Much like Beta, another YA book with a promising premise and a terrible execution, Starters hooked me with the unique dystopian world it set up: After...moreMuch like Beta, another YA book with a promising premise and a terrible execution, Starters hooked me with the unique dystopian world it set up: After the biological warfare of the "Spore Wars" wiped out everyone between the ages of 20 and 60 (because the children and elderly were the first to receive vaccinations), the country (and, presumably, the world) is ruled by older folks and the rest of the population consists of kids and young adults. Right off the bat, that provided a great opportunity for this author to explore the generation differences and really create a sense of juxtaposition between the two opposing worldviews now forced to fit together without any sort of "happy medium" between them. It was promising. This book should have been better than it was.
But of course, as in Beta, the initial idea was ruined in its execution. There is no exploration of generation differences, and what is explored is done without any depth. Elders - or, ohoho, "Enders," how clever - are selfish and have lost their touch. They don't understand the world and they don't understand youth. Seriously? That sounds like something an entitled, bratty teenager would say. I don't know about you guys, but my memories of my grandparents and other older folks I've had contact with are, for the most part, fond, with a few exceptions of genuinely bitter and jaded elders who lived such long lives and gone through so much that, you know what, they probably deserve to yell at you young whippersnappers to get off their lawn. I'm exaggerating, of course, but the point still stands, you can't stereotype the elderly. You can't stereotype any large demographic and expect it to come across as realistic. Of course, there are a few sympathetic and understanding Enders in Beta, but we hardly ever actually see them. We're just told that they're there.
Beyond that, you have the promise of an intense plot - Callie is an orphan who needs to keep her younger brother a life - that goes completely unfulfilled. There is nothing intense about this plot. Callie signs up to have her body rented out to an Ender who wants to be young. The plot then proceeds to go full-tilt teenage joyride as we watch Callie drive sports cars, live in a giant posh mansion, wear nice clothes, go to parties, like boys, and do superficial, unremarkable teenage things that never, ever in the history of superficial teenagers have made for an action-packed plot because, hate to break it to you, but the activities of your average teenager are not action-packed.
After this too-long plateau worthy of its own Katy Perry album, the book ends with a fizzle and... nothing. There's no bang. The book just fizzles out into an unsatisfying attempt at a cliffhanger, a desperate plea for you to read the sequel. I was left entirely unsatisfied and wondering when the plot of Mean Girls (great movie) was deemed acceptable for dystopian literature.
Needless to say I will not be reading the sequel.(less)
When I first picked up Beta at my local Barnes & Noble, I'll admit, it was because of the aesthetically pleasing cover that looked promisingly sci...moreWhen I first picked up Beta at my local Barnes & Noble, I'll admit, it was because of the aesthetically pleasing cover that looked promisingly science-fiction/dystopian. The synopsis further intrigued me, as it presented a not-too-overdone and certainly interesting premise. But despite everything this book had going for it in the beginning, I was immediately disappointed by the poor writing, flat characters, and awful plot development, which is to say no development whatsoever.
The first three-quarters of this book were lukewarm: not so bad that I was willing to put down this hardcover book that I'd spent $18 (or thereabouts) on, but nothing I would call remotely enjoyable. In the last quarter of the book, however - the "ending," if it can even be referred to as such - I can tell you with zero exaggeration that I was disgusted by the sheer awfulness of the plot. After next to nothing happening for a hundred or two hundred pages or so, suddenly things were happening with no precedent whatsoever and with no important reason, making little contribution to the plot other than to set off an uncomfortable domino effect of increasingly unlikely circumstances that I'm sure I would have felt bad about if I'd felt any connection whatsoever to the character. Trust me when I say that even with the diminishing standards for young adult books, this is among the worst YA novels I have ever read, because of a thoroughly dull and uncaptivating beginning, because of a flatlining middle with next to no development and zero connection to any of the characters, but mostly because of the catastrophic ending that cut off abruptly after an uncomfortably long series of equally abrupt happenstances that came out of nowhere and were so poorly executed that even if there had been a logical precedent for the events that occurred, I'm sure this incapable author would have butchered them.(less)
Another gripping historical fiction by Celia Rees, author of Sovay and Pirates! tells the tale of Mary, a witch who flees the religious superstitions...moreAnother gripping historical fiction by Celia Rees, author of Sovay and Pirates! tells the tale of Mary, a witch who flees the religious superstitions and persecution of England and finds herself in the equally dangerous environment of Beulah, an isolated town near Salem in Puritan New England.
What I thought most intriguing about Witch Child is that the entire story is taken from the pages of a diary that were found sewn within a quilt, which leaves the reader with a lot to think about. Amazing read, and I hope the sequel lives up to it.(less)
Well, I had to read this book for school, but I actually really enjoyed it! But be warned - I would DEFINITELY rate it PG-13. Yep, I wo...moreREVIEW COMPLETE
Well, I had to read this book for school, but I actually really enjoyed it! But be warned - I would DEFINITELY rate it PG-13. Yep, I would've given this book 5 stars if it hadn't been for the old people detailing their sexual experiences. Definitely could've done without that.
Anyways, I'm fairly certain Oskar (the protagonist) has Asperger's Syndrome, which is basically a mild form of autism. This actually made the book a lot easier for me to relate to, as I also have Asperger's, although not nearly as bad as some people (including, it seems, Oskar) have it. I've heard that, because of Oskar's evident social awkwardness, quite a few people who read this book often feel as though the want to 'fix' Oskar - most commonly by prescribing him to some sort of medication. Well, to all those folks out there who fit that description, I have news for you: first of all, Oskar is a fictional character, so you'd be better off trying to medicate a doorknob, and secondly, Oskar's fine just the freaking way he is. Geez, don't any of you listen to Lady Gaga? (That's an allusion to Born This Way, in case you were wondering.)
" 'Can I watch you kiss?' 'Can you watch us kiss?' 'You could tell me where you are going to kiss, and I could hide and watch.' " - pg. 80
" 'Who's Norma Jean Mortenson?' 'Marilyn Monroe!' 'Who's Marilyn Monroe?' 'Sex!' " - pg. 159
" 'I read something in National Geographic about how, when an animal thinks it's going to die, it gets panicky and starts to act crazy. But when it knows it's going to die, it gets very, very calm.' " - pg. 256
"I wanted to make him crack up, because if I could make him crack up, my boots could be a little lighter." - pg. 5
"I wasn't getting any closer to anything. And now I'll never know what I was supposed to find. And that's another reason I can't sleep." - pg. 10
"I started inventing things, and then I couldn't stop, like beavers, which I know about. People think they cut down trees so they can build dams, but in reality it's because their teeth never stop growing, and if they don't constantly file them down by cutting through all of those trees, their teeth would start to grow into their own faces, which would kill them. That's how my brain was." - pg. 36(less)
Although the emotion was both deep and believable and the ending was both heart-wrenching and infuriating (the good kind of infuriating...moreREVIEW COMPLETE
Although the emotion was both deep and believable and the ending was both heart-wrenching and infuriating (the good kind of infuriating, like the Series of Unfortunate Events), I still felt that this book deserves only three stars.
The characters, first, were somewhat poorly developed. I felt it hard to connect with any of them, with the occasional exception of the protagonist. This is what so often happens in books written in first person - there are very few first person novels in which the reader can connect with supporting characters, which I feel is an essential part of reading.
(Examples of worthwhile first person novels/serieses include The Hunger Games (series, young adult and adult), Maximum Ride (series, but only books 1-4, young adult), Iron Fey (series, young adult), and Ingo (series, young adult).)
I also felt that both the plot and the setting were extremely unoriginal. The setting was something of a spin-off of Suzanne Collins's 'Panem,' used in Hunger Games, and the plot was very 1984.
However, it's a quick read, worth checking out of the library or borrowing from a friend, just not quite worth purchasing.(less)
Elie Wiesel's concise yet utterly horrifying Holocaust memoir, Night, details Elie's gruesome journey through Auschwitz concentration camp near the end of World War II. I found that I was unable to read large sections of the book at the time because it was so painful to read. I can hardly imagine what Elie and the millions of other victims had to go through. I was grateful that Elie managed to trim such a terrifying experience into just over one hundred pages - I feel that if it had been any longer, it would have been too depressing to read. I was also impressed that Elie did not attempt to end the book on a "happy note." When a book has a happy ending, it gives the events of the story a feeling of being worthwhile, as if going through all those hard times may have seemed rough but it was all worth it in the end and our protagonist is better off having gone through them. The Holocaust was not one of those worthwhile events, and anyone who attempts to argue otherwise is downright delusional - giving this story a happy ending is like spreading gobs of icing overtop horse manure and calling it a cake. I was content with the way the book ended, even if it did leave me feeling a bit hollow inside. Perhaps one of the best books I've ever had to read for school.(less)
I have heard and understood various critic's rants about how existentialism is used phenomenally in this novella. I have heard and unde...moreREVIEW COMPLETE
I have heard and understood various critic's rants about how existentialism is used phenomenally in this novella. I have heard and understood my English teacher's fanatic ravings on how enlightening this piece is. I have interpreted it and reinterpreted it in every way imaginable. But nothing - nothing - has been able to grant me so much as a shred of respect for this piece. I found the plot pointless, the explanations overdone, the writing style tedious, and the conclusion completely ridiculous. It seemed as if ninety percent of the piece was Kafka over-explaining every single unimportant detail and throughout the remaining ten percent he was desperately grappling for some way to end this nonsensical rant. Kafka takes over six pages (in twelve-point Times New Roman font, justified, with one-inch margins and single spacing) to simply get the protagonist out of bed. Giant cockroach or not, that is completely unacceptable. Do not waste your time with this ridiculous garbage.(less)
Have you noticed that all of the books in this shelf have 3 stars or less? Well that's because the one foolproof way of ensuring that a...moreREVIEW COMPLETE
Have you noticed that all of the books in this shelf have 3 stars or less? Well that's because the one foolproof way of ensuring that an entire class of adolescents fervently loathes a certain book is to force them to read it and formulate their own opinions about certain aspects of the plot. Although I get the feeling that, had I read this book outside of school and not been forced to assess it for a grade, I still wouldn't have enjoyed it much. Now, don't get me wrong - I know you probably think I'm just prejudiced against the classics (and, for the record, just because a book is old doesn't qualify it to be a "classic," at least not to me). But I enjoy Shakespeare, I endure Jane Austen, and you can't exactly get more classic than that. There's just something about reading an entire play that takes place in the same room of a middle class Norwegian lady's house that gets somewhat...monotonous, shall I say?(less)