My experiences with Feed can be described like this:
People told me to read it. They gushed about M.T Anderson's writing and pointed out that he won a...moreMy experiences with Feed can be described like this:
People told me to read it. They gushed about M.T Anderson's writing and pointed out that he won a Printz Honor and showed me funny snippets on his website and blog, pointed me towards gushing reviews of the titles from critical sources, simply told me that I had to read this book, had to.
I ignored them. I read many other (great) books. Then I was at the library and spotted Feed in the shelves. The copy looked well worn and well used. I read the back, saw those many critical sources and read the interview with the author at the back, which indeed did show his humor. I took the book home.
I brought the book to school to read, as I often finish books during study halls or assigned reading times. I finished the book in a day during study hall.
And I adored it.
Now, I must admit, I am almost ashamed I didn't read it. Is Feed perfect? No, it isn't. But is it chilling and amazing how much of the future Anderson predicted? (Read this article and you'll see how good he predicted different technologies and concepts in the novel.) Heck, yes. And is Feed an impressive book? Yes times a million.
Feed in the essence, is a dystopia though it preceded the influx of dystopian titles by many years. (And this book really shows what a good dystopia can be, and what impressive world building can do.) Titus and his friends are wild, crazy, and adventurous, and always up to a trip to the moon (a vacation hotspot). They interact via feeds, social networking tools in their brain that allow them to communicate with one another, buy things, and get news. While on the moon, their feeds get hacked and malfuctioned. And Titus meets a girl -- Violet, who is willing to resist the feed, to not buy into the social culture that their society has created. Their feeds get fixed, and soon enough they are back to Earth and continuing on their wild, crazy lifestyles. Titus and Violet begin to fall in love, but as Violet resists more and more, her life falls into danger.
The plot sounds exceedingly simple. We have all seen this before -- people resisting and falling in love -- in many different contexts. What really raises the plot above, what makes the book into something that can be critically acclaimed and well-loved, is the satire. The book is a satire. And it is hilarious. Anderson makes fun of our society, of how we act and how we believe and what we are interested in. The satire is really awesome.
But besides this satire, which made me laugh in more than one place, there are the questions. In many critical reviews in professional review journals, the reviewer will state something along the lines of "the author raises many questions on love, life, and religion" (substitute the descriptors of the questions being raised to suit your fancy). Anderson raises many questions, about our media culture and our technology and our over saturated world, how we act and believe and what we think is important. These questions make the book very thoughtprovoking. It took me a while to read the book, and it is fairly short, because of all the questions. I had to stop, think and ponder. The questions make the book fascinating. They make you think and wonder and really think about the media culture that is in our world today.
This combination -- a mixture of satire and questions -- really elevates Feed up to something that is amazing and deserves the many accolades it has recieved.
If I have a qualm on the plot, even with how wonderful and creative it is, my qualm is that I knew what would happen. I predicted the end of the book early on. And I was right. But I didn't mind turning through 300 pages or so just to get to an ending that I had already guessed, because the questions and the satire made me engaged. I wanted to get to the end so I could keep reading the hilarious jokes and the many raised questions.
The characters are impressive -- Titus is strong and smart and his friends -- who really can be counted as one person (and I think that's how they were intended to be) make sense as teenagers in the future. Violet was my favorite, smart and sweet and willing to resist. I worried that she would be an archetype, nothing more than a "rebeling girl", but she was truly an impressive character and what happened to her broke my heart.
Anderson's writing is strong and easy to read, injecting the right amount of humor and seriousness needed for the book. He's a strong writer and I can see why everyone loves his books. I for one am very interested in reading his other books -- I'd tried reading them before and given up. But enjoying this book has made me want to read the rest of his books.
Frankly, I loved this book, and if you are like me and have been holding off on Feed, I have two words for you: READ IT!
This review has to start with, erm, a bit of a warning.
My name is Paige.
This seems irrelevant at first — it’s simply my name, what my parents decided...moreThis review has to start with, erm, a bit of a warning.
My name is Paige.
This seems irrelevant at first — it’s simply my name, what my parents decided to call me — until you read the book blurb. The main character’s name is…..Paige. Now, first, I have to say I like this — there are hardly ever any main characters named Paige and Paiges in books (when they show up, which is rare) are usually mean, nasty girls.
But this Paige is not!
But she starts out a mean girl.
So right away, I had my assumptions on this book, because obviously SHE HAS MY NAME, and that is COOL and so obviously I should like her, because you know, Paiges gotta stick together!
But even past that first assumption, I really, really enjoyed this book.
At a first, cursory glance, it seems to be a simple, stereotypical “mean girls” story, one that is constantly in the media, something that I’ve remarked on before. But in reality, it is so much more, deeper and richer. Paige knows that what she did was wrong. She’s ashamed of herself. She wishes that she could turn the clock back. And as people point out her brattiness — like, who doesn’t want to go to Paris — she starts to change.
And then there’s the other person, the boy. Ethan, the cute boy who looks like a freshman. He’s really a senior, though, and he really has an attraction for Paige. They have similar characteristics, and he knows he can’t have her. Paige has a boyfriend. But he doesn’t chase her, try to find her or make her love him. And when it comes time for his confession of love, he’s afraid.
And there are the other characters — Miranda, who’s a “rebel teen” but really just wants to get away from her mother; Shanti, who is Indian but has a boyfriend while being studious; Nikki, who is more than she seems — and many more.
I really liked how the characters were different; based on cliches, formed around them, but then changed into something different, something more.
I really love all the things explored through the story. A lot of topics get covered, and it never seems like too much or overbearing.
One of these topics is homosexuality. The characters remark on it many times — they call their friends “gay” and “homo” and the assortment of other crude names given to GLBTQ people. But as the story continues, it starts to become an issue, a problem, and the characters remark on their real standings — do they want gays to be allowed to marry? How do they feel about it? I loved this because it is so in the “right now” — homosexuality and GLBTQ rights are all over the news. But I also love that the author wasn’t afraid to let her characters have stances. Some of them are against gay marriage, and they make their points for why they are against it. Some of the characters are for it, and they too explain their reasons. And then there are the ones in the gray area, neutral and confused. In their hometown, homosexuality isn’t really discussed. I loved this because the author didn’t simply say “gays and lesbians deserve rights” (though there is a positive GLBTQ standing throughout the book, and gay and lesbian people are regarded as deserving rights). It was a really interesting arc to explore.
I also loved the element of writing, the wonder of being unsure if you should write, what the heck you should actually write, if you want to be a writer or a poet or someone who works with writing. This was a great way to see Paige’s true colors, her love for writing and quiet spots.
Backes’ writing is strong too. The voice is marvelous; it seems like Paige’s voice is dripping off the page. She acts and sounds like a real teenager, and she’s a normal kid, with insecurities. The voice really just ads another element to this already impressive book.
I read this book on Netgalley, thanks to the generosity of Candelwick Press, but I will most certainly be buying a copy for my own bookshelf.
Above all, I loved this book.
I received this book as an advanced readers’ copy from Candlewick Press. Under the FTC guidelines I did not receive any monetary amount or other bribe in return for a copy of this book.(less)
In some advertisements you see and hear that it is “____ for people who don’t like _____”. For instance, when Stephenie Meyer’s The Host first came ou...moreIn some advertisements you see and hear that it is “____ for people who don’t like _____”. For instance, when Stephenie Meyer’s The Host first came out, Little, Brown, her publisher, chose to promote the novel as “science fiction for people who don’t like science fiction.”
I’d say that Silver Phoenix could also be described this way, as “fantasy for people who don’t like fantasy”. It’s built upon genre tropes but starts to triumph and become more of an engaging fantasy, providing enough details for fantasy lovers and enough explanations for those who tend to shy away from the genre.
Ai Ling is going on a quest. After she is almost forced to marry an old man after her father disappears, she decides to go on a quest to save her father and get away from the arranged marriage. She meets up with Chen Yong, who is also on a quest, and his brother Li Rong. Ai Ling soon discovers that she can enter people’s souls, using a necklace that her father gifted her. They must find her father and save the kingdom from an evil dictator.
The crux of the plot is built on a formulaic plot. The first few chapters seemed to almost be a hodgepodge of fantasy cliches: arranged marriage, missing father, quest, secret power. I found the first few chapters fairly boring and mundane, but the plot seemed to pick up once Ai Ling neared found Chen Yong and they started to journey together.
One thing that I disliked about the plot was how sometimes things seemed too quick. Ai Ling would reach somewhere, have to fight a battle, and then they would move on. These chapters would seem to move so fast that I barely understood what was going on without rereading. I understood that Pon wanted to have an action-packed plot, but at times the plot seemed too fast.
Also, the main death of the story — a crucial point — seemed barely dwelled upon. This death greatly impacted the story, and the death and funeral were taken care of in a couple of chapters. The remaining characters would also remark upon the death at times, but as they had grown to spend so much time with this character (and the readers had, too) it seemed like they would spend more time dwelling upon the death.
Otherwise, however, the plot was rich and interesting. The descriptions of food were very intriguing and it made me grateful that I ate lunch while reading this novel. The historical aspects were also done well, without info-dumping of any kind, and added an extra layer to the novel. The book, like I said, would be a good read for both fantasy and non-fantasy lovers, and I can see it having wide appeal. (I also found it funny, that in the “Afterwords” section of the paperback edition, Pon remarks that many readers have sent her angry letters saying that they got extremely hungry while reading the novel.)
The characters I honestly never felt a real attachment towards.I think it was because the novel was more focused on the action aspects then characterization, Ai Ling was a good character, with a goal — save her father — and an interesting personality, but I felt detached from her. I felt like we didn’t learn much about Chen Yong either, and he ws more an archetype — boy searching for his family — than a character. Likewise Li Rong’s jokes were funny, but several people pointed out to me that it seems inappropriate for the time period and that he probably wouldn’t be cracking such crude jokes in, erm, ancient China (or Japan, I’m not sure).
Pon’s writing was strong but it seemed unnecessary to use third person. The only person we ever get inside the head of is Ai Ling, and I think the plot might have been better in a first-person POV.
Above all, though, Silver Phoenix was a good read and i may have to track down the sequel.
That was the first thing I thought after finishing the book. This book had been recommended all over the moon by my Goodreads friends. I...more Holy crap.
That was the first thing I thought after finishing the book. This book had been recommended all over the moon by my Goodreads friends. I had been eager to read it. It sounded impressive and it was published by Carolholda Lab (a publisher that always seems to have unique and interesting stories).
I got Ultraviolet at the library and started to read. And frankly, I didn't expect to love the book as much as I did. But I did enjoy the book -- no, frankly, I adored it.
I don't think I've ever read a book similar to this, so genre-bending and making you think. This is not an easy book to read, and I knew that the genres changed midway and I was still surprised.
Alison considers herself a murderer. She's convinced that she murdered her archnemisis Tori, who has gone missing. She is sent to a pysch ward after Tori goes missing and finds herself lost and confused and simply wanting to know whether she is the true murderer. Then a new doctor, Faraday, arrives and begins to teach her about her synesthesia. The two connect and form a close bond -- and that's all I can say without spoiling majorly .
I loved the plot for the first half. It was interesting and fresh and I related to Alison. She was a relatable character, and I hated her mother and the doctors and I wanted her to be alright. Faraday was interesting and I loved seeing how his perspective changed Alison's beliefs so much.
And then I reached the second half.
And then I adored the plot. Everything changed in a matter of chapters, a matter of words. The reader is catapulted from one world and thrust into another. The reader is trusted to keep up, to understand what has happened. This genre-bending....is amazing. I rarely see anything like this in YA, seeing something start as something and change into another. I am not going to spoil what the big reveal is, however I will say that it was impressive and the perfect counterpoint to the realistic world that Alison inhabits for the first half.
I loved that Anderson trusted her readers enough, trusted that we could keep up and understand the plot. She raises fascinating questions and comments and really makes you think; she really trusts her readers to understand what is going on.
The characters are impressive -- I related to Alison, as I said, and Faraday's character was intriguing and impressive (as well as being hilarious). I related also to the other teens in the pysch ward, and I loved how being in the ward gave Alison different perspectives on her fellow immates and on life. I really enjoyed reading, personally, about Kirk and Micheline and seeing how their lives changed so much throughout the book.
Anderson's writing is impressive, perfect for straddling between two genres -- fluid and interesting. The writing works perfectly for how the plot goes, and the writing is easy to read.
I loved this book, and I am dying to read the sequel.
To end this review, I will simply restate what I said at the beginning.
(This review is for the entire Ruby Oliver series)
At first glance, the Ruby Oliver series seems to be just another chick-lit series. The premise -...more(This review is for the entire Ruby Oliver series)
At first glance, the Ruby Oliver series seems to be just another chick-lit series. The premise -- a girl tries to understand relationships with a number of boys and understand herself -- seems silly and predictable. And the covers (both for the paperbacks and hardcovers) scream "girl"; the hardcovers show cute, cartoony images of animals and figures and the paperbacks show a brown-haired girl in different poses. One would expect this series to be fruitless and a quick, fun read.
And while it might be easy to disregard this series, cast it off as yet another boring and predictable chick-lit series, there is so much more depth to these books. Ruby confronts real questions about her sexuality, romance, and what it means to be a woman. She talks to a therapist (dubbed Dr. Z) to help with panic attacks and the two of them also have important, deeper conversations. The boys have depth. too, with personalities that Lockhart cleverly exposes over the course of the books, and they aren't simple stereotypes. Her parents are constantly engaged in a power struggle that neither of them admits to, and Ruby's strained relationship with her friends, and her attempts to make and cultivate new friends, also brings depth beyond the romance.
And the books are funny! Ruby's come up with plenty of terms, like "ag", "Reginald", and "chunder". She explains these words and other things (like her father's obsession with classic rock) in footnotes peppered throughout the book and the series. The books made me laugh aloud many times, and the humor adds an extra level to the reading experience.
This would not be a true review of the series if I did not mention, in some way, the boys, the ones that are pivotal to the story and Ruby understanding the many nuances of having boyfriends and "boy friends". There are quite a few main love interests (4): Jackson, Gideon, Noel, and Hutch. I will say that right away I had a personal favorite and it seems that Lockhart also agreed with my personal favorite choice as being a good boyfriend for Ruby. What I really love about the boys is they all show Ruby different aspects of being a boyfriend and show her the many highs and lows of dating. The boys are hilarious as well, and I loved Noel and Ruby's many "quests". In terms of whom Ruby ends up with in the end, the person she chooses may be predictable but the ending is very sweet and I (personally) thought that she-and-boyfriend would be a great couple.
I also love the friendship aspect, with Ruby and her friends creating The Boy Book and later Ruby creating her own journal (dubbed The Girl Book). These books are just as much about friendship as they are about romance, as Ruby navigates her friendships and decides who she really cares for and really wants to be her "girl friend" as people tease and harass her. She really comes into her own on friendship through the series, redefining her ideas of friendship.
And Ruby. Oh, Roo. She's funny and kind and sweet but very self-deprececating and self-loathing. She's a relatable main character, though, and the situations she finds herself in are relatable and realistic. Plus, her humor is awesome! I really also liked seeing how much Roo grows over the series as she develops new ideas about sexuality, boys, and romance. She's a very strong heroine and probably one of my new favorite heroines.
And finally I must discuss E. Lockhart's writing. Her writing is humorous (a perfect fit for her main character), succinct, and very easy to read. Her writing style works perfectly for the type of book that she was attempting to write.
This review is mainly one long gush, but overall I'd like to say something: these books are a lot more than they seem, and I would recommend reading the entire series. Ruby's story may seem like a frothy boy-adventure series but it's really a fascinating story with friendship, romance, and many great questions (not to mention the humor). So if you've been avoiding this series due to the girly covers, marketing copy, or it just didn't seem to "be your thing" then check Ruby out!
When I finish reading some books, I'm in awe. I'm in awe of the author's writing, of their characters, their plot, the entire book. And I close the bo...moreWhen I finish reading some books, I'm in awe. I'm in awe of the author's writing, of their characters, their plot, the entire book. And I close the book thinking This book was brilliant.
Gone, Gone, Gone is brilliant, too. But it shares its brilliance in a quiet way.
Throughout the entire novel, I was loving the book. I liked the characters and the plot and the setting and everything about it, and I knew for sure that I would give it at least four stars.
But then I got to the end. The ending is a hard hitter. It's beautiful and peaceful and so, so perfect. And it was at the ending that this book showed me its brilliance.
Gone, Gone, Gone takes place in 2002, in Washington D.C, around the time of the Beltway Sniper shootings. Craig and Lio are two high school boys living in the same town. They've formed sort of a strange, uneasy friendship, but their friendship becomes even more conflicted when Lio kisses Craig. As the sniper shootings continue and more and more people are killed and the atmosphere of panic continues, the boys must understand their uneasy romance.
I think Moskowitz best explained the plot when she said this: "[The book] is a love story. It is so f*ucking a love story." There isn't much plot to the story. This another one of those books that is all about the characters. But there is a plot. It's one of those quietly brilliant plots, and it's an amazing love story. The entire time I wanted Craig and Lio to fall in love with each other, to get together. The plot quietly takes them through romance, through twists and turns that are amazingly realistic. It's a brilliant love story. And really, that's all I can say about the plot of this book. It was a brilliant love story.
I do have one side note on the plot: I liked how Moskowitz explained enough information about the sniper shootings. It was enough for people who had no idea about the shootings and a good refresher for people who already knew about the shootings or lived through them themselves.
The characters....this book is all about the characters. Craig and Lio were both fully formed characters with their own flaws and problems, but with their own personalities and strengths. They were both very funny, too. Their voices were distinct and sounded like boys (Moskowitz certainly can write boys) and they were just....amazing. That's all I can say about them. They were perfect for the story and lovely and amazing. All of the characters, not just Craig and Lio, were amazing and impressive and very well rounded. While the plot may not have been heavy, the characters were packed with enough heaviness and strengths and beauty to completely make up for it -- and enhance the lovely love story.
Moskowitz's writing is stripped down. She writes what needs to be said, no extra words, no frills. It's realistic and easy to read. The writing is beautiful in its own way too; not obvious from the beginning but it, too, shows its quiet beauty eventually.
I recieved this book as an advanced readers' copy, thanks to Galley Grab, but I sure as heck will be buying myself a copy. I'll stick it on my bookshelf right in the center. And every time I see it I know I'll smile. I'm smiling wide just writing this review.
Gone, Gone, Gone is a must-read for anyone who loves romance and contemporary fiction. It's really a must read for everyone, really.