This book was given to me in .pdf format by the author in exchange for a fair review.
This is a quick read which takes up right where Until the End en...moreThis book was given to me in .pdf format by the author in exchange for a fair review.
This is a quick read which takes up right where Until the End ended. Like the first one, teens, young adults, and people who are totally into the zombie apocalypse will probably get a lot more enjoyment out of it than I did. I'm just not that into zombies.
What I really liked: I enjoyed the addition of Syd. He was believable in his overprotectiveness and surliness. The tension of three people in such close quarters was palpable.
What I liked: A couple of the new characters filled out the cast well and added to the growth of the primary characters.
What I didn't care for: I said this in the review for the first book, but it still applies. The zombies were basically exactly what anyone who watched Zombieland or read The Zombie Survival Guide would expect. In other words, all the ninnies who actually have 'Zombie Apocalypse Survival Teams' will have no surprises. At times this made it seem like I was reading a 'how to' manual and pulled me out of the story.
What annoyed me lots: Again there were inconsistencies that kept pulling me out of the story. Also, I find it completely implausible that an older man who lives in the valley and is the least bit outdoorsy would not have heard of places referenced in the book. It's a tiny detail that won't matter to people who aren't from here, but it pulled me out of the story.
Overall, I liked this book better than the first. It felt more like a complete book than the first one. (less)
This book was given to me in .pdf format by the author in exchange for a fair review.
This is a decent, quick read. While I liked it well enough, teen...moreThis book was given to me in .pdf format by the author in exchange for a fair review.
This is a decent, quick read. While I liked it well enough, teens and young adults will probably get a lot more enjoyment out of it than I did... and people who are totally into the zombie apocalypse, of course. I'm not. I love me a good 'end of the world is nigh' book, but zombies don't do it for me.
What I really liked: The two main characters were believable. They both had strength with vulnerability, fear with courage, grief with determination to push forward. They were plausible, well-rounded characters. The was their relationship developed felt reasonably organic. I hate it when books that feature teens or young adults portray them as being SO in LOVE right away that they just CAN'T live without each other and every thought that the reader is subjected to is about that love and the fear of loss. There was none of that here. They were companions of convenience who each thought they'd probably be okay without the other but being together was easier. Then their friendship and reliance on each other developed. DEVELOPED, meaning they didn't just jump into bed with each other... and they weren't all angsty about their lack of play!
What I liked: The fear of judgement and playing feelings close to the vest displayed by both main characters. Whether it's a mental illness or having abandoned a love one, nobody wants the person they are trying to rely on know how screwed up they are. This felt real.
What I didn't care for: The zombies were basically exactly what anyone who watched Zombieland or read The Zombie Survival Guide would expect. In other words, all the ninnies who actually have 'Zombie Apocalypse Survival Teams' would have no surprises. At times this made it seem like I was reading a 'how to' manual and pulled me out of the story.
What annoyed me lots:There were inconsistencies that kept pulling me out of the story. The zombies follow where humans went more or less mindlessly, yet they are climbing all over catwalks that haven't had humans on them in decades. The grocery store has booze and prescription drugs, but not antibiotics, peroxide, neosporin, or other first aid supplies that can help with injuries and infection. Even if the place was looted, that doesn't make logical sense to me. Also, I kept feeling like pieces of the river were missing. There were absent bridges, lack of current in places that should be difficult to row, etc. I'm willing to let that stuff go since most of the people who read this won't be as familiar with the area as I am so it won't bug them. But it had me questioning my memory, looking at the river a lot on my drive to work, and checking maps... which for me distracted from the plot. Missing bits aren't usually an issue for me. After all, I don't need to know every single detail of a journey. But from my point of view the parts that were missing added to the overall inconsistency in zombie behavior.
Overall, I liked this book well enough. If I had a hard copy I'd donate it to the school and the teens would like it even more than I and I would feel comfortable letting them read it.
Side note: The cover art was kind of chitzy. Would it have been that hard to find a stock picture of the Portland skyline to have in front of the girl? It would add to the whole, "Hey! This is set in my area! I think I'll read it!" feeling that prompts people to buy local authors. (less)
I was eager to read a prequel to the books set in Ember. We'll get to know how they decided to build the city! Why! Maybe we'll...moreJust not good at all.
I was eager to read a prequel to the books set in Ember. We'll get to know how they decided to build the city! Why! Maybe we'll get a bit of the early years of Ember! Yay!
But then as I read it, I kept asking myself if this was really the prequel to the City of Ember. There was nothing of the charm, and no mention at all of how it was connected to Ember until the very end (and the tie was lame). The main characters weren't interesting... a couple of side characters like Hoyt McCoy could have lent some color to the story, but their story lines went of on tangents that were never resolved.
Nickie was eleven so her lack of maturity is excusable, but she's an idiot and kind of a brat. She's supposed to be smart with an unquenchable curiosity and thirst for knowledge but she's incapable of making her own decisions and getting married is all she has to look forward to. She's definitely not Lina, a heroine that young girls could actually look up to, emulate, and learn from.
And then there were the loose ends... a dozen or so things that were mentioned but which didn't move the plot, tie this book into the others, or get tied up at the end. What was the point of any of it?
Really, this felt like an idea of a story that DuPrau had in a dream or something and decided to throw down on paper to wrap around her personal ideology (religion turns people into sheep and war is bad). The tie to the other books was just thrown in at the end in order to cash in on the popularity of the Ember books. (less)
I really need to be less of a completest. You are not required to read a whole series just because you re...moreAll I can say is, "At least it's over with."
I really need to be less of a completest. You are not required to read a whole series just because you read the first book.
There are so many plot holes in this story. And while everybody conveniently lives happily ever after, how they got there is either unexplained or implausible. Please don't mistake omission of information for subtlety.
When I'm done with the current pile of teen schlock I have checked out I'm going back to grown-up books for awhile. Maybe in a few years YA authors will figure out that teens care about more than romance and descriptions of pretty clothes. (less)
I liked this book a tiny bit better than Matched, but not enough to give it another star. Since this story is told from Ky's point of view as much as...moreI liked this book a tiny bit better than Matched, but not enough to give it another star. Since this story is told from Ky's point of view as much as Cassia's, it isn't a complete yawn-fest of waiting for Cassia to stop whining about how much she misses Ky. Ky actually occasionally focuses on other things, like helping others, putting together his past, and... you know... trying to LIVE. He wants to find her, but doesn't immediately go for everything she suggests/insists upon/wants.
Crossed follows Cassia and Ky in their search for The Rebellion. It opens with Cassia's parents somehow being totally fine with her going to a slave camp in order to be closer to where she thinks Ky has been sent, even though they've seen first-hand how their government treats people in those outlying towns and camps. They set out from different places with no way of communicating with each other but somehow end up crossing paths. Of course they pick up a couple of loyal-ish sidekicks along the way-- characters introduced to allow Condie to avoid spending much time developing the ones already present.
An acquaintance asked, "But Clack! You loved The Hunger Games, and IT was a love triangle in a dystopic world too. HOW can you hate Matched so much?!?" Here's the difference: Katniss had two boys interested in her. She didn't really care. That's not a love triangle. She thought about other stuff and rarely focused on the boys at all. Hunger Games is Dystopic Fiction with teen primary characters. On the other hand, Cassia has two boys interested in her but
OMG! She just LOVES them both SO MUCH and it's SO hard to decide and OMG now that she's decided she just can't POSSIBLY live without him and if she doesn't find him and live happily ever after she'll just DIE!
Matched is a teen love triangle against a dystopic backdrop. There's a difference folks. (less)
This book was okay. I'd rate it maybe 3.5 stars but something makes me want to round down where I'd normally round up.
Some of these kids acted in bel...moreThis book was okay. I'd rate it maybe 3.5 stars but something makes me want to round down where I'd normally round up.
Some of these kids acted in believable ways and the relationships and interactions rang true and elicited a bit of emotion from me. But most felt too similar to each other, or they were stereotypes. The jock was a jock. His buddy the d*ck stayed a d*ck. The pre-teen who wanted to be one of the cool kids was never anything else. And of course the boy scout was always a boy scout. There wasn't really any dimension or development in most of the characters.
Here's my number one issue: This book was told from the perspective of a teen boy, a junior in high school, who is painted as this great writer. That should have led to some interesting prose. Instead, his voice was closer to a middle schooler-- not even a particularly bright middle schooler. It was frustrating to me. I had to keep reminding myself of everyone's ages.
My other issue is that EVERYTHING went wrong on the outside. Really, Did we need a super-tsunami, giant hailstorm, mega-quake, AND chemical warfare test spill at NORAD down the street? And all of this stuff happened the first day. It didn't take any time at all for the tsunami to cause weather changes, or for the weather to cause the earthquake. And somehow this shopping center is more structurally sound than the NORAD facility... it's just all too much.
But I didn't hate it. If I treated the book like the main character and his brother were closer in age and neither was older than a freshman I could get into it and suspend disbelief enough to care a little about the two main characters at least. I think the 11-13 age group might like this book, except that some of the content might not be too appropriate. But maybe I'm just overprotective.
Oh! The other weird thing was that near the end of the book two new characters are introduced and the author keeps using their names interchangeably. I seriously flipped back and forth four or five times before I figured out that the character names were wrong. (view spoiler)[A character got shot and another was sick but the author kept going back and forth on which one was dead (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
1.5 rounded up to 2 because I liked the fact that the Dystopia was due to a State religion. A lot of the complaints about this book are that the autho...more1.5 rounded up to 2 because I liked the fact that the Dystopia was due to a State religion. A lot of the complaints about this book are that the author doesn't tell us how the world got to that point. That was the one thing that I didn't have an issue with. I can look at how little separation of church and state matters to many of our current politicians... how legislative decisions are made based on supposed Christian morality (except the whole 'love your neighbor' and 'care for the meek and the widow' bit... that part of Christianity is conveniently forgotten in the writing of laws) and I can absolutely see how we could get to the point the government is at in this novel. I liked that premise well enough to finish this book and generously round up to two stars.
But man oh man I loathed the main character. Seriously, how did such a whiny little snot survive to be part of the novel to begin with? I would have expected her to die during the war that is alluded to, or to have been arrested long before the opening of the book. I can't imagine she was EVER the kind of person to inspire the kind of devotion the male love interest has for her. Why do YA authors keep writing these weak, miserable, whiny heroines? I'm sure Kristen Stewart will play her if they make a movie.
Mom had me out of wedlock so I'm put in reform school. I screw a few people over in my escape attempt. I'm rescued by my childhood sweetheart who 'sold out' by being DRAFTED (because that is so much within his control). I treat him like crap. I put us in a dangerous situation, he rescues me, I treat him like crap. Wash. Repeat. Wash. Repeat 5-6 more times. Wait! Maybe my government is the problem, not the guy who keeps rescuing me. The end. (less)
I work with teens in a secure dual diagnosis facility. We see the teens at their worst, help them put band-aids on their pain, and send them on their...moreI work with teens in a secure dual diagnosis facility. We see the teens at their worst, help them put band-aids on their pain, and send them on their way, hoping for the best. We get an incomplete story. Sometimes we have information from the parents which may or may not be accurate (parents know so little about the lives of their teens). We have bits and pieces that the kids tell us in different groups, which may be incomplete or outright fiction (of course there's SOMETHING wrong, but it's often not what they tell us about). But we do our best, more or less.
I Can't Keep My Own Secrets felt a lot like my job. The "memoirs" give us a glimpse of the lives of these teens at a given moment in time. We don't get the whole story, the bit we get is probably out of context, and we can't respond or help in any way. But still, the story we get is exactly what the teen wants or needs SOMEONE to know about them.
This would be a good exercise to build a group around at work... maybe a group on journaling or story telling. Write one of the memoirs on the board and have the clients write about the person who wrote it. How another teen interprets the six words would tell us a lot about where THEY are emotionally.
My teen memoir would have been "Hiding behind the camera for now."(less)
Oi... This was not a pleasant book. But it was very good. It is written in first person and takes the form of a letter that the narrator is writing fo...moreOi... This was not a pleasant book. But it was very good. It is written in first person and takes the form of a letter that the narrator is writing for his youngest sister so that she can later understand the level of abuse they all suffered at the hands of their mother. Werlin described the incidents as they really would have been seen and interpreted by a boy of 13-14.
Anyone who has been through childhood abuse will identify with Matthew and the walking on eggshells and constant gauging the mood of the abuser. They will understand his hope for a hero, and his fear of his hope. Readers will feel his frustration at the way adults don't really listen or take seriously the abuse until it's almost too late. Hopefully they'll understand why so many abused and neglected kids, particularly those with siblings to look after, don't tell anyone.... and don't just leave.(less)
This is a hard review to write because the book had problems, but I still really liked it.... and I'm NOT the target audience. I put off writing a rev...moreThis is a hard review to write because the book had problems, but I still really liked it.... and I'm NOT the target audience. I put off writing a review because I wanted to see how teen girls felt about it. For that, I took it to work and lent it to the school library at the teen behavioral/drug rehab facility I work at. Many of these kids come from families and backgrounds similar to the main character. So here goes:
Problem: Dialogue felt forced in places. This pulled me put of the story a few times. However, the girls at work said they didn't notice. The one complaint I've read about the dialogue in other reviews is that it didn't seem age-appropriate. I didn't have that issue at all because I listen to the girls at work (age 14-18 mostly) and it sounded like them. That said, when I started this job I had a hard time BELIEVING the girls talked like that to each other, because they use completely different communication skills with adults (as did the main character of this book).
Problem: There is a chemical dependency issue that gets better very quickly and easily. Working in the field I do, this was the most implausible part of the book to me... more unlikely than the magic, even. But when I thought about it, I realized that the story is about the magic of love... and a neglectful parent with a drinking problem suddenly waking up and deciding to love you and be the parent you need is probably the biggest dream that kids from that background have, so the story wouldn't be complete if the main character didn't get that most important dream fulfilled. The teens at work didn't have a problem with how EASY it seemed because they too have that dream and want to believe it's possible.
Problem: The main character's best friendship. There wasn't anything likeable about the best friend to account for the loyalty between them. She is painted as a snot who rags on the main character, but somehow it never damages the friendship. This is excused in the beginning because of how the main character feels about herself, but I really don't understand how they were still friends at the end. I hope that is addressed in the sequel. One girl at work was okay with it, saying "My bff is a b*tch, but she's got my back." but another said, "Eff that. I'd stomp her." (Yes, they talk like that. Lol)
Now for the good stuff:
The main character's relationship with her father felt authentic. So many children of alcoholic or mentally ill parents end up as the caretakers. They resent it, feel guilty about resenting it, stuff their emotions, and just try to stay afloat, enabling the parent while they hope for a change that never comes. Savan illustrated that dynamic accurately.
The main character's relationship with the memory of her mother was so sweet and believable. I found myself wanting to see the paintings and collages that she did of her mother. Savan's tool for helping her finally deal with her grief was elegant and the conversation she has with the memory of her mother was wrenching.
So this story is outwardly about a girl who learns magic to fight people who are trying to harm her, and her budding relationship with a boy. But there is so much more there. I recommend it to paranormal romance folk, teen and pre-teen girls who are fans of the genre in particular. More importantly I recommend it to teens who have dealt with loss of a caretaker through death, depression, or addiction. I'm probably going to leave it at the library at work on long-term loan because it seems to resonate best with those girls.
It's pretty high praise for me to say that I feel like I need to give a book to a particular audience because it might help them. For that reason, despite the problems I listed, I think I have to give this book 4.5 stars, which I will round up because Goodreads still hasn't gtven us half-stars.(less)
This book seemed geared for the middle school audience, but I still enjoyed it. It was a fun, quick read on a rainy day.
The world that Falls created...moreThis book seemed geared for the middle school audience, but I still enjoyed it. It was a fun, quick read on a rainy day.
The world that Falls created is intriguing... I kind of want to start a homestead of my own. Kids are pretty universally interested in marine life, even if they don't particularly enjoy the water. I'm pretty sure that the descriptions of the underwater farms and other parts of The Deep will fascinate younger readers.
The story was predictable in parts, but then again, I'm not the target audience. The only character that didn't read flat to me was the main boy, Ty. But I don't think that is unusual for first person narratives.
All in all, this book is worth reading for ages 10-15 or 16. There's nothing here inappropriate for younger readers, and the writing style and vocabulary are simple. Once my son is done I'll probably pass it along to my 10 year old niece. I also expect to read the sequel.(less)
This is all pretty implausible and just not interesting. The main character broke the law and violated school rules all over the place with no real co...moreThis is all pretty implausible and just not interesting. The main character broke the law and violated school rules all over the place with no real consequences... just detentions, which she got out of. I could have let that go if she had at least been a sympathetic character or even the slightest bit interesting. But no, this story lacked even that. Oh well... it's one work shift down the drain but at least I didn't waste my own time on it.(less)
I read this at work last night. It was a fast, easy read. For me, it was only so-so, but I'm not the target audience. This is another book that I foun...moreI read this at work last night. It was a fast, easy read. For me, it was only so-so, but I'm not the target audience. This is another book that I found on the shelves in our library at work, intended to be read by the troubled teens that we treat. For them, I think this is excellent.
The main character Jessica keeps making frustrating decisions in regards to her body and sexuality and it was difficult for me to relate. But so many girls DO make poor decisions regarding sex because they just want to feel cared about by someone-- anyone-- even if it's just for a moment. Couple that need to be loved with a lack of understanding about what's going on with your body and just how much your hormones can affect your feelings, and it's shocking that all teens aren't terrible wrecks.
Other reviewers have complained that this story wasn't hard-hitting enough and stayed shallow. While it is true that this book didn't get too deep and ended on a positive note, I don't believe that makes it any less worthy of attention. There need to be books that don't dig too deep. Girls who are just starting to realize that they might be in trouble aren't going to go straight for the tough-as-nails memoirs and the therapeutic novels. They need something easy to start the process of accepting themselves... something accessible that they can be seen reading without people making assumptions about them. This book fulfills that niche.
While I am unlikely to read this book again, I know that I will recommend it to some of the girls I work with. The subject matter will hit home for them, and the fact that the book is short means that they may actually read it without getting overwhelmed. (less)