Thursday, May 26, 2011

Review - My Life, the Theater, and Other Tragedies

It's two years after his dad's unexpected death and Adam Ziegler's life is all tech all the time. Terrified of the dark after losing his dad, he spends his time creating lights for the shows in his high school theater. Though he's still mourning his father and is somewhat distanced from his friends and former life, Adam finds a place he belongs in Tech, running the lights. But when a beautiful actress named Summer catches his attention, he's suddenly in danger of breaking the most important techie rule (and getting black-listed by the other techs): thou shalt not get involved with the actors.

The great thing about going into a book without any preconceptions -- as I did with this one -- is that the book has a way of pleasantly surprising you. Though I know almost nothing about theater, I was quickly wrapped up in the life of a tech as Adam's genuine and intense love for lighting is infectious. For him, it's an art form and this is instantly clear. There seems to be an age-old battle between the techies and actors in this story and though it made for some nice dramatic moments and added to Adam's conflict between The Girl (Adam) and his friends (especially his best friend, a guy called Reach) and tech life, it felt a bit too unrealistic to me. I understand high school cliques, but the punishment for even talking to or hanging out with an actor seemed incredibly harsh to me and I just didn't totally buy it. However, like I said, I really don't know about theater and maybe in some theaters there really is a hatred between the actors and crew.

As for Summer, I had a couple of different reactions to her. As a new student, she kind of has the same reaction as I do to the feud between the crew and actors and she was very likable as a girl who truly loves acting and is sometimes a bit perplexed at the actions of the people around her. However, she was also a little too much MPDG (Manic Pixie Dream Girl) for me. In the end this wasn't enough to sustain one of the most important characters in the book. But Adam is so likable, so honest in his quest for her heart, his confusion over what to do, his sometimes-cowardly personality, and his sadness over losing his father, that the Manic-Pixie-Dream-Girl qualities in Summer became okay. Because it was clear that Adam had real feelings for her and so I trusted in the fact that he saw something good and worthwhile and non-typical in her. (Now, having said all of that, I also feel the need to mention Adam's tech-girl friend, Grace. Because she was awesome, no question about it.)

One of the main things that I liked about this book was how light-hearted it managed to be even while tackling some heavy issues. Though the story handles Adam's grief over losing his father, the book never turns into a "grief book" and as much as I love grief books, I liked that it didn't go that way. Instead, the story was funny and focused and had a wonderful, feel-good-read feeling to it. For me, it was incredibly refreshing. This is a fast read that feels much shorter than it actually is and will put a smile on your face. It seems a bit targeted to theater-types and Glee-fans (the back of the ARC mentions Glee), but honestly if you like a good story and want something sweet, light-hearted, and funny, pick this one up.

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