Friday, November 9, 2012

Just Deserts 

Eric Walters and Ray Zahab

"Dear Ethan: I know you must be terribly confused, a little bit scared and thinking, hoping, praying, that the plane will return. It will not."

Ethan can barely believe it. Until now, his biggest problems have been trying to stay in one school without getting expelled and finding his next drink. But after Ethan's drunken imitation of the current headmaster goes up on YouTube, his father steps in with a shockingly drastic measure. Now Ethan is sprawled in the sand. In the Sahara desert. Alone.

According to his father's letter, Ethan is to trek 200 km across the desert to the city of Tunis, with the help of a guide and three other young people.
Confused, hungover, and-if he is truthful-more than a little scared, Ethan has no choice. He will face sandstorms, vipers, and agonizingly painful blisters ... but, most painful of all, he will face his inner demons and come to a true realization of who he really is.

You'll really dislike this Ethan at times, he's obnoxious and sometimes fairly insufferable; you don't really hate him, you just dislike him, strongly.

Ethan can barely believe it.
He's expelled, on his way home and then lying in dirt watching the plane disappear, slowly into the distance.

Until now, his biggest problem had been finding his next drink and trying to get up the next morning. After one bad decision, a regular occurrence for Ethan, his drunken imitation of his school's headmaster goes viral. And after that, his father steps in.
The next thing Ethan knows is he's sprawled out, laying in the middle of a desert with only Le Orange for a companion.

The more I think about this book the more I feel that it was a really half hearted effort, it was good, I liked it, but felt the emotions were only touched upon, each realization came quick in bursts and then everything was okay. The story wasn't bad--in fact it had potential to be a real, true adventure story, one that makes you look inside yourself and examine what's really important, like Before I Fall does, I think this book would be best suited for boys aged 12+.

Ethan is a detestable, identifiable character I felt for. I really liked him sometimes, and felt really bad for him. A lot of bad breaks, bad decisions, a floundering father and he's basically a party boy--all before the age of seventeen.

I found the progression towards all these self revelations, his and his fathers--*see his fathers letter*-- to be too rushed, a tad unrealistic.

As for his father's letter, yes, that had to be done quickly, as in his father obviously had to realize his mistakes in order to get over them and help his son understand everything. But the letter seemed too excessive. His father realized every little thing that he did wrong--unrealistic, as in the smallest things to the largest. If it had been shorter and less expressive, it would have made more of an impact. Because generally men don't really seem to be that in tune with their emotions, at least not to that degree, and if they are, they don't talk about it.

Ethan's story is slightly cliched, but most stories are, what matters is what is in between the pages, the way the character gets through it and the way he owns his life. I think for that, Ethan's would be a good story to share with any young guys in your life who may be helped or changed by his story.

I think what makes a self-discovery story, such as this one, bad is when it feels rushed and fake, I felt that Ethan was a realistic character but I felt that the rest of the story was too hurried. It was as if the story was trying to move on without him.

I think for Ethan the real turning point had to be becoming lost in the desert and spinning like a lighthouse, barely conscious; his lowest point, and then seeing 'Terminator' and his guide finding him was a sort of realization on just how much of a jerk he was being.

I think the ending of this book was almost poetic, I loved that he wanted to go through it all again for himself this time, not because he was forced to and motivated by money. The bond between the characters grew strongly, touching you. And the authors notes at the back of the book were really great, I did love hearing about the story behind it.

Though I liked this book okay I wouldn't say it is the best survival, coming of age stories I've ever read. It did stick with me for a little while, I loved that I actually learned about long distance running, funny enough I read this book pretty fast, in about three or so days, and mainly at the gym.

I would suggest you get this for any young boys in your family, Ethan really turns out to come into himself. I'd love to know what you thought of it, so feel free to share.

You have to admit that the relationship between Ethan and Le Orange was pretty awesome, though did it remind anyone else vaguely of Tom Hanks and Wilson? Just curious.

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