Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Hello, Universe

Hello, Universe. Erin Entrada Kelly. 2017. 313 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Eleven-year old Virgil Salinas already regretted the rest of middle school, and he'd only just finished sixth grade.

Premise/plot: Virgil Salinas has a problem. He has a big crush on Valencia Somerset, but he's gone the whole school year without even saying hello. For some reason, this shyness is not a crushing failure until the first day of summer school. He seeks the guidance of a child psychic--a fortune teller--Kaori Tanaka. Kaori only takes children for clients, and she's aided by her younger sister, Gen. Virgil is one of her clients, but she's got another client as well, a new one. Valencia Somerset has been having nightmares. Will Kaori be able to interpret her dreams and solve her problem? One thing her two clients have in common is that they are both being picked on by Chet Bullens. What happens in the woods one Saturday morning may change all of their lives forever.

My thoughts: Hello, Universe won the Newbery Medal for 2018. If it hadn't won the Newbery would  I have been as disappointed with Hello, Universe? Maybe, maybe not. One thing is for certain, I did not like this book. (My expectations would have been lower, and thus my disappointment not so big if it hadn't won the Newbery.)

The book has alternating narrators. My favorite narrator was probably Valencia Somerset. In fact, if the book was told solely through her perspective and if she never met Kaori Tanaka, I might have enjoyed the book. I did not care for the other narrators for the most part, though I liked Virgil just fine until the incident in the woods. (Virgil's grandmother was a character I liked.)

What didn't I like about the book? Well. I didn't like Kaori Tanaka's fortune-telling. I didn't like her reading the stars, playing with crystals, and being an amateur astrologist. I also didn't like Virgil's time in the well. I didn't like how the spirits talked to him, and how he talked to the spirits. I found all of that weird and out of place. I also am not sure why Virgil often took his guinea pig, Gulliver, with him in his back pack. Other than the fact that this was a necessary part of the plot to bring all the characters together. The plot just didn't work for me.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

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I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

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