This book really got my attention early on and never lost it. It’s a relatively short book, and that works well until the end when I felt like there c...moreThis book really got my attention early on and never lost it. It’s a relatively short book, and that works well until the end when I felt like there could have been a little more time spent in the aftermath, but I could be wrong about that. The story is wonderfully creepy but it’s really the broken, damaged, and mostly demented characters that are the strength of the story. I’ve only read a few Stephen King novels, but I would favorably compare this work to what he does, only in fewer words and with less characters. Flynn really used the characters she had very effectively and you never felt like you met someone you didn’t need to. There was a great build to the suspense and the payoff was very satisfying, even though I thought a little more time could have been spent exploring the revelations. I highly recommend Gillian Flynn’s works, including Gone Girl. I went out and picked up Dark Places upon completion of Sharp Objects: the highest compliment I can offer.(less)
This book started out with a very typical YA beginning but found its own way about a one third into the story. I liked the characters. One small compl...moreThis book started out with a very typical YA beginning but found its own way about a one third into the story. I liked the characters. One small complaint would be the maturity level of the little brother character. He seemed either very mature or too immature depending on the needs of the scene, but this didn’t distract from my enjoyment of the story very much. The book requires you to accept that the two main characters can fall in love really fast. I mean, like less than a week fast. My personal preference is to see the romantic feelings develop over a longer period, exploring the little moments that lead up to that connection, but love at first sight happens too, and I guess you have to be open to that to accept the premise of SLAMMED.
The author obviously likes to write poetry, and while what the characters wrote was fine, I was a little jarred by how much they supposedly memorized so quickly to present during the poetry slams on which the book is titled.
All in all, the story is solid, the characters never really annoy, and the ending is satisfying and avoided any cheap gimmicks or overly Lifetime movie moments that could have been exploited.
When going to find the book at Books-A-Million (I subsequently bought the e-book anyway) I was told by the helpful worker that the book was located in the “After 50 Shades” section and categorized as erotica. I had never been so glad my ten year old son had wondered off as I was at that moment. There is nothing erotic in the book and it was easily found in the standard fiction section. SLAMMED really is about poetry and you can’t judge a book by its title. (less)
Great read and quite a bit different from the movie. Many of the key characters were portrayed differently. Basically, it wasn't as much a sunny shiny...moreGreat read and quite a bit different from the movie. Many of the key characters were portrayed differently. Basically, it wasn't as much a sunny shiny, wrapped up with a bow at the end story as it was portrayed in the movie. I did enjoy it though. My only complaint would be the repetition. Some things happen over and over again without much of a payoff in the end. Still great, and I was very sympathetic to Pat and was rooting for him at every turn. I think the silver lining of his life he is always looking for is a little more implied than spelled out at the end of the book, but it's ok not to have happy endings spoon fed to you sometimes.(less)
Right up front, I’ll say I really enjoyed Looking For Alaska. My first John Green read came with a lot of expectations and I wasn’t disappointed. That...moreRight up front, I’ll say I really enjoyed Looking For Alaska. My first John Green read came with a lot of expectations and I wasn’t disappointed. That’s a lot right there. I will also say, I came right off of reading The Perks of Being A Wallflower which was also a strong book and had some similarities to this one. There were times when I compared the two, but by the end, they both stand as their own books and I would recommend reading both.
I can’t help but read books with an eye for what I might have done differently. If I’m thinking of what I would do differently early on and frequently, that’s probably not a good sign. As long as I only come up with a few things, and mostly after I’ve read the whole story, that’s fine. That’s the case for this book. In my mind, I kept thinking the title of the book was Finding Alaska. I had to correct myself many times as I thought of the book, and I think I know why. I wanted to find out something about Alaska Young. Minor spoiler here, but something happens midway through the book that gets the characters looking for Alaska. The big question for me was, “Will they find what they’re looking for?” The answer is, basically, no, but the author got me to a level of acceptance about that by the end. Feeling what they felt was a key point of the book, and that was accomplished. We did learn something about her before the end, but it was easily guessed long before it was finally revealed.
This is not a book of happenings, it’s a book of character relationships and introspection. The characters are very well developed and the relationships are very believable. Look elsewhere for an adventure.
I will waste a little more space with a pet peeve of mine, something that started developing with Perks and has intensified with this book. Why do authors feel that in order to make their teenage characters interesting and deep they all have to be chain smokers? I’ve read so much about people smoking in these last few books I’ve got sympathetic emphysema. Obviously, people make bad choices in life and teenagers are especially apt to pick up bad habits without concern for long term effect. But come on. Couldn’t we do a little better as authors to set a healthier example for our readers and stop using smoking as a crutch to provide self-inflicted harm on our teenage characters to show how ‘invincible’ they believe they are? Early in the book, I was convinced one of the main characters was going to develop lung cancer before the book was finished.
I guess I’ll just have to wait for the sequel : Looking for a Tracheotomy (less)
I wasn’t sure who to write this book review for, but I heard someone talking in the cafeteria about you and that you liked books, and alth...moreDear Friend,
I wasn’t sure who to write this book review for, but I heard someone talking in the cafeteria about you and that you liked books, and although you don’t know me and I don’t really know you, except for what I heard in the cafeteria, I thought you might like to hear about this book anyway. It’s called The Perks of Being A Wallflower. I read somewhere that the author had great ‘voice’ and since I’m always interested in improving my writing ‘voice’ this sounded like a book I should read. I know you are supposed to give out stars or thumbs up or things like that when doing a review, but I don’t really feel like that applies so I’m going to skip that part. I hope this doesn’t ruin your enjoyment of this review. Even when I do think about giving this book stars, I always want to give it fractional stars, like four and a half instead of five or just four. Some reviews do that and others don’t, and since I’m not sure which kind of review this is, I’m going to just leave all that up to someone else. I think the author of this book did a lot of drugs, or does a lot of drugs. He likes to drop in names of books and songs, and if you don’t know anything about them, it makes you feel a little left out, or ignorant. I don’t think this is on purpose, but that’s what happens anyway. I also think he smokes and drinks, probably all while he’s writing. It’s on his mind a lot. Some of the best writers in history did this, so I guess that’s ok. I don’t really do any of them, so I wonder if I can be a great writer. People say, “There’s a first time for everything.” I’ve heard that before, so I can hope that can apply to me. The first great, sober writer. I’d like it if that could be possible. I thought the last third of this book got slow. It started to feel infinite, but not in the standing-in-the-back-of-a-truck-in-a-tunnel kind of way. There was more drama in the first and second half than there was in the third, and it was a little bit of a letdown. It finished in a satisfying way, and I was glad to have read it when it was done, and I think that’s probably the best thing you can say about a book anyway. You may not agree. There is a good twist at the end of this book, but by the time it comes around, things have slowed down so much, it doesn’t have the impact I think it could have. Also, I suspect the way a certain relationship ended was designed to allow for a sequel, which cheapens the whole thing a little in my opinion. I hope this last thought doesn’t discourage you from reading the book. It really was quite good.
I guess I’ll start with a recap before I begin my review. I’m a huge Lauren Oliver fan. Not because I’ve read all of her books, (actually, maybe I hav...moreI guess I’ll start with a recap before I begin my review. I’m a huge Lauren Oliver fan. Not because I’ve read all of her books, (actually, maybe I have), but because of the incredible impact reading just one of her books had on me. I loved her debut novel BEFORE I FALL. That led me to read the first installment in a series called DELIRIUM. I enjoyed the book, the writing was strong as expected, but it didn’t knock my socks off, and that’s ok. It was good enough to warrant reading its sequel, which is more than I do for most series. I had a feeling things were just getting warmed up, and I was correct.
PANDEMONIUM is a fantastic sequel. Lena, who escaped from a dystopian society where teens have love lobotomized out of their brains, is living in the Wilds and adapting to her new life. The Invalid, or ‘Uncured’ boy whom she’d fallen in love with and convinced her to escape died at the end of DELIRIUM, or so we were led to believe. In books, I always require a Ferris Bueller level of evidence that a character is dead before I believe it. Just roll dead grandma’s old bones into Ed Rooney’s office and I’ll give you an excused absence for going to the funeral. So, my belief that Alex was really dead quickly became fear that he might not be, because he was the part of the first book I liked least. Once his death, or body as it were, appeared to be pretty much in the bag, I relaxed and realized we were going to need another love interest. Enter Julian Fineman, a fine man indeed, and a wonderful opposites-attract-challenge for our Lena. I was more interested in Julian in the first few lines than I ever was in Alex.
So the story of Lena adapting to the Wilds was wonderful then we start into a ‘now’ and ‘then’ chapter progression, which usually causes me to want to skip ahead to one or the other; however, the stories in both timelines were equally compelling and kept me riveted until they merged into now.
There were great twists, fantastic action sequences, and a great progression of the romance. Some of the dystopian series can start to feel a little familiar, and this one has shades of HUNGER GAMES in it, but at it’s heart is the fascinating question of ‘How important is love and your freedom to love?’ Those are pretty big stakes and help to elevate this series above some of the others. The book ends in a satisfying way, even if the last word did confirm my fears from the beginning of the novel. By the time I got to that point, though, I knew that’s how it had to be. Lauren held my hand through three hundred and seventy-four pages and didn’t drop the bomb on me until I was ready.
I'm such a Lauren Oliver fan. I was interested in reading this book even before I knew how much I loved this author. This book has many strengths. The...moreI'm such a Lauren Oliver fan. I was interested in reading this book even before I knew how much I loved this author. This book has many strengths. The first, big, important strength is the premise. What would the world be like without love? I think I can say without spoiling anything that the main plot device of the book is that people have love lobotomized out of themselves at age eighteen in this dystopian future. Like the book THE GIVER, which I read recently, the idea of living without emotional pain sounds appealing when presented in a clinical way. Of course, the book explores why that wouldn't be such a good thing. The main problem with it seems obvious, but the story hits a lot of nuances that weren't apparent to me when I first thought about it. The main character is well developed and has a good growth arc. There’s a best friend character who keeps things interesting and a love interest. The love interest was possibly a weak spot in the story, but I do understand why this was done. This was Lena's story, not Alex's. The language is very descriptive and the book is actually pretty light on dialogue. The ending left it extremely open for a sequel and that tactic is probably my only complaint about the way the story was presented. Of course, the solution to that is to just go buy the sequel. It's available now! (less)
This story started out strong and finished only a little less than strong. This happens sometimes when I read a book that has me so hooked at the begi...moreThis story started out strong and finished only a little less than strong. This happens sometimes when I read a book that has me so hooked at the beginning. My complaints about the last third of the book are minor in most respects. They have mostly to do with me trying to impose my own ideas about how things should have gone. That's only because I got very invested in the story. I'd give this 4 1/2 stars if that was an option.
Spoilers may follow. I don't usually talk about details, but some are still fresh in my mind.
This is a ghost hunter story first and foremost. The romantic element put on top of that wasn't as strong. I think it could have been stronger if it had maintained an element of mystery and greater tragedy. Cas is a cool character and he carries the book. Anna had more potential, but to develop that would have taken the book in another direction. I really wanted there to be a great twist about why she was killing people for fifty years. I wanted something really clever that could have absolved her of all her crimes. I thought maybe the mother had killed and cursed the fiance later and somehow melded he and Anna together, that way he was the murder and Anna wasn't responsible. Cas could have somehow separated them and then Anna would truly be free from her murderous past. I think dragging the dad's murderous ghost into the story could have been put off until a second book. I also wanted there to be a bigger twist there. Something about Cas' dad revealed toward the end that turned everything on its head.
Finally, there were a few small details that really pulled me out of the story. It started when Cas let Will take his asthme. Really? Cas lost a lot of cool points with me there. Then Anna got into a car and sat in the backseat. Again, Anna lost mystique for me there. I wanted her to pop in and out of existence wherever she wanted to be or something more ghost like. I didn't like that Cas passed out during the first fight with his father's killer. It took me, as the reader, out of the action. These are all minor things, but they are the little details that pulled at my connection with the story and characters.
It's so hard to keep the story fresh and building speed in the last third. I still recommend the book. It's one of the better ones I've read lately and has a lot going for it. (less)