Anyway...the end could have really used a couple extra chapters. It kind of feels like the publisher wanted to keep the bo...moreUm... I have some questions.
Anyway...the end could have really used a couple extra chapters. It kind of feels like the publisher wanted to keep the book under 400 pages, and so there are a few plot points that aren't allowed to develop naturally. I have to think about this some more.(less)
Summary: I very much enjoyed the suspenseful story in Neal Shusterman's Unwind, as well as the complex issues the book...moreReally this should be 3.5 stars.
Summary: I very much enjoyed the suspenseful story in Neal Shusterman's Unwind, as well as the complex issues the book wrestles with. However, I was kind of unsatisfied with the execution of the switching narrators element to the book.
What I Loved: The premise of Unwind is outstanding and thoroughly developed--it envisions a world that's not all that different from ours, that resulted from domestic conflicts over abortion, which escalated into all-out war and ultimately a treaty that results in abortion being outlawed but provides for the caveat that teenagers can be "unwound" and recycled for body parts. In the philosophy of this version of the U.S., the kids are not dead after being unwound, they are instead, living in a "divided state," which is how parents and government justify unwinding. There is a huge demand for fresh body parts (i.e., a broken arm usually is just replaced with a new one, if the recipient can afford it). The story follows three teens who are scheduled to be unwound (each for different reasons) and their backstories are interesting and well-developed. The second half of the book is far stronger than the first half, with action progressing as a nice pace--this is where the world of an underground railroad saving teens from unwinding unfolds in the story. The chapter describing an actual unwinding from the point of view of an Unwind, is heartbreaking and astounding. The tough issues in the book are dealt with in a matter-of-fact manner, avoiding the hyper-dramatized style of a lot of books geared toward young adults. There's a very small romance angle to the story, but it makes sense in the flow of the book, and isn't forced (yay!). Unwind also deals with idea of feeling unwanted by parents and society in a sensitive and thoughtful manner. As a YA book, I can see Unwind being appreciated by both girls and boys.
What I Didn't Like: I usually really enjoy the multiple narrators/switching POV technique. However, in Unwind it drove me nuts. The perspective never really changed, it was instead just telling that character's story at any given time. I found myself often flipping back to see whose story was being told, and while it was narrated in third person, during particularly emotional moments, you're thrown into the characters' thoughts, which feels disjointed from the third-person, all-knowing narrator. I would have preferred that Unwind be told in first-person if the switching narrator technique is being used (the chapter detailing an actual unwinding almost feels like first person and is very effective and made me connect emotionally with that character for the first time). Or, with the third person narration, I'd prefer the narrator be more all-knowing. The hybrid style really put up a wall between me and the characters.
Regardless of the POV issue that bothered me off and on throughout Unwind, I'd still recommend it--there's a sequel coming out in 2012 (it has the unfortunate working title of "Unwholly"), and I'll definitely be reading it. The author has set up a fascinating and eery world that's extremely intriguing. (less)
I read this book because it had a pretty cover & the author had a fantastic bio, something along the lines of "I became a writer because I was una...moreI read this book because it had a pretty cover & the author had a fantastic bio, something along the lines of "I became a writer because I was unable to obtain gainful employment..."--which I totally respect.
What surprised me is that it was a really sweet book. Nothing ground-breaking, and kind of sappy and over-wrought and teenager-y (16 year old me would have adored it), but it was sweet nonetheless. I needed some brain candy when I read this one and it fit the bill.
Werewolf mythology fascinated me when I was a kid (and wolves in general always have), and while I hadn't really thought about it in a long time, I appreciated that the author got creative with her werewolf premise.
The Forest of Hands and Teeth has a few things going for it: a fantastic title, a fascinating world and technically strong writing. However, some glar...moreThe Forest of Hands and Teeth has a few things going for it: a fantastic title, a fascinating world and technically strong writing. However, some glaring weaknesses make it tough to give this book more than two stars.
First, the positive. The world that The Forest of Hands and Teeth takes place in is captivating, which is why I kept reading even when I wasn't enjoying the story. This is basically a zombie story (zombies are The Unconsecrated in this this book) and the terrifying world outside the fences seems very real. There is a lot of mystery and vagueness about how the world got to this point, but it makes sense in the context of the story--the mystery is part of how the Sisterhood retains such control over the village. Carrie Ryan's writing is strong, and the characters' experiences with the zombies is vividly described--I could see clearly what the forest looked and felt like.
However, despite those strengths, I didn't enjoy this book simply because I didn't care about any of the characters. The main character, Mary, is self-absorbed and exhibits little compassion or authentic caring for the people in her life (except her mother, who is only in the first chapter of the book). Travis is supposedly the love of her life, but it's a selfish kind of love, and at one point, I found myself wondering if she wanted but him because she didn't want anyone else to have him. The romance between the two is wholly unbelievable, there's no tension, no explanation for why they're so taken with each other, it's just flat. Harry, Cass and Jed all have the potential to be interesting characters, given each of their unique relationships with the narrator, Mary, but there is little development of their personalities and stories, so they're flat and I felt very ambivalent about their fates. I think this best explains my disappointment with The Forest of Hands and Teeth: When I was at 96% completed on my Kindle, I actually forgot that I hadn't finished the book, that there hadn't been any resolution yet, and actually started a new book before remembering a I had a bit left to read--that's how disinterested I was in these characters. That's a bad sign.
However, I wouldn't rate this as a don't read--the world was interesting enough to keep me reading, and even pique my curiosity about maybe reading the second one that takes place in this same world (I understand the characters, thank goodness, are new.)(less)
I felt like Forever was a satisfying conclusion to The Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy. This was definitely more action-y and less angts-y than the firs...moreI felt like Forever was a satisfying conclusion to The Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy. This was definitely more action-y and less angts-y than the first two (especially Linger) and I loved that it felt like all the of the characters grew by the end of the series. Hooray to Sam and Grace for actually maturing in their relationship by the end of the third book and the Forever provides some interesting and believable resolutions for the secondary characters as well.
(I have to say, though, my favorite part of Forever took place in Maggie's author's notes.)(less)
I read this book as part of my massive binge on Young Adult novels covering many sub-genres--this is the first with the popular road trip theme...
It's...moreI read this book as part of my massive binge on Young Adult novels covering many sub-genres--this is the first with the popular road trip theme...
It's a super-sweet road trip story for young adults that jaded folks in their thirties will enjoy as well. The book jacket description doesn't really do the book justice, making it sound like a cheesy teen love story, which it's really not at all. It's more a story about family, and those random people you meet and places you go that impact the direction of your life.
(Sadly, I think some of the pop culture references in A&RED are already dated, so I'm not sure the book will have a lot of longevity.)(less)
This is one I read during the Great Plague of 2011 (the week I've been sick, I've been catching up on my reading, especially series that I haven't fin...moreThis is one I read during the Great Plague of 2011 (the week I've been sick, I've been catching up on my reading, especially series that I haven't finished).
It's a series about killer pixies (which, sadly, aren't as rad as killer unicorns--which was what I was debating reading when I settled on this one), but the third in the series wasn't nearly as entertainingly imaginative as the first two. Frankly, my favorite character in this series is Nick, who is not at all present in this installment, so I probably should of known I'd be disappointed. (BTW, 2 stars is "It's okay," not it's terrible or anything like that. I wish we could have half stars, because it's really a 2.5, creeping to a 3rd, based on the good writing. It just wasn't my favorite in the series.)(less)