So lately I’ve been filling word documents and old notebooks with lists. Ideas for mixtapes (from happy and sad to the soundtrack for a zombie apocalySo lately I’ve been filling word documents and old notebooks with lists. Ideas for mixtapes (from happy and sad to the soundtrack for a zombie apocalypse, songs for fictional characters, and drinking playlists), ideas for stories, cool pancake recipes, interesting quotes, lyrics, pet names, places to visit when I win the lottery… you name it. Being true to my latest obsession, I now present you with a list of reasons why I loved “Looking for Alaska”:
- As Miles, I’m also on the threshold of beginning my own journey in the hopes of finding a Great Perhaps away from home, friends, country and culture. There are days when I wake up scared to death about the prospect of moving so far away from everything I know, and books like this one keep reminding me that the journey is worth the risks.
- I also read “The General in his Labyrinth” at Alaska’s age and felt haunted by it, although for different reasons. Simon Bolivar freed my country from Spain’s oppression only to die here, alone and friendless, and swallowed by a labyrinth of his own making. The book and the discussions it inspires in “Looking for Alaska” were a nice reminder of my teenage days, building my own library and hoping that I could find answers to everything inside books.
- Ever since watching “vlogbrothers” on youtube (nerdfighters!!!!) I’ve developed a little crush on John Green (How could I not? The guy’s adorable!!) and I was a little worried that his books would destroy that admiration. I mean, what if he ended up being another Picoult? Or a Nicholas Sparks for teens? Lucky for me, John Green is as cool on paper as he is on the screen and I’m now able to say that my crush remains unscathed.
- It allowed me to get over the assumption that YA literature was below me. (don't blame me, I've seen so many incredible stupid and condescending stuff marketed for young adults that at one point I thought that was the heart of the entire label)
- When my mom asked me the other day what this book was about. I ended up answering along the lines of “well, you see, it’s the story about a teenager’s experience at a boarding school, but not really. I mean, deep inside the book talks about loss and first encounters, taking risks, finding family away from home, and discovering wonderful people through books that talk about them. It’s about meeting friends, knowing all along that some of them will disappear from your life one way or another, and loving them anyway.” How could I not love something like this??????
- It’s refreshing to read a book that doesn’t exploit my feelings for the sake of sales. If there’s one thing I hate about books like “The Lovely Bones” or “My sister’s keeper”, is the nagging suspicion that their authors consciously employ scenes of abuse and death in order to force emotions, like pretty much any Mexican, Venezuelan and Colombian soap opera in existence. The feelings in “Looking for Alaska” are there, don’t get me wrong, but they are incorporated for a reason, an important one, and are also given an appropriate amount of depth and respect. So ten points for that.
There are more reasons, but they are way too personal and incoherent to post so I’ll leave it at that. “Looking for Alaska” is a great book, both in terms of my growing love for John Green as an author and a blogger (I'm telling you, go watch him on he vlogbrothers channel, he's awesome), and of young adult books which, as I said before, can apparently be inspiring and moving even for someone who reached puberty more than a decade ago. Even better, I’m now in the process of becoming the cool cousin that recommends awesome books to her younger family members!!
If you have read good YA books (I’m not a huge fan of paranormal romance, but I’m willing to make the sacrifice if it’s a really good book) please let me know. I’m starting a special section on my TBR pile dedicated to these books and I don’t really know where to begin.
I have a confession to make. I know it’s frowned upon and used as a derogatory expression for mediocre literature, but… well… here it goes: I read fanI have a confession to make. I know it’s frowned upon and used as a derogatory expression for mediocre literature, but… well… here it goes: I read fanfiction. Specifically, I read Sailor Moon fanfiction. It’s been my guilty pleasure since I was 14 and, while I admit that perhaps 80% is trash the rest has been worth the trouble. Yes, they are writing about characters that don’t belong to them and yes, most stories do sound like 12 year-old masturbatory fantasies and are completely pointless, but what can I say? The few good ones I’ve found have made me addicted, and you know what?:
So what does my shameful confession has to do with “Cinder”? Well, you see, I learned of the existence of Marissa Meyer through her Sailor Moon stories. And when I heard that she had landed an agent and was going to get her first original book published I also knew that it was going to be my first YA book in a while, after giving up on the genre because of my less-than-stellar reaction to “Twilight”. Lucky for me, “Cinder” has nothing in common with that sparkly vampire disaster, and everything with the style of writing that made me admire Marissa for years.
In case you didn’t know this is a loose retelling of Cinderella. Our protagonist, Cinder, is a cyborg living in New Beijing with a stepmother that sees her as a disgrace. Cyborgs are thought of as second-class citizens and are often looked down on by the rest of the population, which makes Cinder ashamed of her robotic parts. Unlike her fairy tale ancestor, however, Cinder is also a great mechanic, and spends her days working and making plans for a better future. This is one heroine that doesn’t waste breath waiting for someone else to rescue for her misery, but instead is determined to work for the things she wants. Cinder’s life changes in ways she can’t possibly imagine when Prince Kai, heir to the throne to Commonwealth, comes to help looking for help repairing a broken android, while one of her stepsisters and her only human friends suddenly contracts a disease that threatens to decimate Earth’s population in a very short time.
As I said before, Cinder is not the type of heroine that prejudice has led me to expect from YA books. She makes her own decisions, and although there is a romantic interest it doesn’t turn her into a blabbering idiot incapable of thinking on her own. Regarding Prince Kai, I thought he was a kind kid, stuck in a situation he can’t escape from and forced to grow up at giant steps in order to protect his people. It was easy to care for Cinder and Kai, and that level of empathy turned the book into something I just couldn’t put down. I agree with other reviews that point out the predictability of some plot twists, not surprising I we remember this is after all a Cinderella retelling, but I also felt that the important parts, the ones that will make the sequel worth waiting for, were all original.
Having established my complete satisfaction with this book, I now need to mention something that bothered me a little bit: The whole cyborg theme was in my opinion touched only on the surface. How much of what Cinder thinks and feels is product of her robotic wiring, and how much comes from her human nature? Why are people with synthetic prosthesis deemed dirty and incapable of taking care of themselves? (view spoiler)[ The book wants us to think of the dying Emperor as a just and brave ruler, but if he is indeed such a great monarch, why would he allow the indiscriminate killing of cyborgs in the name of science, and why do they have to endure such an unfair treatment? (hide spoiler)] I really hope the sequel deals in depth with this, since it’s a big part of what makes Cinder who she is. Another thing that I didn’t understand is this: (view spoiler)[ at first the book says that Princess Selene died in the fire when she was 3, but Cinder got her cyborg makeover when she was eleven. Shouldn’t she have needed surgery much earlier? Am I missing something here? (hide spoiler)]
Spoilers and objections aside, this was a book that kept me hooked and interested to the end and I really recommended it to those of you that are into YA stories and don’t mind waiting almost a year for part 2. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I came across this collection while looking for “Southern Gods” on Amazon. At 99 cents it didn’t look as if I had anything to lose by giving it a tryI came across this collection while looking for “Southern Gods” on Amazon. At 99 cents it didn’t look as if I had anything to lose by giving it a try and what would you know? That little investment turned into a couple of hours well spent. The stories in “Fierce as the Grave” are short, twisted, and greatly increased my desire to read some of Hornor’s longer work.
“Verrata”, the first tale, takes place in futuristic New Orleans that is far from being ideal. Hornor takes ghosts to the next level here, and introduces lots of elements that were confusing at first but made “Verrata” memorable in the end.
“Heaven of Animals” is a mix between zombies and the Wild West. It was my least favorite, perhaps because I needed a few more pages to really feel something for the characters. If you happen to like zombies, however, this one is definitely for you.
“Bone China” is the story of two women, a birthday celebration and a family reunion. It’s by far my favorite tale from this book; it’s set in the South and the atmosphere really shines through the text, which just makes it all that much creepier.
In “Sneaking in” a small town kid learns that every action has a consequence. This tale marks the end of the collection and it left me wanting more, which I guess was Hornor’s intent from the beginning. The creepiness here, to me, lies not in the supernatural element, but in the protagonist’s system of beliefs, that justifies abuse as long as you can get away with it.
Overall, “Fierce as the Grave” is one solid collection, and if you have the time to spare, a great read. ...more
Peter Pan was never a favorite character of mine growing up. Maybe it was because I never watched the movie, or because wars and battles weren’t subjePeter Pan was never a favorite character of mine growing up. Maybe it was because I never watched the movie, or because wars and battles weren’t subjects that I found appealing in a fairy tale. As a child, I was enchanted by Snow White, and the Brother Grimm’s tales of unfortunate kids and terrible witches. There weren’t witches in Peter Pan! Or hungry wolves! All I ever knew about it was that it talked about a crazy kid that could fly, a bunch of orphaned children, and a crazy (and a bit stupid) captain with a hook for a hand. Oh! and a crocodile.
So, people might ask, what am I doing reading a retelling of a story I never cared for? I…. I don’t know. All I can say in my favor is this: I don’t regret it. Not one bit. This is one of those books that has you on the edge of your seat the entire time, and stays with you long after the last line is finished. Brom presents a story that really analyses the implications of the seemingly cute and candid happenings of “Peter Pan”: The kidnapping of gullible children, the war between them and grownups with swords and guns, the fact that they can never grow, and the untold consequences for those who do, are all of them explored in “The Child Thief” and given new and incredible dimensions.
Without a doubt, the most intriguing character of all is Peter. He’s the hero we’re used to root for: the symbol of our wild and untamed side, the representation of everything that’s good and playful. That is, of course, until we are faced with his dark side: the one that is so invested on his mission, so stuck in his ways and prejudices, that becomes blind to death and to the sacrifices others make for him. Who knew that an eternal boy could be so interesting?
And speaking of interesting characters, the Captain blew my mind, but I can’t say anymore without marking this review with a big SPOILER tape on top of it. So let’s speak about my other all-time favorite character: Nick. When we first meet him, he’s running away from home with a bag full of provision and methamphetamines. The tenants of his house are drug dealers and Nick, blaming his mother for the abuse these people put him through, decides to go and make a life with the money he hopes to get in exchange for the stolen drugs. Unfortunately things don’t go as planned, and he’s in the process of getting his ass kicked when Peter makes an appearance and saves the day.
Nick is a fantastic character. We see him grow and confront his own demons while being the only “devil” that can see through Peter and his schemes. He doesn’t always do the right thing, but who does? Being thrown into a world you know nothing about, with dangers that surpass your wildest expectations, and surrounded by a little kingdom that stands on the cult of a kid that, at the best of times, has little idea of what to do with himself, is no piece of cake. But Nick pulls it off and deals with trouble in a realistic way, showing the author’s mastery with words and a great ability in terms of character developing.
Avalon and its mythology are also a strong point. The island is all that remains of a once world full with magic, and is now seriously threatened by “flesh eaters”, or men that are determined to extinguish it by destroying its leader, the Lady. Peter wants them dead at all costs, using as his main weapon the disposition of the children he manages to transport to Avalon and turn into little killing machines, or “devils”. The climax of this war, and the end of the book, was the only part of the book that left me wanting more (and heartbroken, but I can’t tell you why), and the reason I almost took a star out of the book. It felt like a rushed way to end it all: You build up the tension to eleven, set the stage for a battle of epic proportions, and deliver something good, but not incredible. (view spoiler)[(You also kill everyone I cared about, so by the end I couldn’t care less about Peter and his epiphany) (hide spoiler)] However, this does not mean that the book is in any way, shape or form bad or not worthy of any fantasy fan’s time and energy. (I’m giving it 5 stars!!) As you can probably tell I’m no expert when it comes to retellings of classic children’s tales, but it seems to me that there aren’t a lot of ways anyone could actualize Peter Pan better than Brom. It was a magical experience that will stay with me for a long time. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This is a very intense novella, bordering on the line of senseless gore and torture porn; not for everyone... maybe not even for me, now that I thinkThis is a very intense novella, bordering on the line of senseless gore and torture porn; not for everyone... maybe not even for me, now that I think about it. Very satisfying though, especially because it makes you care for the characters and that makes everything 100% worse. I'm not giving it 5 stars though because, unlike other reviewers, I didn't find the ending that uplifting. Honestly, I thought it was terrifying (view spoiler)[ The whole "We all have a purpose and for some, like Jamie and Tooth, it is to die in unspeakable pain while Roger gets to survive mentally scarred for life" exemplifies some of the reasons I have so much trouble with the notion of God and his "mysterious ways" (hide spoiler)] and did not help my current existential crisis one bit.
The other reason has to do with the portrayal of mental illness. (view spoiler)[ Writers find it very convenient to present serial killers as nutcases hunted by voices because it eliminates the need to come up with a complex backstory, and it perpetuates the stigma of people with mental illness as insane monsters waiting to happen. How many people have been denied basic opportunities in life due to outdated fears? So yeah, enough with the "sick people are evil" trope please (hide spoiler)] Nevertheless, this book put me through hell in a good way, and for that I think the 4 stars are well deserved. If I get back into the habit of writing proper reviews this one's definitely getting a longer one.