This book was very, very cute, and there were actually times I laughed aloud. In fact, one line became my Facebook status for a brief period of time....moreThis book was very, very cute, and there were actually times I laughed aloud. In fact, one line became my Facebook status for a brief period of time. I don;t know if there are a lot of children that need a little help accepting their tushies (though I know many grown women who do), but if there are, this is the book. It's all about tushies of every shape and size (and smell), and the accompanying illustrations are darling. They reminded me somewhat of the artwork of a cartoon my sister watched when she was little (though I can't remember quite which one. Busy World of Richard Scarry, maybe?). It's kind of fussy and soft and very detailed. I would highly recommend this as a fun read along to kids. Or as a youtube worthy moment for stoned adults. :)(less)
The Gert Garibaldi's Rants and Raves series is what I imagine the Georgia Nicolson series to be like (sorta). There's a frenetic smart energy to it, and a frankness that will strongly appeal to some readers and strongly turn off others. (And I do mean strongly turn off. I wouldn't be surprised to hear about a parent reading this and pitching a fit, and calling for a banning.)
I'm not going to lie, it was a bit of a slow-starter for me. Gert is funny in the beginning and all, but she's sort of funny in that "too much, enough already" way. And she's got a decided bitter streak which, coupled with some whininess, was off-putting for me. I didn't really connect to her as much in the beginning and she was starting to actually get on my nerves and make me doubt I wanted to finish when suddenly - something changed. It's hard to explain without giving things away, but it's sort of like Gert is at that dreaded teenager stage where you haven't really come into your own yet, or even realized that it was a possibility, but you can't let the sharks scent blood in the water so you fake it, and mask it with this extreme nonchalance that borrows a bit from Asshole Land. We've all been there, we all go through it, but once you are through it, you don't necessarily want to revisit it.
Gert's got a lot of scorn, but much of it is borne from having a lot of questions. She's a little oblivious to her world and the reality of who she is (and she's completely oblivious to the fact that she may be oblivious - she thinks she's got it all pegged), so when things start changing and she has to open her eyes a bit and risk putting herself out there, she becomes much more likable. She still keeps her biting wit, but it becomes more universally funny and less whiny. Gert started opening up and growing, and I thoroughly enjoyed the book from then on. What really made it likable though was how unabashed Gert is. Part of it may be that she's still a little bit clueless, but part of it is this really fun mix of eagerness, curiosity, dubiousness and naiveté. She asks all of the questions that you wanted to ask but were too afraid to as a teen. Her narration and her rants are frank and often hilarious. I think many teens will connect to this and find their voice in Gert.
Now, I mentioned above that I can see this getting some very strong negative reactions. As I said, Gert is very unabashedly curious. There are frank (and frankly hilarious) discussions of masturbation, pubic hair maintenance, homosexuality, whether or not to ignore a boy's erection at a school dance, etc. Some teens may be uncomfortable having it all laid out on the table like this, and some parents will likely blow a gasket over the topics. But don't kid yourself: These are things that every teen thinks about. They may not think it as loudly as Gert, but it's hilariously realistic. Now, I'm not saying you should force yourself to read it if it makes you uncomfortable. And I'm not saying anything is gratuitous. But what it is is honest. Gert reminded me a bit of Charlie from The Perks of Being a Wallflower; she's not as guileless as Charlie, but she is as hilariously (and innocently) unfiltered. I don't think most people will have a problem with this once they get to know Gert, but it does bear mentioning.
[Also, one tiny little pet peeve of mine: I haaated the font choice for the Rants sections and page numbering. It was almost illegible.]
All in all, I think you can probably tell from this review whether this is the type of book for you. If it is, give Gert a chance - though she may annoy you in the beginning, I promise you will grow to love her and find yourself choking on your own surprised laughter along the way. (less)
4.5 I listened to this one on audiobook, so you guys are actually going to get 2 reviews in 1, here: my thoughts on the story, and my thoughts on Jani...more4.5 I listened to this one on audiobook, so you guys are actually going to get 2 reviews in 1, here: my thoughts on the story, and my thoughts on Janine Hegarty's narration of it. And I might as well just jump the gun and tell you I loved both. Okay, so yes, I may have made it pointless for you to read the rest of this review now, but I trust you'll stick around for my dazzling wit. No? Unceasing charm? Nothing. Because you've got nothing else to do, and reading & commenting on this review earns you an extra entry in the Austentatious giveaway? Ahh, there we go...
Now, as I was saying, I couldn't really help but love this. The only thing I was torn on was whether I wanted to experience the book on audio - those voices! That sly humor! - or on the typed page, where I could tab all the things I found funny. Which was basically all the things. I already knew I liked Goodnight's style from having read Austensibly Ordinary, but you never know if something's a one-off, or, since AO is the 2nd book, maybe she Goodnight had dramatically improved and the first one was...dramatically unimproved, or something. Basically, you never know. And with an audio, you also don't know how well the narrator is going to convey any humor that is there, or how well you'll connect to the narration style. Added to the fact that I just don't do audios often... it wouldn't be inaccurate to say I had reservations, especially once I began the book and the narrator sounded a little too "documentarian" for my tastes. This was only in the beginning, though, and it actually worked really well with Nic's character; it changed beautifully (but subtly) as the character loosened up, and I got a better sense of who Nic was as a result. It didn't take me long to decide the audio was worth my time, and by the first time Hegarty did a Brit accent, she had won me over. By the time she got around to doing a Scottish accent as well, I was thoroughly smitten. She conveyed emotion, humor and a number of personalities with ease, and I was always able to not only keep them straight but instantly recognize them. It was kinda fantastic.
I'm sure it helped that Hegarty had a very engaging story to narrate. There was lots of emotion, lots of humor, and just a shitload of personality. Excuse me, Janeites. How crass of me. It had a well-trimmed bonnet-ful of personality. But seriously - Goodnight's style is personable and hilarious, and Hegarty conveys every drop of it. I was smiling so much while listening to this that my face hurt. My face actually hurt. Listening to this while doing dishes? ---> Grinning like a loon in the kitchen window.---> Face hurts. Listening while checking the mail? ---> Laughing out loud for no apparent reason. ---> Face hurts. My neighbors had to have thought I'd lost my mind. But I don't even care,* Nic's combination of buttoned-up neuroses and Sean's casually-sexy prodding was delicious, and I ate up every minute of it. [I like Sean MacInnes. I want one.] I liked Nic and Sean together, I liked the side characters, I liked the romances and the magical realist aspect. I liked the style and I liked the narration, and I liked all the bursting-at-the-seams personality, and - there's really just nothing negative I have to say.
It was cute, it was charming, and it won me over just as easily as Austensibly Ordinary did. And hell, as much as I liked Cate from AO, I might like Nicola more, and that's saying something. When it comes to Sean or Ethan, though... Well, I'll just take one of each, please! ;)
If we could give half stars, I would give this 3.5. It was good, and worth it, especially if you are in to comics and/or parody/tongue-in-cheek humor....moreIf we could give half stars, I would give this 3.5. It was good, and worth it, especially if you are in to comics and/or parody/tongue-in-cheek humor. There were just some pacing problems and coherency issues, this back and forth attempt to keep the crux of some things secret, which at times was more frustrating than mystery-making.(less)
Perception was one of my eagerly-awaited books of 2012. I read Clarity last year for HH, and was pleasantly surprised to find that all of the people...morePerception was one of my eagerly-awaited books of 2012. I read Clarity last year for HH, and was pleasantly surprised to find that all of the people that pushed it on me were right. I loved Clare's voice and Harrington's breezy, engaging storytelling. I couldn't wait to get back into Clare's world. And though I think Perception suffered a bit from sophomore slumpage, I have to say, it was nice being back in her world.
There were times when, I'm not going to lie, I was a little disappointed. The book - and Clare - seemed somewhat lacking in spirit. I missed Clarity. In the first book, she reminded me so much of Veronica Mars - as this sassy, really smart, no nonsense, strong girl - and I loved that. In Perception, she lost some of what made her stand out from the rest of the YA pack. Her sassiness peaked through and definitely became more pronounced as the story went on, but for awhile she became just a little more typical, a little more predictable, and that made me sad. Strong Clarity somehow lapsed into an average YA heroine, caught between 2 boys and the popular and unpopular groups. She wasn't really her anymore. Her spark was missing.
Now, she did reclaim it. And part of me even thinks that, given all she went through in book 1, it kind of made sense for her to be a little...less, somehow. But still. Her voice was a big part of the reason I liked the series in the first place. And part of it, too, was - OH GOOD GOD with the love triangle already. Don't get me wrong, if ever there was an excuse for a love triangle in a book, this book gets it. Certain things needed to be addressed after how the 1st book ended, and it should have merited a good amount of page space - there were some major things to be worked through. But seriously. There's only so much you can take before you want to yell "Let's get on with it already!" Also, NO WAY would those boys ever have been as saintlike as they were.
So, there was that. But as for all the rest, it was just as enjoyable as ever. It was strange, because much like book 1, I felt like I had it pegged the whole way through, yet felt like I didn't. I basically called it as soon as one specific character entered (because there was no other reason for the character to be there, really); but still...even though I was pretty sure, Harrington does a really good job arousing suspicion of everybody. The red herrings are just a-flyin' and at some point, you doubt just about every damn body. Part of me always knew, and part of me always doubted - it's a really interesting way to read a book. I have to give Harrington props for that.
Another thing that got points was that there were good repercussions from book 1. Some serious shiz went down, and there's bound to be fallout from that. And I don't just mean where Clare is concerned. Everyone went through some majorcrazyscary, and they have to deal with that. And though, no, this is never going to be one of those books that wins awards for depicting How People Cope, Harrington (fortunately) isn't the type of writer that just throws the trauma away and lets the characters move blithely forward. She not only didn't ignore the fallout and the trauma with the whole cast of characters, but she used it as a way to explore Clare and what she wants from life. I so very much liked Clare's burgeoning sense of self and purpose as a result of what she went through.
So all in all, there's a lot of good growth, though it is a kind of in an in-between book. They're inevitable in a series, I guess, but a little slumpy all the same. Still, it's worth the read, and Clarity does come back into her own (and makes a damn decision), and a lot of ground work is laid for the series to grow and for Clarity to become a really strong, kick-ass heroine. Plus, despite any faults, it's always quick and engaging.
Initial thoughts: This is probably just under a 4 for me. Good fun. Will review later.
Later: Chris is a normal teenage boy doing normal teenage things...moreInitial thoughts: This is probably just under a 4 for me. Good fun. Will review later.
Later: Chris is a normal teenage boy doing normal teenage things until he finds himself the center of attention to a vampire about to be executed. Suddenly, things take a turn for the bizarre when Chris is visited by a man claiming to be Chet, Celestial Being, avatar of the Forces of Light. Chet tells Chris that, sadly, puberty has triggered his vampirism, and that he is doomed to either eat his friends and be executed, or starve to death. But, if Chris acts now, he can do Chet a favor and help him with a little task that requires going into a den -- the den -- of vampires and overthrowing their schemes to free their vampire god. Now Chris is on a deadly and seemingly impossible mission, when all he really wants to do is stare at Rebecca Schwartz.
There's something I love about M.T. Anderson that is one of those loveitorhateit things (anyone who has read Feed will know what I'm talking about, though that is an extreme case). His writing is super simplistic, and you could almost suspect it of being amateurish if you didn't think it was intentional (at least, I think it's intentional...). It can be frustrating to get into sometimes, but it's very effective in achieving a "teen" voice. And it's not the cheesy, "I'm going to make my characters curse a lot and use slang" kind of teen voice. There is an immediacy to everything, and a complete self-interestedness that feels so teen, so self-absorbed and in the now.
The rest of my review and some silly bonus material can be found here.(less)
I wasn't sure what to expect going into this one. I mean, the cover is one of my hands-down favorites of the year, and the teaser synopsis that was re...moreI wasn't sure what to expect going into this one. I mean, the cover is one of my hands-down favorites of the year, and the teaser synopsis that was released earlier this year is just brilliant (What happens when a vampire is stabbed through the heart by a were-unicorn's horn? She develops a very inconvenient conscience. Oops.) But it was the kind of idea that could have been very, very right or very, very wrong. Thank god, it turned out to be very, very right. Drink, Slay, Love is one of the most purely fun books I've read in awhile.
And a big part of this is Pearl. Pearl is one of the most absolutely delicious MCs I've read in recent memory. She's smart - and a smart-ass - and she has this great dark humor to her as a result of being a vampire. I love her reluctant humanity and just-as-reluctant budding romance. But a big part of what makes her so fun is that she works on two levels: there's the Pearl that is very aware and serious about her vampire-ness, and is freaked out by the fact that she's changing and *gasp* growing fond of the food, and there's the part of Pearl that the reader sees that is almost like dramatic irony - there's what Pearl says she thinks and wants, and then there's what she actually does and what the reader can see happening. So her dark humor remains dark throughout, but becomes more humor and less just seriously dark. She's never super cuddly, and even when she realizes what has happened to her, she is just as much pissed off * about it as she is reluctantly pleased. It's so fun to read, and I'm so glad that Durst didn't make her mopey or all that nice. She's a biting character (hardy har har), and I enjoyed that.
And Pearl's fun voice extends to the whole novel. Drink, Slay, Love is enjoyable because it's aware of the books that come before it, and it pokes gentle fun at them. I mean, there's a vampire-themed prom with cardboard Cullen cutouts. Pearl laughs to herself when the sunlight through stained glass makes her "sparkle". It's just this great tongue-in-cheek, wink-and-a-nod story that doesn't take itself too seriously, and I love that. I also think it was a wise move on Durst's part to work from the accepted myths of vampires, rather than creating her own. It could have been risky, could have come off as lazy, but it didn't because it was well done and saved on ridiculous info-dumping while allowing her to be playful and have little inside jokes with the reader. It also gave her room to work with the unicorn mythos and play with that a bit more. I absolutely loved the idea of having supernatural creatures (vampires) who don't believe in other supernatural creatures (unicorns), and I loved that the unicorns were the ones to sort of perpetuate their own myths as myths.
I keep saying "I loved it, it was fun, I loved it, it was fun" and I guess that's what it all comes down to. This book doesn't make you work for it. It allows you to just have fun, to relax and enjoy the story, and laugh and laugh. But it does so without being throwaway fluff. You can tell Durst had fun with this story, and as a result, the reader has fun too. Highly recommended, especially as a funk-breaker for those reading funks we all go through.
*Here's an excerpt of what I mean by this. Pearl finally learns what exactly happened to her and her reaction is very honest and true to who she is, as well as being a good point, I think. But it's slightly spoilery, so...
"You still want to save me, even after...what I told you I did." "Of course," he said. Gently, she touched the side of his face, cradling his cheek in her hand. She felt his warmth against her cool-as-a-serpent skin. "But you already have." He quit swaying, and he stared at her with his brilliant eyes, so earnest and pure. "You mean that?" She wished he hadn't asked. It had been such a perfect line. "No." Pressing closer to him, she said in a whisper that was barely above a breath, "You messed up my life in a high-handed, daddy-knows-best, alpha-male way and reshaped me to suit your own ideals without regard for my culture or family background, not to mention my personal wants and needs -- and that's if I'm being charitable..."
I adored this. If I didn't already love Pearl by this point, I would have whole-heartedly after this.(less)
Okay, I know this is random, but best acknowledgements section ever.
Anywho: I started off my year with Kiersten White's debut, Paranormalcy, and I said...moreOkay, I know this is random, but best acknowledgements section ever.
Anywho: I started off my year with Kiersten White's debut, Paranormalcy, and I said in my review that it was the perfect funk-breaker and way to start the year. I've been recommending it heartily ever since. And so, though I don't usually actively pursue review books, the sequel, Supernaturally, was one I was bound and determined to get my hands on. (As politely and professionally as possible, of course... ;p) So yes, Misty + ARC of Supernaturally = Pleased As Punch. I was so, so ready to slip back into Evie's world and have her funny, effervescent voice back in my head.
Supernaturally picks up a few months after the events of Paranormalcy, with Evie settled into the normal life she's always craved - and she's quickly learning that normal's not all it's cracked up to be. I mean, she's even beginning to lose her enthusiasm over lockers. Evie is...sad, but she doesn't quite realize it yet. I kept thinking as I was reading this that the Evie we meet in Supernaturally is going to be hard for some fans of Paranormalcy to swallow. She is going through some major changes and confronting the facts of her life - no longer a super-special kick-ass IPCA chick, not quite as human as she thought she was, missing her best friend and almost-sister, finding out normal = boring, and relationship slightly on the rocks - and all of this makes for a less likable Evie. She's not as buoyant and irrepressible; she's sort of angsty and occasionally whiny, and at times, downright sulky. She's a little hard to bear, and it may well put some fans off.
But the thing is, I still have to give credit to Kiersten White because I think these changes were honest. It makes perfect sense that after everything, after losing so much and finding out that her life has always been a lie, that Evie would be reeling and not dealing with it all that well. Her world has been turned upside down, and she can't trust anything anymore. She's starting from scratch, and the shiny wears off pretty quickly, especially when the only thing you've got to look forward to is a locker. Not to mention that she's pretty much lived her life in a controlled bubble, so she doesn't necessarily have the coping mechanisms to deal with these huge changes, nor does she have the people in her life that would have been the ones to help her through them. It's only fitting that this introduce some angst into her life, and that we see her in a rough patch. It wouldn't have been believable to have everything go on smoothly and nonchalantly as before. But even if it's understandable and even necessary to advance Evie's character, there will be people who just don't have the tolerance for it. And with a lot less Lend in the story than people are going to be happy with, and most of the cutesy gone, there may be those who were fans of the first book, but heartily dislike the second.
There were times when I was irritated with Evie or the story, but for the most part, even if it lacked a bit of the magic of the first, I enjoyed it pretty thoroughly. There were some new beings introduced, either briefly or for the long haul, that brought in a lot of the fun I've come to associate with White's writing. Much of it expanded the world nicely, and some of it was downright hilarious (unicorns!). One of the new major characters, Jack, was a great deal of fun, very Puckish* and irreverant, and school-boy/smart-ass charming. He's good, crazy fun. I mean, don't get me wrong, I saw his storyline coming a mile away, but I still enjoyed getting there, and what he brought out in Evie or allowed to be revealed.
(*I mean that in the old-school sense, not the J. Kagawa sense. Stop squeeing.)
Many of the old characters were there too, even some that you may not have expected to see again. Raquel is back with her sighs - though less of them, thank god - and we get to know some of the formerly minor characters a little better. And Reth makes an appearance or three, and I ate up every minute of it. I love me some Reth, I don't even care. Say what you want, he may be a Fey dick at times, but I lurve him, and I don't even care to hide it. One thing I was happiest about, though, was the continuance/resolution to the Vivian storyline. Vivian is still a part of the story, in her way, and while still just as intriguing, it is a much calmer relationship. I really like her and the consistency of her character; even when she grows and changes, it's believable, and she facilitates that in Evie, too. The realities of Evie's struggle and what she and Vivian are paves the way for a great expansion of Evie's history. There is still so much there to explore, both in the person she is going to become (and I love her struggle, love the temptation and the horror of being what she is), and in the way the other paranormals treat her.
I think, in some ways, this was a book to get through. I don't mean that it was bad or you have to slog through it, but I think it acts as a necessary bridge between what has happened and the things that need to come into being. Just as Evie needed to go through these hard, angsty times to come into her own (I hope) and grow, I think there are a lot of things that either happen or are hinted at that give a sense that the story is much bigger. Something big is brewing, and it always feels as if it's about to explode. There are things that aren't 100% tied up at the end, and though that may frustrate some, it's doesn't seem done in that false way that's meant to get you to buy another book. There are just...implications of a bigger picture, hints about the elementals and other beings, of tensions and alliances, and though the main events of this story are wrapped up nicely, you get a sense that it's just the calm before the storm. And personally, I love storms...
Looking forward to book 3.
Related: If you haven't read the book, here's the trailer. If you have, this fan-made, Sims-based trailer kills me. So bleeping funny. [Intenionally or not...](less)
I reviewed this in full on my blog, but since it was a somewhat non-traditional review, I will include a snippet here. If you want the full thing, alo...moreI reviewed this in full on my blog, but since it was a somewhat non-traditional review, I will include a snippet here. If you want the full thing, along with some bonus material, head over here...
The "story" unfolds via a man's poetry journal. Intending to document the glory of life, it ends up recording the downfall of civilization as he: runs from zombies, is bitten by zombies, becomes a zombie, bites and creates more zombies, and embarks on the never-ending quest for fresh flesh and the all important zombie food source, brains.
Some of this anonymous man's poetry is only so-so (but what do you expect of a man who keeps a haiku poetry journal), and his pre-zombification haiku are as pretentious and pointless as you'd want them to be. But when said poet gets bitten, things take a turn for the worse -- while his haiku takes a visceral turn for the better, in my opinion. Dripping blood and pus and various other fluids onto the pages of his precious journal, he goes in search of the first of a slew of meals - -I mean, victims. (I'm not going to tell you who the first victim is, but ugh).
I previewed a few of the disgustingickyawesome haiku on a previous teaser tuesday, but they were just the, *ahem* tip of the juicy cortex. Though there are throwaway bits, there are some moments of gross brilliance in here. Our mysterious zombie man retains his vocabulary pretty much intact (which somehow doesn't seem ridiculous), but everything becomes a little stilted and skewed, creating a nicely eerie, Other effect. And of course, some of his phrasing, reactions and desires are just hilarious. (less)
I know I say this every time I review a contemporary novel, but I rarely actively want to read contemporary. I just can't get over this roadblock in m...moreI know I say this every time I review a contemporary novel, but I rarely actively want to read contemporary. I just can't get over this roadblock in my head that says contemporary is either Gossip Girl fluff or slit-your-wrists depressing. This, despite all of the incredible contemporary I've read. Whatever, welcome to my brain. The point is, I rarely wishlist contemporary books, but Babe in Boyland, for whatever reason*, was one I wishlisted. So when Jody emailed me, asking if I'd like to review Audrey's Guide to Witchcraft, and also offered up Boyland, I jumped at it. And once again, I was reminded of why I need to take down that roadblock, brick by brick, because I'm missing out on really good contemporary books.
This was funny. Really funny. Like, laugh out loud, snorting and chortling and reading parts over again, funny. Natalie just sparkles on the page, she is so thoroughly likable and engaging. Most readers will be familiar with the story because, lets face it, we've seen it before. This is a prettycommontrope, actually**. But there's a reason it cycles back periodically - there's something compelling in it, and something with built in shenanigans, which always makes for a good time - but I think Gehrman puts her own stamp on things quite nicely, and Natalie is so engaging that I don't think I would even care if it was an exact play-by-play of something else. Though the men at school may hate Natalie's alter-ego, Dr. Aphrodite, and may think Natalie is clueless, it's hard not to like Natalie herself as a narrator. She is clueless in the beginning, but adorably so, and she doesn't stay clueless for long.
The friendships are fantastic as well - the interactions and the confronting of stereotypes/cliques, etc., are nicely handled. It's sadly rare to see positive female friendships in books these days - they tend to go either Mean Girl or Cardboard; if they're not flat and boring and easily substituted, they're competitive, combative, snide, and fake. Less friends, more frenemies. It's sad because while, yes, occasionally one girl may have that relationship with another girl - who may or may not be her friend - that's not the standard. (Surprise! Girls can be friends! Anne and Diana aren't faking it!) Natalie has good, tried and true, close friends who she cares about and who care about her, and help her in her ever-increasing shenanigans. (This isn't to say they don't have their ups and downs, because that would also be cardboard; but they don't serve as a shallow plot device, and I appreciate that.) The boys in Boyland start out as stock characters and evolve from there, much as they should in this type of story - they are fleshed out as Natalie realizes how little she knows, and opens her mind to get to know them, allowing the reader to do the same. Basically, character dynamics were a win in Boyland.
And - that's it. I don't really have negatives, honestly. Some will feel like it's been done, and it has, and if that bothers you as a reader, you should maybe skip this. But as they say, there's nothing new under the sun, and I think most people either won't have come across this trope often enough to be bothered by it, or will like it too much to care. It reads like it could easily be a movie (partly because its type has been, partly because Gehrman is also a playwright and she put those skills to work). Babe in Boyland is now another in a longer-by-the-minute list of contemporary books that have done their best to convince me to start reading more contemporary. This super quick read (I devoured it in one sitting) was engaging throughout, and despite any unoriginality in the plot, I don't have any reservations in recommending it. Also: Emilio Cruz. Win.
*Gender-bending. Gender-bending was the reason. And the cover, because seriously? Gold star, I love it. ** In fact, one such similar work, the 80's movie Just One of the Guys, even centers around the main character doing her cross-dress thang in an effort to win a journalism contest. Which is Natalie's goal. So there's that...(less)
Even though I'm normally a little hesitant about books that have really pretty covers and lots of excited squeeing attached, when this came out last y...moreEven though I'm normally a little hesitant about books that have really pretty covers and lots of excited squeeing attached, when this came out last year, it went straight on my wishlist. To balance the squeeing, I did see some pretty thorough reviews from trusted people, so I figured there was a good chance I would like this one, despite the pretty cover curse. So imagine my delight when the Polish Outlander sent it to me for Christmas!
Just after Christmas, I was in a little bit of a reading funk. Even though I have a lot of great stuff that I'm excited to read, and even though I know there are a lot of books on my TBR that I'm fairly sure I will like (some even love), I just couldn't seem to find something to suit my mood. In fact, I couldn't even figure out what I was in the mood for; it was just one of those listless funks you go through every now and then. On New Years Eve, I was sick in bed but wide awake, and I really wanted to read something, so I grabbed a big stack of books and decided I would read a page of each, and whatever captured my attention would be the one I'd go with -- first book of the new year. Flash-forward about 5 hours, when I'm still wide awake with no idea of the time (really, really late), laughing aloud as I tear through Paranormalcy.
I'm always hesitant to write a purely glowing review. Even amidst all the good of a book, there's generally something that I caution people about. But when I think about Paranormalcy, I'm hard-pressed to come up with negatives. It was the prefect funk-breaker. The world Kiersten White creates is a lot of fun, and there is great room to grow over the course of the series, which I love. Evie is an absolutely delightful character. She's fun and fresh and youthful in such a great way, but she's rounded enough -- she begins to question and doubt enough -- to make her more dynamic and fully fleshed out. And she's a great narrator to have leading you through the book because she's got a really enjoyable voice and great sense of humor (which means White has a great sense of humor. It shows through out the book). It's a really refreshing read, and I think Evie is really relatable in such a great way, even when the circumstances she is in are not. On a purely for-fun level, I think you can do a lot worse than Paranormalcy.
But what's great is that there is more to it than that. I sense more to the story for each character that's introduced. I know there's something lurking in all of their pasts, and I love that we don't get to see all the cards. It adds depth to balance the lightness of the story. Also, White doesn't shy away from showing some heartbreak. In spite of all her kick-ass attitude and abilities, Evie has had a very lonely, sad type of life. She never really gets to be a girl, or to be care-free, and occasionally you can see the strain it causes. And there's more, and I have to be careful here, because I don't want to give anything away, but I do want to mention that I absolutely Loved (with a capital L) Evie's interactions with Vivian. A lot of YA authors -- debut ones, especially -- would have gone the easy route and made everything black and white/good and bad/right and wrong. But life is never that easy or clearly defined, and White knows this. I get Evie, and her actions and motivations, and I get Vivian's as well. The scenes with Evie and Vivian, especially towards the end, and the sadness that pervades them was really authentic and beautiful to me. Even more so because of the fact that I wasn't expecting it in such a funny-sometimes-silly book. I think Carrie Ryan captured it completely when she said "Kiersten White creates the perfect blend of light and dark." She really does.
Very nicely done; I will certainly be keeping an eye on Kiersten White.(less)
I was hoping for some funny slapstick when I picked this up (which I got), but it's so much more than that. Breathers is a satire lampooning prejudice...moreI was hoping for some funny slapstick when I picked this up (which I got), but it's so much more than that. Breathers is a satire lampooning prejudice and civil rights, starring everyman Andy, who wakes up to realize he's dead and unwanted by the world. Browne creates a zombie that makes sense to me: it's not needlessly shuffling and moaning for brains, it's just a normal guy (or gal) who just didn't die after they, well, died, and now are dealing with the social ramifications of not doing what you're ultimately supposed to do -- and slowly rotting while you're at it. His zombies are sad little things, unable to feel physical pain, but feeling emotional pain acutely, as they slowly decompose into oblivion, or have their demise sped up by being donated to science. They are the constant targets of humans (which is funny and creepy at the same time. It's ridiculous and funny when frat boys attack a zombie by ripping off his arm and beating him with it. But at the same time, it's a horror show, and though I'm sure people would protest, I don't think it's that far-fetched of one. Humans are not the most tolerant of beings for sure, and we all seem to forget that the Civil Rights Movement was a) not that long ago, and b) a counter to some pretty horrific -- and sadly common -- things. Like beatings and lynchings. That were public events. That went unpunished. I'm just saying.)
It makes sense that humans, who don't have a great track record to start, would react with so much animosity to zombies: they're unnatural, and religious extremists would have a field day, but more than that, they would cause us to confront what most people spend their lives avoiding: death. To mourn your loved one, only to have them come back and sit, rotting in your basement, is unsettling to say the least. But you'd probably tolerate them, since they are your loved one. But what if it's some nameless not-person that you don't know, making you feel uncomfortable and think about things you avoid at all costs? There's bound to be tension there, and as that builds and becomes more and more uncomfortable, it makes sense that people would lash out. Creepy, but sadly believable. Of course, the open animosity may be exaggerated and a bit unrealistic in its scope, but with satire, that's sort of the point.
Meanwhile, zombies are just not-dead dead guys. They haven't changed all that much, only to discover that their world has. They're not welcome, they're not considered human; they can't vote, or raise the children they've left behind. If they cause a disturbance in public (basically just be being in public), they are sent to the pound, where they are held until someone claims them or three days is up, at which mark they are donated to science. Andy and his zombie friends cope with this stress by attending Undead Anonymous meetings and consuming products with preservatives (like formaldehyde) in them, to slow the rotting, all the while trying to feel some kind of normalcy. What's a zombie to do? Fight the power, of course.
Oh, that and maybe find out if there's anything to that whole eating braaaaaaaaaaains thing...
I really didn't mean for this review to turn into what it did...Simply put, I got what I wanted out of Breathers, only more so. I cared about Andy and was willing to go along with his fight, seeing the zombies as the good guys, and us humans as bad. On top of that, Breathers is genuinely funny; even when I was cringing, I was laughing. The story, and Browne's writing, work on so many levels. It's a touch of Chuck Palahnuik and a touch of Christopher Moore, but in the end, it really is Browne's own. If you're looking for a non-traditional zombie story to kick back and enjoy, this is the one.(less)