Once upon a time, I was mere high school freshman. I had a crush on an older boy (Travis). My brother p...more[Review originally posted on Rather Be Reading]
Once upon a time, I was mere high school freshman. I had a crush on an older boy (Travis). My brother played pee-wee football on a team with Travis’ younger brother (whose name I cannot remember — odd, I know). I attended every practice and football game I could once this good-looking boy with perfect pearly white teeth, dimples, and a great laugh was introduced into my life. We talked. We flirted.
Fantasies looped through my mind about this gorgeous boy becoming my boyfriend. I thought about how I’d tell my friends when we started dating, what it would be like to kiss him, and my parents would tease me about my sudden interest in football.
Guys, I asked this boy to a dance. (Unfortunately, he was going with someone else by the time I struck up the nerve to ask. Can you say devastated? This was probably the first and last bold boy-move I ever made.)
Travis consumed my life…much like Blaze’s fascination with her younger brother’s soccer coach, Mark, who is a classmate of hers. Blaze is the offical chauffeur to and from practices and games for her brother and his best friends. Her mom is incredibly busy working long hours since their father skipped town to chase after a career as an actor. For a teenager, Blaze carries a ton of responsibility and often doubles as a secondary mother-figure. She doesn’t really mind sitting at the games because she works on her comics and admires Mark from behind her mirrored sunglasses.
She, too, makes up fantasies about this boy and wonders what it would be like to date him. (Reading this snapped me back to all my Travis fantasy days and oddly enough, I ran into his mother in the grocery store.) Blaze’s daydreams tended to be a bit more crude and sexually-charged than mine ever were — at one point pondering what Mark’s boy parts were like as she sees him running across the field. While I thought she would be a relatable character for me, there were a handful of these times that I really couldn’t connect with her. She is most definitely not a girly-girl — her interests lie in geeking out over superheroes and comics, both by creating/drawing her own and being a connoisseur of all things Marvel. She’s a bit nerdy and has a small social sphere.
When Blaze catches Mark’s attention, her obsession reaches a whole new level. She mentally inflates their relationship to be more than it is and things progress rapidly. Without so much as a real date, Blaze finds herself in the back of her minivan with Mark. (Which is where I must mention I was extremely put-off. While I know unprotected sex happens, I feel Crompton could have used this platform to address Mark’s “reputation” and the possibility of pregnancy and STDs when he is coaxing Blaze into having sex without a condom. Blaze was more concerned with him fondling her boobs.)
After their minivan tango, Mark refuses to reply to her texts, IMs, and barely makes eye contact with her. Blaze is forced to realize she’s been used, just as she’d been warned by her little brother. She seeks revenge by publishing a comic in which she outs Mark the Shark. In reply, Mark leaks a photo that goes viral of Blaze in barely-there pink lingerie. The story shifted gears here. There was bullying and how the kids at school were responding to the photo, a side story about her father, a spontaneous road trip, Blaze’s two best friends who were pretty crappy after the photo went public, and a new boy at the comic book store. There was so much to wrap up in such a short amount of time.
Ultimately, Blaze handled the whole bullying situation with a lot of grace; she said some things at the end that made me really proud. But, I needed more resolution with Mark and the viral photograph when unnecessary emphasis was placed on her father. Throughout the story, there were definite times I found Blaze’s character refreshing and she made me laugh out loud, but overall I wish there had been a bit more balance that undoubtedly would have made me feel more invested in her well-being and all the intermingled story lines.(less)
Evelyn’s parent’s no longer speak to one another (or her) unless absolutely necessary or they’re in the...more[Review originally posted on Rather Be Reading]
Evelyn’s parent’s no longer speak to one another (or her) unless absolutely necessary or they’re in the midst of a massive fight. They circulate in individual little bubbles around one another in their giant, quiet house. Evie doesn’t trust her dad, whom she refers to as The Stranger, after he abandoned their family to have an affair. (He moved back in shortly after his departure.) Her mother, a lawyer, is all about The Facts and has a difficult time letting her guard down to show any emotions.
Naturally, Good Evelyn thinks she can become Bad Evelyn to capture their attention. She’s the valedictorian of her class, participates in clubs, is a star runner, and an artist. The only sacrifice she doesn’t make in her pursuit to stir up trouble is her grades — she wants to flee her house as soon as possible by getting into an Ivy League college. She begins drinking and doing drugs, drops out of all of her extracurriculars, and has many a steamy rendezvous with Todd, her non-boyfriend.
Her parents continue to orbit in their own little universes until Evie is forced to tell them she’s pregnant. She has many conversations with squirrely, petite Mary at Planned Parenthood about what her options are — abortion, adoption, or raising the baby. Once her parents become involved, they decide it would be best for her to live with her Aunt Linda in Chicago until she has the baby so no one in Jacksonville “has to know.” A cover-up story is generated that Evie’s aunt is extremely ill and she needs to help take care of her. Even her best friend, Lizzie, is kept in the dark.
While she assumed her parents would take note of her bad behavior, she didn’t anticipate they’d exile her. The only positive is spending time with her Aunt Linda, her wife Nora, and their two daughters, Celie and Tammy. She receives a rude awakening when she arrives at Linda’s house and is given a detailed list of rules outlined by Nora. Evie struggles to find a new balance — How could she possibly keep the baby? She doesn’t know how to be a mom. How could she she possibly love it? How could she even consider giving it up? In her detached state, she’s free to let these overwhelming thoughts consume her.
Evie was so full of spunk and so unparalleled that she immediately caught my attention from the beginning pages. She has a very unique voice and her story examines how difficult it is for a young girl to be in the position to make decisions that will affect her (and others’) entire life. Evie’s vulnerability and fragility were the perfect balance to the angry, abrasive girl that we meet in the beginning. She goes through quite the realm of emotions, yet even when she tries to withdraw into herself she’s pulled out of her cocoon of loneliness by a pretty amazing cast of supporting characters — lovable Aunt Linda who is always willing to listen, another pregnant girl at her new school, Maryellie, who is unrelenting in her pursuit to become friends, and Celie and Tammy who easily wiggle into your heart and force you to love them.
While the majority of the focus is on Evie’s decision and the time lapse of her pregnancy, every other aspect of Me, Him, Them and It kept me engaged. I sought resolve for her parent’s marriage, wanted her broken friendship with Lizzie to be mended, and hoped for Nora to loosen her reigns even the smallest bit. The pacing is fantastic, and the writing incredibly relatable. While One Pink Line, a book I read at the end of 2012, looked at the long-term journey of a girl’s decision to keep her baby when she got pregnant in college, Me, Him, Them, and It was an emotional juxtaposition chronicling a year of Evie’s life.
[For those of you who are maybe saying, "Hmm. A teen pregnancy book? I dunno," I encourage you to look beyond that. You'll be embracing a book overflowing with friends and family full of backstories and intermingled story lines - something so much more.](less)
[Please note there will be spoilers for Cinder. If you haven't read it yet, don't read beyond this poin...more[Review originally posted on Rather Be Reading]
[Please note there will be spoilers for Cinder. If you haven't read it yet, don't read beyond this point!]
Cinder was classified as A Book Magan Should Have Read Sooner. Much sooner. Thankfully upon finishing, I was able to dive right in to Scarlet. (Recommendation: Reading these back-to-back was flawless so if it’s been a while for you, do a refresher so you can remember all the details).
We meet Scarlet right away — her grandmother is missing. Law enforcement doesn’t believe she’s been kidnapped. They close her case because they want to believe that her grandmother chose to leave. They allude to suicide, but Scarlet knows better. Things seem super sketchy, right?
If you’re nervous about what happens to your favorite Cinder characters and you need answers + more Prince Kai, never fear. Cinder is still locked in prison and she’s just found out she’s Princess Selene. She desperately needs to escape before she’s taken back to Luna. The only way out is to ask another prisoner, Thorne, for help. Unbeknownst to Cinder, Thorne becomes her sidekick. He is comical, quirky, and despite being a nuisance 99% of the time, he proves he’s quite useful when he needs to be.
Ultimately, Cinder and Scarlet’s stories begin to interweave and this is where Marissa Meyer blows your mind. At times, the pacing seemed a bit slower than Cinder was, but I was still very engaged as a reader. I wanted to how/when/where Scarlet and Cinder’s stories would intersect. Kai was more of a peripheral character for me (I always, always want more Kai); he’s confused about Cinder. Did she use her glamour to persuade him to trust her? Did she manipulate him? He’s frustrated that Queen Levana has forced him to make abrupt decisions. Ay, yi, yi — Queen Levana — detestable woman!
What remains to be one of Meyer’s most striking storytelling tactics is how she alludes to details and lets her readers in on secrets before the characters have fully come to realize them. She continues to give clues that we can use to figure out what’s going to happen next, but I must say… Wolf confused the heck outta me. Scarlet is a Little Red Riding Hood retelling so naturally, I refreshed my memory because I wanted to know what to expect of Wolf. I didn’t want to fall in love with a character I was only supposed to hate! But oh, no! Meyer took my heart on a roller coaster ride and while I had a few suspicions about him from the very beginning, I still didn’t know whether or not to love him. He was dark and mysterious, carrying around lots of baggage. (If you like brooding boys, brace yourselves, girls!)
Scarlet was very much a — Who do I trust? / What’s happening in this world? / How does this piece together? / Where do things go from here? book. I feel like I have a grasp of what Meyer intends to do in the grand scheme of things, but I cannot wait to see what she does with the characters we’ll be introduced to. Believe me, guys, Scarlet is awesome. Remember how you felt about Cinder? Multiply that awesomeness by a million.(less)
I’ve discovered that I have Aversion to Middle Book Syndrome. I get really antsy, anxious, and nervous...more[Review originally posted on Rather Be Reading]
I’ve discovered that I have Aversion to Middle Book Syndrome. I get really antsy, anxious, and nervous for the sequels to be released, but then I just. can’t. do it. It takes tons and tons of willpower for me to pick up the book and carry on. With Unravel Me, I just knew there was going to be something that made my heart stop which would then transform into anger at having to wait so long for another book.
What I didn’t expect was that this Huge, Big Thing was going to be abandoning Adam in the midst of tons of grief and running to Warner with wide open arms. (Yes, I know. That makes me sound like a terrible person.)
Before jumping into the million reasons why I cannot stop thinking about and love Warner, let’s reflect on Juliette. I found her character to be so unique and refreshing in Shatter Me, but this time around I was a bit thrown off by her. Mafi does an incredible job molding her into a girl that I completely understand – I get why she doesn’t trust people , why she feels so isolated, and why things never seem to go easily for her. But I reached a point where I just wanted to say, “ENOUGH! Accept this and move on.” I wanted her to fight for herself and to not be the small, fragile girl she had been molded into. Thankfully, Kenji was around to balance out my frustrations, put Juliette in her place, and provide humor by referring to himself as sexy all the time.
Omega Point is where Juliette should have been learning more about her ability and meshing with people who have powers like hers. Time passes by quickly as Juliette is struggling to gain control of her life and make friends there, but despite the good things she has going for her, she remains isolated. I felt a bit like Juliette was a psychological study – lock a girl in isolation and see how she deals in the world when she’s released (and furthermore – immerse her in a world that’s underground and see how she handles it).
Part of the complication is Adam. He and Juliette hit a crossroad. It’s one of those things where you throw your hands in the air and wonder why. There are so many revelations (with Adam and Warner, specifically) that will have you icing your jaw because it’s dropped so many times.
Speaking of the whole Adam v. Warner debate… let this be my two cents: For all that I am supposed to love Adam, I feel I am not fully convinced Warner isn’t better. I no longer feel like I know Adam’s character – I didn’t see enough of him and there are just so many complications. I was constantly frustrated with the tension and how on-edge Juliette always was. I hope so badly that I am not wrong about Warner. I feel like I’m being lured in to love him and quite possibly, something will happen to him or he’s going to prove me wrong and leave me weeping in a dark corner.
This fear of Warner proving me wrong? The not being able to know what happens for a whole year? That, friends, is why I have Aversion to Middle Book Syndrome.(less)