You need to read this book and you need to read it now! SHIP BREAKER is one of the more powerfReview originally posted at Heise Reads & Recommends
You need to read this book and you need to read it now! SHIP BREAKER is one of the more powerful books I've read in a long time. It is so clear to me why this was a National Book Award nominee. This is a smart book. It is beautifully written with vivid descriptions and raw emotion. It was gripping from the very beginning and full of action: adventure on the high seas, evasive manuervering, hand-to-hand combat, and life or death situations.
Set in a rough world where people are fighting for the littlest scraps of money and food in order to survive, this book has fantastic, complicated characters who are put in horrifying situations of survival. The world that Nailer has grown up in, and the family he has to cope with, has created a strength, determination, and integrity of character rarely seen in one so young. He is a good boy who came from bad and his spirit hopes for better. I wanted to be Nailer's friend - or at least take him home to take care of him.
In his book, Paolo has created an evocative world touching on issues of oil use, poverty, big corporations, government, religion, abuse, addiction, class, luck, faith, family, and friendship. It's about loyalty, trust, hardship, work ethic, true meaning, earning respect, and fighting to take care of one's self. It touches on important questions: How far would you go to survive? What would you do to fight for what's right? What would it take from you? Paolo does it all with such a deft hand that I never felt that I was being preached at, but instead felt that I was drawn into this world and pulling for the characters.
SHIP BREAKER was heart-wrenching at times, but left me with a sense of hope. And, really, that's what I look for in really good books - it doesn't have to be a happy ending, but I need it to be a hopeful ending where I can feel confident that the character I've grown to love and care about is going to be okay in the end. And these particular characters in this books are ones who give me hope for people and morals as well....more
Review below originally posted on Heise Reads & Recommends in May, 2011. Reread with audiobook done May 23-24, 2012. Reread with student book clubReview below originally posted on Heise Reads & Recommends in May, 2011. Reread with audiobook done May 23-24, 2012. Reread with student book club February 18-19, 2013. Each time read the book in just two days - that should tell you something!
I finished this book over a month ago (and I lost sleep because I was up reading until I couldn't keep my eyes open anymore), and I'm still in awe of the genius writing of Gayle Forman. When I first read IF I STAY, it was because I had heard so much about it - little did I know what I was in for. Gayle Forman has a unique ability to draw a reader into a book and grab at your emotions and twist and turn them until you feel so caught up in the character's journey that you would do anything just to give the character a hug or a helping hand. Her books are not ones that you can put down. It's an emotional journey to read IF I STAY or WHERE SHE WENT, but one that you must take! But make sure you read them in order!!! (and if you haven't read IF I STAY yet, why the heck not?!?)
WHERE SHE WENT takes place three years later and switches view points from when we had insight into Mia's thoughts in If I Stay to now seeing Adam's anger, heartbreak, and despair. Adam is now a big rock star and his band has hit it big and is heading off on a European tour, but Adam is devastated, and as the reader, you feel it from the first pages. The Adam I loved in the first book is still there somewhere, but he's been beaten down and lost himself when Mia broke up with him. The writing is straight-forward, but pulls you in instantly. This is contemporary realistic teen fiction writing at it's best. This book very much has the feel of a "one night in the life of" kind of story. It's takes place in New York, it includes chance encounters, it flashes back to Adam's perspective of what happened with Mia and her family, and it shows us where Mia is now.
The thing I love the most about Adam and Mia is the way they are always looking out for each other. They are such a great, honest couple because they truly want the best for the other, but they've been through such grief and tragedy that they need to resolve those issues before they can be happy and hopeful together. The journey that Adam and Mia have to take to understand each other, forgive each other, communicate their true feelings, and hold on to each other is wrought with emotion, frustration, and love. And ultimately, this is a true love story - one that was three years in the making. Read this one - you will begin your own love story with Gayle Forman's writing. I'm so glad she revisited Mia's world and explored how Adam would have reacted to the tragic events in the first story. It's realistic, it's gritty, and it's hopeful. I can't wait to see what she has in store for us next in her writing career!...more
I ADORE this book about the roots of friendship, and popularity, and the fleetingness of accepReview originally posted at Heise Reads & Recommends
I ADORE this book about the roots of friendship, and popularity, and the fleetingness of acceptance in the high school social hierarchy. It's about figuring out what one really wants, what's really important, and who really matters. Both of the main characters have voices that were so true and honest. It was refreshing that they were both well-rounded and the focus wasn't on boys (although boys do, of course, play a secondary role to the main point of the story-this is YA after all!), but it was refreshing that wasn't the main focus - it was about this friendship, why it started, why it failed, and if it could be saved. It was about girls and the pressures they feel about friendships and rivalries, even if they don't want them that way. It was one of the most interesting contemporary books that I have read recently and the vocal music piece added another level of sophistication to it and heightened the drama.
I love that we get to hear the story from both Brooke and Kathryn's points-of-view in alternating chapters, and that it alternates sections from senior year and junior year (when it all went down). It was a very effective way to tell this story (instead of strictly chronologically) to leave the reader in a bit of suspense as to why these two girls are such staunch rival - and then to find out that they were friends at one point. Tension built throughout the story as we get clues and eventually get the full story of what happened and what turned these two girls into friends and rivals. The big competition looming at the end adds the perfect prize at the end. Wealer writes in a straight-forward and engaging style as we see into the minds of both girls and how they perceive the same situations so differently. One of my favorite lines from this book highlights the writing style and voice and gets to one of the themes in this book about rivalry, "But I don't shatter; I'm not made of glass. Anyway, the parts that break aren't on the outside."
Ultimately, this book shows that sometimes you really don't know someone else, nor can you see yourself clearly as others do. It's a fascinating look into perceptions and intentions and misperceptions and true desires. This is a fantastic new addition to the contemporary genre - and a great YA book! I highly recommend getting this one - it will be a quick read because you won't want to stop until you find out who wins the big competition at the end....more
A weird thing happened to me when I started reading DIVERGENT. I kept turning pages although IReview originally posted at Heise Reads & Recommends
A weird thing happened to me when I started reading DIVERGENT. I kept turning pages although I couldn't figure out why. I'm not sure if I went into this with a little bit of a skewed perception. I have already been hearing so much hype for this debut book, and I had just finished another dystopian that was haunting in an entirely different way. But, I just couldn't put this book down. I couldn't quite figure out what it was that was making me want to keep reading because it wasn't feeling mind-blowing to me, in fact, it was seeming a little bit predictable, but in the end, I LOVED it. I read it so fast that when I finished, I wanted to go back and reread the whole thing again to pick up on things I may have missed the first time around. So, I guess what I'm saying is, it took me a little while to feel fully engaged in the characters and this world, but at the same time I never wanted to put it down. DIVERGENT is an engrossing read. It's scary in showing how easy it was to get to this point with a world built of the five factions. It was really interesting to see how the world ended up divided by the five different strengths people valued. It is definitely a book that caused some deep thinking/analyzing (as any good dystopian should!) of our current societal beliefs.
DIVERGENT has a page-turning, action-packed, fast-paced, twisting plot from the very beginning to the very end full of heart-pounding thrills and wrenching shocks of sadness. This book definitely has a thriller feel to the plot as well. Smaller plot points would be important and keep me wanting to read and then the big overall conflict came together at the end in a way that was not totally expected earlier on in the book. I loved how it deals with fear and bravery in interesting, thought-provoking ways. It has lots of commentary on people and perceptions and control and fear and focuses on figuring out what true strength is. Some parts were horrifying in what this world has become (when it started with the best intentions) and shows the worst part of human nature. Other parts were inspiring in how people with the best intentions can use their strength to overcome odds and work for those they love.
DIVERGENT has likeable characters and I enjoyed spending time in Beatrice's head. I did feel that some secondary characters could have been developed a little bit more though. Ultimately it's about Tris' journey to figuring out how she can go against what she's always been conditioned to do/believe. Tris is a strong, kick-butt, take-no-crap character who always does what she thinks is right, but with a caring heart. She's so smart, but doesn't always realize it, but when she finally does, her bravery and intelligence shows through in unexpected ways. Tris struggles in this book between family obligation and what she thinks she wants. She's having to start dealing with the consequences of actions and discovering how she can affect her world. Seeing her insecurities and struggles through her eyes, but most especially seeing how she dealt with them with sass and wit, really made the book for me. Some parts seemed a little predictable - it was obvious who was going to be the love interest, but I still enjoyed seeing how that played out and how they grew closer. I felt that way about most things though - the way everything was tied together in the end made me feel better about the whole book because it all made sense. It was just an exciting book and a fast read - make sure you have time to get through it because you won't want to put it down....more