Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is a beautifully written, somewhat confronting tale of how a bright nine-year-old has to deal with the loss of his...moreExtremely Loud and Incredibly Close is a beautifully written, somewhat confronting tale of how a bright nine-year-old has to deal with the loss of his father to the 9/11 collapse of the World Trade Centre. As soon as I began the first chapter, I knew Oskar would be an unforgettable character. He is a remarkable boy, trying to come to terms with the loss of the most important person in his life in the most awful of circumstances.
The story is told through three distinct voices, that of Oskar, his grandmother and his grandfather, the latter two being written through letters. Oskar is on a quest to find the lock that fits the key he finds in a vase among his father's belongings. He feels it will bring him closer to the father he lost. Along the way, he encounters relatives, new friends and wanders into the lives of strangers and without realising it, he is getting closer to discovering a family mystery.
This book was able to be heavy and light, funny and sober, moving and heartbreaking - all within a page or a paragraph. Heavy matters were handled with care and delicacy and seen through the eyes of a child beyond his years. Funny moments left me smiling, the heartbreaking ones made me cry. It was an intricately woven novel, about the past and the present and the future.
I wasn't quite done with these characters. Oskar's story, the story that started before he was born, is one that will stay with me. Such real, powerful characters created by beautiful prose, by a brilliant and original author. I loved it.(less)
Ahhh I was hoping for another Merrick boy story! Spirit is Hunter's story. He's not like the Merrick brothers. He's a Fifth. He is supposed to erase t...moreAhhh I was hoping for another Merrick boy story! Spirit is Hunter's story. He's not like the Merrick brothers. He's a Fifth. He is supposed to erase the full Elementals, like the Merricks. He hasn't.
Hunter is on rocky terms with the Merrick brothers and Becca. Nobody trusts him and they're not even really sure what side he's on. That's when he meets Kate - and the poor guy gets even more confused.
As a Fifth, people are drawn to him and he to them. It's in his nature to want to help people. This is why I don't understand why the Fifths (or Guides, they are called as they get older) have to eliminate the Elementals. It seems like a waste of ability and potential. The Elementals control over the elements can be potentially dangerous, yes. I agree. But there's better ways to go about it. Why don't the Guides teach them to control what they can do? Use it for good? You could still get a story out of that - just considering the character profiles of Fifths, it doesn't make sense. To be fair, maybe they've realised it (a little late) and thats the reason for the 'rebellion' (if you could call it that).
I feel like there's a lot of stuff that goes down in this novel that could have been avoided if the characters weren't stupid. Hunter's switching sides and constantly not knowing what he was doing was irritating. I also couldn't stand his need to 1. storm off in a huff and 2. not explain why he was storming off in a huff, as if everyone should always know why he was grumpy at the world. It's not all about you, Hunter, and you could make life a lot easier for yourself but you choose not to. I also found the week-long whirlwind romance with Kate strange and a little unbelievable. But this author has guts! I respect that.
That being said, I am still (shocking, right?) enjoying the storyline. I like the action and the secret world of the Elementals. Looking forward to book four, not sure if it will be Nick or Michael (Nick, please!)
Also, Author? PLEASE stop telling me how good looking everyone in these books is! I honestly couldn't care less, tell me something real.(less)
I'm giving Spark a 3.5 star rating, like I did with Storm, for pretty much the same reasons. I didn't love it, I didn't hate it, but I'm still enjoyin...moreI'm giving Spark a 3.5 star rating, like I did with Storm, for pretty much the same reasons. I didn't love it, I didn't hate it, but I'm still enjoying the world that's been developed here. Maybe because it's a secret, I'm not sure.
I was surprised, picking up this second book from the Elementals series, that this wouldn't follow Becca and Chris. After Storm, I just expected it to. But then I settled into Gabriel's shoes and read his story. His voice is completely different from Chris' - as it should be. I've said before that I thought the Merrick brothers were very well developed characters. I stand by that. Gabriel is angry and rash, and Layne I thought was similar. They're both closed off their real selves from the outside world, are very quick to jump on the defensive and make rapid judgments before they know what's going on. I understand why Gabriel is so worked up all the time, but his attitude and quite frankly, his rudeness, hasn't done him any favours. He needs a chill pill, for lack of a better expression.
I thought the storyline of the arson, the fires, was well done - I didn't pick the culprit! This series is surprising me in little ways like that. The romance wasn't my favourite and I'm worried these books are going to follow a formula. In this case it's the Elemental boys meeting normal girls (except Becca wasn't), but it feels like the formula is already decided - they get the girl in the end. Maybe I've been too quick to judge, after just two books. I hope I'm wrong. I'm intrigued enough to read on.
Still having a little trouble with the way girls are presented in these books. The girl who is the main focus is perfect, maybe with some little flaw or insecurity but nothing that can't be fixed with a few kisses from WonderBoy - and all others are horrible. Please. The real world is not like that. Why did Layne's best friend turn out to be a bitch? Why couldn't she have been supportive, rather than use it as her elbow into the popular circles? The boys in this book, other than the Merrick boys and Hunter, have also been displayed in a similar light. Every other boy in the school, it seems, thinks its fine to force himself on a girl, video/photograph it and share it, while laughing at all her imperfections. While I did not go to school in America, I find it hard to believe that everyone's like this. But I guess the ones that aren't, aren't worth mentioning for the purposes of this story. I'm finding it a little annoying but I guess Kemmerer doesn't want to draw focus away from the main romance to introduce characters with a little compassion and no other motives.
My issues aside (as I always have issues), I'm on to the next one! Curious to see where it goes. Look out for my next review :)(less)
Where to start with this review? I enjoyed this book, which can be a hard thing to say regarding it's subject of teen depression and the contemplation...moreWhere to start with this review? I enjoyed this book, which can be a hard thing to say regarding it's subject of teen depression and the contemplations of suicide that it contains. But I think this novel is important.
It's Leonard Peacock's eighteenth birthday and he's had enough of it all. He's had a hard time of life ever since the change in his former best friend changed both their lives and who continued to torment him relentlessly. There are only four people in the world he will be sorry to say goodbye to, and his parents are not included in that - neither of his absentee parents realise what Leonard's life is like or even what sort of person he is. His four friends are the only ones who have made him think that maybe he's not weird and sad, so he wants to thank them. But to him they are not enough to keep him here.
Leonard's story is heartbreaking. What's even worse is there are so many teens who feel the same way as he does. Quick has shown in a touching, mature and accurate way how people like Leonard think and feel, even when it's for reasons they can't explain. However, I also feel as if Leonard does his classmates and even fellow humans a disservice by assuming they are all 'ubermorons' and none of them have a clue about anything. They may not have a clue about Leonard, and that is sad, but Leonard differs from Charlie from The Perks Of Being A Wallflower in the way that Leonard can't imagine anyone can possibly feel the way he does, while Charlie wonders about how other people really feel. Leonard has every right to feel how he does, but at the same time he thinks he is the only one who does. He's not alone, and it's sad that he doesn't realise how most other people hold within them self doubts about themselves and their futures, and many people have felt some sort of abuse, although it may not be the same as Leonard's.
I felt the turning point came when Leonard was sitting outside Asher's window and took some responsibility for what had happened in their past. What happened was not at all Leonard's fault, but he realises he could have done something about it and maybe saved both of them, all of them. Leonard's life can have a purpose if he fights for it and gives it one. (view spoiler)[I'm glad he realises this before it is too late. (hide spoiler)] There is an important message within this book, one that I hope is delivered to everyone, but also to the right person at the right moment.
Another fantastically written book by Matthew Quick that I couldn't put down.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I received this copy of Jumping Fences from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my review in any way.
Being a countr...moreI received this copy of Jumping Fences from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my review in any way.
Being a country girl like our protagonist Zoe, I was really looking forward to getting my hands on this book and was pretty pleased when it turned up in the mail. I imagined a good story, beautiful setting and characters I could relate to. That's not exactly what I got.
I liked the concept, and the story was promising. And the setting was beautiful, but I felt like the whole thing was a bit rushed at just over 200 pages. More time should have been taken to flesh out the story, add some more backstory to explain the characters, and to establish more character depth and development. For example, what was with Zoe's so called 'best friend' Caitlin? There is very little in the book on their friendship, either in the flashbacks or the present story. All we see is Caitlin acting snarky towards Zoe once or twice, even though Caitlin should be the one hanging her head in shame, and then Zoe mentions towards the end of the book she barely feels like she knew Caitlin at all. It didn't fit, as nothing had been set up for that. Zoe's feelings toward Josh changed very quickly too, and seemingly without reason. She went from "Creep! Don't touch me" to "OMG why isn't he at school?" (FYI: Way too many OMGs used in this story) too quickly without real explanation. Yes, he was a good guy and much better for her, but I still feel like there should be more of a catalyst, especially when she was so suspicious of him to start with. More time could also have been taken for fleshing out Zoe's issues with her mother and her arguments with her father, who for such a tough country man, seemed to fold either too easily or not at all. His character was missing some consistency.
That being said, I did enjoy the concept and the storyline. I enjoyed the inclusion of horses, cattle, working dogs and bush festivals. And cowboy hats and Blundstones! I enjoy reading about things I know about. I wish there were more YA novels based on life out in the country.(less)
Lilac LaRoux is the daughter of the richest man in the galaxy. Tarver Merendsen is a decorated soldier who has risen up through the ranks to become a...moreLilac LaRoux is the daughter of the richest man in the galaxy. Tarver Merendsen is a decorated soldier who has risen up through the ranks to become a war hero. They never should have crossed paths. Not under ordinary circumstances.
But when the spaceliner they are both traveling on is torn from hyperspace and crash lands on the nearest planet, social convention changes. Tarver saves Lilac from plummeting over a railing while the Icarus is beginning to fall, and the two of them get to an escape pod that's supposed to disconnect from the ship. When it doesn't, snotty Lilac shows she is actually good for something and is able to effectively hotwire the escape pod and they are able to launch off the ship. They are the only ones who do.
Tarver and Lilac need to learn to trust each other and work together while they wait to be rescued. Tarver really is a hero - he is strong, smart and works hard. Lilac is pretty useless unless it comes to electronics - otherwise all she does is complain and try to walk across rugged terrain in her high heels. She is frustrating to read about at first, and I couldn't stand her voice. However, her character development along the course of the story makes her more likeable. Her selfless acts, thinking only of Tarver, proved how far she had come. (view spoiler)[But her death, while I now understand was necessary in order to understand exactly what had happened on that planet, I thought in that setting could have been avoidable. Had she taken a little more care, a little more time, such an accident wouldn't have happened. But I told you she wasn't particularly smart. (hide spoiler)]
The authors pick you up and dump you into the not so distant future, where other planets have been colonised and space travel is common. There isn't a lot of information about this world offered straight up, but we are led to understand more and more as the novel progresses. We are given glimpses of war and the division of class, but I need more information. I still have a lot of questions. Hopefully they will be answered further into the trilogy. I'm intrigued by this world and by Tarver, and what has happened to Lilac (view spoiler)[(How does that work? She has two bodies now?) (hide spoiler)]. I want to know more and will be looking forward to the next installment in the trilogy.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)