**spoiler alert** The reason I'm rating this book two stars, instead of one, is because I initially found the premise, a "Groundhog Day"-like plot whe**spoiler alert** The reason I'm rating this book two stars, instead of one, is because I initially found the premise, a "Groundhog Day"-like plot where the heroine repeats the same day until she gets it "right" to be an interesting concept, and because, at the start, it was hard to put the book down because I wanted to know what was going to happen. (I felt the same way about "The Girl on the Train"—another fast read I devoured quickly because of wanting to know who the bad guy was and what Rachel was going to do about it.)
I must say, if this was the definition of what it was like to be popular and rich-ish in high school, I am so glad I missed out by being a nerd and an athlete, who was either at home studying or at swim practices (or with friends doing dorky things like having sleepovers and seeing movies). These girls go to parties, get wasted, burp in each other's faces, for fun, pass around condoms, and shame everyone who isn't them, just for looking their way or even having the nerve to show up. I found all of the characters to be utterly unlikeable, shallow, awful, repulsive, nasty, selfish idiots and bitches. All they do is name drop products and look down on underclassman and others who are, according to these girls, beneath them.
And I understand that Sam isn't necessarily supposed to be likeable or someone people should or could identify with, at least not at the start of the novel. She's supposed to use the novel to make a transformation "before she falls", so at the start, I gave her the benefit of the doubt. And even through her various "days"—being a slut, making out with a teacher, doing pot and hanging out with the girl everyone in the school calls white trash, going on a shopping spree with her mother's stolen credit card, getting in some family time, or calling out her friends for being mean, slutty, stupid—she stays pretty much the same. When she's not blindly obsessing over her stupid boyfriend Rob or potential love interest Kent, she's blindly following Lindsay, the ringleader of their mean girl clique, or reapplying her makeup, or being shocked that Juliet is actually beautiful, despite the fact that after a couple of days, she knows she's dead. It seems to take her such a long time to realize that she needs to help Juliet; it just annoyed me how vapid Sam continued to be. It's only after Juliet tells Sam all of the bad things that Lindsay, Elody, Ally and herself have done to Juliet over the years, for no good reason other than to be bitches and torment someone, that Sam even gets a sense of why Juliet is so hell bent on killing herself. (And the party just pushes her over the edge.)
I got so pissed off that I didn't even finish; I skimmed the last 70 or so pages because I felt that, even for a fast read, this book was a huge waste of my time. The prose was bland. Maybe it's because I'm not in high school anymore, or because I never sympathsized with the mean girls, or the bullies—and always hoped that those people would get their comeuppance. You have to wonder what kind of evil, soulless person could be friends with a person like Lindsay (who once thought it was a huge thrill-fest to play chicken on a one-lane road at night), who would keep claiming how much she loves her despite all that she learns over the course of her still-on-earth afterlife. I'm a little mad that none of the other girls died, those evil, evil bitches.
Disappointed. The potential for this book to be "Groundhog Day" good was so close, but it really failed miserably in my opinion....more
**spoiler alert** The Columbine massacre happened in 1999, the same year that I was a senior in high school. I remember tons of media coverage from th**spoiler alert** The Columbine massacre happened in 1999, the same year that I was a senior in high school. I remember tons of media coverage from those months, with all the wild myths and untruths flying around like gospel. I remember hearing a story of a teen at my own high school (in my class or maybe younger) telling his classmates he was "glad that Columbie happened, that those people deserved what they got", paraphasing what I recall since I heard this second- or third-hand. If I understand what he meant (or thought that he meant), he was referring to bullying and bullies "getting what they deserved". I also had a friend who had a vivid dream about Columbine, conjuring up the "Trench Coat Mafia" that the media reported on—along with the theory that the killers had been bullied, that they were Goths, outcasts, and called themselves the "Trench Coat Mafia"—which then pulled guns from their trench coats and shot everyone in the hallways of our school. For her, it was just a nightmare, and not real. But I do remember my class, and my high school, feeling the aftershocks of Columbine as we finished our senior year, and left the rest of the classes to deal with the fallout of Columbine.
The main reason I wanted to read this book was because I really didn't know that much about the Colubmine massacre—I didn't even know how many were killed, or any of the victims' names. I didn't even know the killers' names. Besides what the media reported, as mentioned above, all I knew was that there were two killers, that they'd made videos, and that the attack was planned to be much worse than it ended up being—that there were supposed to be bombs, multiple explosions and mass casualties. I knew that a documentary had been made called "Bowling for Columbine", I knew there were witness accounts and survivor stories out there, bits and pieces I'd heard through various news outlets, but I really wanted to know the whole story.
The author, Dave Cullen, is a reporter, and was one of the many who originally covered the Columbine story. He admits in the first pages that he, along with most of the media, continously reported the wrong details in the wrong context—the bullies, the jocks, the Goths, the outcasts, the bullied, "the Trench Coat Mafia", the revenge plot; while these details were true of Columbine high school, they were not true for the killers, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris. Neither were bullied outcasts. Neither wore "trench coats" or dusters until the day of the massacre. The truth was, they hated people, regardless of race, class, sex. They hated indiscrimately. Eric Harris was discovered to be a full-fledged psychopath, while Dylan Klebold was a depressed, suicidal individual who was pushed to homicide by Eric.
Learning about the killers' lives and plans was extremely chilling. I skipped the last pages which have actual entries from the killers' journals; it was hard to imagine wanting any more insight into their mindsets, though it was hard enough to understand that one question that plagues the survivors, the families of the murdered, and the community as a whole: "Why?" How can anyone really understand the "why?" of a person that plots to wipe out humanity? A person whose only intention is to cause as much pain as is possible, to kill and maim, a person who has zero value for human life? A person that views himself as a "god", above all the little people he looks down upon with vile and disgust?
Reading the entire account of the massacre, and its aftermath, was heartbreaking and sickening. I was especially appalled to discover that the first two teens' bodies, both outside the school on its lawn, were left outside and uncovered for two days, even through a snowfall; that some parents, like Brian Rohrbough, weren't even notified by the police that their children had been killed. Rohrbough didn't even know his son was dead until he saw the morning paper the next day; his son's body was in view in a grainy newspaper photograph of two students fleeing. Also appalling, how the badly wounded were left behind as if they were already dead—which was the awful fate of the teacher, Dave Sanders, whose main concern had been to protect and rescue his students.
I find myself still overwhelmed by the tradegy as well as the vast knowlegde gained from this book, so it's difficult for me to review as accurately because I think I'm still processing what I read. I will say that I'm inspired by some of the survivors' stories, to name a few, like Patrick Ireland, who made a near full recovery after being shot in the head; Val (I can't remember her last name), the girl who told the truth about who really pleaded with the killers to spare her life, in spite of what it cost her personally. I agree with Dave Cullen's reflections on Columbine, its aftermath, and all of the copycats and similar shootings that have followed, and advocacy for a different media outpouring—less focus on the killers and more focus on the victims. He advises for a different approach, in his epilogue, for the dialouge on mental health—how to especially not have mental health viewed with such a stigima that keeps people who need help from getting it, and that not all people who are in need of mental health help are people that want to hurt or kill others. He uses Eric and Dylan as examples: neither were teens who just "snapped"; they had planned for nearly a year since their arrest for breaking into a van, that they were going kill. Cullen suggests that Dylan, who was depressed and suicidal, may have been able to be talked out of the plan, possibly if he didn't spend time with Eric, who, as a psychopath, couldn't be helped.
Overall, I'm glad to have read this book and learned what I didn't know, but I don't think anything prepares a person for getting a look inside the mind of a killer, which I feel I could have done without—but then I couldn't have known the whole story, and the whole truth. The book is well-written, well-documented and researched. I think it's worth the read, in spite of its dark subject matter. ...more
Gave this up after 97 pages. I was bored, and slightly annoyed at starting yet another chapter in another character's head/POV. I wondered, how many cGave this up after 97 pages. I was bored, and slightly annoyed at starting yet another chapter in another character's head/POV. I wondered, how many characters' POVs are we going to have to suffer through? The entire community's? I think the premise was promising, but I thought there would be more upfront about these three girls, but instead I had to wade through other characters' stories first, and had to have patience I didn't have to get to the "good stuff", if there was any of that to come. Just not a book for me. ...more
Ugh. I stopped reading this at page 160 because I was so bored! Honestly, the most exciting parts are in the beginning, with Quentin and Margo's "wildUgh. I stopped reading this at page 160 because I was so bored! Honestly, the most exciting parts are in the beginning, with Quentin and Margo's "wild night". I found it terribly hard to care that Margo was "missing"—a runaway, or possibly dead, or just playing some stupid game, and I also cared little if Quentin and his friends ever solved the mystery of the missing Margo. I skimmed the end, which was also terribly boring.
Don't waste your time reading this book. After reading what I've read, I'm no longer interested in seeing the movie.
A side note: I'm sorry, but what (straight) guy gets totally into the prom the way Ben did? And then to *happen* to hook up with a girl who is so totally into prom!!! too? Seriously, I did not buy it. ...more
**spoiler alert** I really don't know what to say about this one. I wanted to like it. I listened to some of the audiobook, maybe up to chapter 8 or s**spoiler alert** I really don't know what to say about this one. I wanted to like it. I listened to some of the audiobook, maybe up to chapter 8 or so, which was very well read and well performed, but the story itself left something, which is hard to put on my finger on, to be desired. Still, the prose itself is beautiful, vivid, descriptive.
I did like the idea of the plot, but not so much the plot itself. I liked the idea of this self-described weird little town called Fairfold, where humans and faeries exist side by side—where humans know of the fae and have seen them or made bargains with them. I liked the idea of presenting the faeries as something closer to the "Grimm Fairy Tales" version—no sugarcoating the cruelty and murderous intentions and actions of some or most of Fairfold's forest people. I liked the idea of Jack, Carter's changeling "brother" living among the humans, raised as a human while still feeling the pull of his own forest kin.
I'm still partially intrigued to know what happens, but I also kind of don't care. Hazel, her brother Ben, the horned boy, now awake after apparently centuries asleep in a glass coffin by Hazel's own hand—it's all a jumble of oddness. Hazel's "innocent" flirtations, her strange bargain with the Folk on behalf of her brother, her half crush on Jack (who may also be crushing her back), her past "faerie hunting"—I'm not sure what to make of it. Plus, I can't help but find it a little strange that both Hazel and Ben have huge crushes on the horned boy (and maybe Jack does too). The whole thing, the whole plot, seems to be a jumble. It's part mystery/suspense, which adds a degree of thrill, but it also, for me at least, seems to be dragging out a plot point that should have already been revealed. (Not sure how many pages the book is, or where I was in the audiobook, so it was hard to tell if the pacing wasn't right or if I was on the verge of some "big reveal".)
I don't know. I say again that I really thought this would be "my type of book" and that I wanted to like it more, but I guess it's just not for me. Giving it 3 stars because I enjoyed the talented performer who read the story, but for overall plot it's really more a 2.5. ...more
**spoiler alert** 3.5-3.7 star rating. As far as sequels go, this was just an okay addition to the "Waverly Sisters" books—not sure if there will be m**spoiler alert** 3.5-3.7 star rating. As far as sequels go, this was just an okay addition to the "Waverly Sisters" books—not sure if there will be more in the "series". I would, without question, read another in this "series", but "First Frost" was, to me, lackluster, nearly devoid of all the magic and charm of "Garden Spells", which is among my favorite books, and is, I feel, akin with Alice Hoffman's "Practical Magic". It had been a while since I read "Garden Spells", so long that at first I couldn't tell the sisters apart, and couldn't exactly remember much of the plot of the first novel. I eventually recalled Henry, and that Bay was Sydney's daughter, and who Claire and Sydney were and what they did and what their Waverly gifts were. But I can't remember anything about Tyler. (I suppose it means I should go back and read "Garden Spells" for a refresher.)
I had some problems with the plotting. Why did it take so long for Russell to make his move? And why did he fold so easily? This insistence that the family just has to make it to First Frost without anything bad happening—yet of course, something "bad" was on the horizon in the form of Russell and the blackmail scheme. You, the audience, knew he was a conman, that he was there to get money from a mark, but the way it was all executed was sloppy. Why did both Claire and Sydney refuse to confide in their husbands their problems when both couples have been married for ten years? (The men seem to chalk it up as "that's just the way of the Waverly women, they'll come to us when they're ready", like that's okay or something. Neither of them seems to be angry or upset about anything, leaving such emotions to their wives.) I also found it so hard to believe that Claire questioned her lineage, even for a few minutes. How could she have run a successful catering business without her special Waverly gift? There's even a sentence that Sydney utters about Claire causing everyone in the family to cry at the drop of a hat for a week after eating something she cooked while she was upset. Obviously Sydney believes Claire is a Waverly—how could she not be? All of it seemed like a ridiculous twist that was over too quickly. Also ridiculous—Sydney putting up with Violet's needy, thieving, childish behavior. (Yes, Violet was only 17, so she was a child still, but since she had a baby to think about, she was a terrible role model for him, and dangling him before Sydney like the carrot she knew Sydney could never have. Shameless.)
Then there was Sydney's seemingly crazy overreaction to Bay's choice in crushes. Grounding her because Bay is in love with Josh Matteson, the son of Hunter John Matteson, the man who broke and smashed Sydney's heart—the main reason Sydney bolted from Bascom? As if his father's behavior somehow means Josh is at fault, or will turn out to be exactly like him? I wasn't buying it, it seemed kind of insane—especially when Bay has not, apparently, up until this point, shown any interest in socializing with anyone, especially any boys. Sydney was getting what she wanted when Bay chose to go to a school dance—but couldn't stand Bay being drawn to Josh. It's really no wonder Bay didn't want to open up to her mother about her crush.
I did like the little twist with Mariah, and her secret friend "M", and it was nice to have Evanelle there too. Also nice: to find out what Lorlei's Waverly gift was. (Not so nice, for Bay to insist on making Russell repeat himself. That was a silly scene.) While I didn't find this novel to be exceptional, it was still fun to read and had its good moments. This book was more in line with Allen's "The Girl Who Chased The Moon", not a great read, not a great ending, but certainly not a bad read overall.