POVone: The First Person Perspective

Rants and Reviews on Novels Written in the First Person Point of View

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Book Review: Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee

Author: Stacey Lee
Title: Under a Painted Sky
Genre: Young Adult; Historical; Literary
Publication Date: March 17, 2015
Publisher: GP Putnam’s Sons (Random House)
Number of Pages: 384
Narrator: Samantha

Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee

What’s It About?

Samantha is the sixteen year old daughter of a Chinese immigrant living in mid-19th century Missouri. Trained in the violin, she has dreams of becoming a musician in an era that frowns upon female musicians and in a land that frowns upon non-white foreigners. Her father, with whom she is very close, has plans to move them out west to explore new possibilities in a land with less settlement and–as a result–less discrimination.

Then, in one moment, Samantha loses everything. She returns home one day to find the building in which she lived engulfed in flames–and her father trapped inside. Upon losing her father, her landlord takes pity on her and gives her a place to stay at his hotel. But what first appears to be pity soon shows itself as something else entirely.

Shortly after arriving at the hotel, Samantha is confronted by her landlord and told that she is responsible for the debt incurred by the loss of the building that had apparently burned due to her father’s negligence. To work off her debts, he informs her that he will be taking her in as a prostitute but, first, he needs to “test out the goods.” When he attempts to rape her, Samantha kills him.

Knowing she is sure to be put to death for the deed, Samantha goes on the run out west with a black slave girl from the hotel. To avoid suspicion, they disguise themselves as men heading out west in search of gold. As they journey along the Oregon Trail, they meet new friends and seek to avoid run-ins with the law as they claw their way to freedom.

Should You Read It?

If you enjoy a good young adult adventure story, you’ll love this book–particularly if you enjoy history of the American south or the American west. The author captures the racial tension of the time, as well as the early notion of the American Dream that transcended ethnic lines. The story can be likened to Huckleberry Finn–including the themes of travel, race, and companionship. If enjoy that sort of historical adventure story, I would definitely give this book a shot.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

Book Reviews: Kirkus Reviews, Pop Goes the Reader, The Social Potato

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Stacey Lee: Under a Painted Sky is Stacey Lee’s debut novel.

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Book Review: First There Was Forever by Juliana Romano

Author: Juliana Romano
Title: First There Was Forever
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: April 14, 2015
Publisher: Dial (Penguin)
Number of Pages: 400
Narrator: Lima

First There Was Forever by Juliana Romano

What’s It About?

As they enter their sophomore year, Lima’s best friend reveals that she’s lost her virginity to a stranger over summer break. Shrugging if off as “no big deal,” Lima’s friend becomes increasingly more involved in the party scene–a space in which Lima is extremely uncomfortable. Eventually, Lima’s friend all but abandons her for another girl who is more interesting and fun to be around.

Lima has never had a serious relationship with a boy, and she has no plans to start one. That is, until she meets Nate. Never has a boy so cool and so attractive shown an interest in her. And, as painful as it is for her to admit it, she’s starting to have feelings for him too. There’s only one problem–this is the boy her best friend has always had a crush on, and Lima has promised never to be with him.

As the sophomore year draws to a close, Lima must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she try to sustain a dying friendship and, in doing so, lose her first real chance at love? Or, will she follow her heart and accept the diverging paths she and her best friend have begun to take?

Should You Read It?

Essentially, this story is about the complicated interplay between self-discovery, friendship, and romance experienced during female adolescence. You could call it “teenage chick lit.” If you are interested in love triangles in young adult literature, you’ll probably enjoy this story. But, at its heart, this book is really about the fleeting nature of friendship during the time in a person’s life that is most filled with change.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Goodreads

Book Reviews: Kirkus Reviews, YA Love, Rather Be Reading

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Juliana Romano: First There Was Forever is Juliana Romano’s debut novel.

Book Review: The Given World by Marian Palaia

Author: Marian Palaia
Title: The Given World
Genre: Literary
Publication Date: April 14, 2015
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Number of Pages: 304
Narrator: Riley

The Given World by Marian Palaia

What’s It About?

Riley is a young girl living in rural Montana. As she enters her teenage years, her older brother–whom she cherishes dearly–goes off to the war in Vietnam. Upon receiving notification that he had died in combat, her life spirals out of control. Her parents grow cold and distant, and Riley gets into drugs to numb the pain.

When she’s seventeen, Riley becomes pregnant with the child of a man who goes off to the war in Vietnam and–like her brother–never returns. Unable to bear the loss, Riley leaves the baby with her parents and leaves Montana. Traveling as far west as she can go, she winds up settling in San Francisco.

Over the course of her adult life, Riley wonders around in search of herself and her place in the world. In her travels, she meets new friends and experiences new things. All along, the question looms heavily in her mind–will she have the courage to return home? Will she go back to Montana and face what she’s left behind?

Should You Read It?

The story is told in alternating first and third person perspective, with the former revealing Riley’s feelings about her circumstances and the latter shedding light on how Riley’s life fits in with the lives of those around her. The novel is largely character-driven, rather than plot-driven. Great emphasis is placed on how inescapable circumstances rule the lives of Riley and the cast of characters she encounters throughout her life. With the major theme built around the struggle to overcome tragedy and find meaning, the tone is one of aimless searching, grasping, and hoping. If all of this sounds interesting to you, I would give it a shot.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

Book Reviews: Kirkus Reviews, SF Gate, Meanderings and Musings

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Marian Palaia: The Given World is Marian Palaia’s debut novel.

Book Review: Saint Odd by Dean Koontz

Author: Dean Koontz
Title: Saint Odd
Genre: Paranormal; Supernatural thriller; Mystery
Publication Date: January 13, 2015
Publisher: Bantam (Random House)
Number of Pages: 352
Narrator: Odd Thomas
Amazon.com Reviewer Grade: A-, Excellent; of the first 1,840 reviews, the average reader rating was 90.85%.

Saint Odd by Dean Koontz

What’s It About?

Odd Thomas, a 20 year old fry cook with a gift for communicating with dead people, is returning from Nevada to his hometown of Pico Mundo, California. Years ago, a massacre had occurred at the now-abandoned town mall. Odd has the feeling that something is going to happen again–and, this time, it’s going to be even worse.

As he reconnects with old friends, Odd begins to investigate the savage cult that pulled off the massacre so long ago. Attempting to discover their plans for his city, Odd finds himself as their target and must continually try to avoid drawing them to himself. Nevertheless, he can’t shake the premonition that his end is near and he has come back home not just to save his city but also to die in it.

Will Odd be able to prevent the coming tragedy? And, if so, at what cost? Along with introducing a few new characters, this final installment in the “Odd Thomas” series concludes with tying up some loose ends and resolving some mysteries that have been pervasive throughout.

Should You Read It?

If you enjoyed the rest of the “Odd Thomas” series, you’ll probably find some closure in the finale. With less action and more introspection, those who enjoy Dean Koontz’s more character-driven works will probably enjoy Saint Odd more than than those who prefer his more fast-paced stories. Although the genre would still fall under the supernatural thriller umbrella and there are some gritty and somewhat spooky scenes, Odd communicates more with himself than he does with the dead in this final installment of his “memoirs.”

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Interview with USA Today

Book Reviews: CheerUp Magazine, Horror Novel Reviews

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Dean Koontz: Saint Odd is the final installment in a series of seven. The first six novels in this series are, in order of release, Odd Thomas (2003), Forever Odd (2005), Brother Odd (2006), Odd Hours (2008), Odd Apocalypse (2012), and Deeply Odd (2013).