Monday, August 22, 2016

Review: Unteachable

Unteachable Unteachable by Leah Raeder
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Going into Unteachable, I knew this book would be a risk for me, because the subject matter of a teacher-student relationship really makes it hard to enjoy the read. That said, though, Elliot Wake does have a serious way with words, and the prose, like with Black Iris, helps make this YA/NA fence-straddler so compulsively readable. That, and the supporting cast, because while Maise (not unlike Laney) tends to rub me the wrong way (which goes with the Manic Pixie Dream Girl deconstruction territory, though), there's still Wesley(pedia), who, for a while, became my one major reason to continue reading. Not unlike Josh from Black Iris, I can't help but look at him as if he's me, but not. (In this case, the differences being that he's Grant Gustin tall and has a filthy habit of smoking clove cigarettes - Adrian Ivashkov much?)

The book also scores points for its ruminations on the creative arts. In this case, filmmaking, as much of the story centers on a Film Studies class. I may not be a filmmaker myself, and I've not seen many of the classics name-dropped in this book (such as 2001 or Casablanca), but perhaps I should change that. Film, especially genre film, super-especially Marvel superhero film, and ultra-super-especially The Amazing Spider-Man, hugely influences my writing. (I'm imagining myself taking Evan's class now, and him wondering what the hell kind of barbarian I am.) I recently read a book by one of my fellow Wattpadders, itself about a writer overseeing the movie adaptation of her YA action-adventure, who's told that she writes her book like a movie - and, in-universe, is criticized for it. That's what I do - I write books for the dream of being published (as Wake does - just read the acknowledgements in this book, and the sad stories of being repeatedly rejected by agents who think the writing is good but the stories are unmarketable), but also for the dream of seeing my stories come to life (and death, for certain key characters for maximum feels) on screen. I'm Whedonian trash like that.

Basically, Wake's books (this one included) are the sort of thing I probably wouldn't pick up normally. But after seeing what he's like on the internet, I kind of had to. And I'm glad I've been reading his books, even though I'm pretty sure I'm going to Hell for reading them. (But no more than I would for becoming addicted to Lost Girl, I say while watching an episode that includes a BDSM scene.) The story in Unteachable blends predictability and unpredictability very well, and dovetails pretty neatly into the wider Wake-verse (in hindsight, this book's seriously damaged my view of Hiyam even more.)

And, again, I relate to Wesley too much, except where I don't. And when I do...well, there's this one kiss scene that plays out like all my worst nightmares of rejection, the demons that rear their ugly heads every time I even consider asking a girl out.

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