I so wanted to love the Shadowshaper. I've been dying to read an amazing YA fantasy novel with a Puerto Rican hero! Unfortunately, this one didn't hitI so wanted to love the Shadowshaper. I've been dying to read an amazing YA fantasy novel with a Puerto Rican hero! Unfortunately, this one didn't hit the amazing part.
Shadowshaper has a great premise, but unfortunately, it never lives up to it. And the reason that it doesn't live up to it is because not much of it is expanded upon. After finishing it, I'm still not quite sure I got it. This book took too long to explain what the shadowshapers are and the whole mythology behind it, that by the time I learned what it was (somewhat. Again, it's not entirely expanded upon), I just didn't care anymore.
Another disappointing thing about Shadowshaper was how thinly developed all of the characters were. I never felt like I knew Sierra, Robbie, and their friends. Sure, we get surface level information on them, but not enough for me to click with any of the characters. If I had clicked with one of them, I might've been able to overlook the weak world-building. Unfortunately, that didn't happen, so I was left feeling dismayed at both the world-building and the character development.
So why 2 stars instead of 1? Because as someone who's Puerto Rican, the family dynamics in Shadowshaper rang true. From the old guys playing dominos to the older people that look younger and love it, this part of the book made me smile at how familiar it was. In fact, I think that if Older would have written Shadowshaper without the fantasy portion of it and just focused on the contemporary aspects of it, I might have liked it more.
In the end, though, I wasn't a huge fan of Shadowshaper and was disappointed in it....more
I wanted to like this one. For the most part, I was engaged with The Serpent King (still thought it had some flaws, though), so I expected to feel theI wanted to like this one. For the most part, I was engaged with The Serpent King (still thought it had some flaws, though), so I expected to feel the same way about Goodbye Days. Unfortunately, the flaws in this were to immense for me to give this a high rating.
The Good: I liked the friendship between Carver, Blake, Mars, and Eli. I was concerned that their friendship would be somewhat brushed off seeing as how Goodbye Days starts with Carver's best friends already dead. I was worried that it would focus so much on how Carver deals with it that I wouldn't get any inkling as to why these characters were friends. Fortunately, Zentner includes flashbacks that detail how Carver met each of his best friends and how they functioned as a group. I also really liked the relationship with Carver and Georgia. I thought it was sweet.
The Eh: One problem that I had with The Serpent King was that I had to suspend belief multiple times. This happened to me with Goodbye Days. I just don't see the whole "Is Carver culpable for the death of his friends" arc going as far as it did in real life than it did in the book. And I get that Zentner was trying to say, "Wait, this can happen because look at that girl in Massachusetts who's being charged for the suicide of her friend", but those are two entirely different circumstances. Carver wasn't actively goading his friends to answer his text message in hopes that they would all die in a car crash. That girl in Mass was continuously telling her friend to commit suicide and kept telling him to get back in the car when he expressed doubts. So, one is culpable, one is not. And again, I don't the circumstances in the book playing out that way in real life.
More Eh: I never really warmed to Carver. Sure, he wasn't responsible for his friends' deaths, but he still seemed like kind of a tool. He was sexist. And sure he acknowledged his sexism from time to time, but that doesn't automatically erase the fact that it exists within him. One thing that left a bad taste in my mouth has to do with how the parents of the deceased are portrayed. I was so disheartened to realize that the black character was the one parent who decided to inflict some violence, but the other parents are shown as more "respectable". Maybe I'm being too sensitive, but that upset me and is a big reason why this book went from three stars to two.
In the end, I wasn't a fan of Goodbye Days. The main character wasn't likable and the whole court aspect of this book seemed like a stretch. I think The Serpent King is a way better read and that one actually made me cry, while this one just made me go "Eh."...more
I so, so wanted You're Welcome, Universe to live up to its awesome, swoon-worthy, beautiful cover and it did! Seriously, You're Welcome, Universe wasI so, so wanted You're Welcome, Universe to live up to its awesome, swoon-worthy, beautiful cover and it did! Seriously, You're Welcome, Universe was pretty damn great.
I really liked Julia. She was tough as nails, snarky, funny, and she made not-so-great decisions. All of these things served to make Julia a flawed human being. All good points in my book. I also adored her relationship with YP. I'm a sucker for a good female friendship, particularly because it tends to be rare in YA books where the heroines are more focused on romance than anything else. You know what's also rare in YA? A book that has very little romance. And BAM! You're Welcome, Universe has virtually no romance. The whole focus of the book is Julia and her art, as well as her navigation of a "mainstream" school.
More Good: I expected a book with a Deaf MC to be told the way books with a non-Deaf MC are told, but it wasn't and I loved that about it. I particularly liked how when Julia was lip-reading, there were some words missing in the book because she wasn't catching every word the person was saying. You can just tell that this book was meticulously researched and that sensitivity readers were used (which is a must if you're writing about a culture you don't personally belong to).
The teeny tiny Eh: The reason that You're Welcome, Universe isn't getting five stars (other than the fact that I'm insanely stingy with them) is that some of the adult supporting characters weren't fleshed out as much. I say some because Mr. Katz (whom I loved and adored) and Casey were plenty fleshed out, but Julia's parents were non-entities for the most part. We get to know some of Mee, but I would have loved it if the author explored Julia and Ma's relationship a little bit more.
Overall, I really enjoyed You're Welcome, Universe. Julia was a great main character, the supporting characters were awesome, the book seems to be meticulously researched. The art was also stunning and I'm hoping the finished copy of this book has these amazing drawings in color (cause that would be insanely pretty). Highly recommended!...more
Lately, I have been singing the praises of YA contemporary fiction. My last two contemporary YA books were damn impressive, so I thought "Maybe I don'Lately, I have been singing the praises of YA contemporary fiction. My last two contemporary YA books were damn impressive, so I thought "Maybe I don't need to love YA fantasy, cause I have these!" Well, after reading The Loose Ends List, I decided that my next read needs to be a fantasy so that I could wipe the stench that this book left within me. Cause frankly, this book sucked.
Getting right to it: Maddie sucked. She was a horrible main character. I get that the author wanted her to be this popular girl who's amazing, yet insecure, who's funny and deep. Yeah, well, that failed. Maddie was shallow, judgmental, and her supposed moments of empathy rang entirely insincere. She starts off the book by stating what a shame it is that a hot guy got the diseased gene, while his ugly brother got the healthy gene. What even? This chick judges everyone. Her grandmother's lawyer is bald, so naturally that makes Maddie and Janie (her equally shallow cousin) think "Eww, gross!" She goes on to wonder who's the terminally ill one in a couple: either the really skinny one or the overweight one.
More: She's surprised that a hot girl with a surfboard and big breasts is a botanist because y'know hot and chesty = dumb. Then she says this little nugget, "I don't think I can eat next to someone in a wheelchair." Really? WTF! Last time I checked, people in wheelchairs were still...y'know PEOPLE! And she was never redeemed. There was never that lightbulb moment where she thought "Huh. I'm shallow and judgmental. Maybe I should change." Nope. She just stays horrible. Of course, why would she change when everyone around her is telling her how magnificent she is?
She's not the only shallow character in this book. Again, Janie is just as shallow. You think she might be a little bit better than Maddie because she shows some moments of empathy. But all that goes to hell when she's in Brazil and states, "That's a lot of blonde people for Brazil." Because, of course, Brazil means dark skin, dark eyes, and dark hair, right? I'm trying so hard to not say that that's kinda racist, but what it is is really fucking stereotypical. Maybe the author thought that she was being funny by making fun of people with different nationalities, different looks, different religions (because a German guy in Brazil means Nazi and Nazi's and the Holocaust are funny, right? HA HA). It doesn't come across as funny. It comes across as offensive.
The Loose Ends List was not funny in the slightest, even when you take away the offensive "jokes." This book comes across as trying desperately hard to be funny, but failing at every turn. The grandmother? A caricature. Also, what was with her honking her granddaughter's breast? What was with Janie looking at Maddie (her COUSIN!) and saying "I'd do you"? I have never, not once, looked at a family member who was dressed nicely and said, "Nice. I'd do you" because that would be really fucking weird.
Overall, I intensely disliked The Loose Ends List. It wasn't funny, the "jokes" were offensive, it was boring, and it had insta-love. This book caused numerous eye-rolls and was just a bad book. I say skip it....more
I thought for sure that I would love The Orphan's Tale. Circuses AND WWII? Those are two of my favorite things to read about! However, The Orphan's TaI thought for sure that I would love The Orphan's Tale. Circuses AND WWII? Those are two of my favorite things to read about! However, The Orphan's Tale never fully took advantage of its amazing premise and ended up being somewhat of a disappointment.
The Good: As mentioned above, the premise of The Orphan's Tale was really great. The circus part was intriguing and adding the backdrop of WWII added even more tension. I also really liked Astrid. I thought she was a solid main character and I would have loved it if the book was mostly about her. The friendship between Astrid and Noa also started off as solid and was one of my favorite parts of the beginning.
The Eh: The characters aren't all that developed in The Orphan's Tale and this includes Astrid and Noa, our main characters. Sure, you get to know some things about them, but they're never fully explored. We just get to know them on a surface level, which is disappointing. The supporting characters are given one maybe two lines worth of dialogue and are never really mentioned much, yet we're supposed to care about them. Well, I didn't because we don't know anything about them. So, what's the point?
I might have overlooked that and given The Orphan's Tale 3 stars had it not started to get YA trope-y. Noa, unfortunately, was the weak spot in this whole book for me. Again, I liked her friendship with Astrid at the beginning, but the minute her love interest is introduced, everything goes to hell. The whole Noa and Luc thing was insta-love at its purest (and by that I mean, if you look up insta-love in the dictionary, you'll see a picture of Noa and Luc). These two have known each other for a week and are already in love. And because of that, Noa starts doing increasingly stupid things and gets pathetic. She mentions that she doesn't care who Luc's family is because she has nothing to lose...because she's not Jewish.
So, she has no problem taking the chance that her little whirlwind romance will put everyone in danger. And I'm supposed to believe that she loves Astrid so much and will do anything for her after that? Nope. Sorry. The minute that happened, Noa lost me. I started finding her friendship with Astrid insincere and so I no longer was invested in the story because their friendship was the main thing that intrigued me. Also, this book was crazy melodramatic. I can take drama, I expect some in fiction. But WWII was dramatic enough, why add soap-opera like plots and conflicts? It just made this book ring insincere as a whole.
Overall, I found The Orphan's Tale to be a bust. The book might've been better had it focused solely on Astrid and her storyline. Adding Noa just cheapened the whole experience. The characters were weak, the plot was melodramatic, and the book as a whole was a disappointment. I say skip it....more
Sigh. If I was the type of person who put gifs into reviews (or knew even remotely how), this review would be filled with numerous eye-rolling gifs. TSigh. If I was the type of person who put gifs into reviews (or knew even remotely how), this review would be filled with numerous eye-rolling gifs. This book was a disappointment in SO many ways! While I kept reading, all I could think was "Boy, does this kind of blow!" GAH!
Usually I start off my reviews with the good, but since there was very little of it, I'm going to start off with the bad: Right from the start The Edge of Everything tries to play with your emotions. And not in the good way. In the first few pages, we're treated to a "will they or won't they die?" action involving dogs. I don't do that shit. I have dogs, I don't even want to think about any harm befalling on them. Sure, they didn't die, but I don't like my emotions being played with like that, especially when it comes to animals. This book also tries to tug your heartstrings right at the beginning by describing a brutal murder of two senior citizens. Something else I don't abide by: harm being done to old people. And both the dogs and the old people events were done in a way that seem to want to manipulate the reader.
More bad: The insta-love in The Edge of Everything is immense. I don't like insta-love and I hate to see it in a book. But Zoe and X fall in love after knowing each other less than a week. That's enough to get me to root for their romance, right? Wrong. This also has to do with the fact that Zoe and X aren't developed at all and so they're boring; especially Zoe. I mean, at least X has the whole Lowlands thing going for him, but Zoe? She's a big, blank dull. She's also prone to doing especially stupid things. For example, she lies to a cop, which whatever flows your boat, right? But while lying to this cop, she seemed to have forgotten that she posted a picture on Instagram of the very thing she's lying about. You're dumb. She also does things like purposely dropping walkie-talkies into the bottom of caves when she's in said cave.
More, More Bad: Honestly, it seemed like The Edge of Everything didn't quite know what it wanted to be. Did it want to be a contemporary fiction book about a girl's grief over the death of her father? Or did it want to be a fantasy novel about bounty hunters in hell? And then thought, "Why not put them together?" Only it didn't work because it seems like this book is suffering through a major identity crisis every time it switches between the two.
The good: Ripper. That was the only good thing about The Edge of Everything. I loved that not-so-crazed bounty hunter to bits and pieces. I wanted so much more of her. The only time I was enjoying The Edge of Everything was when Ripper was on the page (and I totally pictured her as Eva Green, which helped immensely cause c'mon.) I would love to read an entire book about Ripper's life before the Lowlands, her descent into the Lowlands, and her awesome bounty hunter ways. In fact, even though I immensely disliked this book, I'm still considering picking up the next installment because I love Ripper so much. And it's rare that I pick up sequels of books I actually enjoy, let alone ones I didn't.
Overall, I thought that The Edge of Everything was not great (I hesitate to say "horrible" because it makes me feel bad). It had under-developed characters, insta-love that only happens because the guy is hot, and a bratty and stupid main character. But Ripper was awesome. Should you pick up this book solely for Ripper? Well, that's your decision (but seriously, man, she was so badass. I only wish everything else in this book was as great as she was). I say skip it....more