In a sentence or so: Alexi doesn't want what happened to her over the summer define her, so she does her best to fake normal and deal with it later. W...moreIn a sentence or so: Alexi doesn't want what happened to her over the summer define her, so she does her best to fake normal and deal with it later. When Bodee's tragedy meets Alexi's hurt, they begin to change each other and channel their brave together.
We know what happened to Alexi at the start of the book. I appreciated that because then it wasn't this big reveal of WHAT occurred, but rather the Now What that we were reading. We are with Alexi when her memories flare up and when her pain is unbearable and when she tries to cope by harming herself. Enter Bodee. He has a heavy heart of his own and an unthinkable tragedy which we also learn immediately. He moves in with Alexi's family so the two of them share a space, as well as secret ways to cope with their pain.
There were lots of things I liked about FAKING NORMAL. There was even loads of potential here and I sincerely enjoyed the read up to about the last 20% of the book. I was able to connect with Alexi and her friends and found their banter funny and their established roles in the group familiar, if a bit trite.
Basically the first 80% of the book is Alexi trying to deal with what happened, faking normal as it were, and how Bodee helps her with that. She helps Bodee a bit, but his tragedy is of a much different nature and not something I think Alexi would have been even remotely equipped to handle.
The last 20% of this book just PISSED. ME. OFF. Which I guess means I was pretty invested in the characters and story and that's a good thing - but I felt manipulated the entire rest of the book by how FAKING NORMAL ended. What you assumed to be true was not true. Not exactly. And the ultimate resolution was so supremely disappointing. Granted, we don't walk through the total aftermath of their decisions, but the way it wrapped up led me to think that the end of the book set the tone for the characters futures and I did not respect it.
I can't imagine how hard it is to write an issue book (or any book) so my opinions are a bit jaded. But in real life, I believe tragedies require counseling - professional or otherwise. Not the case with FAKING NORMAL. And when people do Bad Things they need to be held accountable for their actions. And when we are Channeling Our Brave we need to do so for OURSELVES. Never, ever for someone else. Love yourself first and empower yourself for YOU - not for a boy.
Anyway - I obviously had some pretty intense emotions around this book, so I respect that about FAKING NORMAL. I liked the casual yet thoughtful writing of Courtney C. Stevens (with the exception of some weird phrases that felt like they were trying too hard) and will definitely be reading her future books, despite my disappointment with the end of FAKING NORMAL. After all, FAKING NORMAL had all the elements of a great contemporary, but fell flat when it came to the final resolutions of tragedies and recoveries.
If you're looking for a fresh take on an issue book that has a surprise ending and a boy with a broken heart, FAKING NORMAL could be for you! (less)
In a sentence or so: They told Tella they moved to the middle of nowhere so her brother could get better. What they didn't tell her there was that the...moreIn a sentence or so: They told Tella they moved to the middle of nowhere so her brother could get better. What they didn't tell her there was that there was something she could do about it...even if that meant risking her life.
Tella and her family move to middle of nowhere Montana so her brother can get better. Only he's not getting better. Nothing is making him better. In the midst of her moping without friends and mourning the loss of shopping sprees, Tella receives a small package with a big message. One that will drive her to do everything she can to save her brother at the risk of abandoning her own family and risking it all.
Let's just get this out of the way right off the bat. Is FIRE & FLOOD kinda like THE HUNGER GAMES? Yeah, it is. But it doesn't try to hide that fact or completely copy and paste THG either - which I respect a ton.
Tella enters a race that will take place over 4 different types of terrain called the Brimstone Bleed. She also gets a companion that comes IN AN EGG that has some sort of special ability that will help her along the way.
Fire & Flood takes places in the jungle and dessert portions of the Brimstone Bleed. Tella fights for a cure for her brother, which they promise the winner, but she also starts to fight for herself. Tella becomes stronger. She becomes independent. Most importantly, Tella becomes confident.
I adore Tella's voice in the midst of what could be a super heavy read. Unlike THG (in which I HATED Katniss), Tella is snarky, quirky, misses being clean and frequently analyzes situations in a way that totally resonates with me. In short, she felt LEGIT. And I like her a lot. Like, we could be besties maybe.
The cover of FIRE & FLOOD looks a bit more Middle Grade to me, but it really isn't. The characters are all teenagers, the subject matter is heavy, and people die. Victoria Scott finds a refreshing balance of the heaviness of the plot with the lightness and likeability of Tella that make FIRE & FLOOD a fun and enjoyable read.
Fix er up: While this book wasn't MG, it didn't SCREAM Young Adult either. It's one of those inbetweeny books and I have a hard time knowing how to recommend this out to people because of that. Regardless, I enjoyed it!
Fave Quote: "There are moments in the jungle where I can't help but laugh at how my life has changed in these last four days. Drinking form a stream, in the belly of a cave, is one of those moments. Yesterday, if this had happened, I would have daydreamed about my leopardprint house slippers and my grandmother's crocheted blanket that I've kept at the end of my bed since forever."(less)
In a sentence or so: Kestrel, the general's daughter, buys a slave off of the auction block. Though they may have different agendas, Kestrel and Arin...moreIn a sentence or so: Kestrel, the general's daughter, buys a slave off of the auction block. Though they may have different agendas, Kestrel and Arin are joined together in their struggle to become more than they are.
Kestrel's father wants her to joint he military, like him. There aren't really a ton of options for a society lady like herself, so military wouldn't be all that bad in comparison to getting married off. Kestrel knows that she wouldn't be a great fit in the military, despite her razor sharp intellect and knack for strategy. She also knows that she doesn't want to just be someone's wife for the rest of her days.
Kestrel unexpectedly buys a slave off the auction block. This is totally out of character for her, and she knows it, but something about him just pulls her in. Kestrel's soft heart and quick wit allow her to get to know her slave, Arin, and even begin to think of him as a friend...maybe even more. She has no idea that Arin has secrets, and even an agenda, of his very own.
This is one of those reviews that is so hard for me to write because I just loved it SO MUCH and I just cannot find the words that express that intensity! Kestrel is kind, clever, thoughtful and brave. Arin is bold, determined, and challenging. Every single character in this book has depth and purpose. You are instantly drawn into the world that Rutkoski has created and you do not want to leave!
I don't want to give anything else from the plot or summary away from the book, because I feel like that would be a detriment to you as a reader. So come, join Kestrel and Arin and enter their world that is rich with the social struggles of a recently conquered territory. Come and experience life inside the palaces and the court intrigue and scandal. But mostly, come and feel all the feels because man, THE WINNER'S CURSE packs a serious emotional punch!
If you're looking for one of those lush historical books with deep characters, a plot that twists and turns, and a writing style that you do not want to put down - look no further than THE WINNER'S CURSE! (less)
We all have those series we think are totally underrated, fly under the radar, and under-appreciated. For me, THIS IS THAT SERIES. I know you guys mig...moreWe all have those series we think are totally underrated, fly under the radar, and under-appreciated. For me, THIS IS THAT SERIES. I know you guys might be burned out on dystopian. I know that feel, I really do. But trust me when I tell you that The Pure Trilogy by Julianna Baggott is 100% worth your time.
Obviously, reviewing the final book in a trilogy is a difficult task. So I'll just brush you up on the premise for the entire series.
Here's the gist. There was a detonation that destroyed almost the entire world. Those living inside of the dome remained pure, undamaged, but ridden with guilt they suppress every day. They're trying to create a utopian society, but it's not working out. Those living outside the dome were burned, scarred, damaged, and mutilated. Pressia is on the outside, uncovering the truth about what happened. Partridge is on the inside, trying to bring down the barriers.
The cast of characters is unique, authentic, and completely resonate with my heart. Even though they could easily come off as absurd (the love interest has bird wings fused to his back), they are absolutely genuine. I cared about each and every one of these people AND their struggle AND their world. Baggott absolutely packs a serious punch with the conclusion of this series! (less)