I am very hard to please when it comes to books. Even the books I love tend to have a “if the author had just done X then it would haveREAD THIS BOOK!
I am very hard to please when it comes to books. Even the books I love tend to have a “if the author had just done X then it would have been perfect” tacked on. It’s just how I am wired. And these days, with so many books telling the same story over and over again, it’s even harder for me to find any enthusiasm.
I couldn’t wait to finish this book so I could come over and tell people to read it. It’s been years, I think, since a book made me this happy. Jordie is funny, brave and strong, a far cry from the typical weeping fey boy that we usually see. Owen doesn’t need to go looking for his moral center while we throw rocks at his head for pages and pages. Don’t you hate that? When a character is just a total coward and fails to be the friend he should be? Well, you won’t experience that with Owen. He really is a superhero.
The only thing some people may object to is the graphic sex, but I will defend that too. It was crucial to the development of the story and not put in solely to turn people’s crank. And it was exquisitely written; funny, fumbling and so totally in character.
In order to give five stars, I usually have to round up. With this book, five stars seems inadequate. ...more
"You Belong With Me" is a prime example of how a cute, sweet story can overcome the handicap of bad writing. Even with the fact that this story can on"You Belong With Me" is a prime example of how a cute, sweet story can overcome the handicap of bad writing. Even with the fact that this story can only be described as YouTube fanfiction, I still enjoyed it.
What worked: I liked the main character Wes, and I enjoyed the interplay between him and his mother. The scene where his mom first meets Brad is one of the funniest scenes I've ever read. The romance between the jock and the fey boy was really endearing—not original, but still endearing.
More than the bullying storyline, what I really liked was the author getting into talk about effemiphobia and gender roles. I wish there had been more. It's really important to discuss effeminate gay men because the gay community at large acts so ashamed of its less-masculine brothers.
What didn't work: As I said, the writing was bad. A thorough editing job could have brought this story up to a 3.5 or maybe even a 4. The author kept contradicting himself from one page to the next; Wes knew nothing about baseball but then suddenly knew all the terminology, Wes had never interacted with Brad, but Brad said they were friends, Wes sucked at video games and then there was a game he was sure he could win at, etc.
As a bisexual guy, I was deeply disappointed that bisexuality was given the shaft in this story. Having Brad come out as gay, saying he had only been using the bi label as a cover, is a trope that we bis have thrown in our faces whenever people try to tell us we're just confused.
The author's obsession with sticking to the plot points of the two "You Belong With Me Videos" (the original and the gay one) was cute at first and then it started to drag the story down. A book is not a music video. The shortcuts and tools a video maker uses are different than the tools an author has. Erno should have abandoned the video script and used it as an homage, in this reviewer's opinion.
The book was a solid 3, edging towards 3.1 until the end when it went totally off the rails. The dialogue in the principal's office sounded so much like a badly-written PSA that I expected the characters to turn to the cameras and give the number for the Trevor Project.
This book also leaned a whole lot on telling rather than showing, and when I notice that, you know there's a problem.
And the epilogue was just utterly unnecessary.
Some people will argue that with the plague of bullying this country suffers from, it's important to have books that show how bad it is and challenge people to make the world better. For me, I think that the story must come first, if you're writing fiction. The characters need to stay in character and not suddenly be possessed by the personalities of TV spokespeople. I also think that makes the story more powerful.
So while I am rounding up and giving "You Belong With Me" 3 stars, it's really about a 2.7 ...more
**spoiler alert** I had a lot of problems with this book. I am going to try and lay them out as clearly as I can without bashing this book too much. A**spoiler alert** I had a lot of problems with this book. I am going to try and lay them out as clearly as I can without bashing this book too much. After all, it wasn't awful. But it has the misfortune of following a series that is near and dear to my heart.
The first thing I noticed was that while Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief had me hooked from page one, I had to slog through half of this book before I cared enough to finish it.
The dramatic shift in writing style was part of it. I empathize with Riordan on this. One of the best parts about the PJ series was Percy's snarky, dopey narrative. But to copy that style with different characters would have made no sense. So he had to do something to make these books very different. And, of course, first person POV is a real challenge to write.
But nevertheless, doing these books from third person POV automatically created a barrier between me and the characters. This likely would not have been a problem if I wasn't (unfairly, perhaps) thinking of the PJ series.
As I said, though, I understood why this had to be so I moved on. Very quickly I came up against the next problem, and this one is insurmountable for me. I didn't like the characters. Jason, having no memories, seemed to have lost his personality as well. Piper's revelation that she was there to betray them won her zero points. And Leo was too erratic.
As the story went on, I grew to really like Leo. I suppose, again unfairly, it was because he was the most "Percy-like." And I guess maybe this was my failure to get over the idea that this is not the Percy Jackson series. I never wanted the PJ series to end and I was so looking forward to seeing my "friends" again, Percy, Annabeth, Grover and Tyson, that I was irritated with this book for failing to deliver the goods.
Knowing this to be true, I gave this book an extra star just to counterbalance my prejudice.
But now we get to the very core of my problem. Jason. What I liked about Percy was that he was just a kid. He was a son of the Big Three, but not the King of the Gods. He had power, but it was limited. He was good with a sword, but others were better. I admired Riordan for not indulging in the excesses one might be tempted to go to when writing a demigod hero.
In The Lost Hero, Riordan threw all of that away. Not only is Jason the son of Jupiter, he has powers Thalia never had. And he's a master warrior. He even defeated a Titan all by his lonesome. A character this powerful is not relatable to me. He doesn't struggle. He doesn't learn. He has no arc. He's already perfect.
For me, a story is all about its characters. And that is why The Lost Hero failed to win me over. I was put off by the very character I was supposed to be rooting for.
What also did not help the story, for me, was setting up this division between Roman and Greek demigods. It's a bold idea and I admire Riordan for expanding his universe, but I just can't quite make sense of it. The whole premise of the series is that the Greek gods still exist and have always existed even when no one believes in them. So why would they become Roman gods for a while and then switch back? It just doesn't quite work for me.
There were things I dearly loved. I was very excited to see more of what it means to be a child of Aphrodite and a child of Hephaestus. I think there is a wealth of story to be mined in this universe without needing to add in this whole Roman angle.
I also just love the characterization of Hera. Without sacrificing the reality of the monstrous things she has done, and in fact utilizing them, Riordan has made her a hilarious frenemy of the demigods.
So if you, like me, were hoping to see another "Percy Jackson" book, then brace yourselves for disappointment. But if you just want to linger in the rich, vibrant world that Riordan has built, then settle in and read "The Lost Hero." ...more
I've seen a lot of reviews giving this book its proper due as the amazing epic climax of this series and talking about the humor and the heroism and tI've seen a lot of reviews giving this book its proper due as the amazing epic climax of this series and talking about the humor and the heroism and the simple wonderfulness that is Percy Jackson. So I will just say I agree and move on to other things I liked. :)
As with the rest of the series, Riordan successfully interweaves Greek myths with the modern day. What was particularly moving, to me, and heart-rending, was having the characters relive the tragedy of Achilles and Patroclus. I just love the way Riordan can bring in themes from these ancient stories and make them just as poignant and just as devastating.
Another thing which just impressed me was that he made more or less this whole book about the final battle. That's a hell of a long fight. But he makes it work. Every new challenge is interesting, every new threat is terrifying.
And through it all we have Percy's unique brand of snark and sarcasm that makes these books incomparable.
It sort of amazes me how little furor there is over the fact that young people, averaging in age from 13-16, die in droves in this series. For me, I think it was an amazing idea (and I am now cutting myself off from the word amazing) to say that teenagers, whom our world looks at as slackers, children, unreliable and what have you, to be saviors of western civilization.
One does wonder, surely there have to be demigods over 20. I mean, they don't all get picked off. Or if they do, that's really depressing. So what happens when you hit 25? Are you considered past your prime and no longer able to contribute?
Anyway, this book is everything it should have been. It was the perfect cap to a series that will go down in the history books. I just wish I could read more about Percy Jackson. I'll miss him. ...more
It's rare that I encounter a book where I say, "I wish I'd thought of that!" The Percy Jackson series is just such a case.
It's hard to review these onIt's rare that I encounter a book where I say, "I wish I'd thought of that!" The Percy Jackson series is just such a case.
It's hard to review these one book at a time, but I'll try. I got the sample of this book and I was hooked from page 1. Percy, the hero, sounded so incredibly real to me. He was the quintessential bitchy teenager, angsting about his life--only he has some really good reasons to be unhappy.
The first time Grover bleated like a goat, I just about died.
This is a young teen's book without the candy shell. Right off it is made clear that kids as young as Percy's own age of 12 are maimed and even killed by the monsters that hunt them.
The book successfully plays on the outsider trope, making Percy the odd man out just about everywhere he turns. And then it gives him a place where he belongs, "Camp Half Blood" and no matter how often I go through that in a story, it always makes me happy.
Annabeth is a strong female character, but she is still a child herself conflicted over her father's abandonment of her. Again, she is very real.
The plot is wonderfully complex and twisted, very reminiscent of the machinations of the Greek gods in the myths. I felt the way Riordan characterized Ares and Zeus was just spot on.
The only thing I will add is that if you saw the movie and based on that decided to give the series a pass, do yourself a favor and read it anyway. The book lost almost all of its charm on the big screen.