When I picked up Watermark at the bookstore a few weeks ago I was hesitant, excited, and anticipating a lot of disappointment. At first glance Watermark was everything I love in a book–historical fiction, a love story with strong characters, and most excitingly of all…. it is about making paper. I was convinced that somehow the author would take all these marvelous elements and ruin them.
I was wrong.
I am so, so glad I was wrong!
Watermark turned out to be exactly what I wanted it to be and more. As far as I can tell the historical details of the book including the papermaking are accurate, and maybe it’s just because I’m a huge paper nerd but I also found them entertaining. Looking over the bibliography in the back I was very impressed to see that she cited Dard Hunter, an American paper scholar that the professor who taught the class I took on paper thought of very highly.
Beyond all the geeky historical and papery stuff, the book was also well written and full of interesting characters. Auda, the protagonist, comes to life on the page as we see her face the struggles of being different in the middle ages. She is an albino, a mute, and an educated woman. When the inquisitors come to town she must hide and seek protection from those more powerful than herself.
I had a really hard time putting this book down–to the point where when I woke up in the middle of the night last night I sat up reading until I had finished.What a joy it is to find a good book!
For as much of a nerdfighter as I am, I had never actually read any of John Green’s books. I know, it’s a terrible thing. But the other day I was checking in books at the library and Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan came across the desk. Naturally, I took the opportunity to add it to my very high to read pile.
And…. I fell in love. On page 8 they bring in Neutral Milk Hotel. As most of you know, I’ve been completely enthralled with NMH since high school. So, getting to read a book where one of the main characters is a huge fan? Yeah, I’m on board for that!
Apart from that the book was great. John Green and David Levithan have alternating sections, each of them told in the voice of a Will Grayson. Both Will Grayson’s have their fair share of problems, and friends with problems. The book deals with issues of sexuality, friendship, online interactions, mental illness and weight. Despite all of those heavy topics, it’s still a fun and at times funny book. For as much as I loved John Green’s sections, I think it was Levithan’s writing that really shone in this book. Both Will Grayson’s are well-rounded characters, but I felt there was just something extra in Levithan’s Grayson. I also love that he chose to write it without any capital letters!
I won’t spoil anything, but I wasn’t as happy with the end as I was with the rest of the book. It felt a bit like it was trying too hard, and I didn’t feel satisfied when it was over.
Overall, a great YA book. Funny, yet touching, and perhaps most importantly, thoughtful.