I received a copy from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
The Sweet Dead Life by Joy Preble is a very quick and quirky read that features a witty, and slightly neurotic 14 year-old protagonist. The storyline is considerably original, while the mystery promises to intrigue the reader until the conclusion. Preble's novel is a great light read for a hot summer day.
Jenna, the protagonist, tells us the story of how her brother became her guardian (in a paranormal sense) through diary entries. I haven't always been a fan of epistolary novels, since I find it hard to believe that a character would write down every detail that s/he notices. It always feels false to me, especially since I am an occasional journal writer (especially when I was a kid).
Okay, rant over.
But all of those annoyances aside, Preble does a pretty good job--though her character is only 14. Jenna is a very fun character to watch develop because she isn't your typical teenager. Not only is she dying when we meet her, but her family is far from conventional. She is not only grieving the potential loss of her brother, but she is grieving the loss of her father, and who her mother used to be. For a young teenager, she has her plate full.
Though the tone is occasionally light, there are darker themes within the novel. Addiction, death, sabotage, and abandonment are a few of the issues brought to light. And while Jenna distracts us with her wit and banter, her neurotic tendencies tend to seep into her dialogue when she is detailing her deteriorating health. Though the reader may find Jenna's character amusing, there is no doubt that she hasn't lived an easy life. Perhaps it is her attempt at distracting the readers from her familial struggles that endears her to us.
Preble's angels are your typical very attractive people, but their rules and abilities are slightly different from what we're used to when we read other angel inspired novels. Casey, Jenna's brother, is so well described and created, that even I was pulled in by his new allure. Preble is that good. Paranormal fiction in young adult novels is a very normal occurrence nowadays, but every once in a while an author comes along and adds a new twist to popular creatures. Preble is one of those authors.
The mystery is great! I kept trying to guess who was out to get Jenna's family, but every time I tried guessing, something would push me in a different direction. I'm the kind of reader that can usually guess what's going to happen from the get-go, but Preble managed to throw in a few red herrings that threw me off the scent. It was refreshing finding a mystery book that had me guessing throughout the whole story.
My greatest concern, and trust me this usually wouldn't bug me but since this features such a young protagonist, is the use of language. Jenna is in the 8th grade and in my past experience with middle grade novels, this would still be considered middle grade because Jenna is not in high school just yet. But Jenna is 14, which was perplexing since it was December (wouldn't she be 13? Or wouldn't there be an explanation as to why she is one year behind?) and spoke like a 17+ year-old. I know her circumstances aren't the best, but wow. Jenna goes from calling her teacher an "asshat", to spewing out more cuss words throughout the novel. I also know that her attitude is spunky, but this is perhaps too much.
Let's just say I was surprised--I think this novel would have been better off if Jenna were a little older.
Despite what I've mentioned above, the dialogue is kind of awesome. Funny, realistic, and fast-paced, the characters' conversations almost came to life with how well they were written.
The conclusion suggests that there may be more books written in the series (though Goodreads doesn't have any sequels listed), and I think The Sweet Dead Life would really benefit from this, since there are characters that I would like to know more about (like Jenna's best friend), and mysteries that I would like to see solved (like, what's going to happen to Casey in the long-run?)
If you're a fan of quirky characters, understated angels, interesting mysteries, fun dialogue, and novels that portray the unconditional love between family members, then you should check out The Sweet Dead Life.
Keep in mind, however, that though the protagonist is young, the themes explored are not for a middle grade audience.(less)
I think it’s only fair to begin this review by stating that Megan Crewe’s novel was not at all what I was anticipating. I honestly don’t know what I e...moreI think it’s only fair to begin this review by stating that Megan Crewe’s novel was not at all what I was anticipating. I honestly don’t know what I expected, but it wasn’t really what Crewe offered. I blame this on the fact that I didn’t properly read the synopsis (and I caution all of you to read future synopses thoroughly so that a novel isn’t a complete and utter surprise to you).
The Way We Fall is the first installment in the Fallen World series by Megan Crewe. The story follows Kaelyn, a teenager living on an island that is quarantined during a virus outbreak. As she watches the people she loves get sick in front of her, she must figure out a way to protect those she loves and avoid those who have let the fear of sickness reign their actions, whether they be inhumane or not. All the while, Kaelyn is writing down her experiences in a journal that she hopes to give to her ex-best-friend when the horrors of the island end.
(view spoiler)[ this is not a zombie tale, but simply, a story of people getting sick… and rambling… and then hallucinating… before dying. (hide spoiler)]
Though Crewe’s novel wasn’t what I expected, it wasn’t all that bad. The story line was thought out and I liked to see that the protagonist was bi-racial.
Read the rest of my review on my blog: Book Addict 24-7["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Review first appeared:Book Addict 24-7 I am leaving Why We Broke Up, just like The Night Circus. I don’t know why people hype up books so much. It’s s...moreReview first appeared:Book Addict 24-7 I am leaving Why We Broke Up, just like The Night Circus. I don’t know why people hype up books so much. It’s starting to get really annoying, since hyping up a horrible book makes it really difficult for us readers to know if the book is legitimately good or not. If you don’t believe me about this one, then I would recommend you give it a gander at your bookstore or library. Don’t buy it unless you are 100% sure you want to read it. Trust me.
Want me to give you an example of how the writing looks in this book? Okay. Here:
“And it wasn’t just us. It wasn’t that we were high school, me a junior and you a senior, with our clothes all wrong for restaurants like this, too bright and too rumpled and too zippered and too stained and too slapdash and awkward and stretched and trendy and desperate and casual and unsure and braggy and sweaty and sporty and wrong. It wasn’t just that Lottie Carson did not look up from where she was watching, and it wasn’t just that the waiter was holding a bottle, wrapped in a red folded napkin, tilted high over his head, and it wasn’t just that the bottled, iced with a rainy sheen on the neck, was filled with champagne. It wasn’t just that” (Handler 46).
Yeah, if you stopped reading halfway through I don’t blame you. And it is pretty much like that throughout the pages I’ve read, and I’m up to page 65. Basically the protagonist , Min, is writing a letter for her ex telling him why they broke up. Not only is her writing voice horribly annoying, it is fraught with repetition, confusing references, and the same sentence: “This is why we broke up” at the end of chapters.
I was hoping for so much from this one. It looked so neat, but then, we ARE taught to not judge books by their covers (or in this case, their outward appearance). I think, and I may be wrong, but since Peregrine’s success, authors have been capitalizing on the merging of art and writing, sometimes relying mainly on (badly) drawn pictures, rather than on the story itself. Sadly, I believe that this is what happened to Why We Broke Up. Handler focused so much on the objects within the box, that he overlooked how flawed his story was. This had so much potential, but at the end of the day, a reader is left wondering, “So what?” who cares about this breakup if you’re not making it feel important? Sure, Min did write a letter and put everything in a box, but the way the characters interacted (oh god, don’t get me started on the dialogue) left me thinking, “How did this get past the editors?”
Look, I understand what Handler was trying to do. In any other case, with more editing and a lot less overuse of the style of repetition to emphasize emotion, it would have been more successful. Also, if this hadn’t been written in the voice of a teenager and geared towards the Young Adult audience, then maybe it would have been more successful.
Honestly, I started writing this with the idea of keeping things brief. I was considering giving the book another ten pages or whatnot, but alas, I don’t think I can do it. Instead of wasting my time on a book that I know I will never like (I disliked it from the moment that the writing style became evident), I will try reading something that I will actually enjoy.
Read at your own risk and if you like it, hey, it’s okay. That’s your opinion and maybe I’m just being too harsh, but I think I’m just angry at the fact that over-hyped books keep making their way onto my shelves and that they sit there, collecting dust and waiting for me like a ticking time bomb. (less)
Reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky was like reading a present version o...moreThis review first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
Reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky was like reading a present version of a J.D. Salinger or Jack Kerouac novel. Sure, this may sound cliche, but it is quite obvious just who must have inspired Chbosky as a writer.
Chbosky's debut and sole novel has a rare quality to it. The novel is real, honest, and has a keen insight into life as a teenager that reflects not just on the early nineties, but on any time frame later on (or perhaps earlier). Written in epistolary form, Wallflower follows Charlie as he navigates life as a teenager and dealing with death, love, sex, drugs, alcohol, and abuse.
This novel is memorable and can easily become a reader's favourite read.
What I loved the most about this book is how unassuming it is. It tells the reader the barest of details, but offers so much more.
1. I really wish I could say there are no negatives, but I have to follow my rule of always finding something off-putting about a novel. One of the problems I have with Chbosky is how slow and sometimes tedious his novel feels.
2. Charlie is such an interesting boy who is privy to nearly everything, hence his given name "The Wallflower", so I was left frustrated at times when I wasn't told more about a topic or what is going on around Charlie. I guess this is one of the pitfalls of reading an epistolary novel (and why I'm not the greatest fan). We, as readers, are limited to what the writer of the letter/journal entry sees, hears, or experiences, rather than reading about every minute detail or beyond the narrator's point of view.
1. Chbosky manages to capture the troubles of young adulthood so honestly that it goes beyond mortification (about sex, drugs, and other taboo subjects), and delves into the truth of high-school and what it is to be a teenager.
2. Charlie reads a lot of books that reflect on what he experiences throughout the novel. Chbosky manages to tell us so much about his character via the books he likes to read, that I was in awe of his ingenuity.
3. Three words: Funny, Sad, Real. For me, as I devoured page after page, these three words defined my initial reactions to Charlie's life every time he encountered something new. I think it's a gift to be able to create something so powerful, yet elicit such a response from readers.
4. I can honestly say that this book was not predictable for me. Unlike some people I talked to, the ending was pretty clear to me, but only when I reached it. For some, you may have to read it again to catch the gist of what is going on and why Charlie is the way he is. The ending is powerful and breathtaking, despite the horrible realization that the characters experience.
5. I can't state enough how much I love Chbosky for exploring such a touchy subject. He weaves a web that ensnares his readers and plays with them by keeping those around charlie at a slight distance, so that it is mainly just the reader and Charlie, (because honestly, who else can the reader trust in this novel but Charlie?), until the pivotal end. Chbosky shows the aftereffects of a serious moment in Charlie's life that changes him forever, without actually stating it or alluding to it until the very end.
6. When Charlie realizes how infinite simple moments can be, I found myself relating and figuring out how my own life had similar moments. I liked that Chbosky made me reflect on my own life as I read Charlie's tale.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is definitely one of those books I will keep on my bookshelf and re-read when I want to be enlightened. Chbosky is a wonderful storyteller, it's really too bad he's only written one book.(less)
Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer is one of those post-apocalyptic books that gives you all...moreReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer is one of those post-apocalyptic books that gives you all the scary details of what life would be like if the world took a turn for the worse, without being over-the-top and over-dramatic. Pfeffer creates a story where readers get to see what life is like as the apocalypse happens, rather than after. Addicting, emotionally stimulating, and an excellent example of character growth, Life As We Knew It is a must read for fans of the apocalyptic genre.
Miranda, the protagonist, tells us her story through journal entries. I have to admit that I'm not the greatest fan of this style, simply because it can either fail miserably, or benefit the story. Thankfully, Pfeffer's novel sits in the latter category. I think that having Miranda tell us her story through her limited point of view made the events feel more real. If the story was in third person, or omniscient, then the mystery of how the world deals with its destruction would be boring and predictable.
If we were ever unfortunate enough to find ourselves in a similar situation, then Miranda's story might be the best way to prepare ourselves. Perhaps this is because she is so naive at the beginning of the novel, believing that everything is unfair and that things will be fine by a certain point, that we can relate to her. After all, when something changes, don't we all wish for it to end quickly? Do we not expect things to eventually get better?
Miranda's family is one of billions surviving a horrible catastrophe and much like in real life, the novel focuses on her life, because really, there is no way to document how everyone else is doing in the world.
Well-written with a few editing errors sprinkled here and there (which I will attribute to her being only sixteen, though I don't know if that is the true purpose), Life As We Knew It is full of moments that makes the reader put the book down and question what s/he has now and what s/he could stand to lose.
Death is a frequent visitor in the novel and, much like the characters, the reader may start to understand why death comes, rather than question, or challenge it.
Pfeffer's novel manages to explore existence and life in one of the most chaotic scenarios possible. Life is precarious and Pfeffer captures it within the pages of her book, changing her readers' lives as well.
This was a completely different read for me. I'm so used to books taken place after the death of Earth, that it took me by surprise how I never thought about the people that suffered along with those who survived.
I would recommend this book to those who enjoy thought-provoking and emotionally charged novels. If you enjoy a hint of romance, but mostly character growth, then you might like this one.(less)