I’m a day late! I know. I have lots of excuses. Like “I’m moving!” Actually the real excuse is that I thought that this post was supposed to go up on the 27th, but fortunately I checked my calendar and realized that I was way behind schedule. So yesterday I had a reading marathon (please don’t judge my procrastination) and I am happy to say that I have come to a decision. Maybe.
Let’s start with the basics. Pull and Jumpstart the World actually have a lot in common. Last year, I read two books for this competition that were so drastically different. I still think I chose the right book, but that doesn’t mean that the other wasn’t great. That’s true this year too, but there’s a lot more to compare here. Both of these books are told in the first person by young people who are suddenly forced to change their living situations. Both books feature a serious accident as a catalyst in the novel. Both take place in large cities, Jumpstart the World in New York and Pull in Chicago. Both characters have a talent that they use to help them heal. Both main characters have strong, realistic voices that totally pulled me into their stories.
I really liked both of these novels, but I didn’t necessarily love either of them. For very different reasons. With Pull, I loved David’s voice and I thought it was realistic, but I didn’t always like what he had to say. In Jumpstart the World, the characters were very real, and Elle has a consistent, believable voice, but I almost groaned when Elle’s next door neighbors begin talking about activism. It’s just so obvious, we all knew that this is where Jumpstart the World was going, but I really didn’t like that Hyde felt the need to spell it out so clearly. As if we wouldn’t have gotten it on our own. Nothing gets me riled up like when an author doesn’t believe her audience is smart enough to get it on their own.
But Pull’s narrative structure left a lot to be desired and it ended much too conveniently. Though I did really like the decision that David made. It’s not what I expected, but it was probably a lot more realistic and honest. As far as the characters in Pull, we are so completely in David’s mind, it’s hard to see the characters as anything but one dimensional. Yolanda, David’s love interest, is a little bit more complex than that, but everyone else really just seemed flat, especially when compared to the ways we saw the characters through Elle’s eyes.
The characters are much more complex in Jumpstart the World and I felt like I could connect more with Elle over David. But Jumpstart the World is just so convenient. There are mothers out there who would dump their children for a boyfriend, but what mother would then rent a entirely separate apartment for that daughter? In New York City, no less. Really? I just had a hard time believing any of it. But I did believe Elle’s emotions and I did believe everything that happened after.
When it comes down to it, I liked and disliked Jumpstart the World and Pull in pretty much equal measures, but I have to go with the novel that I connected to more. I think that the way Jumpstart the World explained and represented a cisgendered girl encountering a transgendered man for the first time was really impressive and this book’s greatest strength. And that really is the point, isn’t it? I am perfectly able to look beyond some of the faults here to admire completely the gentle way Jumpstart the World starts the conversation about how difficult it is to be transgender, even in a place like New York City.
Nerds Heart YA is a bracket-style competition that was started by Renay. This is my second year participating and it’s one of my favorite blogging events every year! Pull by BA Binns was originally reviewed by The Rejectionist and I have to say, I definitely agree with their assessment about David. Jumpstart the World was first reviewed by TATAL, and while I didn’t love Jumpstart the World as much as they did, I am still pleased to have it move on in the competition!