Before you say anything, just stop. “Dude, aren’t you a little old and male to be reading these dystopian booksReview originally posted at Wyz Reads.
Before you say anything, just stop. “Dude, aren’t you a little old and male to be reading these dystopian books with female protagonists?” See? I can ask the question myself. If you’ve watched any of these shows or movies, I want you to stop even thinking that these books aren’t okay for a guy my age to read:
The Bachelor/The Bachelorette
Here Comes Honey Boo Boo
Okay, my list ends there because I can’t think of anything else, because those shows are awful. Yet people watch them. And enjoy them. And they have good moments. In fact, some of those shows might actually be really good, but they get lumped in and judged with the others.
What am I talking about? Right. Requiem. YA dystopian fiction with a female protagonist. Oh, and it’s also about love being a disease, the government ordering people to be cured when they’re 18, but of course we have our rebellious ones who believe too strongly in the power of love (not to mention the power of freedom). Totally the book for a 28-year old man.
Oh, just one thing: that last sentence was not sarcastic.
This book is AMAZING! It’s the third and final book in the Delirium trilogy (“Oh, really, a dystopian trilogy? Didn’t see that one coming.” Can it.), so I’m going to try not to give anything away. But Lena is on the run with some of the other Invalids, and they’re basically trying to figure out what to do. The cities are coming after them. They can’t stay hiding. They must fight back. How can they possibly win? How can their belief in love and freedom win?
Well, I’m not gonna tell you. Read the booking book.
What I will tell you is this: this book is powerful. There are emotions you will feel when you read it, and that’s absolutely okay. You might laugh. You might cry. I think I laughed, and got a little choked up. But the ending. Oh. The ending. Some books, when I get to the end, I want to throw them against the wall because they’re just awful. Requiem, on the other hand, has an ending that is like the book pulls you in and spreads a warm blanket around your shoulders to keep you warm on a chilly fall evening. It’s just that perfect.
But. My favorite part of the book is Hana. Hana is Lena’s childhood friend. We haven’t really heard much from her, as Lena is our narrator. But in Requiem, we hear from both Lena and Hana. Now, normally, I hate dual narration. I think it adds a lot, but I think it just ruins things overall. Here, though, because the characters are where they are and so separated, it’s incredibly well done. It’s vital to the story. And it shows us things in Hana that we’d never know. And it shows us, for the first time in the series, what it’s like inside the mind of a Cured. It’s amazing. Hana is heartbreaking and beautiful.
With all of that, though, there’s probably some of you out there thinking, “Well, yeah, sure, but isn’t this book written for teenagers? I want something written well, not just a good story.”
Since when are those two things mutually exclusive? Requiem is both a great story and written beautifully. This is not grade-school work here, people. This is a master work of art carefully crafted by someone with a MFA from NYU. It reads that way. Yet a 12-year old can enjoy it. Now that takes talent.
Am I off topic enough here? Just. . .just go read this series. It’s worth your time. I loved it, and I think you’ll love it, too. When you’re done, let me know. I want to talk with you about it in ways I can’t here because they’re too spoilery. So go. Read it....more
This book. Umm. . .wow. This book is amazing. It's a fantasy-style book but written in the spirit of realistic fiction. But I wouldn't call it mOh my.
This book. Umm. . .wow. This book is amazing. It's a fantasy-style book but written in the spirit of realistic fiction. But I wouldn't call it magical realism. It's just. . .it's just really, really good. When this book drops on February 12, you should probably run out and get it. Full review to come when I'm a little more recovered....more
Unwind is one of those books that I knew I had to read. Many of my students were recommending it, and other teachers were often surprised I hadn’t reaUnwind is one of those books that I knew I had to read. Many of my students were recommending it, and other teachers were often surprised I hadn’t read it. I finally got to it, and I was not disappointed. The world of Unwind is one after another American Civil War. This one was fought between the Pro-Life and Pro-Choice camps on abortion. The compromise that ended the war? All pregnancies must be carried to term. However, from the ages of 13 to 18, parents may choose to have their children “unwound.” This is an operation that dismantles the person and sends their body parts – still alive – to be transplant parts for those who need it. A somewhat grim future, to be sure. We start our story with three teenagers – Connor, Risa, and Lev – who are set to be unwound. Connor and Risa are trying to escape, while Lev is a tithe – someone destined to be unwound. He is excited about the operation. The three of them find themselves escaping together, though. And before they know it, they all must rely on each other in some way. Their escape takes them through schools, safe houses, and various other spots along the way. I can’t say too much more, because I want you to enjoy it for yourself. It feels very much like the Underground Railroad, though. I’ll leave it to you to make any other comparisons. I really enjoyed this book. The plot alone sucked me in, but it was the details that kept me going. Shusterman is on top of his game here. Nothing is in the book that doesn’t need to be there. The ending was, for me, perfect. I wasn’t sure what I was going to think of it, but it was…well, you’ll have to read it, but it was good! I recommend this book for any looking for a slightly different type of dystopian novel to read. This world is definitely messed up, but it’s not in the same way that books like The Hunger Games and Divergent are. It’s more real, to me, and that makes it that much more thrilling. I think this book would be best suited for middle school age and up. I mean, kids’ bodies are being dismantled. That’s the stuff of elementary school nightmares....more
Wow. This one. . .this one is quite good. I’ve only read one other Maggie Stiefvater book: The Scorpio Races. ThReview originally posted at Wyz Reads.
Wow. This one. . .this one is quite good. I’ve only read one other Maggie Stiefvater book: The Scorpio Races. That one was a Printz Honor Book, but something just didn’t quite click for me. Well, whatever didn’t work for me was not Stiefvater herself, because The Raven Boys just about blew me away.
The story revolves around not quite the raven boys (we’ll get to them), but Blue. Blue is a teenage daughter (I think she’s 15? 16? I remember reading it in the book, but I didn’t write it down) of a local psychic. And not only is her mom psychic, but a lot of others with this second sight live in their house. So it’s something Blue’s had around her her entire life. And, before you ask: yes, they’re really psychic. But more on that in a bit.
The thing is, Blue doesn’t have this gift.
No, Blue’s gift is even more interesting: she makes their senses stronger. She’s like the windex on a foggy window, or a juiced-up battery in a dying flashlight. She’s like BASF: “we don’t make a lot of the products you buy. We make a lot of the products you buy better.” That’s Blue, but in the psychic realm.
Well, we’re thrown into the story because Blue is hanging out in what used to be a church on St. Mark’s Eve. With one of her psychic housemates. You see, on St. Mark’s Eve, those who are going to die in the next year are seen. Not a bad thing to know when your business is running a psychic house. The thing is, Blue — not psychic — sees someone that night. Gansey. But how could she see him? Well, there are only two reasons: either she’s his true love. . .or she killed him. And given a particular prediction about Blue, there’s a good chance it’s both.
Gansey is a raven boy, so called because of the logo on the sweaters of the preppy school they attend: Aglionby. He is quite interested in certain energies. Things psychics would know about. Can you see where this might be headed? Blue and Gansey (and his group of 4) are bound to cross paths. What happens once they do (it’s a touch slow until they do, but once they do, HOLD THE HECK ON)? You MUST read this and find out.
I loved this book. Absolutely loved it. Like The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, though, I wasn’t sure how to categorize it by genre. Is it fantasy? Well, sort of. Is it realistic fiction? Again, sort of. So I think I’m going to go ahead and create a genre just for books like this: realistic fantasy. Books that could take place in the real world, if just one small thing were true. And that small thing makes the world a vastly different place. Is there a name for this already out there? Probably. Please let me know what it is. But anyway, this book is total amazeballs.
Update: there is a name for this. Mystical/magical realism. It's been around for quite some time. Why did I not know this before?...more
For whatever reason, books depicting harrowing drug use among teenagers have always and probably will always appeReview initially posted at Wyz Reads.
For whatever reason, books depicting harrowing drug use among teenagers have always and probably will always appeal to me. Crank is certainly one of those books.
We follow the life of teenager Kristina (alter ego Bree) as she finds herself going down a path she'd rather not go. Her parents are divorced, and she goes to visit her dad for a few weeks. Her dad doesn't exactly walk the straightest of lines. While she's there, she meets a boy: Adam. Adam's no Boy Scout, either (actually, I don't like that expression, but I'm using it anyway. Deal.). Soon, Kristina finds herself using crank (meth). She calls it the monster. And that's exactly what it is.
The book then goes to tell her story. Her ups. Her downs. Her struggles. Her changes in appetite, attitude, and friends. Her desire to be with boys. Her desire to be with the monster.
There are a couple things I really like about this book. One: it's first-person. It has to be. That alone is how we can really get in the mind of this girl. We really see the way her family cares for her, but it's tainted through Kristina/Bree's vantage point. This is a great study in unreliable narration at times. Two: it's a novel in verse. With such an emotionally-charged plot (drugs will do that), the poetry really helps with this. And it's well-written poetry.
There are, though, some things I don't really like about it. Well, one thing in particular. It didn't seem real to me. It didn't seem to go far enough into what this addiction would be like. It might be real (and is, in fact, loosely based on a true story), but it just didn't do enough for me. Maybe it's because I'm desensitized or something. But I wanted more from this book as far as what the drug did to her. I wanted it to be worse than it was, I suppose.
I would recommend this book for anyone who is interested in such a book, but definitely high school age and up. In addition to the explicit drug use, there is quite a bit of language and some other highly sensitive scenes that I think would be too much for a younger audience....more
Do issue books bother you? Do you find yourself wishing they weren’t so in-your-face with things? We get it. CancReview initially posted at Wyz Reads.
Do issue books bother you? Do you find yourself wishing they weren’t so in-your-face with things? We get it. Cancer sucks. Or yes, I see now that drugs are bad. I didn’t know that before. I’m so glad there’s a book on it now. I don’t mean to pick on issue books — they have their place. But I feel that they tend to be over-the-top and way too dramatic.
Well, guess what. The Waiting Sky is an issue book.
And I loved it.
We start out our story in the eye of the storm (and I use that metaphor on purpose). 17-year old Jane (not Janey) is remembering her mom’s words, pleading with her to come back home. Meanwhile, she is hunting down a tornado with her brother Ethan, and the rest of his tornado chasing team. The comparison between her mom and the tornado may come across as a bit heavy-handed (see over-the-top and dramatic from above), but it does work as a good extended metaphor.
You see, Jane doesn’t live in Oklahoma with her brother, chasing down tornadoes. She’s visiting him from her home in Minnesota, where she lives with her mom. Her alcoholic mom. Her alcoholic mom who recently drove Jane and her best friend, Cat, home from the mall. Drunk. And they got in an accident. A fairly serious accident. They drove away, not even knowing if anyone else involved was alive.
So now she finds herself in Oklahoma. Cat wants her to be there. Ethan wants her to be there. Jane wants to be with her mom. This is why I love this book. This book is about alcoholism. But it’s not about how terrible the disease is. It’s not about the dangers of alcohol and how it can destroy the mind and body if abused. Leave that to the PSAs. This book is about what alcoholism does to those who love those who have it. And it’s pretty spot-on.
Full disclosure time. Someone quite close to me is an alcoholic in recovery. I could not be happier with where this person is right now. But when things were bad, it was awful. Not just for this person, but for the close friends and family. All I wanted to do was be there and give this person whatever it was that was needed. But you know what was needed? For me to step away. For me not to know, at any given moment, if this person was sober or drunk — or even alive or dead. That tore me apart. This person needed to get better on their own, though, or else it was meaningless. I became edgy around alcohol, and couldn’t imagine how people could drink the way they did. I have healed, but it sucked. It’s almost worse now, looking back on it, than it was during that time, because I was fairly numb to it all.
Well, this is where Jane is. She wants to do nothing but be there for her mom. She wants to help pay the bills, even though she knows that a lot of that money is spent at the bar. She believes that’s at least better than her mom being evicted. And how could anybody else know what was the best thing for her to do? And my goodness, how could Ethan ever have a beer? As if leaving home to go to Oklahoma wasn’t bad enough, that’s like a slap in the face.
This book deals with all of that. It talks about Al-Anon (quick, show of hands: who knows what Al-Anon is?). It talks about dependency (though not with that term). It is about Jane searching for strength to make difficult choices — choices she doesn’t even know she has to make.
I must stop the review now. This is way too long. But if you’re looking for a book that deals with how alcoholism affects those around the alcoholic, this is the book for you....more
Are you like me? Okay, that’s a pretty bad question (and for the most part, I hope you’re not like me, because yoReview initially posted at Wyz Reads.
Are you like me? Okay, that’s a pretty bad question (and for the most part, I hope you’re not like me, because you probably are pretty good at being you). But are you like me in that you just seem to have a soft spot in your reading heart for escapist fantasy? Does it help if there’s a school in a strange land and magical powers (but rules for them), a young main character who is somehow special and leaves his or her normal family behind to fulfill his or her destiny? Well then, have I got the series for you.
(Did you click the link? The joke only works if you click the link. Actually, you’re probably smart enough to have figured that one out on your own.)
But really, Shannon Messenger’s debut novel, the Middle Grade work Keeper of the Lost Cities is bound to draw some comparisons to Harry Potter. Quick, raise your hand if you think any book being compared to Harry Potter would be something to avoid taking a look at. Anyone? Bueller?
Well, let’s avoid doing too many comparisons and look at Keeper as its own work. Because it really is good, and deserves that treatment.
Sophie Foster (hah! Just caught the last name — totally fits) is a 12-year old who has been able to hear other people’s thoughts ever since she hit her head when she was 5. She can’t control it, and it’s actually quite annoying. Can you imagine hearing the part of the sentence that your mom purposely didn’t say, trying to spare your feelings? When you know your sister is the favorite of the family, and there’s no denying that truth because you can hear everyone think it? Not exactly enjoyable.
Well, it turns out Sophie doesn’t have to be the favorite of the family, because she is destined for more. You see, Sophie. . .is an elf. And her true home is not where she was raised. Her true home can only be reached by riding a beam of light. And that is where she soon finds herself.
This first book is all about Sophie learning of her powers (she is one of the most natural and powerful telepaths around), learning of the world of creatures thought to be myths or extinct (the people who house her [since she has no parents there] also take care of dinosaurs, because, you know, they’re not really gone), and trying to figure out who she is and where she came from. That is probably the most interesting part of all (and the part that I’m not going to say anything about because it would spoil it for you, but it’s cool!).
Everything Sophie discovers seems to also have a twinge of mystery attached to it, though. Why do so many of the adults around her seem to be holding information back? Is she dangerous? Why does she seem to know things that only a handful of people — and certainly nobody her age — have ever heard of? Is she on the good side or the bad side of some brewing tension? And what is the deal with the wildfires that are plaguing the humans? Is she somehow related to that?
There’s so much to talk about with this book, but I really should stop. It’s great, though. It took me about 100 pages to really buy into the world, but once I did, I was hooked. I can’t wait to find out what happens next!
I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes books like the Harry Potter series. It’s not as good if you compare them head-to-head, but it’s a wonderful read on its own merit. It’s good for probably 4th grade and up. Maybe 5th grade. I don’t know; I’m not too good with those elementary ages. The publisher says ages 8-12, so I guess you can let that be your guide. I read it when I was 27, though, and I really liked it....more