Sunday, January 26, 2014

Book Review: Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Title: Wonder
Author: R.J. Palacio
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction, Middle-grade
Published: 14th February 2012
No. of pages: 315 pages
Series: None
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He's about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances?

R. J. Palacio has written a spare, warm, uplifting story that will have readers laughing one minute and wiping away tears the next. With wonderfully realistic family interactions (flawed, but loving), lively school scenes, and short chapters, Wonder is accessible to readers of all levels.

Read on for a spoiler-free review of Wonder!



Ever felt self-conscious about your appearances? Ever pitied your genetically impaired classmate? Our main character suffers from all this at its extreme - and he can't do anything about it. I found this book to be relatable at a lot of its points, even when my insecurities are nowhere near Auggie's extent, and in that sense I was able to appreciate myself more.

To be truthfully honest, I picked this up because I thought it would ease my 2013 Goodreads challenge. What I ended up doing, though, was putting it off until the beginning of 2014. But once I got back to it, I just couldn't stop. It's not addicting in the way a YA thriller might be - it's addicting as a hopefully-psychology-major-to-be to analyse each of these characters. The 'plot' isn't really a 'plot', but more of a series of character downfall and character downfall.

Plot

The story was simple - simple enough to make this seem very believable and simple enough to allow readers to look through the explicit and into the implicit. The pacing? It might be a bit dull in the beginning, but give it 50 pages or so and you will start enjoying it. I don't mean literal enjoyment, because this book might make you want to punch all the mean kids between the pages. So don't say I didn't warn you.

It was thoroughly original - nothing like I've read before. This book is a coming-of-age book, so don't expect an extravagant plot twist to occur. Just savour it.

Writing

The book was written in multiple perspectives, which I usually hate, but I LOVED here. It worked because at first you only get to see and pity Auggie, and you team up with him whenever people treat him unfairly. But as you 'become' the other characters, you realise what the outside world feels and you can't help but realise you feel that way too. And then your mind spurs up a debate about morality and you start thinking deeper into the book. It's pretty amazing how the author manage to execute it so well.

Nothing fancy here, because the author is really trying to make you feel and realise that the protagonist IS a child. All the perspectives have simple writing, but she alters it to make a certain 'voice' for each of her character. I say, brilliant.

Characters

The author made every character perfectly flawed. That said, she showed their good side as well as their bad, which makes for some truly realistic and relatable characters. Auggie's family was a great one, and I found it to be a remarkable contrast to the other characters. I could see bits of myself in all of these characters, which touched my heart even further.

Recommendation

Whoever you are, wherever you are, give this book a shot. Gramedia has copies of it available in their 'Imported Books' section, so you have zero reason to not pick this up. If you're looking for a book that will give you warm feels, this is the book for you. That's all for this post, let me know if you'd like more book reviews and what aspects I should include in future ones. Happy reading!

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