This was quite the ride. I really enjoyed the writing style, even if I did find it a little heavy handed at times. I thought the mystery of the book w...moreThis was quite the ride. I really enjoyed the writing style, even if I did find it a little heavy handed at times. I thought the mystery of the book was well paced, with just the right amount of clues and red herrings to keep you guessing. I did spoil myself for this book, because I'm a idiot, and I would recommend resisting the urge. It is best to go into this one with no expectations. I know that will be hard because of all the hype.(less)
I really enjoyed Megan Miranda's debut novel, Fracture, and I was really looking forward to her sophomore novel Hysteria. I thought the premise of th...more I really enjoyed Megan Miranda's debut novel, Fracture, and I was really looking forward to her sophomore novel Hysteria. I thought the premise of this book was really great, but the execution was really lacking and sometimes just confusing.
While I liked the mystery surrounding the murder of Mallory's boyfriend, I found the reaction of her parents to be completely unbelievable. I just can't believe that only a few months after being attacked and forced to kill her boyfriend in self defense that Mallory's parents would send her to boarding school alone. Girl needs therapy, not being sent away from everyone who loves her. No I'm sorry, but that is ignorant at best and in my opinion down right negligent. I have a really hard time believing that her parents would just ship her off, regardless of the social stigma in their home town.
And let's talk for a minute about the whole boarding school plot. (Without spoilers) It just did not work for me. All of the girl characters felt basically the same and I had a really hard time telling them apart. I felt like their motivations for their actions were really unsupported, especially later in the book where things got so melodramatic it almost turned to comedy. I thought it was a useless plot device that would have work just as well (or better) if we could have just stayed in her home town.
Then there's the actual murder "mystery". There's really no mystery at all. We find out at the very beginning that Mallory murdered her boyfriend. Without spoiling the story let me just say that there really isn't anything more to this story and there is no twist at the end. I was really disappointed with the lack of actual mystery.
I really didn't understand Reid's character either. Why did he even like Mallory? Maybe he liked her when they were 14, but that was years ago and a lot has changed. Also, did he know about her murdering her ex? I feel like that would be something you would hear about and if I were Reid I would not be in a hurry to start a relationship with someone with such a bad track record.
Really the only good thing about Hysteria and the only reason this didn't get a one star was Mallory and Colleen's friendship. They were there for each other, willing to literally carry them when the other was too weak to walk. I love reading about girls who are friends with other girls who support and are loyal to each other. Those types of relationships are really important to YA literature and I thought Colleen and Mallory were great friends.
Overall Hysteria was a great premise that was not presented well. It was like a collection of great ideas with no connecting plot to tie it all together. There was so much potential for something great, but sadly Hysteria just did not deliver. (less)
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is Fantastic (yes with a capital F)! It's so hilarious I was literally loling through the entire book. It's kind of lik...moreMe and Earl and the Dying Girl is Fantastic (yes with a capital F)! It's so hilarious I was literally loling through the entire book. It's kind of like if John Green was a sarcastic a-hole (and I mean that in the most affectionate way possible). Most of the time I find rambling tangents kind of annoying, but I loved the humor, even though sometimes it got to a place that made me more than a little shocked.
No seriously. I was mostly cracking up, but every now and then I'd be like "Oh dear God!"....but mostly laughing hysterically. A word of warning, the humor is a major part of the book, and it is NOT kid friendly, so if crude humor and swear words aren't your style, approach with caution.
One of my favorite aspects of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is the stylistic choices. The story is told in a variety of ways including bullet point lists and screenplay style, which makes it so much fun to read. I also just really enjoyed the writing style. Greg is very self deprecating and there are a ton of silly interjections that just made me laugh out loud.
However, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl isn't all dirty jokes (I promise). I think there's a pretty deep message too, maybe not a happy one, but a message all the same. It talks about how not everyone is a fighter, and not everyone has profound moments when faced with death. Sometimes people just die, and even though you may know that person, it doesn't mean your life will be all that changed. There's a lot of pressure on people to feel SO SORRY that someone is dying, that everyone has to drop everything because they know someone who is sick, even if that emotion is fake and forced. And a lot of times people care more about the guilt they feel about not caring then they do about the actual dying person. We make a person's death about us, and we'll do things we think they'll want (such as make a movie commemorating their life) without really considering who the dying person actually is and what they would want. This message isn't hopeful or heartwarming, but it's way more honest than a lot of other illness and death books out there.
So basically, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl will appeal to a select audience. If you're looking for a sentimental coming of age story where the MC learns a profound lesson through the death of a manic pixie dream girl, move along, this is NOT your book. However, if you're looking for a realistic view of how effed up death can make you and how it's not something that can be tied up in a neat little package of revelations and self discovery told in hundreds of pages of laugh out loud ridiculousness, then run (not walk) and get Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. (less)
I absolutely loved the premise of The Raven Boys, but I had a hard time getting started with this novel. The beginning felt very slow, largely due to...moreI absolutely loved the premise of The Raven Boys, but I had a hard time getting started with this novel. The beginning felt very slow, largely due to the story being told from two separate perspectives (Blue and Gansey have alternating point of view chapters for a while). However once Blue and Gansey meet and join forces the story takes a major turn. I flew through the second half of this book and became completely immersed in the story and characters.
The Raven Boys is a bit of a slow burn to start off. I think this is due to the fact that the marketing materials presented the book like it was going to be all about Blue and her family, but in reality Gansey is the main character for much of the novel. I went into The Raven Boys expecting a story about a girl living with her psychic family, but instead I got a story about a group of boys trying to find a magical energy line. This isn't bad necessarily, but it wasn't what I was expecting so I was put off at first.
The biggest strength of The Raven Boys is the characters. Each character feels supported and full. Everyone has a unique backstory that shapes their world view. I really enjoyed reading how each character grows during the course of the book, in particular Blue, Gansey, and Ronan. I also really enjoyed Blue's family and I really hope that we'll learn more about them in future books.
I'd say the pacing of the book is the biggest weakness. It was slow and confusing at the beginning, and fast and confusing at the end. I feel like this is a book I needed to re-read immediately after finishing because I felt like I missed something. The world building in The Raven Boys sometimes felt too big for the book and that the ideas of the magic and mythology were difficult to get on paper.
Overall the Raven Boys is an interesting, if sometimes confusing, start to a series. While the world building and pacing were shaky at times the fantastically developed characters will definitely bring me back for book two. (less)
This is by far the best book I have ever read on Christianity and homosexuality. I was thoroughly impressed with how the author handled this very tou...more This is by far the best book I have ever read on Christianity and homosexuality. I was thoroughly impressed with how the author handled this very touchy subject. There is no moral of the story crammed down your throat, no secret agenda. It's a story of a girl dealing with the loss of her parents while on the brink of womanhood, and it is told beautifully, honestly, and lovingly.
One of the aspects of The Miseducation of Cameron Post that I have to comment on is the writing style. It is a lot more like adult literary fiction than YA, but for this type of story it works well. The writing could have easily overpowered the story, making it feel heavy handed and slow to read, but Danforth does an excellent job painting a complete picture. It's easy to get completely submerged in her writing.
I really appreciated how honestly Danforth handled Cameron's sexuality. Nothing about it was overdone, it was understated and shy and exactly what so many kids go through when they get their first crush. Straight or gay, I could completely related to the confusion and excitement of young love.
I also really liked how the Christian characters weren't one dimensional villains. I think it could have been very easy to make these characters judgmental and cruel, but instead I could understand where they were coming from. I wanted to hate Ruth, Rick, and Lydia, but I understood those characters and realized that in their mind they were trying to help Cameron and her classmates. It's fairly obvious that they weren't very successful with their methods, but Danforth doesn't outright condemn them either. It is possible for good people to do very bad things without realizing it.
Overall The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a fantastic addition to the growing LGBT themed books in the YA community. It shows how sexuality isn't a black or white issue and I hope it will raise awareness that people are people first, and their sexuality and religion second. This is a fantastic book for parents and teachers to start a dialogue about tolerance for different sexualities. (less)
Father daughter stories always get me right in the feels. I really liked Second Chance Summer. I loved Taylor's father and her siblings. I wish we had...moreFather daughter stories always get me right in the feels. I really liked Second Chance Summer. I loved Taylor's father and her siblings. I wish we had spent a little more time with her family and a little less time on the relationship drama. The story moved pretty slowly and I found the relationship drama to be a little ridiculous. You were twelve, get over it. But overall this was a well written book with a lovely and sad story.(less)
Warm Bodies is a really fun mashup of Shakespeare and zombies, two of my favorite things. I really liked the re-imagining of zombies and how Warm Bodi...moreWarm Bodies is a really fun mashup of Shakespeare and zombies, two of my favorite things. I really liked the re-imagining of zombies and how Warm Bodies examines what makes a person human and if you have nothing to live for are you really living? I didn't expect a zombie novel to make me think as much as Warm Bodies did.
R was a really great character, and one I could really relate to. He's a great narrator and reading his inner monologue is hilarious and touching. I really loved how he had all of these eloquent thoughts and ideas but due to his zombie self he can't actually express these ideas to other people. There's a quote from the book where R says “In my mind I am eloquent; I can climb intricate scaffolds of words to reach the highest cathedral ceilings and paint my thoughts. But when I open my mouth, everything collapses.” I love that.
I really liked the theme of living your life to the fullest and how it applies to not only the zombies but also the surviving humans. As R and Julie begin to get to know each other they help each other heal. They both help each other find their humanity, because both of them have been wandering and not really living (R literally).
There were a few things that I didn't really like about Warm Bodies. I didn't like how heavy handed the Romeo and Juliet stuff got at some parts. In particular the balcony scene was just too obvious and I found myself rolling my eyes. I also didn't like how Perry's death was glossed over. Julie and Perry had been having problems, but I still think I would have been a lot more upset if my boyfriend had been eaten by a zombie. Just saying. It's not even that Julie's reason for not being that upset was bad (I can understand in an apocalyptic situation preparing for everyone you love to be killed at any moment) but I wish R had tried to talk to her more about it. I wish there had been more of an ethical conflict.
Overall I enjoyed Warm Bodies quite a bit, but due to the sometimes obvious re-telling elements and some disappointing author behavior Warm Bodies fell just short of the 5 star rating. It's still a really adorable and fun read that will also make you think!(less)
Fracture was a great book for me. I had been in a reading slump for a couple of weeks and this was the perfect book to draw me out. This book was so w...moreFracture was a great book for me. I had been in a reading slump for a couple of weeks and this was the perfect book to draw me out. This book was so well written, I just had to keep reading to find out what happened next! Also, Fracture incorporates my favorite musical, Les Miserables, so it automatically gets about a million stars for that.
The mystery aspects of Fracture were really well done. The pacing was excellent. Facts were revealed at a good pace that kept me guessing but not frustrated. Everything in this story adds to the mystery. Even with the romance, the book never strayed from the main genre. Speaking of the romance, I really enjoyed that too. Even though there were some moments where I was yelling "just talk to each other! Stop being so stupid!" I really cared about Decker and Delaney. But man were they stupid sometimes!
One thing about Fracture that I really appreciated was the fact that while Delaney's abilities were presented in a paranormal way, it never actually became a paranormal book. There were scientific explanations for everything that happened and I found that to be very refreshing. I kind of wish that there was a little more explanation about what actually causes her abilities (not just something weird in her brain), but it's not a huge deal. Not knowing adds to the suspense, it's just that my science-y mind would like to know.
Overall Fracture is an excellent mystery that, while short, is perfectly paced and will keep you guessing. Fracture is a stellar debut and I recommend it for anyone looking for a spooky mystery with a great twist and a very well thought out ending.(less)
This book is painfully obvious. If you're going to write such a politically charged dystopian, it has to be subtle. Unwind is as subtle as an elephant...moreThis book is painfully obvious. If you're going to write such a politically charged dystopian, it has to be subtle. Unwind is as subtle as an elephant trying to hide behind a yorkie. (less)
I read Sisters Red, Jackson's first book, last year and was underwhelmed. It was hard to say exactly why, but I just didn't connect to the story like...moreI read Sisters Red, Jackson's first book, last year and was underwhelmed. It was hard to say exactly why, but I just didn't connect to the story like I wanted. But Purity is a very different story from Sisters Red, and I think Jackson Pearce should write more contemporary stories, her voice translates excellently. Purity is a fantastic story about love, faith, and freedom, plus I'm a sucker for father daughter stories :)
Purity handles the topics of death, sexuality, and religion with a gentle grace. Shelby, the main character, is an interesting heroine. Her motivations are difficult to understand in the beginning, but as you listen to her rationalize her decisions and we being to learn more about her relationship with her mother you start to understand why she does what she does. I liked the growth the character displayed and the questions that she raised. I think it's very important for people to question the religion you're raised in and to make sure that you follow what you truly believe, not just what you are taught.
The best part of Purity is the development of Shelby's relationship with her father. I think her dad was my favorite character, and there were some adorable and terribly awkward interactions that made him completely endearing. His attempts at a sex talk and doling out punishments were particularly hilarious.
Purity packs a lot into just over 200 pages. There are a lot of questions raised that I think every person should think about in their own life. It's a lighter book with a lot of humor, but with some important messages as well.
I picked up a copy of The Reader after watching the beautiful movie version (in which Kate FINALLY got her Oscar. About time!). Sadly the book did not...moreI picked up a copy of The Reader after watching the beautiful movie version (in which Kate FINALLY got her Oscar. About time!). Sadly the book did not live up to the movie at all. It read like a technical article. It was cold, stiff, and unemotional. The best part of the book was when Michael was a teenager, and even then I had a very hard time connecting emotionally to the characters. Once we move on to the trial the book completely lost me.
I think that this book is best for the people who lived during the time the book was published. It is an interesting look at the group of people trying to come to term with the crimes of their parents generation. There was so much opportunity with the idea of this book, but while the movie executes the themes in a way that will just crush your heart, the book falls far, far behind. This is one of those rare moments where I would say skip the book and watch the movie. Further, you MUST watch the movie, it is one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen.(less)