Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Book Eleven - Joyland

Joyland By Emily Schultz, with illustrations by Nate Powell is a coming of age type novel, set in the end of the arcade days of the 80s. The titular "Joyland" is an arcade in a small Ontario town, the type where teens spend many a day trying to beat high scores, or just to flirt and waste away some time in a town with not a lot else going on.

At the beginning of the novel, Joyland closes down and we follow the aftermath throughout the summer for our two protagonists, identified within the chapters as player one and player two. Player one is the older brother 14 year old Chris, with player two being the younger sister 11 year old Tammy. Having two narrators can be confusing, but the separation into two "players" is both helpful to the reader and clever within the framework of the novel. The chapters are also named after different video games, which is also a nice touch.

There is not a lot in major plot until quite near the end, and I almost wish that the author had left it that way. Schultz is an excellent descriptor, she has a real way with words, and I would have been happy just to have a look into this world, where nothing of note really happens. I think that this novel could just be about growing up and not have to have some kind of big third act tragedy. Said tragedy seemed tacked on towards the end, maybe Schultz was not confident enough to just leave it as it was.

Overall, Joyland was a good novel. I would recommend it for just the descriptive writing alone. It is a good take on a coming of age tale and I enjoyed reading it.

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