Vassa in the Night (And Updates!)

Hi readers. Welcome to the new REACH blog. 

Not much has changed but the name. I began to notice a trend in my posts, and just kind of rolled with it. So here we are! 

The instagram update is @somebooks.are, and Twiter is no more for now. And, without further ado…

Some books are…I don’t have a damn clue. 

  • Author: Sarah Porter
  • Publisher: Tor Teen
  • Year: 2016
  • Genre: This is a retelling of a Russian folktale, set in Brooklyn, saturated with surrealism. So…I don’t have a damn clue. 
  • At a glance: Vassa’s sisters think she’s a kleptomaniac. But really, she just has a tiny doll with a penchant for thievery. In Brooklyn where they live, the nights are beginning to last for days–literally–and the local conveniece store (“BY’s“) beheads shoplifters and sometimes innocent shoppers. If you guessed that what comes next is, “Vassa goes to BY’s and things go downhill fast”, you were right. You get to live just a little longer.

This is a book I’ve been excited for since I first heard about it. Its book birthday came along, and I forced myself to wait until Texas Teen Book Fest to adopt it, when I would get to meet Sarah Porter herself. And then come the middle of November, I picked it up and began. 

One thing’s for sure about Vassa:  It’s freaking weird. There’s very little about this book that is not in some way, shape, or form, just completely strange. I was excited to read it on those grounds alone, not to mention that it’s a retelling that isn’t a Grimm’s or an Anderson, and I’m a sucker for surrealism. 

Nothing could have prepared me for the strangeness I found inside its pages. And that’s perfectly fine with me. This is a book with twists, turns, and secrets around every corner, completely doused under just-plain-weird and surprisingly horrific. 

Vassa herself is as unapologetically strange as the story she narrates. She wonders about little and questions even less. This is a quality in a character that I know a lot of people would be irritated by, but it’s what I think makes Vassa Vassa, and what makes the book feel like a cohesive whole. A lot of sh*t goes down in this book, and Vassa doesn’t waste any time considering any more than what to do about it. Which is the story’s biggest asset. 

Weighing in at just under 300 pages, Vassa drags on…and on…and on. Small books often have this black-hole problem–you look up from about page 108, a week into your reading venture, and think, “Shouldn’t I be done by now?” 

It’s a phenomenon that researchers have yet to explain fully. But Vassa is no exception, and with its plethora of weird and its determinedly accepting narrator, it has to work against it. It was something that, I think, was accomplished pretty well. It’s a hard book to get through, but also at times, it’s ahard book to put down, and I think both are sometimes due to the sheer amounts of oddness it carries in its pages. 

The biggest thing I was not expecting to find in Vassa was a temporary cure for my horror craving. But let me tell you: this book is scary. From dismemberment, disembodiment, and surrealist existentialism to just plain “what the hell” factor, this book scared me. I couldn’t be more pleased. 

So, really, this book is…

  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
  • for people that want to be surprised, and that are okay with being confused 
  • wet paint, somehow blood. root beer. linoleum. grocery stores where items shelved next to one another…aren’t related at all. you still remember your favorite toy from childhood, and for some reason the thought makes you cry.
  • Playing Dead–CHVRCHES 

If you stuck around through the confusing changes here: Thank you!

If you want to be even more confused: Go read Vassa!

And if you don’t know why you’re confused…well. Same here.