I really, really loved this. I was preparing myself for a big cry-fest, but surprisingly enough, that didn't happen (although it DID happen at the movI really, really loved this. I was preparing myself for a big cry-fest, but surprisingly enough, that didn't happen (although it DID happen at the movie, which was incredibly faithful to the book and extremely enjoyable. Amidst all the ugly crying.) Green uses a no-B.S. tone with Hazel Grace, and it really works for the book. It's not sappy, or heartstring-pulling (on purpose)--it was really just about two young people who fall in love, and both happen to have cancer, which sucks. Dry tone, funny, sweet, and very thoughtful ideas about life and love. Really well done and fresh. Worth all the hype, in my opinion....more
3.5 stars, but the faction thing is so silly that I can't bump it up. However, I also couldn't put the book down, so Roth did it--she sucked me in. I'3.5 stars, but the faction thing is so silly that I can't bump it up. However, I also couldn't put the book down, so Roth did it--she sucked me in. I'll be honest, I was going into this book preparing to be less than impressed (I get in these moods on occasion with hugely popular books and then surf Goodreads reviews of a book to support my cranky, biased point of view...very fair of me), but Roth hooked me and each night I was looking forward to reading about Tris's Dauntless training adventures. One reviewer nailed it when she said she couldn't get behind the world building of Divergent, but she was entertained by the characters and plot and love story. Agreed agreed agreed. I want to read Insurgent, book #2, so that's high praise for me.
Here are my issues...I know that Harry Potter sorted wizards into houses based on their personalities/virtues, but I'm on record thinking it's dumb. And Roth further expands that idea as the main concept of her book--five factions, and you can only be in one, unless you're Divergent like Tris and have aptitude for multiple factions. Totally shocking, because in real life people are--get this--COMPLICATED, and they can be more than one thing at a time. To build an entire fictional world (with not enough satisfying back story as to WHY these factions were created in the first place, unlike Hunger Games which did this much more eloquently explaining the post-uprising Districts) based around the idea that people can only be brave (Dauntless), giving (Abnegation), smart (Erudite), honest (Candor) or hippies (Amity--I don't remember what their virtue actually is) is just...dumb. And people with any of these virtues individually are just tedious and unrealistic (which is why the Dauntless transfers all get thoroughly mocked about their previous factions when they're in training). One character actually says (with earnest feeling--it's in the movie trailer!) "I want to brave, AND good, AND smart, AND selfless, AND kind." Really? You want to be a well-rounded individual, and NOT one-dimensional? That's freaking amazing. Having people be only one thing makes everything in the plot way too simplistic, and makes it easy to hate the "evil" faction (Erudite) for ganging up on the "good" faction (Abnegation). Throw a little gray in there, Roth.
And last thing: frankly, the fact that you have to "choose" your faction (although some don't seem like they have a choice) at 16 and then your chosen faction could reject you (making you become--horror of horrors--factionless) seems pretty unpleasant to me as a societal rule. There were just too many issues/holes/inconsistencies for it to be a great book. But an entertaining one? Yes, I'll give it that. With a viable love story between two intriguing lead characters? Yes, that too.
Interesting side note: I had no idea that Veronica Roth was in her early twenties when she wrote this. I'm impressed by that--it's written in a pretty steady (if a little immature) hand for someone so young.
Side note #2--I'm totally seeing the movie in March with Shailene Woodley. Totally!
Side note #3 (last one!): I relayed this plot over breakfast to my very smart, logical, libertarian boyfriend, and he gave me this look:
So...there's that. I probably shouldn't rush out and buy him the trilogy for his birthday, right?...more
I can't claim to have finished this--because i didn't--but since I knew how it ended (even though it's been ages since I read Jane Eyre back in high sI can't claim to have finished this--because i didn't--but since I knew how it ended (even though it's been ages since I read Jane Eyre back in high school, and frankly I wonder what I would think about it if I re-read it today?) I didn't feel the need to get more than halfway. But that's not the fault of the book.
I wouldn't have thought a modern retelling of Jane Eyre with Rochester as a rock star would work, but you know what? It did. It was a nice little story about mousy, unloved Jane going to nanny for Mr. Rock Star's precocious yet not obnoxious daughter while he's trying to resuscitate his music career. And of course he realizes he loves her because she's just so darn sensible and good with his kid. Still not particularly believable, but surprisingly faithful to the book. I liked it. I'm kind of curious how the rest of the story plays out (I stopped after the big fire), but not enough to keep reading it. It was nice. A good YA story....more
Wonderful. I forgot just how good it was. And I really love how White doesn't dumb down life just because his audience is kids. He was a true talent.Wonderful. I forgot just how good it was. And I really love how White doesn't dumb down life just because his audience is kids. He was a true talent. I love Wilbur! ...more
Absolutely the cutest little book. I think I won this at ALA, and i just picked it up for something a little different. A graphic novel illustrated (aAbsolutely the cutest little book. I think I won this at ALA, and i just picked it up for something a little different. A graphic novel illustrated (and written) like the author is about 12 made it absolutely charming. Julie and Lydia are best friends trying to figure out how to be more popular (and isn't that what we all wanted in middle school?!?) and this "journal" chronicles how they attempt to get there. The girls are so cute (and I think the author really got their separate voices/characters down pat), and the story flows naturally as they attempt to navigate through the confusing maze of adolescence. Loved it!...more
Well, it's past 11pm, and I'm usually in bed by now, so that tells you how much of a page-turner this book is--as if you expected anything different fWell, it's past 11pm, and I'm usually in bed by now, so that tells you how much of a page-turner this book is--as if you expected anything different from the Hunger Games series! It had been 6 months since I read the 2nd book, and frankly I forgot a lot of how that book ended, so I felt a little behind for about 100 pages of this, just trying to catch up. But once that happened and the plot kicked into high gear, I was hooked.
This series, and ya-lit in general, is so interesting to me because it's so expertly written, with intensely drawn, flawed characters and incredible plots, and yet I can't say it MOVED me, particularly. Wait--maybe that's not quite true, but I was expecting to be more emotional at the end. This book is pretty dark (but they're all pretty dark), and yes, people die (but not the ones I expected), and Katniss is an amazing heroine--self-hating, strong, difficult, a loner, yet a leader. Collins does everything right and I can see, in ways that I can't with, say, the Twilight books, why they inspire such loyalty. And I was very satisfied (and pleasantly surprised) by the ending, as well by the numerous twists and turns throughout the book. But...I didn't cry, and I was kind of hoping (or expecting) to. It's possible that the dystopian storyline is so dark, fantastical and out there that it's near impossible for me to relate to, which prevents me from fully connecting to Katniss, Peeta. and Gale and what they're facing. And yet, it's an amazing book that's near impossible to put down. I did love seeing new facets to Peeta, Gale and Katniss, and I was quite pleased with the resolution to the love triangle--it made sense for the characters and Collins really explained it in a way that made sense to me (which was surprising, considering it was the part of book 2 that irritated me the most--what seemed like a "fake" love triangle.) It ended just right.
Bottom line, the book is truly great, and I don't think you'll be disappointed if you start from the beginning with The Hunger Games. I still think for pure shock value and originality, book #1 is my favorite, but they're amazingly consistent and Collins doesn't pull any punches. It's a series that will make you think after you've put it down, with characters you're rooting for to make it through the madness. Truly original. 4.5 stars...more
Definitely 4.5 stars--this was a worthy successor to "The Hunger Games" and a perfect, suspenseful middle volume of a trilogy. I had a pre-conceived nDefinitely 4.5 stars--this was a worthy successor to "The Hunger Games" and a perfect, suspenseful middle volume of a trilogy. I had a pre-conceived notion that it would resolve more issues than it did, but of course that's not what a 2nd book is for! It's to keep you hungry for the 3rd and final book! And hope that the good guys win! While The Hunger Games ended on an emotional cliffhanger, Catching FIre ends on a true cliffhanger with lots of things still up in the air. Frankly, even discussing the plot of this book gives away some plot points in the first book, so I won't bother. I will say that while this was as suspenseful and exciting as the first book (so much so that I read it in about 4 hours on a Saturday afternoon when I should have been outside!), I was a little frustrated with the (sorta) love triangle, which I'm happy will be resolved in Book 3, Mockingjay. And since I read Hunger Games so recently, it probably wouldn't have hurt me to let a little more time pass between reading the two books since I was a little tired of the Games themselves, which rear their nasty head in book 2 (THAT I was not expecting.) But those are more my issues than problems with the book itself. Collins is a masterful writer, and she knows how to spin a great tale. I honestly can't imagine anyone not enjoying this series, although I'm hoping it ends on a more hopeful note than books 1 and 2!...more
A graphic novel aimed at teens about a girl named Jane whose overprotective parents move from the big city after a terrorist attack, and is trying toA graphic novel aimed at teens about a girl named Jane whose overprotective parents move from the big city after a terrorist attack, and is trying to find her place in the school by teaming up with the other outcasts, also named Jane. They want to bring art to the suburbs, so they band together to do secret guerrilla art projects around the town. A cute story, although the characters (besides the main Jane) were a little one-dimensional, and it just ends abruptly without resolution, which always irritates me. Life is unresolved enough. Don't leave me hanging! But i thought the author knew her audience and young girls could relate to the sympathetic, independent Jane....more
I REALLY enjoyed this story, more than I expected to. YA Lit really has some amazing writers telling creative, beautifully told stories. On the surfacI REALLY enjoyed this story, more than I expected to. YA Lit really has some amazing writers telling creative, beautifully told stories. On the surface, it seems like a typical supernatural love story--an introverted teenage girl falls in love with a boy who has the ability to shapeshift to a wolf. But the writing and the characters elevate the story to a phenomenal degree, as well as the interesting back stories of the characters, topped off with the appropriate amount of teenage angst. The combination of all those things made for a memorable tale.
4.5 stars. Pretty wonderful, and I'm so happy that I picked up the preview of book #2 Linger at ALA this year. I'm planning on reading it as soon as I get home!...more
I almost never read books a second time, because there are too many other things to read, but because this was for book club, I figured I would skim tI almost never read books a second time, because there are too many other things to read, but because this was for book club, I figured I would skim through it. I ended up fully reading it cover to cover (er...1% to 100% in kindle-speak) and even though I knew how it was going to end--had even seen the movie!--and I was still incredibly engrossed by the story and the characters. Collins did such a masterful job in writing Katniss, as prickly as I remember her (and while I thought Jennifer Lawrence did a great job with her, she isn't as "dark" as I think of Katniss being. Too model-pretty for the role I think). The pacing just moves like a freight-train, and the absolute brutality of the Games is just so horrific but well described (as is the ridiculousness of the Capitol). I think the movie did a really fantastic of portraying the book, but getting inside Katniss's head, her confusion, trauma, stress, and overwhelming badassery, is the real treat. I'm not sure that I'll re-read books 2 & 3, but re-reading this was definitely a pleasure. It holds up!
Absolutely unfreakingbelieveably good. Coudn't put it down! I don't think of myself as a fan of fiction in a dystopian setting, but when it's as well-written and exciting as this, it doesn't matter. Katniss Everdeen lives in the poorest of the twelve districts, and to keep them from uprising, the Capitol holds their annual Hunger Games, where a boy and girl from each of the 12 districts is chosen to fight to the death. How's THAT for a premise! The pace is relentless, the writing is terrific, the characters are well-rounded (Katniss is a tough, complicated, old-before-her-years teen) and an interesting partnership between her and Peeta, the male "tribute" from District 12 gives the story complexity and some much-needed heart. I felt for these kids, and the unbelievable situation they were put in. Can't wait to read Catching Fire!...more
This is a fun little book that I scored from the Charlotte Observer. I'm not finished with it yet, but it's really an anthology of book reviews, so itThis is a fun little book that I scored from the Charlotte Observer. I'm not finished with it yet, but it's really an anthology of book reviews, so it's easy to read in chunks.
Lizzie Skurnick basically goes through all the YA books she loved as a child/pre-teen (from the 60's to the 80s) and re-reads them, rediscovering what she loved about them. She's a clever writer. I was a big reader as well (I know you're shocked) so about half the books she read, i read too! It's wonderful to revisit your own favorites through the eyes of an adult, like:
"Are you There God? It's Me Margaret" "The Cat ate my gymsuit" "Blubber" "I am the cheese" "Harriet the Spy" "The Pigman" "Little house on the prairie" "The Phantom Tollbooth" "The Westing Game"
And there were some I missed (or just didn't get) that i want to go back and read: "From the mixed-up files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler," "Flowers in the Attic", "A Wrinkle in Time," etc.
Skurnick has such an appreciation for these stories, it just comes through in her writing. I want to re-read them, and some of them I own at my parents' house! It was just a wonderful trip of nostalgia for me.
I started this book, then skimmed through to the end, but just couldn't commit to it. Teenage Hannah Baker has committed suicide by swallowing a bunchI started this book, then skimmed through to the end, but just couldn't commit to it. Teenage Hannah Baker has committed suicide by swallowing a bunch of pills. But she can't go in peace--she has to mail 7 audio cassettes with her 13 reasons why she killed herself to 13 different people. The protagonist is poor Clay Jensen, who had a crush on Hannah but she died before anything happened. Most of the book cuts between Hannah's words--lot and lots of words--and Clay's horrified thoughts as he's listening to Hannah spill her guts on cassette (why cassette and not at least a CD? I didn't read enough of the book to find out).
Meh. I don't think I'm built for most YA fiction (even fiction as dark as this), because many of the protagonists (just like real teens!) are navel gazing drama queens. Hannah annoyed me, EVEN AS A SUICIDE VICTIM, because she was just so self-involved. It felt like she was treating her suicide like a scavenger hunt...who does that? I should've had more empathy for her (and I skipped to the end, so I know who the Big Bad was in her life), but mostly I just felt sorry for Clay for having to get involved with this mess. When your dead heroine annoys the reader, you've lost a fan....more
Very moving, and it definitely made me tear up at the end--if you were in a horrible car accident and your family was killed, would you choose to stayVery moving, and it definitely made me tear up at the end--if you were in a horrible car accident and your family was killed, would you choose to stay or to go? It's a nearly impossible question to answer, but Forman does a good job of flashing back to 17-year old Mia's days with her family, her cello playing, and her cute, adoring alt-rocker boyfriend as she sees herself in the hospital having an out-of-body experience. The book is deliberately created to be manipulative, so I was expecting a weeper, but I was mostly dry-eyed until the end. It's still a tough (but not sappy or horribly depressing) read. I thought the parents were a little too YA novel perfect--hip, in a super-cool way (mom is a feminist former rock chick who curses, dad is a former band dude who becomes a teacher and smokes a pipe) but overall i enjoyed the characters. You don't get a lot of time to know them in 200 pages, but Forman makes them memorable. It's a nice book, and the last pages, where she is deciding whether to stay or go, are pretty powerful. Forman understands how to capture a teen girl's heart and the conflicting decisions that go along with it....more
My God...that was one of the most affecting, powerful books I've ever read. The writing is sublime...it's haunting, tender, yet funny. The narrator, DMy God...that was one of the most affecting, powerful books I've ever read. The writing is sublime...it's haunting, tender, yet funny. The narrator, Death, makes the story slightly removed from the characters. It's never sentimental, and yet--that's what makes it so engrossing. Markus Zusak is one of the most unique and talented writers I've ever had the pleasure of reading.
Death narrates a story of a young girl in Nazi Germany, Liesel, who is sent to live with her foster parents when her brother dies and her mother doesn't have enough money to support her. She steals books, even when she doesn't know how to read, because she understands the power the words contain. The suffocating paranoia and fear of Nazi Germany pervades the whole novel, as Liesel and her family try to cope with the horrible changes that befall their neighborhood on Himmel Street.
The characters are so richly drawn, even Mama Rosa, who seems like your standard evil stepmother when you first meet her. Zusak's language is vivid, poetic, and darkly beautiful. It's as sad as can be, but Nazi Germany made it difficult for people (and characters) to have happy endings (although there is hope left in the end). It will be difficult for me to find a book that affected me as much as "The Book Thief." Simply amazing....more
Wow--I read this in 3 hours, and couldn't put it down. Thank goodness for Thanksgiving break!
I have determined that I'm too well-adjusted to relate tWow--I read this in 3 hours, and couldn't put it down. Thank goodness for Thanksgiving break!
I have determined that I'm too well-adjusted to relate to such depressing YA novels...even well done (ESPECIALLY because they're well done), they make me so sad. Much like Anderson's most famous novel "Speak", about a girl who was raped at a party, tells no one, is ostracized by her friends for calling the cops, and basically refuses to talk all through freshman year, "Wintergirls" deals with teenagers in unspeakable pain, much of it inflicted on them by their parents and peers.
I'm so glad I had a happy childhood.
"Wintergirls" is the story of Lia, told in first person, who is suffering from anorexia. She's been hospitalized twice. At the beginning of the book she finds out her former best friend has died in a hotel room alone, from a cause most likely related to her bulimia. She left 33 messages for Lia, begging for help. Lia is consumed with guilt and self-hatred, and yet she can speak of it to no one, and punishes herself by punishing her body. Anderson's writing is poetic, haunting, and clever (at the beginning i was wondering if it was too clever, and it brought me out of the story a bit, but then I grew to like the particular tone she took). All I wanted was for Lia to get BETTER, and I was so frustrated when she wouldn't let people in, let them help her. Her relationship with her best friend Cassie was absolutely toxic, but of course she didn't understand that as a teenager--it was just how they interacted, competing to see who could be thinner. THe characters, including her put-upon stepmother, distant writer father, and workaholic doctor mother, were 3-dimensional, and I felt like a parental figure, just wanting to shake her. Seeing her count every calorie, read the pro-anorexia websites (where girls get "support" from other "ana"s to stay thin), fake her weigh-ins, cut herself with razors, and spend 3 hours on the treadmill was traumatic. I wanted hope and redemption for Lia in the end. That's a pretty powerful emotion to evoke from a YA novel. The saddest part of the book was in the acknowledgements when Anderson said she was inspired to write it after so many girls wrote her letters telling them of their own battles with anorexia and cutting. That in and of itself is just tragic.
Extremely well done, but I hope to never read it again!...more
I had a hard time figuring out how to rate this book--yes, the writing was terrific and Anderson really gets into her protagonist's head, but I couldI had a hard time figuring out how to rate this book--yes, the writing was terrific and Anderson really gets into her protagonist's head, but I could not relate to what happened to Melinda, or to the people she knew in high school, at all. I really must have had a charmed high school experience.
Melinda is a 9th grader who attends a party before high school starts, drinks a little too much beer, and is raped by a hot senior jock. She calls the police, is discovered by her friends, and is shunned by them for busting up the party--no one knows what actually happened to her. The book occurs over the course of her 9th grade year, and she becomes a ghost in school--she speaks as little as possible and is a social outcast. I loved the way Anderson wrote, but the rest of her characters, with the exception of her quirky yet understanding art teacher, seemed unrealistic to me. Her parents are completely out of touch, despite how obviously depressed Melinda is, her ex-best friend hates her for I guess this one incident of calling the cops (none other is given, which seemed weak), her other teachers are clueless or completely awful, and the rapist is one-dimensional, bordering on evil (stalking her through the halls, physically intimidating her when she's with her friends, etc.) Melinda was sympathetic, but I didn't know those people when I was in 9th grade. Apparently, I'm alone in this because this book just exploded when it came out and became an instant classic. So--a solid 3 stars, and I'm going to read her newest one about eating disorders (Wintergirls), which i ALSO can't relate to because I love food. I did not have tortured teenage years. I should be more grateful!
However, on a movie note: I recently saw "Speak", adapted from the book which stars Kristen Stewart, of Twilight fame, and was really good. Faithful to the book, but well condensed to 90 minutes. It wasn't easy to find, but worth watching if you liked the book....more
I think this is probably a 2.5-er, but I'll be generous and round it up. Y'all know the drill--this is basically Twilight from Edward's point of view,I think this is probably a 2.5-er, but I'll be generous and round it up. Y'all know the drill--this is basically Twilight from Edward's point of view, but leaked to the world early, so it's an unfinished draft. If you love Twilight, you'll love this! If you didn't, you should know what you're getting yourself into!
Actually, I didn't want to throw this one across the room like Eclipse because Edward is a less annoying protagonist than Bella. But really, they're a perfect fit. He's still incredibly melodramatic (does Meyer know how to write any other way?) but the story gives him more interesting personality traits, and it explains his stalker-ish tendencies. The writing is just so...obvious. Meyer has this need to overexplain EVERYTHING.
Really, I read it just to be finally DONE with the series. Ah, sweet success. And now I can move on to other things. Yay!...more
Jennifer, one of my colleagues, and I were discussing teen lit and how much she likes reading it because she finds it fun and refreshing. I agree, butJennifer, one of my colleagues, and I were discussing teen lit and how much she likes reading it because she finds it fun and refreshing. I agree, but I haven't read much of it lately. I picked up this book at ALA Midwinter in Seattle last year. The main character, Patty, is a half-Chinese, half-white 15-year old and she lives in Seattle. Her father is out of the picture, and her mother is a tough-as-nails Chinese woman who Patty thinks is constantly disappointed in her. Patty's mother basically forces her hand to go to math camp at Stanford, which Patty thinks is hopelessly lame, but has no better reason to stay home. But this one decision forces Patty to actually own her biracial status (which makes her feel ugly and an outsider) and her brains instead of just trying to be completely average. She comes away from the experience understanding herself, and her mother, much better. A quick, completely charming read with a funny, awkward, yet sweet protagonist....more