Thursday, June 13, 2013

Book Review: The Tragedy Paper, by Elizabeth Laban

The excellent use of foreshadowing keeps you turning the pages of The Tragedy Paper. The goal is to figure out what tragedy happened last year and how it affected the characters.

The tradition at The Irving School is that the past years' seniors leave a gift for the new seniors in their rooms. When Duncan arrives at school, he gets what is considered the worst room. But he is left a bundle of CDs from the previous tenant, Tim Macbeth, that tells the story of "what happened last year" and also convinces Duncan that this room might not be so bad. Tim also happens to be an albino, which contributes to the ending but just seemed sort of random to me. I really think there should have been some more impact to his daily life because of his condition.

The senior English assignment is to write a Tragedy Paper, relating a real-life event to the literary tragedies. It's nice how this assignment parallels our unfolding story. The other part of the story is that every year the seniors plan a secret "game" to culminate their year. As we get closer to the end of the story, it is fairly obvious that last year something happened at this game.

While Duncan is listening to the CDs, he's also attending classes, re-kindling a relationship with a girl, and helping to plan this year's game.

I wanted to know what happened to Tim and his friend, Vanessa, as much as Duncan did. I thought Laban did a good job of letting go of just enough of the story to keep you interested. I just didn't think the tragedy was all that tragic. The end kind of fizzled for me, and looking back on the story, I don't think The Tragedy Paper will stick with me for long.

I enjoyed the reading experience, and I can still recommend The Tragedy Paper to some select students, but I wouldn't say it stands out.

Published by Knopf BFYR, January 8, 2013
Copy won from RandomBuzzers
304 pages (qualifies for my Books You Can Read in a Day Challenge!)

Rating: 3/5

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  1. I think I liked this book a little more than you did. I also really wanted to find out what happened in the previous year and I liked the virtual and real relationships. I did expect more from the tragedy, but that was okay with me.

  2. This one sounds a little like 13 Reasons Why. Is it similar?

    1. I've seen this comparison before. There are the CDs recorded, as in 13 Reasons, but their purpose is different. Not really to place blame as I in 13 Reasons (although it's been a while since I read it...)Tragedy Project has a different "feel" I think.

  3. Ha! I thought the exact same thing, Annette! ;) I couldn't understand the amount of guilt Duncan was carrying around once the tragedy was revealed. Great review!

  4. I read this book in March for a book club meeting and we all agreed that the ending wasn't as tragic as the book was building it up to be. And I also agree that the book doesn't stick with you because I barely remember what I thought of the book and it has only been a couple of months for me.
    It also kind of bugged me that Duncan took so long to listen to all of the discs. I mean the writer paints the picture that Tim's story was consuming Duncan, but I know that I can listen to a 20 hour audio book in a week if I'm consumed by it so why did it take Duncan almost an entire year to finish the ones Tim left?


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