Monday, June 7, 2010

Zen & Xander Undone by Amy Kathleen Ryan

Book:  Zen & Xander Undone
Author:  Amy Kathleen Ryan
Published:  May 3, 2010 from Houghton Mifflin Books For Children
My edition/number of pages:  ARC/224

Age group:  Young adult
Source: Publisher
Series?: No.

Zen and Xander are sisters—truly, madly, deeply sisters, and this is their last summer together.

Zen is the “good” girl with a black belt in karate and a newfound penchant for kicking heads. Xander is a wild scientific genius with a self-destructive streak a light-year long. They have three things in common: they’re brown-eyed blondes, they’ve noticed the boy next door has turned into a hottie, and they miss their mom, who died almost a year ago.These sisters are surviving just fine—except Zen keeps getting into fights that are harder and harder to finish, while Xander spirals into a vortex of late-night parties, scary men, and drugs. What’s worse, Xander has scholarships to the most coveted universities in the country, but she’s about to ruin everything. Should Zen keep trying to protect Xander, or finally let her go?

I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved Zen & Xander Undone.  Amy Kathleen Ryan has written an amazing story about sisters and the things they share, from boys to grief.  If her first book, Vibes, is anywhere near as good as this one it will be added to my list of favorites too.

Zen and Xander are sisters with very little in common.  After the death of their mother Zen throws herself into her martial arts and Xander throws herself at every guy she meets.  When Zen is forced to put her martial arts aside she starts to see what Xander is doing but she doesn’t know how to stop it.  Will she be able to save Xander from herself or will it be too late for these sisters?

The thing about Zen & Xander Undone that I loved the most was that it focused on the sisters.  Sure it had some romance for both sisters but those were just subplots.  The real story was about the relationship of the sisters and how it grew over their final summer together.  They were such total opposites but you could see the love they shared for each other and how that helped them see past the mistakes they were making.

I didn’t once want to put the book down.  I literally read it straight through.  It’s a story about grief but it was so much more than that.  I loved the letters their mom wrote them when she was dying and while they were heartbreaking, they also helped them grow.  For a book so focused on someones death it was one of the happiest books I have read.  The girls may have lost their mom but they still had each other and that is what helped see them through.

Overall, everyone should go out and buy a copy of Zen & Xander Undone.  It’s one of the best books that I have ever read adn it shoots straight to the top of my list of recommendations.  I can’t wait to read Vibes now!

First line:  My sister, Xander, causes a scandal practically everywhere she goes.

Writing:  5

Characters:  5

Plot:  5

Ending:  5

Originality:  5

Overall:  25=A++

Cover:  4=B-

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