High Points. Everything about this book is a high point for me. We have girls kicking ass. We have posh puInitial Final Page Thoughts. Awhh, hell yeah.
High Points. Everything about this book is a high point for me. We have girls kicking ass. We have posh public school. We have secret societies. We have the most amazing pranks IN THE ENTIRE WORLD. We have full on belly-laughter. We have full on heartbreak. And, most importantly, we have arrogant boys getting their just desserts. FIST PUMP.
Low Point. I have only two low points about this book. The first being that I didn’t read this when I was in high school (all girls school… the career man got very confused when I told him I wanted to be a doctor… you could almost see the cogs in his mind try and process the thought while trying to stop him blurting out ‘B-b-but you’re a girl!’) And the second being that I can’t driving around the UK with a wagon full of piles of this book handing copies out to teenage girls everywhere and spread the word of Miss Landau-Banks. Because I’m guessing that would be frowned upon.
Heroine. Frankie is possibly my favourite YA heroine, ever. Bold words, I know, but also true words. She is funny, resourceful, educated (but not snobby about it!) and she believes in herself. She is the figurehead for all the girls in the world who have been treated differently because they are of the female disposition. She refuses to take things lying down. She accepts responsibility for her actions when everyone else runs and hides (and is damn well proud of them, rightly so). She never sits around and whinges when she is treated unfairly…. Girl gets revenge. She comes up with the most hilarious and envy-inducing pranks that not only make me want to start a secret society but also run around dressing the statues of Manchester with Bravissimo bras. And she likes wordplay. HOW CAN YOU NOT ADORE HER?
Best friend/Sibling I loved the interaction between Frankie and Trish, her best friend, and Zada, her sister. Even though both of these characters are on the peripheral, they are such strong women and really added to the whole message of the book. By knowing Trish and Zada, Frankie is surrounded by strong, knowledgeable females. It is obvious that they (and Lockhart herself) hasn’t just read a few feminist essays and then regurgitated its views into a YA book and hope that it will do. This book knows what it’s talking about and you can feel the passion that Lockhart feels about feminism in its prose. I think a lot of feminism books and ideals are quite overwhelming and preachy (On all accounts do NOT let a male hold the door open for you because that means you are submissive and weak… come on!) but with The Disreputable History, Lockhart brings the message to an audience where understanding that girls are equal (but better at pranking *cough*) to boys is vital and does so without dumbing anything down, keeping it intelligent and thought-provoking, but also hilariously entertaining. The Ladies conversation? So hilarious.
Love Interest. Ugh, men. I don’t even want to say that Matthew is a love interest, even though he technically is, to Frankie because… please… he doesn’t even deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence. What a poor excuse for a man. He literally made my blood boil and my notebook is filled with sentences like “Ughh, I hate men,” and “Misogynist so and so” and “STOP SAYING SHE IS BEING SENSITIVE FOR HAVING AN OPINION.” Alpha was a much more interesting character and what I loved about him (apart from that he reminded me of Logan Echolls.. swoon.) was that even though his mind was made up of 50% caveman ‘Me-hunter gatherer, you- stand there look pretty’ thoughts, the other 50% was full of respect and admiration for Frankie and her actions.
Or shall I go for the one that everyone was thinking about and proceeded to abuse the replay button on YouTube. Yeah, I’ll go for that one.
Angst Scale. I wanted to give this book a 5/10 because of the anger that coursed through my veins whenever Matthew and his stupid Superman t-shirt were ever mentioned. But then I remembered… Frankie Landau-Banks doesn’t give angst the time of day. So, in honour of her and her teachings, there is no angst scale.
Recommended for. EVERYONE. People who have ever wondered what really goes on in a secret society. People who love pulling pranks. People who think drinking warm beer on a muddy golf course is laaaame. People who want to read a YA book that has a tough female protagonist who isn’t afraid to stand up for themselves. People who want to stick their middle finger up to the stifling establishment. People who love making up new words and trying to make them work. People who think it’s OK to ask a stranger for a lick of their frozen custard (what is that by the way? It sounds delicious!) People who have ever wanted to kick a boy in the crotch for being a small-minded, ill-educated, complete and utter *CENSORED* *mutters under breath*. Girls who wanted to be forces.
You can also read the review for this book and others and a whole lot of other exciting stuff on my blog here....more
Initial Final Page Thoughts. Oh... so that's what the fuss is all about? :-S
High points. Epistolary fiction… I always thought I hated it, but it turns oInitial Final Page Thoughts. Oh... so that's what the fuss is all about? :-S
High points. Epistolary fiction… I always thought I hated it, but it turns out I don’t. Charlie- what a gorgeous character. Beautiful writing. Bitter-sweet stories. Music and memories. Infiniteness. Rocky Horror. Fleetwood Mac. Three best friends that anybody could ever have. Low point. The Smiths. I think I am the only person in the world who has no tolerance for this band and it annoys me how in every single film they are used to show how cool and kooky the main character is (even though Summer IS cool and original she is so without The Smiths.)... there are so many other bands that could be used to show that the mc is a cool and kooky person. Even though they’re not used in this way in this book… they still annoy me. The only good thing that came from The Smiths is this. I’m sorry… they invoke rage in me (and I'm a Mancunian! I should love them. But no). I could go on and on about it, but I won't because it has nothing to do with this book. And also… The Catcher in the Rye being the Bible for kids who don’t fit in. BLAAARRRGH... please change the record. Again, nothing to do with the book. I just like to rant.
Hero. I know it’s been said before by about a gabillion people, but I really loved Charlie. I loved seeing the world through his eyes, I don’t know, everything seemed so much more vivid. Charlie is, as the title suggests, a wallflower… someone who doesn’t like to participate in life and feels overwhelmed when he is put in a situation where he has to. It’s difficult to describe Charlie as a character… it seems that he’s a normal, if not slightly ‘off’, fifteen year old boy who doesn’t fit in at school but wants to. But what I love about him, and I know I’m not alone, is the way that he is able to portray the boring, awkward, run-of-the-mill growing up stories with such a sense of magic and whimsy that it is impossible not to be captivated by his narration. This book doesn’t have a story… as such… it is all about growing up and finding your place in the world. But I think if anyone else was telling this story, it would have failed miserably. When I read this book, I couldn't help but feel that the narration was like Charlie was looking through the world through a microscope and he was seeing so much beauty in it… you know when you see a blown up image of bacteria and while it is amplified, it’s SO beautiful and you can’t believe something so mundane could ever look like this. This book felt like that. He sees everything in amplification and you can’t help but be brought in by his world and wish you could see the world like he did, because your version is so dull compared to his. Best Friends. I LOVE Sam and Patrick. I was so worried that these two were going to be patronising and condescending towards Charlie, who I had already decided was going to be my best friend. But they weren’t! The two of them, who are both are going through some really horrifying stuff too, really take Charlie under their wing and show him what it is like to participate in life. And I love what Charlie becomes when he is with the two of them. He really falls into place with them. The bit when they are in the pick-up truck instantly became one of my favourite scenes in literature. Though… I must say… I absolutely adored Patrick, he was such a pure character and even though he was going through things that no person should ever go through, he dealt with it with such a grace and maturity. I love him. Sigh. Also… I imagine he would make an AWESOME Frank N Furter.
Theme Tune. I refuse to put The Smiths as a theme tune. So instead I have chosen the amazing Fleetwood Mac that is featured in my favourite scene of the book (the part in the tunnel.. sigh). landslide by Fleetwood Mac.
Angst Scale. 9/10. I’m quite undecided about this book and the scale because if you look at it from Charlie’s perspective and his innocence at the things that go around him, the scale would be a lot lower. Not because he doesn’t understand them, but I think a lot of the problems hinted at go over his head and even though he gets sad, he’s not entirely sure why he’s sad. There are a lot of stories that are hinted at (Aunt Helen, his sister, Sam's back story, homosexuality (which physically broke my heart), suicide) that really touched me. I can really see why this book is such a huge part of people's lives because it deals with almost every issue a teenager can go through and it deals with them in an authentic and honest way. I can imagine that this book would really have the power to provide the support that they may not be able to get anywhere else. I think this is one of those books that you can re-read over and over again and every time you do, you take something new out of it and relate to it in a different way. I will definitely be reading it again sometime in the future. Recommended For. People who are are growing up. People who love books told from the perspective of a narrator who doesn’t fit in the cookie-cutter mould. People who have a little notebook that they write memorable quotes from books in it. People who think The Smiths are the barometer of cool. *grumble*. People who have always felt at odds with society and need to find that they are not alone. People who love to hear stories of the past. People who believe the importance of staying true to yourself. People who have always wanted to accidentally get high on space brownies. People who have wanted a book to relate to that wasn’t written by J.D. Sallinger....more
High point. Oh there are so many. So I’m just going to try and list them quickly; indie boy nerds, ridiculouslyInitial Final Page Thoughts. Awww, YES.
High point. Oh there are so many. So I’m just going to try and list them quickly; indie boy nerds, ridiculously gay men, self-deprecating laugh out loud humour, porn shops, internet crushes, heterosexual crushes, homosexual crushes, awesome families, cool girls, realistic butterflies, locker combinations, A GAY MUSICAL. And there are so much more but you just need to read it.
Low point. I wasn’t a huge fan of the immediate ending… it was a bit too cheesy for me, but other than that. No low point. Unless you count nearly sobbing on a sun bed beside the pool at a hotel in the Costa Brava because I was so heartbroken at one point… but it’s best not to count that.
Hero. Both Will Graysons stole my heart. It’s weird because I’ve never read a book that has two authors (although, I probably have… nothing springs to mind) so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. Both David Levithan and John Green created two wholly different characters who happen to meet after a few fateful mishaps and they discover they have the same name. Green’s Will Grayson probably pipped Levithan’s Will Grayson to my favourite hero… possibly because I fancied him (he spoke to my inner indie-geek, OK?!)… but I honestly loved them both. Both writers created realistic, warts ‘n’ all characters that you could imagine walking down your corridors at school (well, maybe not mine… there would have been an outcry and fans would have been… fanned… because I went to an all girls school…but you know what I mean!) and the dialogue was spot on. Especially one bit where Levithan’s Will Grayson is talking about text speak… “<3 you think that looks like a heart?” PERFECT.
Love Interest. I can’t really write about this section for Levithan’s WG because it would be like walking on spoilery eggshells. But oh ma lord, there’s one section that tugs at your heart strings. I love how obvious it is that both authors know what teenagers are like, how they act and how they talk. There is nothing cliché about these characters. Jane is Green’s WG and she’s the kind of girl you’d see in a gig and be really intimidated to talk to but you’d always want to. She seems nice enough, but nothing really grabbing. Green’s WG however, comes very close to being included in my VIP list of fictional crushes and he makes me wish even more that I went to school in America… and that I had a locker combo. SWOON.
Best Friend. Tiny Cooper. Tiny Cooper. Tiny Cooper… um. OK, I was hoping that the big TC would be a kind of Beetlejuice figure and if I said his name out loud (which I may or may not have actually done) he would have appeared in my room. Seriously, this guy is amazing. I love how he his described differently by Levithan and Green and you get this amazing, vivid, fantastically gay picture in your head. Tiny Cooper definitely steps out of the supporting actor shadow and takes the spotlight, truly. If Tiny Cooper’s musical Tiny Dancer was a real musical I would be there every night. EVERY NIGHT. As for Levithan’s WG… we don’t mention Maura. EVER.
In the Aeroplane Over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel. This one was an easy one… I didn’t even have to come up with it. Neutral Milk Hotel are a prominent part of Green’s WG (he says that they basically changed his life) and I think this song (and the band) kind of embodies the whole feel of the book and the fleeting moments of youth. And one day we will die And our ashes will fly From the aeroplane over the sea But for now we are young Let us lay in the sun And count every beautiful thing we can see.
Angst scale. 7/10. There is quite a lot of angst in this (poolwhimpering) but the characters deal with it in a very realistic way which is great because the issues that are covered could have opened major ‘omg-my-life-is-awful-and-difficult-and-obviously-life-ends-with-high-school-so-I’m-going-to-have-my-inner-monologue-discuss-cliché-feelings-my-character-should-probably-have’ but both Levithan and Green really stayed clear of this. I find it so refreshing when characters deal with problems in believable ways and I can’t wait to read more from both of these guys.
Recommended for. EVERYONE. People who appreciate great, realistic writing. People who want to read a book that deals with homosexuality in an honest and not-always sugar coated but still very fabulous way. People who always root for the underdog. People who have always craved for a gay best friend. People who love indie music. People who think that swinging on swing sets can solve pretty much every problem. People who get inappropriate fictional crushes easily. People who like musicals....more
Initial Final Page Thoughts. OMFG. Proceeded by a scramble to buy the next book. I think this book had a more intense cliff hanger than The Italian Job Initial Final Page Thoughts. OMFG. Proceeded by a scramble to buy the next book. I think this book had a more intense cliff hanger than The Italian Job. High Point. This could also be a low point… but I’m going to class it as a high point, for I have found a series that grabbed me as much (maybe more… WOAH) as The Hunger Games. And yes, I may become a hermit and forget to eat while I read these books, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take. Manchee! I LOVE the writing style, it was annoying at first, but it really compliment the fast pace and the ‘OMG’ of the story. No romance! Blood and guts! Manchee! A true, terrifying baddie. A great spin on the dystopian genre. Friendship! Did I mention Manchee? Low Point. It took a while to find out what the eff (see what I did there? If not, just read the book, dammit!) was going on. BUT… it was good because Todd had no idea what was going on either so you found out together. Also, the style that Ness writes in is how Todd would write, ie not very well. It’s a bit disorientating at first, especially when the Noise comes. But it all adds to the feel of this book. SO GOOD. I mentioned the cliffhanger… which was amazing… BUT COME ON, PATRICK NESS. I made myself a deal not to buy any more books until I’ve read the ones I have got… and now my soul is tormented. What shall I do? Oh, who am I kidding? They’re already in my postman’s bag. Hero. Oh Todd Hewitt. TODD HEWITT!! I love you and, even though for some weird reason I keep trying to picture you older, you are such a great character. I would have loved to be your best friend when I was twelve. Heck, I would love to be your best friend NOW. I’ve read a few reviews that have expressed annoyance with Todd, but I think they’re forgetting that Todd is a lot younger than most people think he is. Which explains why he is angry and confused and self-doubting and a bit of loose cannon. Considering he is so young and has been through so much, it is understandable and that’s why I love him. He’s realistic and honest and just because he doesn’t walk around with the whole ‘I’m special and therefore I am a martyr and must mope and be really annoying’ and makes mistakes and loses his temper, doesn’t make him a bad character. His reactions to the things he has to deal with are spot on for a twelve year old boy and they are the perfect combination of twelve year old boy indifference and ‘Whaaaat the hell?’ Also, he is a great great great friend. Sigh.
Love Interest. N/A. Although, I have thoughts that this could change in the next books… *ahem* and I would be OK with it. I think. Best friend. Oooooh Manchee. Seriously, in the past couple of weeks I have found myself wanting a best friend who comes in the form of a talking animal. Remember Taggle? Yeah he was great and funny and all.. but Manchee. He takes the biscuit, and I love biscuits. The thing is, the germ that is making everyone’s loud and clear and, well it also works on animals too. And as Todd says in the first page “The first thing you find out when yer dog learns to talk is that dogs don’t got nothing much to say. About anything.” To which Manchee replies “Need a poo, Todd.” That is where the magic of Manchee starts. And I will leave you with that… I will say only three things about t’other best friend because I feel like I’m already treading on spoilery egg shells… 1) She’s cute as a button. 2) She has a kickass backstory. 3) I can’t wait to find out more about her. That is all.
Baddie. This category is an interesting one because there are so many people who could technically be classed as a ‘baddie’ because of the situation they’re in and the whole belief system. Again, I don’t want to go into it for fear of spoiling it for you guys. But it is interesting, lot of debate could arise from some of the secondary characters who may at first seem evil, but all is not as it seems. However, one person is definitely a baddie…. Oh my god. Aaron. Ugh... shudder. So so so creepy. Again, don’t want to go too deep into my description, but I’ll leave you with a little note that I wrote on my Kindle about him : “What is he? The terminator?” There’s one chapter that… ugh, not going to think about that this close to going to bed.
I know when you think of Duran Duran you think of 80s GODS who provided the world with some gems as ‘Wild Boys’, ‘Rio’ and ‘Girls on Film’ and their music is probably as far as you can get from the tone of this book. But I think the lyrics to this are very apt for Todd and the journey he is on. And I know Red did a respectable cover which probably goes with the book more but I feel like I would have betrayed my undying love for Simon Le Bon if I had gone with that choice. And I simply refuse to do that. Angst scale. 9/10. Ness is gruesome. Seriously, his descriptions are vile and gross and amazing and creepy as hell. There is a lot of violence in this book which probably explains why this series did so well with boys (which is great, more YA aged boys should read!) and girls who, like me, were raised on Tarantino. YEAH. But, I think the most brutal aspect of this book was not the bloody violence but just the idea of everything. It’s hard to describe what I mean without ruining the story and I don’t want to do that, because this book is like a rollercoaster of twisting turns. But… let me just say this, the New World really is effed up and that’s why this book gets such a high angst rating because this angst will stick with you long after you are left teetering on the edge of that blasted cliff! Recommended for. EVERYONE. But also BOYS who think reading is for simpering girls who like sparkly vampires and hate blood unless it’s theirs and it’s around the mouth of said sparkly vampires. People who want a book that offers a fresh take on the dystopian genre. People who love adventure books. People who are a bit sick of forced YA romance. People who have always wondered what it would be like to hear people’s thoughts. People who have always wanted a dog that could not only understand your thoughts, but talk to you about them… and who also chases squirrels. SQUIRREL. People who aren’t afraid to read a book with so many twists and turns that you may need to reach for the car-sickness tablets… but in a good way. People who have been blindly searching for another dystopian series to get obsessed with post-The Hunger Games. This one will do nicely, I assure you.
You can read this review and lots of other exciting stuff on my blog here....more
Sepetys’ ‘Between Shades of Gray’ tells the story of fifteen year old Lina, a girl who is deported from her home in Latvia when the Soviets invades thSepetys’ ‘Between Shades of Gray’ tells the story of fifteen year old Lina, a girl who is deported from her home in Latvia when the Soviets invades their country on the cusp of WW2 and follows their fight for survival against all odds. This book really touched me, I’m trying not to sound clichéd, but it really did. I read it in about two days, it was a quick read…not because of the writing, but because I wanted to find out what happened to Lina and her family and the people she met along the way. It was such a compelling story, I had to know. This is a greatly bleak story set in one of the bleakest eras of modern history. But perhaps the most upsetting part of the story is that I had no idea any of this really happened. Whether it is my own ignorance or the fact that it’s just often overlooked because of what was to follow, I don’t know… but I’m glad that I read about it (and, like Sepetys urges in her author’s note… I did research it.) Sepetys tells a story that is not often read about in the history books. I think the reason why this book affected me the most is because it showed me that just when I thought I had heard all the impossible things that happened in this era- there’s still so much you don’t know. Sepetys has a powerful writing style, doing the seemingly impossible feet of finding the words to portray something so terrible it is difficult to believe it actually could happen (I found that this was similar to Maus). The events in the book are brutally honest and she doesn’t shy away from the truth or sugar-coat it in any way, which would have been easy due to the intended audience of the novel. But the thing is, Sepetys had a story to tell and she did it without having to resort to stereotypes and that is a mark of a true writer. Even though Lina is the main character and our narrator, this book is about so many other people. The people she meets while they are being bundled on the train to Siberia, the guards that keep them prisoner in the work camps, the people whose insignificant actions have altered Lina’s life forever. I love how this novel puts a name to the people whose stories haven’t been told, for whatever reason, in mainstream fiction and gives them a voice. Many of the chapters are split into two sections, Lina’s accounts of what are happening to her in the work camps and memories that she has that lead up to their capture. This technique provides an effective juxtaposition between Lina’s present and her past when everything was completely different. It was really moving and cleverly done. I must admit, I got a lump in my throat when I read the chapter that juxtaposed the trivial boy problems of the past with the intense bond that she creates with Andrius, a boy that she meets in the train carriage and who goes on to be in the same work camp as her. It really put things into perspective, not just for Lina… but for me and my trivial circumstances. Septys has a great eye for detail and it is the little things that she observed about humanity that really struck a chord for me. The man winding his watch, the girl with the dead doll, the Dickens book and Andrius’ little notes to Lina within the pages, her mother applying lipstick even when all hope was gone… it was these simple things that reminded me that this book is a story about people and humanity. Towards the end of the book, when Lina faith is being truly tested, there is a really powerful conversation between her and an angry, cynical bald man, who has an opinion on everything. Throughout the book, Septys depicts him in a comical light… he always has a negative thing to say to everyone and tells it like it is… but this conversation shows him as the vulnerable man he really is, scared of life but scared of killing himself and what lies for him there. Lina feels guilty for surviving, when everything she has ever known is dying around her, but she wants to live. After everything she has been through, she wants to live for everyone and everything that has been lost and so it wasn’t all in vain. The book ends on a positive, optimistic and, ultimately, defiant note. Lina has been through everything and survived and she will carry on surviving. And this is what this book is about…. It’s a story of human survival in an era when humanity was, sadly, lacking. ‘Between Shades of Gray’ is an important story and one that should have been told decades earlier. It wholly deserves the phenomenal reviews it has been getting and I believe that this book should be required reading for every high school student. This is a story that needs to be read....more
I loved most things about this book. The Caribbean setting, superstitions and well-researched spine-tinglingly great folk-lore, great, atmospheric wriI loved most things about this book. The Caribbean setting, superstitions and well-researched spine-tinglingly great folk-lore, great, atmospheric writing (I read this book in one day, I kid you not!), a sexy love interest (one of two) that has a bit of personality that could induce swoon in the most cynical of reader (read: me) and, of course, the theatre... darling. But sadly, there was a reason why this book lost two stars (one and a half for Esti and a half for Alan). For more explanation, here's my full review.... and a Stevie Wonder song. Any excuse, eh?...more
I don’t have a quote because by the time he said something I liked I got myself into a faff trying to get my notebook and then find my pen and then itI don’t have a quote because by the time he said something I liked I got myself into a faff trying to get my notebook and then find my pen and then it wouldn't work and… it was just too much hassle. Oh and also, I don’t really know how Ms Black is spelling all her character names so apologies if they’re wrong.
High Points. Curses + Mob Families + Secret Underground World = Um, YES. The whole idea behind this series is absolutely genius and the world that Black creates is just spectacular. I really want to move so I can have an excuse to buy these gloves Heebie Jeebies. Cassel. Fraternal love. Asian housemates. Kitty Cats. A love story I could get behind. Grandpas. Sleepwalking. Blood packs. Jailbird Mums.
Low Point. OK Cassel, you are amazingly cute (and I know you’re supposed to be of Indian heritage but I kept picturing you as this lovely chap. Mmmmhmm.) and you’ve been through a lot. But gosh you are dim. But more on this in your own section, boyo. I also would have liked this book to be a bit darker. There is a lot of really grim stuff hinted at (What did Cassel actually do?/ Grandpa channelling his inner Dumbledore/ Blowback) but it was never really explored. Considering this book is about powerful horrifying mobsters who can destroy/control/manipulate you with their hands… this book was a far far too tame. MORE VIOLENCE PLEASE. I have faith and hope that these few quibbles will be ironed out in the other books of the series. I got the impression that Ms Black was testing the waters a little bit and hopefully she’ll take the plunge and wallow in the grimy potential that these books have. Also… when Mr Eisenberg was chatting on about the cats in Cassel’s back garden all I could think of was this. So I would giggle to myself nervously... because what would happen if cats had thumbs?
Hero. Right, back to Cassel. I really did like Cassel. He was funny and smart and, like I mentioned before, I’d definitely fancy him in real life… even if he did randomly change race for no reason. But by gum was he dumb. Seriously, it took him forever to realise what was happening around him and I know, I know… the story does kind of explain why he was all confused but… Mate, you’re supposed to be a conman, you’re supposed to be on the ball. When it got to the big reveal scenes and Cassel was all like ‘What?! WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN?!’ I got really confused because I thought we’d already found that out. I’m obviously too clever for my own good.. but yeah, Cassel. Sort it out. Also, please become more gruff and angry. You’re on your way but I would like more ‘Oomph’ next time. I’m awarding you a ‘B’ at the moment but you need to pull your socks up. Also, you are very forgiving. This would be commendable in most circumstances but I’m sure no one would judge you if you threw a punch at a wall or ate the last piece of pizza or something equally as aggressive. Get your own back! All these points will make no sense whatsoever if you haven’t read this book but I needed to get them off my chest. I did like Cassel though and I thought Ms Black/Mr E did a great job in portraying your bumblingness and your honesty… even if you are a little slow. It’s endearing…. Ish.
Best Friend. I loved Sam and Danika (Daneka? Danecka? Whatevs), Cassel’s friends from school. Sam is a complete goof who, even though he was also a little thick and didn't react normally in situations where it would be OK to freak out, I would like to be friends with him. And get drunk with him… because I can imagine him being a great drinking buddy. And buying the first round. And D (gonna stick with that) was also great if not a little bit of a cliché goody two-shoes. But I think these two will get to stretch their legs a little in the next two books… or at least I hope so.
Love Interest. I don’t want to say much about this but I really loved what Black did with this. It was original and, considering the cracked out circumstances, really realistic. And also…. I can’t believe I’m saying this. But if we’re heading in Triangle Infested Waters…. I think I’ll be OK with it. Urgh, I feel dirty.
Baddie(s). OK, these baddies have potential. Especially two of them. But I was a little disappointed with one of them…. I was expected him to get all Brando-esque. But alas, he did not. Apologies for the vagueness… but spoilers are lurking.
Memory- Elaine Page. I’M KIDDING. Or am I? I was at first but then I listened to the words several times (for research purposes only, of course. And then I had to watch this just to be sure my reasoning was correct… *ahem* ) and realise that the lyrics are poignant and beautiful and particularly apt for our fluffy white titular character.
Touch me/ It’s so easy to leave me/ All alone with my memory/ Of my days in the sun/ If you touch me/ You’ll understand what happiness is/ Look a new day has begun.
Um, I’m pretty sure Trevor Nunn wrote this song with this book in mind. But fine… I know people hate musicals because they are ridiculous human beings who have no sense of JOY in their lives and have no soul. So you can have this one which has no relevance whatsoever except it talks about cats and it allows you to make strange noises when you sing along to the chorus. But you made your choice…. Yeah, you made your choice. Lovecats- The Cure.
Angst Level. 5/10. Like I mentioned before, there was definitely a sense of darkness looming within these pages (or in my headphones… um…) and one that could really have been really affective and harrowing if explored deeper. I have my appendages crossed for this to be remedied in the next books, which I can’t wait to read. Also, for the emotional stuff… Cassel isn’t really a whinger which is great, because there was a great chance that this book could have been filled with countless ‘WHY ME?!’s. But it wasn’t. Ms Black seemed to set the groundwork for a slightly more unhinged Cassel (which, considering the circumstances… is perfectly understandable.) which, again, I hope gets developed in the next books.
Recommended For. People who are looking for a great new series to sink their teeth into. People who like the dark side of magic. People who like pretty, sparkly stones. People who don’t understand what is going on around them… even if it has flashing lights, loud sirens and shoots glitter in your face at sporadic moments. People who wish their brothers would take them out for pizza on a Tuesday night *glares in vague direction of my brother which is probably nowhere near to where he actually is because my geography is shocking* People who feel that Elaine Page sings directly to their soul when she sings 'Memory'. People who thought Godfather Part 3 would have been better with more elbow length gloves.
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“I do have more memories of Cameron, things I know for sure, good and bad. Like: (…) How us being together all the time made us a bigger target, the“I do have more memories of Cameron, things I know for sure, good and bad. Like: (…) How us being together all the time made us a bigger target, the whole of our exile being greater than the sum of our outcast parts. How we didn’t care because we had each other.”
Initial Final Page Thoughts. I loved that ending and it was so perfect and exactly what would happen if this book was real life… but I couldn’t help being underwhelmed by the whole story. I wish I hadn’t started off my Zarr-ventures with How To Save a Life because that book spoiled me. But even though I wasn’t too struck with the story and the characters… the writing, in true Zarr form, was breath-taking and toe-tingling.
High Points. Cameron. Jennifer. Drama club. The past. Strength. Friendship. Childhood. First loves. Security. Letters. Dollhouses. Family. Cheap, blue rings. That ending.
Low Points. You know when you finish a book and you’re like: eh. But you can’t pinpoint why? This was one of those books for me. I didn’t like Jenna as a narrator and I’m not sure why. I wish this book had been told from Jennifer’s p.o.v, I connected with her a lot more and I would have loved to see what she would have come up with. Also, and I hate to keep comparing it to HTSAL… but I’m gonna do it anyway, I so wish that this book was told from dual perspective. Cameron’s story was so compelling and the snapshots I got just wasn’t enough. I didn’t feel like I knew him at all. I love the cover but it gives me the overwhelming urge to snaffle delicious sweet treats all the live long day.
Heroine. Just building on more of what I said above, Jenna was a tricky heroine. I didn’t hate her and she wasn’t too dumb or that much of a push-over and she kind of had a good head on her shoulders. I feel like I may need to use more italics to emphasize my point. It seemed like Jenna was just there. She wasn’t making waves and I like my heroines to make waves. Jennifer on the other hand (who was Jenna before she became Jenna… don’t worry, she’s not an alien. OR IS SHE?!) was brilliant. She was feisty, she was strong, she was no nonsense, but she was also vulnerable and I had a lot of time for her. I just couldn’t help but think Jenna was a shell of what she used to be and it made me sad. Maybe that was the point…. But it still made me sad.
Love Interest. Hero. Yeah, he’s a hero, right? He’s definitely not a love interest… unless you count mine. Which then, yeah he’s totally a love interest. Sorry… what was I saying? Oh yes Cameron. Oooh Cameron. You little cherub. I won’t talk too much about you because I think you’re background is best not known if you haven’t read the book. But I loved you in the past, the present and the future. And I wish we’d heard things for your side. Also, I always thought that sending anonymous bouquets of “sun golden” roses was the epitome of romance… and it still is. But, let me tell you, making a girl a dollhouse for her birthday from scratch would come pretty damn close.
Whenever listen to The XX is always have this urge to turn the lights off in my room, crawl under the covers and just immerse myself within their music. The same thing goes when I read a book by Ms Zarr.
"I’m setting us in stone Piece by piece before I’m alone Air tight before we break Keep it in Keep us safe"
Fragility, desperation, loss, hope, determination, love. When I thought of Jenna and Cameron’s relationship, I instantly thought of this song. It's just stunning. “I’ve been underwater Breathin’ out and in I’m think I’m losin’ where you end and I begin”
Boy Angst. 2/10. You’ll probably wonder why I’ve even bothered putting this in because the scoring is so low. But I wanted to include two points, not for Jenna, but for me. This is just a personal gripe but it annoys me so much: Why do YA heroines always need a mysterious and sexy boy with dark hair to make them realise that their current boyfriend is dull, boring, chauvinistic and blonde not right for them? Ethan: Whatever with you and your entire existence.
Sadness Scale. 8/10. You’ll probably wonder why, seeing as I’ve been whinging all the way through this review, I’ve given it such a high rating. This is all down to Ms Zarr’s ability to write emotion like it’s coming from her soul. Or something equally as dramatic and metaphorical. Her writing is so subtle and quiet but oh my gosh can she pack a punch when she wants to. Her writing is so raw and powerful that even though I wasn’t fussed about Jenna, I couldn’t look away just in case I missed a sentence that made my heart tremble. We all know that there’s certain Aussie lady who can portray human emotions in this way (and when I say this I mean clutch at your heart and shake your soul and make your muscles ache with the beauty of the words and… um well, you get it) but I have to say, judging by the feeling of shock, awe, numbness and understanding I feel after I’ve finished one of her books, Ms Zarr is standing right beside her. I don’t want to go into the nitty gritty of the story, because like I said, it’s best not knowing. But this book is truly sad considering every thing that happens to the characters in the past and the present. However, the issues are dealt with tact, understanding and, most importantly, without judgement.
Recommended for. People who like to read books that are about friendship. People who aren’t fussed about a clear happily-ever-after. People who like dollhouses. People who have ever wished they could press the reset button on their life. People who like it when they get notes in their lunchboxes. People who enjoy Milky Ways. People who have ever wondered what happened to their primary school crush. (Basically, he got HOT)
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"But this beat is fast and even though his joints are aching, his arm's out of control like it has a mind of its own and the sweat that drenches his h"But this beat is fast and even though his joints are aching, his arm's out of control like it has a mind of its own and the sweat that drenches his hair and face seem to smother him, but nothing's going to stop Tom. He's aiming for oblivion.”
Initial Final Page Thoughts. I feel so very stricken. How does MM do these things to my soul?
High Points. Thomas Finch Mackee. Family. History. Honesty. Grief. Reality. Late night phone calls. Sydney International Airport. Attics. E-Mails. Impossible questions. Getting the right chord.
Low Point. Two thoughts: Ugh, yeah, I really don’t like Will. and WHERE WAS JIMMY?!
Hero. I feel like I need to quote Tara Finke here before I start what will be known as the ‘Torrent of Love for Tom F. Mackee’.
“Thomas Mackee is the last bastion of arrested development and hormonal retardation.” (SF)
Thomas Finch Mackee is not a likeable character. If you met him in the street, you’d probably want to punch him or shake him or slap him or just yell at him until your lungs are raw because he is so infuriating. He makes terrible decisions, he has no definite goals, he’s callous and he’s an awful, awful, awful friend/son/nephew/boyfriend (nearly wrote ‘lover’ then, but you know that would have been a lie ;-) ) But from page one of this book (I’m ignoring Saving Francesca here because I think I made my love for him clear in my review ), I fell in love with him all over again, in spite of all his flaws. Maybe even because of his flaws. He’s confused, he’s angry, he’s sad and he’s desperate and if this was any other book or any other writer I would’ve been like “Urgh, just sort your life out preferably somewhere where I’m not” but every time Tom was hurting, my heart completely broke and my gut wrenched and all of those t’other metaphors. Thus is the power of Ms Marchetta. Witchcraft, I say. I think it would be easy for people to not like Tom, and even though I’d think you were completely loopy I would understand, it’s important to remember that this book finds Tom at rock bottom and it is his journey through his grief and learning to forgive and love that makes Tom, and this book, so perfect in my eyes.
Georgie. Ohh, Georgie. I loved how she was just as flawed as the rest of them and made no apologies. Her entire world is falling apart around her and she’s a mess, but she still gets there in the end. I love how the relationship between the past, the present and the future of her family were depicted through Georgie. And those e-mails? Sob. Also, some of the exchanges between Georgie and Tom were absolutely hilarious. Their dynamic was really excellent.
Love Interest. Tara Finke. The girl who “makes his heart beat fast”. It’s difficult to talk about Finke because, bar a few pages, she isn’t actually in this book as a real person but more of a memory and a blatant reminder to Tom at how far he had fallen and screwed up everything that was important to him. But the rambling e-mails and late-night phone calls were highly entertaining and extremely sweet.
Jimmy. Yes, he gets his own heading because there was a blatant Jimmy-shaped hole missing in this book. Although… I did notice on page 127 that Francesca says “Jim doesn’t want to be found just yet.” Hm. Just yet, eh? I’m going to hold out for a book purely about Thomas Mackee and Jimmy Hailler and Jonah Griggs and the road trip they go on to reconnect and bond. Also on this road trip they would inexplicably find themselves in Manchester. *shifty look*
Theme Tune. OK, I think I need to create a Thomas Finch Mackee playlist because I have approximately a million songs I want to listen to with him while we’re sat in Georgie’s attic surrounded by all his crap link with him. But I’ve narrowed it down to two. Well… technically fourteen. My theme album for him would be Urban Hymns by The Verve. Every song on this album is beautiful and raw and passionate and brutal and poetic and I like to think that Tom would appreciate the ridiculously amazing musical composition that goes into every single one of their songs. And also, I think the conflicts that were rife in between the band members have a certain kind of resonance with Tom’s character and his own destructive relationships. If I had to pick one song from the album it would be this one. Lucky Man- The Verve.
And the other song choice stems from my thoughts about Tom’s relationship with his dad which stood out to me as the one that was most the poignant. Marchetta’s portrayal of the breakdown of Tom’s relationship with his dad, who had been placed on such a high pedestal, was so perfectly executed that every scene the two of them were in together made me sob like a girl feel very sad. There was such a bitter-sweet tinge to every conversation and every look and every memory they had together. So this song is dedicated to Tom and the piper and I hope that one day they will return to how they used to and Tom will want to follow his hero once more.
Angst Level. 10/10. There isn’t much I can say about this that I haven’t already mentioned or that I don’t want to spoil. This book doesn’t hold any prisoners and it doesn’t offer any easy quick-fix answers or solutions to the issues that are brought up. This book is a refreshing change from the typical YA book, especially because not only is Tom older than the usual YA hero (he’s twenty one) but we also have the perspective of Georgie, who is in her early forties.
Recommended For. Everyone. People who haven’t read Saving Francesca (or, people who have read SF, I just mean you don’t need to have read it because even though there are overlaps… this is Tom’s book). People who have a thing for bad boys. People who think it’s a crime to rhyme. People who come and go and talk of Michaelangelo. People who can read about Norton Anthologies without having heart palpitations (the horror… the horroooor). People who wish that there was a key on your computer to stop an e-mail being sent once you pressed ‘Send’. People who instantly think of watching Neighbours when they’re supposed to be writing essays when they read the word ‘pash’. People who wish more people would read this book so they didn’t think they were a mental when they announce that “It’s time to STD’.