I, for one, wanted to read Vanished because of how much I loved Cabot's Mediator series. If you haven't read that one yet: It's awesome. Really. And II, for one, wanted to read Vanished because of how much I loved Cabot's Mediator series. If you haven't read that one yet: It's awesome. Really. And I see a lot of the things I liked in the Mediator series in this one, too.
Now, on to the book. Books, I mean. I'm very, very glad this was a volume of the first two books, though, because I certainly wasn't ready to stop at just one.
I should probably start talking about the actual books right about now, shouldn't I? Yeah, probably.
So, I'll start with the characters.
Jessica (Jess) Mastriani is one of Meg Cabot's signature characters. She's smart, strong, witty, and has a short temper. These characteristics remind me a bit of Suze from the Mediator books, but Cabot does an excellent job of making them completely different people, with a few common characteristics. Just the ones that make them so easy to relate to. Jess is, despite her newfound power that I'm sure you read about in the summary, extremely relatable. I mean, who wouldn't at least want to punch the jock who called your best friend fat? I'd have punched him too, so right off the bat I knew that Jess would be a character I'd like reading about.
To sum up all that rambling: I thought Jess was awesome. And the struck-by-lightning = can-find-missing-people thing? Brilliant. And handled pretty realistically.
Rob was another character I liked. Sheesh, does Cabot know how to write a love interest! I lovelovelove Rob, which is saying something, because normally I don't go for bad-boys. Ever. But Meg Cabot did something I haven't seen in a long, long time: She made the "bad-boy" also a hero. I think that deserves applauding.
My one complaint about Rob is that he wasn't quite as three-demensional as I wanted him to be, but I know there are three more books, so I figure he'll get deeper as the story goes along.
I thought Sean was really annoying, but I liked him a little bit more by the end. And I liked Ruth a lot, despite it being "all Ruth's fault". I also liked Douglas, despite the voices in his head. And I liked Mr. G.
I didn't like Jess's mother, though.
Now, to talk about the plot, I probably need to split this bit in two;
***Warning: This Next Bit May Be Spoiler-ish***
When Lightning Strikes: This was my favorite of the two. I liked how everything was introduced really, really well, and how it was all written as Jess's "Statement". I loved how fast the plot moved along, and I loved Jess's inner narrative. Pure brilliance, and really fun to read. Psychic powers, missing people, "closed" military base, great love-interest, fantastic MC, lots of fun side characters, lots of action, and an exploding helicopter? Count me in! Plus, even though I've said it before, I'll say it again: Character gets struck by lightning, and when she wakes up in the morning she knows where missing people are? Brilliantly original.
Did I mention there's an X-Files reference? Am I the only person who grinned like an idiot at that? I love the X-Files. Even tiny references make me happy.
Code Name Cassandra: I liked this one, but not nearly as much as the first one. Personally, Summer Camp and Bratty Kids are two things I don't enjoy reading about, but Meg Cabot pulled it off the best anyone could. Even with my aversion to summer camp and bratty kids, I liked this book. It was fun, and there was more of witty Jess and swoon-worthy Rob, so I was happy. And I really like that Jess can play the flute. I wish I could play an instrument. Sadly, I am musical-instrument challenged. But it was fun to read the little mentions of flute players and music references. For a few hundred pages, I felt very in the loop. And I really, really liked the way this book ended. And the relation to the title, of course.
And Rob pretending he never wanted to hear from Jess again, and then coming back all worried? It made me very pleased.
***Spoilers End Here***
Overall: Great volume. These first two books are great, and I can't wait to hunt down the next three. Meg Cabot is brilliant, and has some serious writing talent. This serious is another great example of that. Did this completely blow me away? No. Was it fun to read? Absolutely. I don't know how to rate this book, though...so I'm going to put three stars. That means "Liked it" or something, right? Oh, whatever. It's the review that matters more than the stars anyway. And even more so: the great book.
Where She Went broke my heart into a thousand little tiny pieces, and then, just when I thought it would leave me that way, and ruined as Adam was, itWhere She Went broke my heart into a thousand little tiny pieces, and then, just when I thought it would leave me that way, and ruined as Adam was, it glued all those pieces back together, better than they were before.
This book was heartbreaking. And then it was brilliant. And then it was wonderful. And then it was the completion of one of the best love stories I've ever read. But no, completion isn't the right word. Mia and Adam are still out there in fiction-space New York, and London, and Korea, and Chicago, and Oregon, living out their lives. Where She Went was the continuation of their love story, not the completion. And it isn't one of those sappy everything-turns-out-perfect love stories either. It's one that rings true. It's hard, and gritty, and shocking, and breaks your heart before it builds it back up, and then does so again and again for good measure.
As much as I loved If I Stay, I loved Where She Went even more. It's always the aftermath that tugs on my heartstrings. It's the aftermath of tragedy, the aftermath of trauma that really cut into me. While If I Stay was about the middle of the trauma, Where She Went is all about the after.
Something about Adam's voice in this book also rings so true. Truer, even, than Mia's in the first book. Adam is so relatable, so honest, so real that I couldn't stop reading, and my heart broke for and with him. Every emotion he had, every thought that went through his head, seemed so real to me. I read this book straight through in an afternoon, because I couldn't bring myself to break away from its world for one minute. It became my reality for those hours I read it.
When Adam was angry with Mia, part of me did the same. The other part, however, understood what Mia was doing. I understood her. While I haven't lost my whole family (my mother and sister are still alive and well), I have lost my father. Something about your whole world changing in an instant makes you want to change the rest of it, for your own survival. I understood that. I also understood why, even when her anger and need to start over dissipated, she didn't go and tell him. She thought he'd moved on with his life. He was the only person who knew that he hadn't.
Adam's love for Mia, behind all the anger, rang truer than anything else. That's love. Not the shiny, sparkly shit you read about in the most popular paranormal romance. Love is hard. Losing love breaks you apart. And losing the kind of love Adam and Mia have, the kind of love she chose to live for, is even more heartbreaking.
The ending, however, makes this book emotional in a totally different way. It's wonderful. It's beautiful. It's exactly the way I hardly dared hope it would end. It's not happily-ever-after by any means, but it's the closest us human souls get.
The little things about the book I loved as well. The songs that Adam wrote, and the title of their album (Collateral Damage is what Adam was, I suppose). I loved every place they went in New York. I've only been to the city a few times, but my father was from there, so it holds a place in my heart all the same. Mia's sentiments about remembering her family, and how they were keeping tabs on her rang true as well. I feel exactly the same way about my Dad.
I loved the scene in the greek diner, the one on the ferry, the one in the secret park/garden. I bawled so hard I could hardly see the pages during the scene on the Brooklyn Bridge. In fact, I cried through a lot of this book, but I don't think I've ever cried so hard for fictional characters as I did during that scene.
The ending of this book is what built all the pieces of my broken, bawling heart back together. It fit so well that it's probably also the reason this book now holds a worthy place as one of my favorites of all time.
Read this. Read If I Stay first, but read this one as well. You need to hear Adam's promise real time in If I Stay before you start Where She Went, but this book is even better. Because "after" is so much more complicated than "during". After is what really breaks people. After is what counts. Where you go in the aftermath determines the real outcome.
And Mia and Adam? They hold first place on my mental list of the most real literary couples of all time....more
**spoiler alert** First off, I admit that my opinion and review of Entwined by Heather Dixon may be a little bit biased, because The Twelve Dancing Pr**spoiler alert** First off, I admit that my opinion and review of Entwined by Heather Dixon may be a little bit biased, because The Twelve Dancing Princesses is my all-time favorite fairytale. It has been since I was really young. Don't ask me why, because I'm not sure I know why. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the princesses weren't doormats. Anyway, it's my favorite and I've read it a thousand times. I have not, however, read many retellings of it, because there aren't many. So when I heard that Entwined was a remake of the Twelve Dancing Princesses, I was thrilled.
Plot: It's hard to find an original plot in a fairytale retelling, and it's true that the plot of any retelling is going to be predictable. I knew that going in. The key to retelling a fairytale well is dramatic irony. You, the reader, know how it ends, but the characters do not. Heather Dixon does this very well. I knew that the Keeper couldn't be a good guy, because I knew that the twelve girls wouldn't keep going to the pavilion forever. I knew that Azalea would marry Mr. Bradford from the minute he stepped onto the pages, because he was the roughed-up soldier who showed up at the party. I knew that Mr. Bradford would be the one to solve the riddle for the same reason. But amidst all the parts I knew all too well, were new elements. The Parliament, the royalty that was anything but wealthy, the mourning, the sword, the silver handkerchief, they were all things Heather Dixon added, and they all kept me even more interested. The plot moved along at a believable pace, and was resolved in a breathtaking climax.
Main Character: Azalea is anything but weak. Her mother dies at the beginning of the book, but she keeps going (something I found both relatable and admirable). She takes care of her sisters. She has faults, sure. Many of them, in fact, and her grudge against the King before understanding his half of the story is top among them. This is resolved, however, because Azalea is not afraid to change and grow and learn from past mistakes. She's brave, as well, facing up to the Keeper to save her sisters, and to find out if Keeper really has trapped her mother's soul. Her recurring dreams about her mother after the death were realistic (I've had similar dreams since my father died), and her overall attitude worked well in the story. I also enjoyed the fact that the reader is in Azalea's mind the entire story. I wish more fairytales were told that way originally, with a key character to connect to.
Characters: Azalea's eleven sisters were all individual characters (with the exception of the twins, who I couldn't ever get a real grasp on, Hollyhock, who's only defining characteristic was that she lost things, and Ivy who spent the whole book eating stuff). Okay, so most of them were individual characters. Bramble and Clover got their own subplots, and Delphinium could always be trusted to say something snarky about the King or Azalea's love-life. The King was a character who got progressively more interesting and three-dimensional as the story went along. I hated him in the beginning, but learned to like him by the end. And then there were the suitors. Mr. Bradford was perhaps my favorite character, and I'll talk about his romance with Azalea in a minute. I loved how he paralleled the Soldier in the original fairytale, and I loved the whole plot point with his watch. Fairweller was a character I never quite understood, and I never fully got why most of the sisters hated him. Lord Teddie was funny, but two dimensional. But, that can be forgiven because he wasn't terribly important to the story. Keeper was an interesting character, and I suspected him to be the High King from the beginning (or, perhaps, from the blood-drinking tale). The magic, the history of the High King, and all the vows and oaths were unique to the story, and the Keeper sat at the heart of most of them. I hated him, sure, but I loved to hate him.
Romance: Romance is always a key part of a good fairytale, and it surely wasn't lacking here. It wasn't the main point, no, but it was there and I loved every minute of it. Azalea's romance with Mr. Bradford was my favorite, and they were clearly perfect for each other. It's nice to read a story where the MC ends up with he good guy. Their story was one of mistaken identity, crisis, and confusion, and it was a really cute love story. The proposal at the end was adorable. Clover/Fairweller, and Bramble/Lord Teddie were also cute romances, but we didn't see much of those.
Writing: I have great respect for anyone who dares retell a fairytale, and Heather Dixon did this really well. This is now and officially one of my favorite fairytale retellings, and it's of my favorite fairytale. How can I help but like it? I hope we see more from Heather Dixon, and maybe more fairytales.
Title and Cover: The cover is gorgeous, but I'm not sure who's on it. Azalea has auburn red hair. Oh well. It's still a gorgeous cover. And the title!!! Oh, how that leads right into the core of the plot. Entwined is a great title for this novel. And did you see the back cover? With the tower? Pretty! And I love the sparkly silver stuff.
Conclusion: This is an excellent retelling of an excellent fairytale. All the important bits from the original are there, along with the original framework of the plot, but with a lot of new elements and developed characters thrown in. I highly recommend. And did I mention the whole souls theme? No? Well, you'll just have to find out about that for yourself. It's brilliant, really. I'd say this is about 4.8/5 stars. I loved it to pieces, but I would've liked to have seen more of the suitors, and more scenes between Azalea and Mr. Bradford. I also would've liked it if the Wraith Cloak had been a bigger deal, because it was one of my favorite parts of the original. Other than those things, I have no complaints. For a fairytale retelling, and for a fantasy novel in general, it was brilliant. You should read it. Right now.
Song That Played In My Head The Whole Book: "The Art of The Soul" by Anna Nalick....more
**spoiler alert** And Everybody Died. Real or Not Real?
Now, I know what you're thinking. So I might as well spell it all out.
You: Not Real! Indigo, ev**spoiler alert** And Everybody Died. Real or Not Real?
Now, I know what you're thinking. So I might as well spell it all out.
You: Not Real! Indigo, everyone didn't die! Katniss and Peeta didn't die!
Me: Yeah, yeah they did.
You: They did not! What book were you reading?
And I might as well explain that to you. I was reading Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, and I think everyone died.
And that's not necessarily a bad thing, it's just a thing. The Katniss we met in The Hunger Games is dead. She is. And I don't dislike the Katniss that replaced her, I just miss the original.
The original Peeta is dead too, along with the original Gale. The characters who started this series weren't there when it ended, and I do understand why. They were all traumatized, I know. But that doesn't stop me from wishing for the first book's characters back.
But, for the sake of organization, I'll break down components.
Plot: Good, for a last book especially. But, unlike the other two books, the plot didn't really take center stage in this one. The trauma did. But most of the trauma had to do with the characters. And the deaths.
Main Character; As I've said, the tough, smart, firey girl that risked her life to save her sister in The Hunger Games died along with her. Or maybe before then. Regardless, she's gone. And the Katniss that replaced her makes sense. She's changed, grief-stricken, traumatized. And mostly broken. The saddest thing about this book was watching Katniss, who barely held on to a piece of who she was before, finally break. And let go. And the woman who ended this book in the epilogue of this last book is not the Katniss we met in the first chapter of this series, but she's someone. She's someone who survived, against all odds.
Other Characters: In the other two books, I was firmly "Team Gale". But the Gale I loved so much is dead, too. And his replacement isn't so likable. He's broken too, and doesn't handle it well. Although, Gale's change in behavior came across to me like an excuse for the author to choose between Peeta and Gale without pissing too many people off. And it worked, pretty much. But I could still see the excuse. Overlooking it wouldn't be hard, though. But, I don't like the new Gale. The man who replaced the boy I liked so much is...hateful.
Peeta is also broken. Oh, and he spends a lot of this book as pretty much a psychopath, and even attempts to kill Katniss. As much as I like Peeta by the very end of this book, and I like the ending, I will never be happy with anyone ending up with someone who tried to kill them, even if he was being controlled at the time. That's not okay. But, by the end of the book, as dead as original Peeta is, the guy who replaces him isn't bad. He loves Katniss, which is good. By the end of this book I was on his side. And the "Real or Not Real?" question was pretty much the base of this book. What was real? What wasn't? I don't know if anybody knew for sure, least of all me. But I liked how it ended. No happy ending, not really. No glitz and glamor, just reality. Just the aftermath of death, and the difficulty that comes with moving on.
A lot of characters I loved really did die, though. Dead and gone, they definitely are. The most shocking of all of them being Prim. And that's what finally broke me. The whole point of the series, the whole point of Katniss surviving was so that she could save her little sister. But Prim dies. And she's gone. So what is Katniss supposed to live for? Maybe that's why she finally let go of the person she was before.
Some side characters survived, but they were changed along with Katniss, Gale and Peeta. Annie was one of them (was I the only person who really liked her?), Johanna another, and I could go on and on.
Ending: Fitting. Realistic for the series. The way it always had to end.
Writing: I might as well mention that I haven't been a huge fan of Suzanne Collins writing. I don't mean anything bad about that, I just haven't enjoyed it. I'm one person. In the grand scheme of things, my opinions on choppy sentence structure may not mean anything. But SHEESH, does this woman know how to pull some heartstrings. I didn't even realize how attached I got to these characters until this book. So WOW.
Climax: Did I mention heartstrings? I did? Okay.
Cover: Looks great. Matches the rest of the series (I love all the other covers too), and has a Mockingjay on the front. But, it looks a little too....happy. Maybe that's the point. A Mockingjay rising from the rubble, or something like that.
Overall: Great conclusion to the series. I wasn't happy about most of it. I wouldn't say I liked it, because it was painful to read. Not because it was bad! It was really, really good. It was emotionally painful. But I think it was supposed to be. And I give Collins credit for making me cry. This book is a lot darker than the rest of the series, but I think it had to be. Suzanne Collins nailed the ending. If I had any misgivings about this series, they're long gone.
If you liked the rest of the series, and care about the characters, you HAVE to know how it ends.
And I, for one, will be remembering this book for quite a while. Real or Not Real?
Oh! I know someone who lived! Buttercup. I like him. (Maybe only because I love cats) ...more
Ah. The Hunger Games. Although I did stall a little bit on reading this one, I didn't stall the mammoth year a**spoiler alert** Catching Fire Review:
Ah. The Hunger Games. Although I did stall a little bit on reading this one, I didn't stall the mammoth year and a half that I did to read the first one. I have, however, been busy. So this one took me a while.
Also, at the time I started, it wasn't what I was in the mood to read. My reading "schedule" (if you can call it that) depends a lot on my mood. But, I want to be one of those people who run to their local bookshop tuesday in a mad rush to get their hands on a copy of Mockingjay.
So, I finally read Catching Fire.
Plot: I have to admit, I'm not as thrilled about this series as some people are. But, I do like it. In this book, however, I found the plot to be a lot slower than that of the previous one. I mean, I enjoyed the part where Katniss went home. I liked the concept of how her home life changed from surviving and being famous, and I liked the idea that she really couldn't go back to the "home" District Twelve was before, because she'd changed, and others had changed. That was great. I also liked the tour. But it dragged a little for me when the real "action" was supposed to begin. Yes, it's exciting that former victors now had to fight again. But it came across just like it was: an excuse to get back to the first book's plot. Which I liked the first time. But now, although I liked many more of the "tributes" this time, it was a little overused. That's not to say I didn't enjoy it, but it dragged. I did, however, like a lot of the plot in this book.
Main Character: Katniss seems a little weaker in this book (maybe she's just worn out by the effects of the last one), but she's still the strong character I loved. She's strong, and she's clever. Which is a great combination for a character. But, she had a bit of an issue dealing with other people. Others' emotions, specifically. No, this isn't a problem in the writing. It's a character trait. An interesting one at that. Aside from that, I don't have a whole lot more to say about her that I didn't in my The Hunger Games review.
Other Characters: I liked the other "tributes" (former victors) in the Hunger Games. I liked Prim, Madge, and a lot of other characters too. But I don't want to go into a kind of ramble about them. I've read some of those, and you can too, just not here.
What I really want to talk about is Peeta and Gale for a minute.
I'll be the first to admit that I didn't really take to Peeta in book one. But in this one, I started to more understand his side of the story. I'm still not Team Peeta, but I can see why so many people are. He's cute, his nice, and he can bake. What's not to like? I like Peeta. I just happen to like Gale more.
Now, Gale I love. Does he sometimes get annoying? Yes. But everyone in this book does. Katniss gets annoying much of the time. But, I love Gale anyway. And we really got a better look at Gale in this book, instead of just in flashback. He's protective, sweet, and really loves Katniss. And, he and Katniss have a lot in common. My heart almost broke when he told Katniss he loved her, and she didn't reciprocate. And when that government-hired thug beat the living daylights out of him, I was insensibly upset. But the main reason I'm Team Gale is because I think he's a better fit for Katniss. I think he's actually the guy who could spend the rest of his life with her, and knows her better than anyone. I think Katniss should end up with Gale. But, I can see how a lot of you may disagree. And no, I won't flip out if it doesn't go my way in Mockingjay (pardon the rhyme).
And then there's President Snow. Who's breath smells like blood. Yikes.
Ending: Oh! Drama, drama, drama! "There is no District Twelve". Got to love that line. I'm just happy I finished this book only a few days before Mockingjay comes out!
Writing: The same as in The Hunger Games. Did the first-person/present-tense narrative bother me? Heck yes. Did I get over it? Yep. Did I eventually learn to like the constant drama, drama, drama? Yes!
Overall: If you liked The Hunger Games, You'll like Catching Fire. If you've read the first one, you should read the second. Did I like it as much? No. But was it worth reading, to continue the story? Yes. Plus, I really want to read Mockingjay.
I'll check off three stars here, trusting that Mockingjay will be worth it.
Did I mention that Gale makes me ten kinds of happy? Oh, I did? Okay, I'll shut up now.
Outside In is the sequel to Inside Out - which I read and loved last year. And let me tell you, the second book is also amazing. Everything I loved aOutside In is the sequel to Inside Out - which I read and loved last year. And let me tell you, the second book is also amazing. Everything I loved about book one, and more. Plus, I'm a big Sci-Fi fan, so every little Science Fiction aspect I just loved to pieces. Loved so much that I stayed up all of Tuesday night to finish it, even though I had a Mock Trial match the next day. Totally worth it.
Spoilers ahead for those who haven't read Inside Out, and I'll warn you if there are spoilers for Outisde In.
Outside In once again follows Trella, the scrub from Inside, who we found out in book one was the daughter of an upper. I've heard some people say that they found Trella to be harsh and borderline unlikable in the first book, but I disagree. I found her to be incredibly relatable, and I understood exactly where she was coming from, and would have thought the same things. Maybe that just says something about me, but I liked her from the start. So, clearly, I liked her in this book as well. She was just as clever, tough, and resourceful as she was in the first book. She's also self-depricating, distant, cynical, and a bit of a commitment-phobe, but these are flaws I found to be realistic. They're also the flaws that lead her to think she can't be part of government Inside. But I won't give away how she gains confidence in that matter. We also get to see more in this book about how much she genuinely loves Riley, cares about Logan and Anne-Jade, and grieves for Cogon. Trella's trust issues are brought further into the light in this book, as well.
Riley, oh, Riley. He's my favorite character, I think. He's smart, and sweet, and loves Trella, but he's flawed as well. He's paranoid that Trella doesn't trust or love him back (which is probably justified, but only because Trella's not used to showing emotion), he's overwhelmed with how much Inside's new-formed government isn't working, and he's worried that Trella might have a death-wish since her best-friend and brother-figure, Cogon, was sucked into Outer Space. But Riley is a fantastic, three-dementional character, and more than just a love interest, although he is that. After his proposal to Trella at the end of Inside Out (well, Inside's equivalent to proposing - he asked her to be his "mate", which is Inside's equivalent to marriage), we thought their relationship would be pretty simple from there. They'd be "mates" and live out their little married life. Well, maybe we were hoping for that kind of happily-ever-after, but this is Riley and Trella, and nothing is ever that simple. I do love their romance, though, and how they make a fantastic Inside-saving team.
Logan and Anne-Jade are other characters I really love. They functioned as almost one unit in the first book, but here they've developed into completely separate characters. Logan is still in the computer-Tech No zone, but Anne-Jade has moved into Security. This also makes her a bit of a pawn to the new antagonist group, but I won't give that away. I learned to love Logan even more in this book, even though he's a bit of a wuss sometimes. He's a really, really brilliant wuss.
I also learned to like Dr. Lamont, despite how she betrayed our favorite heroes in Inside Out, and their predecessors before the series even began. The common thread in this book seems to be that all of the characters we know and love make mistakes, a lot of them.
There's also new-character Bubba-Boom, who I liked, then hated, then sort of liked, then really liked throughout the course of the book.
Now, we get to the Outsiders. I will tell you that there are Outsiders, on their little spaceship, because they were exiled from Inside a long time ago - for good reason.
The plot in this book is less clear-cut than the one in the first book, but I thnk that's a good thing. I don't want a repeat, I want a sequel. And that's exactly what I got. I loved Trella's new exploring, in and out of the air-shafts, and how every little thing she found related to the plot later on. Besides that, I don't want to give anything more away. You'll just have to read it. And find out what Trella and Co. are fighting against this time.
Have I mentioned that I lovelovelove Science Fiction? Well, I do. And I love the setting Inside. It's a little less claustrophobic than it was in book one, seeing as the Expanse has broadened the horizons, and Trella gets to explore more than she ever did previously. I would try to describe the setting for you, but it would take a long time, and I already spent too long discussing the characters.
Maria V. Snyder is one of my favorite authors of all time. The Study series is perhaps my favorite series of all time, but these books are close too. There are good reasons that I think Maria V. Snyder is absolutely brilliant. You will just have to read her books to find out what these reasons are.
Awwww. I love Riley and Trella.
The reason I stayed up all night reading this book.
I love it! Even more than I loved the first book's cover. When this cover art was revealed, and sent out in Maria V. Snyder's e-newsletter, I spazzed. And then I called Ami on the phone and spazzed. And then there's the titles of both books. I love how literal the titles are. In Inside Out - the people of Inside are trying to get out. In Outisde In - something from Outisde is trying to get in. Brilliant!
Wonderful, brilliant, awesome, exciting, fast-paced, romantic, emotional, suspenseful book. If you liked Inside Out half as much as I did, you'll love Outisde In as well. If you haven't read the first book, you need to read that one first, because it's fantastic, and then after you read it you need to read this one. (There's even a line in the prologue where Trella tells the reader that she's not going to explain the evens pre-revolution, and they need to read the file with the ISBN number of the first book. Clever clever, Maria V. Snyder).
Anyway, this is definitely worth the read. Even if it ends up making you stay up all night before a big competition. It's worth it, really. It's brilliant. If you're a Science FIction fan, you'll love these books. They're Sci-Fi at it's best. ...more
I read Ink Exchange more than a year ago, and I don't remember all the details, but I do remember the basics. Great characters, good plot, fantastic wI read Ink Exchange more than a year ago, and I don't remember all the details, but I do remember the basics. Great characters, good plot, fantastic writing, and pretty much just that I loved it. But, this isn't a love-letter to Ink Exchange (I promise).
So, liking Ink Exchange as much as I did, I was thrilled to find this short-story in the back of my paperback copy of Fragile Eternity.
Stopping Time picks up a while after Ink Exchange ends, and Leslie has moved away from the town where the rest of the Wicked Lovely-world characters live (what's it called? There's one of those things I don't remember. I think it starts with an H though). And there was one of my favorite things about Leslie; She was strong enough to walk away. So many of these paranormal-YA girls have the "Oh, it's so awful but I positively can't leave" and they're really dumb. Leslie is not one of those girls. She knew what she couldn't handle, and she got out before anything caused her permanent harm. But leaving didn't mean she didn't still love Niall and Irial. Meaning, basically, that she's a brilliant character.
This short-story is about what happened after Ink Exchange, and after Leslie left. Irial and Niall still love her (and are okay with knowing the other one loves her. No competition. It's refreshing, actually). I won't give away anything about this short story, other than the fact that it's really, really good. It's the ending I wished Ink Exchange had, but I'm glad it's a separate story. I also lovelovelove the ending of this story. It's perfect. I also love how the ending ties into the title, Stopping Time.
And then there's Melissa Marr's writing, which is always great. She's an amazing story-teller, and the writing is beautiful and flows really, really well. I also find it pretty amazing that she wrote a short-story that was so great, because a lot of novelists can't write short-stories. She obviously can.
True, everything in this story went really fast (like all short-stories) and I would've liked to have seen more, but I think the way it was done was close to perfect. It leaves the reader with only a glimpse of what happened, and with a few hints about how the characters will continue after the story itself ends. I don't really know how I should rate a short-story though, so I'm just going to leave the star-thing blank.
If you loved Wicked Lovely, and, more importantly (for this), Ink Exchange, you should definitely read this....more
Don't get me wrong, What Happened To Goodbye was definitely good. It was just lacking the things I loved so much about some of Sarah Dessen's other noDon't get me wrong, What Happened To Goodbye was definitely good. It was just lacking the things I loved so much about some of Sarah Dessen's other novels. She's an excellent writer, but maybe this one just wasn't for me. I liked it, but it wasn't one of my favorites.
Things I Liked:
- Deb. I thought she was fantastic. And much more interesting than McLean, in my opinion.
- Opal. She's spot-on for a waitress who's set in their ways. She actually reminded me of my sister's best friend. It's always funny to see characters like people you know.
- Luna Blu. I always love stories set in restaurants.
- McLean's clear identity crisis, and how she kept changing her name.
- The way it was written. Sarah Dessen is a fantastic author.
- McLean's name, and its background.
- Jason Talbot turning into a decent person (and, incidentally, a college drop-out. Talk about people changing.)
- References to characters and places from past books. (Even if some of the timelines don't match up).
- Deb. Because she deserves to be mentioned again.
- Lakeview. Because I love Lakeview and I was glad to see it again after spending the last book in Colby.
- McLean's temporary-life kind of house.
- Ume.com. Which McLean uses, and which is also (from Lock and Key) Ruby's brother-in-law's website.
- Did I mention that Jason turned into a decent person? Mind. Blown.
Things I Didn't Like:
- Another book about divorce. Wasn't this just tackled in the last book? It came across as Along For The Ride 2.0 in that respect. I agree that it's a topic that needs to be addressed, but she'd already done it, and it's not like there aren't other teenage issues.
- The similarities in formula to Along For The Ride. Like the issue above. And if you switch out Basketball for Biking, and Luna Blu for Clementines, there are a whole lot more.
- Dave. He was a good enough character, but not developed enough, or interesting enough, to be a love-interest. If you're looking for one of Dessen's romances, this isn't one of them.
- Why on earth didn't McLean just tell her mother that she was pissed off because her mother left her father for the DB basketball coach??? Why does she not just tell her the truth from the beginning? All the conflict would have been figured out much sooner!
- The fact McLean's father doesn't notice anything strange about the name-changing.
- The read-your-journal solution to the name-changing conflict. Why couldn't she just have told them? Seriously? WHY?
- The Riley/Dave storyline. Which, frankly, was a little weird. If I wasn't in McLean's head, I would have been shipping Riley/Dave instead.
- I just didn't connect with McLean.
Despite my complaints (and sorry if they were a little blunt) I did like this book. I just...found the formula to be too similar to Along for The Ride, and I was hoping for a romance I just didn't get. If you're a Dessen fan, I suggest you read this one. If you're not, don't start with this one. Start with one of the others.
My main problem here was that I didn't connect with McLean. I was expecting to, because I had with so many other Dessen characters, but it just didn't happen. And Dave, there was something lacking about Dave.
But I still think you should read it. For Deb. And Opal. And Luna Blu, the restaurant. And because Sarah Dessen is awesome, and there are some brilliant lines hidden inside What Happened To Goodbye.
Awesome! Don't let the three stars fool you (Really, I'm not sure whether to give it three or four. Maybe 3 1/2? Well, the stars don't matter so much.Awesome! Don't let the three stars fool you (Really, I'm not sure whether to give it three or four. Maybe 3 1/2? Well, the stars don't matter so much. What matters is the book). This was a really, really good book about instinct, freedom, and what it means to be family (or not to be family). It's really an excellent book. Did it completely blow me out of the water? No. Was it fantastic? Yes.
Plot: Great. Possibly the best part of this book (and I don't say that often. Normally I'd take characters over plot any day). I loved how every little piece of the story was connected to every other little piece, and how every bit contributed to the final result. And I loved that line at the end...I don't remember the exact quote but it went something like "change one piece of the puzzle and you change them all". I also loved the whole concept of a pack, and making your own. AND! Possibly my favorite part, the lesson that no one has to be dominate over anyone, and that everyone is their own person. Oh! And did I mention the mystery plot? Pure awesomeness.
***I can't promise that there won't be spoilers in this next bit***
Main Character: Bryn was tough, strong, and meant well. She had morals galore, and was admirable. She was also fairly ratable, although there were a lot of parts where I had trouble relating to her at all. Then again, maybe I'm just not an overly Bryn-like person. The few complaints I have about her is that she was unrealistically slow to figure a lot of things out, and that her ego was too big for her sometimes. But, it did make her human, I guess, so I shouldn't be complaining. Don't get me wrong, I did really like her. And I loved how she went from the bottom of the pack ladder to the top. Kind of like transforming from a pawn to a queen (I apologize for the chess references, but that's the reference that came to mind). And she was definitely not a doormat. Thank you, Jennifer Lynn Barnes!
Other Characters: Let's talk about Chase. I have to admit, I didn't like him very much. Sure, he was sweet and utterly convinced he was in love with Bryn, which was kind of cute. And he was protective, which was kind of cute. But, let's face it, he was pretty two-dimensional. And, despite all the time Bryn spends in his head, I never got a feel for his character. At all. Most book characters you can tell what they're going to act like off-page, or after the book ends, and here I have no idea. Who is Chase? I don't know. He was just kind of....there. Also, even when Bryn is in his head, the reader never gets coherent thoughts. I understand that part of him is a wolf, and that maybe a wolf thinks in one-word sentences, but it didn't help the reader understand him. I just...I don't know. It looks like this is the first in a series, so maybe I'll like him more in the next book. Moving on to my favorite characters: Devon and Lake!!! I related most to Lake out of everyone in this book (related to her loads). Plus, I loved her character. She was tough, but vulnerable and emotional, and it made her a well-rounded character. I also loved the dialogue with Lake in it, because she was witty and smart. And Devon!! *sigh*. I loveloveloved him. How many times in books (or real life, for that matter) do you get a straight guy who makes cultural (and Broadway) references, and can sing and do accents? Not often. But here he is. All crushworthy and (sadly) fictional. I loved him all the same though, and I didn't really understand why Bryn never saw him as anything but her friend (seeing as I would've been seriously crushing if he lived in my town), but I guess he's set up to be more of her brother-figure than anything else. Which makes me hope that he'll end up with Lake (Because they were both kind of oddities in the pack, and could have lots in common. I also want to see more interactions between the two of them in the next book) And then there's Callum. Ah, Callum. Callum who has a "knack" and thinks more about the big picture than the people around him. I have to say, I didn't really like Callum either, but I think I could learn to understand him. And as far as minor (or minor-ish) characters go: I loved Ali, Katie, Alex, Keely, Mitch, Maddy, and Lily, and I hated Prancer, Sora (couldn't she have refused an order?), and Shay (and the rest of the Senate for that matter).
***Possible Spoilers over. You can keep reading, now ***
Ending: A perfect fit for the book, and I loved how Bryn turned things around from the beginning, and the relation to the title.
Writing: Really, really good. Flowed nicely, and kept me interested. I also liked that when Bryn was under the influence of the pack bond, the reader almost couldn't tell, because they're in Bryn's head and Bryn doesn't know. Good writing, definitely good writing. Also, the pack bond allowing the reader (and Bryn) to see into the minds of other characters was a good idea. I haven't read any of her previous books, but I guess now I should. She's a seriously good writer.
Cover: Perfect! Do I really need to say more? I love the lighting, the color scheme, the font, the moon, the shadows, and everything. Plus, the girl on the cover looks a lot like how I pictured Bryn.
Overall: Really, really good. In fact, I really ought to change that three stars to four (so please, mentally change it in your head). I definitely recommend. If you like werewolves, complicated plots, strong characters, and the downfall of seriously creepy villains, this is the book for you. I highly recommend!!! (Did I mention Werewolves? Don't you love them?) ...more
**spoiler alert** I'll be the first to admit that Williams has some serious talent. His characters are three dimensional, the dialogue is great, the s**spoiler alert** I'll be the first to admit that Williams has some serious talent. His characters are three dimensional, the dialogue is great, the scenes are well plotted...but I didn't like it.
It's not that it wasn't good, it was. It's worth reading. But there was a long list of things I didn't like.
- It was assigned reading for English - Laura is a doormat. She's so terrified that everyone will notice her disability that she's mentally crippled herself. Sorry, Laura, but you did that to yourself. - Amanda is crazy. And I mean FREAKING CRAZY. She's so stuck in her past that she's trying to recreate it, and she doesn't care who she runs over on the way, even if it's her own daughter who suffers for it. - Tom is like caged animal. He wants to get out SO BADLY that he doesn't care who he runs over on the way. Even if it's Laura. - Jim leads on Laura, while he's engaged to someone else. - Through much of this play, nothing really happens. - I really, really hated the long paper I had to do on this play for English.
Yeah, not all of those things will apply to you. You may not dislike the play, even if you dislike the characters. And it is written really, really well. And I liked having a character be the narrator in the play.
But it was not fun to read. At all. At least not for me....more
Well....umm....I don't know what to say about this book. That I hated it? Sure. That I hated all the characters but the ones who died? Sure. That I woWell....umm....I don't know what to say about this book. That I hated it? Sure. That I hated all the characters but the ones who died? Sure. That I wouldn't have read this unless I had to? That too.
First off, I really only read this because I was assigned it for a Geography course. (Yeah, yeah, that doesn't make sense, right? Well, apparently this book has something to do with how Geography affects people. At least this teacher thinks so. And I suppose if these awful boys weren't on a deserted island they wouldn't have started killing each other. I think). I know it's a classic, but it's not one of the classics I would read voluntarily. Prep school boys get stranded on an island and anarchy ensues? Just doesn't sound good to me. Sure, there were a lot of good things about this book. And I know people who really loved this book. I kind of wish I loved it because then reading it wouldn't have seemed like such a chore. But, it just wasn't the book for me.
Plot: A plane crashes, and a bunch of prep-school boys land on an island without any adults. At first, they think that's fantastic. Which, I guess, is normal. Then they vote for someone to be "chief", which sounds good too. Except Ralph wins and Jack isn't happy. And that's where the trouble begins. Suddenly everything is thrown into a state of anarchy, and nobody is acting like they used to. They become obsessed with certain things (Fire, Hunting, Killing, etc.) and Jack and Ralph are at odds. I won't go into further detail than that, because I don't want to spoil anything. (If there's anything to spoil), but I will say that some bad stuff happens, and people die. Painfully.
Characters: I hated them. Well, not all of them. But all the ones I liked were killed, so eventually I hated them all. Was I supposed to like Ralph? I think so, but I didn't. Until practically the last chapter he was just self-serving. And Jack, Oh how I hated Jack. I don't think I've ever hated a fictional character so much. Jack is the poster-child for "Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely". Besides that I don't have a whole lot to say about the characters, besides the fact that Jack and his gang of thugs killed the characters I liked. Painfully.
Ending: Well, I guess Ralph got his way in the end. I won't say anything more than that, though, because if there is one thing about this book that's sort of a surprise it was the timing of the ending. What bothered me most about the end? Nobody got punished for their actions. At all. Jack and his gang of thugs freaking MURDERED people, and in the end they get to go back into society without any punishment at all. How is that a good thing?
Writing: Good...but I don't know why someone would want to write about prep-school boys trying to kill each other and other things. And anarchy. Who wants to write about anarchy? I don't know. The writing was good, but some of it dragged on too much for my liking. And I spent waaay to much time in Ralph's head. I didn't even like Ralph! But, the writing itself was reasonably good.
Overall: I don't recommend. At all. But I have the feeling you'll have to read it eventually (if you haven't already). So by saying it's awful I'm not really saving you from anything, am I? I'm sorry. I mean, it's not an awful book. It's pretty well written, and it's a classic for a reason, but....well...It's not one of those books you like to read. It's one of those books you hate reading, but like to have read. So maybe I'll like having read this book, but I sure didn't like reading it. And now I have to do a project on this book. Why couldn't Ms. Stienman have us write an essay instead???
Really, this is a book about hate, fear, corruption, and violence. I guess it's good to have read it, but I would never read it again.