This is a review of an ARC won through a First Reads giveaway.
It is an indisputable fact that unsupervised teenagers in a store/mall are hu...moreThis is a review of an ARC won through a First Reads giveaway.
It is an indisputable fact that unsupervised teenagers in a store/mall are huge pains in the butt. They rarely buy things, and when they do it's usually something that costs $5 or less. They are loud and they always make you feel like they are laughing at you because you're old and uncool. They run amok and leave things out of order and they molest and break the neck of the giant stuffed giraffe corporate sent your store for no discernible reason. And just as werewolves always come out during a full moon, teenagers always go out on Friday and Saturday nights. Damn kids! Get off my lawn!
With that in mind, imagine you go to the mall to buy something small on a Friday night. It's just a quick trip; you wouldn't even go tonight because you're worn out from your work week and just want to relax at home, but this item is very necessary and you must have it now. This is a big, fancy mall, with an ice rink and several levels and lots of skylights. It's swarming with families and, of course, those damn unsupervised kids. You're just going to go in, get that thing you need, and get out as fast as possible.
So you're inside, heading for the store most likely to have that thing you need, and an announcement comes over the loudspeaker. There's a security issue in the parking garage and everyone has to get in a store and stay there until the issue is resolved. Grumbling, you go into the nearest store with all the other sheeple and wait for the all-clear so you can get home. Okay, it's a hassle. But you'll be out soon, right?
No Safety in Numbers is told through the eyes of four teens, ranging in age from fourteen to probably about seventeen. Dayna Lorentz does a good job of making sure each individual has his or her own distinctive voice and I found it easy to switch from one person's perspective to another's. But the characters seemed very superficial at first--the jock, the politician's nerdy daughter, the bitter guy from the wrong side of the tracks, and the ethereal, artsy exotic-looking girl the boys swoon over--and I thought it took a while for them to really flesh out into "real" people. To me, none of them were very sympathetic characters, although I found aspects about each of that did make me care about their survival. Shay's main focus is to protect her family. Lexi is brave enough to do things many of the adults won't even consider. Marco, cunning with impressive survival instincts, discovers he has a softer side. Ryan was probably the hardest character for me to like; his who am I, really? struggle is something everyone can relate to, but most of his choices turned me off to him. The description on the back of the book describes it as "Contagion meets Lord of the Flies." If this is Lord of the Flies, Ryan is Ralph.
That said, the novel doesn't really go Lord of the Flies until nearly the end. The plot was slow at first, and since I didn't realize it was the first of a series I was nearly put off the book altogether. Much of the beginning of the book consists of the four main characters being their stereotypical selves, although we do get glimpses into how the government is handling the situation (hint: poorly). But after a couple days the announcement is made that it isn't a security issue keeping them in the mall with no way of contacting the outside world, but the outbreak of a highly contagious disease. And that is when things get interesting. The adults basically check out and the teenagers, who have been running wild in the mall for days already, get pretty hardcore. Like, (view spoiler)[murdering people (hide spoiler)] kind of hardcore. The sociology nut in me did a little happy dance watching the complete breakdown of society as we know it in the microcosm of this mall. Mass hysteria after being quarantined in a shopping center really brings out the worst in people. As the reader, I know they can't get out no matter what they do, but I can't help but wonder how I would behave in that scenario. At what point will your survival instincts completely override your sense of human compassion?
My ARC says this is recommended for ages 12 and up; the current Goodreads description says 13 and up. HOWEVER. There is a lot of not very nice language in this book, something that has been pointed out by other reviewers already. The profanity lends realism--I know if I were in this situation I wouldn't really be concerned about keeping my language clean, except in front of small children and then only to avoid causing them panic. But there is enough usage of the f-bomb alone that if this were a movie script, it would not be able to get a PG-13 rating. There are also a lot of deaths, some more gruesome than others. If you're looking for a book for your kid to read, I wouldn't recommend it for anyone younger than fourteen, or maybe mature thirteen-year-olds.
The only thing keeping me from giving this a 4-star rating, besides the slow plot buildup, is the minor grievance of the store names, Chopsticky Buns and PaperClips and PhreshPharm to name a few. It really is so minor I probably shouldn't even mention it, but they were repeated enough to really annoy me. Overall, though, this is an enjoyable read (I read it all in one sitting) and a solid beginning to the trilogy. I look forward to reading the rest of the series.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
“We’ve got at least seven hours to get what we want before the sun comes up.”
Taking place over the course of one hot Melbourne night, Graffiti Moon is...more“We’ve got at least seven hours to get what we want before the sun comes up.”
Taking place over the course of one hot Melbourne night, Graffiti Moon is basically a chick flick in book form: Girl is in love with Mystery Man. Girl and her friends go out one night and the Guy She’d Never Date walks in and offers to help her find Mystery Man. Girl goes out into the night with Guy She’d Never Date, not knowing that he is in fact Mystery Man, and the two of them both secretly dig each other and there’s a comedy of errors, etc. “Will they end up together?” we are supposed to be asking, even though we all know the answer.
Because this is such a well-worn plot, I was impressed with Cath Crowley’s ability to tweak it and make it fresh and her own. It would be easy for things to get boring and clichéd and for the characters to be one-dimensional, but that never happened. Ed and Lucy and their friends are quirky and witty; even the few predictable plot points never felt contrived. The characters’ musings on art are woven skillfully through the story—opinions on Vermeer, on Rothko and Magritte—and even though I know next to nothing about most of the artists and art forms they mentioned (a glassblowing aficionado I am not), I never felt lost; only swept away.
Even though Ed and Lucy are both technically MCs, I really thought this was more Ed’s story than Lucy’s. He was more complex, with a harder life and a secret identity and more problems to overcome. His moral dilemmas and the loss of his father figure were more engaging for me than anything Lucy had going on, although I really enjoyed her dialogue. And Leo, who is technically a fringe character, is bumped up to MC status since his works as Poet are placed between chapters. So much is told about Leo in those few lines that I felt like I knew him as well as Ed does.
Though I liked A Little Wanting Song better than Graffiti Moon, GM is still a great book. Everything is so silly and sad in this one night, with everyone going after what they want and finding hope and happiness in unexpected places. There’s enough meat to it to keep it from being brain candy, but overall it is a warm-fuzzy sort of book.
[Note for my Aussie friends: Seriously, what kind of hills does Melbourne have? Is it common to bike off them and need police assistance? I really need an answer to this; it's been bugging me for 24 hours.](less)
You know what is really a dick move? Killing yourself after sending around Cassettes from the Beyond to everyone you know in which you narrate all the...moreYou know what is really a dick move? Killing yourself after sending around Cassettes from the Beyond to everyone you know in which you narrate all the reasons they should feel guilty for making you commit suicide, because obviously they left you no other choice and they should be traumatized forever.
I think I know what Asher was trying to do here. We're supposed to be seeing how we never know how our words and actions can affect somebody; how the smallest incident to us can be huge to someone else. And for Clay, opportunities missed, the road not taken, etc. But all Asher's done, in my eyes, is create a completely unsympathetic character (Hannah) who is so self-absorbed that because a couple of kids think she's easy, she thinks the only solution is to kill herself and then torture them from beyond the grave.
Suicide is an important issue and one which is very personal for me. It isn't about teen angst bullshit, as Veronica Sawyer would say. It isn't about showing those jerks and making them sorry. (Yeah, that guy who put his hand on your thigh really deserves to be told that's a reason why you killed yourself. Because he was an average, flirtatious teenage boy, he should spend the rest of his life knowing you blame him for your choice.) It is an incredibly final decision, a selfish one--though someone considering suicide most likely won't see it that way--and I just can't get behind the way it's presented here.
13RW gets two stars because the narrative style is good, and though the big mystery turns out to be pretty anticlimactic, I was drawn in enough to stick with it to the end.(less)
The sequel to Bumped left me satisfied. As fascinated as I was by the world McCafferty was presenting me in the first book, I just wasn't that in to M...moreThe sequel to Bumped left me satisfied. As fascinated as I was by the world McCafferty was presenting me in the first book, I just wasn't that in to Melody or Harmony. Harmony seemed completely whacked out, not because of her churchiness but because of the whole (view spoiler)[sleeping with Jondoe because he looked exactly how she imagined Jesus (hide spoiler)], which was creepy. I liked Melody more but wasn't crazy about her. She seemed to serve mostly as a device to offset McCafferty's more extreme examples of a world gone breedy, specifically Shoko and Malia. In Thumped, however, the girls felt more central to the story, probably because the necessary world-building had been taken care of in the first book and there was more time to focus on them.
I waited too long after reading to write my review, so it isn't very detailed. Just know that the characters grow and mature organically; none of the situations they were presented with felt contrived. They are forced to make tough, adult decisions, choosing between what is good for themselves and those directly involved or what society wants them to do. They live in a future where teenagers are treated as grownups but have no rights, and I enjoyed watching the characters navigate that world.["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This installment seemed to move a lot slower than the first three. I had to skim over the last hundred pages because I have other books I'm more excit...moreThis installment seemed to move a lot slower than the first three. I had to skim over the last hundred pages because I have other books I'm more excited about and wanted to move on. Thayer is the most interesting part of this book and he's barely in it. WHOMP. (WOMP?)
This series isn't terrible but it isn't great, either. There's a year between the release of each book (not atypical) and every time I read the newest installment, I'm completely lost for the first 50 pages because nothing about the previous one stuck with me. All I know is there's at least one new suspect in every book and something creepy happens. It is like the literary equivalent of Lost for me: They're on the island, they're off the island; it's real, it's a dream; I can't keep track anymore so I'm done playing. Call me for the finale.
I want to like this series. I do. I loved the first eight books in the PLL series and the first three books in this series I devoured in about a day each. But this book didn't, to borrow from Karen, "blow my skirt up." It didn't even make it waft a little bit in the breeze. No, my skirt was so unmoved I may as well have been wearing pants.
I've found this is a common problem with authors who hit it big and have a high demand for their books. They start churning them out and eventually, no matter how strong their work was in the beginning, everything starts to blur together and lose momentum.
Then again, maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm getting too old for this kind of YA. Maybe I'm becoming elderly and crotchety at 25 and soon I'll be sitting on my porch in a rocking chair, drinking sour lemonade and shooting blanks at the neighborhood kids to scare them off my lawn.
Anyway, I still think it was Ethan and somehow Thayer will save Emma from him when she realizes he did it and he tries to kill her to keep her quiet, and since she and Thayer will have at some point come clean with each other and fallen in love, everything will end happily ever after (except for the whole murder and betrayal fiasco). Maybe I'll finish the series once the last book is released because I love being right. But I'm certainly not rushing to be top on the library request list for the next book.(less)
I finished this book on 3/9/12 at 4 a.m. and am only writing the review now (3/23/12) because it took me several days to process the ending. Then I we...moreI finished this book on 3/9/12 at 4 a.m. and am only writing the review now (3/23/12) because it took me several days to process the ending. Then I went out and bought the box set (I had been reading the series as ebooks and was seized by a burning need to have physical copies) and reread everything. I am currently about a third of the way through Mockingjay (again) and am just getting to the point where I'm able to organize my thoughts.
I don't want to be a spoiler-sport, so I'll be a bit vague on the plot and try to focus on my feelings on the series as a whole. Here is the general idea of the book: Katniss has been the figurehead of the revolution since she and Peeta used the berries to escape the Arena, but it isn't until this book that she chooses to be the Mockingjay. And with that choice comes revolution, war, loss of life, and loss of innocence. (And you thought after the first two books there wasn't any more innocence to lose. Ha! Oh, ye of little faith.)
You may notice I only gave this book 4 stars, as opposed to the 5 for The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. And after a lot of thought, I've figured out why I rated this one lower. I think the reason a lot of people (myself included) didn't like the third book as much as the first two is because of the ending. Logically, we all know it can't all be unicorns and sunshine. But so much of the series is a form of escapism (despite the premise of the first book) and then suddenly in the last book we are faced with the harsh realities of war and its effect on children, families, innocence, etc. Characters I loved died tragically. I found out the horrible reasons behind why so many of the victors are mentally and emotionally shattered. There is a small glimmer of hope in the epilogue, but it's still very raw and real. And even though we don't have hovercrafts and we still live in a democratic state and so far no one is dumping kids in an arena to duke it out, similar suffering can and does happen now.
Also, it was the last book and I never handle endings well when I'm this emotionally invested in something.
I read a review on Goodreads that said Katniss wasn't a good role model for young women because of the ultimate decision she makes in regards to her romantic life. (Which I'm not going to write here, because that reviewer did and the spoiler wasn't hidden and I pretty much LOST IT because I had only just started Catching Fire at the time.) I completely disagree. She is one of the strongest female characters I've read about in a long time, especially in YA literature. From a psychological standpoint, Katniss is a freaking miracle. Throughout the series she has to cope with being starved, tortured, abandoned, and manipulated, as well as depression, anxiety, and PTSD. There are points where I thought, "Oh waah, two boys are in love with you, boo fricketty hoo. Did you also clog your toilet when you crapped a gold brick this morning?" But for the most part I really liked and respected her. She is a survivor. I mean, shall we compare her to Bella Swan? In New Moon, Bella goes catatonic for several months because her boyfriend dumped her and skipped town. After the death of her father, Katniss has to support and provide for her sister and severely depressed mother. Then she sacrifices herself to a Battle Royale in order to protect her sister. And then she does all kinds of heroic stuff in the Arena, triggers a revolution, etc. Plus she's a certified BAMF with a bow and arrow. I really think her reneging on a pact she made with herself as a child in regards to love can't do much to overshadow all the rest of that.
But I've said too much. I can't guarantee you'll love the series as much as I did, but I strongly suggest you read it.(less)
This was a disappointing read. Despite my issues with Thirteen Reasons Why, I thought it was a good book and was excited to read this one. I just coul...moreThis was a disappointing read. Despite my issues with Thirteen Reasons Why, I thought it was a good book and was excited to read this one. I just couldn't get into it, though, and ended up quitting around 50 pages in and after a bit of skimming. Emma was irritating and shallow and Josh seemed like kind of a wet blanket. I'll refrain from rating this one since I didn't finish.(less)
This is an EXTREMELY BRIEF and VERY DISORGANIZED review because I have to get back to reading the third book now or I'll do something dramatic, like d...moreThis is an EXTREMELY BRIEF and VERY DISORGANIZED review because I have to get back to reading the third book now or I'll do something dramatic, like die. And I'm dashing it out on my phone, which makes for clumsy typing.
I felt like the start of the book was a bit slow, as with the first, but once the action picked up? Wow. Book Two picks up shortly after Tomorrow left off, and I finished it in about a day and a half--and that is with working all weekend. Ellie was more likable to me, though still flawed and a bit annoying at times, which is okay. It's good, even. It makes everything feel that much more real. I don't know any teenagers who would step up in this situation and be paragons of virtue and the ideal friend and never whine or have a periodic breakdown.
The most upsetting (and therefore gripping) thing about this series is the feeling I have that this situation could easily happen here in the near future. And I feel we'd be in much the same position as the Aussies in the Tomorrow series, with no one willing to step up and help us.(less)