The Immortal Rules is a dark, violent, edge of your seat, up all night kind of story. And it is hands down the very best book I've read all year. I re...moreThe Immortal Rules is a dark, violent, edge of your seat, up all night kind of story. And it is hands down the very best book I've read all year. I read and loved Kagawa's Iron Fey series, but The Immortal Rules is even better. I mean, the first line of the story starts with a public execution, and it just gets darker from there. I was 9 pages in when I knew this book would make it to my favorites list.
The world that Kagawa has created is terrifyingly brilliant with an almost post-apocalyptic or dystopian feel. The US has been decimated by a disease that almost destroyed the human race to the point that vampires, who had before hidden among humans were alarmed that their food source was being wiped out and so created cities where they ruled and kept the humans penned in like sheep under the guise of "protection". Because outside these walled cities among the ruins of other towns and cities were inhabited by mindless scavenging "rabids" which are essentially vampire zombies. Yes, I said Vampire Zombies. So the vampires protected the humans from these things as well as provided food and necessities to the registered and in return for this protection, the humans were required to give a quota of blood every couple weeks. Those unregistered humans were not required to give blood, but they also were not given food and the penalty for stealing is death. The majority of the humans live in what is called the Fringe, outside the walls of the inner vampire sanctum, but inside the walls of the city itself and out of reach of the rabids.
The main character, Allison, was basically a street urchin, living in abandoned building, eating garbage, bugs, rats or anything just to stay alive. Allie's bravery, loyalty, and wit quickly endeared her to me. She seemed to be always struggling with a balance between self-preservation and the need to protect those she cared about. Kagawa certainly wasn't kind to her, this poor girl, throughout the story gets the crap kicked out of her both physically and emotionally as she attempts to hang on to her humanity. While Allie was a kick-ass main character, everyone in the story had a depth and background that made the entire story just come to life. I was drawn so deeply into this story that there were several times that my husband spoke to me from right in front of me that I didn't even notice him standing there. (He so loves when I do that :P)
And yes, there is a bit of romance between all the blood and starvation. Vampire Zombies be damned, teens will insist upon falling in love, no matter how hopeless it seems. In this situation, however, the romance was absolutely fitting. It built so slowly from them beginning to trust one another based on their actions, then coming to understand one another's differences. It added yet another poignant element to the story and it definitely worked, despite their differences and despite how impossible things may seem.
The writing was stellar, flawless. Kagawa effortlessly built this bleak and frightening world populated with terrifying creatures, a broken society, and a heroine with a strength built on years of pain and disappointment and yet a capacity to love that almost defies that world she grew up in. I don't know what I was expecting when I picked up The Immortal Rules, but I know I had no idea I would be so completely blown away by this incredible story. If you haven't read this yet, you should do so immediately.
Chelsea Knot is the best friend of the most popular girl at school and is known for her ability to ferret out, and expose, the good gossip. When she s...moreChelsea Knot is the best friend of the most popular girl at school and is known for her ability to ferret out, and expose, the good gossip. When she spills a secret that has violent repercussions, Chelsea makes a decision to do the right thing even if it means losing that all-important popularity. Suddenly, she's on the outside and getting back all that she's dished out in the past and then some. An article she reads in the National Geographic inspires her to take a vow of silence since talking without thinking has gotten her into this mess.
The beginning of Speechless was very slow and angst filled. The characters were all largely unlikable, a bunch of selfish, shallow teens with entitlement issues. I couldn't stand Chelsea and didn't feel particularly sorry for the position she found herself in. I even thought about marking this DNF and moving on to something else. I'm really glad that I didn't though, because as the story progressed, it slowly became more than it first appeared.
The vow of silence she took seemed to be for selfish attention seeking reasons initially, but the unforeseen result of not speaking allows her to really examine the person that she is as well as the people and things she had surrounded herself with. Her silence also caused her to listen more fully to what people where saying and to consider their words instead of simply replying. Through her vow, she learns about friendship, accountability, loyalty, and the power of words. Her character grows very slowly throughout the story as she acknowledges some hard truths about herself and attempts to become worthy of the new friends she's made and, of course, the boy. There's always a boy... :)
No flowery prose or layers of meaning, the writing was as simple and straightforward as the story itself and felt authentic and perceptive. I enjoyed Speechless much more than I thought I would after reading the first couple chapters and encourage anyone who chooses to read this to push through that initial reaction to these characters because the book does get much much better.(less)
Amelia Anne is dead and gone but she apparently left behind her thesaurus because her story was quite adjective-alicious. But, once I waded through th...moreAmelia Anne is dead and gone but she apparently left behind her thesaurus because her story was quite adjective-alicious. But, once I waded through the overabundance of metaphors and descriptive prose, it was a fairly ok read....until the last 30 or so pages. That ending was bullshit. I was so angry about the fact that I had been drawn in to the suspense of this murder/mystery only to be rewarded with some half ass muddle-muck of an ending. Not to mention that it just WOULD NOT, COULD NOT logically have happened that way.
(view spoiler)[ If someone is beat in the head with a tire iron and then repeatedly bludgeoned around the face and body, I refuse to believe they would be coherent enough to correctly analyze the extent of their injuries enough to know they are dying and then request that a complete stranger that suddenly appears out of the bushes on a dark road in the middle of the night finish the job and kill them. There is NO WAY IN HELL that, once he confesses to killing her (and explains that it was at her request), hiding evidence, interfering with and investigation, etc, the state would give him only probation for it after deciding that she would have died in another hour anyway. I'm sure SOMEBODY would have suggested that perhaps calling an ambulance might have been a better choice in the situation. Even with our screwy justice system, this could not have possibly played out like this. I know of a girl in the town where I grew up who went to PRISON for 3 years for taking her car to a car wash the day after her husband murdered someone. And she had nothing to do with the actual murder but her ass was still charged with accessory after the fact or some such thing. So it's just not a plausible or even a logical ending (hide spoiler)]
This less than perfect ending, the overly descriptive writing, and the fact that I found the main character, Becca, to be utterly unlikable, left me a rather grumpy reader after finishing this book. I guess one could look at it as Becca was a "flawed" main character, but I just thought she was nothing but angst and asshattery. This is an example of some of her "personality"
"Rebecca Williams?" "That's me," I said, hoisting my backpack. The fat girl-whose named turned out to be, hilariously, Bonnie Biggs-smiled and waved at me.
Ugh. Needless to say, I did not enjoy Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone and certainly don't recommend it. However, there are other people who thought that this was a wonderful story and if you're at all curious about this book, take a look at Wendy's review here for another perspective.
What's Left of Me explores what it might be like to be an unwelcome guest in your own body, within your own mind. In this world, each body is born inh...moreWhat's Left of Me explores what it might be like to be an unwelcome guest in your own body, within your own mind. In this world, each body is born inhabited by two souls. By age 7, most children have "settled", meaning the recessive soul has faded away leaving only the dominant soul. When this doesn't happen, those left with two souls past puberty are considered hybrid. Hybrids are considered sick and dangerous and are sought out by the government to be hospitalized and corrected.
Addie is the dominant soul in this story, Eva the recessive. They have spent the past few years pretending that Eva has faded until a schoolmate finds out their secret. The schoolmate, Hally, and her brother Devin are also secretly hybrids as well as being foreign which means they are distrusted in the current political climate. Eva wants to trust them but Addie isn't so sure, the consequences if their secret were revealed could be deadly.
The story is told from Eva's point of view and was at times very poignant as I was forced to consider what it would be like having to constantly live in my own head pretending that I don't exist to the outside world. The relationship between Addie and Eva felt genuine and the feeling between the two was expressed beautifully in the dialog they shared. With two souls inhabiting the body of each of the characters, you would think that the story would be confusing. Surprisingly, it was not. Each soul had their own individual voice and were easily identified.
I think that Eva was an especially well written character. Her great longing to be acknowledged, her loneliness, and her genuine love for Addie was beautifully expressed and I found myself continually drawn to her.
I enjoyed the unusual storyline, the relationships between the characters, and the beautiful writing that compelled me to continue reading late into the night. If I have one complaint about What's Left of Me it is that I would have liked to have had more information about the world and why children were born with two souls and why not settling is considered so dangerous. (less)
I have read so many glowing reviews of The Reapers are the Angels that I simply had to see what all the fuss was about and even though I was warned ah...moreI have read so many glowing reviews of The Reapers are the Angels that I simply had to see what all the fuss was about and even though I was warned ahead of time about the bloody bits, I still wanted to read this. I decided to listen to this on audio and I think the narrator did an amazing job giving voice to the conflicted and unique character that was Temple. I would certainly recommend this audio to anyone who is planning to read this.
Temple was an intriguing character, so full of contrasts, she was kind and considerate but with the capacity to become extremely violent if provoked which made sense considering the dangerous world she grew up in. She was also extremely intelligent, logical, and self-aware but at the same time illiterate and simplistic in many ways. Her character fascinated me and reminded me, in a lot of ways, of Saba from Blood Red Road except Temple was much more complex. I was fascinated with the way she accepted the world for what it was and did her best to work within it instead of fight against what she could not control. I have to say, Temple is one of the most interesting characters I’ve read.
The writing was vividly descriptive and unapologetically raw. It brought to life a bleak and desolate world overrun by the undead who were themselves more pathetic and sad than scary. The pockets of survivors that Temple came upon showed the best and worst of humanity. It was interesting to see the many ways that desperation and hopelessness may cause people to react. There were some people and situations that pushed the boundaries of believability, even for a zombie book but for the most part, I could realistically imagine that this is what the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse would look like.
For some reason, I felt really disconnected from the story. I’m not sure whether it was the third person narration or the philosophical and highly allegorical way this was written, but while I could pick out a hundred beautifully phrased quotes, I was never truly engaged in the story. At times I felt that the writing was almost a bit pretentious and that it tried so hard to be literature as opposed to genre fiction that it overreached and ended up just being absurd. Or it could simply be that I am more interested in being entertained by a story than in trying to ponder life’s mysteries or decipher allegory.
I definitely enjoyed listening to The Reapers are the Angels and, while it wasn’t really my thing, I can certainly see where other people would appreciate the writing style and depth. (less)
Definitely didn't like this as much as Feed. The last 3 hours of the audio were the best of the entire book and I'm glad I stuck with it when I was re...moreDefinitely didn't like this as much as Feed. The last 3 hours of the audio were the best of the entire book and I'm glad I stuck with it when I was ready to put it down in frustration. Full review soon.(less)
This was an interesting twist on banshees and fae. I really enjoyed it. There were some of the things that are cliche in YA fantasy fiction, but overa...moreThis was an interesting twist on banshees and fae. I really enjoyed it. There were some of the things that are cliche in YA fantasy fiction, but overall I thought it was a fun and entertaining read. I'll probably read the rest of the series. (less)
Once I became accustomed to the writing style, I was quickly immersed in this incredible story. I wish this book would have been available when I was...moreOnce I became accustomed to the writing style, I was quickly immersed in this incredible story. I wish this book would have been available when I was a teenager. It is reminiscent of Go Ask Alice with that same strong voice that doesn't shy away from the ugly, painful, and difficult truths. The writing was stunningly compelling with countless powerful quotes and a story both poignant and insightful. The contrast of the beautiful lyrical verse and the hard ugly truth of addiction was fascinating. I'm so glad I finally took the time to read this and thank everyone who recommended this to me. I, in turn, recommend this to any teenager and parent of a pre-teen or teenager as well as to anyone who appreciates stories with this kind of honest emotional depth and so-called controversial subject matter. (less)
Will Grayson #1 hopes to get through life by following all of the rules, never questioning, doing what he’s told, and keeping his mouth shut. Oddly en...moreWill Grayson #1 hopes to get through life by following all of the rules, never questioning, doing what he’s told, and keeping his mouth shut. Oddly enough, his larger than life gay best friend Tiny Cooper is just the opposite. He is as large in personality as he is in sheer size and his life goal is to be the center of attention. Will Grayson #2 is the definition of “no one understands me, therefore I hate everyone” destructive teen angst. He has a vicious trick played on him by a frustrated acquaintance and this puts him in the path of Will Grayson #1 and Tiny Cooper. Everyone struggles to come to terms with their own hopes, fears, and inadequacies while at the same time being swept up in Tiny’s over the top musical production. The whole thing is so crazy awesome that my mere words could never convey all of the fabulous that is Will Grayson, Will Grayson.
The narrators of this audio MacLeod Andrews and Nick Podehl did a phenomenal job of taking these extraordinary characters and bringing them to life. This was absolutely one of my favorite audio books of all time. Each of the individual personalities were so perfectly reflected in the narration that I was swept away into this story. Every nuance of feeling was so perfectly expressed, it was like a theatrical performance in my headphones! These guys even sang!! (badly and loudly!!) And it was INCREDIBLE! This is the kind of awesome that happens when the right narrators get the right book – absolute perfection! If you’ve even thought about reading Will Grayson, Will Grayson I urge you to grab the audio as well. It’s a book you’ll want to read more than once, so make one of those “reads” a “listen.” This is currently available at Audible.com.
Every time I open a book, I’m hoping for exactly what I found in Will Grayson, Will Grayson; engaging characters that not only come to life but who also welcome me into their story so that I feel like I’m a part of their inner circle. At the beginning of the book, I wanted so much to have a BFF like Tiny! By the middle, I felt like me and Tiny have been friends forever and that I could share knowing glances and inside jokes with the Will Graysons about our larger than life friend’s flair for the dramatic. Tiny’s personality was so big, it was almost like he was snatching up the pages faster than I could read them while yelling “They’re mine, its all about me!!!” But even next to this overwhelming character, Will Grayson one and two still managed to shine in their own offbeat way while at the same time they both seemed to gravitate to that magnetic light that was Tiny Cooper.
This book tells a story both heartfelt and poignant while at the same time being fun and fabulously witty . Several times I found myself laughing out loud while simultaneously having tears rolling down my cheeks. This story touches on the heart and soul of the true meaning of friendship, sometimes uncomfortable and even painful, certainly flawed, but ultimately worth it all.
The strength of Will Grayson, Will Grayson is equal parts the wonderful writing and the amazing characterization. Its rare that I find characters that I not only felt like I could be friends with, but who, by the end of the book, I almost felt like we were friends. This is my first time reading a book by either John Green or David Levithan but I plan to buy each one of their books. Not surprisingly, I will be rating this a 5 but honestly, there are not enough stars for the rating that Will Grayson, Will Grayson deserves. If this is an example of YA contemporary, give me more!