Books for Breakfast #64

Book Reviews

This time I read:
Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn
The Never List by Koethi Zan
I picked this book up totally on a whim because it caught my eye and the description on the back intrigued me. The simplistic cover also helped to lure me in, dang my design background! Anyways, this book is set on a fictional island off the coast of the US that became it’s own island and is ruled by a council of elders. The island was founded by Nollop, the guy who created the sentence: “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” which contains every letter of the alphabet at least once. Like it says on the cover, the novel is written in letters between islanders. The lead girl, who writes to her cousin frequently, since there are no phones on the island, is named Ella. 
Now, at first glance at my little summary you are probably thinking: “Wow, Jess, that doesn’t sound too intriguing, I thought you would make it sound more interesting.” Well, now I’m going to get to the good part. The reason the book caught my eye was something else. In the center of the main town square there is a big statue of Nollop with tiles spelling out his famed sentence. One day a tile falls off the statue and the council of elders thinks that it is a sign from Nollop, the one the island is founded for, and bans use of that letter in spoken word and written word. So suddenly, the whole island is forced to cut words from their vocabulary. Also, I don’t want to spoil it, but the consequences of saying these forbidden letters are crazy!! 
The book progresses and more tiles fall, the letters become crazy and man, oh man, it’s an interesting story. I really enjoyed it, even though the plot was rather simple and straight forward. There weren’t any twists or turns, but it was still fun to read. The island citizens have such a sophisticated way of speech that they mention is made fun of on the mainland (the USA), which I thought was funny. If you’re looking for a short read and you are interested in linguistic things like writing without certain letters and other stuck things, I’d suggest reading this little nugget! It was a lot of fun!
At first I was really excited to read this book, the premise is two best friends who make an almost too in-depth list of things they should never do, including all the stats. Aka. How many people die in plane crashes, car crashes, shark attacks, etc. So in their quest to never do anything dangerous, they become almost shut ins, which changes slightly when they head off to college together. They put bars in their window, get an extra lock on their door, and rig the window so it can’t be opened from the outside, they don’t go out past dark, avoid all alleys, etc. Like, man, things I never thought of. I mean, of course I tried to avoid walking around the city at night, but sometimes I couldn’t avoid it…like when I took a late night class off campus, I mean way off campus, in the bad side of town, and I had to walk back onto campus at 1am. It was dark room photography, so I spent a lot of time in the dark room after class to finish projects, develop film, and the like. One time I even slept in the hallway of the building, because it got so late that I didn’t walk to walk back to the dorm room at 3am through one of the bad parts of the city. 
Anyways, enough about me, let’s continue. Anyways, so the two best friends decide that they should go to a party, which they normally wouldn’t consider. Although, they already planned to have an escort service pick them up, they pre-paid in case they lost the money, and when it’s time for them to leave, they call and get into the car. But. They forgot one of the biggest items on the ‘Never List’, which is getting into a car with someone they don’t know. They find themselves in a basement with two other girls. Flash forward years into the future when they escaped, but the man who trapped them is still sending them letters and now it seems like there is a slim chance he could get paroled and set free. So the victims are out to try and find proof that will get locked away forever, with no chance of getting out.
I liked this. This was cool. The lead girl was super anxious and clearly suffered from PTSD and they described her well. Each victim coped in different ways and it was interesting to see the differences in how they started their lives over after the horrific ordeal. But, then things started to get way too crazy. (spoiler: A cult?! A secret torture society based off something from the 1700s?! What?!) There was a plot twist at the end that I didn’t really see coming, but it still left me feeling empty. 
It had so much potential and then, well, kinda fell short of what I was hoping. There was a lot in there that didn’t really need to be in there. 
Next on my list is:
The Vanishing of Katharina Linden In Real Life

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By Jess

A bookworm since the tender age of whenever I stopped chewing on books and started actually reading them. A cat-mom, graphic designer, and introvert originally from Pittsburgh, but now resides in the humid, hot, state of Texas. Cheers!

  • I like the idea of the first book – books like that one make you question your life and make you think about things in a different way. As for "The Never List," not sure if I'd read that because I'd just be thinking about all of the stats on all the bad things that could happen to me – I'm too much of a worrier!

  • That first book makes me wonder how long I'd last before I just stopped talking altogether to avoid crazy consequences! 😡

    That sound one sounds really creepy. 😡 Not sure that I'd read it, because like Taylor said, my imagination tends to run wild, haha.

  • I'm interested in the first book, sounds original! I'd like to read it

  • Kay

    Definitely adding Ella Minnow Pea to my to-read list. The premise just sounds so intriguing!

  • I read Ella Minnow Pea ages ago …. and it's still pretty much one of the most creative books I've read!

  • These seem pretty interesting! Thanks!

  • I liked the first book a lot more than the second book! It's interesting to read something with letters missing from the alphabet!

  • That's why I loved the first book so much! I feel like I'd give up pretty fast, I would make blunders all the time if someone took a letter away from me! I'd be so tempted to use it once I was told I couldn't!

  • It's a fun read, I'd recommend it!! 🙂

  • I'm so glad I stumbled upon it in a used book store! It was so much fun to read!!