**spoiler alert** I read Looking For Alaska for a couple of reasons: I wanted to read something that was assigned in high schools now, which I had mis...more**spoiler alert** I read Looking For Alaska for a couple of reasons: I wanted to read something that was assigned in high schools now, which I had missed out on during my own high school career, and I had never read a John Green novel. I'm not a fan of John Green as a person, but people rave about his writing, and I like to have a fully informed opinion. Looking For Alaska killed two birds with one stone.
That said... Green is a good writer. He has a way with words. I'll grant him that. And he writes realistically. Miles, Alaska, the Colonel are all very realistic teenagers, and I understand why teen readers find them compelling. However, just because a character is realistic doesn't mean they are interesting or enjoyable.
Maybe it's me reading with my grumpy adult eyes, but the only characters I liked were Lara and Takumi, and they both get treated like garbage by the main three. They also are only as fleshed out as they are important to Miles at the moment, because he's completely self-centered, in the worst sort of woe is me, I'm a Nice Guy way.
Miles is completely obsessed with Alaska, who was not quite the manic pixie dreamgirl I thought she'd be, though that may be because we only see her through Miles' eyes, and his main concerns are that she's hot and she thrills him by breaking the rules of the school. That's it. We learn more about Alaska posthumously than we do when she is on the page, and that's only because the Colonel forces the issue with his 'investigation'. Miles doesn't really care who Alaska is as a person, because her value to him is in this Ideal Girl that she represents. The last time Miles sees Alaska, she's drunk, he's not, and he makes out with her despite him having a girlfriend and her having a boyfriend- and then he angsts about it for the rest of the book. Not because he feels badly for cheating on Lara, or for potentially causing Alaska distress, but because maybe she was The One and then she had to go and die, and now he'll never get to run off into the sunset with her.
Miles' relationship with the Colonel is not much better. He mostly likes the Colonel because he gives Miles access to Alaska. Obviously the Colonel has stuff going on- he comes from poverty, is at school on a scholarship, and is very intelligent, yet he's also drunk most of the time (also, vodka and milk? bleccccccch). Of course, Miles doesn't dig deeply into whatever is up with his roommate, because he's too busy obsessing about how to get into Alaska's pants. It's very frustrating.
I've given away the big twist here, of course. Alaska dies- drunk driving, how lovely- and the second half of the book is about Miles and the Colonel trying to determine if her death was an accident or a suicide, before ultimately deciding they'll never know and it doesn't matter. Her death has taught Miles something about himself, after all, and that's clearly what really matters.
Like I said, the book is well written. Green is able to capture teenage voices and thoughts and angst very well. He's able to set a scene and build a world that feels believable, and to capture those moments that matter so much when you're a teen- the great prank, the aftermath of a party when you're just talking to your friends, those first sexual experiences. I just wish he'd chosen a different teenager with a different story to tell.(less)
Obviously I enjoy Stephanie Perkins' writing. I tore through this book and I tore through her previous one, Anna and the French Kiss. But for the firs...moreObviously I enjoy Stephanie Perkins' writing. I tore through this book and I tore through her previous one, Anna and the French Kiss. But for the first 2/3 of this book, I did not enjoy the main character. Lola can be really insufferable. She wears outlandish costumes all the time. She wears culturally appropriative costumes more than once. She's rude to her parents. And she has terrible taste in boyfriends, at least at first. I was probably just as awful when I was a teenager, which is why I cut her some slack and kept reading.
The story is engaging, even if nothing much of anything, other than the relationship happens. Lola grows, and becomes a better version of herself, which was worth reading through the annoying!Lola bits. Her two dads are well characterized, realistic parents (although I feel like we got to know Andy much more than Nathan). I enjoyed travelling through San Francisco, a city I like very much. This book is a fun read, overall. I just wish I hadn't had to fight past my irritation with the main character for a good chunk of the book.(less)
Holly Black takes on vampires, basically. Tana, our main character, wakes up after a party to find that vampires have ravaged the place, leaving only...moreHolly Black takes on vampires, basically. Tana, our main character, wakes up after a party to find that vampires have ravaged the place, leaving only her- she was passed out in the bathtub, and they missed her- and her ex- who has, alas, been bitten and is turning Cold- and a mysterious vampire prisoner. Tana does what any sane girl would do and gets the hell out, but because she's our heroine, she takes the other two with her. That starts her journey to Coldtown, one the walled cities where vampires and their hangers-on are confined in the vampire-ridden world Black has created, hoping for salvation for her ex, and marker to get herself back out.
I really enjoyed Black's world-building, and the way she peppered the backstory for various characters throughout the narrative. I also enjoyed a fairly diverse cast (especially a trans girl who is revealed with little fanfare and whose romantic subplot is presented as any other in the book) and the subversion of many vampire tropes. Some of the plot twists were a little predictable, but the story was still engaging and the stakes were high enough to make me feel invested. The ambiguous ending made me wonder if a sequel will be forthcoming.
Anyway, do recommend for vampire fans who are over the romanticized vampire trope. It ticked several important boxes for me.(less)
A fitting conclusion to the series. It was good to see Derek, Chloe and the other kids again, and I enjoyed the introduction of Ash and the reduction...moreA fitting conclusion to the series. It was good to see Derek, Chloe and the other kids again, and I enjoyed the introduction of Ash and the reduction of mustache twirling from Calvin Antone. It dragged a bit in parts, and I feel like not everything was completely tied up, especially since the Otherworld books have ended. Overall, though, it was good to see Maya and her friends find a stopping point, if not the end, on their journey.(less)
I don't even know that I can review this book fairly, because I relate to it too strongly. I have been Eleanor, minus Park and a few siblings. My step...moreI don't even know that I can review this book fairly, because I relate to it too strongly. I have been Eleanor, minus Park and a few siblings. My stepfather was even named Richard.
But it's a beautiful book, and I do recommend it. Maybe I'll be able to write something more coherent later on. (less)
The story was cute, and as member of the class of 1996, it totally made me feel nostalgic, but ultimately there wasn't enough *there* there for me. I...moreThe story was cute, and as member of the class of 1996, it totally made me feel nostalgic, but ultimately there wasn't enough *there* there for me. I wanted more time with the characters to know them better, and to see how the glimpses of their future changed more than who they thought they should date. It was still a fun, quick read, however, with a really interesting premise.(less)
Oh, this fabulous book. What seems at first to be a bit of fluffy satire- beauty queens on a deserted island, OMG!- is actually a well-rounded and mov...moreOh, this fabulous book. What seems at first to be a bit of fluffy satire- beauty queens on a deserted island, OMG!- is actually a well-rounded and moving look at feminism, gender, sexuality, race, religion, and all the varied ways we are girls in this world. And it's all written with great humor and intelligence, layered over as plot filled with action and emotion. I got this from the library, but I want to go buy my own copy so I can pass it around. Read, read, do read!(less)
Like the others, very cute, although less plotty and more focused on the romances, aside from Clawdeen being cooped up with her family and Melody digg...moreLike the others, very cute, although less plotty and more focused on the romances, aside from Clawdeen being cooped up with her family and Melody digging into her own past. Not as much name dropping, aside from a subplot involving a Lady Gaga concert, which I appreciated. I like Clawdeen; I like that she is all honey-badger-doesn't-give-a-shit about boys and romance. I love the Wolf family. I just wish more had happened. Hopefully the next book, rumored to be the final installment, will resolve the monsters vs normies thing.
Also? InvisiBilly is pretty much the best thing ever, and I'd love to see him incorporated into the web series/Nick specials/doll line.(less)
Like the first book, this was a cute, wholly average YA that I personally loved because it ties into a fandom I care about. I really did enjoy gaining...moreLike the first book, this was a cute, wholly average YA that I personally loved because it ties into a fandom I care about. I really did enjoy gaining Cleo's perspective, and the plot was suspenseful enough to keep me turning the pages.
In this one, after the disastrous cliffhanger of the first book, the young RADs are under deeper cover than ever. With the threat of exposure looming over them, Frankie and her friends, along with Melody, her sister, Candace, and another normie named Brett, decide to do a documentary; the goal is to show that they are not monsters to be afraid of, but typical teenagers with hopes and dreams and insecurities. All the RADs think this is a great idea- except Cleo de Nile, the school's queen bee. Scared that she's losing sway, she sets out to undermine the movie, but the plan goes further than even she had anticipated. The book ends on yet another cliffhanger, this one threatening our RADs with worldwide exposure.
My likes and dislikes are mostly the same as the first go-round. The name-dropping gets tiresome. This time it's Cleo's Herve Leger bandage dresses (which I do admit is clever for a mummy character) and her playlist for a get-together with her friends. I know the author is trying to show how current and trendy the teens in the book are, but it's unnecessary. Show, don't tell, etc. And in the long run, it will date the books.
I do like that the author gives a fresh twist on the beautiful, popular older sister trope. Candace might be shallow, but she's also kind and a devoted sister... and she's no airhead. I totally enjoyed her scenes with InvisiBilly, and her insistence that the acronym for the normie group be NUDI.
Overall, entertaining enough, and populated with characters that I care about. I'll be reading the third installment.(less)
This was cute. It's a fairly middle-of-the-road YA that probably got bumped up in my estimation because I'm a huge fan of the dolls and the web series...moreThis was cute. It's a fairly middle-of-the-road YA that probably got bumped up in my estimation because I'm a huge fan of the dolls and the web series. The novel deviates a bit from the animated canon, setting the characters into a high school that is integrated with non-monsters; the whole monster thing is a huge secret, which sets up some tension and moves the plot. The novel also introduces a "normie" girl, Melody Carver, to give the opposite perspective.
The story begins with the Carver family moving to Salem, Oregon (the site of Merston "Monster" High) from Beverly Hills; at the same time, Frankie Stein is being "born" in her father's laboratory. This first novel follows both girls as they experience being the new girls at school, each trying to find their place among the mixed population there. Frankie does the most moving of plot, because she is a monster in hiding, a Regular Attribute Dodger, or RAD- and she doesn't understand why her people can't find acceptance among the normies. Melody, on the other hand, experiences more of the typical trials of fitting in- drama with the school's queen bee, and navigating the rocky waters of a crush on a confusing guy. Things come to a head when the Merston students decide to give their fall semi-formal dance a Monster Mash theme. The novel ends on a bit of a cliff-hanger, which is why I went out and got the next book pretty much immediately.
The only real issue I had with the book was all branding and name dropping. I don't really care to know that Frankie is jamming to Lady Gaga or Timbaland; I don't [i]want[/i] to know that Deuce is wearing an Ed Hardy hat (those poor snakes, lol). However, Harrison makes up for this some by using cute, teen-specific metaphors, such as "Frankie was more charged than a Visa at Christmas".
Overall, this was mind-candy, a neat way to get my Monster High fix while I'm hunting for dolls. It was interesting to see a different take on the characters, and to get a peek at their home life and how the ghouls would fit into our world, as opposed to the monsters-only world of the webisodes.
Not gonna read this book. This tells me all I need to know.
Author immaturity is gonna be the death of my love of YA. I'm reluctant to try new authors...moreNot gonna read this book. This tells me all I need to know.
Author immaturity is gonna be the death of my love of YA. I'm reluctant to try new authors lately, because this pattern of behavior is really, really off-putting. Hopefully, someday, authors will learn to take poor reviews graciously (and that we can see what they say on Twitter- god, if you're going to write YA, learn about the media young adults frequent).(less)
This book is tough to review without spoilers. Deadline continues the story of the After the End Times blogging crew as the conspiracy that changed th...moreThis book is tough to review without spoilers. Deadline continues the story of the After the End Times blogging crew as the conspiracy that changed their lives in Feed continues to unfold. Shaun's narrative voice takes over this time, and once again the team finds themselves in a race against time and around the zombie-ridden country as the stakes grow even higher.
The book's not perfect; Grant can be repetitive at times. In the first book it was George's retinal Kellis-Amberlee and her sunglasses; in Deadline, it's Shaun's desire to punch people in the face and the fact that Shaun drinks coffee while George prefers Coke. Sometimes the scientific stuff goes over my head, so I'm glad there are less informed characters that also require a more blunt explanation of the implications. But the plot is tight, and the suspense is racheted high, and the end is such a huge shocker that I honestly cannot wait for the next volume.
Things I love about this book: Grant's attention to detail and her world-building. The amount of thought the author's put into why there would be zombies and how the world would respond is amazing. I also love that the focus is on the story, and while it's character driven, it's also plot driven- there's no reliance on shmoopy romance or misogynistic horror tropes, which is a true rarity in genre YA. Even with Shaun taking over the first person POV, the women are tough and strong and capable. So much love to Grant for this.
If you love the story, check out the author's livejournal (seanan_mcguire)- there's a prequel of sorts there that was written as a countdown to this book's release. (less)