The narration of this novel is so deceptively mature that I'm not sure if it's written for nostalgic adults or grown-up children. The story is about A...moreThe narration of this novel is so deceptively mature that I'm not sure if it's written for nostalgic adults or grown-up children. The story is about Annemarie Wilcox and her life as she shifts from summer into her seventh grade year. But don't be fooled! This isn't a light and fluffy coming-of-age novel. This book has some crazy depth.
Annemarie, also known as Shug, is dealing with all of the horrible territory that comes with the age of twelve. She has a crush on her best friend, who is a guy, and who barely sees her as anything other than a partner for bike rides. She is suffering the fringe treatment from girls her own age--not completely left out but not really included either. She's too tall, too outspoken, and doesn't even own a two-piece suit. All of these are strikes against her.
Underneath the typical strife of seventh grade, Shug has a layer of home troubles too. Her sister is distant. Her mother is aloof and a drunk. Her father rarely comes home and when he does, he only stays long enough to fight with his wife. One of Shug's best Thanksgiving dinners was a patch-up meal from KFC when her mom forgot to cook the turkey.
The actual subject matter of Shug isn't what sets it apart from fellow modern coming-of-age novels. What makes this novel different is the way it's told. When I was in senior English in high school, my teacher had us listen to "Wonderful" by Everclear in order to teach how to tell a story without actually telling the story. It's a more powerful story in the end if it's told by describing actions and implying the end message instead of outright stating what that message is meant to be.
Shug is all about that, right down to the last period after the last word on the last page. You don't know how bad her home life is until maybe a third of the way through the book, because she mentions little things or she'll bring up a specific event here and there. It isn't until you've collected maybe a third of the pieces that the puzzle even starts to look like a family of ducks, right? So, in that aspect... Jenny Han took home the gold. Very beautifully done.
My only problem, aside from the fact that this story broke my heart a little (and sort of made me remember lots of parts of middle school that I really wish I could forget), is that sometimes it was hard for me to tell if I could appreciate this book when I was Shug's age. I really can't tell the audience for which this was written and sometimes Shug seemed a little too wise. It is in character for her to be wiser than her years, considering the home life she has, but every once in a while... her words seemed too old, even for her. And a lot of the references made, like when Shug's friend Elaine dresses as Daisy from The Great Gatsby on Halloween, aren't ones I would expect a middle-grader to understand. So this is a lot of what confused me about the audience. But then again, maybe these things just make Shug a novel for all ages.
I think Shug is a character with which many can identify. Readers will love her from start to finish, and some of us may even know a Shug of our own. Her story is bittersweet and worth the read.(less)
I really love Kelly Oram’s writing. It’s like she can look in my brain, see what type of book I want to read, and then magically create the perfect ch...moreI really love Kelly Oram’s writing. It’s like she can look in my brain, see what type of book I want to read, and then magically create the perfect characters to go along with the brilliant plot of my dream book. It’s amazing, honestly. It really is. I’ve read The Avery Shaw Experiment twice. I wanted to write a review for it right away, but I couldn’t gather my thoughts and properly translate them into a review. I’m going to try to do that now, though.
The story: Avery Shaw has grown up as half of a duo. She and her (male) best friend, Aiden, were practically raised together and don’t really know how to be separate people. On New Year’s Eve, Aiden drops a bomb (more like eight of them) and tells Avery that he wants some space to do his own thing (meaning he has also bailed on Avery for their science fair project). Avery, being head over heels in love with Aiden, is absolutely devastated to hear this and even more heartbroken to learn Aiden has a secret girlfriend.
Enter Grayson Kennedy, sudden hero to Avery and older brother to Aiden. Grayson was there for Avery during her first moments of heartbreak and in being so, has seen a side of her he never knew existed. ("When a girl lets you be the one to hold her as her entire world falls apart, even though you're ass naked, it changes the way you see her.") She’s always been a little sister to him and, despite suddenly seeing her as NOT a little sister, he wants nothing more than to help her through her heartbreak.
…Which now leads us to the main point of the story. Avery Shaw decides her science fair experiment will be testing her theory that by going through the seven stages of grief, she will be able to cure her broken heart. Grayson, needing the extra credit, and Avery, needing the science fair partner, join forces in this experiment.
This was Oram's first novel from both male and female perspectives and I feel like she really succeeded in her endeavor. The plot was perfect for the dual perspectives because of the tie-in of the science experiment. Avery is experiencing the heartbreak and stages of grief first hand and Grayson is helping her transform and grow throughout the whole experience. So seeing the story from both sides also adds to the whole scientific aspect of the plot as well.
The characters in The Avery Shaw Experiment were lovable and well-developed for such a fun read. Avery was cute and vulnerable, but not in an annoyingly helpless way that some female characters tend to be. She suffers from an anxiety disorder and with the addition of her geek factor, she’s awkward and needy without being an embarrassment to the female gender. Which is perfect, because Grayson is a dream come true with his tendencies to swoop in and rescue Avery from total meltdown. He’s the whole package—blond hair, blue eyes, sports star, and armed with charm 24/7. And on top of that, he’s turning over his girl-hopping ways as he becomes smitten with Avery.
So really, I think one of the ways in which this book is most successful is that The Avery Shaw Experiment takes clichéd plot elements and character qualities and uses them in such a way that the story is original and the characters are entirely new, not just recycled from dozens of other novels and used in the same way with different names as per usual.
This isn’t a book to read for an hour of thought provocation post completion. But it’s fun without lacking any depth. It’s a new spin on the geek/jock mesh that is so popular in teen media. The Avery Shaw Experiment has become one of my go-to reads for whenever I want that warm-fuzzy feeling I love so much! (less)
I totally devoured this book from start to finish. I didn't want it to end! The fact that it only cost me a dollar amazes me. I was looking for a chea...moreI totally devoured this book from start to finish. I didn't want it to end! The fact that it only cost me a dollar amazes me. I was looking for a cheap, mildly interesting read to entertain me on a budget and what I found was a hidden gem. Demon hunters aren't necessarily a new idea by any means, but the execution and the characters made Demons at Deadnight stand out among the multitude of paranormal romances crowding the YA scene.
Something that continues to elude me is authors' abilities to weave several characters smoothly into a story, each of them being unique and interesting. It's a tough task to accomplish and this task was accomplished flawlessly in Demons at Deadnight. At first, there were so many boys I had a hard time keeping track. But as I progressed through the novel, each of the Hex Boys (Hexy Knights, LOL!) developed a distinct personality and each of them were likable in their own way. Although Matthias took until the end of the book to grow on me. I especially enjoyed the Ishida twins, though.
Aside from the plot and characters, the part of the book that appealed to me the most was how outrageously funny it was! I was laughing throughout the whole book. Those Hex Boys were cracking my shit up left and right, not to mention Aurora was a witty and lovable narrator--making the book delightful to read from start to finish.
To sum it all up, what I like about this book I mean, I'll just say... everything. I like everything about this book. And I will sit there and wait with extreme impatience for the next installment of the Divinicus Nex Chronicles.(less)
I fell in love with this book about 5 pages in. By page 9, I was texting my bestie and telling her about the awesomeness. So, what I'm trying to say.....moreI fell in love with this book about 5 pages in. By page 9, I was texting my bestie and telling her about the awesomeness. So, what I'm trying to say... is that this immediately became one of my favorites.
The main character, Ellie, is a tomboy to the max--complete with an athletic build, a reputation for being kick-ass at street hockey, a right hook no guy would be ashamed of, and even 3 best friends/sidekicks all of the male variety. She has an older sister who is precisely the opposite of Ellie, meaning blonde, popular, and obsessive with appearance and whatnot.
Here is where the story kicks off, though... a new guy moves into the house across the street from Ellie in her Detroit suburb, and she and her sister quickly work spying on New Guy as he works out every morning into their daily schedules. For Angela, her sister, this isn't terribly abnormal. But for Ellie... well, she's never taken time out from her street hockey to brush her hair, and especially not to spy on attractive guys minus their shirts.
Meanwhile... there have been some murders in the Detroit area with victims that look suspiciously like Ellie. If that's not frightening enough for her, add in the completely foreign feeling of attention from New Guy unlike any Ellie has experienced before: attraction. So that by itself would be enough to weird her out, but add in the Ellie-shaped murder victims and she's seriously freaking out.
And then comes the suspicion. Ellie starts to piece things together and decides it might be a possibility that the murderer is none other than Hottie New Guy. So why isn't she running like a cat from a bath when it comes to New Guy?
Not only does Serial Hottie execute a truly delicious romantic comedy, it also weaves in crime/mystery effortlessly. And while generally we may be thinking, "WTF Ellie?! Get away from him!" the way Oram writes the characters and expresses Ellie's thoughts and feelings, we know exactly why she isn't running scared because as a reader, we feel that way too.
With the exception of Ellie's parents and Angela's friends, and aside from Ellie's besties being totally interchangeable, the characters are unique and well-developed. And did I mention this book was funny? Because it's totally hilarious. Basically, I'm tempted to go reread Serial Hottie and I only started/finished it yesterday!
So... you should go read it. Now. You can't see, but I'm definitely Jedi mind tricking you. Do you feel compelled to read this awesomeness yet?(less)