4.5 stars. I devoured this book. Can I have the next one already?! -----------
This book touches the world of her Falling Kingdoms series in such an int4.5 stars. I devoured this book. Can I have the next one already?! -----------
This book touches the world of her Falling Kingdoms series in such an interesting way. I loved the two stories that were told alongside one another: one was a contemporary mystery tale full of fascinating characters; the other was a fantasy tale taking place in long-ago Mytica. I absolutely ADORED the main characters, especially Crys! I had a blast listening to this story and I can’t freaking WAIT for more!...more
When I first read Elusion, I thought it was a standalone novel, but by the end of it I knew that there would be more; obviously, I couldn’t help myselWhen I first read Elusion, I thought it was a standalone novel, but by the end of it I knew that there would be more; obviously, I couldn’t help myself when I saw that Etherworld was available on Edelweiss! Etherworld picks up right where Elusion left off, and you’re thrown right into the middle of the action.
What I liked most about Etherworld is that is surprised me in quite a few ways. I got a lot more of the virtual realms, which is something I wanted to see more of in Elusion! I was also surprised when the plot went places I was not anticipating, and it really made me feel the urgency of the situation that much more.
It was also nice to have quite a few new side characters introduced in this book, and though I did have trouble remembering all of them, there was still a larger core of main characters in Etherworld than Elusion, which I appreciated. I have to be pretty vague in this review as to avoid spoiling anything, but suffice it to say that I enjoyed all of the new things that this sequel brought with it.
That being said, there wasn’t anything phenomenal for me in this book. It was an interesting book that was easy to read, but it didn’t really linger with me after I finished it. It’s a fun sci-fi read, and a very fitting sequel to Elusion....more
I have to admit that I bought this book without really knowing anything about it, other than it's by Kiersten White, who I was at the bookshop to see.I have to admit that I bought this book without really knowing anything about it, other than it's by Kiersten White, who I was at the bookshop to see. But when I read the short description on the back and saw the words "fate" and "card" -- that was enough to intrigue me. Hearing her talk about the story and the kinds of concepts she wanted to include the book made me keen to start reading it as soon as possible.
Here's what I liked most about Illusions of Fate.
- Jessamin: She's a person of color, a bastard child whose snooty white father refuses to acknowledge her, and she's got a drive to go after what she wants in life. She's studious and wants to learn and seek knowledge purely because she wants to understand how things work, even if she can't physically engage in those things (like magic). - Eleanor: She's sneaky, clever, and resourceful. She makes no bones about who she is or what she does (or that she's always snooping on everyone else's business). She's also charming and humorous and loyal. - Finn: For once, we have a love interest who doesn't force himself on the girl who's caught his eye (even if his shadow has other ideas). He respects her wishes, even though he still finds ways to protect her when he can. He has goals, desires, and secrets of his own, but he also shares information with Jessamin and doesn't try to keep her in the dark. - Sir Bird: There are crows in this book. I adore crows, and this one is just so great. I don't want to spoil anything, so I'll stop here, but... *happy sigh*. - Politics: There is a lot going on here with classism, racism, political posturing, potential warfare, and more. I like that these issues were included and explored. I liked that even though the Albens were obviously prejudiced against the "lower class" people, Jessamin and her countrymen held prejudices of their own against the Albens, and were forced to confront them as well. - Magic: It was subtle and clever and had rules. I love it when magic systems have rules and formulas, when they're more complicated than just waving a wand and saying a few words. It reminded me a lot of the magic systems in D&D, which I very much appreciated. - Fate and Choices: I can't resist things like tarot cards (and I'll be talking about that more in an upcoming post), and it was interesting to see the way that Jessamin and Finn were confronted with "fate" and reacted to it. I liked seeing that their choices could go both ways, sometimes bringing them closer to their "fate" but also possibly changing it.
So, is there anything I didn't like? Sort of, I guess? You know, for the first half of the book, I felt like it was not really getting deep enough for me. It's a standalone novel, and it's pretty short to boot, so I was disappointed to realize that this was all I was going to get. The thing is, the world building is so well done that there could be SO much more written about these people and this world. So I guess what I'm saying is that I really liked it, and I just wish there was more....more
Sometimes you start reading a YA book and the story is so full of teen angst, or the main character is so irritating, that you just want to be like NOSometimes you start reading a YA book and the story is so full of teen angst, or the main character is so irritating, that you just want to be like NO THANKS and scrawl a big ol' DNF across the cover. Trial by Fire was one of these books for me -- BUT! -- but, thanks to a conversation I had at a local author event, I decided to keep an open mind and continue reading.
And... Thank the goat gods: it was definitely worth it.
This book surprised me and delighted me in a multitude of ways. In fact, beyond that initial phase of discomfort, I have virtually zero complaints (and it's why the rating lost half a star). What's so awesome about Trial by Fire?
A main character who's got serious health issues. Lily has a gazillion allergies (or something) and has to be very careful of what she consumes, what she comes into contact with, and how much energy she expels at any given moment. Do you realize how rare it is to encounter a main character in a book whom I can relate to in this way?!
The magic system is just plain fascinating. I absolutely loved the way it paralleled and intertwined with science on so many levels, yet was different in specific ways that lent a lot of depth and mystery to the story and the world. The willstones have got to be one the COOLEST things I've ever discovered in a fantasy story.
The questions and criticisms it raises. I mean, wow. I don't want to say much on this topic for fear of spoilers, but I was incredibly impressed by the quantity and depth of the moral implications, criticisms of our current society, and difficult questions that are raised in this book. It went so much deeper than I expected.
I could go on raving about more things in this book, like the characters, the relationships, the systems, the writing... But I'll stop here and just say that this book won me over completely. This was my first experience with a book by Josephine Angelini, but it certainly won't be my last. I am desperately awaiting the next book in this series....more
This was another online freebie, which was awesome because usually if you want to download it for your Kindle, you have to pay (even if it’s free onliThis was another online freebie, which was awesome because usually if you want to download it for your Kindle, you have to pay (even if it’s free online elsewhere). ANYWAY. It was basically a short story in which Tarver tells Lilac about a military mission he had to go on in the past, and some of the… things… that he went through and learned during the mission. It was interesting, but I didn’t love it. I assume that it holds some allusions to people and/or… things… that will be present in This Shattered World, so I’m curious to see where it all ends up....more
It's taken me a long time to figure out how to write this review -- as many of you know: the more you love a book, often, the more difficult it is toIt's taken me a long time to figure out how to write this review -- as many of you know: the more you love a book, often, the more difficult it is to compose your thoughts about it into a coherent review. So, let me start with this:
I absolutely loved this book, even more than its predecessor.
If you'll recall from my review of The Way of Kings, I implored my husband to read it, because of its pure genius and richness. He sped through that book so fast that we ended up reading Words of Radiance at the same time (I listened via audio, he read the hardcover). I often know when I've got a jewel of a book on my hands when my husband agrees with my feelings on it (I might love a book, but he's much more picky than I am), and Brandon Sanderson has yet to let us down.
This series -- and Words of Radiance in particular -- hit us both hard.
We encountered characters we could relate to on (sometimes uncomfortably) familiar levels. We encountered situations that let us know we weren't alone in how we sometimes view the world. We read passages that made our brains salivate with the juicy-goodness of the thoughts provoked within. We discovered concepts and ideas that made our muses soar!
I wish I'd had these books when I was growing up. They would have helped me understands things about life so much easier.
--my husband, about The Stormlight Archive
The Way of Kings was (mostly) Kaladin's story, and so Words of Radiance was a beautiful complement, focusing on Shallan. I thought perhaps that this was why I loved it more; I relate very strongly to Shallan in many ways, and her story is the most interesting for me. What I find especially enjoyable about this series is that each character is a distinct person, with goals, desires, fears, challenges, resources, and so on. I thought Shallan's development in this book was deep, thorough, and believable.
This book was a surprising (and welcome) addition to my map-themed-reading month of July. I've adored Shallan's skill with drawing, and in this book she ramps it up even further with some outstanding cartography! I've read many times that Sanderson is a big fan of maps and how they add so much life and authenticity to books, and that is certainly the case here. Not only did I get to read about Shallan's mapping adventures, but I got to see some of them drawn out within the pages, and we all know how much I love that!
I honestly don't even know if this count as a review as much as just a personal raving about how freaking much I loved this book. But I don't know what else to do or say at this point. When my husband and I finished this book, we concluded two things: 1) This is our favorite series of all time and Brandon Sanderson is a genius; 2) If we ever have kids, these books are going on their to-read shelf as early as possible.
Just go read this series right now, or I shall weep for your loss....more
When I first started reading Unwept, I thought to myself, "What the heck is going on?" -- and I have to admit that this mystery factor was th2.5 stars
When I first started reading Unwept, I thought to myself, "What the heck is going on?" -- and I have to admit that this mystery factor was the driving force that kept me reading. I was unsure what kind of story this was going to be, and my guesses kept changing as new things happened (all without any explanations, somehow). By the end of this novel, I was still wondering what the heck was going on, and so I found myself rather frustrated. Confusion reigns supreme in this novel, which would have been fine if I'd gotten more of an answer by the end of this book. As it stands, I don't know that I'll continue the series....more
My Thoughts Confession: I hadn't even heard of Scott Westerfeld until a few years ago when I saw Marissa Meyer for the first time (and still wasn't s My Thoughts Confession: I hadn't even heard of Scott Westerfeld until a few years ago when I saw Marissa Meyer for the first time (and still wasn't sure if I wanted to read Cinder - LOL), and she named him as one of her biggest influences. Since then, I'd been mildly curious about him. Sometime last year, I traded my ARC of Reboot for a paperback of Leviathan, and it just sat on my shelf collecting dust. I even bought an ebook of Uglies when it was on sale, and still haven't opened it. And then I decided it was time to try out this Westerfeld fellow when I saw he'd be coming to Texas in October.
100 pages in, and I was IN LOVE.
Pretty much, I devoured Leviathan, only stopping for short moments to either look at the illustrations in the Manual of Aeronautics or to tell my husband how cool things in the book are.
(I guess, beware of... minor spoilers? But not really, imo.)
Me: This book is so cool! There's like these giant mech things and airships and it's like this alternate history!
Husband: That sounds neat.
Me: OMFG They have these awesome genetically engineered creatures. There's these giant jellyfish things that FLY! And the whole airship is actually a creature -- no, it's an entire ECOSYSTEM of creatures! And like, the creatures eat stuff and then fart hydrogren into these special compartments and that's how it stays flying!
Him: Wow, that sounds so cool!
Me: AND they have these things called flechette bats and they feed them figs with little met darts in them. Then they send the bats out to fly over an enemy ship, guiding them with a searchlight. And then they turn the light red, and since the bats are scared of red, they shit themselves and the darts get pooped out and destroy the enemy ship! Isn't that so cool?!!
Him: Whoa, this book sounds really interesting!
Me: I KNOW! It's SO COOL! You have to read it!
Clearly, I had fallen in love with this book.
Ahem. In an attempt to rein in the fangirl and say something more objective about this book...
• The world-building is obviously well done. I love everything about it.
• The book is filled with illustrations! Every chapter has an illustration, and I think it really enhanced my enjoyment of the book, because it was so much easier to visualize all of the unique creatures and technologies.
• The characters are rich and vibrant. They each have their own distinct personalities, but by far my favorite is Deryn. She is so freaking adorable and full of gumption I just want to squeeze her!
• The story is fascinating and entertaining. It's full of action and humor, as well as plenty of emotional and introspective scenes. There's a lot of depth here that I really appreciated.
I am eagerly awaiting my copy of Behemoth to arrive so I can read the rest of the dang story! (Yes, I bought Goliath and the Manual of Aeronautics and thanks to a shipping error, my copy of book 2 came WAY later than the others. Arrrgh!)
Have you read this book? If you have -- wasn't it AWESOME? If you haven't -- WTF is wrong with you?!?!...more
4.75 stars, because I do have one complaint. Will put it in spoiler tags if anyone is interested...
Okay, someone is interested, so... (view spoiler)[My4.75 stars, because I do have one complaint. Will put it in spoiler tags if anyone is interested...
Okay, someone is interested, so... (view spoiler)[My issue — and it's not unique to this book — is about characters with their tongues cut out who still basically function just fine aside from not talking. In this book, there is a character who's had his tongue cut out, but then they're eating all kinds of foods, left and right, like it's nothing.
This sort of thing has always confused me in books, because I wondered about it (I do tend to wonder about the details of the minor characters, because I'm weird, I guess.) Then, after being very close to a losing-one's-tongue situation in real life, I know that it's not so easy. No tongue? No talking. No tongue? No eating or drinking. No tongue? Probably no swallowing. You don't realize how much of eating and drinking involves your tongue, so not having one causes a lot of problems!
Yes, I realize this is a fantasy novel and so maybe this character can still eat without a tongue because they are *magical* — but it was hard for me to swallow (har har). So, there it is. Half a star gone because it frustrated me. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This book had been in my periphery for a while, but when I randomly picked it up off the new releases shelf at my favorite bookstore and saw the gorgeThis book had been in my periphery for a while, but when I randomly picked it up off the new releases shelf at my favorite bookstore and saw the gorgeous map inside, I instantly bought it. Look, it's no surprise that I had no idea what it was about, right? I sampled the first chapter right after buying and was intrigued, but also a bit wary because of the whole reality show concept that I wasn't expecting. I ended up liking it way more than I expected to.
You know when you're reading a book and you just can't stop thinking about it during the times that you're NOT reading it? Just eager to get back into the story and find out what's going to happen next? Have you ever read a book and gotten so immersed in the world that you find yourself operating in your normal life under the conditions posed in the book? I was shocked to find myself thinking -- on several occasions -- that I had to be careful of my actions because of the cameras everywhere. Um, oops; that's only in the book (right?!).
I'm not saying this book was perfect or brilliant or mind-blowing, but I am saying that it was a really fun read for me. Here are a few of the things that I really enjoyed about The Vault of Dreamers:
-Rosie was curious and stubborn, but not annoyingly so. She made some risky decisions, as many YA protagonists do, but they never just made me go, "WTF ARE YOU DOING ROSIE?!" like I have done with some other YA books. She was relatable and believable to me. -The whole reality aspect was much more appealing than I expected it to be. It makes you question everything and think about what you say and do because there is always someone watching.
-The romance was, um... "swoony"? Yes, I can't believe I just said that, but for some reason the romance in this book felt especially visceral to me (and perhaps it had to do with the whole ~everyone's always watching~ aspect, I don't know). I loved it, and I was glad to see the possible love triangle nipped in the bud (as far as I could tell).
-The mystery and the uncertainty. I love a story in which the MC begins to question their own perceptions, and it's delivered in such a way that even the reader becomes uncertain. I know that's kind of a tricky thing to get right, but it was done very well in this book, in my opinion. The fast pace and urgency of so many things really kept me on edge.
-The whole thread of the story surrounding sleep and dreams. I don't want to give anything away so: (view spoiler)[The concept of mining dreams from one person's brains and seeding them into another person's brain is absolutely fascinating (even if it might be rather unlikely to ever be possible). When Rosie starts having strange deja vu experiences and possible hallucinations, and in the end when they start mining her conscious brain -- OMG. It is so familiar to someone with narcolepsy that it was eerie. I was freaking trembling as I read some of those parts. So for that matter, I think it accomplished its goal quite well. (hide spoiler)]
I enjoyed this book, and it's clear that there's going to be a sequel (which I can't wait to read). I'm very curious to see how the story continues from here. Definitely a thumbs up from me!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I went into The Vanishing Throne a bit nervous. There were so many things I loved about The Falconer, but I knew that things were going to be4.5 stars
I went into The Vanishing Throne a bit nervous. There were so many things I loved about The Falconer, but I knew that things were going to be different in the sequel, and I didn't know if I could handle it. Well — I was right, but I was also very wrong!
The book begins in a very dark place; there is no mercy, no easing you back into the world of the fae and what it means for Aileana. (This is the part I was right about. It was not the same setting — but that was a good thing!) It's not often in YA that you experience the trauma and anguish that this girl endures and pushes herself to survive. In fact, I think one of my favorite things about this book is how the main character deals with PTSD and how it changes her relationships with certain other characters. So much depth in this aspect of the book alone!
The Vanishing Throne is a very powerful sequel. May did a wonderful job of keeping the stakes high, forcing tough decisions on everyone, and still somehow balancing all that darkness and danger with silver linings. The fae/period/Scottish terms abound still, but they were easier to understand this time around (probably in part because some of them were familiar, but still I didn't feel the need to add anything to my lexicon!).
I'm trying to express my appreciation for this book without spoiling anything, and it's a challenge! Elizabeth May did SO MANY things RIGHT in this book. Maybe that's all you need to know. It's a damn great book, and an excellent sequel to The Falconer. I am utterly impatient for the final book in the trilogy (but I'm going to be very sad to see it end)!...more
Due to my sister's trouble enjoying Tiger Lily, I was reluctant to read it, and so resisted a few times when it came up as a possible choice in one ofDue to my sister's trouble enjoying Tiger Lily, I was reluctant to read it, and so resisted a few times when it came up as a possible choice in one of my book clubs. But this time around, we decided to read it, and I'm really glad I gave this book a chance. This book exceeded my expectations and plucked my heartstrings in so many ways.
The story is told from the point of view of a silent observer (Tinker Bell), and I absolutely love this sort of thing. I'm often a silent observer myself, people watching, a curious voyeur -- so naturally, Tink's narration really called to me. This was so artfully done, because I got to experience Tiger Lily's life, being close enough to feel her thoughts (thanks to Tink's fairy-ness), but also far enough away to see other things that were going on.
All of the characters were rich and real and felt so alive. - I've long had a fondness for Tiger Lily, so getting to know about her life as a sort of pariah among her tribe was beautiful and heartbreaking (and I felt that I could relate quite well). - Peter came alive for me in a whole new way, thanks to how Tink viewed him and his interactions with Tiger Lily. I loved that we got to sympathize with him and see him in a different light. - Tinker Bell's personality, fiery and soft all at once, threaded itself throughout her narration in an endearing and honest way. Her own internal struggles with love, loyalty, compassion, and frustration seemed to punctuate the threads of each other life she watched over. - Tik Tok was a personal favorite, not only due to his deep love and protection for Tiger Lily, but because his androgynous/transgender self was so refreshing to see depicted in a YA novel. I loved how broadly he was accepted and respected and that he was free to just be himself. (view spoiler)[The tragic end to his tale, thanks to that asshole Englishman Phillip, really cut deep into my heart. (hide spoiler)]
Anderson's interpretation of these main characters was wonderful, but it didn't stop there. Every person, every group of people (the lost boys, the pirates), and every little throwback to the original fairytale (the crocodile, the clock, etc.) was artfully weaved into a whole new tale. The writing was lovely, and I found myself shivering at the profound beauty of a specific passage or observation.
Clearly, I am a fan of Peter Pan retellings, and apparently I prefer the darker sort. The Child Thief -- and now Tiger Lily -- etched firm places into my heart that I didn't expect. It's no wonder I wasn't much of a fan of the original tale -- it was focusing on the wrong characters!
The book starts off with a bang, right away you land in crazy-town and it's a great beginning that starts you guessing and wondering and questioning everything. You get a lot of the creepiness, and some of these scenes made me cringe because they were so powerful in their imagery. And I found myself really enjoying Mara's voice. Her inner monologue vs. what she said outwardly was one of my favorite parts of this book.
Another point for Retribution is the utter lack of Noah Shaw for... quite a while. Sorry to all of you readers who love him, but I actually enjoyed this book SO much better because much of it was Mara interacting with Jamie and a couple of other characters that I also really like. I think the way that friendships and relationships were explored in this book -- especially coupled with all of the crazy paranormal stuff happening to them -- was quite well done.
And the retribution? The denouements? Pretty darn good. I enjoyed the way that so many mysteries were still making themselves known even as Mara & friends were trying to find answers. I liked the interspersion of the "before" chapters, and how they paralleled with the "now" chapters. For the most part, I enjoyed the answers and the revelations. This was a pretty great ending for the series.
So why did I only rate it 3.5 stars? The evil sentence reared its head AGAIN (honestly, I was so shocked by it that I thought SURELY she put it in there as a joke!). There is a scene that went on for WAY too long, and if you've read the book, I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. Just, Noah Shaw. I mean, whatever, I don't hate him, but as soon as he entered the picture again it's like the story changed and became less enjoyable for me. Also, I had questions that were left unanswered. :(...more
Last year I went to a local Neal Shusterman event, mostly so that I could get a hardcover of UnDivided signed for my teen sister-in-law as a holiday gLast year I went to a local Neal Shusterman event, mostly so that I could get a hardcover of UnDivided signed for my teen sister-in-law as a holiday gift. I ended up being enthralled by every word that came out of his mouth, but the part that touched me the most was when a fan asked him the release date for Challenger Deep. He went on to describe the struggle his family went through as his son manifested with a schizoaffective disorder in his teens, and explained that his son was fascinated with Challenger Deep -- the lowest point on Earth, which lies at the bottom of the Marianas Trench.
I knew instantly that I wanted to read this book, so I pulled it up on the Goodreads app on my phone, only to discover that it was already on my wishlist! So a few months later, when I saw it show up on Edelweiss, I instantly requested it, and was thrilled when the approval came through just minutes later! (I know I'm two paragraphs into this already, but I feel it's important to tell how I came to certain books -- or how they came to me.)
"I marveled that people could live so close -- that you could literally be surrounded by thousands who were only inches away -- and yet be completely isolated."
I'm not familiar with Shusterman's writing style, but I liked it right away. Short, meaningful chapters that pull you deeper and deeper into the story with ease. I didn't expect the sort of dual narrative happening in this book (and I don't mean two narrators, but two stories... sort of), and I found myself unable to decide which parts I was more eager (or scared) to read.
The thing is, as a person with a neurological disorder that also causes occasional hallucinations and memory gaps, some of what Caden experiences in this story felt uncomfortably familiar to me (and some just plain felt uncomfortable). In fact, by reading this book, I discovered a new trigger for my cataplexy, and it took me a while to figure it out. Certain parts of this book caused such visceral emotional reactions in me that I spent the rest of the day under semi-cataplexy, hardly able to walk or drive. That's POWERFUL WRITING, people.
"...it seems to me that these worlds we touch upon can get so dark, anything we can do to lighten them must be a good thing, right?"
Look, this book was not an easy read. It was dark, and sometimes terrifying, because it was so effective. It was masterfully written, and I truly feel that I came away from it with a deeper understanding of what it's like to go through something like this -- both for Caden and his family. This book is powerful and important, and I feel like it should be required reading. Read it, and know that it will be uncomfortable. Read it, and know that it will change you. Read it....more
I didn’t realize this one was a shortie (well, 110 pages), but I snapped it up and read it pretty quickly. Dudes, this book is SCARY. The voice is perI didn’t realize this one was a shortie (well, 110 pages), but I snapped it up and read it pretty quickly. Dudes, this book is SCARY. The voice is perfect for the style and atmosphere of the story, and it was extremely easy to get into (despite the anxiety the overall concept caused me). I was surprised by so many reviews saying that this book was too short, because it really felt satisfying almost the whole way through for me. But then, I felt that it did end a bit abruptly, and I would have easily read another 30% if it had been there. I definitely want to read more by this author now....more
Sometimes I randomly browse NetGalley and request books purely on a whim, and this is one such example. Though I really liked Divergent when I first rSometimes I randomly browse NetGalley and request books purely on a whim, and this is one such example. Though I really liked Divergent when I first read it, my satisfaction with the series declined with each successive book (not that I ended up hating it or anything -- I rated Allegiant 3 stars). That being said, one of my favorite things to do with books is analyze and speculate. (And no, not like in English class; I like my reading, analysis, and speculation to be interesting and enjoyable.)
I didn't really know what to expect with Divergent Thinking. All I knew was that it was a collection of discussions about the Divergent trilogy from various YA authors, one of whom is Dan Krokos. Once I started reading, I was excited by the analysis and discussions being done in each essay and surprised by how well the whole idea of this book matched up with what I like. I'd unknowingly picked up a book that was right up my alley!
Divergent Thinking, as you've probably gathered by now, is a collection of essays that explore various concepts, themes, ideas, and more within the Divergent trilogy. This was interesting and familiar ground for me, because this could just as easily have been a series of posts on a blog somewhere. (I suppose it's worth mentioning that this book CLEARLY assumes the reader has read the entire Divergent trilogy, because spoilers abound. I will avoid spoilers in this review, though.) These essays varied in quality and interest for me, but that is probably to be expected.
My favorites were the ones that dealt more with psychological and scientific analysis. The book starts off strong with Rosemary Clement-Moore's comparison of the factions to the multitude of personality tests and types we enjoy in our society. Jennifer Lynn Barnes followed that up nicely with her own interesting perspective on the psychology behind the factions. Even though I've never even been to Chicago, I was giddy with excitement as I read through V. Arrow's attempt to map out the Chicago we see in Divergent with the Chicago of today. Blythe Woolston's look at fear and its role in the series was fascinating.
Some of them satisfied my curiosity in a different way, but didn't quite scratch my analytical itch. That's really fine, though; I'd just been primed and spoiled with the analytical ones (my preference) in the beginning. I liked the way Dan Krokos pit the Bureau and the Rebels against each other to see which one is really worse, Julia Karr's comparison of the faction system to other problematic groups in history (like Nazi Germany, for example), and the interesting parallels (and differences) that Janine Spendlove drew between the Dauntless and the US Marine Corps.
The essays I didn't enjoy as much were the ones that seemed to have weaker arguments and less focus. Some of them felt like they were trying too hard or really reaching to expand upon their chosen topic of discussion. The contribution from Maria V. Snyder and her daughter Jenna read more like a mother-daughter conversation than an actual essay (that is, it felt like the kind of thing that only they would be interested in reading, not so much anyone else).
In Conclusion I very much enjoyed this book! I was pleasantly surprised by this collection of essays. I do wonder, though, how many people will end up buying something like this (I have a feeling that compilations and anthologies don't get a lot of sales, but maybe that's my own bias?). Like I said: I would have been just as happy reading these essays on a blog somewhere; in fact, I might have even enjoyed that more, because then I would have been able to engage in discussions about them more easily....more
Confession: mostly, I bought this book because it was written by a local author, whom I see at events regularly and wanted to support. (A quick glanceConfession: mostly, I bought this book because it was written by a local author, whom I see at events regularly and wanted to support. (A quick glance through my reviews page or shelves on Goodreads will indicate that I’m not a big reader of contemporary fiction.)
Surprise: As soon as I started reading the book, I could see why so many people were excited about it. This book hooked me from page one.
The narrative style chosen by Mathieu, I think, was a wonderful choice. As a teenager, it can often feel like so much of life is affected by rumor, gossip, and hearsay information. What more authentic way to learn the truth about Alice than through the eyes and voices of her peers? This effect is amplified because of the small town setting, which means everyone knows everything about everyone else (so they think).
Each character’s voice was distinct and realistic. I really enjoyed how they spoke casually and candidly, and the language felt very true to teenager-speak without turning into stereotype or caricature. Similar to Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, the reader has to piece the whole picture together based on the testimony from various people. All the while, you get to watch Alice turn into a pariah and forge a special friendship with another local “outsider.”
The exploration of social issues, like slut shaming, was welcome and well done. It always comes as a nice surprise to me when a YA book deals with issues like this — especially when it is thoughtfully and carefully done. Perhaps the most important thing about this book is that it opens readers’ eyes to just how damaging something like slut shaming can be. The story makes it clear how pervasive and insidious rumors can be, and how quickly lies can spread throughout a community. This hits hard, because it is authentic and familiar.
The Truth About Alice has so much of what makes me love a contemporary novel: very minor (if any) inclusion of romance, and a focus on mental and emotional issues (generally in regards to social issues, in some way). It’s part mystery, part social commentary, and a great helping of exploring relationships. And probably the thing that sold me hardest on this book? The writing was high quality; it does not read like a debut!
Well, Mara Dyer, here we are again. I’m just going to come out and admit right now that I’m writing this review weeks after I finished the book, and IWell, Mara Dyer, here we are again. I’m just going to come out and admit right now that I’m writing this review weeks after I finished the book, and I seem to have misplaced any notes I may have taken on it, so this is going to be… interesting. A couple of highlights from my Goodreads updates, however, seem to gather the general gist of my experience with this book:
(12%) “I just don’t see what he’s getting out of it” — Mara’s father, about her boyfriend. Wow, what the fuck, asshole.
(60%) Evil sentence, nooooo!
(95%) Wow, evil sentence AGAIN!
Judging from that, there are clearly two things that bothered me about this book:
- It is rife with the evil sentence. This was severely disappointing because aside from this… issue… the book seemed to have improved from its predecessor, writing-wise. And when it happened more than once? Yes, I let out angry shouts in my car. - Throughout the book, it is continually instilled in Mara that she is a problem and other people are more valuable than her. I mean, did you see what her father said up there? And this is far from the only time that Mara hears something like this, whether it be directly to her face or something she overhears in conversation among others. This was a big issue for me. What kind of parents — and therapists (among other people) — tell their daughter/patient that she should be acting for the benefit of others, instead of reminding her of her own inherent value and encouraging her to seek personal improvement and self-fulfillment? REALLY irritated me.
That’s not to say that I hated this book or anything.
As you can see, I rated it a whole half-star higher than the first book in the series! I thought the plot was interesting, even though it was frustrating for a very long time (similar to the first book). The flashbacks were probably my favorite thing in this book, because they added a lot of mystery to Mara’s situation and provided motivation for her to continue her search for answers.
The family relationships, I thought, were very well explored and developed in this book. Not only did we see some changes (and growth) in Mara’s relationships with her parents and brothers, but we also got to learn more about Noah’s family life and his struggles with each of his family members. This was another thing I really appreciated about this book.
Mara’s frustrations were more palpable to me this time, and I still contend that the meshing of paranormal and psychiatric mysteries in this series is a great thing. I felt myself revolving between loving Mara’s relationship with Noah (Michelle Hodkin is very good at the romantic scenes), and being annoyed by their immaturity (making stupid choices and disrespecting one another, etc.).
So. I enjoyed it. I liked it more than the first book, and I will definitely be looking forward to reading the final one in the series later this year. Another perk from the audiobook was an interview between the author and the narrator at the end. I learned about how the idea for this story came about, and it made the whole thing even more intriguing!...more
Here’s what I knew about The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer before I started reading it:
1. It has a gorgeous cover and an intriguing title 2. Everyone and theHere’s what I knew about The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer before I started reading it:
1. It has a gorgeous cover and an intriguing title 2. Everyone and their mom seemed to love it 3. It’s dark and creeeeeepy (according to all those people in #2)
So, when I started listening to this audiobook very early one morning, on a long drive to the other side of town, I was excited. The dark, foggy morning fit perfectly with the mood of the prologue, in which Mara and her friends are using a ouija board and Things Happen. Shortly after the prologue, however, I realized that my excitement wasn’t going to continue.
I feel like I was duped into reading a contemporary novel.
That’s right. Where was the creepy factor? Almost nonexistent. This book read like a contemporary novel about a teenager with PTSD who moves to a new school and falls in insta-love with a dashing-but-dangerous British boy who just happens to be obsessed with her.
A short list of things that bothered me about this book: - Cliche, upon cliche, upon trope, upon cliche - Insta-love, on both Mara and Noah’s parts - Mara falls in LOVE with Noah, despite how much of an a-hole he is - Pacing and timing was confusing (took WAY too long to get interesting) - Poor/sloppy writing (“I graciously moved away into the crowd.” Um, don’t you mean gracefully?) - Not enough of the mysterious, creepy, interesting stuff - Way too much of the boring, everyday stuff
A short list of the things I actually liked about this book: - Mara’s attitude, though inconsistent, was pleasantly snarky - The fact that Mara’s mother’s side of the family is Indian, and a bit of that was in the book - The sibling relationships were refreshingly realistic and felt familiar - The psychologist mom was also pretty accurate, I think
Maybe I would have liked this book more if I’d read it a couple of years ago when it first came out. But for me, now, it read way too much like a obvious debut to be fully enjoyable. The ending did hook me into reading the next book, though, so we’ll see how that goes....more