Friday, August 26, 2011

Review: Up All Night

Review: Up All Night
Authors: Peter Abrahams, Libba Bray, David Levithan, Sarah Weeks, Patricia McCormick, Gene Luen Yang, and Lara Geringer
Genre: Supernatural, Drama, Horror, Young Adult, LGBTQ (Anthology)
My Rating: ★★★★

Heaps upon heaps of schoolwork. Thesis project. A meteor shower as announced in the evening news. A phone call from a friend. Whatever it may be, there must be something that kept you up all night at least once in your life, a night that made you feel as if you’re drifting betwixt wakefulness and sleep, a night that shot a different kind of energy up your veins and made you witness how it melted into sunrise, how the city lifts its eyelids again…

This is the theme of the Lara Geringer anthology Up All Night, featuring six best-selling young adult authors and their bite-sized tales about a single night that mattered in the lives of their characters. Although not everyone may be successful in leaving memorable dents on the hearts of the readers, all of them are able to convey the very feeling—the high spirits—that only defying a human’s diurnal body clock could give.

For me, the story that took the cake is Libba Bray’s “Not Just for Breakfast Anymore,” which is about a group of girls attending a rock concert in Dallas in the 1980’s. Following the group’s attempts to hang out with the Cheap Trick is fun, but what I enjoyed the most is the exploration of Maggie’s—the main character’s—big secret: her father is homosexual, and she is trying to hide it from her friends. Maggie’s parents have divorced after her dad’s revelation. After being too drunk and wasted to drive themselves home, the group doesn’t have any closer place to stay except Maggie’s dad’s apartment (whom her father is now sharing with his lover). This is not an extremely emotional ride, but that’s what’s ironic about it: its subtlety cuts like a knife. In only a few pages I learned to love Maggie. Her constant thoughts about her father and homosexuality are cleverly interspersed with the group’s stereotypical antics.

My second favorite is Sarah Weeks’ “Superman is Dead”, which is one tangle of a tale about a death of a pet, divorce of parents, birth of a stepbrother, and an English assignment that becomes the main character’s symbolic pool of kept emotions as he deals with his inner demons. I also loved David Levithan’s “The Vulnerable Hours,” an angsty albeit thought-provoking tale that tackles the usual answers to the question “what’s up?”

Those are my top three. The others are pretty alright: Peter Abrahams’ “Phase Two” reminds me of R.L. Stine’s stories and Patricia McCormick’s “Orange Alert” is a good tale of reversal of powers (though I expected more from the girl protagonist). I didn’t really enjoy Gene Luen Yang’s graphic novel-style story though. It seems too short to give off a lasting effect.

Over all this is a good read.

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