Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Charlie St. Cloud by Ben Sherwood

Okay, I did this one totally backwards. I went to see the movie before I even knew it was based on a novel. And although Zack Effron, with his baby blue eyes and his incredible V with his shirt off (if you dont know what this is...I'm not telling you), was major eye candy...it wasn't exactly my favorite. I did cry so hard that I had to use my shirt to wipe my emberassing elephant tears away, but in the end I was like, "Ehhh, whatever."

However, the book was a completely different experience for me. And here's what I liked:

I learned that attention to detail in the setting, and choosing a setting that is mysterious and interesting, are very important. Although some books do good despite awful surroundings (Mockinjay I'm talking about you and your underground cubicles and overground desolation), this book flourishes because of its setting. The whole story takes place in a sleepy, yet fascinatingly historical, little fishing town in Massachusetts. A real city, that the author moved to for a while just to research btw. Most of the story takes place in a cemetary overlooking the tempermental sea. It is spooky, enthralling, and for lack of a better adjective: Halloweeny. By that I mean, kind of dark, but light enough to capture the imagination of the holiday. It is not scary by any means, it is just haunted. And I loved spending a week or so there as I read. October would be a great time to read this book, come to think of it, as I always pictured it to be autumn in the forests Charlie and his brother haunt.

I learned that when authors try to explain the supernatural world around us in a new creative way, it is captivating. Ben Sherwood is a smart guy, a former producer of ABC News and impressive journalist, and he captured me with his point of view on death. We all wonder where our loved ones go when they die, right? Some of us think we have a pretty good idea. Well, his take on it was thought provoking for me, and opened up a new way of thinking about the afterworld.

I learned that self-sacrifice is a powerful way to create memorable characters. Charlie, the protagonist, is utterly willing to sacrifice himself for the ones he loves...and that makes me love him. It didnt hurt that when I read the book I was picturing little ol' Zach and his killer V (that makes me sound like cougar doesn't it?...oh well), but I was always pulling for Charlie. But seriously Charlie is a good dude, a good brother, and a good love interest. Warning: there is one love scene that got rather steamy, but it was short and didn't really bother me.

But the conflict was good, the pacing ayite, and the writing excellent. I really enjoyed this book, and I hope you do too.

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