This review is long over due. I read this book at the end of December and never got around to reviewing with the bustle of the holidays. Of course, itThis review is long over due. I read this book at the end of December and never got around to reviewing with the bustle of the holidays. Of course, it's only when I need to write a review that I remember that I still need to review Dark Inside. (I try to post a review about twice a week and so far my blog has been desolate and empty this week.)
I have talked to the author of this book before and I was interested to read it, and I found it to be an interesting read if one that didn't answer many questions.
The opening scenes are one that you might find in a classic science fiction movie: the Apocalypse is here. Gigantic tornadoes sweep the nation, people get killed in the brink of an eye, the hospitals are overcrowded and people swarm the streets simply looking for food and shelter and trying to avoid the deadly creatures. A group of teens work together to help each other and try to survive.
Now, in the sense, that's something I might find at the movie theater. And there are other books (and movies) on Apocalypses. Sometimes these books that seem ripped from movies seem better fit to remain on the screen, and others (like Divergent ) are a nice popcorn read. I wasn't sure which way Dark Inside would fall. In the end, it seemed to be a nice popcorn read with a good deal of substance.
The plot was interesting, and of course, adventurous. The scenes of horror were described nicely and as well as terrifying me. (Jeyn definitely knows how to write horror.) I did feel like I didn't know much about the Baggers, and so many questions were left unanswered. I know that this is the first book in the series, but at the end I was left fairly bewildered.
The characters-- there are a LOT. Jeyn chose four teens to write third person viewpoints from (Aries, Clementine, Mason, Michael) but the teens meet plenty of other people along the way, some that they join with, others that they betray, some that betray them. It was hard to keep track of all the characters at times, and they would switch back and forth between "rescue groups" so often I got confused. But all the narration was very realistic and sounded how real teenagers speak, and I related to all of the characters and their predicaments.
As for the writing, Jeyn is a very gifted writer. She wrote third person extremely well and made each character defined. Her writing was very fluid, and scary. As mentioned before she definitely can write horror. This book isn't really the paranormal/sci-fi hybrid one might make it out to be as much as a scary, horror-filled novel. She's a good writer to watch and I'll read the sequel.
If you like horror, sci fi, or you just want to be scared, this is a good book and a strong start to the series. ...more
Pretty Crooked was the second ARC I recieved. I love mysteries and retellings, but was less eager to read this one. I'm not quite sure why, and I thinPretty Crooked was the second ARC I recieved. I love mysteries and retellings, but was less eager to read this one. I'm not quite sure why, and I think after reading that there was one reason. I don't really like romance, and the paragraph about Aidan threw me off. The romance aspect wasn't the greatest, and I had some nitpicks, but Pretty Crooked was pretty cute (haha, bad pun).
The basic story reads like a Cinderella story: Willa's struggling artist mother's paintings sell for a large sum of money, and Willa and her mother move to Paradise Valley, Ariz. so that Willa can attend the posh Valley Prep (nicknamed VP) high school. Right away, Willa attracts the attention of the Glitterati, the most popular girls in school. Aidan Murphy, Mr. Hottie Pants, also finds some interest in her.
So yes. The story is cliche in some aspects. And to be truthful, I'd regard this more as MG than YA. It's marketed as YA, but I think a lot of the aspects would work better with younger readers. The only true YA aspect is the high school; everything else seems like it would be more MG, and some of the aspects (BFFs who shop a lot, fancy school) are used more in MG to me.
Onto the characters. Willa's character is bubbly, cute, funny, and smart. She's nice, but a little naive. (Her mom specifically mentions that Willa is attending VP to get into a good college, a fact that Willa doesn't realize until later.) Willa is a sweet character, with enough development and backstory to be realistic. She could be annoying sometimes -- hello? Dump your popular girl friends? Duh. But overall she was sweet, but a tad naive.
Cherise was the best of the mean girls. She actually seemed realistic, annoyed with her friends often and disliking the gossip blog that they ran. She constantly was trying to get the girls to stop their petty ways, and had a great background, dreaming of becoming a doctor like her parents. Sometimes she was more interesting/realistic than Willa, and more likable. Sometimes I also wished the story was in her POV; she seemed more likely to do the "Robin Hood" thing than Willa. Willa had known the girls for such a short time before BAM! the idea appeared; Cherise had known them longer and I think that it would have been more realistic for her to go Robin Hood on them (especially with her constant frusturation over Kelly and Nikki's antics).
Kelly and Nikki....ugh. They were basically every element of popular mean girls mixed together. Rich, loved by everyone, cruel, taunting everyone they meet, and (unsurprisingly) doing cruel things to scholarship girls. They had almost no dimension, just the classic rich and mean girls, and no backstory. The story ends on a cliffhanger, so I assume they'll be more developed in the sequel....I hope. They were my least favorite characters, and their big surprise (the fact that they taunted the scholarship girls online) was predictable and lame. They had almost no difference as characters, not distinguishable as characters in any way. They were just the same walking cliches.
The scholarship girls I liked. Mary, Alicia, and Savannah were good. They broke down usual "scholarship" girl cliches, and had understandable pasts. (Savannah's father was out of a job; Alicia's mother was pregnant and searching for a job; and Mary's father couldn't make enough money to support his family.) They also had understandable emotions, surprised but not greedy when they recieved their items, and angry sometimes over their disappointing lives. They also responded well to their teasing, after being called "Busteds" and racist names, responding nicely but still with anger.
The online bullying was a huge aspect. I appluad Ludwig for bringing that in -- it was a very interesting examination of that, which is huge now. The blog was realistic: a gossip blog where people posted awful pictures and posts anyonomusly, just like anyone can do now on popular gossip blogs or trash websites. But there was another issue I had: the name-dropping. Gosh, they name dropped everywhere. It would be fine if it was just clothes, but nope it was everywhere. Look at that Wii and that Pizza John's pizza, that show about Martha Stewart and the Barefoot Contessa is amazing, and this schoool is for the future Steve Jobs and I want the new iPhone and god, why can't I have that new iPad?
It. Was. Annoying. Ludwig, I think was trying to make her story "current", but it was ridicolous how much name dropping there was. Like, every three pages some character would remark on something current.
And now onto the plot. The Robin Hood aspect could have been developed more, I think. It could have been really interesting, seeing the parallels between Willa and Robin Hood. But it was hardly developed, with Willa absentmindely remarking once that "[I] was kind of like Robin Hood, just better dressed".
And Aidan. Okay, Ludwig pulled out every stop on the "cute hot guy" here. He's mega rich, snobby, dashing, and everyone adores him. Willa thinks he's HOTTTT the second she sees him, but hates him (of course) since he's so snobby (of course). But wait! Now I understand his true emotions and we're in love and kissing in Porsches. :P He was just annoying at the beginning, but I grew to like him more as the story continued. He still kind of fit the hot rich boy, even though he was nicer (big shocker) but still portrayed well (there are too many parentheses in this paragraph).
The ending isn't a big surprise, but it was cute and fun to read. The book is set up for a sequel, with a cliffhanger at the end. I found out that Pretty Crooked was first in a trilogy as well.
And the truth is, even with all of my nitpicks, I liked it. It was a fun, cute romp with quite a few problems but still a fun read. The book was far from perfect but a good escape from reality. I might read it again, but it wasn't one of my favorites. It was cute, fun, and charming, and a good way to spend my time.
It wasn't brilliant or awe-inspiring, but it was cute and that's all that matters. So if you're looking for a fun, cute mystery, this is for you.
I recieved an ARC from a teen library group that I'm on. :D
So, first things first: I have wanted an ARC forever. I have always dreamed of itso. cute.
I recieved an ARC from a teen library group that I'm on. :D
So, first things first: I have wanted an ARC forever. I have always dreamed of it, wanted to see the typos and unfinished artwork, wanted to be one of those people who gets to see the story first. And finally, I got one.
I'd hoped that it would be amazing. But I promised myself, even if the story stunk, I would still keep it on my bookshelf. It would be an ARC, mine, something to be proud of. The truth is that I had nothing to worry about.
Liesl and Po was a great introduction to the world of ARCs, and a delightful book to read.
The basic story is simple: Liesl lives alone, locked up in her attic by her cruel stepmother. One night, Po, a ghost, arrives, accompained by his half-cat, half-dog pet, Bundle. Liesl and Po become friends, and Liesl asks Po to venture into the Other Side (the land of the dead) to find her recently deceased father. Po does, and finds that Liesl's father wants nothing more than to be placed beside the willow tree, thousands of miles away, beside his late wife.
The basic concept is a bit cliched, and when I saw that Liesl was locked up in her attic I rolled my eyes. Fairytale cliche one, in my opinion--locked up girl, not knowing what to do with herself but reading her way out of situations and scheming about how to get out. But Liesl turned into so much more than that. She was strong, inquinstitive, funny, and creative. She was truly very strong, but also a bit nutty (which more than one character remarks upon).
Po was less developed in terms of the main characters. To tell you more about his back story -- well, I can't (major spoilers). But he was still funny and cute. My favorite line of his was from about page 3:
"Are you here to haunt me?" Liesl asked. Po sighed. He hated when humans thought ghosts existed only to jump out at them, hide behind abandoned wearhouses and scare them. "No," he said finally. "We have better things to do with our time."
He was probably the cutest character in the story. :)
Will was equally well developed, but then I come to my problems with the characters. The minor characters were all a bit cliched. There was evil stepmother Augusta, complete with murder, a rotund body and an icy daughter; thickheaded Mo, soft and sweet; the Lady Premiere, who was like a stepsister; and then the alchemist, who seemed a bit Jack Frost-esque to me. The characters were cliche, but they were a bit obvious.
They all seemed to fall into the same character holes: sweet, slightly naive and thickheaded; evil and mean with almost no reason (Augusta had no reason, really, but the Lady Premiere did), and wanting revenge and being dasterdly.
I'm probably going too deep -- the book is MG, and the characters are developed well enough that you still like them -- but they seemed a bit too obvious.
Onto the plot. I thought the plot would be cliche when I read the description (which by the way is different then the one on my ARC, HECK YEAH), but it wasn't. Oliver's lyricsm was on full blast, with goregous descriptions of scenery and characters. Sometimes the lyricsm seemed a bit much, like Oliver had written it that way since lyricsm was her "trademark". After Delirium, Oliver's last novel, I was worried about her next book.
But she triumphed. The book is a cute, fun romp full of twists and turns and a story I definitly would have enjoyed when I was younger. I still enjoyed it, though, and I think teens would still find it a fun, quick read.
Now, the part where I get to brag and talk about funny things in my ARCs. On the back, where the Library of Congress description is and such, Lauren Oliver's name is wrong. :P She's credited as Laura Schedenfrude. Apparently she changed her name right before the book went to print. XD It's a small mistake, but it was still funny.
There are also some cool tidbits, like on one page there is no art and instead gray boxes saying "ART TO COME"; the author and illustrator bios are missing and replaced with "LAUREN OLIVER BIO TK" (not sure what TK stands for; "To Come" has no K), and most of the art are sketches. It's obvious because there is some finished art, and it's a thousand times more clear and fleshed out then the rest.
So, to finish up, I recommend getting Lisel and Po the second it comes out. ;D Lauren Oliver has triumphed again, and I think she has returned to her "groove", especially after so many people disliked Delirium. A cute, fun, middle grade romp that's sure to be a delight for everyone, filled with Oliver's goregous writing and a clever plot.
Why I read this book: I had found a lot of recommendations for the book and thought it sounded interesting. I checked out some reviews on Goodreads anWhy I read this book: I had found a lot of recommendations for the book and thought it sounded interesting. I checked out some reviews on Goodreads and instantly decided to buy the book, a choice I’m glad.
How did I get the book: Bought
In Jellicoe Road, Taylor Markham attends The Jellicoe School, a school for juvenile delinquents and more (including four arsonists in Taylor’s house alone) in Australia. The school commences territory wars each year with the in-town Townies and visiting military school member Cadets. In her junior year, Taylor is assigned to be the head of the Underground Community, as it is called, and lead Jellicoe in the battle wars.
That’s the basics of the story – but there is so much more. Taylor’s story is interspersed with another tale, one that takes place eighteen years earlier and involves five teenagers—Webb, Fitz, Jude, Narnie, and Tate-- and their plans. I’m afraid I can’t say much about the tale due to spoilers, but it unfolds through excerpts from a manuscript about the story. Occasionally the jump cuts between Taylor and Webb & Co.’s story were a bit abrupt, but they were seamed together very well.
Taylor’s character was spot-on. She was honest, angry, tough, but very kind. Marchetta drew her character in an elegant way, showcasing every side of Taylor in a fascinating way. Occasionally it would seem as if Taylor would only ever cry – but for good reasons. Jonah is another example of a great character. When I first saw the summary, and started to read, I’ll admit I rolled my eyes. He seemed like just another angst-driven teen who falls in love with the MC. But he is much, much more, and I think that he is less of a love interest then a friend. Romance isn’t the key part of the novel, either, and the true romance happens late in the book.
The supporting characters were just as wonderful -- Hannah and Jessa both could be annoying but sweet, Chloe P was the cutest girl, and Chaz was charming and his friendship with Raffy perfect. I cannt honestly say anything better about these characters, but they are wonderful and fascinating and potrayed well. Webb & Co were also lovely, though I shall remain from discussing their personalities in depth.
The plot was fantastic. At the beginning, the reader is entirely confused, as the stories are meshed together rather quickly. It can be confusing and bewildering, as a lot of information is wrested on you in the first few chapters. It’s not an info- dump, however, but more a wave of confusion and you must piece together the pieces. The territory wars end in the middle of the book, but there is a good reason why. Really, there is a reason for everything, every character, every plot point, every setting and detail and example. Marchetta does an excellent job putting together the pieces, and what more could one ask for in a mystery novel?
The setting is well portrayed, though I wanted to know more about what the houses look like. The inside wasn’t described much, but I did get a clear view of the trails and woods surrounding Jellicoe. And the road, I think, is the most important part of the entire book. Jellicoe Road, I’ll admit, is the first book I’ve read where it makes sense to have a flower on the cover.
Taylor’s story kept me gripped, and I read the nearly 400 pages in a day. The story moves quickly, and there is plenty of romance, drama, excitement, and mystery to satisfy nearly any reader. I would recommend the story for all interested in romance, mystery, drama, and plenty of excitement.
The story is a bit like the Jellicoe Road: long and winding and confusing on your first drive down, but as you continue on it becomes clearer and clearer. Stick with the story, and you will always remember Taylor and Jonah and Chloe P and Jessa and Hannah and Webb and Fitz and Tate and Narnie and Jude and Raffy and everyone else. Because a trip down the Jellicoe Road is one of the greatest trips you will ever make. ...more
So I have never been a fan of science fiction. I don't know why; just never been partial.
And then I found an online ARC of Cinder. It had gotten greatSo I have never been a fan of science fiction. I don't know why; just never been partial.
And then I found an online ARC of Cinder. It had gotten great reviews, and the premise is amazing. Cyborg Cinderella? Now that sounds impressive to me.
And so I read it.
And what is my response?
Let's start with the first sentence:
The screw through Cinder's arm had rusted, the engraved cross marks worn to a mangled circle.
That, in a nutshell, tells you how amazing the book is. The writing is goregous, constantly full of lyricsm and beauty. Meyer had a tendency to make her characters too formal, however. Their language seemed more attached to the past than the future, though -- full of long sentences and no contractions at all. It drove me batty for a while, but I got used to it eventually.
I was unsure about the fairytale retelling aspect. When I read these kinds of books, I'll admit that one of the first things I do is try and figure out what characters are what in the fairy tale (etc, who's Cinderella, Prince Charming, stepsisters).
While some were obvious, most of the characters defied roles. The stepsisters were kinder, more bossy than mean; there was no true stepmother, and the prince was an all around good guy.
The characters were all adorable and cute, and at times the story seemed more mature than a middle grade -- more of a young adult novel. I'd say that the book is more young adult, with harder words and more complex reasoning.
The world-building is elegant, carefully drawn through names of buisnesses and more. There is never much of an info dump, more of a quick description through dialogue and more (though it never became an info dump either). The streets are filled with robotics; the booth next to Cinder's sells computers that can float in midair.
I've read several ARCs lately, and one of the questions I have asked is "Would I buy this?"
And the answer for Cinder:
I plan to buy this book when it comes out. I might have read it already, but that doesn't mean that I wouldn't read it again (and I won't before it's published; my ARC expires online in a week :P).
So if you want a fun, cute, funny, adorable, sci-fi retelling that defies retellings, read Cinder.
I need to start this review with a warning. It isn't a bad warning in particular. The warning simply is this: I didn't enjoy A Series of Unfortunate EI need to start this review with a warning. It isn't a bad warning in particular. The warning simply is this: I didn't enjoy A Series of Unfortunate Events much when I was younger. I liked the macabre tones of the novels, but I always felt a bit disconnected as I read the entire series. Warning aside, I was eager to read a copy of Handler(aka Lemony Snicket)'s first YA novel, a collaboration with artist Mara Kalman.
Now onto the specifics. The novel easily could have become gimmicky, and people were very interested in the concept of the novel itself when the book was introduced to the world. But Handler took a gimmicky plot and made it interesting, and it is no wonder the novel was awarded a 2012 Printz Honor. The book essentially resolves around the course of the relationship--the first meetings and dates, the highs and the lows, the fights and eventually the breakup. Min has recently broken up with her boyfriend Ed and the book is written as a letter to explain "why we broke up." She also attaches a box, filled with memorabilia gathered through the course of the relationship, to accompany the letter. Kalman's illustrations show the objects.
Now to the characters. As stated at the beginning of this review I could not relate to Handler's characters. I don't know if it was my young age, the book, or how different the series and this novel are, but I related to these characters far better. Min I really related to, with her questions of identity and relationships and how everyone finds her "arty". You really feel her pain and sadness, as it becomes apparent that Ed may not even read the story or look at the objects she has collected. I related to Ed far less, but I think that was the author's intention : we want to root for Min,not the person who broke her heart. I understood both Ed's good and bad sides, and he was a very well rounded character. But while his actions represented his character and made sense, it was hard to like him because of what he did to Min and his choices.
The writing was the one part where I struggled and took off half a star. Handler writes the novel in vignettes, essentially, as Min remembers every event of the relationship and each of the objects' meaning to the relationship. Because Min is writing directly to Ed she refers to him as " you" during the writing. This makes sense for the novel but it is very jarring at first. Sometimes I would forget "you" was Ed. Handler also uses very little dialogue tags, with pages and pages devoid of tags. This was hard to read, and sometimes I had no idea who was speaking. Other than those two qualms Handler's writing was very fresh and fluid.
Side note on the art: I'm no art critic but the drawings were very fresh and fluid. I received an ARC in a giveaway and many of the drawings were missing from the galley. What I saw of the art, however, was very impressive.
Why We Broke Up is a fantastic book. If you enjoyed Handler's other novels or like epistolary novels this is a book for you, and I think many people would enjoy it. It's a great novel deserving of awards and I'm glad to have read the book.