Rewriting Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None to appeal to the Pretty Little Liars crowd is a genius move. Genius!
Ten cleverly adapts and updat...moreRewriting Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None to appeal to the Pretty Little Liars crowd is a genius move. Genius!
Ten cleverly adapts and updates the original book -- in which ten strangers are lured to a deserted island house to be murdered one by one as punishment for past crimes -- with a scenario in which a group of Seattle-area teenagers with loosely interconnected social lives are invited to a house party by a popular cheerleader. Like the movie Scream, Ten features characters who are well-versed in the conventions of teen horror films.
Regular blog readers know that I'm a huge mystery fan, and I loved the fact that Ten is a true mystery, with all the clues laid out for sharp-eyed readers to find. While I guessed a major plot twist -- possibly because I remembered the original book -- I missed one crucial clue and had my eye on the wrong person as the killer.
I'm pretty sure the original book had no romance, so I was happy that as poor Meg tries to keep herself alive, she's distracted to be spending the weekend with a classmate she has a huge crush on -- a guy she ditched as her homecoming date so as not to make Minnie jealous. Minnie and Meg have one of those weird girl frenemy relationships going, which also added a bit of depth to this fast-paced plot.
Ten is a fun, fast-paced read that should keep you guessing up until the end! (less)
After her special powers lead her parents to turn her into the government, Ruby is thrown in a rehabilitation camp for six years and has very little i...moreAfter her special powers lead her parents to turn her into the government, Ruby is thrown in a rehabilitation camp for six years and has very little idea of what's been going on in the wider world.
After her escape from the camp, Ruby meets a scrappy trio of kids in a minivan. The minivan gang -- Liam, Suzume, and Chubs -- are a group of characters that wormed their way permanently into my heart. Like Ruby, they're on the run. They're trying to find the rumored safe haven of East River and this near-mythical guy called the Slip Kid. Are you sensing a quest here? Some fantasy themes? What's great is that Ruby doesn't initially buy into their dream. She's desperately trying to hide the fact that she has special abilities she doesn't understand and can't control. And after six years in the camp, she's a survivor. A cynic, not an idealist. She lies to our plucky trio, pretending that people are chasing her because she overheard some information. But then she finds herself falling for Liam.
I loved the fact that the relationships in The Darkest Minds were so realistic. There's no insta-love here. Ruby's not even up for insta-trust. And, when you're running for your life, do you really have time for that lip lock? Ruby does slowly warm up to the gang. And just when you think the group is making progress both strategically and emotionally, there are some major plot developments. Some big twists. Then, one of those endings that I kicked myself for not predicting, an ending that was felt both inevitable and completely, utterly heartbreaking.
The whole dystopian/Sci-fi YA field is crowded with books, but The Darkest Mind stands out to me as one of the best of the year.
Hannah Harrington excels at writing female characters with an edge. I'm full of admiration when an author takes a fairly unlikable character, then com...moreHannah Harrington excels at writing female characters with an edge. I'm full of admiration when an author takes a fairly unlikable character, then completely turns my opinion around. Chelsea isn't a horrible person, but she's one of those girls who is willing to do whatever it takes to stay popular. One night, she's been drinking and she's surrounded by her friends. She sees something she knows is gossip-worthy, and blurts it out to the group.
The consequences of Chelsea's actions are horrible, and she does what she can to make things right. In doing so, she discovers that listening can be more powerful than talking, that her so-called friends never really had her back, and that she's a stronger person than she knows. While I can't say there's anything surprising about most of this, I found the story gripping and emotionally moving. The writing is good, everything feels realistic, and even though I had a strong feeling about how things were going to turn out, I was seriously invested in this story until the very last page.
All the characters in Speechless had some surprises in store for me. By far my favorite was Asha the math nerd. I was a general nerd in high school, but without those math skills that would have come in handy later on! Sam is one of those where-were-the-boys-like-this-in-my-high-school guys, with his 90s movie references and general adorableness.
I definitely recommend Speechless and can't wait to read whatever Hannah Harrington writes next!(less)
The Diviners is a hefty (nearly 600 page) historical suspense story featuring a large cast of characters, a great deal of historical detail, and that...moreThe Diviners is a hefty (nearly 600 page) historical suspense story featuring a large cast of characters, a great deal of historical detail, and that tricky "intersecting lives" kind of plot structure, in which a bunch of different storylines slowly merge into one.
The fact that The Diviners includes so many points of view and so much historical detail does mean that the book's plot moves at a fairly deliberate pace -- it takes some time and patience on the part of the reader before all the various strands of the plot begin to weave together. For this reason, I think the book is probably a good fit for older teens and adult readers of YA. Yes, this book will take up a big chunk of your time, but it is time well spent!
Anya's a fantastic female character: tough and wry and world-weary. "Poor me" just isn't in her vocabulary. Whatever the jo...moreSource: eARC from NetGalley
Anya's a fantastic female character: tough and wry and world-weary. "Poor me" just isn't in her vocabulary. Whatever the job is, she gets it done. I loved her deadpan humor, and her humorous asides to the reader. "That was the thing about organized crime families -- you shouldn't bother getting too attached to anyone." Win. He's not a big part of this book and I have mixed feelings about that. I recently pointed out that often in book two of a trilogy, the couple gets separated. Because It Is My Blood definitely follows that pattern. On the plus side, the story doesn't have to balance real plot developments with make-out sessions and stuff. Also on the plus side, Anya really gets a chance to grow as a person in this book. On the negative side, Anya felt a little bit adrift emotionally and geographically for a large stretch of the book.
Yes, I was also sad to see this book move away from Manhattan, but I like Anya enough to follow her wherever she want to go. The cacao plantation was interesting, though, and I gained a new appreciation for all the varied uses of the machete. Anya eventually does make it back to New York, where she makes a decision and a new alliance that will spin her life -- and this series -- into an interesting new direction.
Like Legend, Prodigy's story alternates from June and Day's points of view, with June's in black text and Day's in blue. Usually in dual POV stories I...more Like Legend, Prodigy's story alternates from June and Day's points of view, with June's in black text and Day's in blue. Usually in dual POV stories I prefer one point of view, and this time it was June's. I'm not sure if that was because I found Day's typeface a little harder on the eyes, or because his storyline dealt mostly with his medical problems, Patriot tactical strategy and arguing with Tess, a girl he grew up with, about why he shouldn't trust June.
Middle books in trilogies often either separate a couple or create circumstances in which their love is tested, and Prodigy is no exception, using the latter to great effect. I'd forgotten how ridiculously young these two are and what a short time they've known each other. At one point, Tess says to Day, "You think you're in love with a girl you've known for less than a month?"
June -- as the blurb indicates -- gets assigned to assassinate someone. She also throws knives, takes lie detector tests, plays dress-up, and generally does all this great Mata Hari stuff, which was a lot of fun. Needless to say, I loved her chapters.
Some people have said that a love rectangle develops in Prodigy, but I can't quite agree....
I always think that time travel books are going to make my head explode. I'm using so much brainpower to try to make sense of all the stuff that's goi...moreI always think that time travel books are going to make my head explode. I'm using so much brainpower to try to make sense of all the stuff that's going on, I can't really relax and lose myself in the story.
Thankfully, Time Between Us tries to make the time travel rules as simple as possible. Bennett has a special time travel ability that runs in his family. He is only able to travel within his lifetime. He has a personal policy not to change the course of events too drastically. (Except one time when Anna begs him to help her undo something that happened, and he agrees.) The thing I didn't quite understand is how Anna is able to travel to other places in time and space with him, sort of like using a portkey in Harry Potter. But I'm willing to go along with it.
One of the things I like about time travel in books is that it creates a ton of romantic possibilities. In 2012, Anna is a 31 year-old cougar and Bennett is a teenager. If he travels to 1995, he can make them the same age. I liked Anna -- a sheltered bookstore employee who longs to see the world. Bennett is harder to get a read on, since he keeps disappearing and reappearing. Most of the book was set in the 1990s -- a time that I feel deeply nostalgic for -- and I wished that the book would have given me more of a sense of that era.
But all in all, I did enjoy Time Between Us and loved the way the author was able to resolve the ending. If you're a fan of time travel books, definitely check this one out.