Thursday, 28 April 2011

Review: This is All by Aidan Chambers

Dear Blog,
a review In Which Tesni Fangirls. 

Summary (from Goodreads): Using a pillow book as her form, nineteen-year-old Cordelia Kenn sets out to write her life for her unborn daughter. What emerges is a portrait of an extraordinary girl who writes frankly of love, sex, poetry, nature, and, most of all, of herself in the world. As she attempts to capture “all” of herself on paper, Cordelia maddens, fascinates, and ultimately seduces the reader in this tour de force from a writer who has helped redefine literature for young adults. A book not to be missed by any serious reader.

Review:  I honestly have no idea where I ought to start.  I've spent the last week entirely engrossed in This is All, and now I finished it's like all I can do is completely fangirl over it and want to re-read the whole thing over and over again.

It's like a journey in some respects, that begins when Cordelia is fifteen and ends when she's about twenty.  The book is her life, and the reader is like her shadow so it kind of becomes a part of theirs, too.
 At some points in the book it makes for very confusing reading.  Part two of the book is split so that you have to read all the left sides of the page from 200 to about 400, then go back to 200 again and read all the right pages.  Also part four of the book, which chronicles her creepy experience with Cal, a man who's obsessed with her, will cut suddenly from her talking about what's happening to her to her thoughts on other, completely irrelevant things.  It's actually very clever in that sense; On one hand you want to whizz through those parts of the book to get back to the central plot, but on the other when Cordy's experiences with Cal are so terrifying, the interludes about school, sleep etc seem almost like relief and a diversion. 

I loved Cordelia for the range of emotions she possessed, and the variety of reactions she could get from me; one minute I would be shouting "Yes!  Life feels like that!   Poetry is like that, and loneliness, and music is that satisfying. If you were real and I would totally follow you around everywhere",   The next I wanted to hug her; others she made me facepalm (the "It''s your period" scene *cringes* 'nuff said), others she made me want to cry.  She's intelligent but naïve, romantic but selfish, sometimes intense and others silly.  How does Aidan Chambers, a man and an adult, manage to write the thoughts of a teenage girl so powerfully and so personally?   There are some sections about periods, masturbation and the appeal of breasts; sex is quite an important topic. It's quite a mature read, certainly, and some of the topics I imagine a lot of parents wouldn't want their little darlings to be reading; but all I can say to them is  to just deal with it.  It's an entirely enlightening, frank book.

If I said I didn't like Will, that would be lying.  However, if I said I liked him, that also wouldn't be true. There were some moments when I really wanted to slap him and shriek; "But you care about Cordelia and you need her and she needs you!  The balance of the universe can only be restored if you love one another!" I hated him for his actions, or lack thereof.  Other times, however, I just wanted to steal him for myself,  and I very much envied Cordelia. That's part of the glory of the book; it portrays love in an entirely realistic way, ups and downs; Take for instance their "sex saga".  Aidan Chambers has eight hundred pages to build up a really deep emotional connection between the two of them.  It's not just lurrrve at first sight, complications ensue, they break up and Cordy learns a valid life lesson. There's way more substance to it than that.

Miss Martin.  MISS MARTIN IS JULIE FROM NOW I KNOW.    When I realised this I totally punched the air.  And she's all kinds of awesome in This is All because she has a deeper understanding of herself, and after taking on Nik she's pointing even more people in the direction of fulfillment.  And she's an English teacher, too, so she reads books, which is always a huge hit with me.
Now onto Edward and Cal *shudders*.  They're both...yeah.  I absolutely loathe them both, but then I think I was supposed to.  Note to self:  Never go out with a man in his thirties who works in sewage.  Especially not if you yourself are only seventeen.  Cordy's experience with Edward was one of the only points in the book I wanted to slap her. Why? What did she see in him?  I guess there was a lot of psychological stuff going on about it; how after she breaks up with Will and Izumi goes back to Japan, she needs to feel loved and he makes her feel sexy and mature.    As for Cal *shudders again*.  The less said about him the better.  He's creepy right from the start, and you know he cannot bode well.  More I shall not say.

The ending.  I totally didn't see it coming.  More I shall not say because it would totally ruin everything if I gave it away. But the impact is sudden and entirely frank; one of those endings that both makes me want to burst into tears and smile at the same time.  It's also kind of like Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness in the way it ends; how when you've finished it all you can do is just stand there in an entirely shocked and/or blown away manner.

In conclusion=  Whoooah. Aidan Chambers you are amazing for being able to write that well and that convincingly, to the point where you forget that it's only a story.
In Three Words: incredible incredible incredible.
Recommended for: mature teenagers. Adults.  Everyone. 
Rating: 5.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

In My Mailbox 22

Dear Blog,
IMM is hosted as ever by Kristi of The Story Siren.

This was another week in which my taste in books led me further afield than the local library.  I went to the Great Big Library in the centre of town, which is full of Exciting Shiny Novels I couldn't dream of finding in the library closer to home. 
Also, I've been reading a lot more recently.  Of late I'd kind of been in something of a reading slump; that doesn't seem to be so much of the case any more.  Maybe it's because I'm finding more books that I truly want to read, or my tastes have changed slightly.
Excuse the random bottle of water in the picture.  My desk is a mess at the moment, but left long enough it will clean itself.

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

We by Yegevny Zamyatin [currently reading]
Le Bal by Irène Némirovsky [read; next week's Foreign Language Friday post] 
The Plague by Albert Camus
Junk by Melvin Burgess

So that was my bookish week.  What about yours?

Friday, 22 April 2011

Foreign Language Friday: The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami

Dear Blog,
another anthology review, even though because it's so late here it's almost Foreign Language Saturday.

Original Language: Japanese
Translated by: Alfred Birnbaum and Jay Rubin
Summary (from Goodreads): When a man's favourite elephant vanishes, the balance of his whole life is subtly upset; a couple's midnight hunger pangs drive them to hold up a McDonald's; a woman finds she is irresistible to a small green monster that burrows through her front garden; an insomniac wife wakes up to a twilight world of semi-consciousness in which anything seems possible - even death. In every one of the stories that make up The Elephant Vanishes, Murakami makes a determined assault on the normal. He has a deadpan genius for dislocating realities to uncover the surreal in the everyday, the extraordinary in the ordinary.

The Wind-up Bird And Tuesday's Women- turned out later on, much revised, to be the beginning to The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, which I haven't read yet.  However, it certainly is a winning idea for a book, and certainly a strong opening to an anthology like this. 
The thing I like most about Haruki Murakami is the way that he manages to make the most ordinary, everyday things absolutely unputdownable reading. The narrator's cat disappears. If this was any other author, you'd be like, "It's okay, he'll turn up when he's hungry."  But in Murakami's writing you're like "Oh noes!  The cat!  He has to be found!"  Not just because of the writing style, but just because you care about the characters so much, you need the subtle balance to their lives to be restored now. 

The Second Bakery Attack- Is about (in my opinion) the most badass married couple in literature, who how after suddenly becoming ravenously hungry in the middle of the night, decide to hold up a MacDonalds in order to break a curse set on the husband. On one hand, taking a step back and saying to yourself "Hang on.  What are they doing..?"  it's quite hilarious, but on the other you can't help but take it seriously as you read it.

 The Kangaroo CommuniquéI don't really have very much to say about this one.  One thing I do know; it was weird.  Even for this anthology. It didn't really make sense, it was shrouded in mystery; the narration sort of jumped about from one place to another. 

On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning-is only five or six pages long, but one of my favourites nonetheless.  It's short and sweet and the sort of thing that puts a smile on your face when you've finished, and seems to make your whole day brighter for having read it.  Even though you know it's just a story, it's utterly enchanting. It's kind of like a fairy-tale.  

Sleep-Would have been another favourite, had it not been for the ending, which seemed to let down what would have otherwise been a truly, truly fantastic story.  The ending was very sudden and didn't really seem to fit with the rest of the story, which left me kind of disappointed.  However, up to that point it was unputdownable.  I'm something of an insomniac, but not...not in the creepy sinister way of this story.  It gave me chills.

The Fall of the Roman Empire, The 1881 Indian Uprising, Hitler's Invasion of Poland, And The Realm of Raging Winds-  Was another short one, and all the better for it. For all its length, it was pretty incredible in the way that it managed to weave in time and space to such a short piece. The writing style is beautiful; so clear and precise.   "I let out a short, maybe 30% sigh."    "The things on the line were all aflutter, whipping out loud, dry cracks, streaming their crazed comet trails off into space."

Lederhosen- Was a bizarre story; a woman goes to Germany, tries to buy some Lederhosen for her husband and then ends up divorcing him.    It was kind of "Oh.  Okay."  No real explanation is given for why she does this; the mind boggles.   But this is Haruki Murakami, dear blog, and if anything slightly out of the ordinary happens, you just nod and accept it.  Because thou shalt not question the master.

Barn Burning - Was quite a delightful escapade through the Japanese countryside, in which the narrator meets a young man who likes to burn barns out in the country.  It was around this point in the book that it started to strike me how similar the main characters are in all these short stories.  They're about thirty or so; they smoke, they drink, they listen to music.  Is that it?  Surely there's more to them than that.  Admittedly it's pretty hard to write full personalities with just twenty or thirty pages to play with; but they seem to be the same characters over and over, in different situations but with the same basic mold.

The Little Green Monster - This is a weird comparison, but The Little Green Monster reminds me somewhat of Andy Riley's Bunny Suicide books;  It's quite sweet in a mean sort of way, having you both laughing and going "aaw, no!  The poor rabbit/little green monster!"  at the same time.  So you do feel kind of guilty when you've finished it for finding the undersized verdant  lusus naturae's infatuation with the narrator amusing.  But you do anyway. 

A Family Affair- Was quite a "normal" story compared to some of the others; just the story of a brother, a sister and the sister's new boyfriend, whose name is Noboro Watanabe, a character who seems to appear in a fair few of the stories in the book.  There doesn't seem to be a link between all these people with the same name; they just are.

A Window- Is a beautiful story about letters, a part-time job and hamburger steaks; all are linked.  It's another short one that's quite similar to On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl.

TV People -  Is bizarrely apathetic.  A man is sat in his living room late one night when suddenly little people appear in his apartment and set up a television.  Mysteriously when it's turned on, the television doesn't show any channels, and then the aforementioned TV People turn up at his office to install a similar television, which nobody else seems to notice.  It's...just so weird.  The narrator never mentions the TV people to anyone, nor do they mention them to him.  He just sits there and watches them go about their makes no sense. But then, I don't think it's meant to.

A Slow Boat to China- Is absolutely beautiful.  It's poetic in a way that none of the other short stories are; it seems calm and flowing; like the narrator is stood still while the rest of the world keeps going. 

The Dancing Dwarf - Imagine that The Little Mermaid and Stephen King had a baby. The Dancing Dwarf is the result, some sort of fairy tale set in a different world which gets darker and darker with every page, until the ending which is slightly horrific and entirely disgusting. 

The Last Lawn of the Afternoon- Another...strange one, in which when you think about it not an awful lot happens.  Outwardly, it seems like another one of the more "normal" stories, but on another there are still a lot of questions that feel like they need answering.

The Silence- Is quite touching and powerful in a simplistic sort of way.   I've read a couple of reviews that have mentioned how this could be seen as quite political, referring to the way that herd culture works in Japan.  I hadn't really thought about this the first time I read it; so I suppose in that respect it's one of those books that works on many different levels.

The Elephant Vanishes- Seems to pretty sum up the whole book; how surreal every story is, the quirkiness behind the every day. It's like the disappearance of the elephant represents everything else about the other short stories in the book; situations or relationships that have vanished, or could have been but aren't, if that makes any sense.

In Three Words: sufficient Murakami awesomeness.  
Recommended for: fans. 
Rating: 3.5

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Review: Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Dear blog,
book 2 of my attempt at the 2011 Debut Author Challenge.  Be warned: this will no doubt be a very confusing review in which I'll probably contradict myself a lot.

Summary (from Goodreads): Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.
Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone-one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship-tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next. 
Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.

Review: If you've been stalking me  reading my blog for a little while, you'll know that I've been interested in reading Across the Universe for quite some time. But I guess as I read more and more good reviews, I became kind of curious about whether or not it was really as good as everyone said it was.  Surely, if there are that many good reviews of it, my own opinions couldn't live up to it?     And I do have something of a love-hate relationship with young-adult dystopian novels at the moment.  Nowadays there are so many of them, and often I end up finishing them and pondering on their originality, or a lack thereof.  I'm still wondering whether it falls into the category of sci-fi/dystopic novels I like and those I don't.

The construction of the ship Godspeed, and the way it functioned, seemed pretty well made.  Your first thought might be that there's only so much that you can have happen on a spaceship, but Beth Revis proves the reader wrong. It's all happening on the Godspeed- there are different levels of class, a secret level of the ship, mind control (sort of...), a mating season , and a ton of other interesting secrets to boot. Oh, and there's a different accent/dialect on the Godspeed, which might seem like a small thing but to me is pretty important if it's done well. I am so going to use "Frex" as an alternate curse word.   One thing: for all the intricacies of Godspeed, it would be nice if we had heard a little more about what was happening on Earth that made it quite so awful.  We get a vague impression: greedy multinational corporations are sucking away everyone's money and such, but that's it.    A little more background to that would be good.

Something I can remember finding fault with in Delirium that comes into play in Across the Universe is that there's no one section of the brain for every emotion.  The same goes for this book, in which certain genes can be put into certain people's DNA to modify their intellect, creativity etc.  Though I said before I am no scientist, I'm sure this isn't how it works.  Are there any neurologists/doctors reading my blog?  Can you clarify this for me, please?  Much appreciated.

Aside from her "flaming red hair", which made me roll my eyes, Amy made for a  pretty readable main character.  I guess my only reservations about her are how perfect she is.   At the start of the book, she seemed pretty self-centred a lot of the time. Maybe that's just because of all the crazy stuff that was happening her but by half-way through the book she seemed to have learned how to roll with the punches. From then on she was more likeable. 

As for Elder...hmm.  I'm not sure whether I like Elder or not.  The initial way he and Amy meet is creepy in a perverted sort of way: more I cannot say because I don't really want to give anything away, so I didn't really want to like him for that.  But there were some moments when he seemed particularly witty or sweet in his certain sort of way, that I couldn't help but liking him more.

Across the Universe is a fantastically suspenseful book, and the pacing is flawless the whole way through, so you're never left wondering whether it's worth skipping forward to the next interesting scene. They're all interesting scenes, and not a word is wasted. The setting makes for some pretty claustrophobic and intense moments throughout.  The ending was...crazy, for a lack of a better word.  One villain meets his demise, another appears as if out of nowhere, and  the novel finishes in the sort of satisfying way where things seem sufficiently wrapped up for now, but there's still an element of curiosity to it and some more questions that need to be answered.  I do wonder if you could get a trilogy out of it, but it would certainly be interesting to see how Amy and Elder live out the rest of their lives on the Godspeed.
So, is it what I hoped it would be?  Not really, but I'm still glad I read it. We'll see how things go in book two. 

In three words: inventive, tense, anticlimactic.
Recommended for: girls who love dystopian fiction.
Rating: 3.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Review: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Dear Blog,

Summary (from Goodreads): Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that one love -the deliria- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Halloway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.
But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

Review: Dystopian romances are everywhere at the moment.  They are inescapable nowadays and I was, until fairly recently, an utter fangirl of all things dystopian and apocalyptic.   At this recent emergence of novels where the world is either a) unravelling at the seams or b) run by some sinister authoritarian government I was chuffed to pieces. Heck, who doesn't like to see how things might end up however many decades into the future? 
So after reading Before I Fall last year, I was ridiculously excited.  Lauren Oliver + Dystopia= surely potential awesome? In part it was.

 I can't help but see some flaws with the way that Lauren Oliver's futuristic world works.  For instance, why is it so dangerous for teenagers to have the operation before they turn eighteen?  There's not much difference, surely, between someone a few weeks short of eighteen and someone who's within their first few months of eighteendom?  I also didn't really see much sense in the fact that the operation would only remove the emotion that is love.  I'm no biologist, but I find it pretty hard to believe that there's one part of your brain for being capable of love, another for hate, another for sadness, etc. The society didn't seem particularly...threatening, either.  If the world was that terrifying, that creepy, and the police and everyone were really in control,  then why was it so easy for hundreds of teenagers to just sneak out to the country and have huge parties and listen to loud music?  Little things like that that kept appearing here and there that didn't leave me convinced that it was perhaps as creepy as it was intended to be.

Lena, too, bugged me a little.  She was so...plain, describing herself as; "I'm not ugly, but I'm not pretty, either. Everything is in-between. I have eyes that aren't green or brown, but a muddle. I'm not thin, but I'm not fat, either."  Perhaps Lena was created so for the reader to be able to relate to her easily, but I just wanted for her to be vaguely remarkable. I did, however, like that her hobby was running, which seemed quite original, and she stood out amongst the scores of aspiring writers/poets/guitarists in YA literature. 
The only vaguely noticeable thing about her is that she's five foot two, which isn't even particularly dwarfish.  She was also one of those characters who totally buys into the society she lives in until a mysterious boy appears  and opens her eyes to the way the world works. 

I probably sound really harsh, like I didn't enjoy Delirium, but if I said that then that would be lying. Aside from those two points; I did like it.  For one thing, the writing style was absolutely beautiful; something I hadn't remembered from when I read Before I Fall.  It flowed perfectly.   The description, in general, was entirely beautiful, whether it was description of a scene or an emotion or a kiss. 

Also, I did like Lena's best friend Hana.  She had...personality.  I can overlook the fact that she was apparently good at everything, because in being good at everything she was unique.  She had guts and a backbone, too, and she was fairly witty.  Alex was crushworthy a likeable romantic interest;  clever but humorous, tough but sweet.  Also, another awesome thing: There was no love triangle, which was one of the best things about constructing a society where love is forbidden. 
The ending was awesome.   The last few chapters were perfectly, fantastically tense, and not a word was wasted in moving the story along.  It's a cliffhanger, perhaps not as cliffhangery as the cliffhanger of, say, Catching Fire, but still urgent enough for you to be like "I need more.  I need more now. "
Apparently it's going to be a trilogy, so despite a couple of society and Lena-related flaws I can't wait to see what becomes of her and Alex next.

In three words: romantic, suspenseful, poetic.
recommended for: lovers of dystopian fiction.  And Lauren Oliver.
Rating: four.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

In My Mailbox 21 or Some More Classics

Dear blog,
hosted as  ever by Kristi of The Story Siren fame.
This week was another in which I found myself in the classics section of my local library, which has been happening increasingly of late (probably because I've read almost all the YA books I want to read there.  Oh the joys of having a pitifully tiny village library).

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle [currently reading]
Cathedral by Raymond Carver
A Dead Man's Memoir by Mikhail Bulgakov
Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie

So, there you go. That was my bookish week.  What was yours like? 

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Review: The Kissing Game by Aidan Chambers

Dear blog,

Summary (from Goodreads): United under the banner of flash fiction, this is a collection of stories, or little 'cells', complete in themselves but connected by the overarching themes of betrayal and revenge. All featuring teenagers and often with an unexpected twist, these frighteningly realistic stories will take you to the very edge and beyond.

Review: This is a collection of short stories, so I'll review each one in a couple of sentences.
Cindy's Day Out- Is actually one of my least favourites,  which is a shame seeing as it's the one that kicks things off and is the reader's first impression of the book.  Cindy/Ursula is the cause of my dislike in this one; she was quite literally Cinderella (I wonder if this intentional: Cindy= Cinderella).  No, really. She has the same relationship with her family. She's hard done by in the same way. She even encounters a prince charming at the end, who I did like a little more. 
The Scientific Approach- I have mixed feelings about this one as well.  The story was nice, and for the couple of pages you meet him the narrator is likeable, but the writing style kind of let the rest of it down. It is full of short sentences.  Like this.  Maybe this was intended to be effective. It's a short, punchy short story. However. It did get on my nerves.  If you have a copy, you should read parts aloud and then you'll see what I mean.
Kangaroo- Is quite comical, but stays with the general theme of defiance and free will.  You might not expect such a story to be set in a theme park, and narrated by a snarky teenage girl in a kangaroo costume, but that's just what it is.  It's the kind of short story you can't not like, not when the narrator is stuck with such a summer job, and has such a likeable voice. 
Expulsion- Is written in letter form. This story made me feel entirely smug because I'm home-educated and, therefore, do not have to deal with such things as standing outside in the rain for two hours in that twisted form of education they call P.E.  However, I have heard much of this brutal activity from my school-going peers, and Expulsion brings it to life anyway.  The narrator's voice is so clear, so dry and so youthfully energetic it's irresistible.
The Tower- Is a creepy little story about a fifteen-year-old boy, his parents and the mysterious tower aforementioned boy discovers on their summer holiday.  It was average, I suppose, but for a lot of the story I wondered if it was actually going anywhere, and then the ending  was slightly rushed.
Up For It- Dialogue, and an entirely amusing one at that.  I don't know, it reminded me a lot of a sketch you might see on a television programme or something, there is something comedic about it, something amusing that I suppose you wouldn't see if you were actually in that situation; but looking from the outside as a reader, the banter does seem entertaining.
The God Debate- Is a nice contrasting dialogue from Up For It; this time it's about two boys at a private school, not observing beautiful women but talking about the deep stuff; id est, does God exist?  It seems like quite a typical Aidan Chambers piece in the way that it combines spirituality and philosophy with everyday life, and for that I like it.
The Kissing Game- is the title story in the book, one of the darkest and one of my favourites.  I suppose the thing I like about it the most is the way that Rosie and James' stories fit together so well.  She was sexually assaulted; he is alienated because of the way an innocent game turned out.  For all the secrets, though, the ending is quite sweet and uplifting.
Thrown Out- Is written in the same style as Expulsion, but not as...frank, I suppose is the best word, not as funny and...normal, but as someone who likes a) alternative existence and b)  living outside normality,  I love it anyway. The narrator's voice is so passionate and reasoning, you're instantly on his side, and his way of life seems to make total sense (I would totally do that if I wasn't so afraid of storms, and didn't want to go to university and such.  For one thing, where do you put a double bass in a little hut?).
Toska- As someone who studies Russian, I really like this one.  There isn't much plot to it; I suppose it's more like an explanation, a definition of Toska, a moment in someone's head. 
Like Life- Is another short dialogue, in which the word "like" is used eighteen times in little under three pages (Yes, I know.  I have no life.)  It's very open-ended, and more like a story than any of the other dialogues; and there are a million ways that it could go after it concludes.  Such is the brilliant thing about these stories; they're only a part of something much bigger.
Sanctuary- Is probably the darkest story in the book, dealing with illegal immigration and the sex slave trade.  Another one of my favourites; it's a longer piece, so there's a lot more depth to it, a definite beginning-middle-end.  What's not to like about it?  The writing style, which is the perfect balance of showing and telling? The characters, which are entirely three-dimensional? 
Weather Forecast- Another dialogue, this time between a man and a woman on the bus.  With reading this one I realised that the dialogues were probably my favourite parts of the book.  This one in particular.  It's so...awkward. Aidan Chambers says that the dialogues were influenced by the book One Million Tiny Plays About Britain, and in this "cell" in particular it shows -it's about the weather and our alleged national obsession with it.
Something to Tell You- Dialogue.  Was pretty similar to Up For It; it's like something you might see in a comedy sketch show; not because it's particularly amusing in a comic way, but because it's so realistic.  All those feelings of jealously and tension in a relationship are portrayed in an entirely amusing way, almost lightheartedly.
You Can Be Anything- I love this one.  I really, really do.  Excluding the dialogues it's one of the shortest stories in the book, a frantic rush of words and thoughts in a stream-of-consciousness manner that reads like poetry.  I like how it goes on in those extremely long sentences and weaves in bits and pieces of story, and then falters when curiosity and realisation sinks into the unnamed narrator.
A Handful of Wheat- Was written by Aidan aged seventeen, and seeing as the rest of the book features stories about teenagers, it seems kind of fitting to conclude with one that was written by a teenager.  It's quite...personal, I suppose, and even though it doesn't affect the reader as strongly you can certainly feel the emotion in it. 

In three words: short, creative, unique.
Recommended for: all fans of Aidan Chambers.  It's not as strong as some of his novels, and if you've never read any of his work before I'd suggest starting with one of them.  However, if you are, this anthology is well worth a read.
Rating: 3.5. 

Thank you to Random House UK for sending me a copy for review.