Monthly Archives: February 2012

The Galley Way: Shards

Shards, by Ismet Prcic

In beginning a description of Ismet Prcic’s (pronounced Per-Sick) debut novel “Shards” I first must mention that novel is filled with stories, scenes, and characters that are truly enjoyable to read and range from heartbreaking to humorous. But what really makes the book stand apart was Prcic’s fluid nature of storytelling that made the novel *novel* for me.

The bulk of the Story is set in 1990’s Bosnia, where Prcic comes of age the war ravaged city of Tuzla. It is in Bosnia that his stories are the most common and can resonate with any Young Adult. While the war rages, Ismet (main character of the same name of our author) and his friends carry on and live like most teenage boys caught up in girls, drugs, and under the sway of a charismatic theater director.

The main action of the story centers around Ismet’s flight from Bosnia to be sponsored by his uncle in California, but it is when he arrives in California that Ismet begins to come unglued, suffering from insomnia, alcoholism, memories from the war, and beginning to fuse his memories and identity with Mustafa- a young man (or figment of Ismet’s imagination?) that fought in the war and serves as Ismet’s mirror image. Prcic alternates between Mustafa’s and Ismet’s story and the reader is left uncertain what is ‘real’ and what is fiction- where Mustafa ends and Ismet begins.

Not only was it refreshing to read about a time an place that I’m largely unfamiliar with- but Prcic’s style plays fast and loose with the conventions of story telling. Is it a memoir or a novel? Will the real Ismet Prcic please stand up? The story delightfully sends you ’round the bend with Mustafa’s and Ismets shared and diverging histories- and strangely was reminiscent of the main character(s) of ‘Fight Club’- complete with a killer ending.

Note: This is a Goodread First Read

Goodreads rating: *****

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The Galley Way: Shadow and Bone

Shadow and Bone, by Leigh Bardugo

This galley came to me by way of a friend. I’m strangely glad he only loaned it to me because I had to make sure to move it up to the top of my reading list to return it to him this week (my to-read list is getting a bit bogged-down).

Now, I have grown to hate the phrase “unputdownable”. Not only is it grammatically dubious, but it seems to skirt the question of whether or not the reviewer was actually “able to put the book down” or not. So I’ll just flat out say it- I couldn’t put this book down. I read it in over the course of one day stopping only for work, trips down to the laundry room, and ultimately sleep.

The plot of Shadow and Bone is nothing groundbreaking- we have an (orphan) protagonist plucked from obscurity, magic- dark and otherwise, evil creatures, etc. While the book stands on it’s own merits and is excellently written, it pulls from many sources- or to be more precise is calls to mind other works (at least for me) as varied as Beauty and the Beast and Snow White to X-Men and, of course, The Hunger Games. 

As this book won’t be coming out until this Summer, I don’t really want to say much more. Suffice it to say I enjoyed it- it’s good fun and I’m sure will be a quality series. For all the YA readers out there- keep you’re eyes peeled- this one’s gonna be a big deal.

Goodreads rating: ****

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