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mandafofanda

Mandafofanda Reads Lots

The world isn't just the way it is. It is how we understand it, no?

And in understanding something, we bring something to it, no?
Doesn't that make life a story?

- Yann Martel, Life of Pi

This is Not a Test - Courtney Summers Original review: 3 stars

Is this a good book - well-written, with real and complex characters and a plot that compels you to keep reading? Yes. Did I like reading this? ... no. I saw that this book was compared to [b:Lord of the Flies|7624|Lord of the Flies|William Golding|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1327869409s/7624.jpg|2766512] and I have to completely agree. Summers took a similar philosophy as Golding when writing this book: the necessity to survive brings out the worst in people. And it's depressing, and gives a bleak outlook on the world. Not all books have to have happiness or hope in it, but christ, one doesn't have to punch you in the gut then kick you while you're down.

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Reread: 4 stars

I decided to reread this book to see if being forewarned about its stark take on the grittier and uglier side of humanity would create a slight cushioning on my psyche and make me enjoy the book more. Verdict? Yes, this is an excellent book, and I appreciate the realism. But I don't ever think it'll ever venture into enjoyment territory for me.

I read Lord of the Flies in Grade 9 and hated it. It's easy to love a book like [b:To Kill a Mockingbird|2657|To Kill a Mockingbird|Harper Lee|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1361975680s/2657.jpg|3275794] because to counteract all its ugly characters, there are the shining examples, and themes of banding together to overcome "evil" that will give that ray of hope. It's harder to stomach a book where everyone gives in to the ugliness, groups break down, and even the strongest of ties can be strained and worn thin.

But I think that my greatest source of depression that stems from this book is the manipulative selfishness of Mr. Baxter. I'm not even really sure why, because I've read and liked tons of books with asshole adults that act despicably. But I guess that barring being each other's mortal enemies, I have this expectation of adults to be that mature bigger person, and to be fairly selfless towards the survival of children (even though yes, the group in this book are in their teens). The fact that he purposefully exploits any kindness, demeans them and ultimately tries to destroy them creates a hole of despair in my soul about the goodness of people in the world. Maybe if he had a sad backstory of trying to reunite with his lost daughter or something I'd feel more empathetic towards him. For now, I hate his guts.