Not only did I enjoy this book immensely, it was a very fast read, feel-good and overall very fun, but it was also extremely insightful. The reason whNot only did I enjoy this book immensely, it was a very fast read, feel-good and overall very fun, but it was also extremely insightful. The reason why this book is so good is because it is BOTH that book that you can pick up for light reading, that book that takes you somewhere else, and easily invites you into another world, but at the same time it provokes you to ask questions, to dig deep into your own issues and your way of living life. At least it did that for me.
It's Kind of a Funny Story is a book about Craig Gilner, a 15-year-old who suffers from depression due to the excess of responsibilities he has undertaken. He feels like life is a huge burden with which he can't deal. He feels inferior to everyone else, and he sees himself as a complete and total failure. After a particularly bad night where he plans to kill himself he, instead, checks himself into a mental hospital. The experience he has while in there helps him look at life in a different way, deal with his issues and make important decisions.
Like I said this is a fun book, there is nothing depressing about it. It's a quick read, every character, no matter how mentally ill they are, is completely relatable. There are many fun situations to look forward to, and most important, you find yourself really rooting for Craig. Another thing I love is how supportive his family was. There might be a misconception that depression comes from people with family issues. This wasn't the case here. His family was very supportive and wanted the best for their son, but the reality is that Criag couldn't cope with the pressures of life that HE took on by HIMSELF.
I am a Psych student, about to get my degree, and it was very interesting to read this book with that clinical point of view. It was hilarious to read about Craig's perspective of "shrinks" at the beginning, and his thoughts on manuals such as the DSM.
Apart from a Psych student though, I am also a person who, like Craig, tries to go through life and has many anxieties about it. I may not be depressed, but you certainly don't have to be to sympathize with Craig's struggle. His characters is so well written that we can see ourselves in him. And what I loved the most is that Craig PUT WORDS to things that were actually happening to me. I loved, for example, how he named those things that caused him anxiety and led him to feel bad about himself the "TENTACLES". While on the other hand, he called those things that helped him stay grounded and put a stop to his obsessive thoughts that "ANCHORS". I love that, I am going to start using them for myself. Another one I really enjoyed was how he kept waiting for "the Shift", which for him was that moment where he would be free of depression. And what I liked is that the Shift wasn't presented as some miracle, just a moment where he could finally put things into perspective and realize he can live.
Craig's time in the psychiatric hospital helped him realize that his problems had solutions, that he had the power to change them. It also helped him realize that the change isn't in any doctors, or friends, or family. Nobody was going to be able to magically hand him the SHIFT, because the Shift was in him. And only he could bring peace to himself.
That is the most important message that this book taught me and I will treasure it immensely. I am positive that in my moments of anxiety I will be able to use this book as my Anchor just like Craig used his beautiful drawings. ...more
This year marks ten years since I've been reading Sarah Dessen, TEN YEARS!!! I read my first one when I was thirteen and this one now that I'm twentyThis year marks ten years since I've been reading Sarah Dessen, TEN YEARS!!! I read my first one when I was thirteen and this one now that I'm twenty three... Isn't that crazy? I have been eagerly awaiting reading this book knowing that any Dessen book for me is always fun, swoon worthy, and even leaves you with something else, it has substance. The Moon and More was definitely fun to read, normally when one starts a new book there's an adjustment period when you need to get used to the author's writing and place yourself in the story. With Sarah Dessen this doesn't happen. Starting a book by her is a little like going back home, that same feeling. It's comfortable and familiar and it's always nice to go back.
The Moon and More is about Emaline, who in the summer before college is dealing with the fact that her life is about to change drastically. She has to move out of Colby, the little town she has always lived in, say goodbye to her friends and her family. In that sense it was easy to relate to Emaline, to that feeling that things are changing and you don't know what your life is going to be like in a few months. I loved the relationship with Emaline and her family, her mom, her stepdad and her two sisters. It was totally realistic, while they still fought and had their disagreements, in the end they were always there for each other. In contrast to that, during the summer her biological father, with whom she has always had a distant relationship comes to visit with his ten year old son, Benji. The relationship with these two people is, in my opinion, the core of the entire book. In one hand, with her dad, Emaline has to learn that some things never change, and to accept the way things are no matter how much it hurts. On the other hand, with Benji, Emaline learns that change can be good, and can bring unconditional love with it. Both statements are true and in the end they are the two most important lessons she learns during a period of her life when it seems like everything is changing.
So while I did enjoy it, I still feel like there was something lacking in this one novel. Maybe it was that the swoon factor wasn't really there. While there were two boys in the book I never felt like either was right for Emaline. Luke is definitely nice and they complemented each other well, but it did seem like their relationship was coming to its end. It's a bit strange that (view spoiler)[as soon as they break up, Emaline doesn't wait more than 24 hours to jump into another relationship (hide spoiler)]. Theo on the other hand is a very confusing character, he comes off as nice, dorky and cute in the first half of the book, but randomly around the middle he becomes an asshole. I'm kind of confused as to when that happened. I realize he was never PERFECT, he was definitely different, but he wasn't an asshole, it kind of threw me off when that happened to be honest. So for me this book was lacking a good romance. Having said that, I do think that Emaline's story was completely realistic, not everyone falls in love during the summer, that's for sure. Some things in Emaline's life change, some thing don't and that's a balance she learns to accept and live with. The ending of the novel was totally right and the best thing possible for her. Still, I have come to enjoy Dessen's romances so much that I can't help but miss them when they are not there in their full glory.
In the end, I definitely enjoyed some aspects of the book, while felt it was a bit lacking in others. However, I always love reading Sarah Dessen and I see myself doing it for many years more. Even if I am not a teenager anymore, no shame. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This is an important book that I think paints an amazing picture of how to live and go through life the best way possible. I really recommend this stoThis is an important book that I think paints an amazing picture of how to live and go through life the best way possible. I really recommend this story to anyone trying to navigate through the difficulties of life (and there are many...), losing faith and hope. It is the right kind of book to pick up when lost in the mundanity of everyday things, in the stress of the routine and it really helps you to not lose sight of those things that matter in life.
Amber Appleton is the queen of hope, even though she's broke, lives with her mom in a school bus and has absolutely no reason to be happy, she spends her day trying to help other people be optimistic, cheering them up and helping them out. This is until a tragic event changes how she views the world and being so optimistic starts taking its toll.
I was able to identify so well with Amber, which is proof that this is a three dimensional character, very well developed, so well in fact that I almost felt she was real. I've had Amber's same struggles throughout my life, and I think we all have: that desperate need to keep hanging on to hope, and keep being optimistic and happy and wanting everyone around you to be happy too, even when life makes some serious cases for you to just be depressed. Sometimes being optimistic and hopeful and happy feels harder than just giving in to depression, and that's because many times it is, as it was for Amber.
At first I was a little put off with the catholic aspect of the book. Amber is religious and she has constant conversations with Jesus, I was worried it was going to be a bit preachy, especially me being on the other end of the spectrum when it comes to religion right now. However, I found this wasn't about being Catholic at all, this was about having faith. Maybe in Jesus, maybe in life, in people, in anything, but having faith that you can choose to live a better life, that you can live and love even in the darkest of times. I loved that during her worse moment, Amber questioned her faith and she didn't find any magical answers. Nobody told her that "it was God's plan" because maybe it wasn't. There really is NO good reason for tragedies to happen, sometimes they just do. Amber was able to accept that she didn't know why so many hardships were thrown her way, it was unfair and depressing, but that it was her choice to live differently.
This is a book that doesn't tell you that everything is fine in the end, it doesn't paint a perfect picture of life with a happy ending, it just shows you a different way to live. By loving and spreading around hope Amber was able to turn her life around, she was able to make others happy, but even more important than that, she was able to be happy herself. And this was a choice she made. This is what made her brave, and a rockstar. And this is what I loved about this book, it truly shows you how to live like a Rockstar. I hope I can put in into practice as well. ...more
This is a simple story about a girl and a moment in her life. As simple as it may sound, and because it really is just that, a glimpse at Tiff's life,This is a simple story about a girl and a moment in her life. As simple as it may sound, and because it really is just that, a glimpse at Tiff's life, it's also very profound and meaningful. Throughout these few pages we get to experience happiness, sadness, hope, indecision, change, love, anxiety, stress, vulnerability, friendship along with Tiff in a way that makes it seem like it's not just a young adult contemporary fiction, but a biography of someone's life. This book seems real, the characters seem real, the situations seem real.
Tiff is just a girl who lives in a small town in Australia and, having finished high school is starting a totally new period in her life with a new job at a newspaper in town. I am not Australian, I have no interest in being a journalist, I have lived my entire life in big cities, so suffice to say that Tiff and I don't have much in common. Bill Condon, however, manages to makes characters that pull directly at your heartstrings, he describes them in such a way that you feel like you know them. I didn't feel like Tiff was some distant character living across the world from me, I felt like she was close to me, going through the same things, the same struggles, with the same anxieties and fears. The situations that Tiff goes through in the book aren't some kind of complex plots where something happens which leads to something else. Here there is no plot except life itself. Things happen and Tiff has to deal with them, and sometimes they hurt, sometimes they make her nervous, sometimes they make her happy, but she's just living her life and trying to do it as best she can.
In short this book is beautiful in its simplicity, it doesn't reveal something new or captivate you with suspense, it's just a story about life. Life which can be sad and tragic and lonely can also be beautiful. Tiff's life, just like anyone's, is not exempt of sadness but she also has love - from her family, friends, her dog, her new co-workers - and that makes her life beautiful too. It's both things, sad and happy, hard and hopeful. We all learn to coexist with these contradictions and make the best of it, and so does Tiff.
A Straight Line To My Heart isn't particularly the most exciting book, it's not a page turner, it's short and in some sense it might leave you wanting more. But it's a book with a lot of heart and as simple as it might appear at first I found myself thinking about it long after I was done with it. ...more
The Book Thief is going straight into my favorite books shelf. More so than that, I knew from about halfway through that this was going to be a favoriThe Book Thief is going straight into my favorite books shelf. More so than that, I knew from about halfway through that this was going to be a favorite of mine. This is an important book. This is a book that shows the beauty of life while showing how completely horrible, devastating, and utterly disgusting it can be as well. This is a book that gives you hope and also takes all hope away. This is a book about the importance of words. Words, and their power, their meaning, their role in our world. This book shows us how words can change the world, sometimes for better sometimes for worse, but more often, for better and worse at the same time.
Death narrates the story of Liesel Meminger, a girl who at only nine years old witnesses the death of her brother and, due to her mother's inability to take care of her, is starting a new life alone with two foster parents in the town of Molching, Germany. Set during World War II, Liesel discovers the importance of words after stealing a book from her brother's funeral and learning how to read with her foster dad. Liesel enters a world where books and words change her life forever.
There are really no words to describe how well Zusak paints a picture of the world with this book. He accurately describes what a world at war looks like, but really he just accurately describes the world in general. Humanity in general. The world, which is such a beautiful and tragic contradiction. And this is the first thing in which Zusak succeeds, showing this contradiction through the narrator. What is more contradictory than DEATH narrating a story about a beautiful girl who brings so much happiness to so many people? What is special about the narration is that Death isn't painted as an evil character, quite the opposite in fact, he is the one that fears people. He can't understand them, because death is simple and people are not. Just like he states in the beginning of the novel: "you are going to die". This is the only truth that Death has, and there is no exceptions to the rule, there is no "what ifs". This is a fact, death is simple, and it is explained in one sentence. However, people... People are not simple. They cannot be explain in one sentence. In that regards they are so different to death. Life is so differente, because it has so many possibilities, so many 'what ifs', so many places and thoughts and emotions and experiences and in the center of it, as Liesel discovers, is the very thing that sets us apart as a species.
We are humans have the ability to symbolize. That is what makes us different to animals. We can create symbols, we have a language, we have words. This books reminds us the immense power that we have, and what we can do with it. It paints two different, opposing pictures: Hitler, who with words created hatred, turned people against each other, planted anger, cruelty, disgust. And then there's Liesel. Who with words created love, and hope and happiness. "I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant". This is the biggest contradiction of all regarding humans, and one that is dealt in this book. The same thing that can kill you is the one that can save you. A contradiction.
"I'm always finding humans at their best and worst. I see their ugly and their beauty, and I wonder how the same thing can be both"
This book is so consistant that this idea is seen through all the characters: Liesel, Rosa and Hans Hubermann, Max Vandenburg, Rudy Steiner, Isla Hermann, Frau Holtzapfel... None of these people are perfect. Sometimes they choose themselves over others, sometimes they are selfish, sometimes they are aggressive and violent, and sometimes they are cruel and angry. But at the same time they can be loving, and completely selfless, and kind and fun and smart. The importance of The Book Thief is that Liesel, she understand the contradiction, she has seen life at its worst, but she chooses to plant the right kind of words. She steals the books, another contradiction, she steals the words that change her life. She says she feels she needs to earn them in some way, she takes it from others to use for herself. And that's a beautiful irony. She's the word shaker, and she chooses her words for good. And that's what makes the world just a little bit more worth it in the face of the irrefutable fact of death. Finding that beauty in the face of brutality. This is shown through the beautiful words, and beautiful metaphors and poetic imagery that Zusak uses to describe such devastating images of war, also the way in which Death finds beauty through Liesel's book, and Max finds life in Liesel's words and Liesel finds hope in telling her story, in knowing her words even though they are the same thing that ruined her life.
"The words. Why did they have to exist? Without them, there wouldn't be any of this. Without words, the Fürer was nothing. There would be no limping prisoners, no need for consolation or wordly tricks to make us feel better. What good were the words?"
Like I said, this is an important book. It is never good to forget about life's contradictions. Because we live with them, and it is up to us to tip the balance. Words are nothing without people, we are the ones that plant the words and we have the power to use them, make them, steal them and change the world with them. Maybe, like Liesel, we can tip the balance to the side of beauty no matter the brutality that surrounds us. And this is why The Book Thief is one of the best books I have ever read. ...more
I'm at an awkward point in my life where I know that some of my favorite books I've ever read, books I LOVE, constantly re-read and I treasure like goI'm at an awkward point in my life where I know that some of my favorite books I've ever read, books I LOVE, constantly re-read and I treasure like gold are YA, and therefore I feel like I often crave this genre to find more of those books. The problem? I'm not a YA anymore, and I haven't been for a while, so I just find myself having a harder time relating to the characters; certain stories that I know I might have enjoyed when I was younger don't resonate with me as much now. I feel like I have huge expectations for books I read nowadays, not in terms of plot or originality, I don't care about that as much, I just want to fall in love with the characters when I read a book. And it's getting harder and harder to do so.
North of Beautiful is not a bad book, there's many things I enjoyed about it, and I really liked how it explored the idea of beauty through a character with a port wine stain, it's something I hadn't read about before. However, I can't stay that I loved it. While some aspects had me approving, others had me rolling my eyes. I liked the story but was indifferent to the majority of the characters.
I would definitely recommend this book for fans of YA contemporary, it's a good one in that genre. It has characters with depth, it has stories with substance, no two-dimensional conflicts or cheap resolutions. It has realistic relationships with rewarding growth. It has many of the ingredients that make for a good book. The main character, while lacking a little something in my opinion, was easy enough to like. The best part though were the side characters, from the mom, to Jacob, to Jacob's mom, to Terra's entire family (dad and brothers) I loved that this novel was just as much about them as it was about Terra. That's a huge advantage, I think many YA books don't put too much emphasis on the family, when the reality is that family in a teenager's life is extremely important. I actually enjoyed Terra's mom's journey even more than Terra's. Her story was raw, emotional and definitely real. I loved it. Where I think this book succeeds the most is in telling the story of an entire family, of going deep into their complex relationships, not minimizing or trivializing them. I applaud it for this achievement.
Having gone through the good stuff, I feel obligated to also mention what kept me from truly loving the book. First and foremost, I wasn't a huge fan of the writing. The style was very strange, it didn't flow well in my opinion. It's written in the first person but sounds nothing like a teenage girl. The transitions between one thought to another are done with very little subtleness, I often had to go back and re-read to understand what was happening. On top of that, the author wants to weave the theme of "maps" in relation to beauty, (and life in general) throughout the whole book. While I liked that idea, at points it felt like she was finding metaphors and similes for anything to do with cartography in every single detail. It was just too much, felt so forced it put me off most of the time.
There were also certain aspects of the main character that annoyed me a bit. From the first page she cannot stop complaining about her boyfriend, but does nothing to break up with him. This really bugged me, first because she couldn't say anything good about Jacob without commenting how bad Erik was in comparison. I wanted to scream at the author that we could figure out for ourselves that Jacob was the guy for Terra without her having to bring Erik up every sentence. I just don't like it when authors force us to dislike a character without actually showing us why we should. For example, with the dad we understand what an ass he is, we see it, we experience it. That's much more rewarding than the way Erik is handled where instead of showing us, the author just tells us every other page that he's not a great guy, but what we see - at least at the end - is that the guy actually has good intentions and is not as much of an ass as he's described. It just made the fact that Terra couldn't respect him or Jacob enough to talk to them about the situation and had to drag it out until the very end, all the more annoying. It didn't feel right, it felt like forced conflict, not natural at all. Like the author forced this on the characters to have the dramatic (filled with cartography similes of course) reunion in the last page. Conflict that feels forced and maneuvered by the author is one of my biggest book pet peeves.
So, mostly I guess my issues were with the writing of the book, how it was structured. The way it was written made for a very slow start and (in my opinion) a rushed ending. The best part being the middle. In fact, the book is at its best in China, where we only have the four best developed characters, you can just tell everything flows better. I think if the beginning and ending had been better structured and thought out, it could have been great. It would have greatly benefited from a couple more proof reads. It's still a good book, and a very good option for a YA contemporary fiction. ...more
Ok now here's a book desperately calling for a sequel. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for open endings, but when I enjoy a story so much I like to have sOk now here's a book desperately calling for a sequel. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for open endings, but when I enjoy a story so much I like to have some closure, in Amplified there were many realistic lose ends, that I hope we'll get to come back to soon. I liked the book a lot, the plot, the story, and I loved the characters too, so I really want to know what happens to them and how their lives progress.
This book is about Jasmine, a great guitar player who, before starting college, decides to take the year off and see if she can focus on her music. Her dad, furious, decides that if that's what she chooses to do then she has to get out of the house and should not expect any help from him. Jasmine then joins a band, living with the three male band members and tries to figure out where her life will take her.
I really liked the book because it deals wonderfully with the period of time when you are done high school, you have to figure out what to do with the rest of your life, and you are just eighteen years old, so basically you have no idea. This definitely happened to me, in fact I'm almost done college and it's still happening to me (haha) so I could definitely identify with Jasmine. On top of that she's trying to figure out who she is outside of her family, a family that has had many issues and she wants to define herself, to be her own person. The book follows Jasmine as she becomes more comfortable with who she is, as she starts learning more about herself, loosening up and it does this with a great deal of music references and fun band scenes. PERFECT FORMULA.
The heart of the book is in the dynamic of C-Side, Jasmine's band. I loved reading about their interactions, all the characters were very real, and all the situations were totally realistic. Everything, and I really mean everything that happened in the book can definitely happen in real life, in fact I'm sure it has happened to many new bands trying to make it. I loved reading about Jasmine trying to interact with them, learning how to be friends with them, etc.
However, like I said, the ending is too open. Again, I do like open endings, but this one has little closure, so it leaves you desperate for more. There's just too much stuff left unresolved, and while it makes sense that it is unresolved, I mean she's obviously not going to solve all life problems in a month, I still really would want to see some more resolutions. Sequel, maybe? *fingers crossed* From what I've seen so far it doesn't seem like there was any idea for one *tears*. Here's everything that was not resolved and I want to know more about (it's a long list): (view spoiler)[
- How will the band continue? They'll go on tour, how will that go? Future of the band. - Will Sean get over Amy? Hopefully sooner rather than later - Will Jasmine and her father ever work out their issues? Will he learn how to be supportive? - Will Jasmine ever go back to college? - Sean and Jasmine? Anytime soon? I really liked them so hopefully they'll work out their issues, I mean from the open ending I gather they will, but still wouldn't hurt to read about it :) - Will Jasmine earn the respect of all C-Side fans? - What about Veta and Sophie? It seemed like Veta was still in love with her, so will she ever contact her again? Tell her she didn't actually cheat? - Will Bryn ever really accept Jasmine in the band and let her know how glad he is she's in it? - What about Bryn's past? There's mention of his family but then it doesn't get developed further. - Jason is kind of a mystery. I'd like to see more of him, being Jasmine's best friend. - Also I really would have wanted to see more interactions from the guys and Jasmine dealing with their LIVING ARRANGEMENT. I mean it's never easy to live with anyone, but three roommates? It would have been fun to read more about their issues with that. etc. etc. etc. (hide spoiler)]
So you see, basically every issue that was opened did not get closed. I will say that Jasmine did indeed grow throughout the book, and that was very satisfying to read, especially her awesome solo in the last show, but it wouldn't hurt to have had some closure on at least ONE other issue. There's just so much to deal with here... I mean a girl living with three other guys, and all of them being part of a band? That's a seriously good idea for a TV show, I mean think of the possibilities for weekly drama haha. A network should pick this up. So anyway, while I really liked the book, thought it was completely realistic, it was a treat to read and a very accurate picture of that moment in our lives when we don't know who the hell we are or what the hell we are supposed to do with our lives, and I really enjoyed the characters, I wanted just a little bit more closure. Hopefully we'll get it in some way, if not I'll just put my imagination to serious work.
I do recommend this book. It's a very nice YA contemporary, keeps things interesting, everything and everyone in the book is realistic, likeable and easy to relate to. Plus, the music in it doesn't hurt - a great one for music lovers like myself. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Saving Francesca is everything I want from a YA contemporary novel. I don't know why I waited so long to get on the Melina Marchetta train, b4.5 stars
Saving Francesca is everything I want from a YA contemporary novel. I don't know why I waited so long to get on the Melina Marchetta train, but I can happily say I'm totally on board now. Before Saving Francesca I had only read Marchetta's fantasy novels, this is my first realistic fiction experience. So far she has yet to disappoint, I think I can safely say that I am in for the long haul with her. I am officially a fan.
*Picture me super excited for all the Marchetta books in my future
Saving Francesca is a heartwarming book about learning to feel comfortable in our own skin. It's about learning it's ok to be yourself, it's ok to step out of your comfort zone, it's ok to be wild from time to time. It's a book about friendship, and family, and love. Melina Marchetta delivers this story perfectly, giving enough dimension to every character in the book so that we grow to love all of them, we grow to understand them and sympathize with them. The characters, through their ups and downs, through their highs and their lows, transcend the pages of the book and become real. I'm pretty sure Melina Marchetta is one of the best at characterization, it's quite rare for a book to give so much dimension to so many characters.
From Francesca to her friends Justine, Tara, Siobhan, Jimmy and Thomas. From Francesca's mother Mia to her dad, and her adorable brother, Luca. Will Trombal, Ms Quinn, even her cousin, Angelina. Every character is fleshed out and stands on its own.
This book is above all Francesca's journey towards discovering herself. Francesca has always been defined by others, she has been who her mom wanted to to be at times and at other times she's been who her friends wanted her to be. Now, with her mom suffering from severe depression and her being in a new school all by herself she needs to start learning who she is alone. What defines her? Who is she? It is a privilege to go through this journey with her, watch her grow comfortable with who she is, make friends, stand up for herself and let loose. It is very satisfying to read because this is a book where characters actually grow, they don't end on the same note they started on. It's very satisfying to watch how Francesca's desperate need to save her mother ends up saving her as well.
There's really nothing more the say other than I think from now on this will be the book I compare other YA contemporary novels to. The bar has been set. I've been spoiled by interesting and realistic characters, insightful dialogue, awesome plot developments and now I can never go back. ...more
Graceling has everything I could possibly want in a book: an original setting, interesting and diverse characters, an interesting plot with moments ofGraceling has everything I could possibly want in a book: an original setting, interesting and diverse characters, an interesting plot with moments of action and excitement while others of character development, and a totally believable and swoon-worthy romance. In short, I loved it.
The story takes place in the land of the Seven Kingdoms, where seven different kings rule each kingdom independently. In this land, there are some people (but not all) who are born graced, that is with a certain talent, something they can do better than anyone else, to a supernatural degree. Katsa, is one of those people, she has been graced with killing. Throughout her life, her king has made her do horrible things to others, making her believe she's a monster. However, Katsa takes it upon herself to be more than that, to use her abilities for good, and so she sets out on a quest with the help of Po, a Prince she befriends, to solve a kidnapping.
I could basically list one by one everything I enjoyed about it and why --
1) Original setting: I love fantasy books because they allow me to get to know a completely different world, one that you can access only through the pages of that book. This is something that I've always found thrilling and in Graceling it's no different. I love the fact that a map is included in the beginning, it always helps with the world building. I do wish the culture of the place had been more developed, for example, I didn't completely understand why the graced where so shunned from society. I would think that it would be the other way around, that the graced would be the ones with most powers. While many of them did indeed have high status due to their power, in other cases the graced people who had a grace as harmless as baking and therefore no high status were actually feared by the rest and shunned. I wish there was more explanation as to why that came to be. Still, I enjoyed learning about Katsa's world a lot.
2) Interesting and Diverse Characters: I loved the characters. From Katsa, to Po, to Raffin, Bitterblue, Oll, even Giddon. They all had distinct voices and brought something new to the story. I loved Katsa as a character, she was brave, fiere, had a strong belief system, although she wasn't perfect by any means, she had flaws. I was never annoyed by how "feminist" she seemed to be as some other reviewers were. While I do not agree with her views on marriage and I think the way she thought about it as something that would take away her freedom is totally wrong, it doesn't annoy me because I see it as part of the world she lives in. The Seven Kingdoms is clearly a world ruled by men, at the beginning the ones who rule the kingdoms are all men - the queens don't seem to have any say in anything, even the cities are named after the guy and not the girl, most if not all of the lords are male, women aren't taught how to fight, many are given arranged marriages and it is clear that it is the men that have most of the power. Katsa could be wrong about her views of marriage in the world that we know HERE, but in HER world, maybe it does take some of the liberties away from the women, so I understand why she would not be on board with it. So even though I didn't agree with all of Katsa's views on things, I found her an admirable character, kind, brave and determined. I loved her growth throughout the novel while she realized that her grace did not make her a monster, and finding the humanity and kindness that truly defined her. A great heroine. I also loved Po, and loved how we got to see a great growth from this character as well, especially with the events at the end of the book.
3) Interesting plot: I found myself being interested in the quest to figure out why the Lienid grandfather was kidnapped and by who, it kept me guessing and kept things enjoyable. I really liked that the characters were fast in figuring things our and not idiots that had all the clues in front of their face and still couldn't see what the problem was. Here I felt like I was making guesses along with the characters who were smart enough to pick up any clues they could. I loved the introduction of Bitterblue, her character brought a lot to the table and I thought the way things were resolved (view spoiler)[how the king's downfall in the end was the fact that for once he was telling something that was true instead of all the lies he spread, which got Katsa to protect Po (hide spoiler)] was very neat, a nice irony and very satisfying.
4) The romance: To all young adult authors out there: THIS is how you write a romance. This was a perfectly developed relationship. There was no insta-love crap, no "gazing into each other's eyes" stupidity, no love triangle disease, and very little angst. Instead, there were two people who started being friends, clicked very well together, had a lot of things in common, and slowly started developing feelings for each other. I really enjoyed the romance aspect of the novel, I feel like it was very sweet, but everyone had the right priorities - solving the kidnap and protecting Bitterblue.
This is a very fun book to read, there were many things I enjoyed about it, the only reason I'm not giving it five stars is because, like I said earlier, I would have wanted more development of the world they lived in, their culture, etc. because it would have allowed us to understand the characters and their motivations even better. Still, this is a pretty great fantasy novel that I will definitely keep for frequent re-reads. Very recommended! ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This is a very original novel, one I enojoyed, but for some reason don't seem to love it as much as the general population does. Don't get me3.5 Stars
This is a very original novel, one I enojoyed, but for some reason don't seem to love it as much as the general population does. Don't get me wrong, I liked it, but I didn't LOVE it. I, however, give major props to the author for having and developing such an original idea. It actually took me a while to get through this book, part of the reason because I started reading it right during exam season (not the best idea, I know) but something also wasn't pulling me in completely. I didn't get that urge to turn the pages like I do with so many others. Now, having finished it, I think this is a great book, a must read if you like fantasy and/or angel books, but there are things that could be improved upon.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone is about Karou, a girl who doesn't know much about her life apart from the fact that she was raised by demons her entire life, constantly running errands for them: trading teeth in exchange of wishes, not knowing exactly what this were meant for. As she meets Akiva, an angel, she starts unfolding the story behind the demons, the seraphim and her own existence.
This is a very interesting concept and very original, which could be worth five stars on its own seeing as originality is seriously lacking today in the young adult genre. The few problems I had with the book were mainly in the second half. I think the chronology of how the story was told got a bit confusing at certain moments. The switching points of views, entwined with things being told in flashbacks AND out of order made it a little bit hard to follow. Once I got into the rhythm it was easier, but in my opinion, that moment of such big revelations could have flowed better. Also I wasn't bought in the insta-love romance. I wish we could have been shown more of Madrigal and Akiva's relationship, because it felt too reminiscent of the insta-love-due-to-perfect-look scenarios that keep appearing in every novel. For me, Akiva had no personality, so I have a hard time being invested in their relationship. However, what I did love about their relationship was their mutual hope for peace, and I think it could have been developed more through that side, them getting to know each other through their mutual motivation, before instantly being attracted and in love, it would have been more satisfying in the end.
Apart from that, this was an enjoyable novel. Like I said, it wasn't without its faults, but if in the mood for an original fantasy then it is definitely a good choice. The characters are all mature, apart from a couple of cheesy dialogues you don't find yourself rolling your eyes at all, there are a few genuinely shocking turn of events, the settings - from Prague to the demon world to the portals - were all fascinating to read about and imagine and the story has a lot of potential to grow. I found myself being really interested in the demon characters and their side of the story especially, I loved the different spin given to the battle between good and evil. I am excited to read about Karou's search of peace for her world and I will definitely read the sequel to see how it goes. ...more
It is very hard for me to write this review because it took me a while to gather all my thoughts on this book. There were many things IRating: 4 STARS
It is very hard for me to write this review because it took me a while to gather all my thoughts on this book. There were many things I loved about it, but I also had a few problems with it. The thing is, the problems aren't so much with this book in particular, they are with the fact that this book comes in a series and I can't help getting ahead of myself. For example, there were a few things I didn't understand about the mythology but I don't know if this is because Cynthia Hand left it unanswered or unclear on purpose for the upcoming books or if it will never make sense. Also I foresee a love triangle (love triangle disease alert), it wasn't bad in this book, but I have a feeling I won't like it in the next book at all and it makes me uneasy. So this is why it's hard for me to be sure about my feelings towards this book, because while I enjoyed it a lot, it left me with with an uneasy feeling about the rest to come instead of excitement. Maybe I'm just paranoid, but why oh why, do people never write stand alone books anymore? Nowadays if you want to read a stand-alone book your only option is contemporary, but if you get into science-fiction, paranormal, fantasy, dystopia, etc. forget it, always part of a series *sigh*. It's beginning to bother me a lot, in fact if anyone knows any stand-alone books belonging to those genres I am more than happy to take the recommendation, it doesn't even have to be particularly great, at this point I'll take anything with a beginning and an end.
Anyway, that said, I did enjoy this book a lot. I loved the characters, every single one. Maybe this is why I'm scared for the rest, because book-series that tend to go on too long at one point or another end up inevitably ruining a character you used to love. Well, I loved every singe character in Unearthly, they were all fun to read, they all had distinct personalities, they were all well developed, they all had understandable motives.
Unearthly is about Clara, a part-angel girl whose mother and brother are also, as they call it, "angel bloods". Every angel at one point in their lives gets their "purpose", which is kind of their mission in life, the reason they were put on earth, and they must complete it. At sixteen, Clara gets her purpose through visions of a forest fire and a guy she doesn't know. She does some investigation and finds out that the guy and the forest are in a town in Wyoming, and therefore her and her family move there to fulfill it.
Clara is a very likeable character. She never whines about what she's supposed to do in life. She thinks things through, she's committed to fulfilling her purpose, she's nice, and fun to be around. Her relationship with her mother was very interesting to read, and the fact that she compared it to Gilmore Girls automatically moved her up in my favorite-characters list. Then there's Tucker. Tucker. Tucker. Tucker. I LOVED HIM. This is probably why I'm so nervous for the next books, so nervous that I can't even read it. Because I effing hate love triangles, I hate them even when I'm not particularly involved with the characters, so imagine how much I hate them when I love the people involved a little too much. This is the case here. I loved Tucker from the second he appeared in the book, I knew he had to be with Clara. It even annoyed me a little how obsessed Clara was with Christian, I know it was part of her purpose, but at that point in her purpose there was nothing about dating him, and yet she couldn't see past him. As soon as Clara and Tucker's relationship starts evolving I was swooning all over the place. Seriously they are now one of my favorite fictional couples, I love them that much. They are perfect, fun, interesting and just make sense together. I had a huge smile on my face reading their scenes. This is why I'm so nervous about the love triangle, they always ruin couples or even characters, making a character you once thought strong enough to make a choice, weak and indecisive. And I haven't read any exceptions to this. I don't want that for Clara and Tucker, I really don't. Here I am getting ahead of myself again, but it's only because I loved this couple and I hate love triangles. I appreciate that this isn't your typical hormonal love triangle, this goes beyond, it's part of the mythology, Christian is an important part of the book and I'm very interested in his character, but that doesn't take away from the fact I still consider love triangles to be a disease that has the ability to kill books I once loved. So I'm nervous.
Which brings me to the mythology, and the whole "purpose" idea. There are some spoilers here. It was good, I liked it. But at the end I was left with a whole lot of questions and disappointment. I mean, what was Clara's purpose? Please don't tell me that Clara's purpose had something to do with her and Christian getting together, please don't tell me that an ANGEL supposed to take care of things on earth, make substantial changes for good, gets a purpose about her love life. It wasn't very well explained here, I'm sure she left it for the rest of the books, but I don't buy the whole 'destiny' thing, it seems cheap and I would hope her purpose has a really big, world-changing, explanation behind it. I also wish they explained more about the Black Wings. Who are they? Why was that one after Clara? What's their purpose? I know many things about the mythology are probably left for the next installment but this is exactly why I get tired of series. Because in order to leave information for later books, it just feels like we are not left with much in the first one. I didn't understand much about her purpose or the bad guys. Maybe if ONE of those had been explained more thoroughly I wouldn't feel like I missed something. Also, one thing that didn't make sense, or I didn't get, was the reason why Clara had to dye her hair: (view spoiler)[theoretically it was so she could hide the glow when she was in glory, but she's not in glory all the time! In fact, she's NEVER in glory except for ONE exception, and then when she was in glory the dye just faded and left her blonde again, so what was the point? At the end it just seemed like an excuse (that didn't make much sense) for Christian not to recognize her... (hide spoiler)].
So in conclusion, I'm giving this book four stars because I really enjoyed it. I loved the characters, I loved the idea behind the plot, I thought the writing flowed very well, it was fast-paced, there was a lot of time covered in this book and you never felt bored at all. I loved Clara and Tucker and basically I loved Clara's relationship with all the people she met, Wendy, Angela, Jeffrey, her mom, even Christian. I just wish that there had been more explanations about the angel mythology here, I felt like something was missing for us readers to get a more satisfying ending on that front. And I also wish there there was no love triangle in the next books. I wish it had taken a different road rather than the predictable one. Because, since I'm very attached to the characters, I don't want to see them go down that same annoying road that so many of my favorites already took before and none of them (and I mean none) came out better than they were before. Which is why I'm skeptical about the next book of the series. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more