Following Ruta Sepetys’ debut Between Shades of Grey I was expecting something raw and powerful, a book that, once I’d finished reading the last page I’d feel like my life had been irrevocably changed for ever. It’s such a pleasure when expectations are met with reality which is the case here. Out of the Easy is extremely different to Sepetys’ debut novel, but one major similarity shines through—there is a bleak tone to the novel and yet there resonates a promise of hope.
Decisions, they shape our destiny.
Out of the Easy follows the life of seventeen-year-old Josie Morraine, who lives in the Quarter of New Orleans in the 1940s-50s. Her mother is a prostitute. Josie has had to grow up alongside her morally bankrupt ways, having to endure the nights spent alone in a murky hotel room while her mother sells her body to get nice things. This is why at age seventeen she has now made a home above the bookshop she works at. This is why she escapes into literature and indulges herself in fantasies about the father she has never known. This is why she wants to escape the Big Easy; she wants to go to university (college), one that’s far away from here. But as the daughter of a prostitute the odds are against her. With her unerring determination and the support from her best friend Patrick and Charlotte, new friend from uptown, maybe she’ll finally get her wish.
I adore these characters! I allowed myself to grow attached to them and so it was hard to see such horrible things happen to them. Josie is the best kind of heroine. She’s salty peanuts. It is extremely easy to imagine that she is a friend I know, or even fragments of myself. Sepetys allows the reader to get into her head and connect with her character. I rooted for her all the way through; I cried when things started to go bad; I smiled or laughed when glimmers of hope or humour came her way. I had a connection to this fictional character such as I have not found in many other books, which makes my experience with the book that much more special.
There’s Patrick, her best friend, fellow literary geek and bookshop co-worker/son of the owner. He assumes so many roles—he’s also caring for his renowned author and father, Charlie, whose brain has been disturbed in his old age. He’s so smart and kind and everything that represents comfort for Josie. Which means that their developing relationship and proposed future together should come as no surprise. But another boy around the Quarter has his eye on Josie. And yes, love triangles normally drive me up the wall BUT it doesn’t feel like a gimmick or an excuse for hot love interests. Rather, it serves as a catapult for Josie's development. The feelings associated with the love triangle felt very true to life, bringing more realism to it than taking it away.
Willie, the owner of the local whorehouse, is complex, and my feelings about her are confusing. Charlotte, Josie’s new friend from uptown, jump-starts Josie’s pursuit for a better life. Cokie is the family driver, and the only man with whom Josie feels truly safe, toffee-coloured skin be damned.
Historical YA fiction is one of my true loves. In Out of the Easy I walked the streets of New Orleans, pistol rested on my thigh, on high alert. I visited the Marlowes' bookstore filled with glorious hardcover editions, from Dickens and Keats to romance. The writing is subtle and easy to read. I would whole-heartedly and without hesitation recommend Sepetys to people who don't normally venture into historical fiction titles, especially YA readers.
What else can I say? This is the kind of book I cherish. It's the kind of book I understand. Sepetys does historical fiction extremely well. Although I can't personally know how it all felt for Josie (or Lena in BSoG), they are still relatable characters. Sepetys intersperses humanity in all of her characters so that they are not just words on the pages. They feel real. Their emotions and thoughts and backgrounds are real, which just makes having to say goodbye (or at least see you later) more difficult to do. I can't say if this book will work for you. All I can say is it worked for me.
One day when I was fourteen, I told Charlie that I hated Mother. “Don’t hate her, Jo,” he told me. “Feel sorry for her. She’s not near as smart as you. She wasn’t born with your compass, so she wanders around, bumping into all sorts of walls. That’s sad.” (37, Charlie)
“Let me tell you something ‘bout those rich folk,” said Cokie. “They got everything that money can buy, their bank accounts are fat, but they ain’t happy. They ain’t ever gone be happy. You know why? They soul broke. And money can’t fix that, no sir….” (83, Cokie)
“Sometimes we set off down a road thinkin’ we’re goin’ one place and we end up another. But that’s okay. The important thing is to start.” (163, Cokie)
Shelves without books were lonely and just plain wrong. (281, Josie)
------------------------------------------------------------ Extra, not included in my review on the blog due to spoilers.
(view spoiler)[I do not feel okay about Jo's mother and Cinci. The fact that they effectively get away without any closure leaves a sick twisted feeling in my gut. But I think Sepetys left it at that because it's not about her mother... Also, Willie. It's always hard when tough, unbreakable characters die. She was a legacy in the Quarter. Pretty much her death shattered the very foundation on which the Quarter stood. And Charlie. :/ I don't understand what this all means, and what Sepetys' intentions with these deaths were. I like to think there's a deeper meaning behind all of this, some kind of footprint she wished to leave in our minds by having these characters die. I hope Josie made it. I'm glad she's still got Charlotte, and that interview is in front of her. Despite all she's been through, she'll make it. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
That cover really doesn't do much for me, but the synopsis sounds pretty interesting. I'll wait until some reviews are up until I make a decision..
AlrThat cover really doesn't do much for me, but the synopsis sounds pretty interesting. I'll wait until some reviews are up until I make a decision..
Alright, I've been waiting for the paperback release of this book. That looks like ero-historical-romance fiction to me, I am NOT buying it. Maybe I'll grab it on special on the Kindle one of these days... ...more
I love historical YA fiction. But. I just have to leave this book for now, since it's a Netgalley title and therefore is of a lesser priority than theI love historical YA fiction. But. I just have to leave this book for now, since it's a Netgalley title and therefore is of a lesser priority than the physical review copies I have. I will definitely get back to it in the future, when it's published in paperback. I'm also just not in the mood for something so paranormal and dark. At least since I'm re-reading SHATTER ME right now (because I read it over 2 months ago and I need a damn refresher before I can write a review)....more
(Full review to be posted on my blog in the near future, with added extras)
~ Final thoughts ~
Kady Cross has taught me a valuable lesson: steampun(Full review to be posted on my blog in the near future, with added extras)
~ Final thoughts ~
Kady Cross has taught me a valuable lesson: steampunk is cool! Cross introduces an X-Men-esque concept to historical (1897) London in a captivating story that will appeal to YAs and fans of historical fiction and the supernatural. Even at 388 pages, I'm sitting here wishing there was more; I'm so glad that this is the first in a series, because I don't know how I'd be able to say goodbye to these delightfully dazzling characters so soon.
~ MY THOUGHTS (in full) ~
Excuse me while I sigh heartily, such is the enormity of my love for this book. Kady Cross really surprised me--I had no idea I'd enjoy The Girl in the Steel Corset so much! Cross pitches this as League of Extraordinary Gentlemen meets teen X-men. I didn't know there were even going to be supernatural elements, just that it would be steampunk. There's so much to like in this book and there's a little something for fans of every genre.
Right from the get-go, I was swept up by the illustrative writing style - it definitely ranks among the more educated in the YA genre (both in structure and choice of words). Written in a third-person omniscient narrative voice, the reader is able to keep track of where each main character is, and what in the blazes they're getting up to. Those more accustomed to first-person may find themselves overwhelmed or detached, and that's okay--it won't be for everyone. I personally love the style when it's done well, and well done did Cross write it!
Quite possibly the most impressive component in this first book in a series, is the undeniably charming cast of characters. Our heroine, Finley Jayne, a recently cast-off servant, ends up at the Greythorne House in Mayfair London (where only the rich reside) following a nighttime road accident.
There, she meets a group of colourful and privileged teens: the illustrious Griffin King, whose trusting personality is as endearing and beautiful as he is himself; Emily, a small sweetie with a vocal Irish lilt, ingenious in the art of machinery and science; and Sam, who is kind of like a mama bear--big and strong and will tear you limb from limb if you mess with his family. They are closely investigating the crimes of the Machinist, who is behind all of the terrible things that have been happening with the automatons and machinery in London. They have secrets, and they're connected by far more than just their love for each other.
I love books with this kind of character dynamic ~ a group of friends who live together and achieve great things together and have fun and fight and have fall outs. . . . I fell in love with each member--even Sam won me over despite his whininess and untrusting jealousy.
Romance is aplenty in The Girl in the Steel Corset, don't you worry! There are two love triangles, but not once did they bother me. I think I'm much more forgiving of love triangles with historical-type books, since that's just how things were back then.
Finley has Griffin King (who is working towards bringing easing in and controlling Finley's bad side) and Jack Dandy (who is attracted to the strong, bold and seductive nature of her bad side).
Emily gets Sam (whose jealousy was palpable) and Jasper (a cowboy with secrets of his own, of course ~ he's much more centered compared to Sam).
The story consists of a healthy mix of slow, descriptive passages and fast, action-y scenes. I was never bored. *sigh* I just loved this book, and even at 388 pages, I sit here wishing there was more. I'm so glad that this is the first in a series, because I don't know how I'd be able to just say goodbye to these characters so soon.
~ QUOTES ~
First lines: " The moment she saw the young man walking down the darkened hall toward her, twirling his wooden stick, Finley knew she'd be unemployed before the sun rose. Her third dismissal in as many months.
(I LOVE the first chapter. I'd been laughing so hard I was in tears!)
* I count 11 post-it notes in my copy, which is a high number for me. (5> usually indicates I really liked the book/writing)
"We should have taken the girl to the hospital," Sam muttered, leaning against the corner of a sofa. He rubbed the back of his neck with his left hand. "Bringing her here puts us all at risk. What if she's a wanted criminal?" Griff tilted his head. "I don't think it would have been safe to take her to the hospital, for her or the staff." His friend raised a heavy brow, sarcasm written all over his face. "So you decided, 'hell, why not bring her home with me?' Well done."
I just read through all the quotes and there's a massive grin plastered on my face right now. XD In any case, I can't write out more......more
There's something a bit too modern about how the girl looks on the cover, but it's still stunning and I love the sound of it. Hope this turns out wellThere's something a bit too modern about how the girl looks on the cover, but it's still stunning and I love the sound of it. Hope this turns out well!...more
I was just not feeling it, and I realised that at this time I want to read something I REALLY want to read; not just something I have to read ASAP....
I was just not feeling it, and I realised that at this time I want to read something I REALLY want to read; not just something I have to read ASAP. I'll try and get back to this one, since it's an ARC....more
3.5-4/5 (3.5 if I take into account the way I feel about it in full, 4 if I just say "Hey it was really entertaining")
+ A strong and intelligent heroin3.5-4/5 (3.5 if I take into account the way I feel about it in full, 4 if I just say "Hey it was really entertaining")
+ A strong and intelligent heroine whose inner strength grows as the plot thickens. I really really liked the progression of her character development. Even though I never got a feel that I knew her inside and out, she was a good heroine and would make a good role model for impressionable minds. + An adequate amount of research was made ~ as far as my knowledge goes, the historical detail was well done. + Things get a bit crazy for a bit, and there are some dark issues/ideas that are presented...such as attempted murders, kidnapping, animal cruelty for entertainment, teenage pregnancy, etc. These only helped in holding my interest ~ this book had YA-level components to it + The plot, once it actually went somewhere, was captivating. I did not want to put it down until I knew what was going to happen next! - The amount of different characters was overwhelming, and it took me AGES to get the hang of every single name and their roles - The romance did not work for me. It felt too contrived and quick and easy. I liked the twist with every other 'romance' or marriage proposal . . . just not with Emerald and Sam. It didn't feel REAL, but fantastical and childish. Like a fairytale romance.
Full review will be written in the near future....more
I can not believe the sequel is releasing this year -- I had no idea! I'm actually quite excited about this one. The Poison Diaries was by no meanWow.
I can not believe the sequel is releasing this year -- I had no idea! I'm actually quite excited about this one. The Poison Diaries was by no means perfect, but I do remember being thrown on an emotional rollercoaster. I love that the cover of this one matches the first one. :)...more