Youth and Other Fictions

Youth and Other Fictions

by Jonathan M. Cook


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Jack: the lonely boy who hears a voice inside his head.

Jason: the stoic and cynical man who returns home in search of his lost childhood.

Jamie: the pretty goth girl loved and hated by both.

Over the course of ten years, the children of Freedom will watch as their world burns itself to dust and ashes, first over a vicious school rampage and then over something far more insidious.

In the world envisioned by Jonathan M. Cook, reason is a luxury, explanations are elusive, and desperation is absolute.

Some stories never end. Some nightmares can never be escaped.

Includes the author's Postscript.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781492271499
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 09/21/2011
Pages: 260
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.55(d)

About the Author

Jonathan M. Cook was born in 1982. He received a master's degree in Literature, Composition, and Creative Writing from Eastern Illinois University before becoming a high school English teacher.

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Youth and Other Fictions 2.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
ABookVacation More than 1 year ago
This novel is split into two parts: the “before” and “after.” It’s a very interesting way of dealing with a novel that involves a school shooting—whereas the beginning of the novel shadows that of Jack as he spirals downward, the second portion of the novel jumps ahead 10 years, following Jason, a young man returning to teach English at the very school he attended when the shooting occurred. This allows readers to gain the unique perspectives of both those leading up to the event and those still recovering from it years afterward. Perhaps what I found most frustrating, but also rewarding, is the fact that Cook doesn’t give readers a specific reason for the violence that occurs on any account within his novel. No one aspect or person can be pinpointed for blame, which is, in reality, a truth I feel many people do not want to accept. Why do people do the things they do? The news constantly tries to pinpoint one specific reason, and I feel like it is our human nature to try and understand, to cast blame, but in reality there are so many factors that make up these nightmares that the finger pointing and blame game is speculative at best. Thus, Cook leaves readers with more or less an ambiguous look at the mindset of both Jack and Jason, which I admit frustrated me, but is probably more accurate in its portrayal of events than anything else. Having escaped his hometown for a while, and reluctant to be back, Jason is roped into becoming the school spokesperson as the 10 year anniversary of the shooting comes upon the town. I found this fascinating, but as Jason tries to deal with his memories, his students, the faculty, and the people of the town, he begins to break down. I don’t know if this was intentional or not, but I really zoned in on the antics of Jason as a teacher—perhaps because I am one myself—and I just couldn’t get over how terrible he really is at his job, morally speaking. Having witnessed illegal activities, I would expect him to report them right away—to intervene—to speak up—but instead, Jason begins to hide inside himself, pushing everyone away from him and, as faculty members begin to die and the blame game once again becomes the town’s favorite pastime, he begins to lose himself. While a very interesting look at the human psyche, my morals as a teacher made me quickly begin to lose any respect I had for Jason as the story unfolded. I think the point was that Jason was completely and utterly shaken to his core during the shooting; that it is an event he will never truly recover from, but as an adult in charge of children, I expected more out of him in this aspect. I also found some aspects of the novel to be a little too predictable in terms of the current deaths plaguing the school, which is unfortunate, but could also be intentional as I feel Cook is more so interested in human nature and the psyche than a full on mystery novel. Overall, this is a well-written novel, but remains somewhat ambiguous on many fronts, especially with the ending, and there are a few grotesque events in the novel as well, aside from the mass shooting, so reader beware.
l_manning More than 1 year ago
We've all heard the stories. Students bring guns to school and kill others, often ending by killing themselves. This book looks at the effects of such an event on students and teachers. The first half of the book tells the story of Jack, a outcast who is often bullied. He struggles with how he is treated by others at school. While he wishes for revenge, he is soon faced with the aftermath of someone else taking the ultimate revenge. As Jack tries to deal with what happened, he feels his life spiraling out of control. Jason is another student who survives the tragedy. He returns to town years later to teach. However, Jason is left answering questions from his school days. When bad things start happening again, he has to sift through all his emotions to be able to cope. This book starts off as one thing and ends as another. With Jack, I felt bad for him. Here was a boy that was clearly bullied and depressed, and yet no one did anything for him. I wanted to get him help so bad. I was so caught up in him story that when the school shooting occurred, it really got to me. Seeing Jack trying to deal with all the feeling afterword was even more difficult. With Jason, I was definitely unprepared for where his story went. He talks of his class being considered by some to be cursed, and I started to believe that. I found the ending to be a bit abrupt and confusing though. I wasn't even sure what was real by the end. Overall, I can't say I enjoyed this book in the sense that it was a fun read or anything. In fact, it was fairly hard for me to read because of the subject matter. I wanted so much to be able to change things for the characters. I will say that the story completely absorbed me. I did not want to stop reading because I had to know what would happen. This book does a brilliant job of getting into the heads of Jack and Jason. It shows the horrors of having to deal with the tragedy of a school shooting. It goes places you never expect. I think it is a book that people will want to read. Book provided for review.
MollyzReviewz More than 1 year ago
Jonathan M. Cook's work is fascinating. This a work of true goodness. He takes the unthinkable: teens committing horrific crimes, and turns it into a realistic fictional read for everyone. Of course, in today's society, there really are teens who commit the said horrific crimes. It's just unthinkable in my mind. I could never have imagined even THINKING of committing the crime when I was in high school. But, it's reality. These things happen, and Cook portrayed it perfectly in this debut novel. School shootings. That's what seems to be the problem with a lot schools today....including colleges. Not just high schools. But, in Youth and Other Fiction, Cook gives us a play for play breakdown of a student's demise and what leads to the shooting. He gives us a look inside the teacher's head. What the teacher was thinking, the reactions. The realistic feel that this book had was incredible. Cook put you in the middle of the story and kept you there until the last page. You were front and center for all the feelings, all the reactions, all the horrific details about the crime committed. I couldn't have felt more emotion if I was in the center of a true school shooting, it was just THAT real. If you are looking for an emotional, GRIPPING, and fantastically written novel for adults and teens alike, this is it. This is not for the faint of heart, of course. It's REAL. These things happen every day, somewhere, in some part of the world. You'll turn each page with a new look on life. With a knowledge that bullying and craziness can happen among our youths today. This 4 Book worthy debut is a keeper and one that should be read by everyone for a very REAL look into today's world. Well done, Mr. Cook! In part with a blog tour, this review originated from my blog, Reviews By Molly.