People have been raving about Anna and the French Kiss for as long as I’ve been book blogging. As a great lover of contemporary young adult romance, mPeople have been raving about Anna and the French Kiss for as long as I’ve been book blogging. As a great lover of contemporary young adult romance, my interest was obviously piqued, but I didn't rush to get my hands on a copy because I was worried it wouldn't live up to my inflated expectations. I need not have been concerned. Anna and the French Kiss is just as wonderful as everyone says it is.
The thing with contemporary romance is that it's a genre where it is particularly obvious that there are only so many stories to be told. The key to a good novel, therefore, is not in the level of originality so much as it is in doing things well and with heart. And Anna and the French Kiss definitely has heart.
Anna makes for an extremely likeable protagonist. While she is beautiful (of course), she is not perfect. In fact, she learns a few important lessons about herself as the novel reaches its climax. She makes mistakes, but once she realises this, she works to put them right, which is the thing that matters. I particularly enjoyed the fact that Anna is passionate about something other than Étienne – film – and that her plans to study it remain firm despite her feelings for him.
Étienne himself is basically constructed by Stephanie Perkins to steal the hearts of a good number of her readers. He is thoroughly charming and always quick to defend and support Anna. There is the clichéd American fetishisation of a British accent, which I always roll my eyes at, but luckily Étienne has more to him than an accent and floppy hair. I liked the fact that he is short and that the trials in his life actually have an effect upon his behaviour.
Both the friendship and romantic tension between Anna and Étienne feel very real. Sometimes, romance can feel forced, but that is definitely not the case here. More importantly, neither Anna, nor Étienne, are forced to alter who they are in order to work together. My only concern with the relationship is the fact that, as charming as he may be, Étienne does not really strike me as a good long term relationship prospect. You wouldn't catch me placing too much trust in sometime with such a history of extreme emotional cheating!
As a brief aside, I often struggle with books with an 'American Goes Abroad' focus, simply due to how the other culture is so often described in a patronising manner. This is absolutely not the case in Anna and the French Kiss, which I found very pleasing. In fact, any negativity is directed towards America itself – so perhaps the awkward feeling for non-American readers will be replaced by one for Americans!
Anna and the French Kiss is a warm and enjoyable novel, with characters that are easy to like and an overarching will-they-won't-they plot thread that is very appealing. Stephanie Perkins deserves the praised that this novel has received and I very much look forward to reading the companion books. ...more
The Unwritten Rule does a very good job of capturing the kinds of emotions involved in having a crush on someone you're not meant to like a(2.5 stars)
The Unwritten Rule does a very good job of capturing the kinds of emotions involved in having a crush on someone you're not meant to like and I think that Elizabeth Scott did a good job of making her characters realistic when it comes to being too afraid to communicate due to inexperience and fear. Even more so, Brianna is just spot-on as a study of a teenage girl whose behaviour is entirely influenced by her unhappy home life. I think a lot of readers will dislike her greatly, but I personally found her a very sympathetic character, despite her self-centred behaviour.
I think my greatest difficulty with The Unwritten Rule was the fact that I just don't like infidelity in any form. Scott puts a lot of effort into making it almost seem excusable here, by making both partners cheaters and by emphasising the fact that Brianna isn't an entirely wonderful friend to Sarah but, in a way, that just made me more uncomfortable with the subject matter. There is always the feeling that what Sarah and Ryan are doing is wrong, but it seems to be portrayed as a justifiable wrong, and that just doesn't sit well with me. I don't think it's okay to cheat, just because your partner isn't as perfect for you as someone else is and I don't think it's okay to betray a friend because she cares more about herself than about you. So I don't think I'm really the intended audience for this book!
All that said, I enjoyed how the novel was written and found Scott's style extremely fluid. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to readers who aren't quite as put-off by infidelity and betrayal as I am, because I think it's a well-constructed book with a lot going for it. As it was, I read most of it in one sitting, and will definitely look out for more of Elizabeth Scott's books in the future. ...more
After finishing A Long, Long Sleep, I jumped online to see whether Anna Sheehan had written anything else and was amazed to discover that this had beeAfter finishing A Long, Long Sleep, I jumped online to see whether Anna Sheehan had written anything else and was amazed to discover that this had been a NaNoWriMo project for her several years ago. Having participated in NaNo myself and making the word count target but otherwise ending up with an unfinished mess of writing, I'm amazed and impressed that such a great book was the product of her own NaNo efforts.
Because A Long, Long Sleep really is a fantastic book. I made it through right to the end of December thinking that Divergent was going to be the best YA book I'd read in 2011, and then I finished A Long, Long Sleep and felt like it just squeezed Divergent into second place. This isn't as action-filled a novel, and the action scenes that are here aren't quite as gripping, but I loved the way that the truth of Rose's former life was revealed, layer by layer, eventually revealing a darkness that I would never have expected at the beginning of the novel.
It's hard to name a definitive genre for A Long, Long Sleep. It's futuristic science fiction, complete with all the tech, off-planet colonies and aliens that you would expect from that genre, but its heart isn't in these elements as much as it is in the exploration of Rose's character and the ways in which humans treat – and fail – each other. The tech is intrinsic to the storyline, but the characters can be recognised just as easily in the present era as in a future setting.
Rose is not a simple protagonist. The holes that Otto sees in her mind distance her a little from the reader at first. Although the novel is told in first person, we learn more from flash backs than from Rose's own accounts of her feelings and personality. While this means that she is not immediately likeable, it also means that we discover who she is as we discover why she is. As the book progresses, she becomes more and more sympathetic and more and more impressive as the novel's lead.
Xavier is seen mostly in flashbacks, and entirely through Rose's eyes, which makes him something of an enigma, even by the end of the book. I felt very much that his value was in who he was to Rose and what he represented in her life, rather than in his own personality and actions. In contrast, I adored Otto. I thought he was the perfect foil to Rose and, while I was a little doubtful about the text-based conversations between the two at first, I do understand the benefit of this technique with regard to the progression of two characters who are closed to their peers in very different ways. I thought Otto was good for Rose and very important for Rose and I feel that his story serves to temper her own in a way.
I picked up A Long, Long Sleep because it looked mildly interesting and I thought it might be something that my partner would enjoy. I'm glad I did so, because it was clever and thoughtful and dark and hopeful – all the things that I love to see in a book. A fantastic debut by Anna Sheehan. I hope to see more from her very soon. ...more
I don't think it really pays to read several Jacqueline Wilson books in a row, because it all just gets too depressing. All of the parents in her bookI don't think it really pays to read several Jacqueline Wilson books in a row, because it all just gets too depressing. All of the parents in her books are dreadful, and all of the kids' situations are just as bad.
Still, the plot in this one is quite clever, and well tied-in to India's obsession with Anne Frank. ...more
Although still very dated, Can You Sue Your Parents For Malpractice? stands up to the test of time a little better than The Cat Ate My Gymsuit does. IAlthough still very dated, Can You Sue Your Parents For Malpractice? stands up to the test of time a little better than The Cat Ate My Gymsuit does. It was written a little later but, more to the point, it also delves a little deeper into the psychological effects of living with parents caught in an abusive parody of Traditional Marital Roles. That said, there's still a level of acceptance of terrible behaviours that will feel uncomfortable to modern readers.
It's a pity, really, because Danziger had talent. Reading her books as a child in the late 80s, in a conservative household, a lot of what I read in her books resonated with me. Even as an adult, some of the psychology is spot on when it comes to the kind of childhood influences I'm trying to unpack and get past. But her books are dated in a way that sometimes makes them unpleasant to read. And that makes me a little sad. ...more
This isn't a poorly written book. It's just so... negative. In a showy kind of fashion. I really don't like YA books that are all about how edgy everyThis isn't a poorly written book. It's just so... negative. In a showy kind of fashion. I really don't like YA books that are all about how edgy everyone's lives are and how messed up the entire world is. When I was a teen, I wanted to escape from the bad, yanno? I liked going into the happy world of Sweet Valley, because it was a lovely, escapist dream. Girl Walking Backwards is a nightmare.
And the other thing is that, once a book is all about how every sixteen year old is taking hard drugs and out all night at raves having sex with randoms, and kids are smoking grass openly on school grounds, I just want to tag it with 'fantasy'. Because, in its own way, this kind of lifestyle is just as removed from reality as Sweet Valley is. ...more