Book Reviews, YA Book Club for Writers

Book Club Review: The Lifters by Dave Eggers

When Gran and his family move to Carousel, he has no idea that the town is built atop a secret. Little does he suspect, as he walks his sister to school or casually eats a banana, that mysterious forces lurk mere inches beneath his feet, tearing up the earth like mini-hurricanes and causing the town to slowly but surely sink.

When Gran’s friend, the difficult-to-impress Catalina Catalan, presses a silver handle into a hillside and opens a doorway to underground, he knows that she is extraordinary and brave, and that he will have no choice but to follow wherever she leads. With luck on their side, and some discarded hockey sticks for good measure, Gran and Catalina might just find a way to lift their town–and the known world–out of danger.

In The Lifters, critically acclaimed author Dave Eggers establishes himself as a storyteller who can entertain and inspire readers of any age.

“This book is a ripper, full of all the good stuff: adventure, mystery, and lots of great jokes.” – Mac Barnett, Caldecott Honor-winning author of Extra Yarn

“Full of surprises, magic, and heart.” – Rebecca Stead, Newbery Award-winning author of When You Reach Me

“[A] cozy contemporary novel about lifting spirits and rebuilding community through teamwork and imagination.” —Publishers Weekly

“A heart-gladdening work of allegorical genius.” —The Guardian

“A warm and rewarding read . . .Eggers skillfully handles the trope of the kids who save the town, with plenty of humorous adult cluelessness but an equal measure of compassion.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“Original . . . and always intriguing. . . . Eggers’s story moves along briskly thanks to mounting suspense and bite-size chapters.” —Booklist

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Our thoughts about this book:

We had quite a discussion about our likes and dislikes of this story. And I don’t know which is the better list to start with, so I’ve decided to toggle.

Like: Character development – All of the characters were well developed with clear individual voices. The main character, Gran, had a clean character arc.

Dislike: The main characters name was Gran, short for Granite. Now, as much as we loved his full name Granite Flowerpetal (brilliant!), Gran made us think of Grandma. Interestingly enough this exact idea is even addressed in the story, however, we found that at times throughout the story it would give us heads up moments, where’d we have to remind ourselves, oh yeah, Gran = Granite, not grandma.

Like: Silliness. Eggers did a good job showing us, as writers, that off the wall silly is completely acceptable. Stampeding moose? Really?! But the whole concept of the story itself was based on light-hearted out-of-the-box ideas.

Dislike: There was something missing in this book. We tried hard to pin-point what it could be and the closest we came was there wasn’t enough “weaving” of the plot lines throughout. We wondered if it was the extremely short chapters that made the story seem disjointed. [Except chapter 1. Chapter 1 was brilliant!] We found that taking out two of the subplots wouldn’t have actually changed the story at all, a clear sign they could have been edited out, but they were interesting and in one case, fun plot-lines, so with a little more crossover, the story would have been more cohesive.

Like: Writing. This is another example (I believe my review of Restart by Gordon Korman stated the same,) of a technically tight-written story. It was SO well-written. It’s smooth, you don’t trip over words, he uses great vocabulary, it wasn’t passive, you don’t get hung up on dialogue tags. From a writer’s standpoint, this is a great book to read for an example of fantastic written skill.

Dislike: I don’t normally add in the testimonial quotes above with the back cover description, however, we didn’t find that this story lived up to the hype of the quotes and we wondered why people would right such glowing things that don’t stand true. Is it because Egger’s is a big name? Do they know him personally? Do they want to impress the publisher? We found the quotes over the top compared to what we found in the book.

Liked: The ending. I don’t want to give anything away, but the ending was satisfying in a way we didn’t see coming.

And another Like: The illustrations by Aaron Renier were beautiful and so detailed. It was really worth taking the time to look closely. However, we all agreed we didn’t take the time while reading, it was something we went back to afterwards.

Not sure we’d recommend this story. There were more things we didn’t like, than liked, however we all agreed we would read something else by Dave Egger’s because the writing was so great.

__________________________

This is an unsolicited review. I purchased my copy from Amazon.ca.

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (April 24 2018)
  • ISBN-13: 978-1524764166

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