8 Oct 2012

Review: The Waiting Sky by Lara Zielin

Title: The Waiting Sky
Series: n/a
Author: Lara Zielin
Rating: 4.5/5

One summer chasing tornadoes could finally change Jane's life for the better.

Seventeen-year-old Jane McAllister can't quite admit her mother's alcoholism is spiraling dangerously out of control until she drives drunk, nearly killing them and Jane's best friend.

Jane has only one place to turn: her older brother Ethan, who left the problems at home years ago for college. A summer with him and his tornado-chasing buddies may just provide the time and space Jane needs to figure out her life and whether it still includes her mother. But she struggles with her anger at Ethan for leaving home and feels guilty--is she also abandoning her mom just when she needs Jane most?

The carefree trip turned journey of self-discovery quickly becomes more than Jane bargained for, especially when the devilishly handsome Max steps into the picture.

Contemporary novels never used to be my thing, but I decided it was time for me to step back and give them another try, especially since my reader friends keep recommending them to me. The Waiting Sky is one book I came across somewhere on goodreads a month before it came out, and I decided this is it. This is the book I'm going to start with on my road to contemporary YA fiction.

It was a great place to start for me. I absolutely loved this book.

This book was a quick read for me. I finished it in two sittings, mostly because I forced myself to get some sleep so I would not be dead tired at work the following morning. And I certainly did not expect me to have to force myself to put this book down! Especially considering how for the past little while I've been struggling through a certain other book; I feared it might be the same this time.

The characters in this book were great. They felt like real people and the secondary characters weren't just there. They all had unique personalities that I was able to latch onto quickly, and even though we saw them through the main character's eyes, they were written well enough that I was able to form my own opinions about each character without being swayed by the main character's bias.

The last contemporary book I read did not feel real to me at all. The characters felt so fake and the world that was set up was too perfect; even though the ending in that one was tragic, I didn't feel anything for those characters, but the way Lara Zielin wrote her characters and made the plot realistic was really something I appreciated. Nothing felt formulaic or fake. The characters were real, and what was happening to them was real.

Even though the book is a lot shorter than what I've been reading lately, Zielin was able to give us background stories to a few characters that made sense without taking away from the plot. Everything written in this book was important for us to know; there was never a moment where I was like 'okay, I need to skip this paragraph because I don't care to know this'. The sub-plots were intruiging as well; the world did not just revolve around the main character as I've seen happen in a few first person YA novels, and not just the contemporaries I've read.

The voice of the main character, Jane, was evident right from the beginning, and the way that Lara Zielin wrote her was amazing. We were inside of  Jane's head -- everything was told from her perspective -- but we were able to see the flaws in her character without Jane  pointing them out. Everything about Jane's personality was evident through Zielin's writing without taking away from Jane's voice.

Zielin's writing really had me hooked. I'll try not to give anything away here, so I'll just say that I really was not sure how this book was going to end. I feared for certain characters and I wasn't sure what was going to happen to them until it did happen; Zielin's writing kept me guessing almost up until the very last page.

Since the premise of the tornado chases is what first drew my attention to this book, I need to talk about that really quickly. I know next to nothing about tornados but I could tell this book was well-researched. I understood the scientific stuff that was going on without feeling overwhelmed or confused or like it was dumbed-down for people like me (who were terrible at anything science-related in school) to understand. The chase scenes themselves were so well-written; I felt like I was there in the car with them. Another kudos to Zielin's writing.

What I enjoyed the most about this book would be the plot itself. We were given a look into a teen with real life troubles and saw just how they affected her and how she overcame them. I felt for Jane and for the people in her life and I think this book really taught something, whether it meant to or not. For anyone going through problems in their lives, be it something similar to the problems Jane was having with her family, or be it something entirely different, Lara Zielin taught a very clear lesson through the pages of this novel. And never once did it feel forced.

I feel like I have more to say, but I think  I've rambled on enough without giving too much away. I highly recommend this book to everyone, whether you're like me and aren't all that into contemporary or you are. This book is a great, quick read that will truly erm, no pun intended (okay, maybe it is), suck you in. (Get it? Because tornados...?)

And on that note, go read this book!


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