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Coming Soon:
~Review: The Killing Woods
~Review: The Waiting Sky
~Review: A Certain Slant of Light
~Review: Timepiece
~Review: Infinityglass

Friday, April 15, 2011

Review: My Life, the Theater, and Other Tragedies

My Life, the Theater, and Other Tragedies (ARC) by Allen Zadoff
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Pub. Date: May 10th, 2011
Pages: 320
Age Level: 13+
Source: For review from publisher.

Synopsis via Goodreads
High school sophomore Adam Zeigler, who lost his father to a sudden accident two years ago, thinks the best way to live life is behind the spotlight. As a member of the theater crew, he believes he's achieved it all when he wins the coveted job of spotlight operator. But that was before a young actress, Summer, appeared in his view. Instantly smitten, Adam is determined to win her over. But to do so, he'll have to defy his best friend and break the golden rule of his school: techies and actors don't mix.

Set against the backdrop of a high school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, Zadoff's latest is a bromance, a love story, and theater story in one. The politics of love and high school collide as Adam struggles to find the courage to step out of the shadows and into the light.

Have you ever had a book that just calls out to you and you aren't exactly sure why? Well that's what My, Life, the Theater, and Other Tragedies did the entire time it was sitting in my review pile. I felt inexplicably excited to read it and, some how, just knew that I was going to really like it.

Okay so I absolutely adored Adam, aka Z. From the very beginning I truly felt like I was able to get inside his head and connect with him. He's genuine, funny, a bit vulnerable and awkward sometimes but oh so lovable. He proved to be very dynamic and I enjoyed watching him grow in confidence and strength, gradually taking more and more control over his life. I also greatly admired Adam's relationship with his mom, an aspect that I felt made this book even better. Not only did Zadoff craft a terrific protagonist, but he also created some very vivid and distinct supporting characters as well. First and foremost, there's Reach, Adam's Indian best friend who, while occasionally a bit pigheaded, was also amusing and I really believe he only wanted what was best for Adam. Then we had the asshole jerk of all assholes jerks, the manipulator, the player, the one and only, Derek. Maybe you've already guessed but I didn't like this guy. However, I still felt he was a thoroughly developed character beneficial to the plot. Summer is our new girl and the new star in Adam's eyes. I really liked her at first; she has a charismatic personality and doesn't seem to care what others thinks. However, then she went and did something that really disappointed me and I had a hard time growing to like her again. Grace was also another wonderful supporting character and was someone I could easily see myself being best friends with. Last, but definitely not least, is Mr. Apple, a truly hilarious and unforgettable character.

My Life, the Theater, and Other Tragedies starts off with what I thought was a very strong first chapter, a chapter that boldly states, "While I may be a fun book, I am by no means fluff." Though a generally light read, Zadoff added a meaningful under-layer that provided a subtle depth to the plot. While coping with the behind-the-scenes drama of his school's theater, discovering feelings for the new girl, and trying to hold things together with his best friend, Adam is also having to deal with the pain and fear that still lingers ever since the death of his father. All of these elements pulled together beautifully to form a humorous and heartfelt story, something made even better by the lovely theater setting.

Zadoff's writing style was relatively simple, not trying to be more complicated than it needed to be. It was also very honest and to the point, which I liked. The emotions felt real and the dialogue was witty and realistic. I was also captivated by the various descriptions behind the lighting equipment, gels, etc as I felt they drew me further into the story.

At first, I wasn't entirely sure how I felt about the ending but it grew on me more after I had finished. Let's just say a certain character really hurt my boy, Z's, feelings and I didn't think said character deserved a second chance. Then I realized maybe I was being a bit too harsh and forgave said character. What I did love about the ending was how things worked out for Adam overall.

All in all, My Life, the Theater, and Other Tragedies is a great coming-of-age story that I know I'll be reading again in the future. This is a definite must read for fans of contemporary teen fiction, both guys and girls, and I strongly suggest finding a way to read it, whether you buy it or borrow it. I look forward to reading more from Zadoff in the future.

Characters: A-
Writing: B+
Plot: A-
Ending: B
Enjoyment/Likability: B+
Recommendable: B+

Overall: B+

Cover: B+

Buy My Life, the Theater, and Other Tragedies: Amazon / Kindle / Book Depository


Amelia said...

I've never even heard of this one, but it sounds really fun! I'll have to check it out on Goodreads.
Thanks for the review!

Nikki (Wicked Awesome Books) said...

Like Amelia, I hadn't even heard of this one until now. I love contemporary YA, so I'll be adding this one to my ever-growing wishlist. Not only is it contemporary, but it's a boy POV, and I adore boy POV. It helps that this one sounds really good too, especially character-wise. I often get aggravated with almost meaningless, underdeveloped secondary characters, but this one sounds like it doesn't run into that problem. I will definitely be checking it out...eventually. My TBR pile is still overflowing (even though I haven't been buying books for the last month) but I'm willing to add this one to the mountain.

Great review Briana!

Anonymous said...

This review makes me really happy because it gets at some of my favorite aspects of the book. I am the editor who worked with the author on his book, and I knew that YA fans who found the story would really enjoy it. There aren't a lot of YA novels that talk about real male friendships the way this one does so I loved that you mentioned that, Briana. Also, I think Derek is one of those hideous guys that a lot of people admire in high school while a few people recognize his true horribleness! And you know, I kind of agree about what you're hinting at, Briana--the reader appreciates Adam, or Z, more than the girl he likes does. And that's an interesting place to be as a reader.

I think Allen Zadoff depicts high school from a male POV in a way that is very, very appealing and I hope your blog has helped some more readers find My Life, the Theater and Other Tragedies. And by the way, there's a new jacket on the book!

Natalie said...

Sounds like a great read! Hadn't heard of it before but will be adding it to my TBR pile. Thanks! :)

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Georgia, United States
Hello all! My name is Briana, I'm 20, and I live in the beautiful state of Georgia. I love reading and photography.

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