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» » Zen and Xander Undone
Zen and Xander Undone


Amy Kathleen Ryan


Zen and Xander Undone


Teen & Young Adult

PDF ebook size:

1480 kb

ePub ebook size:

1651 kb

Fb2 ebook size:

1877 kb

Other book formats:

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HMH Books for Young Readers (May 3, 2010)




Literature and Fiction



Buy Hardcover:


Zen and Xander Undone by Amy Kathleen Ryan

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?
Brick my own
Ryan's May release Zen and Xander undone is one novel that packes one hell of an emotion punch. From the book description I anticipated a heart wrenching story of loss for these two girls that becomes their undoing. What I did not anticipate was that the true under lieing storyline of a young girl that is struggling with the loss of everything in her life. Because of the lifestyle and choices of poison it is an immediate concern for the future of Xander the older out of control eighteen year old, but the reader slowly learns that Zen is in more trouble than at first sight. Zen has not only lost her mother, but she is now facing the loss of her sister and her deeply depressed father. This book reminded me a lot of P.S. I Love You, because of the letters that Zen and Xanders mother prepares before her death. This was a careful crafted story line that is deeply emotional, and will pull the reader through by the heart strings. The amount of saddness and despair in the one small book is unreal. I especially felt sad for Xander when it becomes clear that Adam is in love with Xander. It seems as though this character is always being left behind. This is the first novel that I have ever read that has the main character doing all of the talking, but it is mainly about the side characters story. Everything seems to be about Xander, but you discover that under the story Xander feelings show through. The story then takes a definetly turn, to the mystery and mission of their Mother. After having stolen their mothers will records from the lawyer, they find that I may not really know their mother. This turns into a disasterious mission to discover their mothers secrets. Only what they find is that everyone has secrets, and when you don't know all of the details it is easy to make presumptions and judge unfairly; somethings are better left buried. As my first novel by Amy Kathleen Ryan I have to say that I am quite impressed by this authors ability. Such deep feeling is intertwined in her writing that it left me craving more. I look forward to seeing what she can come up with in the future. As for my cover note on this novel it was pretty self explanatory without reading the novel. Mine is the cover previewing two girls one with makeup, jewelry, and looking like shes on the prowl which my guess is Xander; while the other is innocent and sweet I perceived this to be Zen. Not a lot hidden in the cover, but definetly beautiful and will attract a lot of attention.
**Special Thanks to Houghton Mifflin for my review copy of this book!!
Two sisters who are totally different join together to solve a mystery. After the death of their mother less than a year ago, Zen (Athena) and Xander (Alexandra) are looking for ways to carry on. Their father is hiding out in his new basement bedroom and pretty much ignoring the girls.

Xander is and has always been the wild one, but since their mother's death her behavior has become completely defiant and even dangerous. Zen is worried.

Zen is all about control. Her interest in martial arts is just one example. The discipline, the ceremony, and the rigid standards are perfect for her. The emotional upheaval of losing her mother has her searching for stability.

The girls begin receiving letters and packages from their mother, sent by a mysterious someone. The items arrive on special occasions like Christmas, Mother's Day, and birthdays. When Zen and Xander attempt to discover the identity of the mysterious sender, they stumble across a secret life their mother has hidden for years. Did she have an affair? How long did it last? Was their parents' marriage in jeopardy?

In an effort to uncover the secret, the girls question neighbors, relatives, and even the family lawyer. They are determined to find the answers they seek no matter the consequences.

ZEN & XANDER UNDONE is an excellent addition to any collection of books for teenage girls. Amy Kathleen Ryan takes readers on an emotional ride as her believable characters face the challenge of surviving the loss of their mother and finding a way to move on toward whatever the future might hold. She combines heartbreaking emotions with humor and a bit of fun to capture readers and take them into the lives of Zen and Xander.

Reviewed by: Sally Kruger, aka "Readingjunky"
I really liked this book. When I recieved it for review I wasn't really sure how interesting it was going to be. The names of the characters were nice and unique-how many Zens or Xanders can you think of? The two sisters fought as any sisters would, and loved each other underneath the outward tension exactly like siblings do. They were portrayed perfectly.
Xander's volatile nature drags the plot along, and if it weren't for her, there would not be much of a story. It is she that wants to find out about her mom's past and insists on getting involved with the wrong sort of people. Zen is sort of just along for the ride, but fighting to get off and take her sister off with her.
There was something about this book that was missing. I can't say what exactly, but it was lacking a little...Oomph. The extra bit that would make it amazingly memorable. As is, it's better than average.
This is a really well written, focused look at a family coming to grips with the death of a loved one. Mostly it focuses on the 2 sisters, who deal with their grief in dramatically different (and dangerous) ways. Both sisters are wonderfully realized characters and all the secondary characters are fleshed out as well. The story moves forward through the girls discovery that their recently deceased mother may have been hiding something from them. In trying to find out about this secret, the girls attempt to come to grips with their mother's past and her death, a grief-stricken absent father and their own fragile emotional states. The actions of both girls always rings true, even in the somewhat ambiguous ending to a romantic subplot. I'd love to read more about these characters.

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