Nice to have closure, though I'd already read a handful of these stories. Worth it for "The Princess and The Guard", "Something Old, Something New", aNice to have closure, though I'd already read a handful of these stories. Worth it for "The Princess and The Guard", "Something Old, Something New", and the sneak-peak at "Heartless". :D...more
This book was frustrating. I found the writing and the characters incredibly engaging, but when you know the "twist" a quarter of the way into the booThis book was frustrating. I found the writing and the characters incredibly engaging, but when you know the "twist" a quarter of the way into the book, it can make the book drag on while you wait for it to catch up with you. So first things first, the good!
The characters are well-drawn and realistic. I was genuinely interested in hearing more from Dara through her diary entries. And Nick. Jesus Christ, chica. I've seen other reviewers compare Nick and Dara's relationship to Sam and Dean from Supernatural, and really they're not far off. Nick has an unhealthy obsession with her younger sister, both before and after the accident, that I'll get into more in the spoilers section. Suffice to say, I was compelled by both of them but I didn't necessarily like them.
I also really enjoyed the Maddie Snow mystery. Oliver did a good job of weaving that through the story so you couldn't entirely guess how the young girl's disappearance related to the two sisters. I also loved all the Nick spent at Fanland - her co-workers, the silly skit she's roped into, it was all great and added some much needed levity to a character often prone to deep angst.
Now the SPOILERS.
(view spoiler)[So I knew not even a third of the way through this book that Dara was dead and any "After" scenes featuring her were just Nick's delusions. Frustrating for several reasons: 1) it takes until the last act of the book for Dara to "disappear" as mentioned in the book summary meaning 2) it takes until the book is 85% done for Nick to realize that Dara has been dead all along which drives the reader nuts because 3) they've known since practically the start of the damn thing!
Add to this a whole host of supporting characters that go out of their ways to help Nick perpetuate the delusion of Dara still being alive. The most egregious is when some friend of her mother says something like "I was at the funeral, how're you doing?" So Nick as Dara can misinterpret that as referring to her grandfather's funeral. At no point does anyone say "I'm so sorry you're sister died 3 months ago, how're you doing?" Or reference Dara in a specific way. Or call Nick by her name when she's wandering around in Dara-mode. Or notice that the girl obsessed with her dead sister is convinced she's still alive and just ignoring her! On this point all the characters behave like they know they're in a book and they have to help the main character keep this secret until the climax. It is not skillfully done.
One thing I did enjoy about Nick pretending to be Dara is you get to see the true depth of her denial of her sisters death, her unhealthy obsession with her younger sister, and her own extreme narcissism. The Dara that Nick creates waxes poetically about all the fun times they spent as kids, utterly idolizes her older sister, and generally plays the "perfect" little sister - which makes the whole "ignoring Nick" thing even more of a glaring tell. Still, once you start looking at the Dara After chapters as a dive into a deeply broken person, it adds a new layer of interest. (hide spoiler)]
But despite that rather large plot hole that runs throughout the book, I did mostly enjoy it. Oliver writes a wonderfully readable yarn and I look forward to trying more of her books in the future.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Being a Girl Scout was pretty awesome, but I'm super jealous the Lumberjanes weren't around when I was a kid. I mean, fighting off mythical raptor attBeing a Girl Scout was pretty awesome, but I'm super jealous the Lumberjanes weren't around when I was a kid. I mean, fighting off mythical raptor attacks and making friendship bracelets is what scouting is all about!...more
I had to sleep on this one because I have far too many thoughts about Twilight - professional hazard.
First things first, I think it's wonderful when aI had to sleep on this one because I have far too many thoughts about Twilight - professional hazard.
First things first, I think it's wonderful when a book merits an anniversary edition. And while I'm still not totally pleased about how they choose to release this book - as a monster 800 page flipbook - it truly does deserve honoring. This is the book that exploded YA lit from a corner in the children's room to a distinct section of its own.
Second things second, I think people are too harsh on the original Twilight (I cannot and will not defend those sequels). When 25-year-old me read the first book nearly 10 years ago, I devoured it. Mostly because I could see what 15-year-old me would have loved in the book: a forbidden, obsessive romance that consumed both Bella and Edward. What? I was a dramatic, lovelorn teen and I don't pretend otherwise. Writing quality aside, Meyer did an excellent job of capturing how eternal and fatalistic first love can feel.
So where are we 10 year later?
33-year-old Jess read the "flipped" version of this book and quite enjoyed it. Possibly more than I did the original version all those years ago. A few reasons for this:
1) Flipping the genders of all the characters turned the vampires and werewolves into matriarchal societies. While this is never explored in much depth, it was fun to notice as I read along.
2) Stephenie Meyer is right; changing this book from Bella and Edward to Beau and Edythe didn't change the story. It could be about an all-powerful female vampire and her weak, clumsy human love. In fact, I wish the original book was about that!
3) (view spoiler)[The ending of this book is the only part that was dramatically rewritten. In this version when Beau is bitten by Joss at the end of the book, he is dying. The choices are either to help him die faster or change him into a vampire. He chooses to change. Honestly, this ending made so much more sense. Meyer calls it an "alternate ending," but it read more like what she probably wrote as the original ending for Twilight... until someone told her to rewrite it so they could drag out the book into the aforementioned, God-awful sequels. (hide spoiler)]
So overall, it was a fun thought exercise and a great way to celebrate the book's enduring popularity. I didn't plow through it as fast as I did the original, but I don't read any books as fast as I did 10 years ago. Sigh.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I've had a deep appreciation for Russia's Baba Yaga since I read Egg and Spoon last winter. Marika McCoola's writing and Emily Carroll's lovely artwoI've had a deep appreciation for Russia's Baba Yaga since I read Egg and Spoon last winter. Marika McCoola's writing and Emily Carroll's lovely artwork breath life once again into my favorite wise-cracking, mortar-and-pestle-riding, bad-children-eating witch. It's short and sweet and Baba Yaga, what's not to love?...more
I was waiting to see what my book club thought of this one and reactions were decidedly mixed. While I enjoyed this very different (almost distant) taI was waiting to see what my book club thought of this one and reactions were decidedly mixed. While I enjoyed this very different (almost distant) take on the Arthurian legend, most of the middle schoolers were turned off by the ancient setting and sporadic use of Latin. Still, there was one who said he read it five times this month, so I'm pleased at least one of them really liked it....more
Hrm, not as bad as other reviews have made it out to be, but certainly not without its problems.
Grace Wilde is fed up with her family problems and looHrm, not as bad as other reviews have made it out to be, but certainly not without its problems.
Grace Wilde is fed up with her family problems and looking to escape, so she picks runs away to the opposite side of the world. A small boarding school in the suburbs outside Seoul to be exact. Despite everything being different from her home in Tennessee, Grace receives a warm welcome from her roommate Sophie, who introduces to K-POP and her superstar twin brother Jason.
So, let's address the giant white elephant in the room: no I didn't read Grace (or Katie Stout by extension) as a racist or bigot. I think there were two major reasons that people read that in the story: 1) Stout often awkwardly and unnecessarily highlighted race. Grace's younger sister exclusively referred to Jason and his bandmate Yoon Jae as the "sexy Koreans" which was kind of dehumanizing, but also not really realistic for a teen girl who would have just called them hot guys.
More problematic was 2) when Grace first arrives in Korea she is the epitome of a bad tourist: instead of embracing a new culture, she tries to experience it through her own cultural world view and constantly compares Korea to America for everything (food, music, transportation, etc)and either states or implies that the American way is the better way. She does eventually stop viewing Korea as some exotic locale to find herself, but by then a lot of damage has been done.
Which leads me to the characters. I never warmed to Grace; she seemed like a spoiled little rich girl who was staging a rebellion, shouting about how much she hates mommy and daddy, while using their money to fund her trip halfway across the world. Her cultural insensitivity didn't help, that she never learns Korean despite planning to stay there long term, and that she plays the "I have a secret tragic past that I will try to conceal from the reader" card made her impossible to root for. Which is too bad, because I pretty much liked all the other characters.
Sophie was probably my favorite character! I'd love to get the story from her perspective so I could find out a bit more about her and her relationship with both her brother and his best friend Tae Hwa. (Maybe there will be a sequel from Sophie's POV?)
Jason was pretty interesting, though he's "problem" could have been fleshed out a bit more. (view spoiler)[One of the things that keeps Grace from getting involved with Jason is his drinking as it reminds her of her brother and clearly upsets Sophie. Though there are good reason for both girls to be sensitive about excessive drinking, to me it never seemed like a true problem for Jason. It came off more as he was young, immature, and famous, so of course he will party a little. In fact, he basically stops immediately when Grace confronts him about it, so I kind of think the book tried to make too much an issue out of nothing. (hide spoiler)]
The remainder of the supporting characters kept my interest and I wouldn't have minded sacrificing a few Grace/Jason scenes to get some more depth and background on Yoon Jae, Tae Hwa, or Na Na.
Overall an average romance with some questionable cultural exchanges. I wish I had something I could recommend instead, but sadly there just aren't that many YA or romance novels set in contemporary Asia. Here's hoping this opens the doors to some better books down the road!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I liked this even better than the first one! Kamala's Ms. Marvel is my current fave superhero. My favorite part of the book is her fangirling team upI liked this even better than the first one! Kamala's Ms. Marvel is my current fave superhero. My favorite part of the book is her fangirling team up with Wolverine. Not even that grumpy old man can resist her sass.
That came out wrong. Really it was cute. Whatever, just read it and share in the squee. ...more
A frightening look at our present and our future. Media and technological dominance are themes often found in YA lit, but rarely with Feed's nuance. AA frightening look at our present and our future. Media and technological dominance are themes often found in YA lit, but rarely with Feed's nuance. Anderson shows us a world where ads are beamed directly into your brain, where credit/debt has overtaken the concept of money, and where the media is even better than the currently are at shielding the population of uncomfortable truths about themselves and the planet. It's all made more terrifying because we, the readers, might revile the feed (or smartphones), we find ourselves reaching for them without thought.
I'm looking forward to hearing what the teens think of this book. As "digital natives" or whatever sociologists are calling them this week, I imagine they will have a different read on this book than me.
Read for June Teen Book Club. Rating, probably not for the 6th graders due to language and some sexual situations (the narrator is an older teen boy after all)....more
This book was total awesomesauce! It's a refreshing modern take on the Greek myths and now my only dilemma is deciding if I should race out to listenThis book was total awesomesauce! It's a refreshing modern take on the Greek myths and now my only dilemma is deciding if I should race out to listen to the sequel or wait until later this summer when we're closer the third book's release. Loved the characters, totally engrossed in the story, the audiobook narrator eventually grew on me (her extreme articulation really helped me appreciate Blake's language), all around recommend!...more
Listening to Invincible and Infamous back-to-back probably did this book no favors; Sherrilyn Kenyon is best enjoyed in isolated doses, so you don't gListening to Invincible and Infamous back-to-back probably did this book no favors; Sherrilyn Kenyon is best enjoyed in isolated doses, so you don't get overwhelmed by the insanity. Infamous, the third entry in the Chronicles of Nick side-series, is an unfocused mess that shits on all the books that came before it. An abridged list of gripes:
-All the characters sound the same. Seriously, you either want to save the world or end it, and you have the same voice no matter which side you're on. And that voice is petulant, spoiled, and unconvincing.
-I'm now actively rooting for Cherise Gautier's death. This is some extreme abusive/co-dependent parenting. It's horrifying and I can't believe that her death would be the catalyst for Nick's downfall - if I were him I'd celebrate a la the munchkins of Oz.
-I miss the human character! This has been a long simmering complaint of mine with this series and part of the reason why I so enjoyed the first couple Chronicles of Nick books. It was great to have some non-omnipotent, total mortal peeps to follow around. Characters like Brynna however are quickly being punted to the sidelines for yet more super-powered, thousand-year-old demon slaves that talk more like tween than the actual teen characters.
-The book pauses the initial plot (someone is spreading really damaging rumors about all the kids at school) to pour on the angst. This initial plot is dropped while Nick gets knocked unconscious no less than three times(!!!) by various supernatural baddies over-crowding the already bloated cast. In fact...
-The mastermind of that rumors plotline isn't introduced until the last 10% of the stupid book. So even if you were trying to solve that problem around all the other Malachai BS, you couldn't because the character didn't exist until the very end!
-It ends on a "cliffhanger" that's anything but. Grim is trying to manipulate Nick into questioning Kody's motives, but two problems: 1) The reader already knows that Kody was sent to kill Nick, but 2) the reader also knows that she believes that Nick can be saved and is working against her orders. So the "cliffhanger" is really setting up a big misunderstanding plotline which suck and seriously make me question reading the fourth book.
-This isn't really YA. The narrator, supposedly a 14-year-old boy, reads like the hero out of a cheesy paranormal romance aka Kenyon's bread and butter. In fact, all the high schoolers behave like weird automotons out of a Lifetime after-school special. It makes you question when Kenyon last read a YA... or spoke to a teen.
I've already read a hell of a lot of these books, so I'm not ready to give up on this series just yet. But it may be time for a break....more