**spoiler alert** Before I start, a preamble: I find it impossible to review an anthology comprised of works written by a multitude of authors as one...more**spoiler alert** Before I start, a preamble: I find it impossible to review an anthology comprised of works written by a multitude of authors as one joint work, therefore I present to you reviews of each story in this book, okay? Okay. Firstly, allow me to say that this - I can't think of a more awesome idea for an anthology than the broad subject of geekery. No, really, as a card-carrying geek, discovering this book existed was the equivalent of some nebulous spaceship descending from the Heavens and opening its doors so that it can take me to some far-away planet where people exactly like me existed. I'm not alone! You're not alone! We're not alone!
The book begins with Once You're a Jedi, You're A Jedi All the Way, a joint effort by editors Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci. It's the story of what happens when a Trekker wakes up in a foreign bed at a hotel during a convention. Much to her chagrin, the resident of the room in which she finds herself is none other than a Jedi. This, of course, is a major no-no. Even with minimal knowledge of Star Wars and Star Trek (I've seen the movies, but I don't read the books and I've never watched the show), I found this short highly enjoyable. This story is the source of what could be my favorite line out of the whole book - "...he had a Vulcan girlfriend who was watching us both like she wanted to have some kind of pon-farr excuse to kick my ass." The rivalry between canons culminates into a Trekker on Star Warsian battle - master Jedi and their padawans versus Starfleet cadets and Klingons. What can I say? Awesome.
One of Us by Tracy Lynn was okay. It was about a 'popular' girl named Montgomery that decided to nerdify herself in order to relate to her boyfriend. I love the concept of her taking classes in geek - Trek, Star Wars, LOTR, comics, etc. I found it mildly annoying how the author kept defaulting to the epithet 'the cheerleader' whenever describing Montgomery's thoughts or actions - and she does it a lot. Still, I liked the overall cast of characters in the story; I particularly liked that Montgomery formed a friendship with the girl of the geek squad, Ellen.
Definitional Choas by Scott Westerfeld was one of my least favorites, sorry. It started off okay - a trip on a train to deliver a suitcase full of money so that a ton of people could have their hotel rooms secured for a convention. Then it delved into super-irritating territory. The narrator's ex-girlfriend is elected to go on this trip, too. She, in a word, is a bitch. At first it seems kind of stupid that the reason they broke up is because the ex is responsible for offing an RPG character of the narrator's. But then this chick essentially poisons the narrator via a bottle of vodka spiked presumably with some kind of narcotic, implying that when she wakes first - and she will, because she's had less of the spiked hooch - she's going to take the money. No, really. I want to punch her. Well-written as it was, this story just wasn't palatable for me.
Because I know a bit about her internet history, it's difficult for me to be objective in reviewing anything that Cassandra Clare has ever written, so I don't know if this a fair review or not. It's my first piece of hers and will likely be my last. I Never tells the tale of people from an online RPG meeting up and partying. It seemed really unlikely to me and the whole story was filled with moments that just plain embarrassed me - a girl hooking up with the Supernatural boys? Shut up, Cassandra Clare. Sure, there was a cutesy little love story, but it doesn't take more than a cursory look to decide that the story is just recycled Cyrano de Bergerac which has already been reincarnated a thousand times already. One of my least favorites in the book.
M. T. Anderson's The King of Pelinesse was creepy. It had weird oedipal tones - a boy reconstructs a letter his mother ripped up that was addressed to her by a favorite fantasy writer/graphic novelist. The letter is flowery porn. The kid goes to see his hero to ask him about this affair with his mother, ruminating more than once on "the gem of her womanhood". Gross.
The Wrath of Dawn by Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith wasn't bad, but it wasn't memorable, either. It's about a girl going out to see Buffy: the Musical. Her name is Dawn. People hurl insults at Dawn when she's onstage. Narrator Dawn steals a mike and takes the name back. It was like it should have been powerful, but it was really just kind of forgettable.
David Levithan's Quiz Bowl Antichrist is one of my favorites of this anthology. I don't care what Levithan writes, I love his writing style and I love his ability to make his characters three dimensional when allowed only the smallest amount of space. The story follows a ragtag team of Quiz Bowl members. As the sole expert on literature, the narrator is an outcast in his own group, but chooses to stay in the group for his crush - Damien. It's a nice little story that's pure Levithan - about a boy that's in the midst of discovering something about himself and it's funny. It's so funny. It's the only story out of the book that I've managed to read twice.
The Quiet Knight by Garth Nix is a sweet little fairytale. It follows a kid with a certain problem with his speech - a result of swallowing a household cleaner when he was younger, hence the 'quiet'. He seeks solace in LARPing as a knight. It is implied that he plays this specific character because it's the kind of person that he wants to be and, of course, so that the story had some kind of symmetry - he becomes a knight in school the day following one of his LARPING adventures by rescuing the girl that played the Bard. It's sweet. It's not the greatest story in the book, but it's one of the better ones.
One of my least favorite shorts in this book is Lisa Yee's Everyone But You. It tells the story of a baton-twirler whose life is upended when she has to move to Hawaii. The shocker - the school doesn't have much of an athletic program and the kids are unfriendly. I fail to see how twirling a baton makes you a geek. Additionally, the story was really fleshy to start, but three or four pages in, it was like Lisa Yee realized she had a deadline and threw the rest together in a hurry. It was a story that wasn't really relevant to the anthology and it was very poorly written.
Secret Identity by Kelly Link is tied for first on my favorites list. It's the origin story of a girl, written in the format of a letter to a person she was supposed to meet up with in a hotel - Paul Zell. I don't even know how to describe it. It was written like a comic book and it was real and I loved it. Best scene of the book, hands down - a tertiary character whose name escapes me has a talent for butter sculptures of famous supervillains (and, FYI, Hellalujah is an awesome name for a villain). And at one point, there is a BUTTER FIGHT. I love it.
The story for which I bought this anthology was Freak the Geek by John Green. That said, it was the single most disappointing story in this anthology. Really. This is the second time in a row that John Green has disappointed me and I wish that I had read this and his story from Let It Snow first and then read Paper Towns. It's about two geeky girls that get 'freaked' because it's a school tradition - the popular girls pick a couple of geeks to torture every year. They choose to do it by launching a volley of paintballs at them, which makes me wonder if this is a made-up school where there is no staff, because if this happened in any other school, these kids would probably be arrested for bring a gun - any kind of gun - on campus. Also, as tired as I am of all John Green's stories being about a pseudo-geeky guy crushing on a quirky girl, he needs to stick with what he knows. It was evident in what exists of this story (and there's not much of it at all; it's like he asked what the minimum word count was and just barely made it) that he cannot write girl to save his life. There are no quirky one-liners, the writing is so boring that I feel like an eighth-grader could have come up with something more interesting. I'm ashamed of you, John Green.
You know, The Truth About Dino Girl by Barry Lyga started out awesome. What's not to love - a likable character who sprouts dinosaur facts in order to describe her feelings for a dude? I love it. I love dinosaurs. What's not to love. Here's the irritating part. The boy she loves has a girlfriend who Katie likes right up until said girlfriend discovers Katie's crush. The girlfriend is horrible to her. But not horrible to warrant the punishment that she receives - really, Katie? Taking a nude picture of an underage girl in a locker room and posting it around school with her phone number? And then the fact that she's unapologetic about it? It made me instantly hate this short.
This Is My Audition Monologue by Sara Zarr is another one that I could care less about. It's written in the perspective of a girl who gets overlooked for parts in drama and always put on the backstage crew. Maybe it's because I never got the appeal of drama, maybe it's because I don't really see what's so nerdy about being in drama. It was just kind of a pointless, boring story.
Another cute little love story is The Stars at the Finish Line by Wendy Mass. It's the story of a boy and girl in competition since they were kids. They both want to be astronauts until the boy grows up and realizes that it's not the astronaut career that he wants, it's the girl that wants the astronaut career. So they come together for an all-night Messier Marathon - a competition to see over a hundred space anomalies, etc. before the sun rises. Lots of detail about constellations and nebulae and a lot of other stuff that went totally over my head, here, but it makes me want to pick up an astronomy book. Yep. It's that good.
Lastly, It's Just a Jump to the Left by Libba Bray. Eh. It's a coming-of-age story about a girl and while I'll grant you it's a little meatier than most of the stories in the anthology, I didn't really care for it. Maybe because I've never seen Rocky Horror Picture Show (and I won't ever; it's not my thing) or maybe it's because various things irritated me - the unresolved story with the boy that Leta kisses, her teacher smoking weed in front of her, etc. I don't know. Forgettable.
After each story was a little comic, which I'm going to say were the most enjoyable parts of the book for me. I really did need to know how to ask where the bathroom is in Klingon! I wanted to know what kind of geek I am! These comics might be worth the purchase of the book alone, truthfully. But despite some of my less-than-positive reviews of certain stories in the anthology, I think the whole thing is overall awesome and definitely worth the read.(less)
When I first heard that there would be a new series to follow Percy Jackson and the Olympians, I was like: uh,...moreOh, Rick Riordan, you've done it again.
When I first heard that there would be a new series to follow Percy Jackson and the Olympians, I was like: uh, no. After closing the Last Olympian for the first time (because it's not the kind of book you read only once), I had two thoughts. The first: holy crap, that was awesome. The second: no way will Rick Riordan ever be able to top this. Shame on me for not having enough faith.
The Lost Hero is about a kid named Jason who, inexplicably, has no memory and knows more about Roman mythology - as opposed to the Greek themes previously explored in the Percy series - than he rightly should.
There are several things that I love about this book. The first is that it's not a view from a single person that we receive - we get into the individual headspaces of each member of the trio - Jason, Piper, and Leo. This is good for several reasons - one, it allows the reader to explore more of the camp, two, it allows the reader to get to know other godly parents.
I almost hated reading this. After doing so, it make the Percy Jackson series feel a little myopic by comparison. That's not to warn anyone off of reading either series, but reader beware. Rick Riordan is just going to get bigger and better. Deal with it.(less)
**spoiler alert** Finally, I finished my first Sarah Addison Allen. Actually, I finished it days ago and have been much too lazy to write a review, bu...more**spoiler alert** Finally, I finished my first Sarah Addison Allen. Actually, I finished it days ago and have been much too lazy to write a review, but that's neither here nor there.
I picked up The Sugar Queen first because the plot of it appealed to me more than that of Garden Spells. I feel as though it's obligatory for me to read any novel that I can that's based in my home state of North Carolina (except for Nicholas Sparks - no one likes you, Nicholas Sparks), so I was tickled to learn that Allen writes most of her fiction based in this state.
What can I say? The Sugar Queen is about a girl named Josey. She is quintessentially a shut-in, seeming to exist only to do the domestic chores that her mother bids her to do. It speaks loudly of some whispers I've heard in the south - about how this state and presumably other states in the south used to be. Some people here believe that it's a biological imperative for women to marry early to an agreeable man and pop out as many children physiologically possible. Josey, sadly, is an example of what happens to the ugly ducklings; she is raised to believe she is imperfect by an insecure, unhappy mother and thereby shelters herself in her home, with the safety of hidden sweets in her closet.
It is the sweets that Josey is walking into her closet for the morning she discovers a new resident taking up space among the hanging clothes - Della Lee, a woman that is notorious in town. Della Lee becomes an instigator for Josey, ultimately becoming the impetus for her healing herself. Della Lee is responsible for Josey meeting up with a new friend, Chloe - an only friend, really.
This is a book about love and women and healing. There is a love story and it's charming without going overboard. The writing is simplistic, but superb. It's sweet without being cloying which - when taking into account the fact that each chapter is named after a sweet that somehow foreshadowed the content therein - is something that I almost anticipate.(less)
I'm definitely upset that I read this after Lost Hero - it was a dwindling let down in the wake of such an awesome novel...moreI don't even know what to say.
I'm definitely upset that I read this after Lost Hero - it was a dwindling let down in the wake of such an awesome novel.
Red Pyramid was conceptually genius: a starter novel in a new series involving - you guessed it - children and mythical Gods. As an occasional googler of Egyptian mythology and the owner of an honest to god Eye of Horus tattoo and the Mummy boxset, I decided to consume this book after Lost Hero. I was under the mistaken impression that I was saving the best for last.
Look, it's not bad. The characters are likable enough. We're introduced to a brother and sister duo that scarcely know each other who are forced to follow home their Uncle after an explosion of the Rosetta Stone unleashes an evil Egyptian god. We learn that the siblings have until the Demon Days to rescue their entombed dad and send this fiery fucker back where he came from and that baboons only eat foods that end in the letter O.
So, yeah. Theoretically, it should be good. It doesn't lack for adventure or action, but for some reason, reading this book was like wading through quicksand. It might have something to do with the amount of information that you were inundated with. Perhaps this is because we're more familiar with Roman and Greek gods - that is, if your school made you read the Iliad like mine did - and the tidal waves of information are too much to handle without multiple readings. Perhaps it's because I can only count the truly enjoyable moments of the book on one hand (the Elvis suits coming to life, fo' sho).
I'm not a slow reader by any stretch of the imagination. Rick has always left me angry that I've finished his books so quickly because I always want more, more, more. I only got through this book, I'm afraid, because I entertained myself by reading the whole thing out loud to my dog in a Scottish accent (he, too, was bored to sleep).
I don't know if this book deserves three stars, but I'm maintaining hope that book two doesn't leave me feeling like I could have better spent my time listening to the Slap Chop rap on youtube.(less)
I either read an interview or saw one with Stephenie Meyer who remarked that she got her plot to Twilight from a dream that she once had. After having...moreI either read an interview or saw one with Stephenie Meyer who remarked that she got her plot to Twilight from a dream that she once had. After having read this, I can say in all certainty that if she got the idea from a dream, it was at some point after reading this series. Look no further for her source material, here it is.
Just a few of the parallels that I noticed: Stefan (Edward) can read minds. Stefan and Elena fall splendidly and exquisitely in love with each other despite the fact that there's little narrative to their love story. Stefan wants to stay away from Elena because he's a killer, and so on, ad nauseum. Credit L.J. Smith here, though, considering that she was the one that did it first and she did it better (although I'd say not much, since I'm being honest).
Particularly in the first novel, "The Awakening", I found the main character - Elena - to be selfish, spoiled, and revolting. Perhaps it's because the popular, pretty girl foil is simply something that I can't related to, or perhaps it's because the idea of making my friends swear in blood that they won't stop until they 'get me' a boy is totally and completely absurd.
In the second book, Elena is a touch more palatable, but that might have been because the story as a whole got marginally better, leaving less time (but still ample, believe me) for Elena to wax poetic about the unexplainable love for Stefan that seemingly flourished after one kiss.
I'll give this three stars because it did get better in the end, but a more realistic rating would have been two or two and a half.(less)
**spoiler alert** In all honesty, if this hadn't been a free book (my friend runs a used bookstore and is forever refusing to allow me to pay for tran...more**spoiler alert** In all honesty, if this hadn't been a free book (my friend runs a used bookstore and is forever refusing to allow me to pay for transactions; I pay her in cake), I'd have been upset that I paid money for it.
I'd been thinking about snagging this book forever. Like almost everyone else I know, I love John Green. I love John Green so much that after I finish this review, I'm shelling out a twenty-five dollar donation to read his self-proclaimed 'terrible' novella entitled Zombicorn. Therefore, reading this book was a no-brainer, though I wasn't familiar with either of the other writers involved. Additionally, I'm a sucker for a good holiday romance. Good holiday romances these were not, though.
Maureen Johnson's story is first - "The Jubilee Express". It wasn't entirely memorable. I remember the basic premise was a girl traveling because her parents were incarcerated for not leaving a line in which they had been waiting for a collectible winter figurine thingum. I remember that the train stopped and the girl inexplicably got off the train and headed to Waffle House where she met a stranger who she goes home with. Overall forgettable. Sorry, Maureen Johnson.
Next was John Green's "A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle". As I suspected when I first picked up the book, it was my favorite of the three stories. What was likeable about this story for me was that it departed from John Green's usual schtick of geeky-awkward boy falling in love with a quirky girl filled with wanderlust. I can't say that I enjoyed it better than I did, say, Paper Towns, but it was an interesting peek outside of John's niche. He should try it again sometime.
"The Patron Saint of Pigs" by Lauren Myracle was last, thank god, because if it hadn't been, I sincerely doubt that I would have been able to plow through the rest of the book. Like John Green, based on this novella, Lauren Myracle seems to have a niche, too - cultivating extremely annoying characters. The main character, Addie, was narcissistic, whiny, and a total bitchtaco. She cheated on her boyfriend and whined and cried because her friends tried to approach the subject of getting her boyfriend back realistically - guess what, bitchtaco? Boys don't want you back if you cheat on them. If I ever met a person like Addie in real life, I think I'd find a gun and shoot her. Needless to say, I will not be reading anything else by Lauren Myracle.(less)
I picked up Dead Witch Walking in the wake of finishing Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris. Having perused both Wikipedia and Goodreads for a gene...moreI picked up Dead Witch Walking in the wake of finishing Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris. Having perused both Wikipedia and Goodreads for a general synopsis of the story, I felt confident that I was going to love the series and that it would also soothe the ache of not getting another Sookie Stackhouse novel until May of this year. This was a bad idea for two reasons: 1.) Gauging the content of one set of novels, however similar, against another (especially since it was the first in a series - sometimes it takes time for author's to get their sea-legs with a new character or world), makes it impossible to do an objective reading and 2.) I was, naturally, completely disappointed.
I didn't violently hate Rachel Morgan as much as I've hated other female protagonists. Don't get me wrong. Rachel definitely had her annoying moments, namely whenever she grabbed on to someone and growled 'cookie' at them. I know that Kim Harrison was probably just try to emphasize Rachel's bad-assness or whatever, but I thought it was really annoying and stupid. If I met someone that did this in real life, I'd probably punch them in the temple. Something about Rachel that confused me was her inexplicable fear of Ivy. I get it, she's never lived with a vampire before, but as an IS runner, I have to assume that she had been in contact with all manner of dangerous creatures beforehand, which made the whole fear of Ivy thing really weird. Ivy was okay, too. I think I probably like her more than Rachel. The clear star of this whole book is Jenks, though. Jenks and Mrs. Jenks, and Jax, too. I want four hundred thousand words on the Jenks family in which they fight a fairy war and they decorate their tree stump with scrap yarn and cleaned lids of aluminum cans for mirrors!
Anyway, I think Rachel was kind of stupid. She would get injured, go out and get injured some more and go out and get injured some more. I get what she was trying to accomplish, so I don't know that I'd put her in the 'dumb heroine' category just yet, but she was really sort of moronic in places.
I didn't mind the lack of love interest so much. I can forgive a lot with a good plot. Unfortunately, lacked that, so it would have been nice to have some guy in the picture to make this book a lot less boring.
The world-building was okay. It took me a long time to get through this novel and I think it was because in places, Kim's writing was a little weird. And, for whatever reason, it bored me for about seventy-five percent of the book. I liked the witchy/spell-casting parts. I liked the general concept of a world in tatters because of a virus spread by genetically-engineered tomatoes since it's at least marginally plausible (seriously, kids, they're already selling genetically engineered fish at your local grocery store).
The biggest problem that I had with the book was the triggery content. The mink scene made me physically ill. I rescue abused animals. The dog that was formerly in my user photo was an abused dog, too. I got him from the kill-shelter on the day he was supposed to be euthanized. He had two broken legs and he was absolutely petrified of all people. He's great now. He's more than great, actually, considering he gets steak every Saturday night and we make him his own cheeseburgers whenever it's red meat day in our house. The point is, I can't stomach animal abuse, even in fiction. I'll stop watching films if animal abuse is even implied. This scene where Trent keeps Rachel locked in a cage and allows Jonathan to essentially poke, prod, and beat at this mink - even though she wasn't really a mink - disturbed me to the point of tears. Even more disturbing was the graphic violence described in the rat-fights; animal fighting is a particularly triggery thing for me since I just got two rescues that were used in dog fights. I just thought it was really unnecessary to the plot when Trent could have easily locked Rachel up as a human and tortured her. It was sick.
The second triggery thing was the shape-shifting demon, asking Rachel if she was afraid of rape. Enough said. I think it was disturbing and I think the book would have been better without it and the gratuitous violence against animals.
I'm giving this a two. Had it not been for those specific scenes, I'd give it a three and I'd be mildly interested to see what happens next in the series. That said, I sincerely doubt I'll be reading the next book in the series or anything else Kim Harrison has written.(less)
I wasn't going to review this book because it meant taking an extra five to ten minutes thinking about it, which should, essentially, convey exactly w...moreI wasn't going to review this book because it meant taking an extra five to ten minutes thinking about it, which should, essentially, convey exactly what I thought about it. I'm also flabbergasted as to how the rating on this book could be so high; I feel as though it's my civic duty to rate it appropriately so that maybe someone somewhere won't make the mistake of picking up this novel to read.
Let's start with the Becca Fitzpatrick's most cardinal sin. Hush, Hush is a blatant rip-off of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight saga which is a blatant rip-off of L.J. Smith's The Vampire Diaries. Here's the one question that I have: how in the hell do you rip-off a book like Twilight and make it suck worse than the original? I mean, a person has to have a special kind of talent in order to borrow a plot from a terrible writer and make it even worse.
For your pleasure (or, you know - abject horror), here are a few similarities between the two novels:
1.) The main character is a girl so stupid that she makes Paris Hilton look like a member of MENSA by comparison.
2.) The love interest of the main character is a rapey, pervy sicko that outright says multiple times that his base instinct is to kill her.
3.) What little plot and back story there is in this novel doesn't appear until approximately page three hundred; it's as though Becca was so focused on writing about her 'hero' (I use this term incredibly loosely) sexually harassing Dumb Girl that when she got to page three hundred and realized there was no plot to speak of, she shoved in a whole bunch of confusing, stupid mythology and hoped that no one would notice.
4.) Annoying supporting characters, holy shit. Dumb Girl's best friend is a girl named Vee. I remember her name distinctly because every second I saw it in this book, I fantasized about there being a real Vee so that I could hit her with my car and/or maim her to death with a golf club. Vee essentially forces a creepy, rapey guy (not the love interest; you heard me - there's more than one rapey guy in this book!) into Dumb Girl's life and Dumb Girl basically allows her to do so instead of telling her to stick it where the sun doesn't shine. Dumb Girl, you should have let your friend die.
There were several scenes in this book that mortified me to my core. Really, Becca Fitzpatrick? Writing a scene in which an educator essentially harasses a student into talking about 'attractive traits in a mate'? Really, Becca? Letting that same educator ignore another student's overt sexual harassment of another student?
I can appreciate a good hate/love relationship as much as the next girl, I really can, but this love story wasn't a hate/love sort of thing. This love story was about a controlling, perverted guy taking advantage of a girl that clearly lacked the spine to tell him to back the hell off. This was a story in which girls are supposed to swoon because even though a foul, lascivious jerk-bag of a guy wants and needs to kill a girl but doesn't because it's 'so romantic'. It's not romantic. It's scary that this is what publishers are impressing upon young girls. I don't have a daughter, but if I did, I definitely wouldn't want her to read this and love a guy that embodied all of these qualities; that's just dangerous.(less)
Katie Ellison is a moron. And that's the nicest thing that I can say about the so-called 'heroine' of this steaming load of crap.
The story is based ar...moreKatie Ellison is a moron. And that's the nicest thing that I can say about the so-called 'heroine' of this steaming load of crap.
The story is based around the lies and life of one girl that I can find no redeeming qualities in, even after her transition into truth-telling after living a life weaving stories for her own nefarious purposes. The entirety of the book reads like a thirteen year old girl's diary, evoking the me, me, me mindset of a spoiled brat for whom enough is never enough. Additionally, Katie is surrounded by a hive of like-minded, vapid friends who on more than one occasion justify her bad behavior and facilitate their own.
The resolution isn't much better. In true fashion of a person who truly believes that the world revolves around them, Katie comes out as a liar publicly, causing the ruin of a community event because she's too selfish to make peace with the people she's hurt privately, thus nullifying this bullshit martyr act of hers.
The love story. What can I say about the love story? Which love story are we talking about? In addition to being a liar, Katie is also a cheater. She cheats on the boyfriend that she lied to get, she cheats on the boyfriend that she's cheating on boyfriend number one with, which makes her transformation into a seemingly monogamous being for this new-old guy in her life totally unbelievable, essentially ruining any possible reason for anyone wanting to read this book.
If Meg Cabot had killed off every character in this book in a massive bus accident, I might have given it more than one star. Thanks, Meg, for teaching young girls that you can lie, cheat, and manipulate people and you can still have a perfect, happy ending.(less)