Okay, so that last one isn't right but they're all true. I haven't read anything by Rachel Cohn or David Levithan...moreDe. Light. Ful. Char. Ming. So. Cute.
Okay, so that last one isn't right but they're all true. I haven't read anything by Rachel Cohn or David Levithan or Rachel Cohn and David Levithan so I really didn't know what to expect. But Dash and Lily's Book of Dares has to be one of the loveliest, sweetest books I have read in a really long time. Actually, as an English major, I've been required to read Woolf, Joyce, Shakespeare for years and years...I even took an entire course on the Brontës, so suffice it to say, I haven't really read "lovely, sweet" books since my discovery of Lurlene McDaniel in high school - and people die in her novels. So let me rephrase my previous statement: this has to be one of the loveliest, sweetest books I have read ever.
Have I completely turned you off from reading the rest of this review?
Well, if you're still with me, I thank you; and commend you for your tolerance of unnecessarily convoluted paragraphs (even if said paragraph has a somewhat stream of consciousness ambiance to it, but if you're not an appreciator, to each his/her own).
Here's what I learned:
Fact #1: I am a moron. I didn't think this book would be any good. I thought it'd be a fun, light read which it was but there was also a touch more substance than I was prepared for. No, it’s not going to turn your whole philosophy on life upside down; it just kind of gives voice to all our wonderings about life, our purpose, concept of soul mates, identity, confidence, trust, family and friends and all that jazz. In fact, I have very few complaints but even so, I’m not going to share them with you just in case you’re one of those super anal readers who reads one bad line about a book and is turned off. Stop being like that!
Fact #2: This "voice" is voiced by two very funny, interesting and vibrant characters called Dash and Lily. Also, they're surprisingly relatable; don;t take this for granted, not enough characters out there actually are. Plus, a whole gang of comparable greatness like Boomer, Grandpa and Mrs. Basil E.
Fact #3: If there were more Lilys in the world (the character, not the flower), life would be so much more wonderful. Dash, too, but given that he's the cynical one of the pair, he wasn't as infectious as Lily (infectious as in endearingly irresistible, not infectious as in contagious like a disease).
Fact #4: Cohn and Levithan make a great pair. They should never take their heads apart. Their writing is quirky, sharp, lively and effortless. It’s amazing how you can finish some books and still not have a solid picture of the characters. After reading 2 chapters, I knew exactly who Dash and Lily were. Their presence(s) were commanding and so colorful.
Fact #5: Is it just me or was this book not all that predictable? Dash and Lily is a short, light read mostly, so you would think you know exactly what will come. But I was actually caught off guard at some points. Dash, especially, worried me a couple of times...I was like, "Do not go where I think you're going, mister! Back track now and unthink what you just thought!" But, well, you'll see for yourself because I know that by now, I've completely and absolutely convinced you that this book is the book you've been waiting to read your whole life, you just didn't know it. Well, fate has come knockin'.
Fact #5.5: I need a mental filter. No strike because this is very true and relevant.
Fact #6: This book is all kinds of awesomeness, enchantingness, deliciousiosity, kick-ass-ness and anything else you might find in a Christmas stocking.
This is not a perfect novel. It could do with a bit more editing. There were quite a few chapters and subplots that I felt were excessive and unnecess...moreThis is not a perfect novel. It could do with a bit more editing. There were quite a few chapters and subplots that I felt were excessive and unnecessary to the story.
This is an example of the power of great characters. If characters are as likeable, funny, well-developed, well-written and admirable as Libba Bray's in the Gemma Doyle series, its easy to forgive technical errors.
Thank God for Gemma. This is a young female protagonist worth looking up to. She's relatable, not just because she's the not as pretty as Pippa or as wealthy as Felicity or as clever as Ann or as popular (in a pompous way) as Cecily, but because she's a girl with good intentions who tries to do well in life but makes mistakes along the way. Gemma also doesn't start out as a heroine, she has to work her way there. She doesn't have that impeccable moral compass. Throughout her journey she has to compromise between the responsibility she owes to her mother and the Realms and her own selfish needs. What I loved about her so much, especially when considering the other young female characters encountered in the YA genre, is that when it comes down to the end, when it really matters, Gemma understands that there are things going on in the world that are bigger (and more important) than her. She doesn't avoid duty. She doesn't get caught up in Kartik or wanting to 'just be normal'.
Gemma voices her fear and doubt like anyone else in her situation would. She expresses her anger and the untimely unfairness of it all: why does it have to be her? And at one point she even almost abandons her goal. But she pulls through. The difference I noticed between Gemma and other female characters was how brave and un-annoying she was. She complained but she didn't whine. She has a romance with Kartik but she doesn't let it turn her into a desperate creeping clinger. This isn't a book about getting a boyfriend, its about a young girl becoming a woman and making her way in the world. There aren't enough of these.
The five stars is not for how technically impressive this book was. As mentioned, its a little too long and so sometimes digressed from the exciting main plot. The five stars is for the emotional impact it had on me. This was such a surprise. I don't think I was really expecting anything great but when a work is good, it doesn't matter what your expectations are (or lack thereof).
This book is like a really bad last minute paper at the end of a hectic term; when you've used up all your braincells for other essays and exams and y...moreThis book is like a really bad last minute paper at the end of a hectic term; when you've used up all your braincells for other essays and exams and you're running out of time but you have to hand something in. I wouldn't normally bother with a book as bad as this, but I'm shockingly disappointed because I liked Perfect Chemistry well enough.
Seriously, though. Chain Reaction might as well have been done in point form, as there is absolutely no supporting evidence of sincerity, both from the characters and the author, herself. She tells us everything we need to know, taking no time to actually show us why we should believe her.
Luis and Nikki are weak, fleshless, glossed-over characters. There's no reason to sympathize with them. Oh sure, they have problems but the focus veers towards the inane that you just end up wanting the story to end (which isn't hard - just put the book down, right?). Let me summarize: Luis is a cocky adrenaline junkie who happens to be a gorgeous, straight-A student with ambitious plans of becoming an astronaut. Nikki is a sexy Latina who volunteers at the animal shelter but who acts like a judgmental bitch to ward people off, especially boys, except it only makes her even more desirable. Luis wants to bang Nikki because he's a "daredevil" and she's a "challenge". Nikki wants to bang Luis "to prove" they have no chemistry and that she can be "emotionally detached" with anyone...guess how this ends. Furthermore, people don't speak like this. If anyone pulled any of these lines on me, I'd throw up in my mouth. And the italicized Spanish got old real fast. It wasn't cute; it was demeaning. Its like the Pavlov effect...whenever I hear chica or mamacita, my reflex is to cringe and fling my arm wildly about my person to hit the mouth from whence the abomination came. I'm now damaged goods.
Characterization done, onto the plot...
Plot done, onto the conclusion...
This book is juvenile, lazy and dispassionate. It does nothing for its genre, offers nothing to its readers and is a disservice to young people.
This paper gets a D, if only for the few funny lines that actually managed to make me snicker.
Update: Okay, I just re-read this and think, perhaps, I might have been just a tad melodramatic...but still, I stand by all I said.(less)
There's Nora, complaining that Patch isn't as committed to their relationship as she is, asking what he was doing outside Marcie's house, accusing him...moreThere's Nora, complaining that Patch isn't as committed to their relationship as she is, asking what he was doing outside Marcie's house, accusing him of never having loved her...
And there's Patch, wondering if he'll be cast down to Hell - literally.
Though slightly better, it still ranks among the Twilight series, Hush Hush series... stories about young female protagonists that don't do anything t...moreThough slightly better, it still ranks among the Twilight series, Hush Hush series... stories about young female protagonists that don't do anything to empower its young female readers.(less)
Disappointing. I couldn't get past Chapter 15 (which is just a bit more than half way so I feel like I gave this a fair shot).
The book advertises itself as a paranormal romance, a tug-of-war between Heaven and Hell, seductively represented by two obviously gorgeous guys called Gabe(riel) and Luc(ifer). Guess who's on what team! And that's exactly what you get. No more, no less.
Personal Demons is as narrow a book as I've ever come across. I was honestly gutted when by page 30 I realized I wasn't going to like it. After reading some really fun reviews and seeing how people reacted to the book, I got excited myself. Who doesn't want to read a book with characters oozing sexual appeal? I do. I admit. As long as the book is also oozing with quality which this is not, sadly.
And I think that's the problem. The author got too caught up in trying to entice the readers, trying to make Frannie, Luc and Gabe and their scenes together as smoldering as possible that she consequently forgot about a little thing called plot development and character growth. You know, those troublesome yet necessary things you usually get in most novels. Now, I said I didn't get past Chapter 15, so this review is irrelevant, I know, but let me just get this out incomplete on its basis of opinion but unless the book takes a dramatic turn after page 213 and decides to get good, then I think this review is still fairly accurate.
The characters were one-sided. I appreciated that the writer gave them their individual problems to make them sympathetic and give them the appearance of depth and complexity. Sorry. Frannie is flat and unpleasant to be around. Not to mention consistently mildly vulgar. I say mildly because it wasn't like she was dropping the F bombs or anything and I suppose its faithful to reality because people do swear. But for someone who comes from a Catholic family religious enough to be branded as a Catholic family, exactly how many times does she incorporate the word Hell into her sentences, whether telling people to go there or simply uttering it because she can't think of anything else? Its unattractive when the main character's vocabulary is limited to "mmm..." and "whatever".
The love triangle. This book was screaming for a threesome. I mean, really. I didn't enjoy it all. First, it happened way too fast. First chapter and Frannie and Luc were already sending chills down each others' spines. Gag me. A little balance wouldn't hurt, you know. From the get go we're already exposed to their sexual tension on Full Power. It would've been nice if the author had started small and built from that. And for someone who keeps her emotions bottled up and people at bay, Frannie seems to be quite the boy magnet. Left and right, there's a guy leering over her.
The romance between Frannie, Luc and Gabe became redundant and tedious after a very short while. When she's with Luc, she's drooling over him. Oh, but when she's with Gabe, she's drooling over him. That's literally what every scene was about. Her looking between Luc and Gabe, confused and so sexually frustrated. And since she alternates between them, you can be sure that the sexual tension is maintained on high. It was exhausting. I swear, with the amount of electricity they sent coursing through each others' veins while staring deeply into each others' eyes as if reading the other one's soul, I was surprised they didn't just die right there. Every page, people, every page. Okay, maybe, like every other page. Still.
I was torn between giving this one star or two stars. In the end, I decided that mercy was the higher and harder road over justice so...
"What's poetry?" I've never heard the word before, but I like the sound of it. It sounds elegant and easy, somehow, like a beautiful woman turning in...more"What's poetry?" I've never heard the word before, but I like the sound of it. It sounds elegant and easy, somehow, like a beautiful woman turning in a long dress.
What else is there to say but echo the sentiment everyone else is expressing for Between Shades of Gray? If you've been listening in on all the hype t...moreWhat else is there to say but echo the sentiment everyone else is expressing for Between Shades of Gray? If you've been listening in on all the hype that surrounded this book prior to release, you'd know it focuses on the plight of innocent Lithuanians, Latvians and Estonians affected by the Stalin regime during World War II. And if you had been just as denied any knowledge of their struggles, you would have thought, huh?
I think it's a shame that not a sliver of their past is studied in schools (for that is where we go for a thing called History Class), but curriculum is so skewed and selected that young people miss out on very important issues. I remember reading in high school, when on the subject of Stalin, that he took over the countries in the Baltic region...a mention, no more than a footnote. We hardly learn about our own contributions during the War here in Canada, what were the chances my teachers were going to tell us about these people? So, you've heard the hype, you've watched the video on Sepetys' site and you expect an intense, painful rendering of the life of these forgotten souls. I think Sepetys delivers.
Hers was a major undertaking; a great honor but so much promise to live up to. This isn't just a fictional story about a young girl who is hauled into a train cart marked thieves and prostitutes one innocent night; who, with her mother and brother is sent to labour camps to work in the mud, the biting cold, the sleeting rain with only a piece of bread and rainwater to relieve her hunger; whose future is stolen away, with no justification except for that a man believes she is a sveenya, a pig. Sepetys has to depict the horror these people experienced, accent the dignity and courage they maintained, all without cowering under emotion and the inevitable urge to spurt too much personal convictions. Because even though you are the writer, you must still keep some distance, no? Let the story tell itself, and in this case, let history be exactly that. She is a translator of forgotten memories; she is merely bringing back what history has misplaced.
This is, if you haven't guessed yet, a moving story. The suffering here isn't anything new. We've read it in other books, seen them in movies, learned them from documentaries. As crass as this might sound, they're all the same: people working to the bone, people being shot for being born wrong, people starving, people living in dilapidated conditions, women being raped, children dying off, men being hanged. Inhuman is the word. But what sets this apart is the turning of an extra page we didn't see before in the book of monstrosity that was WWII. This was a new set of suffering; of broken toys we never knew were stashed away in the attic.
The characters are full and clear and well-loved by me. They have pride, they have guts and what really touches me was how at their weakest, at their moment of almost breaking down, Lina and her friends decide to hold onto that thin thread of spirit; and of endurance. Instead of surrendering, Lina hardens her heart. When in the end, (view spoiler)[after losing her mother, shortly after discovering she had also lost her father (hide spoiler)] Lina expresses guilt over wanting to live, in the face of so much loss, I just lost it. Hearing her say that she never questioned it once; that surviving was her purpose and home her destination, this amidst death, is a true impression of will.
So, why a slightly less than perfect rating? Well, it's because despite how much this book had me clutching it to my chest, just as Lina clutches at her drawings, there are several editorial decisions I would've changed...so much so that I couldn't get past it, no matter how much I wanted to. Some minor, and some that I think would've changed the weight of the story...perhaps emphasized even strongly the importance of keeping up hope, the role of art within Lina's journey, and made it even more searing with pain. So its more technical, rather than emotional (although the technical would've ultimately affected the emotional). The story I was given satisfied me in the deepest, most craving part of my self. I suppose the real issue with the book is that it's too short. I saw that I was running out of pages and kept thinking that I was nowhere near ready to let go. But who am I in all of this? Just a lone spectator bowing in apology to any soul who's ever been overlooked.
When I finished Cynthia Hand's Unearthly, I thought, God help who sits beside me when I find out this isn't a series. But when I read it is, I realize...moreWhen I finished Cynthia Hand's Unearthly, I thought, God help who sits beside me when I find out this isn't a series. But when I read it is, I realized I'd have to wait until 2012 for the next book's publication...then I realized the possibility that the world might end before I get to read it and now I'm just a mess.
This book is awesome. It's YA so I'm not ashamed to admit that I absolutely swooned because, of course, while the writing was great, the characters well-developed and the plot interesting and well-paced, it was the romance that brought me to my knees impressed me. Let me point out how the romantic relationship(s) in this book show what other YA romance books are missing out on: these characters take time to get to know each other; they don't glimpse each other in a crowded hallway and fall in love, flinging their all too willing bodies at each other as soon as the opportunity comes. When you invest time in a courtship, or even just a friendship, the moment of romantic revelation is all the more powerful. I felt them fall in love, and thus in turn I fell in love with them. Writers, if you don't want uptight, book snobs like me on your tails, take heed. Give me the goods and your safe. Like your friend Cynthia Hand.
But this is a four star book because I felt the book to have been missing a little something, something.
Concern #1: why didn't Clara and her family attend church? That boggles me. They're angel-blood, so shouldn't they be all about God?
Concern #2: the first (and only) time we meet Clara's father, it seemed like he had something very important to discuss with her but we're never told. He just kinda lives in NY and apparently believes that new cars substitute for an absentee father...well...
Concern #3: this book isn't like most series books because it didn't feel very conclusive even for the first of a series. It felt like it ended mid-action. And the last 50 or so pages were very cramped. But then again, it is book one. Okay, forgiven.
Concern #3.5 did Tucker have to wear cowboy boots, a cowboy hat and belong in a rodeo? Like, did he absolutely have to?
Concern #4: (view spoiler)[the plot (action-wise), I felt lost its pace (and it pains me to count this as a negative because I absolutely FREAKINLOVEDTHISPART) during Clara and Tucker's summer adventure. Because that took a chunk of space, by the time the action resumed, I was all like, Uh, fuck this! I don't give a crap about no angel-purpose shit! Give me some Tucker! ...You know? (hide spoiler)]
Concern #5: Was her vision/purpose supposed to be as confusing and vague as it ended up being? Cause I understood none of that.
But all this is irrelevant at the end of the day because this book has way more good shit than bad. I think this book actually takes it's time but as readers, we're given information punctually and provided with enough entertaining scenes to pleasantly pass the time. (view spoiler)[Also, I cannot express my extreme delight on how Hand took a step back from Clara's purpose to give us those extensive yet fleeting days with Tucker. I cannot. Cannot. Normally, I would hate that and accuse the writer of being too indulgent but everything about it was so good I was reduced to romantic sighs and giggles. Seriously, the whole book could've just been about them hiking, fishing and getting to know each other and I would've kept reading forever (hide spoiler)]...by the by, I read this in ONE sitting. When I finally got up, I was empty of stomach and dizzy of head. True story. The characters are all likeable; endearing in their unique, subtle-sometimes-not-subtle ways. I even found the bitchy, pretty cheerleader quite complex...like, when does that ever happen?
The book fits its genre snugly, with most of the regular tropes expectantly placed within the tapestry of the plot but its the way Hand rearranges them and flips them over our heads that marks this debut novel's true accomplishment.
CANNOT FUCKING WAIT!
Can you sense my excitement?
UPDATE: Screw it, I'm giving it a 5. My heart throbbed too fiercely for it to deserve a 4.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
If you're like me, a self-confessed occasional book elitist, and you think you might be too good for this book because you've seen the cover and read...moreIf you're like me, a self-confessed occasional book elitist, and you think you might be too good for this book because you've seen the cover and read the back and assumed, quite naturally, that this is akin to Twilight...well, you're wrong.
It's not the greatest of YA series. You won't sit there catching your breath at the end absorbing the surge of emotions swirling within you. In fact, there's really nothing that extraordinary about this story.
But. It does not deserve to be lumped together with Twilight and its like as I think it sometimes is simply because its shares similar ingredients: young excitable girls susceptible to young mysterious guys, good vampires vs bad vampires, other cool supernatural elements.
The writing is good. What really sold me were the characters - as always. That is what will always matter to me the most. The plot and everything else, whatever else there is, would have to be remarkable for me to love it if the characters suck. I'd still finish it but I won't rave about it. The characters is the pulse of a book. Isn't that what its all about? Storytelling? We have to be able to relate and connect with characters because that's precisely why we're listening in the first place...to learn more about ourselves?
Okay, I'm getting way too philosophical. Yes, I am. Because this book isn't really that kind of book. It doesn't make you look at yourself and reflect and re-evaluate. Well, maybe to some. Who am I to dictate how anything should be received? Its all relative. After all, I got all worked up by the Gemma Doyle series (I just really, really, really loved the books!) And many would say they're just okay (I think they're amazing!)
But I also don't want to sound like the book has nothing substantial to offer. It really makes the reader think about duty and the true weight of that concept. Also, how far would we go to protect our loved ones and what does it really mean to "put others before yourself." I say it really is quite a good book.
Anyway, my point was: you won't hate these characters. I quite loved them actually. Rose and Lissa are funny, loyal, witty, sometimes reckless but never stupid in the way Bella Swan or Nora Gray are...sorry to point fingers but there you go. Point, point, point.
The plot is also interesting though I thought it could've been more dramatic. But there are 6 books, I believe? So I guess its just taking its time for the real action to begin.
That's okay, I can wait. I've already queued the rest of the series. Yes, I'll be reading the rest - ungrudgingly (I made that word up but doesn't it sound like a real one?)
Not much to say. Quite a good book. Characters are great and the twists and turns in the plot really took me off guard, sending mild goosebumps up my...moreNot much to say. Quite a good book. Characters are great and the twists and turns in the plot really took me off guard, sending mild goosebumps up my arms, evoking occasional ooh's and ah's from my mouth.
The world Revis has created is fascinating and this is coming from a reluctant sci-fi reader. The book didn't pick up, though, until the final 100 pages. I hate when that happens. But rest assured, when it does pick up, it does not let go.
The ending. I kind of laughed at the off and odd ending. I thought it was a strange way and a strange place for a conclusion in that the conclusion didn't feel conclusive...yes. And then I came on here and saw that its going to be a series and then I understood.