Wonder – R. J. Palacio

WonderYou can’t blend in when you were born to stand out…

My name is August. I won’t describe what I like look. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.

When I recently attended a Malorie Blackman talk, she recommended this book… and recommendations don’t come much better than that!

I had been meaning to read the book following it’s nomination for the 2012 Goodreads Choice Awards. When Malorie mentioned it, the audience responded positively which acted as the catalyst to me reading it. I am so glad I did!

Wonder follows August Pullman, an eleven year boy who has ‘lost’ in the genetic lottery. He has a one in four million facial syndrome as a result of which he has suffered through countless operations.

August knows his face marks him as different, although his parents have tried to protect him from the world. However, now they have decided it is time for August, or Auggie, to start school.

After years of homeschooling, August is reluctant to leave his comfort zone. However he is soon persuaded after meeting some of his classmates and touring the school.

The book then follows his journey through the fifth grade. During this year he learns a lot about friendship and life skills as well as the more common place academic knowledge.

The book is written from several characters point of views, however it is clear when the perspective changes. The grammar and writing style subtly changes as well as a title page for each new character – I think this demonstrates the skill of the author. It was really interesting to read the same story from several perspectives as it furthered my understanding of the characters and the plot line. The characters include August’s sister, her boyfriend and August’s friends.

One element of this book I really liked were the Precepts. August’s English teacher has a precept for every month, an inspiring phrase which he uses to encourage and educate his class. He also instructs his pupils to write or find their own precept over the summer holidays, which are then listed in the appendix. I thought this was a really great idea and one which I found very thought provoking. I will definitely be more interested in finding my own Precepts now.

I really enjoyed this book, the subject matter is so unique; I have never read a book similar which furthered my enjoyment. The book was also inspiring, not only was August a character full of determination, courage and kindness, but his friends and family were also inspirational.

This is R.J. Palacio’s debut novel, which I find shocking considering how well the book is written. Surely, with a debut novel as good as this, R.J. Palacio will go on to write many more books – all of which I hope to read.

I recommend this book to everyone – adults and young adults alike. Although the main characters are all children, there is a lot for everyone to learn from August and his story.


Noughts & Crosses – Malorie Blackman

Noughts and Crosses: Reader - Rollercoasters

Having read the series before, I was worried that knowing the ending would ruin my experience of the book, however I need not of worried. I think knowing the ending made me read further into the book and understand the plot more.

Noughts & Crosses is Malorie Blackman at her best, or in my opinion at least. It is the first book in the multi-award winning Noughts & Crosses series.

The book (and the rest of the series) is set in an alternative universe, a racist dystopia. In the book the “Crosses” rule the “Noughts”, however everything else is the same as present day reality.

The book follows Persephone ‘Sephy’ Hadley (a “Cross”) and Callum McGregor (a “Nought”) as their frowned upon friendship faces challenges. Both characters learn a lot during the course of the book.

The book has a fitting ending to a great book, but its no fairy tale happy ending.

This is probably my favourite Malorie Blackman book, and the rest of the series follows on from this book well.

The book isn’t suitable for younger readers due to mature themes, however I would recommend this book to all teenagers and older readers.

I think everyone can learn a lot from this book, whether it be standing up for what you believe in or making the right decisions.

I am now going to reread the rest of the series, and I am looking forward to it.