The Thinnest Air (Minka Kent)

Book Review: The Thinnest Air by Minka Kent

This is an Amazon First Reads choice for June 2018. The original review can be found at https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R2991V3FQL61V8/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1503953408

The Thinnest Air (Minka Kent)

One thing that IS “in thin air” in this review is spoilers, so don’t worry about finding any here.

This book was pretty good. No Dark Knight (Or the book version of that, whatever that is) and it took a bit to get to the suspense, but at least it existed. Plus, the author tried to add at least SOMETHING in most of the early chapters to keep things interesting and so you’ll remember, “Oh yeah, this is suspense, and there’s a baddie, and I’m going to figure out what happened with THE INCIDENT.” And you probably will; just remember, the journey IS the destination. Especially on road trips.

When it comes to adult content, I’d say this is a PG-13. Do NOT judge it by the opening scene, because it opens up with a light sex scene that made it seem like it would be frequent, but even here it was offscreen, as were the other mentions, which were infrequent. Sort of like I-Robot, if that dated reference makes any sense anymore. There are a couple of F-tomic bombs, but considering THE INCIDENT and the situation they were dealing with, a lot of them seem justified, though I know there are readers out there that don’t want to be anywhere near that blast radius.

POV WARNING! While there isn’t much adult content, I can’t, in good conscience, continue this review without the following POV Warning: This is written in first person present tense and alternates between two characters. I still don’t care much for this style–especially with more than one protagonist getting the I’s–but sadly, it seems to be getting more popular and I don’t see it going away anytime soon. Unfortunately. However, It only ever goes between the two main characters, and I think it switches every chapter. That makes it predictable, but for me that’s in a good way, and better than trying something experimental like switching to THE BIG BAD’S point of view and talking on eggshells not to give them away.

The first character, Meredith, is the younger of the two sisters and is your typical naive, pretty girl, but coming from an unusual background made her stand out a little bit. I definitely preferred her chapters over her sister’s, as she gave me reason to be empathetic, though she made plenty of stupid choices along the way. But hey, that’s life, and we all do dumb things from those old Geico commercials every now and then.

Greer, the older sister, took some getting used to. She reminded me of Marcy Long from Fallout 4, so yeah… Not the most likable of people. The author made sure to frequently show that she was intelligent, but that was counteracted by her doing some really stupid things. I’ve known people like her and they’ve always rubbed me more like a deep tissue massage than a relaxation massage, and her perspective irritated me at times but it seemed to get better as the story went on. At least the POV changes mean it doesn’t follow her the entire time, which made it so I could deal with her at the first until that “Acquired Taste” phenomenon kicked in.

As for the plot, there was nothing especially unusual or groundbreaking here, although I did like the way the timeline worked. Meredith’s story started a few years in the past and built up to the present, touching up on a few major events that happened over the years. Greer’s started at the present and went over each day after the incident, and eventually, Meredith’s overlapped so that you could find out what she was up to while Greer’s was still a few days in the future. If this sounds kind of confusing like the Flashpoint, it’s really not, but I don’t want to do the math.

…Fine. I’ll do the math. But NOT in Common Core. Say the present is Day 0. Greer starts at Day 0 and eventually moves to Day 1 and then Day 2 and so on. Meanwhile, Meredith starts at negative 3 years. Then she goes to negative 2 years and 11 months or something, and eventually gets to Day 0 when Greer is on a later day. So Meredith could be on Day 2 while Greer is on like Day 8, and you can see how THE INCIDENT plays out better this way.

Besides that, there wasn’t anything that really stood out as either especially bad or good. The story was well-told for the most part, and the reveal doesn’t completely come out of the secret sewage monster hole in left field. Instead, it’s something you can figure out if you’re paying attention without missing that single clue about the off-color red of a woman’s shoes in Chapter 2 or whatever nonsense a lot of modern-day authors like to try these days to make themselves look clever and trick you.

Overall, I’d say this is an entertaining book, and for me, it was a quick read. Still, if you’re looking for something safe yet enjoyable, I don’t think you’ll go wrong by choosing this one.

Book Review: The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland by Rebekah Crane (Kindle First November Option)

For those of you with Kindles looking for your freebie this month, I highly recommend The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland by Rebekah Crane. There’s a reason that all the reviews are 5 stars (as of now at least). This review is also posted at Amazon here.

I’ve been reading Kindle First Books since the program started. And poor sad, sad little me, most of the time I’ve been disappointed (Just look at some of my reviews). The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland is by far the best book I’ve read these last few years as a loyal First member. Even the title is a fantastic fit, as weird as it sounds at first glance. I mean, Grover Cleveland? Like the President? The only thing I know about the guy is that he was elected for two non-consecutive terms, and the only reason I know that is because my mom made me eat all my meals on a President placemat so I didn’t spill mac and cheese on her stained cedar. Oh, and he had a different color bow tie in the second picture, and as we all know, bow ties are cool.

The book is written in present tense, which isn’t my favorite, but I give it a pass since it’s in first person. This means tha we learn about what happens with our main character as she experiences it, which I think in this case, was a good choice.

The book takes place almost entirely at some sort of summer camp. But it’s not your run of the mill murder camp run by some guy called Jason, nor is it Space Camp where all those rich kids come back and brag about how they got to build mini rockets and ride that crazy spinning simulator, a marvel us plebians could never comprehend. Actually, they never really say what exactly Camp Padua is, but I’m assuming it’s for troubled teens and/or teens with behavior disorders to share the summer with kids like themselves. Basically, it’s a a story of how these teens go to summer camp and how it changes them; and how they change it in the process. Yet at the same time, it’s NOT basic; it’s both a simply-told story we’ve all heard yet a unique one at the same time. It’s hard to describe. Maybe it’s like the Breakfast Club? That comes up a few times in the book, but I’ve never seen it. Just read this book. Really.

In case you’re not convinced yet, the protagonist is at camp and doesn’t seem to happy about it. I’ll just call her “Main” or some variation. People that read reviews are smart; you’ll pick up on it. Anyway, we open up with Main Squeeze and she seems a bit… Constrained. Odd. When she gets in a bind (or just, exists, I guess) she likes to conjugate French verbs. She tries to keep to herself, stay stuck at nowhere, but come on, this is camp, no way that’s going to happen. Some of the things she dealt with hit close to home, like the apathy she has when she should be feeling SOMETHING when the people around her are, but doesn’t. I thought her journey dealing with that was remarkably accurate. Main Street quickly meets Grover Cleveland, who shares the height but not the girth of the former commander-in-chief. He’s a quirky, outgoing string bean who’s like C-3PO in the asteroid field, knowing the odds to all kinds of random things like being struck by lighting. His name, what he does, maybe it has something to do with the title…? *nudge nudge*

Along with these two, there’s also the tougher than hermetically-sealed glass Cassie, the Blue Christmas Dori who needs to find herself (ha!) and even the well-known star of a popular game show (Or is he?), who all work together to make the camp counselors earn their pay. Now, even though I’m describing them with these quick tidbits, what makes Crane’s writing work so well is that the characters of this book aren’t caricatures scanned from DSM-III, but are shown as actual living, breathing human beings. The dialogue is the best I’ve read in a long, long time. It’s witty at times, simple at others, revealing or concealing depending on the situation. And the conversations and word choice sound like things a reality-based homo sapien might utter periodically.

I think this is a major point Crane wanted to show her readers, that everyone has imperfections, and they manifest themselves in each of us in different ways. For some of us that could be being too cheap to shop at the mall, other times it’s one of these disorders like the kids in this book. And then there’s those of us that are just too gersh dern good at Mario Kart Wii. We all have our problems. That doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with us.

It just means we’re alive.

It’s a good message, but parents, don’t expect it to be told through rainbow puppies on unicorns. There’s some F-bombs, sex jokes, tough problems at home, “adult situations”, you know, Teenagers 101. It’s not sugar-coated, but it’s not intentionally dark where every kid is the next Charles Manson because they somehow each have the single worst American childhood ever of all time. And they don’t just get into crazy, stupid situations, although of course, it’s camp, so… Yeah. Still, I feel like this content was woven in for realism and used artfully instead of for shock value, and that makes a yuge difference.

Of course, as much as I enjoyed the book, there were some… Interesting choices, but it’s still an easy five stars. I didn’t particularly care for the ending, or at least, the very very ending, and there were some times where the Main Idea said or thought things that were sappier than a overflowing spigot on a maple tree, but the otherwise realistic dialogue and strong characters more than made up for these brief moments.

Overall, this is not only easily the best Kindle First book I’ve read, but one of the top ten books I’ve read, and I’ll definitely be looking into more of what Rebekah Crane has to offer.