Your name is Kyle. You're fifteen years old. You're really smart, but you didn't push yourself to get into the smart school so now you're stuck. It'sYour name is Kyle. You're fifteen years old. You're really smart, but you didn't push yourself to get into the smart school so now you're stuck. It's boring down here, but whatever, right? You're one of the school's 'hoodies'--the bad boys with the hoods and the same black t-shirt every day. You've got a crush on a girl named Ashley, and maybe someday you'll actually ask her out. Life is defined by not getting caught. But you're fine with that. Except then Zach comes. He's smart too, but he's different. And he's made it his mission to screw with as many lives as possible at this new school, your school, having been kicked out of his last. He's taken a particular interest in you, actually. What're you gonna do now?
I kind of feel like writing the rest of the review in second person (You will read the book and you will like it!) since that's the way the book goes, but this is a review, not a Jedi mind-trick. (Yes, you read that right--the book is written in second person. More on this later.)
It's definitely a good book, being Benoit's fourth. It is, however, his first YA book, and it shows--though not quite as much as the fact that the entire idea came as a challenge from his wife. Maybe I wouldn't have been able to guess this had I not heard the author speak in October, but it's obvious there's something a little off about the book. It's extremely fast paced and very short--I read it in a day while still doing work for classes and writing over 1,500 words for NaNoWriMo--but it definitely leaves something to be desired. I could scarcely believe it was over until I realised that I was staring at the back cover of the book. Usually there is a bit of "Well, what now?" at the end of books, but honestly, the story just ends right before the end of the climax.
Going back to the fast-paced bit--yes. Yes yes yes. The telling of the tale is brilliant--the second person comes naturally and is almost hypnotic, drawing you in until you stop realising that no, you haven't suddenly turned into a fifteen-year-old boy named Kyle with a crush on a girl named Ashley who wears the same black t-shirt every single day (unless you are already, in which case, that's kind of creepy and you seriously need to read this book). There were moments where I wasn't sucked in quite as much--like every time Ashley was around (again, more on this in a minute)--but for the most part, total enthralment. (Which apparently is a word.) The story unfolds in a slightly chaotic but overall incredible sort of random way, with flashbacks and copious amounts of foreshadowing, that kind of resembles an exhausted runner jogging and occasionally sprinting along towards the finish line, upon which time they collapse...
And now, Ashley, you get to be addressed. By way of, What does Kyle see in you? I'm torn between thinking it's so real by the way that Ashley literally has no redeeming value and I can't for the life of me see why Kyle is mooning after this girl constantly (he doesn't even listen to her when she's speaking to him) or completely idiotic. I mean, there are books where I don't understand the attraction at all, but at least the protagonist gives some half-decent reason. Not with Ashley. Kyle just becomes a bit of a broken record, noting every now and then that he loves Ashley and that he wants to have sex with her. That's lovely, Kyle. But I'm not buying into it. Which is kind of a problem when I am you.
Aside from Ashley, all the rest of the characters are charming/brilliant in their own way. Kyle is particularly interesting, being smart but not motivated in the least and acknowledging the fact. His love for his little sister is also intriguing and nicely adds another layer to his personality.
However, it's really Zach that steals the show. So strange, so different, so... Well, you'll just have to read it and draw your own conclusions of Zach. Personally, I rather like him in that way that if we were to meet there would be no possible way it would end well.
Overall--go ahead a read it. At most, if you absolutely hate it, you'll have wasted a few hours of your life. But honestly, even if you don't like it, you will be intrigued--by the whole second-person thing, Kyle, Zach... what the heck is going on at the beginning, as it opens with "You're surprised by all the blood"......more
HAHAHAHA, Goodreads! I beat your stupid popup that doesn't save any of my changes!
They're everywhere: Beautiful and terrible, they're thereHAHAHAHA, Goodreads! I beat your stupid popup that doesn't save any of my changes!
They're everywhere: Beautiful and terrible, they're there all the time. But you can only see them if they want you to. They're all around you right now. Feel that prickle down the back of your neck? That's them. You can't see them... but the fey are always there.
Aislinn can see the fey. It's paramount they don't know, of course--humans have had their eyes gouged out for having the Sight. So Aislinn has three rules to protect herself: 1) Don't stare at invisible faeries. 2) Don't speak to invisible faeries. 3) Don't ever attract their attention.
It's worked rather well so far... until one begins to stalk her everywhere. Keenan. He's a court faery, too, and he's got a friend just the same--so powerful, they can walk into a place of poison iron and wear a glamoured smile through it. There's nothing worse to Aislinn short of death than being courted by a court fey... but it doesn't seem like he's going anywhere.
And indeed Keenan isn't. He needs a Summer Queen to regain his power and stop the world from going cold. Aislinn is the one, he's sure of it... he needs her. If only she could know...
There is so much that's attractive about this book.
There's the cover, to start--highly symbolic, besides the obvious beauty. There's the title, delicious to say and also symbolic and beautiful. There's the fantasy-romance aspect (for some) and the beautiful diction (for others).
Probably my favourite aspect is the massively complex web of conflicts. You've got Aislinn's desire to stay away from Keenan, knowing him to be dangerous, and yet by being human and mortal she's instinctively and irresistibly drawn to him; Keenan's need for a queen warring with his lingering love for Donia and desire to not have to force himself on Aislinn. Donia's internal conflict is the most interesting to me personally, a complex and intricate battle between her personal feelings, the feelings of others, and her duty.
All of this, naturally, is expressed in the best way possible: Subtle yet passionate and wholehearted. Marr doesn't need to have anything explained to the reader--instead, her writing is done well enough that the feeling is conveyed without the obvious "He felt this way, because of x y and z." You're in everyone's head at once in Wicked Lovely, transported from one point of view to the other in different sections. Each character has a lightly distinctive style of thinking, all three holding the common denominators of wonderful diction and strong imagery. Each character is well-represented in their own right, a good balance between the realistic and the fabulous. Whereas occasionally one might come across some fantasy novel with an immortal character that acts as if he or she hasn't been alive this whole time and has instead just time-travelled to the current age, Donia and Keenan have a good balance. Donia can work a computer with ease, but still appreciates older fashions. Keenan seeks education on the nuances of courting modern girls, but he also owns a hot club. (One of the frequent complaints on the topic of characters is Seth--namely, that he's seemingly too good to be true. Still, as Marr addresses in an interview at the back of my edition of Wicked Lovely, we must keep in mind that Seth is really only seen through Aislinn's eyes. Thus, if she sees him as a shining beautiful person who can do no wrong, as she obviously does, then that is how he will appear to the reader.)
With all of the purely skillful writing, Marr's faery canon seems just the icing on the cake. Well-researched and traditional, Marr has simply brought back the fey of old--no freaky additions to the mythology here. Instead, just a really rather brilliant urban faerie tale....more
Lia is a wintergirl--an anorexic, struggling to stay below 100 pounds while still treading water and avoidinFour point five eight three nine two four.
Lia is a wintergirl--an anorexic, struggling to stay below 100 pounds while still treading water and avoiding her parent's concern. A wintergirl, stuck between being dead and being alive, but not really either. She and her friend Cassie swore to be the skinniest girls in the school, and now Lia's won the contest by default--Cassie died yesterday. It's over for her, but it's far, far from it for Lia.
After being slightly disappointed by Speak (that's right, I was very slightly disappointed by Speak--stay with me here, people) because of all the hype surrounding it, I was a little more wary not to listen to anything anyone said about Wintergirls. Impartial jury and all. And, as with Speak, it's much easier to be impressed if you don't have a billion and one glowing reviews to compare against.
That said, Wintergirls fascinated me. The copy I read actually is a friend's (I promise I'll give it back right after I finish this review!), and she'd underlined all through some of the most powerful sentences--and this is a person who stubbornly resists annotating books for teachers and aligns that with vandalism (so do I). And it makes total sense--something this profound just NEEDS to be recognised.
There's something magical about the way Wintergirls is written that deserves the recognition. The crossed-out phrases (how can people object to this?! It adds so much life to know both what Lia thinks and what she thinks she shouldn't!), the calorie counts on every food she consumes, the italics between her transitions into flashbacks and back to reality, Elijah just in general, Cassie's post-mortem visits (the perfect mixture of fantasy and reality)... the way Lia says the most profound things sometimes, but she's not obnoxious about it, instead the exact opposite--she's innocently brilliant and doesn't even realise it.
It's purely Lia, as well--first person at its best. She doesn't try to explain why she's anorexic, she doesn't spend time trying to explain her internal struggles--you either grok it or you don't, Lia's not here to explain anything. She's here to tell a story. I found this kind of refreshing--you can't explain an emotion. Horrible things can't be explained. There's no better way to empathise than to read it, to live it, and that's what Wintergirls does--it lets you live it. Empathise, not understand. Purely Lia.
I'm not a perfect person. I confess to reading every review on the back and after reading the actual book every review inside the front cover. Publisher's Weekly stole what I was going to say next, so I'll just quote them instead: "As difficult as reading this novel can be, it's even more difficult to put it down."...more
Phe isn't sure exactly why she's now going to boarding school in Shadow Hills. It was her choice, yes, but all the motivation she has is that her sistPhe isn't sure exactly why she's now going to boarding school in Shadow Hills. It was her choice, yes, but all the motivation she has is that her sister was writing about it in her diary before she drowned at a party. Phe's been having some strange dreams as well, which she believes must be unrelated until she finds that both the people and the places in them are at Shadow Hills. There are more strange things than just Phe's dreams and a scry graveyard, though. There's also the way that some of the people living there--like the irresistibly good-looking Eric and his irritatingly good-looking sister--have the strangest talents... such as recharging iPods with the touch of a hand and telekinesis. Oh, and going into other's dreams. That's unusual too. Phe's stubbornly going to find an explanation to all of this... no matter how dangerous it is.
Question: How come Phe is THE ONLY ONE who seems to notice and/or care that these people are not just über-smart, they also have all sorts of other, more conspicuous things as side-affects of being a BV. What makes Phe so special that she sees these people are freaks of nature?
And another thing: The whole relationship thing was just weird. First of all, how did Eric get into her dream? Secondly, it's hard for me to not be irritated at the way it all goes down. First, Phe comes to Shadow Hills. Next, she meets Grant--this great guy who seems interested in her. Then she meets Eric, and oooh, Eric is the hot guy! Immediately, she falls for Eric and forgets about Grant altogether, other than when it's convenient. Does Grant care? Of course not. Suddenly there's Toy spilling her guts about her crush on Grant to two girls she barely knows and wha-bang, coupleness works out. It's just too convenient that it all works out.
The whole "magic" bit was lackluster as well. There's an attempt at passing it off as a gene mutation, but personally I think it falls flat at the fact that everyone has a different little thing they do and it's so random. Telekinesis? What? Where'd that come from? And the power just... comes back all of the sudden, when it's necessary. Altogether too convenient and too few rules. Nothing ever makes sense for long. It would almost be better without the explanation.
Oh, and there's that bit with the names... and the bit with Athena. She's not there enough to satisfy me, but too much for it to properly take backseat.
Still, other than some obvious flaws, it's a perfectly fine story... I'll be looking for the next one when it comes out at the library....more
Disclaimer: I got a free copy from the author via Goodreads First Reads. This has had about the same effect on this review as the typeset has (and I'mDisclaimer: I got a free copy from the author via Goodreads First Reads. This has had about the same effect on this review as the typeset has (and I'm not referring to the swirly chapter titles, either).
It's a love-at-first-sight romance novel, I'll tell you right now. On the bright side, it never pretends to be anything else and is in fact quite well-written, especially considering some other books I've read in the genre.
It's actually quite good. Better than I'd expected, by far. Luke, Faith, and all the rest are fine characters. They don't have anything particularly striking about their personalities, though. No real quirks, except perhaps Faith's unrelenting ability to screw up a conversation with Luke and her almost-unrelenting belief that all men are bad, bad people. Even when she's surrounded by over a dozen very kind men. It almost seems like the author just keeps coming back to that stubborn opinion randomly to keep the plot from moving too fast.
In all honesty, I can't find much to say about this book at all. It's a sweet little warm tale. Even the edge of Faith's husband's slightly mysterious death isn't so edgy. It ends pretty much exactly the way I guessed it would, all strings tied up into one pretty little bow. Maybe it was a little dull at times, but it's not horribly sluggish. Generally, I'd give a book like this three stars, but the writing is phenomenal so often throughout that I can't help but bump it up another star. ...more
What I Didn't Like About Shiver: Sam, the romance, the parents.
Something I've Noticed Other People Didn't Like: The dual narrative.
What I Adored AboWhat I Didn't Like About Shiver: Sam, the romance, the parents.
Something I've Noticed Other People Didn't Like: The dual narrative.
What I Adored About Linger:
1. Cole. I know, I know; Cole is kind of a prick, and Maggie almost cut him out entirely. But I love the boy! He's snarky, he's funny, and he's not a sap like Sam. He's a refreshing break from the sap that is Grace/Sam. Also, he made me appreciate Isabel, something I didn't think was possible.
2. Isabel. She's got a lot more going on behind the face that, as Maggie so eloquently put it last night at a signing, you need to say, but it's Isabel, so you can't just say it, that would be too easy. She's complicated while at the same time blunt, cut&dry. I like that. A lot.
3. Maggie Stiefvater, you have my deepest admiration. I can't imagine ever being able to screw up any characters' lives so badly while still making it completely understandable. Maggie, you are brilliant.
Linger brings all your favourites back from the first book, and also effectively wipes out all three of my major issues with Shiver. Sam's character is expanded perfectly, making him so wonderfully open with himself in his thoughts while still remaining hopelessly insecure. He has been redeemed in my eyes, though he's still a bit of a sop. The romance is more natural this time around, as well: It's comfortable now. It doesn't exactly redeem the first book's occasional irks, but it definitely does get better in Linger.
A Note on the Dual Narrative, Just For Those People Who Didn't Like It Before: Hearing Maggie explain her reasoning is helpful and made me appreciate the different narrators. Also, there are four in Linger: Cole and Isabel are added, throwing in a completely different dynamic than Sam and Grace. Sam and Grace, even, are more different in this book than the first--Grace's secrets and Sam's denial of them definitely put contrast on the differenced between them. (That, and I just heard the explanation of which characters bring what to the table. So yeah, maybe I was looking for it a little with Sam and Grace and am a bit biased.)
And last but not least (yes, I did put this one off some), the parents. I can't say anything without getting spoiler-y, but they definitely come more into play, and their relationship (pretty much abandonment) with Grace is brought into view.
There are so many good things about this book, honestly, it's incredible. Significantly better than Shiver, in my opinion. A tear-jerker, a page-turner, and full of some of the most awesome characters purely from a writing standpoint and a growth standpoint (from Shiver, that is)... I absolutely cannot wait for Forever....more
FREE BOOK ALERT. NO EFFECT ON REVIEW. Consider that a disclaimer.
Well, it's true. The truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. And with that, I mightFREE BOOK ALERT. NO EFFECT ON REVIEW. Consider that a disclaimer.
Well, it's true. The truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. And with that, I might add, unmistakably more painful.
Precious Anita Williams was born to a Nigerian mother, but she's also British. She lives in the threatening shadow of her mother, an abusive though distant presence in Anita's life, given that she's lived with Nanny, her 57-year-old foster mother, and Nanny's daughter, Aunt Wendy, for most of her life. In Color Blind chronicles Ms Williams's difficult and downward-spiralling childhood.
So much happens in this book. So much has happened in this life. For this first time, I'm having trouble with this review, because this memoir is so personal--there's a person behind the pages. Someone experienced it, and someone wrote it. Color Blind isn't one of those books that feels just the same as fiction, where the story can be so easily distanced from the life that went through it, and I can blindly chatter on about how thrilling or boring it was to read. It's painful to read at times, even. Painful to read, but impossible to stop. I'd like to say that it has a lovely happy ending at the end, and I suppose in a way it does--the book ended up being written and published, now, didn't it? But it's not a happy book. Ms Williams lays out all the cards here, exposing her painful and brutal childhood at face value.
As a child, she is abused physically in ways she sometimes does and sometimes doesn't understand. Her personality shifts constantly throughout the book as she tries desperately to find and comes to term with her identity, her family, and her body. She tries and fails to please, she lashes out, she comes back. It's not a simple story, and it's not one that necessarily contains any answers, or even the questions to match them. Ms Williams's success speaks for itself in the number of publications across the globe she's written for, but the book doesn't go that far. It's a life in many parts, without a doubt worth the read. Maybe it will teach you something, maybe it won't.
One thing is for certain: The only way to find out is to read it. (Now go pre-order the book on Amazon. Now.)...more
I still want to know what's with the blue ink. But anyway.
Grace lives with wolves. Well, kind of. There are wolves that live in the forest her yard baI still want to know what's with the blue ink. But anyway.
Grace lives with wolves. Well, kind of. There are wolves that live in the forest her yard backs up into. Several of them. There's the white she-wolf, the black wolf, and her wolf--one with pale yellow eyes. Her wolf, who saved her life six years ago when she was dragged off her tire swing in the backyard by the wolves. Her wolf saved her. Ever since that day, Grace's been the slightest big obsessed with the wolves. So when a boy is reportedly killed by one, she can hardly believe it. She has to, though--especially when hunters go into the woods, hell-bent on killing some wolves.
Grace doesn't believe in werewolves, either. Until she sees her wolf on her porch, bleeding from his neck, yellow eyes fearful. Human.
It's Sam's last change, and he knows it. He's going to have to fight for every day he remains human. The wolves change forms depending on the temperature, and as it grows colder and colder, Sam is closer and closer to turning wolf again. Unless they can find a cure, and fast, Sam's days as a human may be numbered.
Tetch. Seemed too close to Twilight for my comfort. And it kept reminding me of Twilight as it went on. Yes, yes, Shiver was begun before the whole Twi-craze, but that doesn't mean they aren't remarkably similar. Still, Shiver wasn't all too bad. For one, I don't hate the protagonist. And they both joke about how it's kind of creepy that Grace is so into wolves and that wolf-Sam was in love with human Grace. Grace's parents struck me as unusually distant for a bit, but after thinking about it more, they're not too far off-base from what could be reality.
The cynical side of me, though, can't help but make fun of Sam for a moment, though. He's too... nice. Too perfect. He and Grace never argue. Ever. Maybe twice in the entire book. Sam lives with her for weeks and weeks. There's only one bed in Grace's room. Not an issue at all. Someone in a café asks how long they've been together, Sam says six years without missing a beat. It's kind of hilarious, actually, while still being very sweet. I'm tempted to say it's not realistic enough, not possible. But hey, it could be, right? So I'll just leave off with a footnote: Sam's a total softie. Didn't ruin the book for me, though. And I certainly can't wait to get my hands on the second....more
Well, not really. It started at prom night, when Alison's date never came. Stood up by a guy off the internet, the shaIt all started with a cupcake...
Well, not really. It started at prom night, when Alison's date never came. Stood up by a guy off the internet, the shame! And then Jane's boyfriend of just over seven months broke up with her and started ignoring her even as a friend. And then the cupcake. And Ally's puke all over the freshman. And then Ally's new haircut. And then Jane found out that her best-and-only friend was dating her ex, but also had sold her soul to the devil.
Well, the devil likes games... the question is, who's the better player? Jane... or Satan?
Wow. I'm impressed. This is a much better book than I thought it would be. I'm not really one for the supernatural, but MJ didn't do anything weird like have a demon slayer hook up with Jane (though Owen is pretty cool for a 116-year-old 14-year-old) or have the demons really just be misunderstood... and you can never really be sure if everyone's going to die in the end or not. I mean, there's a distinct possibility through the entire thing that Ally or Jane could just die. Fun, right? YES.
Devilish is set in Providence, Rhode Island. Which, for the record, is a lot more interesting than it sounds. They have trollies. Do we have trollies where I am? No, no we do not. We don't have a subway, even. We also don't--so far as I know--have an all-female Catholic school. This book does. And it also has a heaping plate of MJ humour--the best kind. And a few dead people. And cupcakes. What more could you want?*
*Edward Cullen? Sorry, nobody sparkles and the dead guys keep their hands off. So sorry to disappoint you....more