A mix of Blue Bloods, Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, Strange Angels, and just about any other mythical, fallen-angels and creatures-of-the-n...moreA mix of Blue Bloods, Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, Strange Angels, and just about any other mythical, fallen-angels and creatures-of-the-night books you might think of. A jumble that fits perfectly in the hidden world created by Cassandra Clare. Some may accuse the book of 'stealing' ideas already used in many stories, but others see it as being inspired and using knowledge from varied sources and mixing it in a way that works.(less)
What would you do to right a wrong? Alex Patrick turns to her fellow students. She has reason to believe that she's been date-raped. Searching for jus...moreWhat would you do to right a wrong? Alex Patrick turns to her fellow students. She has reason to believe that she's been date-raped. Searching for justice, she turns to her peers - in the form of the Mockingbirds. Under the guise of an a capella singing group, the Mockingbirds are dedicated to bringing justice to the student body when the administration doesn't.
At first, The Mockingbirds felt like some modern adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird. The further I read, the more I understood that it was more than that.
The writing of The Mockingbirds isn't immaculate. But that's irrelevant, because The Mockingbirds doesn't need perfect grammar to be inspirational. In fact, there's even inspiration in those extra pages in the backs of books.
I swear, the extra pages of this book are a gold mine of inspiration. Take a look at the Author's Note. Daisy Whitney admits to having been date-raped in college. But then she takes it further and explains the whole story - how date-rapes were often ignored, how she turned to her student-run court, and how she finally stood up for herself and found justice. Some may call me somewhat cheesy, but I really think that the way Whitney wove her personal story with other literary works has truly produced a shining beacon in the name of justice.
Perhaps I should take a leaf out of Whitney's book right now and weave in a personal note of my own: I love the trial concept that Whitney whipped up for the Mockingbirds. It's was so stately and organized that I forgot how improbable the whole situation was and believed that the Mockingbirds' system was real. Cheers to that.
Oh Land's "Lean" was looping through my speakers for the last couple chapters. I think that it sharpened my senses or something, because the last part of the book feel extra spiky and emotional. But I'm also a big Oh Land fan. That might've played a part in that.
So I admit it: I'm head-over-heels in love with this book. I would recommend it to people even if I was one hundred percent sure that they wouldn't like it. That's how personal The Mockingbirds is to me. Rest assured, I'm going to try and nab the sequel very soon.(less)
Helen and Paris. Two faces who will forever go down in history as the ones who sparked the Trojan War. Two lives, forever cursed.
And more pairs who b...moreHelen and Paris. Two faces who will forever go down in history as the ones who sparked the Trojan War. Two lives, forever cursed.
And more pairs who bear the burden of this curse. Helen (a different one) and Lucas are on the brink of jump-starting yet another war. Josephine Angelini spins a tale of Greek mythology, romance, and the modern world to create the world of Starcrossed.
The superpower-type stuff in this book is pretty awesome (especially the flying), but there are a few other paramount tidbits that I must share with you about Starcrossed.
Be forewarned: the beginning of Josephine Angelini's debut novel can get a bit choppy, confusing, and amateur. But if you love Greek mythology as much as I do, you'll stick it out and tirelessly struggle through those first few chapters to unearth a beautiful conglomeration of YA Fiction-Mythology crossover. I was visibly relieved that Angelini managed to find her voice.
And what a wonderful voice it is. Angelini's take on one of the most ridiculously overdone love stories in history is original, captivating, and ever-so-subtly full of wit. She takes the absurd "Face Who Launched A Thousand Ships" and dextrously twists it into her storyline and claims it as her own (As an added bonus, Angelini also makes the whole Trojan War scenario make more sense). She is a master storyteller, not unlike those celebrated storytellers of Ancient Greece.
I am elated that there is actually good mythological contemporary fiction in this world other than Percy Jackson. Thank you, Josephine Angelini. I applaud you, and I look forward to your next book. (less)
Ginny feels that she has a boring life. In fact, the only time she feels not-boring is when she's with her somewhat eccentric artist aunt. So Ginny re...moreGinny feels that she has a boring life. In fact, the only time she feels not-boring is when she's with her somewhat eccentric artist aunt. So Ginny receives 13 little blue envelopes from her aunt with instructions to buy a plane ticket to London, she's quick to venture off on a journey that will go beyond making her life un-boring.
Even in the midst of my paranormal-dystopian funk, I still was very much entertained by Maureen Johnson's 13 Little Blue Envelopes. I especially love the way that Johnson portrayed the travel aspect of 13 Little Blue Envelopes. She made everything feel a lot less touristy and more "Hello, stranger from another country! Do you want some cake?". Needless to say, that was my most favorite aspect of the book (not that the rest of it wasn't just as amusing)
Although most of Ginny's adventures aren't very plausible, 13 Little Blue Envelopes injected me with a kind of giddy feeling to log onto Mystery Seeker and ask "What is my mission?" (hopefully MLIA readers will understand this)
New mission? Scout out the sequel, The Last Little Blue Envelope.(less)
At Maxfield Academy, the choices are: Society Havoc Variant
Benson must join one in order to survive.
But he is determined to escape.
And he can trust only...moreAt Maxfield Academy, the choices are: Society Havoc Variant
Benson must join one in order to survive.
But he is determined to escape.
And he can trust only himself.
Variant's blurb seems overdramatized, but it's not. Maxfield Academy is truly nightmarish. In a novel reminiscent of William Goldberg's Lord of the Flies, Robinson Wells contorts reality, manifests horror, and messes with your mind. And he creates all that fear with surprising grace.
First, this whole scenario is really creeptastic. Benson's trapped in this school. People who try to escape disappear at the hands of the school's own students. You must admit that it's pretty creepy. The average person (namely, me) would get pretty paranoid. But Wells is good about not over-scaring his readers. He just manipulates them into reading faster. And his tactics work.
This book has got a lot of action, but not the kind of action where people go out and beat everything to a pulp. The action in Variant is carefully calculated to mess with your mind. I don't see that kind of thought put into the action element of a book very much. That's my excuse for totally obsessing over Variant.
The instant I finished I was like, WHOA. EVERYONE MUST READ THIS. And that's completely unbiased. I was about ready to force the book onto anyone who passed by. For other good books, I would just be like "Huh. That was much better than those other books." So Variant is pretty special to me.(less)
Trekking across desert. Kidnappings and cage fighting in large cities. A rescue mission to find a lost twin. One can find all this (and more) in Blood...moreTrekking across desert. Kidnappings and cage fighting in large cities. A rescue mission to find a lost twin. One can find all this (and more) in Blood Red Road, the first book in the Dustlands series.
There's been lots of hype over this book. It doesn't come undeseved. The quick pace keeps you on the edge of your seat (though sometimes the pacing got a bit too quick and I missed a little info). Even its somewhat illiterate writing style (e.g. "I'm gonna git over there agin") lends the book a certain charm. I saw a lot of really good bits and pieces that reminded me of some other good dystopia/fantasy books. The writing style immediately pulled me into Patrick Ness's Chaos Walking series, which has a similar slang-type feel. The gladiator-type cagefighting reminded me of Girl in the Arena. And Saba's stubborness is so similar to Tamora Pierce's Beka Cooper that I had to laugh.
Moira Young is exceptional at crafting a strong protagonist. Saba is stubborn and tough, but good-hearted. She appears somewhat dependent on her twin at the beginning of the book, but when her twin is kidnapped, she really develops into this independent character that can handle nearly anything. Definitely a plus.
Lots of gritty fighting scenes in this book, which, let's be honest, are kind of exciting. All in all, Blood Red Road is pretty good dystopia with an adventurous twist. Lots of my Goodreads friends were obsessing over this book, so I'd say that if you give it a try, you'll probably like it.(less)
Jasper Dent's father is the world's most notorious serial killer. Jasper Dent was brought up by his dad. Jasper Dent had a messed up childhood. He des...moreJasper Dent's father is the world's most notorious serial killer. Jasper Dent was brought up by his dad. Jasper Dent had a messed up childhood. He desparately wants to avoid turning out like his dad, but could he be more like him than anyone knows?
Okay. So maybe this book sounds a teensy bit disturbing. And creepy. Especially when you look at the cover. And when you read the blurb. But let me assure you, the insides of this book are much, much better than the outsides. You know the saying, "don't judge a book by its cover"? Please put that into effect here.
I Hunt Killers is another juicy, gritty story by Barry Lyga. If anyone liked Hero-Type, you won't be disappointed with this book. Barry Lyga keeps on surprising me with his ahem, extensive imagination. But he also surprises me with his profound insight on tough moral questions (e.g. How do you know that you're not a killer when you were raised to be one?). My word of choice to describe his writing is gritty:
"You know I could kill you, right?" he said quietly, his coice measured and calm. "I could do it right now. Right now. And there's nothing you could do to stop me. Even though I've told you."
Literary elements all pass with flying colors. Jazz (Jasper) is a really likable character, disturbing thoughts and all. Barry Lyga is really good at writing from messed up points of view. I guess I should be worried about this, but all I really feel is admiration. The setting is in an unassuming place called Lobo's Nod, which kind of gives an air of "oh god, this could be happening right here . . . *rocks back and forth in hysteria, then reads book faster* . . .". Lots of good stuff happening.
There's no one who writes quite like Barry Lyga, but his acknowledgements give me a clue as to which YA writer friends influenced him. "My early readers deserve extra-special thanks: . . . Lisa McMann and the mighty, mighty Libba Bray." Now I think that he gets some of the deep moral thinking from Lisa McMann (author of Cryer's Cross), and his wildly outlandish ideas from Libba Bray (author of Going Bovine). But when I compare all of these authors, at the end of the day, Barry Lyga still manages to write with a style that is completely his own. (less)
A brilliantly strong start for a brilliantly strong writer, reflecting on internal confusion and external lies, classic dystopian and undeniable fresh...moreA brilliantly strong start for a brilliantly strong writer, reflecting on internal confusion and external lies, classic dystopian and undeniable freshness, and a tantalizing world which I hope I am going to see more of.
There's nothing in particular that makes this book really special to me except that it was written by a girl in high school, swamped with exams and the superficial call of college applications and GPAs. Kat Zhang seems to have followed her dreams at a time in life when dreams seem to be the most suppressed, and that alone makes this book special (not to mention the cover - it's a real looker, eh?). It's been a pleasure to bask in that inspiration.
Having two people in one body is really interesting - it begs the question of who is responsible for our actions and who is participating and who is observing. And though real people may not have that kind of internal conflict, I think it can reflect on our own selves, too - who is truly living and who is just going through the motions? Are we responsible for our actions or are we, to some degree, influenced by those around us?
So, yes. What's Left of Me is standard dystopian - corrupt government, romanticized resistance, one-sided characters and oversimplified relationships - but I can see the backbone, and I can see the good stuff, that stuff that helps us become better people, and Kat Zhang certainly deserves waves of recognition for that. (less)
"I come from people who know how to draw things out. Annoy a Southern...moreVery amusing. You want proof? Okay.
"When I have a bad night, I look at my dogs."
"I come from people who know how to draw things out. Annoy a Southerner, and we will drain away the moments of your life with our slow, detailed replies until you are nothing but a husk of your former self and that much closer to death."
"Clearly, Jerome and I had a complicated thing going on. He told me scary Jack the Ripper facts, and I had the sudden need to make out with him."
So I didn't expect much from this book. Sue me. But I do love me a good plot twist. Then again, I'm pretty oblivious, so maybe it was a pretty obvious...moreSo I didn't expect much from this book. Sue me. But I do love me a good plot twist. Then again, I'm pretty oblivious, so maybe it was a pretty obvious twist. No matter -- I still had fun.
However, there was just no substance in the book that stuck. I didn't particularly adore any character and there was nothing especially clever. It was like drinking a cool glass of pink lemonade in the dead of winter. - pleasant but a little out of place.
Mind, though, that there are two fantasy series whose plot twists and character complexity will never be matched. Of course, I am referring to the rather obscure Thief series, written by the inscrutable Megan Whalen Turner, and the infallible Finnikin of Rock trilogy. Worth a mention. (less)
The colloquialisms are adorable (I've no idea how Libba Bray worked abs-...moreBe warned, newcomers to Libba Bray:
This is a long book. Like, 600 pages long.
The colloquialisms are adorable (I've no idea how Libba Bray worked abs-o-tute-ly, jake, heebie jeebies, and [insert word]-ski into her vocabulary, but I grin like a fool at the slang), but the plot is saturated with melodrama, and the romance is as dry as last week's toast.
Bleh. Last week's toast. That was some pretty horrible romance. It was the kind of setup where there's the triangles and the squares and the polygons, and then I'm just so excited for the chaos (yes, yes, sadism, masochism, pleasure from pain, yada yada. All's fair in love and war, you know.), and then Bray turns around and writes something like, "the thrill of his touch traveled the length of her arm, and this, too, she tried to ignore" (direct quote, by the way).
And thus, cue the rolling of the eyes. My eyes rolled so much that they got dizzy. No joke.
But before dedicated fans let their attack dogs loose, let me tell you that I liked Diviners a whole lot, sucky romance aside. Love was a minor thing, (after all, there was basically only one kissing scene), and the plot was fun and the characters were misguided and funny and stupid and awesome (except for when they were trying to kiss other characters), and Libba continued her amazing streak of hilarious author's notes and acknowledgements (seriously, read her author's notes and acknowledgements. They're the bomb dot com, and I don't use that bad slang lightly), even though she needs work on her love polygons (seriously, if you don't want to write romance, just write story. GOOD STORIES DON'T NEED ROMANTIC LOVE!! News flash: there are other kinds of love. Like family. And friends.)
You can tell that I really know when to let go of a grudge *cough*(less)