Under normal circumstances, this book's rating would've fluctuated between an underwhelming 2 stars or a merciful and mediocre 3 star rating.1.5 stars
Under normal circumstances, this book's rating would've fluctuated between an underwhelming 2 stars or a merciful and mediocre 3 star rating. Six Feet Over It is a strange and quirky read - not exactly enjoyable, but weirdly compelling. It is very slow, the plot is nonexistent and the narrative is frustratingly choppy, but there's still something about the book that's peculiarly charming. Not exactly an explosive debut, but a contemplative and mildly engaging one that provided me with a very different reading experience. Had I been another reader, this book would've probably amused me for a while and then would've proceeded to be promptly forgotten. That would've definitely been better than the boiling irritation I am experiencing every time I think about it.
Incredibly, what bothered me about the book wasn't that it was admittedly unexciting, mostly uneventful and dangerously near to boring, nor was it the depressive atmosphere, the generic, stereotyped and underdeveloped bullying sub-plot, the haphazard way in which events occurred in this novel, the broken narrative that made it so hard to follow what was actually going on or the feeling of pointlessness that the whole story exuded for me. It wasn't even the complete lack of hilarious dark humor I was promised in the blurb what killed the book for me, which was mostly half-assed throughout the story and barely spiked on my radar. I think I could've actually handled all of that perfectly considering the inexplicable allure of the story, the quirky characters and the unexpected interest I had in Leigh's depressive way of looking at life (even if her actions did annoy more than interest throughout the course of the book)and the way living/working at a graveyard was used as a metaphor for how poorly she dealt with death. What really crushed any of this book's potential for me is something that might not represent a big issue with most other readers but that was a huge strike against this novel for me. Two words: cultural appropriation.
This book made it its life mission to butcher my language. Long passages in the novel were dedicated to entire conversations in Spanish and it very often read like the author had simply copy/pasted what she wrote in English into Google Translate and then copy/pasted back into the novel, patting herself on the back for being so culturally conscious. That last comment is not me being bitchy, well, not entirely. After her main character blundered her way through almost every single Spanish phrase she uttered through the entire novel, "Spanish speakers" in the story would flock to her to congratulate her in her amazing skills at speaking in Spanish. Never mind that I am supposed to believe that she acquired complete fluency in Spanish, that she got to a level where she could understand perfectly what some native Spanish speaker was saying and that she was able to have entire conversations in the language after a single semester of Spanish in a small-town American high school, but what really bothered me if that the author didn't care enough to make certain that the actual native Spanish speakers spoke their language correctly. I could've understood Leigh making mistakes, but every single Mexican character as well?
If you are going to incorporate the use of another language in your story, if the nationality of some characters is really important to the book and it is one you are not entirely familiar with: Do. Your. Fucking. Research. How hard could it have been to find someone who actually knew Spanish throughout the entire process between writing the book to actually having it hit bookstores? It's just so infuriating that writers think they can take elements from other people's culture, from their way of life, and half-ass the whole thing in and then congratulate themselves on being edgy and diverse and different. Beyond the brutalization of my language, this novel took elements from Mexican culture and tradition and presented them solely in relation to the white American main character. Nothing about their culture was ever explored in depth or elaborated, it didn't even actually play a role in the story at all. It was only a touch of color in the main character's road to acceptance, for which several colored people were used as well as their experience with a horrifying situation (crossing the border), all so she could feel pain and start living life. Are you fucking kidding me?
I'm Puerto Rican and this shit even bothered me. It made it impossible to enjoy this novel. Every time I would start to actually get into it, another butchered Spanish conversation would be forced in and I would just rage inside. You are not honoring another culture if you take whatever bits you like, force them into your narrative in the most shallow of ways and just use it, not to explore their meaning or give depth to the characters that actually belong to that culture, but to make the generic white main character "interesting" or to further the understanding of herself.
Leigh's psychological conflict was actually sort of interesting, but the narrative refused to go deep into anything. This girl was obviously anorexic and dangerously depressed, but the story never even mentioned those terms, never mind actually trying to push Leigh into acknowledging them and doing something about it. She was being neglected to an abusive degree by her parents, but no, they were just quirky and they cared about her once about a dozen years ago, so it's okay. These things are not funny. If I was supposed to be amused by this, well, maybe I'm not the right audience (which I doubt because I adore dark, morbid humor), but all this bordered on sick some times. I could honestly understand Leigh's grief, and her contemplations and inner monologues resonated with me more times that I expected, but then it would feel so manufactured and blown way out of proportion. Whatever emotional connection I could've developed with this novel was instantly killed with its pathetic attempts to be exaggeratedly funny.
Moreover, this book was just so fucking inconsistent. Leigh would claim she did nothing but read, her own teachers actually asked her not to read so much (what?), and she didn't even know what the fuck Lord of the Rings was or even goddamn King Lear. I think the author missed a huge chance here by not making her an unreliable narrator, which I think would've improved the novel tremendously.
This book just made so angry and I hope this review shows how disappointed and indignant I feel about this novel. It could've been a perfectly decent one, definitely forgettable but safely above the "fine" line, but I took many of the issues in it personally and I simply refuse to push aside my feelings for whatever minimal enjoyment I could've derived from this experience. I am pissed, plain and simple, and that's definitely not the feeling I wanted to take from this novel. ...more
We'll Never Be Apart is a fairly standard psychological thriller that would've ranked safely close to the decent line had it not relied almos1.5 stars
We'll Never Be Apart is a fairly standard psychological thriller that would've ranked safely close to the decent line had it not relied almost entirely on a twist that has been over-abused by authors recently, especially this year. I can think of about 4 different books released in 2015 alone with the exact same premise, one that's certainly sensationalist and has its roots deep into overblown and far too often misinformed ideas about psychology, but that's entertaining nonetheless - except when one has been forced to read about it in just about every "edgy" new YA attempt at a psychological thriller.
Aside from the monumental suspension of disbelief needed to overlook all the holes in the plot and setting, this novel also requires extreme patience from the reader as everything is revealed in a very self-indulgent and frustratingly slow pace, all so that we can be left with little else besides a lukewarm feeling of detachment and indifference. This is not an exciting novel nor is it compelling in any way or form, either. For such a short novel, it dragged far too much, almost like it was embedding its nails on the ground to try and prevent the whole thing from moving on. The worst part is that it is not so much the slowness that bothered me, but the lack of reward for my patience. I can handle slow books, and in fact, most people would correctly argue that most of my favorite books are actually very slow paced. But there's a difference between slowly building a complex world or well-developed characters, and just being slow for the sake of delaying the "big reveal" over which the entire point of the novel depends. This book firmly positions itself in the latter category.
Moreover, there's very little substance to the novel, no depth whatsoever. A book that hinges entirely on a psychological theme desperately needs more than some Wikipedia article's worth of depth and profundity. I don't doubt the author has experience dealing with the topic of mental health, but she chose one of the most complex psychological problems for her story and then delivered little besides the hugely overblown and sensationalized aspects of the issue that the media has been promoting for years. That, mixed with a thin thread of a plot, deliberately shallow characterization and flimsy relationships based entirely on superficial conversations and generic character traits, made it really hard to take anything about this novel seriously. Twice in the novel, the main character laments the absence of her roommate and new friend, bemoaning how much she needs her and wishes she were there to help her through the current problems, and twice she's only capable of mentioning two small and generic topics over which they shared similarly small and generic conversations that we are supposed to believe led to a deep and emotional bond. Similarly, we are supposed to believe the bond between her and this new guy, particularly the lengths he's willing to go for her, because they claimed something clicked between them when in fact the whole thing was strained and forced.
The book is not original and it offers no rewards to readers already experienced in the genre - or anyone who has read one or two YA psychological thrillers, really. It is frustratingly predictable and it bothers me when authors pull a later-years M. Night Shyamalan and hope the audience will forgive the painfully slow and uneventful 90% of the work because of that one "twist" that takes place towards the end (which is the very same complaint I had with Twisted Fate). It's not clever and it is not enjoyable. It is simply lazy writing. In spite of all this, the author did a decent job with the atmosphere of the novel overall and writes well enough, so I'll round my rating up to two stars. Besides, the book can be enjoyable, but it depends entirely on how well you predict the twist. If you do it from the first line, like me, maybe it's better for you to move along. ...more
I don't think I've read a book this harrowing, a story that handles so perfectly and unflinchingly the topic of rape, consent and rape cultur4.5 stars
I don't think I've read a book this harrowing, a story that handles so perfectly and unflinchingly the topic of rape, consent and rape culture since All the Rage, and this one goes even deeper than Courtney Summers' brutal account of life after rape because What We Saw focuses on the hell that immediately follows this barbaric act on the victim, when she has to see her life transformed from one second to the next into an open book for all to see and judge. This book is the perfect representation of rape culture, which at this point, most people insist it doesn't exist.
This book is not an easy experience, not an enjoyable read in the slightest. It is brutal, honest and doesn't shy away from throwing at the reader the multiplicity of facets and repercussions that a rape has. A rape is never just a violation of the integrity and autonomy of one's body, is an assault on the mind and the heart, a vile thievery of anyone's dignity as a human being, and it stains everything about that person. I waited so many weeks after reading it to even think about writing a review because of how horrified this book left me. I read it only a few days after finishing a one-week course on feminist law theory focused on Race, Class and Gender where we read The Story of Jane Doe. If you think that what this book portrayed is nothing more than just exaggerated fiction, look up that book and read what that woman had to go through, how she was repeatedly victimized and dehumanized by the very government that's supposed to protect her and every other woman from going through this, how she was consistently blamed for her own brutal rape and how, in the end, nobody cares about these women as anything more than 5 minutes of scandalous media and how, even in today's supposedly advanced society, we still see the rape of women through a misogynistic, objectifying and thoroughly patriarchal gaze. In fact, go to YouTube and check out the comment sections on the music video about campus rape that Lady Gaga launched a couple of days ago. Read through those victim-blaming, sexist, insensible, vitriolic spiels of sub-human viciousness and tell me there is no such thing as rape culture.
What I loved the most about this book is how it chose to tell this story from an outsider's perspective, someone initially reluctant to be involved, to look deeper into things and be forced to come to the realization that the people she knew are not who they are, that things are rarely how most think they are, and most importantly, how the social politics in our society will inspire people to come together to systematically destroy a single woman when she dares to go against a man or a group of them to decry their abuse of her autonomy and dignity. What's more horrifying about this novel is how realistic it is, how damaging gender roles and internalized misogyny have already proven to be in cases like the Steubenville High School rape case and so many others where the victim's have been blamed, harassed and brutalized to the point where many of them had ended up in suicide. All because people refuse to look closer.
But this novel hardly remains focused on the rape culture behind actual rapes and actually goes out of its way to have the characters engage in dialogues and conversations that highlight the careless way with which we objectify and sexualize women, how we perpetuate oppressive and outdated notions about sexual behavior and how they are supposed to diverge according to sex and gender, and how women are conditioned into allowing men to feel entitled to their bodies and to feel vindicated when adopting damaging attitudes and behaviors. Moreover, the novel includes the lyrics of several wildly popular song and even discusses in painstaking detail a very popular movie and Broadway play that are mindlessly promoting the use and abuse of women as nothing beyond blow-up dolls and male entitlement over them.
Was it all a bit ham-handed sometimes? Truth be told, yes. But that matters very little when one considers the near flawless way in which this book delivers its intended message. It is a compelling and deeply engrossing read that lands blow after blow, brutal realization and brutal realization, with an accuracy and impact that will knock the breath out of you, even if you are aware of how realistically portrayed this rape case is in the novel, how seamlessly Hartzler has blended reality and fiction. This book is, in all likelihood, the most important book I've read this year, a book that needs to be read by everybody so that we can finally begin to move together towards a future where this is not allowed, where rape is treated with the same seriousness and severity as every other crime and the victim is never once brutalized by the public with more viciousness than the criminals themselves.
It. Is. Never. The. Victim's. Fault. NEVER. ...more
Dumplin' is an exceedingly difficult book to talk about because, while there's a side of me that's ready to throw parades to celebrate this b3.5 stars
Dumplin' is an exceedingly difficult book to talk about because, while there's a side of me that's ready to throw parades to celebrate this book's social perfection, another side of me is still shrugging her shoulders apologetically with a very contrite look on her face because she feels like she should ask the world's forgiveness for not really loving this book. That's the problem with books that are just "okay" on a personal level, but that are fantastic on an objective way and extremely important because of the message they carry. The same happened to me with The Truth About Alice and even The Last Time We Say Goodbye, both of which ranked barely above decent for me in execution, but are still books I'd recommend to people in a heartbeat because of the importance of the message they were written to convey. Dumplin' now firmly positions itself at the top of my "Why can't I love you?!/What's wrong with me?!" category.
This novel is not exactly what I was expecting. It still is as body-positive as I hoped (and surprisingly sex-positive too!), but it took unexpected turns along the way to the point that I felt sometimes like the novel I started reading and the one that manifested itself after the first 50 pages were not the same. Body image is certainly the core of the novel, but the love-your-body thing and even the Dolly Parton and the beauty pageant parts of the plot, which I thought would be the central aspects of the novel, were relegated to the background a lot more than I expected. They hung on the periphery of the story, always there and guiding the story to a certain extent but rarely the focus of what was going on in most scenes. The novel is a whole lot more focused on Willowdean's relationships with others and day-to-day livings.
I am very pleased with the way some of the relationships were developed in the novel. They were nuanced, complex, flawed and meaningful, particularly those Willowdean had with her mother and her best friend and even those she developed with her new pageant friends (though those felt forced sometimes). But I can't say the same for the romantic relationships in the novel, which are arguably the main focus of the story. The romance here was handled in a very odd way and I am stuck between admiration at its unconventionality and exasperation at, both, the forced inclusion of a love triangle and the way the author decided to wrap up Willowdean's romantic complications. While I greatly admire the author's decision to include a main love interest that's flawed, but ultimately, not shallow in spite of his social standing, I never really felt much chemistry between Willowdean and Bo, and most of the time, the whole thing felt a whole lot more like wish-fulfillment than actual, genuine romance. Similarly, I respected the author's decision to portray Willowdean as a flawed character by the way in which she behaved with Mitch, but whatever respect I have is vastly outweighed by the dislike Willowdean provoked on my through the thoroughly selfish, shallow, corwardly and hypocritical way she dealt with him.
Willowdean is not a perfect character, she sometimes even crosses the line into downright unlikable, and I can understand how bold of a choice that was for an author trying to promote body-positivism and self-love. You want readers to see this message reflected on a character and feel it themselves, which is more easily (and lazily) achieved through a perfectly lovable and charming main character. Willowdean is charming, definitely fierce, but she's far from perfectly lovable. The entire story is about her learning far more than self-love (which she was already in possession of well before the story actually started), and actually has her considering about many other factors of who she is as a person. And she is, most definitely, selfish, self-centered, insensibly stubborn and cowardly. I'd like to say she grew out of all of them by the end of the book, but that's not true. Willowdean learns some things throughout the course of the novel, but she's hardly a much better individual towards the end. Sometimes I couldn't help feeling that, while the novel made a point of Willowdean learning Important Lessons, it sometimes went out of its way to justify her shitty actions or downright refused to address the fact that she had been, in fact, shitty to others. Still, she was a pretty good lead for this type of book.
I deeply enjoyed that, for the most part, no part of this story felt manufactured and forced to jackhammer body-positivism into the reader's mind. Perhaps with the exception of the romance, this book has a pretty believable and realistic story that conveys a message that's easy to accept because of its honesty. I never actually laughed out loud with the book, but I must admit it was a fairly entertaining one. My biggest problem with this novel is probably that it took far too long to get anywhere. I like that it took its time to develop meaningful relationships which are usually so deliberately ignored in other novels, but at certain points it felt too round-about, too willingly stuck in order to halt the progression of things. By the time it decided to go anywhere, my excitement had diminished exponentially.
All in all, Dumplin' is a very special book that deserves to be read. It delivers a very important message with great success and makes for a very entertaining read as well. I'm sad I wasn't able to love it, but this one of those books that I'll definitely recommend for many years to come. ...more
Ruthless is the most stressful, disturbing, never-wracking and visceral experience I've had with any book in a while. I desperately wanted to keep reaRuthless is the most stressful, disturbing, never-wracking and visceral experience I've had with any book in a while. I desperately wanted to keep reading, but at the same time, I stayed away from it for hours at a time because of the powerful impact it had on me. Deeply engrossing, brutal and terrifyingly realistic, Ruthless is a fantastically written story of survival and, simultaneously, a short, fascinating study of both the good and the bad parts of human nature.
When I picked this up, I had no idea this story would be this intense, that it would leave me this stressed and tense and on edge. I expected the typical lukewarm YA thriller, the one with exaggerated and unrealistic odds but still manageable enough for a generic heroine to handle with almost superhuman abilities and unrealistic feats of human strength. Ruthless was nothing like that. In fact, the story actively worked against the main character. With every step and rounded corner, she was mercilessly ambushed by the story, brought down with terrifying brutality. That's what makes this novel so great, because it's all about Ruth as a character. Her tenacity, her strength, her spirit. Adams gave us a magnificent heroine, one that actually deserves to be called a heroine, one the kept fighting, kept struggling and never had anything handed to her by the grace of the story or the author.
What's particularly interesting about Ruth is that, in spite of being one of the strongest heroines I've read about in quite a while, she is nowhere near perfect. She is not unbreakable and definitely she doesn't breeze through this book and the horrible situation she's been placed in. She fights every step of the way with tooth and nails, she never gives up, but she is not left unaffected by this. Her psychological unraveling under the weight of the events that take place in the story is fascinating and extremely well-written. Adams managed to write a book where, the more vulnerable and raw the heroine is, the stronger and tougher she gets. Ruth was so riveting a character and a fascinating heroine to follow. She is flawed and so thoroughly human, she was one of the most compelling aspects of an already compelling story. She was a utterly believable young woman, a realistic heroine all the way through.
Half surviving being hunted, half wilderness survival, Ruthless takes place within the span of two or three days and never once loses it breakneck speed. This is a very graphic and disturbing read, one that doesn't shy away from the horrors of the situation, though it is toned down somewhat. One of my favorite things about the novel is how, using a dual narrative of flashbacks in between the narration of the actual story, it provided a fascinating overview of the two main characters in the novel, the way both of them bordered most of their lives between good and bad choices and how that shaped them into the persons they were today. It laid out the stage beautifully for the situation they found themselves in, the choices they made and the way they acted in it.
There were some religious undertones in the narrative that turned me off a tad from the narration and there was a rather careless use of the word slut at the beginning of the novel that, though I see its need in that moment, still left a sour taste in my mouth, but these are pretty much all the concrete complaints I have of the novel. This book is about human resilience and courage, and it did a fantastic job portraying the good parts of humanity while still allowing for the darkest, more sinister parts of it to show as well, and not only through the antagonist. I particularly loved the climax, the way it all comes down to a close and the impact it had on Ruth. I adored that the novel never tried to make an unrealistic leap from normal teenage girl to invincible avenger out of nowhere, that instead it allowed itself to take a more realistic and strangely powerful turn. I also loved that the novel made a point of showcasing how internalized misogyny can insidiously grow into something truly terrifying and how the careless way in which some people talk about women affects the way women are perceived and treated.
An engaging, well-written, fascinating and disturbing read, Ruthless was more than a pleasant surprise for me. This is a fantastic thriller and survival story, a deeply engrossing study of humanity and probably one of the best YA thrillers I've read in quite a while. ...more
I started this novel with some pretty low expectations. The blurb had led me to believe this was yet another half-assed YA thriller that woul3.5 stars
I started this novel with some pretty low expectations. The blurb had led me to believe this was yet another half-assed YA thriller that would focus entirely on the romance and semi-love triangle and then deliver a predictable and underwhelming conclusion, patting itself on the back in undeserving, smug self-satisfaction for a derivative, mediocre work while I raged all alone in my room. I was wrong. The Devil You Know is a very strange novel. Not in content, but in the way it deals with the story. This is the type of narrative that makes for some cheap movie thrills on a horror blockbuster during October, the type of story that might've easily felt familiar, recycled and uninteresting, but due to Doller's commendable writing skills, it was none of the sort.
The Devil You Know certainly offers the tropes and cliches of the genre, but Doller wove them into the story so masterfully, it made for a very engrossing read, regardless of predictability. Moreover, in a small amount of pages and with the weight of the story actively working against her, we were given an unexpectedly engaging and capable protagonist that I could root for in spite of the amount of stupidity behind her choices. It's a strange thing to see yourself liking someone who makes such monumentally idiotic choices, to feel actual dread instead of self-righteous satisfaction to see her struggle against the terrifying situation she placed herself in. Acadia's characterization was done so well, I never actually held against her the consequences of her choices. She certainly makes terrible decisions, but they never felt forced or uncharacteristic to her character. Every stupid choice she made actually felt natural within the context of her characterization and what we'd seen of her life. It was truly incredible thing and it perfectly shows the skill this author possesses, that I am actually praising a character that deliberately placed herself in this situation without a care.
I was actually pretty stunned as well by the way the romance was handled. Sure, it was insta-love to a certain degree, but I believed the connection between Noah and Acadia and it was all due to the palpable chemistry between them. The intensity of their connection felt natural, never forced. And the fact that they never tried to play it as love, as anything other than intense attraction made their bond feel even realer. Moreover, this novel had some pretty progressive things to say about just almost every important female topic right now. It was refreshing to see Acadia talk so maturely about women's issues, about the effect of the patriarchy on the perception of women and how it inhibits their sexuality and its healthy expression. Sure, I wouldn't go out of my way to declare Acadia a feminist icon, but after all the rampant girl-on-girl hate and slut-shaming I see in YA fiction almost every day, it felt good to see a character, and therefore an author, advocate so strongly for the liberation of female sexuality.
I do think the novel was a bit too forgiving with some of the male characters, particularly one whose behavior bordered on sexual harassment far too often, one Acadia forgave for thinking of him as a brother. But I think Doller handled the two main guys pretty well and gave them believable psychologies that were crucial to making the mystery in the novel realistic or believable enough. She did, however, sort of painted herself into a corner when it came to the mystery and it all ended up being far too predictable, in spite of her best attempts to make the plot twist a big surprise.
This novel is surprisingly engaging and entertaining. It's not perfect, of course, and it is slightly problematic, but it's very well-written, unexpectedly so, and Doller made it all work, tropes, cliches and deliberate character stupidity aside. This was a pretty enjoyable thriller and the fact that I get to say this at the end in spite of my initial underwhelming expectations, makes this novel deserve those rounded up four stars. ...more
This book tried so freaking hard to be the anti-Fault in Our Stars right from the start, and it was so obvious and heavy-handed in the proces1.5 stars
This book tried so freaking hard to be the anti-Fault in Our Stars right from the start, and it was so obvious and heavy-handed in the process, that from the get-go it fell flat for me and I knew from page one that I would not enjoy this novel. I love TFIOS unabashedly, but I'll be the first to admit that it took on airs about being an anti-cancer novel and ended up becoming the very thing it was trying to criticize. In the end, at least for me, it all turned out great because I loved the book, because the book was honest and it had heart. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, on the other hand, set out to be the antithesis of all that, and it admittedly succeeded on being unlike other cancer books and not falling for the cliches and hollow messages of light in darkness and uplifting happiness amidst the sadness, but that ended up robbing the novel of any sort of soul. This book was a mockery, even of itself, and it never stopped feeling like a ham-handed and juvenile parody with the caliber of a Youtube parody video.
This book is not making any profound statement - is not doing anything, really - and that would've been perfectly okay if the novel had actually stood by its words of not trying to mean anything and hadn't tried so freaking hard to be touching in its mock-apathetic way. The novel had no effect on me, not because the novel intended it that way, but because of me, because I wasn't receptive to the novel's ridiculous way of being touching in application while being apathetic on its face. It's immature, it's not clever, and it's certainly not entertaining. I am well aware of what this book set out to do, but it was handled in such an unsubtle manner, with such an appalling lack of nuance, that it was just terrible. The writing was awful and repetitive, and like everything else in this book, it tried too freaking hard, and not once did I find it funny. I never laughed, giggled, guffawed, snorted or even smiled.
This book frustrated me to no end. It put so much effort on conveying how much it wasn't like all those other cancer books, and yet it slacked off on writing, plotting, dialogue and characterization. I can respect that all of this is meant to reflect the kind of person Greg is, because it did and it conveyed him as a character pretty powerfully, but I did not like this person, I did not care for his words or his thoughts, and I thought he was an insufferably vacuous character. And I know that might say a lot more about me than the novel, but this book was simply not for me. I am not the type of reader that would enjoy this novel, that would appreciate what it tried to do, because for me the whole thing was simply obnoxious. ...more
If your answer is YES, the congratulations, you're probably going to adore Everything, Everything. If your answer is NO, then I'd like to recommend you slowly back away from this book and never look back.
A little bit of Magonia in terms of the quirkiness of the characters, the cuteness in the romance and the silliness that united them, and, you know, the whole being so sick you can't ever leave the house thing, but without the fantasy aspect. A whole lot like The Fault in Our Stars in the sense that, yes, this is a book about a highly intelligent girl that's fine with being sick and dying until she meets a guy and then it all changes and suddenly she wants to live life and experience the world. Yes, it is this type of book, and if you're fine with that, then you are definitely going to love Everything, Everything.
It's not that I don't see how that could be problematic. I do, really. I understand the need for books about young girls that focus on something else besides the romance, the need for a guy, and especially, books that stay away from teaching that you will want to start having a better life once a hot guy's around to show you to want it. That doesn't mean, however, than in the great scheme of things books can't be good even if they do have a bit of that message. It's not a complete dichotomy. I can be against a single aspect of a book and still think the product as a whole is pretty great, hence why I bother to write reviews in the first place. Everything, Everything is one of those books, and it is specially so for me because I was never bothered in the slightest that it was a boy who inspired Madeline to do more with her life. Maddie and Olly's relationship felt that authentic to me, their connection that special. If you think that's going to be a problem for you, then I suggest you look elsewhere.
But to think of Everything, Everything as simply another one of those books is a disservice to Maddie as a character. Sure, it is Olly who inspires her to want more from life, but she quickly takes charge of everything. She makes her own choices, faces her challenges all on her own and makes every decision based on what she wants, what she desires. Olly is certainly her aspiration and their relationship is very important to the story and Maddie as a character, but this is her story and you'd be surprised to know that Olly is actually not all that present throughout the novel. Maddie deals in the story with a lot more than just her feelings for this new boy. There's a lot of introspection on her part and she ponders about matters beyond simply romance. Yes, romance and relationships and a gorgeous new boy really are crucial parts of the narrative and pretty much push the story forward, but when I read this novel, for me, it was all about Maddie.
I must be said, though, that there is a particular twist to this story that I can perfectly see as a problem for many readers. I can understand why that would change the entire tone of the novel for others, why that would damage the overall impact of Maddie's story. Believe me, it bothered me too, particularly when I started to suspect the novel would go that way. I even said to myself "no, there's no way the author would do that," and when she did, in fact, go in that direction, I was honestly disappointed. But by then, I was too in love with the honesty, authenticity and loveliness of the novel, so I was more willing to forgive it, because it's pretty evident how that twist towards the end affects the message the novel had been sending from the beginning. It does drastically change the tone the story had had up until that point and gives a novel that had been thriving in honest and painful realism a far too optimistic twist that felt a bit discordant with what I initially expected from the novel and what the story had been until then. It almost made me want to change my mind about my rating, but, looking back, I think too fondly of this novel and now it seems to me like that didn't affect my reading experience as much as I thought it had.
Everything, Everything is a beautifully written, quirky and very heartfelt novel. The story itself might not be all that original in the strictest sense, but it felt refreshingly new, like a breath of fresh air. It was simple but lovely, delivered in a very charming and whimsical way that never compromised the emotional impact of the story. Maddie's voice always felt authentic to me and it took almost no time for me to fall for her and her story. Olly, for his part, was charming and lovely, though perhaps a bit too perfect for me. I did, however, like the relationship between them. It felt sincere to me, a bit too idealistic, but I liked the way it developed and grew. Their attraction was evident since the beginning, but I liked the measured pace Yoon gave to their developing bond. It was very refreshing to see their relationship grow in a purely emotional and intellectual way at first, with almost no physicality involved.
Everything, Everything is very far from perfect. The story is not all that realistic when one thinks about it; there's a lot of wish-fulfillment, unrealistic expectations that are somehow met, willful ignorance on the part of some characters, the successful completion of ridiculous and preposterous plans, some admittedly cliche backgrounds to some of the characters, plus an almost irresponsible use of mental illness. But... There's just something really special about this novel, or at least, it felt that way to me. It was just very easy for me to enjoy this novel, to feel it with every fiber of myself, and that's something that's hard to overlook in spite of all the glaring flaws.
I never thought I'd see the day where I would be defending a contemporary YA romance, but here we are. I did like this novel - a lot. It made me smile, it made me laugh, it made me happy and it made me furious and sad, and if a novel makes you feel that much, then, there's very little my mind can do or say to convince me that I shouldn't like it this much because I couldn't help connecting to this novel in an emotional level. It's problematic, full of flaws and upsetting to a certain point, but, in the end, I simply, genuinely and undeniably liked it....more
Was The Fixer a blatant rip-off of the Scandal tv series?
Do I care?
It's been quite a while since a book had me so completely riveted, so absolutelyWas The Fixer a blatant rip-off of the Scandal tv series?
Do I care?
It's been quite a while since a book had me so completely riveted, so absolutely enthralled, and, once that happens, there's very little that will stop me from really digging that book. The Fixer was very entertaining, suspenseful, and actually managed to surprise me with a couple of twists. I need to stress how important it is to me that a book surprises me. Most thrillers, mysteries and horror stories fall through for me because of how predictable they are. I'm a hard person to surprise, in both reading and real life, so when someone or some book actually manages to sneak up on me, I get hung up on that and I love it.
Now, it would be a disservice to attribute my feelings for this book entirely to how twisty it was, because the truth is that this is a genuinely well written, well plotted and entirely engaging novel. The political intrigue and games, though sometimes a bit preposterous, were absolutely riveting and well carried out throughout the novel. The suspense was handled with finesse, the pace made the pages of this novel fly by, and Barnes filled this novel with very interesting characters.
Tess is a tough, smart and very engaging main character. I liked everything about her, from her attitude to her narrative voice and her actions, and thought her a very competent heroine. She was far too stubborn and impulsive sometimes and completely clueless about several crucial things, but, while that annoys me with other heroines, they all felt very authentic to Tess as a character and instead she came off as a realistic teenager to me. I believed her feelings, her reasoning, and I even understood her temper tantrums and her stubbornness. That's the difference between having a teenager do those things because teens are supposed to act like that or because it's convenient to the plot, and allowing your character to express herself and her feelings in a way that feels natural and authentic. I also enjoyed that the plot made it really clear all throughout the novel that this situation was well over Tess's capacity and her capabilities. It always seems ridiculous to me when we have this big mystery and conspiracy and only teenagers are capable of discovering it and then bringing a solution to it. Tess tries really hard, but I loved that she became aware that she was in over her head on this, that she needed help and that there were some things that were well beyond her reach. It added a layer of authenticity to the story that I really appreciated.
The rest of the characters were fascinating in their own right. I genuinely and legitimately liked every single character or was at least fascinated by them, regardless of their inclinations, and it's not because Barnes made them likable, but because she made them realistic, flawed and human. They had dimensions to them, far beyond what was required of them for the sake of the plot, and I loved that I could understand them, feel the emotion behind their choices and see how every step they took made sense within the context of their characterization. It takes a very impressive talent to make so much of secondary characters in the handful of lines they have within the book.
This book never sacrificed character depth or development for the sake of the plot, never took away the spotlight from the characters themselves in spite of the big proportions of the mystery that the novel focuses on. The same goes vice-versa. The quality of the mystery never suffered because of the focus on the characters and their developing relationships. It was twisty, engaging, surprisingly layered, and kept me on the edge of my seat all throughout the novel. Whenever I thought I had all the answers, The Fixer swept the rug from under me, taking the plot in directions I didn't anticipate and deepening the mystery every time the characters thought they knew where they were going. The novel had multiple subplots going on at the same time and it managed to bring them together seamlessly while still allowing for some threads to be left hanging naturally for some other upcoming sequels. There were a couple of twists in there that were taken right out of Scandal, but Barnes made it all hers and they went perfectly with the novel, so I couldn't even begrudge the novel that.
There's no romance in this novel, for which I am extremely thankful. I think Barnes knew that would've taken a lot from the plot and the characters, and it just goes to show the control she had over her own storytelling, how in tune she was with the story, because I can honestly say she made all the right choices with this one. There was but a hint of possible romance, nothing even outright evident but enough to make me wonder if it could be taken in that direction, and the thing is, I'd love to see how it could develop in further novels, but not in this one, and I'm happy she saw it that way too. Moreover, there was zero girl-on-girl hate, a surprisingly positive portrayal of popular girls, and a very fascinating diversity to how girls, and teenagers as whole, were portrayed in this novel.
Fast paced, riveting and complex, The Fixer is a pretty fantastic political thriller, which I honestly didn't expect at all. When I picked this up, I expected to be mindlessly entertained by some half-assed, ridiculously preposterous plot and some generic teenager characters, but Barnes pretty much blew all of my expectations away. The Fixer is intelligent, nuanced and well-written, more so than pretty much all of the YA thrillers I've read recently. If has a lot more to offer than a simple teen mystery, and it's far more than just a Scandal look-alike. The concept might not have been all that new, but Barnes made it her own and made it great. ...more
Violent Ends is a bold and fascinating project with a very unique perspective. School shootings are always a tricky and very sensitive subjec3.5 stars
Violent Ends is a bold and fascinating project with a very unique perspective. School shootings are always a tricky and very sensitive subject in fiction, and because of the horrifying circumstances of such a situation, there isn’t always much space within these stories to humanize the shooter – aside from the fact that a lot of people wouldn’t want to sympathize in any way or form with someone like that, either. The only other book I’ve ever read that attempted something similar is Hate List, but that one’s more focused on the aftermath from an “accomplice’s” perspective rather than the actual shooter. In any case, what these authors came together to do is pretty unique and admirable, certainly thought-provoking. Months after having read it, I’m still thinking about it.
The format the authors chose for this anthology worked flawlessly with the idea. To provide 17 different points of views with 17 different voices and writing styles was a genius idea that gave dimension to Kirby as the subject study of this anthology and more impact to the story. Technically speaking, the novel is extremely well-made and delivers the intended message to a certain extent.
There are some really extraordinary tales in here; my favorites were History Lessons by Courtney Summers, Holes by Hannah Moskowitz, and the startling raw and disturbing Survival Instincts by Tom Leveen. Kendare Blake’s and Cynthia Leitich Smith’s (something I never thought I’d say) were pretty good too. As a whole, the anthology is generally well-written, but I didn’t like the ways some of these authors decided to approach the focal point of Kirby.
For some reason, the anthology feels disorganized. I shifts back and forth between past and present, and what was initially a pretty interesting way of looking at a character from different point across times turned exasperating at some point, mostly because, in spite of the authors’ best efforts, some of the stories failed to give much insight to Kirby at all, leaving him in the periphery of the tales they were trying to tell. I understand that that was the point of the entire anthology, to look and give layers to a character through the eyes of others, but that didn’t always work out in some of the stories.
Most of the stories in this book handled the subject in a very ham-handed and unsubtle way that screamed the message “he was human too!” at the reader’s face rather than allowing the message to show itself through the story. Others pretty much stepped over the line and became full blown after schools specials with important lessons! thrown in there to add more drama to an already pretty dramatic story. Others simply circled the core of the anthology from strange and extravagant points of view, giving us preposterous characters with ridiculous motivations, most of them stalking or being fascinated by Kirby in a very obvious manner for no other reason than because that was the only way to keep tabs on the central character for the length of a single short story.
No short story in this anthology is bad, but, for a collection with so many amazingly talented authors, I was disappointed with how the majority of them were just okay, whereas a handful only could be labeled as great.
I still think Violent Ends is an anthology that’s very well worth the read. The final product is good in general and the message is there, somewhat bumpy, but there nonetheless. ...more
Is this book ridiculous? Yes. Absolutely preposterous? Definitely. Does that mean it wasn't absolutely entertaining? Nope. You see, this is one of thoIs this book ridiculous? Yes. Absolutely preposterous? Definitely. Does that mean it wasn't absolutely entertaining? Nope. You see, this is one of those books that you roll your eyes at, that make you snort at the sheer absurdity of it all, but it's also one that you just can't stop reading, no matter what. It is compulsively readable, very intriguing and undeniably riveting. I was hooked. So yeah, there were inconsistencies in the story, plot holes, and a deliberate over-stretching of a plot that couldn't possible be stretched any farther, but I had fun reading this novel, as in, legitimate, authentic and thrilling fun. The book is twisty and does all the things an intriguing mystery is supposed to do. I sort of figured the whole thing out about a third into the story, but the book kept me guessing, and that's what this type of book is supposed to do, which is something that most YA mystery/thriller fail horribly at.
I felt like some of the characters could've used a bit more dimension, like the big reveal could've been a bit more polished, the antagonist given a stronger motive, and I could've done with a lot less sexualization of the girl love interest, although I was happy to see that she owned her sexuality with unapologetic confidence, but truth be told, this is not a book that made an impact on me in terms of quality. It was just a thoroughly enjoyable, very engaging read, which was exactly the kind of book I needed to read at the time I picked it up.
Max's voice was believable, realistic and engaging, and I actually liked what the author did with Parvati's characterization, but you have to be prepared to deal with these characters making terrible decisions for the sake of prolonging the plot. Like I said, this book is so unrealistic it actually physically hurts, but all in all, it's a very readable, entertaining book that I had to stop myself from reading in one sitting, and that's, in all honestly, all I wanted out of it. ...more
I kept jumping between 4 and 3 stars with this one because, though the novel lacks finesse in some of the technical aspects of storytelling, this wasI kept jumping between 4 and 3 stars with this one because, though the novel lacks finesse in some of the technical aspects of storytelling, this was a fast-paced, thrilling and very entertaining novel that went deep (at least, it seemed deep for a computer noob like me) into hacking and the cyberworld, or at least, deeper than other YA hacking novels have gone that have left me wanting for more. But towards the end of the novel, I found this effort to be simply alright. It was admittedly entertaining, but there was something missing from the novel, some sort of soul behind it that would make some sort of lingering impact on the reader. The characters never came alive for me, the climax of the novel was somewhat anti-climactic and resolved a bit too easily, and I felt like the story, particularly the conspiracy behind it all, was too convoluted and overreaching for its own good. Ultimately, a fast-paced and thrilling read that, while lacking in depth, delivers enough entertainment to make the experience worthwhile if not lasting. ...more
Tease is a surprisingly nuanced and contemplative novel about bullying and the struggles in the high school social scene that delivers a new3.5 stars
Tease is a surprisingly nuanced and contemplative novel about bullying and the struggles in the high school social scene that delivers a new perspective on the subject that's sufficiently realistic and thought-provoking without crossing the line into after school special or feeling like it's preaching to the reader. Tease is actually a decently written novel that presents a very compelling case through its characters and the careful way it developed the story without passing judgment or taking sides and instead focusing on bringing humanity with all of its complications to all sides of the debate. The effort is certainly commendable and I agree to some extent with Maciel's views, but, while I wouldn't dare to imply that the book feels like an apology for bullies, - because that would be missing the point almost entirely -, there is some degree of rationalization for bullying in this novel that sort of implies that it is not entirely the bullies fault to a point that the punishments are sometimes unfair because some of them do not actually intend to hurt and that some of them are not entirely responsible for their behavior. I love the bravery behind Maciel's message, and like I said, I agree somewhat with it, but every person is responsible for their actions, whether there were good or bad intentions behind it, and that's where I emotionally disconnected from the novel. I am aware that each person is a microcosm of their own, that there are a thousand different factors behind every decision, and that's what I loved about this novel, that Maciel chose to acknowledge that and she did it well, but still, I cannot agree entirely with the message of the novel.
The novel is decently written and it has some passages in particular that were moving, introspective and engaging, but, for the most part, in spite of the intensity of the story, I had a hard time staying hooked in the novel. I'm glad Maciel decided to go with an unlikable protagonist for this story. Sara was a very difficult character to connect with, like or root for, but that made the story feel more authentic and works really well with her development in the story. But still, I didn't exactly care for these characters. Almost all of them were layered and complicated, but personally, I didn't find them fascinating, so it was hard to stay absorbed in the story. Moreover, there were points in the novel that were rather stagnant in development, and towards the later half, the novel started dragging in order to put off the scenes that it had been foreshadowing and building up to for most of the story. There were also some issues with the "teen speak". While I didn't find faults with it for most of the novel, there were parts where the writing tried too hard to sound like a teenager and instead sounded exactly like an adult who watched a couple of teen shows trying to emulate what they'd said there, with came with an abuse of the word "like" and some forced dialogue.
Regardless of my rating, I believe this is a novel that people should read. Kinda like The Truth About Alice, even though the book might be flawed in a technical aspect, the message it carries is way too important and needs to be read. This book gives a very human face to bullying, and instead of making this a conflict of good guys versus bad guys, it reminds us that this is an issue between human beings, a problem that has a root deep within the humanity of the people involved and that can, therefore, be solved by being human. This is a very different, very compelling take on bullying that's brave and achingly human and that Maciel managed to convey beautifully through this novel. It is certainly one I would recommend, specially to YA readers given the genre's infatuation with dividing characters into strict, inflexible and one-dimensional roles of good guys and the bad guys that are bad because they don't like the good guy. I'll certainly be on the lookout for anything else Maciel writes. ...more
The moment this started to sound like a mix between Ten and They All Fall Down, I knew this had NO BUENO written all over it. But I decided to give itThe moment this started to sound like a mix between Ten and They All Fall Down, I knew this had NO BUENO written all over it. But I decided to give it a fighting chance. True, I'd hated the shit out of the two short stories I'd read from these authors, but what the hell? The book was short, kids were dying all over the place, what did I have to lose? Besides several hours of my life I am never getting back, I almost lost my e-reader because that's how hard I wanted to throw it against the wall in frustration with this book.
This rant review might go on for a while, so if you don't want to stick with me all the way to the end, here's the short version: This book really fucking sucks. It's just awful. Like, gouge-your-eyes-out-with-rusty-spoons-and-pour bleach-on-your-ears-in-the-hopes-it'll-get-to-your-brain-and-erase-away-the-terrible-memory-of-having-read-it awful. For those who want to stick around for the long version, I'll throw in some gifs to make the experience a lot livelier.
This book is just like every other YA thriller/mystery about someone hunting down teenagers and killing them in gruesome ways out there, so there must be a set of RULES out there that YA authors shared amongst themselves. Since I am not privy to that particular information, I'll make my own based on what I learned from The Rules.
Rule #1: Insert every single teenage stereotype in there. The more outdated, overplayed and excessive, the better.
The jock with the heart of gold with the secret love for the quiet girl nobody notices? Welcome aboard! How 'bout the mysterious, kinda freaky-looking, weird guy with a vendetta against all the characters? Oh, how about we make the main character the sweet, shy girl nobody acknowledges but who's smarter, kinder, stronger and better than everybody else just 'cuz? The dumb one who gets easily manipulated by everyone, is revered only by how pretty and "easy" she is and goes running at the first sight of trouble? The ambitious social climber willing to step over everyone to get to the top? The gorgeous and ambitious mean girl with a secret who's really not that bad? A group of douche bros who only think about sex and alcohol? Bring them all in. And they are rich and popular and entitled, so of course they are a bunch of horrible people. Oh, but we need some diversity. Here. Have a guy with a Japanese name and a chick with an Indian name and let's cleverly not say anything else about the ethnicity of any other character, especially the crazy one that's in a gang, even though there might be some hints that he's black. It's not racist if we don't say it.
I don't think I've read about a more uninspired and cliched group of characters since Welcome to the Dark House. Not only that, they were also boring as fuck. Not a single one was in the slightest even remotely interesting. The lack of development or believable growth, the absence of layers to their personalities and the way they were used to check every single box in the stereotype checklist made them impossible to like, much less be engaging in the slightest. I care not a single fuck about any of them, not enough to even bat an eyelash when they were killed. It's a murder mystery! I need to care that someone's killing these kids, even if I don't care for the teens themselves. And yet...
Rule #2: To distract from how stereotyped and unoriginal your characters are, give them some stupid little trait. Don't even think about it. It doesn't even have to make sense. Just throw it in there. It's not like they'll notice. It's a YA book after all.
The psycho ex-boyfriend that's on a gang? Yeah, he has a black chihuahua that he adores and take with him everywhere. See how creative this character is? If he were a normal psycho ex-boyfriend who's on a gang, he would have a more menacing dog, like a Bulldog or a Rottweiler, not a freaking chihuahua! Did I just blow your mind or what?
And the shy girl, you see, she can be a leader and has a really great mind for mystery. You know how? She likes to play Clue. That's right: the mystery authority in this novel got her title by playing Clue with her 8 year old brother. Seriously, hold on to your seats because the character depth here will blow you right out into outer-space.
Rule #3: Make these characters as melodramatic, conniving and suspicious as possible. The more outrageous the better. Give them some really over dramatic rules to live by. Remember, they are teenagers. They need some really hardcore rules to live by. There are social steps to climb, after all. Really important life goals right there. Oh, and start every single chapter with one of those rules. They don't need to make sense or relate to what's going to happen next. Trust me. I write good.
We just don't understand. These kids have been so hardened by life's burdens. Robin has loved Kyle for so long, but she's the coach's daughter and that's against the rules. Romeo and Juliet had it easy compared to them. Oh, and Beth, poor Beth. She had to live outside of the popular group for years. For years, I tell you! She can't trust anyone or all she's worked for will crumble before her. She would not be invited to parties anymore! Think of the parties!
The way this bunch of little shits talk, you'd think they'd gone through the biggest hardships in the history of humanity. Who the fuck has an extremely detailed set of rules to live by? Teenagers at that. And if they do, why are they all based on the one characteristic that's supposed to define them, like the one dimensional chalk outlines that they are? Robin's kind, so all of her rules are about being sweet and kind to everyone. Kyle's all about respecting rules. Larson's a manwhore, so they are all about cheating whenever he can. Beth wants to be popular, so they are all about using people and trusting no one. August has some serious Lannister feelings going on for his dead sister, so they are all about cheesy notions of revenge. Hiro plays the drums, so here's an idea, let's make them all analogies about playing the drums!
Rules #4: Randomly change from POV to POV for no reason at all. The perspective doesn't matter. Just jump back and forth, but for the sake of cohesiveness, keep the same unemotional and sterile and disjointed narrative voice. Nobody needs to care about these stereotypes kids, I mean, they are only going to be murdered, after all.
You have like 14 different characters, might as well use them to see half a page from their perspective, you don't even need a reason. The technique was useful for when one of them was in particular danger at that point, and it was admittedly used in several occasions in the novel, but there were plenty of other times where the narration would shift from one POV to the other for no particular reason, and the interesting thing here is that it almost made no different at all. The writing in this novel feels particularly disjointed because the first half of the novel unleashes this torrent of info dumps about the characters, but by the time the second half comes, the narration, all throughout and regardless of the POV it was told from, sounded dry, sterile and stiff. That actively worked against the characters and effectively erased any interest I might've had in them and their role in the novel. The writing was awkward sometimes, riddled with some really odd word choices and sentence arrangements that made the reading experience rather bumpy and uncomfortable. It was not unreadable, but I didn't like the writing and I thought it added nothing to the characters or the atmosphere.
Rule #5: Whenever someone is introduced, shit exposition and info dumps all over the page. Tell everything. Reveal everything you have from the get go. This is a mystery. Who needs mysterious characters with mysterious motivations and pasts, right? Oh, and make those internal monologues as vacuous and cliched as possible, you hear me? Before I forget, also put foreshadowing everywhere. Have every single character utter some line about feeling like someone's going to die tonight or some other bullshit about death being in the air. Instant tension. You're welcome.
Every couple of chapters, even before the horror started, someone would look into the distance and drop some eerie line about feeling like something horrible was going to happen or that someone was going to die. It wasn't enough that whenever one of these assholes was introduced we learned their entire life stories in a matter of seconds along with their particular ambition (hint: popularity!) and a very one-dimensional look at their one trait, delivered with all the grace and subtlety of an elephant on roller-skates, but they would also end their introductions with some cheesy exclamation of "having a bad feeling about this" or feeling like the night would end badly. Every. Single. One. Of. Them. This is the most blatant abuse of foreshadowing I've seen in a while, going heads to heads with Twisted Fate, a book that introduced about 8 POVs into the story to literally just talk about how awful it was that the three main characters never saw coming the horrible, horrible things coming for them. Extreme use of foreshadowing tension does not make. And I know someone's going to fucking die. It's right there in the book's stupid description.
Rule #6: Is the plot stuck? Just have every character hear one his or her companions screaming in horror in the distance. It doesn't matter that you've used that 50 times already. Trust me, it never gets old. Just let them scream in horror at each other. Or better yet, have a chick in hysterics just randomly run away in terror from the group and safety whenever there's a lull in the conversation.
Every time they split up, which was about a dozen times per chapter, someone would hear screams into the distance. I get it, someone's murdering teenagers, but every single character had a moment when they would hear one of his or her companions screaming in horror in the distance and the trick got old really quickly. It was basically a volley of terrified screams aimed at me every couple of pages. If it was meant to chill me or set me on edge, it failed epically, as things are bound to do when you do them about 500 times in the span of less than 300 pages.
And right before someone screamed in terror, some idiot would just run away in terror, sometimes even randomly and right in the middle of a conversation. And by someone, I mean hysterical women, of course. Who else. Quite frankly, all these morons deserved to die.
Rule #7: The action slowing down? Need to get your characters from point A to point B? Scooby-Doo, my friend. Just steal the basic plot from every Scooby-Doo episode ever.
Oh, no! Someone's missing! You know what that means?
That has worked terribly the last couple of times and has only helped the murderer to kill us even faster. Should we change tactics? Nope.
And then, exactly like Scooby-Doo, a chase would follow the splitting up almost immediately. And predictably. Over and over and over and over again.
Rule #8: Your story could use a bit more tension. Throw wild animals in there. Don't look at me like that. It doesn't need to make sense. Just one more thing hunting down these kids. Pfft, of course a deranged murderer is not enough. What kind of a writer are you? Vicious. Hungry. Wild animal. Go.
I shit you not. A mountain lion. Just randomly strolling around. For no reason whatsoever. I don't even know what the fuck to say about this. They were in front of the ocean, in a very secluded area and nowhere did it say that they were close to some woods or something that would give an inkling as to why a fucking mountain lion decided to crash their murder party. Seriously. A motherfucking mountain lion.
Rule #9: You need some romance in there, some passion. Okay, pick the main girl, obviously, and that guy. Who cares if they'd barely interacted before this? Make it so they are so hot for each other, they can barely keep their hands off each other even if their friends are getting killed one by one. No time like the present for a good make-out session.
You know teenage passion; it comes at the strangest of times and what can you do about it? Does it really matter if all of your friends are dying horribly around you? C'mon. You are the shy girl, he's the school king. This needs to happen now. Blood and guts all over the wall and all. Urges are urges. He's so impossible to resist, with his controlling nature and manipulation, oh, and the way he manhandles you and orders you around to get you to do what he wants. So, so sexy. Wait, is it hot in here or is it me?
Rule #10: Hmmm. It seems like you are running out of possible culprits. Here's what you can do. Pick the most unlikely of characters. Give them the shittiest, most nonsensical backstory you can think of and then chalk it all up to insanity, because, you know, "crazy" is the magic word to smooth away all plot holes.
I just love how most YA author think someone being "crazy" can make up for every single inconsistency, lack of logic or sense or just flat out stupidity in their damn plot twist. Really, not insulting or misinformed or lazy in the slightest. Insanity is YA's favorite Deux Ex Machina, and who cares about your twist making sense or fitting into the story, it's all about the shock value of the twist. Perfect example: the murderer in this novel. Insanity should not be the scapegoat of every single fucking twist in a novel, especially when you base it on a thoroughly absurd and ridiculous psychological state.
Bonus Rule: Some things make no sense, right? Forget about them. Just quickly look away from them, kill some other shitty kids and they'll soon forget all about it.
I'm supposed to forgive how absolutely ridiculous everything in this novel was because I'm supposed to be only entertained by the violence and the mystery of the story. I'm supposed to excuse the vapidity of the characters, the lack of logic in the story and the ginormous plot holes throughout because it's just a short, silly book that's there just to entertain. Fuck that. I see no reason to care for a story that didn't matter enough to whoever put it out there to make sure that the product had some integrity to it, that it offered quality in terms of writing and plotting, at the very least. And I just learned this might be a series.