!!> Read ➸ The Swallows ➻ Author Lisa Lutz – Stevemiddleton.info
NOW AVAILABLE this book is campy and silly while dealing with some very serious subject matter and all those earnest hand wringing folks will likely ask if this is what we need right now as a society, but today seduced by the unexpected option i bought lavender scented roach spray, and now i will forever associate bug extermination with vaporized grannies, so there are a lot of things we do not need as a society, but which make unpleasant things just a little bit weirder and that s what this book does it takes predatory teenage boys, sexually exploited teenage girls, and the blind eyes and cover ups of responsible adults and makes it weirder than an SVU rerun, rompier than a lifetime original movie, less of a soul crushing depression bomb than a news story this one is, dare i say fun, and i needed some fun right now, even if that fun is sculpted around a rotten core of humiliation and blackmail and revenge.if it sounds like this book trivializes rape culture and the objectification of women, i ve explained it poorly it doesn t diminish the seriousness of the problem to offer a book with a lighter tone about that problem you can buy your acrid chemical scented bug spray and feel confident that it is addressing your issue or you can address the issue and also have some humorous images in your head as you do so.like spraycan grannies.and this book s helpful blowchart it s a breathlessly quick read, and the pacing ushers the reader over some of the book s undeniable potholes yes, there are too many characters and only a few are narratively significant yes, the villains are very villain y and there s not a lot of nuance yes, it s convenient that all of a sudden, this longstanding and verrrrrry secret society of rich lazy white boys is outed en masse, simultaneously, in a creative writing class survey yes, a prank escalation seems like a disproportionately mild response to the situation, but be aware that escalation can really escalate what starts with a stolen scooter sometimes ends dramatically.it s a fun and funny book, and while it may not be as metoo messageheavy as other recently published books on the subject, that doesn t mean it is without lessons about life and loveYou don t make a spork for a guy you re not into something to keep in mindcome to my blog Although painful to read in some places, due to the horrific actions of a few, this was an amazing book Clearly 5 for me The message it brings to light is similar to the new form of hazing bullying that is greatly magnified with social media But the story is much deeper than the flippant technology is bad philosophy By the end of the story, we learn the origins of the behavior and compliance of many adults, are what has allowed this culture to continue This was a fast paced novel and I was completely shocked by the conclusion The reactions from all characters is so realistic, you could have been reading a current news article concerning a boarding school or college campus I highly recommend this book to all YA readers Due to explicit details, my personal opinion is 14Many thanks to NetGalley and publishers for the advanced reader s copy in exchange for my honest review. 4.5 stars, rounded upI was a huge fan of Lutz s The Passenger and the entire Spellman series While the Spellman books were all just great fun, The Passenger showed she had the chops to do an intriguing, serious mystery With The Swallows, we get something different again Alex Witt arrives at a New England boarding school thinking she s going to teach English Lit, but gets handed creative writing instead This isn t some posh school, it seems to be half baked than serious And what a cast of characters We hear not only from Alex, but a variety of teachers and students The students run the gamut of teenage personalities, but the adults other than Alex are off the chart weird as you would expect of anyone teaching at a third rate boarding school Lutz retains her wicked turn of phrase ability Stonebridge May look like Green Gables, but it s the Bada Bing Club for the preppy set Normally this subject matter wouldn t enthrall me Pissy, entitled teenager boys lord it over the girls in the school But, it just kept me engrossed I wanted to see if how the boys got their comeuppance It s sad to think that in 2009, the girls are still seen as objects, things to be manipulated And the ending, well, I couldn t read that ending fast enough Wow, wow, wow I had one minor quibble with the book Admittedly, we only see a microcosm of the entire school population, but I can t believe that a majority of the school officials and teachers would have been willing to turn a blind eye to the goings on My thanks to netgalley and Random House Ballantine for an advance copy of this book. Dang it Honestly, it pains me to give this one anything less than a stellar review, as Lisa Lutz is one of my favorite authors, and I credit her Spellman Files series to getting me out of a multi year reading slump All that to say, please take this review with a grain of salt, and know full well that I could be the outlier here, due to the fact that I know she can write the heck out of a story Perhaps the fact that this one felt so off base from her previous works is what threw me off initially, so the predictable nature of this story left me underwhelmed and unsatisfied There are a lot of characters in this story, and it was quite difficult keeping them all straight and determining just why some were even included I love a good challenge in my reading, but I need for it to have purpose and meaning, not to just be used as a plot device to bloat the page count Upon finishing this book, I m hard pressed to tell you what genre this book technically falls Overall, I got a heavy YA vibe from the voices of the characters, setting, and plot, yet I m unsure that this would actually appeal to the YA audience, which could be why I m waffling around this detail I guess there is a mystery at hand, but I can guarantee at least half of the reading population will figure it out early and be sorely disappointed at the payoff after such buildup Overall, I m sure you can tell I didn t connect well with this one, but I still hold the author in the highest regard and will continue to search for future work from her I highly recommend you give this one a try for yourself, as this could be the book for you if the synopsis sounds appealingMany thanks to the publisher for providing my review copy via NetGalley. A New Teacher At A New England Prep School Ignites A Gender War With Deadly Consequences What Do You Love What Do You Hate What Do You Want It Starts With This Simple Writing Prompt From Alex Witt, Stonebridge Academy S New Creative Writing Teacher When The Students Answers Raise Disturbing Questions Of Their Own, Ms Witt Knows There S Going On The School Than The Faculty Wants To See She Soon Learns About The Ten The Students At The Top Of The School S Social Hierarchy As Well As Their Connection To Something Called The DarkroomMs Witt Can T Remain A Passive Observer She Finds The Few Girls Who Ve Started To Question The School S Boys Will Be Boys Attitude And Incites A Resistance That Quickly Becomes A Movement But Just As It Gains Momentum, She Also Attracts The Attention Of An Unknown Enemy Who Knows A Little Too Much About Her Including What Brought Her To Stonebridge In The First PlaceMeanwhile, Gemma, A Defiant Senior, Has Been Plotting Her Attack For Years, Waiting For The Right Moment Shy Loner Norman Hates His Role In The Darkroom, But Can T Find The Courage To Fight Back Until He Makes An Unlikely Alliance And Then There S Finn Ford, An English Teacher With A Shady Reputation Who Keeps One Eye On His Literary Ambitions And One On Ms WittAs The School S Secrets Begin To Trickle Out, A Boys Versus Girls Skirmish Turns Into An All Out War, With Deeply Personal And Potentially Fatal Consequences For Everyone Involved At the beginning of this book I thought, Okay, this clearly takes place in a fictional universe of boarding school novels where we have dropped all pretense that anything in it is real or related to real life And I was willing to suspend my disbelief for that Boarding school novels can be campy fun or dark microcosms of teenage misbehavior I m down for that This is a school where the staff is made up of checks notes six adults while there are 400 students, though we only ever meet about ten of these students and the rest of them seem to not actually exist Okay, whatever, let s do it.Around a third of the way through I thought, Okay, we re going to get some interesting gender wars here Maybe this is satire It could be satire Nothing in it feels all that satirical but the lack of realism and the committed to weirdness plot could mean satire Let s wait for some sharp topical insight And I waited I should have stopped reading it once I d given it some space and still couldn t get my bearings But I like Lisa Lutz, I ve read several of her novels, I thought her last one was her best so far, I figured she had to have something smart waiting for me But at the end I was just mad enough to want to throw this book.There does not seem to be much of a point to it all Teenage boys are terrible Girls decide to fight back Things escalate It s not going to end well The broad strokes are not exactly new, in this kind of scenario it s all about the details And the details here never meshed The teenage boys are so terrible they are irredeemable We get one as a narrator who helps out the girls and maybe he s supposed to be sympathetic, but he never seems to take any responsibility for his bad actions No one takes any responsibility in this book because the terrible teenage boys are capable of such ridiculous revenge that no one dares, which what But I guess that s okay in a book where not only are the teenage boys capable of these dramatic acts of revenge, they are also apparently capable of keeping a secret for years that they also then all decide to stop keeping for the same school assignment I m sorry I could do this for HOURS but I will not The teachers are truly awful for no real purpose except to maybe remind us that adults are just older teenagers There is no explanation for so much awfulness, so I guess you could see this as one of those super dark books like Fight Club where everyone is just so totally effed up that that is the point but this book sure seems to think the girls are at least mostly justified so I don t think that s it either The teacher who is the closest thing we have to a protagonist is at an odd remove from the action and it s unclear what she even has to do with anything besides give us some B plot I do not know why Lutz s usual darkly comic gifts have failed her so utterly here, sometimes a bit would land but none of them ever stuck that landing And given the amount of manipulation, sexual coercion, sharing of images of underage children, and all on display, it feels like it should all DO something It should mean something or take you somewhere We live in a world with so much misogyny, it s not that we don t want some humor with it, it s just that if we re going to get it in our entertainment it s still going to hurt so you have to make it worth it You have to give us something to believe in or laugh at or get excited about To its credit, this book does have a truly excellent flowchart called The Blowchart that they should give out to actual teenagers because it is very good advice.I do not think this book has much to say that is useful or interesting about feminism or patriarchy or teenage misogyny and manipulation If you would like a book like that, I would directly you to the very excellent 2018 novel THE RED WORD by Sarah Henstra, which is also about a kind of gender war, this time at a college, that is a very smart and gutsy book that I highly enjoyed and which very much deserves your time. Boys will be boys I ve heard it all my life and wager that you have, too It s a poor excuse for some of the behavior taking place at Stonebridge Academy The Darkroom It s not dark enough to obscure the nasty goings on there, nor the resultant fallout A point will be reached when the truth no longer matters, and any lies told are for one s own good It s high time for a reckoning, and the girls here are sick to death of behaving like proper young ladies. Find all of my reviews at 4.5 StarsNon ducor, duco I am not led I leadIn what has become a season of mediocre reactions and wrongreading, allow me to take a moment for a book that made me say Lisa Lutz is an author who has been on my radar basically since I became active on Goodreads, but one I avoided in fear of disappointing my Goodreads friends I did finally buy The Spellman Files a couple of weeks ago when I found it at HPB clearance event for two bucks so I m getting closer When I saw this non Spellman selection over on NetGalley I figured what the hell And then I didn t read it until the dang thing was already published But whatever E for effort, right Anyway, the only thing I knew about this before going in was the familiarity of the author s name and Stonebridge may look like Green Gables, but it s like the Bada Bing for the preppy set. The plot is pretty simpleWhat s the plan Build an army, take down the Darkroom, and end DulcineaAfter an eternity of dealing with a boys will be boys approach to discipline at Stonebridge Academy, the girls have decided it s time to take matters into their own hands What follows is a wickedly delightful tale of revenge Told from various perspectives including a female teacher, a male teacher, a female student, a male student and the Announcements, my first EDIT SECOND she wrote a chick litty type of book I read years back and forgot about Whoops experience with Lisa Lutz was a real pageturner I loved how even though it was technically a boys vs girls story and 100% a guide to owning your own sexuality as a female and empowerment and yada yada it was presented without any male bashing The boys who deserved to be punished got what was coming to them The boys who did not were a vital part of the story and allies with the girls My only complaint It dragged on just a teensie bit too long others will complain that the ending was totally over the top, but it was so awesomely extra it just made me giddy I also think this should have been marketed as a Young Adult my definition of YA is generally mid to late teens book Even old grannies like me have moved on past instalove We want edgy, envelope pushing stories when it comes to the young adult genre 4.5 Stars, but rounding up because my first reaction to the explanation behind the title was And that s always a good thing ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review Thank you, NetGalley The axe forgets, but the tree remembers African Proverb I ve long been a fan of Lutz work I laughed through her Spellman series, enjoyed her cleverness in The Last Word and The Passenger was a wild ride in thriller territory But this one seems to take everything from all of those previous, the humor, the ingenuity and suspense and raises the bar This is a revenge story for our times You can keep telling girls to be polite, to keep a level head and it ll all work out in the end But don t be surprised when they figure out that you ve been feeding them lies Don t be alarmed when they grow tired of using their voices and playing by your rules And don t be shocked when they decide that if they can t win a fair fight, they ll just have to fight dirty.Snarky, brainy and just this side of sinister. 4.5 starsLisa Lutz was already one of my favorite authors, and this book just further cemented her status It s her most thought provoking novel yet This book stirs up emotions and makes you think which is always a winning combination Alexandra Witt takes on a position as a creative writing teacher at Stonebridge Academy She s curious about something called the Darkroom and starts investigating as it sounds super shady She soon learns some of the female students aren t too happy with the attitudes and actions of certain male students connected to the Darkroom Perhaps they can come up with a plan to infiltrate the Darkroom and bring it down once and for all The story follows the perspectives of Ms Witt, Mr Finn, a teacher at Stonebridge, Gemma, a senior and leader of the resistance, and Norman, a reluctant participant in the nefarious activities of the Darkroom The story incorporate many of the issues of the metoo movement so this could be a difficult read for some readers It might seem like the plot is outlandish but yet if I try to pinpoint which parts of the story could never happen in real life, I can t do it It s both sad and scary that pretty much every plot point, I ve actually read about in the news, or at least some variation of it You might think the whole Darkroom thing sounds crazy but it shares a lot in common with that disturbing colored sex bracelet game that found its way into schools not that long ago The author just shines a light on so many issues and does it in a brilliant way in my opinion.This book is part of the regular old fiction genre but it does have a slight young adult fiction feel to it And I m not saying that as a negative thing because I think YA fiction is highly underrated This is mostly due to the boarding school setting and two of the narrators being students Maybe it s because I am female, but for me Ms Witt and Gemma were the heart of the story and definitely the characters I identified with the most And I think Lisa Lutz could have taken the easy way out and had all the female characters act and think the same way but she didn t It sounds like such a simple thing to show women have minds of their own and their views don t always align with one another but yet I think many authors would not have shown the reality of this fact The characters in the book were complex, you know, kinda like real people It s like every detail in this book was so well thought out, I m just in awe The only teeny, tiny criticism I have is the story felt a tad long at 400 some pages Although I m not sure what exactly I would cut out to trim down the length because even the side plots enhanced the overall story I guess you could also argue the slow pace helped build up the tension I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in seeing how a smart and creative writer takes on the issues of the metoo movement Readers who liked The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis might also want to check this book out as well.