When I think about what I want to say about Jellicoe Road all that comes to mind is that I can’t believe that this amazing novel was sitting under my...moreWhen I think about what I want to say about Jellicoe Road all that comes to mind is that I can’t believe that this amazing novel was sitting under my nose for so long. It’s really making me think about ARC requesting and prompting me to look at my overflowing TBR shelf and wonder what other gems are in there.
This novel came into my life a while ago in a gift from my lovely co-blogger and it sat on my shelf all lonely and cold for far too long. Upon tweeting about a slump that I was in Bekka of Great Imaginations told me to finally pick it up and I am so happy that she did. From the very beginning I was wrapped up in the writing and I met some amazing characters with bonds that I will not soon forget. That’s what really gets you with this story, the connections. The way that they are revealed feels almost magical and you aren’t too sure what to think for the first quarter of the novel. I admit, I was confused as hell for the first 125 pages but as you ease into the story and really immerse yourself into the world everything becomes clear and the story is just so well thought out.
Taylor was a fantastic MC. I loved her voice and watching her eyes be opened to a history that she never knew she had any part in. She slowly unravels her history and that of her family as she reads through her den mother, Hannah’s, manuscript that she has been working on for years. I really don’t want to say too much about the tale she reads and how it works into her life because that is what is so great about this story, watching all the loose threads that had you confused in the beginning come together to make one amazing picture.
What I can say about this is that it is the story of Taylor Markham, a girl who was abandoned at a 7-11 when she was 7 years old and picked up by Hannah. We meet her as she is going to a boarding school by Jellicoe Road and get immersed in a war that goes on there every year. The war is between the Houses (the school), the Cadets (who camp in the woods every year) and the townies. This is a turf war and there are many rules that were written down years ago in a purple book that all players must abide by. It’s the story of Taylor falling in love with Jonah Griggs who is the leader of the cadets and it’s the story of her finding out where she came from. At the same time, it’s the story of Jude, Narnie, Tate, Webb and Fitz, of lives that took place years before Taylor was born in the very same area she lives now. And I can tell you that the way that these two tales come together is breathtaking and heartbreaking in equal measure.
I think everyone needs to meet Jonah Griggs and have him in their life for just a snapshot of time. Who am I kidding, as much as I fell head over heels in love with Griggs every single character in this novel is so wonderfully written and they will all weave their way into your heart. Please don’t hold off on reading this book like I did, read it, read it now.
Upon seeing the references to both Empire Records and High Fidelity in the blurb for Girl Defective I was quick to read this one as soon as it showed...moreUpon seeing the references to both Empire Records and High Fidelity in the blurb for Girl Defective I was quick to read this one as soon as it showed up on my doorstep. Empire will forever be in my top 5 favourite movies of all time list because I am a huge music junkie. I love the feelings that music captures and how it can evoke so much emotion from me as a listener. I was a big fan of how Howell conveyed the importance of music in the lives of the Martin family but since a lot of the references to bands and such weren’t ones I had ever heard of I didn’t fall as in love with that aspect of the story as I had hoped to.
Girl Defective is not what I would call a plot driven story. We are basically shown the life of the Martin family for a period of time and we just go along with their lives. There is no big event driving the story it’s simply character driven. This worked for me here because I did come to care about Skylark, Gully and Bill. The Martin family is not perfect by any means and that’s what made me care about them the most. We’re told the story through the eyes of Skylark, a 15 year old girl who is simply trying to find her way in life. She’s having romantic emotions for the first time and really just trying to figure shit out. I loved her infatuation with Nancy and how she struggled with putting a name on it. Nancy is a wild child who once worked in her father’s vinyl shop and she evokes so much wonder from young Skylark because she is such a free spirit. Don’t get me wrong, Nancy is not someone who should be a role model, but I liked how she got Skylark to go outside of her box and she really opened up her eyes at a very impressionable age.
Also driving along this change in Skylark is the super hot Luke Casey who her dad hires on at the shop. He was a great addition to the story because he also drives along the mystery that underlies the novel. Popping up around town are posters of a girl who drowned years ago and once Skylark finds out her the name of the new boy at the shop and that the drowned girls name was Mia Casey, she quickly puts two and two together. As Sky starts to get closer to Luke she realizes that they are really looking for the same answers, they want to know what happened to Mia that led her to her death that night. Through their sleuthing for the full story they start to fall for one another slowly and it’s really sweet. I liked that it was by no means insta-love, it buds slowly and at times you aren’t even sure if that is really the direction they are heading. Luke became close with the whole family which had me really rooting for their love story to grow.
Aside from the romance and the friendships in Girl Defective, there is such a fantastic family dynamic. We are quick to learn that Sky and Gully’s mother took off when they were much younger and there is a lot of resentment from Sky about it (rightfully so, in my eyes.) She’s really had to step up in her mother’s absence, not only due to it but also due to the fact that her father has a drinking problem. It was frustrating to see Bill constantly check out and crack open a beer when the kids really did need him. Gully wasn’t an easy child to handle at all, I can’t exactly pin point what was up with him but he had an obsessive personality and was prone to pretty extensive outbursts.
Everything I have said here probably comes across as a pretty glowing review and I do admit that I did like the book overall, but I can’t say that I fell in love with it. It was quite slow moving and at times I was frustrated with that. I am usually a pretty big fan of character driven stories so I can’t blame my subtle indifference to it on that, I did come to care for the characters, but I just wanted more I guess. Some of my disappointment is also because a lot of the musical references went over my head and I consider myself a pretty big music buff. Whatever the reason this one just felt like a 3 star for me so that’s what I am going to slap on it.
I don't even really know where to start with this book. While reading it all I could think was "this reading is somehow intoxicating but this story is...moreI don't even really know where to start with this book. While reading it all I could think was "this reading is somehow intoxicating but this story is really one of the worst I have ever read." So, I guess you can take that for what it is.
From the first page I was a fan of the writing, it was strong, pretty and sucked me in as fast as could be. I enjoyed Sphinx's (yes, her mother named her Sphinx) voice even though I didn't really come to like her for who she was. The pace of the story was also really fast, stuff kept happening, people kept moving, emotions kept rising and that really kept me engrossed in the story. It was a trainwreck really, you know you shouldn't look but you just can't take your eyes off of it.
Ok, now I have run out of nice things to say about this book. The actual storyline was probably one of the worst I have ever read and it led me to shake my head and laugh out loud while reading it often (and the latter was not for HA-HA reasons, it was for YOU-HAVE-GOT-TO-BE-FUCKING-KIDDING-ME reasons.) Essentially the story is about a girl and a boy who were born to women who were best friends. These best friends had made a pact when they were younger that one would have a boy, the other would have a girl, then their offspring would get together and have babies and they would become grandmothers together. Everything went according to plan until the boy came out a sociopath. Sphinx is a good girl with a strong head on her shoulders but Cadence is unable to feel emotions of any sort. He doesn't understand what it is to feel for someone, or react to occurrences around him in an emotional way. I think here is where my biggest problem with the story lies. See, Cadence was literally a textbook sociopath. It's like the author looked up the definition and encompassed everything she read into this one guy and didn't give us anything to make us feel for him. He was terrible in every scene he was in, he felt absolutely nothing and he was just a fucking dick. I am well aware that this is how sociopaths are but in the scope of this story it just made everything not work. It didn't make sense that people would feel emotionally connected to him in any way and it left me, the reader, hating everything about him.
The utter harshness of Cadence's character also led me to question other characters in the novel. For some reason, unbeknownst to me, Sphinx feels a connection to him. She fights to be there for him in any way that she can even when he is utterly terrible to her at every turn. You guys, he literally NEVER did anything nice in this book. NOT ONCE. These two were friends when they were kids but after Cadence cut Sphinx's face with a Swiss Army knife his mother packed him up and they moved to London. This was when they were 10, at 16 Cadence gets sick and says he wants to see Sphinx so his mom flies her and her mom out to be with him. After all that time apart, after him CUTTING HER FACE WITH A KNIFE, she feels this intense loyalty that even makes herself consider KILLING HERSELF when he dies so that they can go out of this world together and have it be ART. I shit you not folks, this is the story, I wouldn't believe it if someone relayed it to me either. Perhaps the “glue that held these two together” was supposed to be their need to fulfill the pact that their mother’s had made when they were younger but I am just not buying any of that mumbo jumbo.
I really don't have it in me to rant about this rubbish anymore so I am going to cut myself off there but just stay away. Stay far, far away. It really is sad though because I think the writing was strong, but the story was just so bad that no amount of impeccable writing could have ever saved it.
An Advanced Reader's Copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
This was a book that I really wanted in my life. When I read the blurb and saw the issues that it dealt with I thought it would be one that I would de...moreThis was a book that I really wanted in my life. When I read the blurb and saw the issues that it dealt with I thought it would be one that I would definitely love. In the end I can’t say that I was overly impressed with it. While it did deal with some pretty heavy issues, the writing left much to be desired and the split POV didn’t work on multiple levels.
On the surface this sounds like the type of story that I would generally love. Grace is outcast at her school after a party that she goes to where she gets raped by the all-star lacrosse player at her school, Zac. Zac says it wasn’t rape and Grace says that yes it was because she was unconscious. What follows is a frustrating series of events in which Grace is bullied at school and even disbelieved by her own parents and Zac of course goes on with life like the hot shot that he is. I was so frustrated with the people in Grace’s life. This attitude of “well, if you dress that way then you’re just asking for it” seemed to run rampant in this novel. I did appreciate the honesty in this because there are droves of people who really believe that bullshit to be true. Along with this I also liked how nothing seemed to be sugarcoated in the novel, it was hard hitting from beginning to end. I also liked Grace’s willingness to stand up for herself in the face of constantly being shut down when voicing her opinions. Even though I didn’t connect with her character (more on that later) I admired her perseverance.
What I really wished for in this novel was that the writing could be as strong as the subject matter. From the very beginning the POV’s had me cringing. We get the story from Grace’s view and Ian’s view. These two are assigned to clean lockers over spring break and they just so happen to have had crushes on each other for a long time. From the very first switch in POV it was clear to me that I wasn’t going to feel any definition between the two voices and that held true throughout the entirety of the novel. This was a case of it feeling like that author just threw in a bunch of swear words to make the male POV sound more manly, which just so does not work. There were even instances where we got the same occurrence from each character and the second time around the character would talk about something that had happened in the previous POV but had yet to happen in the one that was going on at the time. Not only did the definition and flow between timelines not work for me, but the dialogue also felt incredibly stiff and unbelievable. I never got sucked into caring about any of the characters in the novel because they just felt so unrealistic to me. I had longed for a connection to Grace and to feel her vulnerability but I never did get there.
This is not one that I can recommend to anyone looking for a emotionally charged read. While the subject matter is on point, the writing just doesn’t carry the weight that it needs to to keep the reader fully engaged in the story. I’m sad to have to write this review after really liking Blount’s novel Send, but at least her previous work does leave me with some hope for her future endeavours.
An Advanced Reader's Copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
*slow clap* I don’t even know where to begin reviewing this book. It was a book that I didn’t plan to read, I heard from my co-blogger it was a split...more*slow clap* I don’t even know where to begin reviewing this book. It was a book that I didn’t plan to read, I heard from my co-blogger it was a split POV story told in the third person and I thought “Rubbish! I don’t want that in my life.” Then a little birdie came along, one by the name of Christina of A Reader of Fictions and she said “Look, you need this book in your life. Total Jenni bait.” So I gave it a go and wow. I’m at a loss for words (which, if you know me, NEVER happens) because this book was just… everything.
We are introduced to the world through the eyes of a little girl named Melanie who spends her time in a cell and is only brought out to shower in weird chemicals and to go to her lessons. When she is removed from her cell she is strapped to a chair in a process that she knows like clockwork. This process involves one guard doing the strapping while another holds his pistol point blank on her head. What was so striking to me right off the bat was how beautiful I found Melanie’s character. It’s easy to tell early on that she is infected with the pathogen that caused the “Breakdown” that ended the world as humans know it and I still empathized with her so strongly. Her character is full of wonderment and she’s incredibly intelligent. I found myself rooting for her and hating anyone who was mean to her. This of course leads to a very interesting story in which we find out how these kids on this base are able to still have human-like brainwaves and emotions just as strong as yours or mine.
This ability makes for a zombie read unlike any you have ever read. Not only does it feature fantastic characters but it also is so well thought out. The cause of the Breakdown and what’s happening inside these “hungries” is utterly fascinating. I loved the thought that went into it and the author’s ability to make me feel as if I understood the scientific jargon that he threw at me. Sometimes I find with novels like this that the explanations go over my head and I have to fight through the words to find out what is really going on but that was so not the case here. I can’t stress enough that the research and effort that went into making this novel readable for anyone was amazing. The world that M.R. Carey creates is frighteningly real and the novel sucks you into this scary world and just doesn’t let you go.
What’s always the best about post apocalyptic novels like this is the way they make you feel for the characters and suck you into the bonds that are created. Not only did I come to love Melanie, as mentioned above, but I also came to love and hate everyone around her. She has an intense bond with one of her teachers, Miss. Justineau, and it was fascinating to see the layers of emotion that went back and forth between these two from both of their perspectives. I was so invested in these two being together that it’s no surprise I was quick to get my hate on for anyone trying to keep them apart. These characters came in the form of Dr. Caldwell and Sergeant Parks. While I wasn’t the biggest fan of these two I was able to come to understand them which just served to get me even more invested in the story. The character development here is really out of this world just like the world building.
Filled with raw emotion and taking place in one of the most frightening settings I have read, The Girl with All The Gifts is not one to be missed. Everything is conveyed so well and with a book like this that means the gore as well. The tense scenes are written expertly and they had me holding my breath just as the gore has me cringing and gripping my Kindle. I highly recommend this book and will be shoving it in the face of even random passersby in the future.