion, so it was a real eye opener into what goes on outside your door. It helped me to grow up and understand that not everyone has it as good as you do, even if they outwardly appear they do.

  2. Ooh. Second person narrator. Interesting. I like to see how authors take that kind of a challenge on. It sounds like this one was fairly successful.

    There are so many books that I read as a teen that had a huge impact on me. One that's sticking out to me at the moment is Frankenstein.

    I hope to see you at the Utah bloggers bash today and at book club in a few weeks!

  3. I was big into classics when I was a teen. So the book that struck me the most was Candide by Voltaire. I think it was probably the first classic that made me laugh so hard because of all the irony in it.

    You sounds terrific and Charles Benoit is going to be in Chicago this month, so it'd be great to read his novel before meeting him.

  4. Great contest! :)

    As cliche as it might sound, I think Twilight might have been the first actual impact for me from a book. Surely not the best book, but I'll explain. As a person who doesn't always find education interesting, my friend told me about this series that sounded good enough. In fact, I didn't imagine I'd finish the series as quickly as I did. It almost made me proud. Yeah, Twilight has gotten a lot of flak, being called a horribly written piece of literature, but I did enjoy the quick plot. Although I've read some TERRIFIC books since then (Hunger Games, The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Hobbit, The Chronicles of Narnia, etc.) I've definitely stayed true to my odd love of Forks, Washington's cast of characters. In all honesty, I think Twilight was what got me writing again. It made me think "Hey, maybe I'll write something that will get another person into reading and writing" and so my love of literature bloomed. :) Weird story? Yep, I think so too :)

  5. Hmmm... I actually wasn't much of a recreational reader as a teen, although I did read a lot for school assignments. Two books however that I do remember reading are "Somebody Else's Kids" and "One Child," both by Torey Hayden.

    Second-person narrative sounds really interesting!

    bgh at byu dot net

  6. I think I was a bit younger than a teen (more tween I think) when I read The Giver, but it was the first book that made me think, because it was different than what I was reading at the time.

    linaramz at yahoo dot com

  7. Okay, I'm still a teen. Anyway, I guess I can say that STARGIRL by Spinelli has impacted my views in some way or other.

    I've heard great things about YOU-- I'd love to read it!

    cc932005 at hotmail dot com

  8. I would have to say a book that really touched me when I was a teen was The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen. I loved this book and it is still one of my favorites today. I thought the characters were real and ones you could relate to. The romance was something that could happen in every day life with the ups and downs. I think it stands out better than all the paranormal romances in the teen book world today.



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