I received a copy from FSB Associates in exchange for an honest review
A Trick of the Light by Lois MReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I received a copy from FSB Associates in exchange for an honest review
A Trick of the Light by Lois Metzger is a very powerful and honest novel that explores the dark world of eating disorders and how young males can be just as affected as young females. Whereas I've read novels with teenage girls losing themselves piece by piece to the addicting and disastrous nature of wanting to be "thin,", none were as disturbing and honest as this one.
Told in an unconventional way, A Trick of the Light is a quick, surprisingly informative, shocking novel with a protagonist that can really be anyone you know, which makes Metzger's novel more memorable.
Mike, the protagonist, is a kid who not only has body issues, but a difficult home life, where his parents are a little too busy doing things for themselves, or wallowing in their own self-pity to realize their son isn't exactly OK. We immediately sympathize with Mike because of his living conditions, but much like he does with others around him as he descends into his eating disorder, he pushes us away by being snappy or rude. This is also the disorder's way of pushing us away, because really, we're helpless while we watch Mike's health fall more and more into dangerous levels.
The prose is quickly paced and addicting, despite the dark theme. Though the novel is short, we learn a lot about how an eating disorder can materialize while we're at our weakest and when we need order in the chaos of life.
I also enjoyed (and cringed) at the honesty found in A Trick of the Light when it comes to obesity vs anorexia, but I also liked reading how even those challenged by what they see in the mirror can find a way to look beyond the surface of a person, no matter their size.
This may be a little weird, but sometimes it felt like Mike was actually a girl suffering from an eating disorder, but then I'd be reminded by a comment, or action that he was in fact a boy. I think this tendency to read his character as androgynous plays into the idea that eating disorders don't pick a specific gender: they are present in every gender and at any age.
The most interesting part is how Mike's love for film is a constant in his world, even as he becomes more and more focused on his physical image. I was also happy to see the power and encouragement that followed Mike when he thought that no one else cared about him, playing into the idea that we aren't as alone as we think we are.
Metzger's novel is an inspiring and must-read young adult book. The message is clear of just how dangerous it has become to be a young adult in today's contemporary world where size zero is ideal, and where eating with gusto is frowned upon. A Trick of the Light also challenges us to not judge others by their outward appearances in terms of how they feel emotionally, and how complex their home lives may be--we can never truly know how someone is doing if they are unwilling to tell us the truth.
I also think that A Trick of the Light shows us how difficult it is to say no to eating disorders once they have a hold of us. The issues that come with eating disorders, such as: the obsession with looking better, the inability to see ourselves the way others do, and the unrealistic goals we may set for ourselves, are incredibly difficult to overcome, no matter how much we want to stop. In a way, a certain part of the novel shows just how difficult and overpowering eating disorders can be, and that message alone shows how honest Metzger's novel is, because she doesn't offer easy solutions, but realistic ones that leave us to wonder if the solutions are long-term, or short-term.
I recommend A Trick of the Light to any readers who like a thought-provoking young adult contemporary novel. The narrative, which I will not spoil for you, is haunting and terrifying, and the description of just how overpowering eating disorders can be will definitely surprise readers. ...more
Jake Vander Ark's latest novel in his Blank Canvas Series, The BrandywinReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I received a copy for review
Jake Vander Ark's latest novel in his Blank Canvas Series, The Brandywine Prophet, is the first adult novel I've read by him. Eye-opening, occasionally unnerving, and with a disturbingly intriguing protagonist, Vander Ark's latest is an exploration of the dangers of creativity and the human existence. Written in a near-omniscient style, yet maintaining William, the protagonist, as the main focus of the novel, The Brandywine Prophet is an interesting little book.
The novel is laced with the occasional red herring. Whereas other novels may adopt the use of red herrings, they are very rarely as effective as Vander Ark's false leads and spoilers. The reader will think that s/he knows everything there is to know about the story. Heck, s/he might even think that the story is predictable.
The beauty of red herrings is that they are rarely used, which I find tends to lull the reader into a false sense of security. I love that Vander Ark uses the possibility of having a slightly predictable novel and turns it into something completely unpredictable.
This unpredictability helps the characters grow or wither (depending on their situations) effectively. The reader often learns truths and falses as the characters do. Most importantly though, the reader sees how characters bond, or fall apart thanks to Vander Ark's somewhat sadistic twists and turns. And I mean that as a compliment, since he obviously has a great grasp of what makes his characters tick.
The two negatives that I could not ignore in The Brandywine Prophet, however, was the occasional lack of editing, and the sometimes slow pace of the story. Though definitely a book to read if you've read Vander Ark's previous works in this series, I found the editing to be weaker than in his other novels and the story was a bit harder to get into.
But keep in mind: once the story picks up, it doesn't relent--in fact, the slow pacing mostly occurs in the first half of the novel. If you stick with the story until the pivotal point where William's world begins to fall apart, you will be pleasantly surprised.
As always, Vander Ark's prose is beautiful. His descriptions, metaphors, dialogue, and poignant observation of a disturbed and artistic mind is what the reader should keep an eye on.
The story itself, though very complicated at times, tells the reader that not everything is as it seems. Religion is shown as a savior for some, but as the destruction of others. The topic of God is introduced, it is pursued, questioned, abandoned--but it is never forced.
Vander Ark's latest is as much a contemporary fiction piece as it is an existential examination--if we put aside the obvious dark themes of the novel. If you've enjoyed The Accidental Siren and Lighthouse Nights, then you should consider giving The Brandywine Prophet a shot. ...more
I bought Marie Lu’s Legend (the first book in the Legend series) on a whim. I’d read good things abo This review first appeared here: Book Addict 24-7
I bought Marie Lu’s Legend (the first book in the Legend series) on a whim. I’d read good things about Lu’s work, as well as bad on Goodreads and decided to check it out for myself.
Simplistic and bold, the cover of Legend, I assume, is meant to catch the attention of adventure seekers who are sick of the pretty girls in impossible dresses looking distraught on book cover after book cover. I know that talking about the cover of the book isn’t really reviewing it, but I think it is important to note the simplicity of it because Lu is already showing the defiant nature of her novel. If the popular choice for a novel is that of a woman crying, then you’ll see an impossible amount of weeping women in your local bookstore, but then imagine eyeing among all of the sad faces, Lu’s novel in all it’s silver and gold glory (nice colour scheme, by the way).
What was once the United States has becoming a feuding war zone. The Republic (where our protagonists reside) is at war with their neighbors, the Colonies. Much like other dystopian worlds, The Republic takes its children at the ripe age of ten and tests them so as to ascertain who are the weak, the passable, and the exceptional future citizens. June and Day, the protagonists, are as different as can be. While June is an intelligent, rich, and promising girl, Day is a poor felon on the run from The Republic. When June’s brother is murdered and all signs point to Day, she must decide what’s real and what is just a fabrication of The Republic.
What ensues is a crazy adventure full of suspense, fun, and of course, romance (you seriously didn’t think that there would be no romance, did you?) While there are some awesome aspects of Lu’s novel, there are some weaker points as well.
1. I know it isn’t fair to say that Legend is predictable because it is from two perspectives, but it doesn’t stop it from being true. While it wasn’t a huge deal like in some other novels I’ve recently read, it still bugged me. I wish that I could for once play detective with a book and be wrong at the end. In a good way.
2. This is a minor point that I hope Lu works on for her sequel: the speed of the novel. The action and events that are described in the inside flap fully begin to take place about halfway through the novel. I know that the author is building up suspense, but while her novel is beautifully written, it dragged a bit. Don’t get me wrong, I agree with the creation of the background information for the reader. I also agree with Lu giving the reader time to fall in love with the characters by giving us more time with them before all hell breaks loose, but she could have moved it a little faster. I really loved this book, but this was an annoying aspect of Lu’s writing. Though I’m sure others would disagree.
3. Day can be kind of arrogant and I still don’t know how to respond to that. I remember reading what he thinks of pretty girls and what he’d do to them (at fifteen!) and thinking wow, that must be one advanced community! (And in fact, it probably is considering that they get tested at 10). I’m on the fence about his character.
1. The concept of this story appears unoriginal and overused, but Lu adds a special touch of something that gives the novel a bit of a push out of the usual dystopian novels. The rise of the political “we won’t take your crap” novels shows that some writers are playing with fiction in order to comment about society without adding magic, vampires, or werewolves into the mix.
2. Lu uses different coloured text for when speaking from Day or June’s perspective. Not only is this fun and helpful, but the effect acts as a way of showing more profoundly the differences between June and Day. Like with the cover, the artistic decision with the coloured text is genius.
3. I loved the characters. Not just June and Day, but the minor characters who end up affecting the protagonists’ lives. I liked that Lu didn’t overdo the thirst for blood that some characters have (not vampiric thirst, just crazy killer thirst) and that her true villains appear calculated and intelligent, rather than angry and vengeful. The side characters that work for The Republic are creepy as hell in their stoic appearances and I loved it.
4. I mentioned the problem of predictability, but let me tell you that Lu played with my mind. I am not going to write this spoiler down, but just remember that not everything is as it seems (this however is one instance, hence the negative side of this stays up-top).
5. I’m on the fence about the relationship of the two protagonists. I’ll have to wait for the sequel to decide whether I like it or not.
6. June’s character is a bit naive, but she’s powerful. She plans and eventually finds the truths that she needs to learn and she’s a good character to follow in this series.
If you like dystopian novels with a kick or young adult novels that can be devoured in one sitting then I recommend you read Legend.
I received a copy from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
True to the creepy synopsis and covReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I received a copy from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
True to the creepy synopsis and cover, Suzanne Young's The Program is a disturbing portrayal of a world where suicide grows rampant and is classified as a mental disease that is catching, especially in teenagers. Between the scary idea that the government could give such power to industries much like "The Program", and that teenagers facing the increasing difficulties in their world can be classified as suicidal, Young's novel is not only original, but effectively eye-opening and thought-provoking.
Sloane, the protagonist, is perhaps one of those fortunate characters that we can't exactly hate. We see her decisions, we see her world beyond the knowledge that she is capable of holding--thanks to "The Program"--, yet we can't really outright blame her. If you don't know what's good or bad for you, how can you make the "right" decision? If your previously known world is a blank for you, would what we classify as right and wrong be the same for you?
What immediately caught my eye was the romantic aspect of The Program. It drives Sloane forward, even as her familiar world disintegrates from her memory. It also isn't one of those immediate romances that the protagonist encounters at the beginning of the novel. Instead, we are introduced to this powerful couple who vow to stand against the world, even if they have to make dire decisions. What I liked about this is that while Sloane's world does revolve around her relationship with James, she uses the difficulties they face as a way of growing and overcoming the chains of their society.
Perhaps one of the best, and most frustrating parts of The Program are when Sloane encounters the antagonist: "The Program". We are made to really hate this organization, even as they promise Sloane that they are healing her. This is where being an observer becomes useful. Whereas Sloane and her parents see only what "The Program" wants them to see, we are privy to everything. In a way, this is kind of awesome because we hope and hope that Sloane will also learn of what is happening. We root for her because of the powerful character she was at the beginning of the novel.
The pacing was less than stellar. The beginning of The Program, though used to build up the importance of Sloane and James' relationship, dragged a bit and I often found myself wondering when the intriguing parts would come. Instead, we are plagued with Sloane's depression and the dread that something bad is about to happen...the issue is that it took to long to get to said "something bad".
Keeping that in mind though, once Sloane enters "The Program" then everything becomes much more interesting. We connect a lot more with the characters, the storyline becomes addicting, and we start to truly root for Sloane.
Also, I've never been a fan of characters who have long internal dialogues when they are on a limited amount of time. There is no sense of urgency in their thoughts, despite the urgent situation. This happens quite a bit in The Program and let me just say that if I could shake Sloane into shape, I would have.
The epilogue was fantastically creepy. It hints at just how every action has consequences and how, though we strive to move forward and forget our pasts, we will always fall back and repeat what has happened.
One of the interesting quotes I found in Young's novel is, "I think that sometimes the only real thing is now" (Young), which ironically touches on the fact that yes, we do need to live in the here and now, but what if our pasts can save us from the here and now? This quote forces the reader to ponder what life would be like if we just simply lived in the present, rather than let our pasts mitigate our actions.
I recommend The Program to fans of dystopian fiction that hits a little too close to home, and deals with the painfully familiar topic of teen suicide. The romance in this novel is powerful and shows just how strong our hearts are when it comes to judging character and knowing what we truly want, despite our pasts being a distant memory and the present our only reality. ...more
When I jumped into Evan Fuller's Mutt I wasn't sure what I was getting myself into. I have readThis review first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
When I jumped into Evan Fuller's Mutt I wasn't sure what I was getting myself into. I have read independent authors' novels before that have left me confused, angry, and even tired, so I won't lie, I was a bit weary. But Fuller's debut into the world of writing is an exciting and fluently written story that delves into the politics of humanity if the world were to experience catastrophic events (I'd like to even say that the points raised in the novel can be used to compare the different powers that countries in the present global economy hold).
The cover is intriguing and it forces the reader to look for any hints of what is offered within the pages. The magic can be seen in the wisps of smoke coming off Green, the central magical character in the novel, and the rough life of the Wastelands can be noted in the wear and tear of his clothing. The colour of the background might indicate the "wasteful" atmosphere that the characters explore.
The following synopsis is from smashwords:
"Centuries after most of humanity died out, a new civilization is slowly constructed upon the remnants of the old.
Emery, a young man living in the walled city of Rittenhouse, has taken it upon himself to rescue "mutts," as the citizens of Rittenhouse call the impoverished masses outside. When Timothy, a boy afflicted with a fatal illness, seeks Emery's help, the two embark on a deadly errand to secure the medicine Timothy needs. This mission takes them from the safety of Rittenhouse into the wasteland outside it, where ancient superstitions are reborn and humanity struggles to survive amidst the ruins of a fallen American metropolis."
To be honest, I have become a fan of Fuller's writing and only really had two complaints while reading the novel.
1. Editing. Though not to such an extent that it distracted me from the story, the editing could have been a bit more thorough. Some of the errors include: a few missing quotation marks, extra words, oddly phrased sentences, and missing words. The problems with editing weren't so huge that it completely killed the novel because the writing was still beautiful. Don't let this deter you though: a) because I am a stickler for these things in novels, and b) the story is brilliant and thought-provoking.
2. There is one moment where a professor is called out of a classroom and I never get to find out what happened... I would love to see an answer in the sequel!
1. Fuller's writing is effortless. When I first began reading Mutt, I found myself lost in the world of Rittenhouse and the Wastelands (which immediately brought my thoughts to T.S. Eliot, but I digress). The writing is fast-paced and this is mainly why I finished so quickly!
2. There is a scene that terrified the hell out of me. Why is this a positive? Because I rarely find novels that legitimately have sections that scare me to the point were I feel uncomfortable. For example, there's a point where Emery, the protagonist, is attacked and his thoughts become erratic. How does Fuller present the mental change of his character? By writing one long run-on sentence, which is an excellent technique when done purposefully with the intention of disturbing the reader and making him/her wonder why the author has written such a sentence.
3. The emotions that the characters experience are well written and I found myself empathizing with them. Let me tell you, some moments in this book will break your heart, while others will make you just as angry as the characters themselves.
4. The characters all varied for me. Lydia was a bit of a nag, but I understand why. (view spoiler)[That wholeromance in the novel was a bit unexpected, but I hope that it is explored further in the next novel since it left me feeling a bit confused. (hide spoiler)] The people in and from the Wastelands had a great dialect, which Fuller continuously used. He varied it slightly as the social status of the characters either rose or fell. Emery is of a higher class, so his dialogue was rich and intelligent.
5. The description of things that survived after the extinction of the world as we know it and how the world rebuilt itself is brilliant. It was fascinating to see how things would be in such a world and how our actions now would be viewed later.
Mutt is a great debut novel and I urge you to read it if you enjoy dystopian novels that not only explore magic, but also the political issues behind the changes that the world undergoes when it is trying to fix itself....more
I received a copy in exchange for an honest review
The Crossing by Mandy Hager is the first installment in the Blood of the Lamb series. Hager’s novel is a dystopian young adult story set in a post-apocalyptic world controlled by Bible-toting caucasian survivors. The novel’s protagonist is both weak and powerful, but it is her imperfect nature that makes her a relatable character.
Maryam is a black teenager who is faced with the difficult task of blindly following her faith for the God she’s known since birth. But Maryam is different. Despite her frequent questions about her own actions, Maryam chases the unknown by countering everything she was taught as a child.
Maryam is often an unreliable character, since she was raised to obey anything asked of her. Her frequent indecisiveness suggests to the reader that Maryam is a naive teenager. But as she fights the restraints of the society around her, Maryam grows into an alert character, aware of the broken nature of her world.
The novel takes several twists as Maryam meets unexpected allies. These characters’ relentless need for the truth drives the plot forward, until the reader is faced with a conclusion that promises a greater adventure in the sequel.
The Crossing is a disturbing reminder of racism, the dangers of misplaced belief, and the abuse of power. But most importantly, Hager’s story is an example of how tenuous equality can be when humanity is threatened.
The power in The Crossing comes from the crippling idea that many of the characters would rather live in ignorance than do anything to stop the discrimination. This idea is powerful because it gives Maryam a purpose and a reason to strive for her freedom.
The pacing of the novel is quick. Hager does not waste time with meaningless descriptions, or unnecessary back stories. The reader learns only what is important and relevant to the story.
Readers who love dystopian fiction, yet are searching for a unique storyline, should take a chance with Hager’s novel. The imperfect protagonist, the low-key romance that sparks life into a dangerous story, and the urgency the characters carry, make Hager’s The Crossing an addicting and thought-provoking read.
Hager’s world is fraught with the errors of humanity’s past, present, and possible future, but with Maryam, the reader can hope that society will one day have a savior. ...more
Sometimes I get a strange urge to read novels that freak me out, so a good zombie novel is a plThis review first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
Sometimes I get a strange urge to read novels that freak me out, so a good zombie novel is a pleasant way of sating this strange craving. Jonathan Maberry's Dead of Night is a creepy novel set in a quiet town in the United States that experiences a zombie invasion during a stormy night. Though a bit slow at the beginning, when the action begins it hits the reader like an infected bite.
I caution you, however, if you have a weak stomach then Maberry's work may not be for you.
"A prison doctor injects a condemned serial killer with a formula designed to keep his consciousness awake while his body rots in the grave. But all drugs have unforeseen side-effects. Before he could be buried, the killer wakes up. Hungry. Infected. Contagious. This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang…but a bite."
Though this was a fun read that took me a bit longer to read than normal, it had some issues that bugged me at times.
1. There are some moments where more editing is needed. Words missing, awkward sentences, misspelled words, and grammatical errors appear throughout the novel. These errors distracted me because they were so obvious.
2. Some of the characters drove me nuts, like the protagonist. She was so intense at times that I wanted to slap her and tell her to stop being such a b%^&. I know she has a huge chip on her shoulder, but it still annoyed me.
3. Though relatively fast-paced, there were moments where the story just slowed down. Not just that, but there's a point where some characters find out what is actually happening and they keep asking the most obvious questions. I wanted to yell at them because Maberry was dragging on the chapter and slowing down the pace. I can't stand it when authors feel the need to over-explain something instead of trusting their readers.
1. This novel was scary as hell when it got going. It made me think there were things moving around my house at night and sometimes I had to put the book down and recollect my emotions.
2. Though this is your typical zombie novel, Maberry still explores the issues of Government and what would happen in the face of the apocalypse. I know that this is a cliche in all apocalyptic novels, but it was still powerful.
3. Though this novel was predictable, I liked the ending! It made me think, "Oh crap, they're so screwed!"
4. I did dislike the protagonist at times, but when she started fighting for her life, it was awesome! There's a cool scene with a lot of fighting and a lot of creepy zombies, where she kicks ass.
5. The reason why the zombie attack begins is proof of how curiosity and hatred can be deadly.
I liked this novel and I'll probably read more of Maberry's novels in the future. If you're going to read this, don't go in expecting something mind-blowing, but a fun ride full of spooks and nightmare worthy moments....more
I think it’s only fair to begin this review by stating that Megan Crewe’s novel was not at all what I was anticipating. I honestly don’t know what I eI think it’s only fair to begin this review by stating that Megan Crewe’s novel was not at all what I was anticipating. I honestly don’t know what I expected, but it wasn’t really what Crewe offered. I blame this on the fact that I didn’t properly read the synopsis (and I caution all of you to read future synopses thoroughly so that a novel isn’t a complete and utter surprise to you).
The Way We Fall is the first installment in the Fallen World series by Megan Crewe. The story follows Kaelyn, a teenager living on an island that is quarantined during a virus outbreak. As she watches the people she loves get sick in front of her, she must figure out a way to protect those she loves and avoid those who have let the fear of sickness reign their actions, whether they be inhumane or not. All the while, Kaelyn is writing down her experiences in a journal that she hopes to give to her ex-best-friend when the horrors of the island end.
(view spoiler)[ this is not a zombie tale, but simply, a story of people getting sick… and rambling… and then hallucinating… before dying. (hide spoiler)]
Though Crewe’s novel wasn’t what I expected, it wasn’t all that bad. The story line was thought out and I liked to see that the protagonist was bi-racial.
I received a copy from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
Jordana Frankel's The Ward is a youReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I received a copy from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
Jordana Frankel's The Ward is a young adult novel that sits on the edge between dystopian fiction and post-apocalyptic fiction, simply because there is a new, oppressive government, as well as a destroyed and unfamiliar world. The reason why I bring this up first is because this flirtation between the two genres gives Frankel's novel an advantage: originality in a sea of similar dystopians.
Shock-full of action, adventure, danger, and emotional situations that will either make the reader burn with anger, or melt with tenderness, Frankel's The Ward is a young adult must-read of 2013--especially if you're looking for a dystopian/post-apocalyptic novel that reads more like a novel about an adrenaline junkie set to save those she loves, and to find the truth, then one that is just about political statements.
The beginning of the novel is a little convoluted, since we're meeting the characters that will take up most of the story. We are introduced to Ren, the protagonist, in her early teens right before her life changes forever.
The contrast between this old Ren and the new, more "improved" Ren that makes an appearance later on, is made obvious by her educated dialogue, internal monologue, and sense of self. Whereas you are introduced to a scraggly and loner-ish kid at first, you are guided through the majority of the story by a confident, strong, and emotionally-driven woman.
The prose is great. Frankel, through the use of well-placed descriptions, shows us the world Ren inhabits, without info-dumping everything on us. We are led, like tourists, through the drowned city where Ren races against the big boys. I can easily picture Ren's world in my mind, making it much easier to know where she is going, without having to refer to the earlier bits in the novel.
The issue of women vs. men in The Ward is especially bad in the races Ren participates in. Though she is powerful, the men still look down their noses at her--some even threatening her for being one of the better racers. While I did find this backwards thinking disturbing, it did add power to the novel because Ren has the ability to prove her assailants wrong.
The characters, especially Ren, are so easy to connect with, even if we can't begin to imagine what her life must be like. We all have someone we love and want to protect; we all have those friends who mean more to us than we'd like to let on; we all have adult figures in our life that have changed us; and we all have that awkward crush that brings us to our knees. We all have hope, whether we believe it or not, and Frankel creates a character that exhibits everyone of these emotions. Frankly, Ren's humanity is what makes a character in such an impossible place so reliable and realistic.
My issues were with teeny things. There were instances where the internal struggle kind of slowed things down for me. In a novel full of suspense, action, and go-go-go pacing, a pause for the protagonist to contemplate something may make you weary--especially right before a major event is about to take place.
Also, while the descriptions of the world are beautiful, the smaller things, like what Ren drives, are left bare and to the imagination. I would have liked to know exactly what it is that Ren drives, not just a vague explanation of what it can do.
The conclusion is open-ended (with a hint of hope), and allows for a promising sequel. Danger and excitement await the reader in the follow-up novel, (No pressure!) so it will be much anticipated!
I recommend The Ward to readers who, like I mentioned before, enjoy dystopian fiction, but also want a touch of post-apocalyptic fiction thrown in there. The romantic theme does exist in the novel, but it does not overtake the storyline--which is more familial than romantic.
The literary world is full of dystopian novels that tread similar paths, with The Ward, Frankel is offering something fresh, excited, and more than just a political read....more
I received a copy from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
The Sweet Dead Life by Joy Preble iReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I received a copy from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
The Sweet Dead Life by Joy Preble is a very quick and quirky read that features a witty, and slightly neurotic 14 year-old protagonist. The storyline is considerably original, while the mystery promises to intrigue the reader until the conclusion. Preble's novel is a great light read for a hot summer day.
Jenna, the protagonist, tells us the story of how her brother became her guardian (in a paranormal sense) through diary entries. I haven't always been a fan of epistolary novels, since I find it hard to believe that a character would write down every detail that s/he notices. It always feels false to me, especially since I am an occasional journal writer (especially when I was a kid).
Okay, rant over.
But all of those annoyances aside, Preble does a pretty good job--though her character is only 14. Jenna is a very fun character to watch develop because she isn't your typical teenager. Not only is she dying when we meet her, but her family is far from conventional. She is not only grieving the potential loss of her brother, but she is grieving the loss of her father, and who her mother used to be. For a young teenager, she has her plate full.
Though the tone is occasionally light, there are darker themes within the novel. Addiction, death, sabotage, and abandonment are a few of the issues brought to light. And while Jenna distracts us with her wit and banter, her neurotic tendencies tend to seep into her dialogue when she is detailing her deteriorating health. Though the reader may find Jenna's character amusing, there is no doubt that she hasn't lived an easy life. Perhaps it is her attempt at distracting the readers from her familial struggles that endears her to us.
Preble's angels are your typical very attractive people, but their rules and abilities are slightly different from what we're used to when we read other angel inspired novels. Casey, Jenna's brother, is so well described and created, that even I was pulled in by his new allure. Preble is that good. Paranormal fiction in young adult novels is a very normal occurrence nowadays, but every once in a while an author comes along and adds a new twist to popular creatures. Preble is one of those authors.
The mystery is great! I kept trying to guess who was out to get Jenna's family, but every time I tried guessing, something would push me in a different direction. I'm the kind of reader that can usually guess what's going to happen from the get-go, but Preble managed to throw in a few red herrings that threw me off the scent. It was refreshing finding a mystery book that had me guessing throughout the whole story.
My greatest concern, and trust me this usually wouldn't bug me but since this features such a young protagonist, is the use of language. Jenna is in the 8th grade and in my past experience with middle grade novels, this would still be considered middle grade because Jenna is not in high school just yet. But Jenna is 14, which was perplexing since it was December (wouldn't she be 13? Or wouldn't there be an explanation as to why she is one year behind?) and spoke like a 17+ year-old. I know her circumstances aren't the best, but wow. Jenna goes from calling her teacher an "asshat", to spewing out more cuss words throughout the novel. I also know that her attitude is spunky, but this is perhaps too much.
Let's just say I was surprised--I think this novel would have been better off if Jenna were a little older.
Despite what I've mentioned above, the dialogue is kind of awesome. Funny, realistic, and fast-paced, the characters' conversations almost came to life with how well they were written.
The conclusion suggests that there may be more books written in the series (though Goodreads doesn't have any sequels listed), and I think The Sweet Dead Life would really benefit from this, since there are characters that I would like to know more about (like Jenna's best friend), and mysteries that I would like to see solved (like, what's going to happen to Casey in the long-run?)
If you're a fan of quirky characters, understated angels, interesting mysteries, fun dialogue, and novels that portray the unconditional love between family members, then you should check out The Sweet Dead Life.
Keep in mind, however, that though the protagonist is young, the themes explored are not for a middle grade audience....more
Jenny Han's The Summer I Turned Pretty has been haunting me from the moment I heard a short synopsisReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
Jenny Han's The Summer I Turned Pretty has been haunting me from the moment I heard a short synopsis of it on a youtube video. For days I pondered what it would be like to read her novel; to experience what Belly experiences with Susannah's boys. Then, I finally gave in. It just happened to be at a very early hour. From the moment I read the first chapter, I knew that I had to finish Han's story. I knew that I needed to know what happened the summer that Belly turned pretty.
Fast-paced and reflective, The Summer I Turned Pretty shows us the hardships of first romance and the magic of summer. Belly's narrative has the reader jumping back and forth from the present to various other stages in her adventures down at Cousins beach. Though sometimes annoying, since this style sometimes disturbed the flow of the story, these instances are so small in comparison to the story's greatness that I barely even noticed them.
Han has a winner here and I'm only sad it took me so long to read it. I laughed, cried, and got pissed off with the characters. Belly isn't a girl who acts like she's thirty or ten, she acts like a girl who is age appropriate to her 15-16 age range. I loved watching the romance unfold, even though it was a bit predictable.
Conrad and Jeremiah are both two very different boys, and though Han has it set in Belly's mind that she will have Conrad, we still root for Jeremiah, the funny underdog.
The conclusion of the first installment in Han's Summer trilogy is unexpected and emotional. I haven't cried in a while after reading a book, but Han got me with her effective prose and dialogue. I felt giddy, sad, and bemused as the events unfolded, and I think other readers will too.
I recommend The Summer I Turned Pretty to those who enjoy a sweet summer read with a darker undertone. Dealing with cancer, depression, and heartbreak are the dark marks in this novel, but the illusion of summer will reel the reader in before drenching them in the sometimes cruel realities of life....more
Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer is one of those post-apocalyptic books that gives you all tReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer is one of those post-apocalyptic books that gives you all the scary details of what life would be like if the world took a turn for the worse, without being over-the-top and over-dramatic. Pfeffer creates a story where readers get to see what life is like as the apocalypse happens, rather than after. Addicting, emotionally stimulating, and an excellent example of character growth, Life As We Knew It is a must read for fans of the apocalyptic genre.
Miranda, the protagonist, tells us her story through journal entries. I have to admit that I'm not the greatest fan of this style, simply because it can either fail miserably, or benefit the story. Thankfully, Pfeffer's novel sits in the latter category. I think that having Miranda tell us her story through her limited point of view made the events feel more real. If the story was in third person, or omniscient, then the mystery of how the world deals with its destruction would be boring and predictable.
If we were ever unfortunate enough to find ourselves in a similar situation, then Miranda's story might be the best way to prepare ourselves. Perhaps this is because she is so naive at the beginning of the novel, believing that everything is unfair and that things will be fine by a certain point, that we can relate to her. After all, when something changes, don't we all wish for it to end quickly? Do we not expect things to eventually get better?
Miranda's family is one of billions surviving a horrible catastrophe and much like in real life, the novel focuses on her life, because really, there is no way to document how everyone else is doing in the world.
Well-written with a few editing errors sprinkled here and there (which I will attribute to her being only sixteen, though I don't know if that is the true purpose), Life As We Knew It is full of moments that makes the reader put the book down and question what s/he has now and what s/he could stand to lose.
Death is a frequent visitor in the novel and, much like the characters, the reader may start to understand why death comes, rather than question, or challenge it.
Pfeffer's novel manages to explore existence and life in one of the most chaotic scenarios possible. Life is precarious and Pfeffer captures it within the pages of her book, changing her readers' lives as well.
This was a completely different read for me. I'm so used to books taken place after the death of Earth, that it took me by surprise how I never thought about the people that suffered along with those who survived.
I would recommend this book to those who enjoy thought-provoking and emotionally charged novels. If you enjoy a hint of romance, but mostly character growth, then you might like this one....more