To counteract Mercedes’ horrible experience, the seventeen year old helps the guys in her school with their firstOriginally posted on Just a Lil' Lost
To counteract Mercedes’ horrible experience, the seventeen year old helps the guys in her school with their first times. Getting the awkward faux pas over with with her, she only asks two things from them: their discretion and that they make their girlfriend’s first time memorable. All of it works out fine until her system starts falling apart and things start to get really complicated.
This book is certainly a unique take on a virgin story and it was actually a refreshing (albeit twisted) gender swap. In Firsts, it’s the girl who is confident (yet guarded), owning her own body and what she wants to do with it rather than the stereotypical YA depiction of a young girl’s “deflowering”. That being said, the whole setup as to why Mercedes does what she does is so self-serving, making her an intriguingly flawed character leaving everything a bit messy, to say the least.
Separate from the plenitude of guys, Mercedes is surrounded by some interesting friends, each very different from the other. I thought it was nice to show the variety of dynamics and complexities that can make up female friendships although what some of her friends consider acts of ultimate friendship may seem a bit misguided. Ridiculous scenarios aside, I really liked seeing Mercedes with her friends and how they’re there for her in their own different ways.
It does seem that the protagonist has a love/hate relationship with readers, given that what she’s doing is still cheating no matter how she positions it as “helping virgin boys with their girlfriends”. While some, including myself, took that as an interesting twist to an otherwise familiar YA narrative, I can also see how others may be turned off by Mercedes’ rationale.
As can probably be expected in a book about sex and virginity, Firsts does include language of that nature so it may not be appropriate for much younger YA readers. Pitched as being in the vein of the movie Easy A, those who liked that movie and like reading YA contemporary will also enjoy this book....more
The principal of the high school in a small Alabama town finishes her assembly speech at 10am. As the3.5 stars - originally posted on Just a Lil' Lost
The principal of the high school in a small Alabama town finishes her assembly speech at 10am. As the students get up to leave, they realize the doors are locked moments before gunshots ring out in the auditorium. In the 54 minutes that follow, they are faced with surviving the horror of one student’s revenge.
This Is Where It Ends is told through four alternating points of view that detail minute by minute what the teachers and students are going through during the horrific nightmare. In a way, while I felt the different narrators helped to round out the story it also felt a bit contrived to follow how all of them were connected. I suppose it is a small town, but the dynamics and relationships between the characters felt too perfectly placed for me. One moment near the end in particular felt to be so completely unnecessary except for the purpose of creating an even more emotional and dramatic ending. Even the character’s motivation makes no sense and that broke me out of the story’s spell.
That being said, the essence of the story itself is a powerful and gut-wrenching novel. Too often this has become the norm in many U.S. schools and Nijkamp doesn’t hold back from writing about the violence that takes place inside the walls of the high school. Not only does the author tackle the serious topic of school shootings but also the media response. One of the more compelling aspects, to me, were the insertions of students posting on social media about the shooting as it unfolds for them – using it to find out what’s going on and to locate friends. It felt very realistic of what would happen in this day and age, and then to see journalists hungry to get a story from one of the kids. Those tweets and blog posts left an equally haunting impression to me....more
In the follow up to Chupeco’s first spooky novel The Girl From the Well, Tark and his cousin travel to Japan whenOriginally posted on Just a Lil' Lost
In the follow up to Chupeco’s first spooky novel The Girl From the Well, Tark and his cousin travel to Japan when their friend and a ghost hunting crew go missing within the Aokigahara forest. Infamously known as the “suicide forest”, they must venture in and search for a village that exists in legends in order to rescue their beloved friend before ancient ghosts make that task impossible.
Full disclosure, I had The Girl From the Well on my to-be-read pile and hadn’t gotten to it yet. I read The Suffering not realizing it was the sequel and hadn’t realized until several chapters into the book. Which actually goes to say that it’s not imperative to have read the first to enjoy the second in this case. While there are a few circumstances related to Tark that, at first, seemed confusing but, for the most part, the reader can quickly pick up and figure out what’s happening.
For those who know me, they know I love my ghost stories. I also enjoy ghost hunting shows, so that added aspect in the story was a surprise bonus. Aokigahara is a real forest, and I had heard of it before in an episode of Destination Truth. The forest’s grim reputation is real, with roughly an average of 80-100 suicides taking place inside Aokigahara every year. It’s a mystery why so many end their lives within the tall trees at the base of Mount Fuji and therefore providing inspiration for books, like The Suffering, to creatively explore the legends and theories. The inclusion of a real mysterious location definitely added to my enjoyment of this book.
I loved the diversity in this book, not just with the characters but also the cultural settings. Japan is rich with traditions, and Chupeco weaves her take on the legends into her second novel of this series. While admittedly, some of the intricate rituals lost me in the complexity of it, the storytelling and eerie world-building is absolutely successful. She also tackles some interesting character dynamics where Tark and his spirit companion are concerned, as well as he with his fellow classmates. I felt some of it could have been developed more, as it felt a bit out of place at times. It’s almost like his interactions with the ghostly world felt more real and intense than with the living world.
Overall, a very creepy read. Perfect for fans of Anna Dressed in Blood or Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. ...more