Note: I did not read Between the Lines before picking up Off the Page. Off the Page is being advertised as a companion novel that can be read withoutNote: I did not read Between the Lines before picking up Off the Page. Off the Page is being advertised as a companion novel that can be read without having read the first novel.
Note 2: My review is based off the parts of the novel that I read and may not reflect the entirety of the novel.
Off the Page fulfills the reader's fantasy of meeting, and finding love with, characters from our favorite reads. I believe that some readers will enjoy it as a light, feel-good read. For me, however, some elements of the novel didn't work for me.
What didn't work for me:
First, the words are in different colors depending on who is speaking. While some pages are in black, most of the novel is in green, blue, and turquoise—very distracting colors.
Second, the novel is told from the alternating first-person POVs of Delilah, Oliver, and Edgar. I'm not fond of alternating first-person POVs. It's jarring and makes it difficult for me to settle into a novel. While I have enjoyed some novels that alternate first-person POVs in the past, Off the Page didn't work for me. When I read a book with multiple POVs, I look for smooth transitions from one POV into another. The next POV should pick up in some way that connects it to where the last one left off so that I feel like I'm reading the same story instead of different stories running parallel to each other. Off the Page lacked flow transitioning from one POV into another. I felt like I was reading three different stories.
Third, there is a heavy focus on the chemistry of the romance. While I don't find anything wrong with some romance, I don't find it promising when, in the first 50 pages, the two MCs can't stop making out—even when a certain someone's chemistry grades are in danger. I want to see something more from the romance than the chemistry. Attraction doesn't equal happy ending. A real relationship takes work and getting to know each other.
Fourth, I'm getting tired of seeing the same cast over and over again. Delilah gives the same old lines about the popular crowd and hangs out with the cooler, smaller crowd. While there may be a reason that we see the same characters in novels over and over again, it gets old if they're left as stereotypes. If I'm going to see the same characters, I want to see them made up in a new way. I want to be made interested in their stories and in the role they play in the plot.
Fifth, and this is regarding the publicity for this novel, Off the Page is being advertised as being able to stand alone apart from Between the Lines. I digress. While Delilah summarizes events from the last book, this novel focuses on the same cast as the last novel. More than a companion novel, this is a sequel and should be read as such. I believe that I would have enjoyed Off the Page more if I had read the first novel.
What I did like:
First, the cover is gorgeous. I like how it gives us both a contemporary and a fairy-tale feel.
Second, I love how Off the Page explores what it means to be a character in the book. Also, Edgar's revision to the story is interesting. I was not expecting to see a fairy tale / sci-fi crossover when I visited the fairy-tale world.
Third, Oliver's experiences in school are hilarious. It's so much fun to see our world through an outsider's perspective. (And his answers to the chemistry quiz!)
Fourth, I can appreciate Delilah's comment about walking into a wall while reading a book. I used to walk around while reading until I realized that I might be better off paying attention to the pathways.
Fifth, the illustrations are gorgeous. We have some colored, full-page illustrations from the fairy tale as well as some cute illustrations at the start of each chapter. Love love these!
I only read the first 50 pages or so before skimming around the novel. As I didn't get past the introduction, I do expect there to be more to the plot than I have discussed in my review. Nevertheless, I will not be reading further. The introduction has not made me interested in the characters' lives, and the end hasn't given me reason to believe otherwise. While I don't expect Delilah and Oliver to make out every other page, there seems to be a heavy focus on the romance and the drama. I know that I should have expected this when I picked up the book given how Delilah and Oliver's actions are motivated by their love for each other, but I was hoping to see more of the fantasy and action.
Find Momo: Coast to Coast is an adorable book in which the border collie Momo and his buddy Andrew Knapp travel from coast to coast across the UnitedFind Momo: Coast to Coast is an adorable book in which the border collie Momo and his buddy Andrew Knapp travel from coast to coast across the United States and Canada. There is a good mix of photos where it is easy to find Momo and ones that challenge the reader's imagination. I can envision this being a fun book to huddle over with the family in a race to find Momo.
Many of the photos are breathtaking and worth examining in their own right. I love how there is a mix of tourist attractions and everyday life of the people who in live the areas that Momo and Knapp visit. In the midst of it all, Knap captures photos that show Momo making himself right at home. The two's adventures remind us of the excitement to be found in travel—both in the major attractions and in the quietude of the everyday. Traveling isn't always about visiting the places well traveled. We also need to remind ourselves to look for adventure in the culture of the places that we visit, and we can't do that by following the tourist guidebook. Branch out; explore different sceneries.
That said, I do wish that we were given more specific details in the captions about the locations in the photos. If you're curious about where exactly each photo was taken, you have to flip back to the answer key. Otherwise, I have nothing to complain about!
Find Momo: Coast to Coast is a fun, unique travel book. I love the idea of sharing a road trip through the antics of a dog, and I had a lot of fun searching for Momo (though at times I did get pretty frustrated. Momo isn't always easy to find!). I would definitely recommend this book to readers, especially those who love furry four-legged creatures like Momo.
We Are All Made of Molecules is a YA novel that I've been waiting for. The plot is focused and relatable, and the characters clearly mature over the cWe Are All Made of Molecules is a YA novel that I've been waiting for. The plot is focused and relatable, and the characters clearly mature over the course of the novel. Most importantly, We Are All Made of Molecules has a strong message for readers. While reading is something that I enjoy, I also want to learn something from the books that I read. It can be a moral lesson, or it can be something as simple as a character learning some truth about life and / or standing up to his or her fears. We get all of these in Susin Nielsen's latest novel.
The writing is simple, much more so than I would have expected in a novel that contains some mature content. While I generally like novels with more complexity, the simplistic language and straightforward narration are powerful tools that bare the characters' lives to the reader. There aren't any extraneous details that distract from the main plot points. Furthermore, We Are All Made of Molecules is a novel that can be easily finished in one sitting. Nothing should distract from the story except an emergency.
As you might have guessed from the synopsis, the story is told from the alternating POVs of Stewart and Ashley.While it was interesting to see their different opinions on certain topics and to see what goes on behind the scenes in each character's lives, I found much more depth overall in Stewart's perspective. For much of the novel, Ashley is a shallow, fashion-crazy, boy-obsessed girl who is overly concerned with the social ladder and where she stands on it. While we do learn things from her that we can't get with Stewart, who is bad at reading social cues, I enjoyed reading from Stewart's perspective so much more. He makes nerd jokes (something I love but rarely see in YA lit), he's funny, and he's interesting. Ashley's POV doesn't contribute enough that I feel like it is essential to the story's message. She does become more likable at the end; at the same time, it isn't until the end that I really appreciated her character. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver presents a more complex character in Samantha, who is also an "It" girl that matures into a more sensitive and caring person.
That said, what Ashley's POV does contribute to the plot is that her story intertwines with Stewart's story to show the different facets of high school life. Ashley may just be a girl who is concerned with the social hierarchy, but she is also a bully who has made fun of others and stepped on them in order to climb to the top of the social ladder. Stewart is a boy lacks social awareness and has been bullied as a result. While I wasn't particularly fond of Ashley's POV, I like how the alternating POVs weaves together the lives of the bullies and the bullied, the "haves" and the "have-nots," to reveal the absurdity of categorizing peoples' values based on where they stand on the social ladder. Whereas Ashley considered herself to be at the top of the ladder, her relationship with her "friends" is a facsimile built on what she imagines to be the prefect life. In the end, Stewart, who stays true to himself and presents himself as he is to others, proves that true happiness comes from making real connections with the people around you. In order to be happy, Ashley must become more like Stewart, and the two must work together to defeat the system that gives bullies the power to oppress others.
Literary Value: I find We Are All Made of Molecules to be a novel with literary value because of the growth that the characters exhibit. Stewart and Ashley enter the novel with preconceptions about how their lives will go, and after their first meeting, they form superficial opinions about each other that will later prove false. They learn about the complexity of life and about the fallacy of judging people by appearances and initial impressions. There are important messages about respect and tolerance, family and friendship, bullying and the social hierarchy, what is really important in life and what it means to be a decent human being. The plot has the complexity that I have been searching for in YA lit.
Mature Content: While the language is simple and more what I would expect from a middle-grade novel, I would not recommend this to younger readers because of the content. (Warning: potential spoilers follow.) Ashley belongs to the stereotypical "It" scene in high school. She and her friends lust after the hottest boy in their school, there is language and talk of girls' bodies in a boys' locker room scene, there is partying with alcohol involved, and there is an almost-rape scene. Stewart is bullied because of his brains and geeky appearance, and at several points he is afraid to go to school. There is also homophobia and discrimination against homosexuality by some persons.
Overall: We Are All Made of Molecules is a novel that I believe young adults should read. It has complexity: Stewart and Ashley show true character growth, family and friends play important roles in their lives, and their story shows us what is really important in life.
The plot and characters fell flat from the get-go. The focus of the writing seems to be on the romance and the intrigue more than world building develThe plot and characters fell flat from the get-go. The focus of the writing seems to be on the romance and the intrigue more than world building developing character motivation. As a result, I didn't feel like I got to know the world or the characters. I wasn't led to feel for any of the characters much less the protagonist.
Furthermore, the POV altered overly frequently and were poorly timed. Multiple POVs are supposed to be there to contribute to the plot. While multiple POVs can definitely add to a fantasy plot that impacts the entire realm, the POV shifts in The Storyspinner didn't serve to move the plot forward; rather, they occurred so often that the plot stagnated. It felt like the author wanted to get everything out there instead of waiting for a time when a POV shift would make a significant contribution to the plot.
As it is, The Storyspinner seems to be just another YA lit that serves to fulfill a fantasy. Readers who enjoyed The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard may enjoy this one.
The premise to Sophomore Year Is Greek to Me definitely holds potential for laugh-out-loud moments. After seeing the comparison to Anna and the FrenchThe premise to Sophomore Year Is Greek to Me definitely holds potential for laugh-out-loud moments. After seeing the comparison to Anna and the French Kiss, I went and reread some of Anna. The tone of voice and situation of both girls seem similar, and I think that readers who enjoyed Anna may enjoy Sophomore Year as well.
Zona's voice is snarky, rebellious, and a total teenager. A common voice in YA lit. The plus is that readers who like heroines along Zona's vein will be able to connect with her. That said, there is another side to this coin. Readers looking for a unique voice will find it a struggle to get past the first pages. While I loved Anna when it first came out, I've since read a lot of novels with the snarky voice, and I think that I wouldn't enjoy Anna as much if I tried to reread it. Now, there's nothing inherently wrong with snark. The problem is when the heroine is made of only snark; then her character remains one dimensional. Zona is one such character.
Another element of Sophomore Year that caused the story to fall flat for me is that most of the story is told through dialogue and Zona's thoughts. While actions are mentioned, I couldn't see events play out. It just didn't feel like much attention was given to the going ons. Rather, the focus of the story is on what the characters say and what goes on in Zona's mind. Furthermore, the story is broken up by article clippings that contribute to Zona's story. This is a clever addition to the story because of Zona's (and her father's) interest in journaling. Personally, I didn't like it, but I'm generally not fond of newspaper talk.
Aside: I think that it's pretty neat that Meredith's first novel was about freshman year while this second novel of hers is about sophomore year. Perhaps her third one will continue the high school story and be about a girl's junior year?
Mature content warning: Explicit images of naked people, naked people in sexual positions a naked dead man cut open. Frank talk about masturbation andMature content warning: Explicit images of naked people, naked people in sexual positions a naked dead man cut open. Frank talk about masturbation and orgasms. Language (some cuss words, names).
Frankly, this is not a book that I would have picked up if it hadn't been required for, as it happens, two of my classes. While I like some manga, I'm not fond of Western styles of graphic novels. The tone tends to be dryer as is the case with Fun Home.
It could be because I read this when I was stressed out over papers and all, but it was difficult to maintain my concentration while reading this. NevIt could be because I read this when I was stressed out over papers and all, but it was difficult to maintain my concentration while reading this. Nevertheless, the writing is beautiful and even poetic at times, and I love how culture and family play an integral role in this novel.