I have so many issues with this book I'm not quite sure where to start.
First, the petty things: I don't usually mention covers, but this one is bad. T...moreI have so many issues with this book I'm not quite sure where to start.
First, the petty things: I don't usually mention covers, but this one is bad. The girl on the cover (Erin) looks so robotic, and the guy holding her hand (presumably, her boyfriend Logan) appears to be ready to walk off, announcing that he is not being paid enough to stand next to her.
It's a young adult book, aimed at 12 and up. But Ostow felt the need to explain both George Clooney and George W. Bush (and hanging chads, for that matter, but I can work with that). Because they're both such out of nowhere pop culture references? I swear to God, I want to have a little chat with the parents and teachers of any 12 year old who doesn't know who George W. Bush is.
The pop culture references that aren't explained are not ones that will be around for long. Name checking half the cast of High School Musical? Not the best idea.
The important stuff: Erin, the main character, is vapid and boring. Her father is the mayor of Plainsboro, Illinois, and she gives us plenty of description of all the staff and photo shoots and television interviews and eventual Inaugural Balls that come with the position - after introducing us to her hometown as "teensy". She means it more metaphorically (she feels stifled) than literally, but as someone who grew up in a very teensy town, let me tell you: there is no Mayor. There are certainly not any Inaugural Balls.
I hate to say it, but Erin is kind of an idiot. She spends most of the book freaking out about how her (like, super hot) boyfriend doesn't like her any more because she had an opinion that differed from his - and after he blew her off when she tried to talk to him about it in private, she pulled the Hysterical Young Adult Female Character Move of doing something stupid in public. She wants to save Everett Field, a vaguely historical landmark that belongs to the high school, from being sold to a local gas corporation. It was a favorite writing place of Edwina St. Claire, a essayist and local celebrity. Naturally, Erin cares about this field because she wants to be a writer herself some day, but hasn't told a single person in her life about this ambition. (Also, judging by her annoying and unfunny narration of this book and her very teenage deep, introspective, I've had an epiphany blogs featured through out the book, she should probably have kept the ambition to herself.)
She decides the best way to save the field is to run for student council president. Logically. Because the student body president holds such sway over the school board. Which means running against the incumbent, her boyfriend. And, as she finds out several days into this whole thing, after declaring her candidacy, after finally googling the company, they're major supporters of her father's re-election campaign. Drama!
Now, it gets better. The local news wants to have her debate her father (over saving the field vs. ... having this company as a sponser?), and her father agrees. To debate his daughter. On live television. Which would totally happen in real life.
I have a stack of books that I'm planning on donating to the book swap my mom's school does every year - and they always have a shortage of young adult books for the middle schoolers. This will not be going into that pile, because no innocent little middle schooler is going to suffer through it on my watch.
A fairly boring but not terrible book. Probably worth recommending to basketball fans, but it's not a book that I'd use for reluctant readers. Liam wa...moreA fairly boring but not terrible book. Probably worth recommending to basketball fans, but it's not a book that I'd use for reluctant readers. Liam was too passive for me, and not much happens, to be honest. Very detached writing style, as well, which only slowed down what little action there was.(less)
A solid but not amazing book. (Reading the author's bio, it turns out that this is connected to an earlier Arthur trilogy he wrote, which makes me won...moreA solid but not amazing book. (Reading the author's bio, it turns out that this is connected to an earlier Arthur trilogy he wrote, which makes me wonder if prior knowledge of the characters would have made it a better read. More on that in a minute.)
Gatty's voice is fabulous. I mentioned in a review the other day that I dislike tongue in cheek historical fiction, where the author gives their characters knowledge they would not have had at the time, and Crossley-Holland completely avoids that. Gatty is bright but completely uneducated, young and naive, sweet but bullheaded, and a great character.
The overall plot was very slow to begin and then flew through the last third of the book - the characters were traveling so fast I had to keep rereading to make sure I knew where they were.
I found her romance with Arthur very odd, because we as readers don't meet him until the last 15 or so pages. Gatty thinks and talks about him frequently, and there are other connections throughout the book, but it struck me as a very odd way to write a romance, even if it was a side plot. (Explained, I think, by the fact that Arthur has his very own trilogy by the author, presumably giving more background between the two characters.)
I could have done without the hints of dues ex machina at the end, but overall a very interesting look at a time period I don't often read about.(less)
I wanted to smack the main character upside the head (whine whine entitlement complex whine), and the weird sexual permutations going on seemed to be...moreI wanted to smack the main character upside the head (whine whine entitlement complex whine), and the weird sexual permutations going on seemed to be more for shock value than character development.
So I guess it was a pretty accurate portrayal of teenagers? :)(less)
Far be it from me to question Ms. Lowry, but the pacing of this book seemed very awkward. Everyday life, everyday life, something might be wrong with...moreFar be it from me to question Ms. Lowry, but the pacing of this book seemed very awkward. Everyday life, everyday life, something might be wrong with the forest, people are acting weird, is it puberty or a superpower?, a journey!, badness!, oh noes!... and with 5 pages left, hope!resolution!sadness! ENDING.
So: why didn't I get any answers about who or what is behind the Trade Mart, and how it works? That's the book I want to read.
Mina was whiny, incompetent, and a bit of a moron - half the plot of the book could have been resolved with two simple conversations and the basic...moreEh.
Mina was whiny, incompetent, and a bit of a moron - half the plot of the book could have been resolved with two simple conversations and the basic ability to read social cues.
(That is: if Mina and her "do everything together, finish each other's sentences, are totally and completely in sync" best friend had at any point discussed what they were thinking re: the guys in their lives; if Mina had sat down and asked her parents "would you like to see me become a vampire?", especially after talking about how awesome and fun they were, and how well she got along with them, and how much she loved and respected them; if Mina had been capable of doing more than looking at the "totally omg smoking hot" Aubrey, and had listened to him instead, at which point she would have noticed that he showed absolutely no interest in her, and simply wanted to quiz her parents and uncle on what it's like to be a vampire.)
Teenage girls looking for more books on vampires after reading Twilight will probably enjoy this, but it's a disservice to them - there are so many intelligent, witty books out there they could be reading instead of this piece of drivel.
(Fine, fine - the book had a couple good points: Mina had a very mature reaction to the conflict with her best friend that I referred to above, and the idea of people having to go through bureaucracy and classes before they're allowed to turn was funny but not well handled.) (less)
I can see why this book is taught - the introduction said it's taught at all levels, from elementary school through college. There's a lot to it, and...moreI can see why this book is taught - the introduction said it's taught at all levels, from elementary school through college. There's a lot to it, and it doesn't give up its information easily.
But I'm glad I never had to study it. I found it boring more often than not, and I felt no connection to any of the characters. Some of the more traditional stories - that is, stories told in more traditional formats, rather than some of the others told in stream of consciousness or prose that was nearly poetry - were interesting, and made for interesting character studies, but they weren't enough to engage me.
Overall, it was vague and depressing, two of my least favorite things.(less)
Nancy Pearl recommended this series in Book Crush, and I remembered it when I found the first three at a book sale the other day.
Heaven is likable - s...moreNancy Pearl recommended this series in Book Crush, and I remembered it when I found the first three at a book sale the other day.
Heaven is likable - she's a very Meg Cabot character, with pop culture references and slightly awkward exposition. Her name's a bit hokey, and I'm not sure I buy her complete transformation - in the space of days - from the obedient, sheltered daughter who was going to marry a guy she disliked to please her father to the girl who dresses up in skimpy clothing and goes clubbing with a friend she barely knows in defiance of the guy who not only took her in and is protecting and training her, but who she has a huge crush on.
Overall, though, a fun book, and a quick read.
Superficial note: the copy I bought has what is possibly the worst cover in the history of young adult fluff novels. It looks like the design team had 5 minutes until deadline, and finally just gave up and stole someone's picture off MySpace. Doubly odd, as there were interesting, manga-inspired illustrations throughout the book that could have easily been used as a cover.(less)
The second in the series, and no better or worse than the first. Asai made an interesting choice by having Hiro (Heaven's trainer, her only real frien...moreThe second in the series, and no better or worse than the first. Asai made an interesting choice by having Hiro (Heaven's trainer, her only real friend, and the object of all her lusty thoughts) begin dating Karen. Especially since Karen begins her time in the books as a likable and normal person.
And Heaven learns to turn herself invisible? Sort of. Ninja voodoo, you know. (Oy.)
I don't know if I'd feel comfortable recommending these books to someone else, because they're pretty blah, but if I can get my hands on the rest of the series, I'll read them.(less)
Eh. Still the same middling story and characters as the first two, but I read this one nearly as fast. Do with that what you will.
Karen (the girlfrien...moreEh. Still the same middling story and characters as the first two, but I read this one nearly as fast. Do with that what you will.
Karen (the girlfriend of Hiro, Heaven's crush) gets justifiably cranky about Heaven being around all the time (seeing as she was kidnapped and held hostage by scary Japanese mafia guys for three days because they got her confused with Heaven, and correctly surmised that both she and Hiro could be in more danger if they continue to spend time with Heaven), but is pretty much portrayed as a raging bitch. Oh well.(less)
Not as insightful or engaging as the Uglies series, but a (literal) take on our society's eternal search for the Next Big Thing. An enjoyable read, bu...moreNot as insightful or engaging as the Uglies series, but a (literal) take on our society's eternal search for the Next Big Thing. An enjoyable read, but it didn't leave any particularly lasting impressions with me.(less)
Described as Twilight, but better, so I'm going to check it out.
And they weren't kidding.
Evernight doesn't have the same addictive quality that Twilig...moreDescribed as Twilight, but better, so I'm going to check it out.
And they weren't kidding.
Evernight doesn't have the same addictive quality that Twilight does (though I did read the book in one go), but the comparisons are dead on. The writing style, the first person narrative, the unwanted move to a new place, the boy who keeps warning our heroine that he's too dangerous for her, the hidden society of vegetarian vampires, the overwrought, starcrossed love story - all there.
The characters were more realistic and less one-note, but in varying degrees - Bianca had a little more personality than Bella, but not much; Lucas was less brooding and mercurial than Edward; Balthazar was awesome, much like Jacob.
This one has a couple good twists in it - one I guessed and one I sort of guessed but it still surprised me - that I don't want to give away.
And, for what it's worth, Gray doesn't have the same "fade to black" policy that Meyer does; nothing more racy than your average young adult novel, mind you, but more than we ever saw of Bella and Edward.
To be fair, it's a fun read, and it sets up a series that has more potential than anything Twilight set up. Unfortunate timing means this book will never really be separated from Meyer's books, but her fans will appreciate this take on a similar plot.(less)
A fun read with an enjoyable main character. Kristi's a bit overweight, a bit weird, a bit of a loser, and a lot angry. Oh, and she can hear other peo...moreA fun read with an enjoyable main character. Kristi's a bit overweight, a bit weird, a bit of a loser, and a lot angry. Oh, and she can hear other people's thoughts. (Naturally, as a teenager, the thoughts she hears are all about her.)
She's independent, mean, judgmental, funny, and not afraid of conflict, all of which combine to make her one of the less popular kids at her "hippy-dippy" high school, Journeys. She's angry at her workaholic mother, and conflicted about her dad, who left the family two years ago.
Ryan did an excellent job making all of her characters realistic and flawed, all the way down to the angry freshman working in the cafeteria who barely gets mentioned by name. And though I've used the word "angry" a lot in this review - and there's a lot of anger in the book - it's not an angstfest. Kristi comes to terms with her parents and their choices, and has to figure out how much of her psychic ability is real and how much is a crutch.(less)
Somehow this slipped through the cracks back when I first read it, so this is an after-the-fact review.
It's a really neat premise - Audrey breaks up w...moreSomehow this slipped through the cracks back when I first read it, so this is an after-the-fact review.
It's a really neat premise - Audrey breaks up with her well-intentioned but sort of a loser boyfriend, only to be humiliated at his band's show that very night when he sings the song he just wrote. About her. And their break up. She figures she's in for a long week, and then someone else will do something even more scandalous, and life will go on.
That is, until the song becomes an overnight sensation and hits number one on the charts, leaving Audrey to deal with the paparazzi, being an instant fashion icon, her ex's pissed off groupies, and the sudden realization that it's kind of hard to flirt with the cute guy at work when the entire world is obsessed with you and your ex-boyfriend.
Funny, clever, full of music references, and with a truly entertaining main character, this book doesn't really attempt to be realistic, but that doesn't take away from the sheer fun of it.(less)