Mate, this book, it's clever and sophisticated and smart and I am so thrilled Shirley Marr has come flying onto the YA scene.
The first thing you shoul...moreMate, this book, it's clever and sophisticated and smart and I am so thrilled Shirley Marr has come flying onto the YA scene.
The first thing you should know: This is one of those books where you are hooked from the first page. So, you know, be prepared for a page-flipping marathon because you won't want to put this book down.
I won't say much because I loved going in to this book blind, but... it opens after the murder and slips back in time to the build-up to the murder. You don't know who Eliza (our teen protagonist) killed or how or why - and it all unfolds so wonderfully. The stakes are raised, there's twists and red herrings and it's all delicately balanced: the fun with the serious, the fear with the bravery, the present with the past.
This book has the best of both worlds: a killer storyline and snazzy gorgeously witty prose. The story about the murder is teased out beautifully - with Gossip Girl-esque drama alongside some much more serious stuff that goes down. I love how well Shirley Marr blends her own unique style into one whirlwind of a book:
It's a fun book, but a thinking book as well. There's slashes of violence and squeals of teen girl excitement. There's depth and fear and frivolity. There's friendships that are complicated in that way that teenage girls complicate things - fiercely protective of each other, secretly jealous of each other, hugging one minute and eyeing each other of the next. It felt true and absolutely teenager-y.
The voice is completely delicious to read. Snarky and funny and truly startling - simply delicious and a little unexpected.
Let me tell you about Eliza.... I ADORE her. Which is saying something as she is not always the easiest protagonist to love.Shirley Marr has a similar gift to Courtney Summers (Cracked Up To be, Some Girls Are) and Lauren Oliver (Before I Fall) in taking an unlikeable main character and captivating you with their unlikeableness (I'll use that invented word) and then making you somehow come to care for them by the end of the sordid affair.
She's a perfect blend of angst, wit, drama and you can spot little snatches of ache under the tough exterior. The teen voice in this is nailed. It's blast to read. I had a little wry smile on my face, there's plenty of amusing snickering moments and a few laugh-out-loud appreciations for Eliza's observations on people and life.
Random things to love: (unrelated to the review - but I just can't help myself)
there's rats. And a pet rat named Ratattack. I love pet rats and how COOL is that name? I have a thing for stumbling across cool pet names in books.
There's a mention of Richie from The Manic Street Preachers. I was so MAD-Crazy about The Manics (back in the day...) and I thought I was the only fan Down Under :) Anyways, you all probably don't care - but it was just an awesome feeling stumbling across them in a book. So - yay! haha.
Ultra rich people living in an ultra rich estate. It's fascinating and almost other-worldy, the lives these people lead. (well, coming from me, a westie-girl :)
There's an ending that you will still be thinking about days after you're done.
Recommended: It's a wild, immensely enjoyable read. Sparkling, oozing with wit - a fresh thinking teens noir. Who knew reading about a murderer could be so much fun? I loved it - it's a brilliant addition to the Aussie YA scene and YA in general - a rocking thriller that's a blast to read. I really cannot wait to see what Shirley Marr comes up with next :) (less)
Slide is a refreshing, energetic YA debut for fans of Veronica Mars.
Sylvia (Vee) can slide into other people bodies, bearing witness to what they are...moreSlide is a refreshing, energetic YA debut for fans of Veronica Mars.
Sylvia (Vee) can slide into other people bodies, bearing witness to what they are doing, but having no sway over them. It’s pretty much a perfect premise for a sleuthing novel as Vee can sleuth her way around people minds (helping progress the plot forward with conveniently witnessed scenes).
I liked Vee from the first chapter. She is funky without being try-hard. I loved her narration:
She is my sister and my exact opposite in every way. If she’s the pink glitter on your valentine, I’m the black sharpie you use to draw mustaches on the teachers in your yearbook.
It’s pretty much a mystery story and the plot is expertly woven. The stakes continually rise (as does the body count). The red herrings are plentiful and really make for a page-turner.
Set in a high school, type-casting* is initially used to set the scene, yet Hathaway (mostly) pushes past cliches to give all her characters depth, which I really admired.
The climax is everything you’d expect a climax to be in this genre: secrets are unveiled, past and present tragedies collide. I can see why it has already been optioned as it has all the drama and intrigue (and originality) to play out gorgeously on the big screen. It would make a fun high school flick, hey. As for the Big Reveal... nicely done. I guess I saw it coming when I was supposed to see it coming (?) and it was sufficiently daytime drama to give thrills but not overly melodramatic, still matching the tone of the rest of the book.
I am not usually a huge fan of YA stories featuring cheerleaders, arrogant jocks, high school cliques and all the petty/vicious girl-warfare that goes down. But in Slide it was fun looking on. Vee is an ex-cheerleader and far removed from the scene (thankfully), it is through other peoples eyes that we get involved. Vee herself is a blend of gorgeously achey, pragmatic and funky. Her best friend Rollins is so much fun, a little bit enigmatic and a lot crush-worthy (hey, I am a fan).
It’s a fun story, dramatic in parts and sad in others. It also has patches of heart (particularly in regards to relationships: Vee and her sister, Vee and her best friend, Rollins (LOVED Rollins), and Vee and her father ~ he is a broken man and their relationship is tenderly handled).
Vee and her sister, Mattie:
Then I climb into bed and wrap my arms around her, pretending we’re stranded in Antarctica and I have to use my body heat to keep her alive.
Recommended : I read this through in the space of 24 hours. I grinned a lot (some of Vee’s narration is so likeable) and had a relaxed time reading it. This is a book for fans of YA mystery, Veronica Mars, high school stories and for those wanting an addictive story with a lot of energy in it. In terms of genre, it has the (paranormal?) premise, but it reads like a contemporary novel. a solid 3.5 stars, perhaps teetering towards 4 as I did have an awesome time reading it...
*I like typecasting in plot-centric books. It’s a great strategy with many strengths and Hathaway utilises all the strengths without falling prey to any weaknesses of typecasting (such as overusing cliches or creating one-dimensional characters)(less)
Confession: I would not normally be drawn to a book with this title/cover. So when it rocked up I wasn't too sure it would be my thing.
But, mate: it...moreConfession: I would not normally be drawn to a book with this title/cover. So when it rocked up I wasn't too sure it would be my thing.
But, mate: it was insanely compelling, fascinating and just, ugh, I LOVED it.
I read it within two sittings.
It is a New Zealand YA book ~ released in NZ in 2007, and just now released in Australia.
It's the story of one fourteen year old New Zealand boy ~ who is transferred to yet another juvenile detention centre.
He's not a troubled kid with a sad past. He's a mini genius from a good home. A very violent mini genius. Being in his head is completely riveting: from the way he thinks to the things he loves and admires and seeing why he did some of the outrageous and horrifying things he did.
He is the sort of kid that could grow up to be Dexter (from Jeff Lindsay's books, now made into a TV show).
It was amusing. Okay, and a tad horrifying... Absolutely. I read it wide-eyed, smirking in parts, stunned in others.
Hamish relates his story in journal entries, and he's a precocious, intelligent little thing ~ there's a great sense of humour in there. Smattered among the journal entries is a present day narrative which includes staff meetings (from an omnipresent POV) and Hamish's life unfolding in the correctional facility. The staff so amused me. The author is a high school teacher, and he nails that dynamic of different staff members grating against one another with differing strong opinions. Funny stuff, hey.
As the story unfolds, Hamish relates different violent episodes from his childhood and each one is equal parts horrifying and intriguing, but above all, original. I don't want to give away spoilers, but some of the acts he did ~ whoa, they were creative and stunning and intelligent. Also, completely mad, yet utterly logical to him.
He's not formally diagnosed in the book, but he's some kind of sociopathic genius. He has delusions of grandeur and a strong sense of honour and justice. He sees the world differently to the rest of us.
There's clues along the way and a perfectly paced unveiling of some of Hamish's crimes ~ which include his most famous crime: manslaughter at the age of ten. As the story hurtles along I kept wondering where it was headed and there's a sense that anything could happen, an undercurrent of dread and suspense.
So... the climax. It was a bit wild (okay, I chuckled a little, incredulously). It made for some great drama and I loved the direction the story took ~ but (sorry to be cryptic) when a certain character appeared, I found it a little incredulous and dramatic for my tastes. It still didn't stop me from enjoying it though.
It's well written and compelling and I am thrilled this book has been imported from New Zealand with and Aussie publisher. It is also available internationally. It's a fascinating and strong addition to the New Zealand YA scene.
I absolutely recommend this book: To anyone who is fascinated by psychology and the human mind, to reluctant readers, and especially boys. Even though it is YA, it is a book that will easily be appreciated and enjoyed by adults (my husbands got it on his bedside table to read next).
Bonus stuff: Hamish has heroes who he aims to live up to. He's obsessed with them: Alexander the Great, Sir Robert Falcon Scott (Scottish explorer), prison escape artists, Joan of Arc, Hitler gets a mention, Charles Upham, Te Rauparaha (New Zealand warrior) and other historically fascinating characters are sprinkled throughout the book. It's like little pockets of intrigue weaved into the story ~ like reading the engrossing stuff out of a Guiness Book of Records ~ it's an engrossing look at some violent and impressive heroes from the past.
At 174 pages, Violence 101 packs a lot of punch. I devoured it and so enjoyed it. It's a perfect length for a riveting story.
Quote: He (Alexander the Great) was probably responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths, some historians say 750, 000. And how is he remembered today? Alexander the Brutal? Alexander the Freak? Alexander the Sadistic Psycho? No way - he is simply referred to as Alexander the Great. How do you think he would get on today? I think he'd get a hard time like me, and be regarded as a dangerous lunatic.(less)
witty/snarky banter between the two main leads the dual POV which adds to the experience the build up of sexual tension/attraction which ends in some HOT (but not too smutty) bedroom scenes the rom-com feel the fact that it's a light breezy smiley kind of read it's fun chick-lit vibe without being too chick-litty...
HOWEVER this book did not live up to my expectations...
this is my least fave Julie James novel so far. I still enjoyed reading it and breezed right through it ~ but I was disappointed.
I don't mind a cliché set-up: the love/hate vibe between two main characters, the typical rich but misunderstood herione, the "alpha male" FBI persona, etc. I actually can go into a book looking forward to those ingredients making it a fun ride.
BUT the characters fell flat for me.
Jordan was fairly bland. She lacked the snark or feistiness and pizazz of Julie James' other female leads such as Taylor in or Payton from .
Nick lacked the charm of some of her former male leads ~ so that there wasn't much too him other than him being hot, buff and an aggressive, horny male. (although, you know, he was still HOT :)
The book gets off to a slower start and I felt a bit bored wading through the set-up. While I liked the premise, I was waiting for sparks to fly and they never really did. Most of the romantic tension (which drives a lot of the book) relied solely on lust and sexual temptation. The flirting, rather than being character driven banter, relied mostly on sexual innuendo.
PLUS: I do remember being pleased in her former books at the tastefully done sex scenes ~ which were heated enough to satisfy the build-up of the sexual tension ~ but never turned into a smutty play-by-play. Not so in A Lot Like Love. The sex scene arrived with a BANG and laboured for a good chunk of more detailed content which may satisfy some readers but makes me either scoff, chuckle or roll my eyes (sometimes all three). I much prefer the thrill of tension rather than the actual nitty-gritty of characters "finally succumbing", haha.
Despite my mostly negative sounding review ~ I still did enjoy this book for what it was but I would recommend her earlier books as a much more fun and satisfying read. My fave of hers is .(less)
I really should make a shelf for books centred around amnesia as I seem to be drawn to them :)
This UK debut is making some very big waves around the g...moreI really should make a shelf for books centred around amnesia as I seem to be drawn to them :)
This UK debut is making some very big waves around the globe. Weirdly, I cannot remember why I first added it to my TBR, but I did wait a few months to get through the reservation queue at my library and there's still months worth of people waiting behind me :D
I do love the thriller/suspense genre. What I love about it this: once I start a suspense novel such as this, with mystery elements and an undercurrent of unease, I get sucked in. Before I Go To Sleep is hugely compelling and I read it in two sittings.
It's a 5 star reading experience in the sense that I was caught up in the book and really wanting to not put the damn thing down ( 'please, kids, can't you see I'm reading?' ;)). Very mesmerising.
The thing that always gets to me about the thriller/suspense genre though: those twists (!) the climaxes (!) the revelations (!) and ... the melodrama.
Before I Go To Sleep was pretty typical fare: well written, sharp, mysterious, intriguing. Tightly plotted.
And then, the second half is unleashed. At this point, I am sucked in. At this point, things start unravelling in the story and I am guessing at twists (it is to be expected) and desperate to find out what's really going on (and see if I am right). It is also at this point where the book changes from being believable to being much more dramatic (less believable) entertainment. Although most the villainous melodrama was held off until the climax (thank you). I think it is standard of the genre, and it does make me cringe somewhat. I had a similar experience reading Still Missing ~ a book I loved earlier in the year, despite it's ridiculous and overly ambitious twist-like revelations.
I cannot say I cared for the characters, but I do not read this genre to care for characters. I can say I cared for the situation Chrissie was in and that kind of amnesia is still whirring in my mind. It was rather nightmarish and, in some ways, I prefer to be dead than to live like that :/
In conclusion: 5 stars for the thrilling, unputdownable times. Bump it down to three stars for those moments of melodrama which occasionally leave a bad taste in my mouth. Level it out to 4 stars b/c I don't want to think too hard about this book which was pure entertainment.
I do think it felt incredibly well researched and some aspects of (the amnesia) are truly fascinating and mind-boggling. Also, I will read more of this authors work.