When I first read about Narc in the Book Expo America Show Daily, I made a beeline for the Flux booth. With such an edgy pre...morePosted to Almost Grown-up:
When I first read about Narc in the Book Expo America Show Daily, I made a beeline for the Flux booth. With such an edgy premise, the rarer YA male protagonist, and a South Florida setting, I was itching to get my hands on a copy.
Unfortunately, the novel didn’t resonate with me as I’d hoped.
I think my main issue was with the plausibility of the entire premise of Narc. Perhaps a teenage “narc” is, in fact, a method police utilize. However, the way that it was laid out, I couldn’t believe it. Maybe I didn’t have enough explanation, or maybe the deal is thrown on the table a bit too early and with too little provocation. Either way, it made the whole story difficult for me to believe or lose myself in the slightest bit.
There are also several elements that felt a bit anachronistic to me. Narc presumably takes place in the present-day, 2012 and Aaron use tools at his disposal like Facebook. But he refers to Facebook apps like Top Friends that are still technically around, but seldom used. When he sends Facebook IMs, they use screen names, which isn’t how it works. There’s also the fact that even “richer” students that Aaron hangs around with have phones without wifi, which is extremely commonplace these days.
I suppose that’s the danger in relying so much on technology in exposition. There was so much of it and it was just outdated. It served no purpose but to distance me from the novel.
Further, Aaron’s voice didn’t ring true to me. He spends a lot of time composing unsent e-mails and sometimes events are so glossed over that I was left backtracking trying to figure out exactly what had just occurred.
Overall rating: 2/5. Despite a promising premise, unfortunately, Narc just didn’t feel real to me at any point.
While Narc wasn’t for me, if you live in the Miami area and it sounds like a book for you, Books & Books is hosting Crissa-Jean Chappell on September 8th! You can see the full event details here.
Mix one part Mean Girls with one part John Tucker Must Die, add the teeny-tiniest pinch of Carrie, and you’ve got Burn for B...morePosted to Almost Grown-up:
Mix one part Mean Girls with one part John Tucker Must Die, add the teeny-tiniest pinch of Carrie, and you’ve got Burn for Burn in a nutshell.
Told from the points of view of all three girls, it was really interesting to see them come together motivated by one thing: revenge. All on different people, of course. They didn’t require the added bond of uniting against a single foe. The simple fact that they all wanted revenge and agreed that each girl’s reasons were justified was enough. It’s interesting how a common purpose was able to unite three very different girls.
The girls’ plots for revenge (well, some of them, anyway) are undoubtedly funny… at least, in theory. I think that it speaks to Han and Vivian’s skills as writers that you can feel the twinge of a conscience pricking at them when they watch their first plan in action.
Remember that pinch of Carrie that you added to your Burn for Burn recipe? That element is important. Because while I love both John Tucker Must Die and Mean Girls, there’s no denying that for the most part, those movies are about hilarious revenge motivated by pretty small reasons. The girls in Burn for Burn have larger issues that push them this far and that gives a plot that could just be only good light-hearted fun a slightly darker twist.
Overall rating: 4/5. Burn for Burn perfectly fit my craving for a fun read with slightly heavier stakes. (less)
You guys, do not even TRY to hold me down while I fangirl flail over The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken. It...morePosted to Almost Grown-up:
Oh. My. Word.
You guys, do not even TRY to hold me down while I fangirl flail over The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken. It’s a little dystopia, a little sci-fi/paranormal, and I was feeling very “meh” about anything even RESEMBLING the dystopian genre, but WHOOSH, Alexandra Bracken whisked my doubts away.
Ruby lives in a world where the kids who are still alive are regarded by society with fear– they’re Psis, or people with psychic abilities, and the government hates them so much that for the past six years, Ruby’s been locked up in a “rehabilitation camp.”
There were small notes of the novel that reminded me chillingly of the Holocaust. Psis, for example, are forced to wear a Psi symbol and a color that denotes which type of Psi that they are. They’re in these awful camps, where experiments used to be performed. It’s awful. The world that Alexandra Bracken created in The Darkest Minds is desolate and depressing. But that makes me that much more sympathetic to Ruby’s plight.
When she gets out of her camp, Thurmond, I bonded with Ruby even more. Because God, she is just so, so scared of the world around her and she has every reason to be. There’s no one to protect her, and if she gets caught, it’s probably a death sentence. With the powers and the way that society regards them, the Psis reminded me a little of the mutants of X-men, but Ruby doesn’t exactly have a Professor Xavier to guide her on her way. In fact, almost no one can really be trusted. But, thankfully she runs into other Psis on the run.
And as Ruby emerges from her shell bit by bit, she and her companions (who slowly earn that trust) become some of my favorite characters in recent memory.
They call a van named Black Betty home, and they are all so different from each other, but have managed to form this pseudo-family regardless. There’s Zu or Suzume, the adorable child (who, by the way, I was terrified the whole book was going to go the route of Rue), who manages to be a fully developed character though she doesn’t speak a single word. Chubs, who is extremely cautious and wary to outsiders, to the point where he comes off antisocial and asshole-ish. He likes books and learning (and book blogging!) and takes a while to warm up to, but then becomes an incredible friend. I related to Chubs EXTREMELY well.
But Liam… he needs a paragraph all his own. Hello, Swoontown USA. With his non-condescending “darlin’s,” and a bit of a hero complex, Liam is just WONDERFUL. He’s funny and stays good and upbeat through most of the novel, which is believable because we get to see the cracks in his molding here and there. And his relationship with Ruby is just… GUH. There is so much SLOW BURN. We see initial attraction, but neither of them jump straight to “GIRL/BOY, I wanna have your babies.” There’s the build-up. From strangers to friends, from friends to more-than-friends, and from more-than-friends to…
To the ending, which left me reeling and screaming.
Look, I don’t want to spoil this book for you, so that’s going to have to be all I say about the ending. Please read this book. Please?
To sum up: Read it. Please please please read it. (less)
The back cover of Gods and Warriors by Michelle Paver boasts that it’s “perfect for fans of Percy Jackson.” I qualify under...morePosted to Almost Grown-up:
The back cover of Gods and Warriors by Michelle Paver boasts that it’s “perfect for fans of Percy Jackson.” I qualify under that category MOST ARDENTLY, so I was really really excited to begin reading. I don’t think it’s really perfect for Percy Jackson fans… but it might just be perfect for me.
One thing Gods and Warriors does have in common with Percy Jackson is the way that young kids have these really awful things happen to them and wind up in this impossibly huge situation.
But, like Rick Riordan, Michelle Paver still manages to make them sound their age. These are kids who would be in middle school in our era and they sound like it… to an extent. I mean they don’t sound anachronistic, but they sound like kids. There’s more than one point-of-view in Gods and Warriors, but they’re all necessary and advance the plot.
If there’s one thing that I admire, it’s the ability to bring a world to life. And Michelle Paver EXCELS at that in Gods and Warriors. It’s in little things from the way that Hylas refers to certain plants to the way that people from different places refer to things differently. Revolutionary, I know.
But the history of Gods and Warriors is brought to life so perfectly that the research that Michelle Paver conducted is evident. I love historical fiction, but I’ve never been particularly interested in the Mediterranean Bronze Age. I am now.
The language is simple, but really effective. The whole book is so tuned in with nature and spirituality that it’s absolutely beautiful sometimes.
Overall rating: 4.5/5. If all MG books made me like them so much, I’d read a whole lot more of them. Happily, Michelle Paver has many other books for me to dive into in the future.(less)
When I started For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund, all that I knew about it was that it was a retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. Word had not yet reached me that it was science-fiction… or, more importantly, THAT IT WAS AWESOME.
But I am here to vouch for the fact that it is one awesome, sci-fi, dystopian-esque, Austenite retelling.
I found it a little confusing at first as the world and characters were set up, but I’m telling you, guys, if you’re reading For Darkness Shows the Stars or plan to read it, muscle your way past that because it is so SO worth it. Once you get it, the world clicks into place and the story becomes so textured and gorgeous.
I love the world that Diana Peterfreund constructed in For Darkness Shows the Stars and I think that that is a big part of what gives the story such an amazing feel. It’s the future, yes. And yes, it’s science fiction. But the society is constructed in a way that hearkens back to class systems of the old days with the Luddites playing the part of the nobility. Although, HOLLER for a society that isn’t totally patriarchal in this case because women can be Luddite lords just as easily as men.
And, as I said, I think that vibe of old-timey-ness, from the fashions to the fixations on titles and estates, is what gives such an authentic feel.
Also, Luddites? They believe in keeping things “as God intended.” That means basically no scientific improvements. Really, it means no progress. Diana Peterfreund carries that element of nature through with some of her gorgeous metaphors and descriptions. They’re made all the more effective by the fact that the North estate is a farm and thus even more tied to nature than some other Luddite estates might be.
So now we come to Elliot, the daughter of the Baron North. And guys? I adore Elliot. She’s got this great and passionate love in the form of one, Kai alias Malakai Wentforth, but her father and sister are terrible at running the land and taking care of the people on it. She indulges herself in her feelings– she’s only human, but she is so heartwrenchingly mature about the decisions she feels she must make for the good of others.
Further, Elliot is so conflicted because Luddite ideals are entering a stage for her when they don’t completely make sense. They have the tools for improvement, but the protocols have been put in place to keep them all safe… right? It’s heresy– it’s arrogance to think any other way.
And then… guys, then there is Kai. And he is so cold and standoffish to Elliot and it breaks my damn heart when I compare it to the letters (placed between chapters) that their younger selves exchanged. Their scenes have so much underlying tension that–
No lie, I just stopped typing to clutch at my heart. It’s that amazing.
Now. I have not yet read Persuasion. HOWEVER. Diana Peterfreund executed her version of the story so beautifully in For Darkness Shows the Stars that I’m adding it to my classics must-read list.
Overall rating: 5/5. For Darkness Shows the Stars is a positively gorgeous retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion with superb language and layered characters.(less)
Lord knows, I loved Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas to PIECES. So, WARNING: GUSHING AHEAD. Where do I even BEGIN this ode of...morePosted to Almost Grown-up:
Lord knows, I loved Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas to PIECES. So, WARNING: GUSHING AHEAD. Where do I even BEGIN this ode of a review?
Let’s try starting with the obvious choice: Celaena Sardothien. Our main character and assassin extraordinaire. I could write poems about how much I adored Celaena. I love how friggin’ dangerous she is. You guys, everyone is so afraid of her and she revels in it, letting everyone know that if she chose to move against them, they’d be dead in seconds. Homegirl is a bad-ass.
But there’s more to her than just that. I love how Celaena, despite said badassery, can be emotionally vulnerable… and hey, sometimes an ordinary girl. Her year in Endovier has scarred her, both physically and emotionally. It grates on her that she is serving a Havilliard (Prince Dorian), when she considers the line of Havilliard royalty to be on a level that is just below scum. She can be vain, indulging herself in pretty dresses, and confident in her looks to win men over. She likes reading, is decent with music, and has a bit of a sweet tooth.
And now she’s in for the fight of her life as she fights to become a hated king’s Champion. Despite her initial confidence, the challenges are not exactly a piece of cake. She’s got to keep her identity a secret amongst forbidable competitors. If that’s not enough, the universe keeps piling more and more on top of her, but Celaena rolls with the punches. And one punch she didn’t see coming? A love triangle.
Sarah J. Maas, you win ALL the awards for pulling a love triangle off. Plot-wise it is usually a total turn-off for me, BUT that’s because in most novels it’s so contrived. NOT SO in Throne of Glass. There is no clear choice, no obvious indicator that Celaena prefers one man to the other.
…And I can’t make up my mind either because GUYS. I would happily take EITHER one of them off her hands.
Dorian is funny and witty. He’s a bit of a womanizer, but NO WONDER with those looks. He likes to read and is pretty damn in touch with his feelings. But his feelings make him stronger and his character progresses until by the end he stands up for what he believes in.
And then there is Chaol. Who is also– Um– yeah. Well he’s gorgeous, strong, and committed to his position. He’s a warrior. But unlike Dorian, he doesn’t trust his feelings. He believes they’ll make him vulnerable.
If I’d known these things when I met her in a line at BEA, I would have begged Sarah J. Maas to tell me who I should root for because LORD I cannot decide and it is driving me nuts. I went actively seeking spoilers from her time on Fictionpress because I need a Throne of Glass OTP!
Aside from the boys, Celaena builds relationships with other people for one of the first times in her life. Nehemia, a princess from a foreign land and Nox, one of the other competitors. Are either of these friendships in her best interests? Probably not, but isn’t that the point? She’s finally building relationships without ulterior motives! Big character growth step.
The world that Sarah J. Maas built is very well-constructed, pulling you right into its flaws and past. Making you visualize the gaudy palace and drawing you into the web of power plots at play. And lordy, are there plots and sub-plots galore, but they all serve a purpose and are resolved at least enough to complete the novel, but leave room for expansion in the rest of the series.
Overall rating: 5/5. Slap a label on me and call me a fangirl because Throne of Glass is one of my new favorite books EVER.(less)
How many emotions can one have about one book? Here is a brief list of mine.
Confusion: Who on earth are all of these people? Ilsa Bick wrote Shadows from at least 6 POVs and it really threw me off. I didn’t have a strong memory of almost any of them at first and just when I felt like I was “getting” them, BAM we were back onto the next person.
Disappointment: Largely related to the confusion, but I had major love for Ashes and Shadows felt all over the place in comparison. It was hard to keep the events and POVs straight at first because they didn’t have a lot of overlap. About midway through the book I abandoned it, bitterly disappointed because I had been so excited to get my hands on an ARC at BEA.
Worried: Because when I finally picked the book back up, I felt for these characters, new POVs and all. And lord do they have problems to contend with.
SCARED: The Changed were crazy horrifying in Ashes, but not only does that continue, but the awfulness of HUMANITY continues over in this one.
Frantic: So much was happening and the action was good and AHHHH characters I like are doing things and AHHH SCREAMING. (This is the good kind of frantic as far as reading goes)
DESPAIR: Ilsa Bick, HOW COULD YOU END LIKE THAT ON ME?
To sum up: Power through the beginning to get to the good stuff because I think when this ish wraps in Monsters, you’ll want to be around for it.(less)
I don’t even know where to begin to review Code Name Verity. My hopes were high as I began reading due to all of the hype surrounding the title, which always feels like a bit of a gamble. But my hopes could have been even higher and Code Name Verity would not have disappointed me.
The phrase from the summary– “intricately woven”– is amazingly apt. As Verity writes her confession, trading her knowledge with the Nazis for a few more precious days, I felt vaguely ill, imagining the horrors that were to come. When Verity, referring to the war, “You always feel a little bit sick inside, knowing the worst might happen at any moment,”* it felt as if Elizabeth Wein knew what I was going through as I read her book.
Though seemingly a traitor, Verity is an amazingly brave and sympathetic character. Her captors are breaking her as best they can with the knowledge that her best friend has died, the screams of other prisoners, and her own torture. But she’s obviously angry over the great injustice taking place and she still she seizes on small moments of defiance. She also has her moments of caustic humor and times when her incredible intelligence comes through.
Historical novels– well-done ones– are a weakness of mine. and Code Name Verity absolutely qualifies. Elizabeth Wein did a clear amount of research to bring the terrifying times of World War II to life in excruciating detail.
Elizabeth Wein is also the master of surprise. I found myself sobbing rather violently through Code Name Verity’s resolution as she took me on a rollercoaster plummet of emotions.
Overall rating: 5/5. Masterfully written, Code Name Verity is a World War II novel that will break your heart.(less)