Thursday, December 8, 2011

Blog Tour Day 1: Youth and Other Fictions by Johnathan M. Cook

Welcome to the blog tour for Youth and Other Fictions! I have two days worth of posts for this tour. Today is a review.

Jonathan Cook's debut novel, Youth and Other Fictions looks at the horrors of a school shooting and its psychological effects on those involved. Told from two perspectives--one a student's and one a teacher's--the story reveals the inner concerns leading up to the moment when the world falls apart and the anxieties of coping with the broken pieces afterwards. 

"A thriller of horrific proportions.  The debut novel by Jonathan M. Cook is a thriller that will keep you guessing at every turn. In the first portion of the book it seems a monotonous style will be established, yet the climax in the tale will leave you second guessing. A wonderful and terrifying look into the souls of troubled teens from the point of view of an actual teacher sheds new light on our youth. A must read for teens and older!"- Ikdido, Amazon Reviewer

About Jonathan M. Cook:

Jonathan M. Cook is a high school English teacher.  He earned his MA in Literature from Eastern Illinois University.  He currently lives in Robinson, IL, where he is working on his second novel and grading term papers.

Jonathan's Website


We've all heard the stories. Students bring guns to school and kill others, often ending by killing themselves. This book looks at the effects of such an event on students and teachers. The first half of the book tells the story of Jack, a outcast who is often bullied. He struggles with how he is treated by others at school. While he wishes for revenge, he is soon faced with the aftermath of someone else taking the ultimate revenge. As Jack tries to deal with what happened, he feels his life spiraling out of control. Jason is another student who survives the tragedy. He returns to town years later to teach. However, Jason is left answering questions from his school days. When bad things start happening again, he has to sift through all his emotions to be able to cope.

This book starts off as one thing and ends as another. With Jack, I felt bad for him. Here was a boy that was clearly bullied and depressed, and yet no one did anything for him. I wanted to get him help so bad. I was so caught up in him story that when the school shooting occurred, it really got to me. Seeing Jack trying to deal with all the feeling afterword was even more difficult. With Jason, I was definitely unprepared for where his story went. He talks of his class being considered by some to be cursed, and I started to believe that. I found the ending to be a bit abrupt and confusing though. I wasn't even sure what was real by the end. 

Overall, I can't say I enjoyed this book in the sense that it was a fun read or anything. In fact, it was fairly hard for me to read because of the subject matter. I wanted so much to be able to change things for the characters. I will say that the story completely absorbed me. I did not want to stop reading because I had to know what would happen. This book does a brilliant job of getting into the heads of Jack and Jason. It shows the horrors of having to deal with the tragedy of a school shooting. It goes places you never expect. I think it is a book that people will want to read.

Book provided for review.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for a guest post by Johnathan M. Cook and a giveaway!


Teddy Rose said...

I'm glad that you liked it and couldn't put it down. Thanks so much for participating in the tour!

Nate said...

Hey, thanks so much for your review! I really appreciate your thoughts. I'm always curious: was there a particular character to whom you really responded or to whom you felt drawn more than the others?

Lisa said...

Yeah, I think I really felt drawn to Jamie. She was one of the unifying links between both parts of the story, and I really felt like there was a story there that I wanted to know. She was definitely not a cookie-cutter character.