Tuesday, September 29, 2009
written by Conor Kostick
I began and ended this book with a single question: "Is this book really necessary?" While vaguely reminiscent of Scott Westerfeld's universe, it's nowhere near as good a read. The reader is kept waiting for some kind of point, a reason this book exists, and I still haven't been able to figure that out. I loved Epic, but ever since I heard there was going to be a sequel, I was skeptical. There was no story after Epic, and there was no reason to force one. But a story was forced, and it's not a very interesting story at all. While I was glad to see the old gang from Epic, that was the only part I enjoyed. They were well-developed characters we were familiar with, whereas the ones given here were just overkill. I think the part that really irritates me is that it is marketed as a sequel, when it's really more of a spin-off, as the word 'sequel' implies continuation with the same characters. Although there were many dull parts that made for extremely tedious reading, I did enjoy the last few chapters, where there was actually something other than gratuitous action scenes. The end outcome was very predictable, but worked given the circumstances. I was disappointed by the lack of suspenseful plot twists and by this book in general. I still do not understand why it was necessary.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
written by Cecil Castellucci
First things first: I went into this without a clue that it was a graphic novel. So that was a bit of a shock when I opened it up before class and saw pictures and not as many words as I expected. The dialogue and situations (minus the Jane/Jane/Jayne/Polly Jane name coincidence) were extremely realistic and very refreshing to read. I found myself at times absolutely cheering the various Janes on and just loving the crazy situations they managed to get themselves into. The whole idea behind P.L.A.I.N. is pure genius, and I love that Castellucci was creative enough to come up with such an intriguing plot. After the initial shock, I realized that this would simply not have worked as a regular novel, and was thankful that it was presented in a graphic format. This book provides a great discussion on censorship and how pointless it can be oftentimes. The characters were very complex and well-developed for such a short book. I have two minor complaints, and that is that the plot itself was not very complex, and the love subplot was the most pathetic loveplot ever. Other than those slight issues, I thoroughly enjoyed this amazing book, and would be glad to read more YA graphic novels that don't necessary appeal to the adventure/fantasy crowd, and are just regular YA novels.
Friday, September 25, 2009
written by John Marsden
There are lot of complaints I can give about this book. The plot is too narrow. There are not enough sub-plots to make it interesting, and it just seemed like it was the one story; reading about even the other patients would have been interesting. Everything in this book was sickeningly predictable. You knew exactly what was coming at the end, which didn't make it any less horrible, but did make it quite a dull read. I was glad to see a tone that was real and honest, with very powerful writing, but overall, it's just a dull book. Nothing happens. It's a flat read, and in the end, an unnecessary one. It would have served its purpose in a short story just as well.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
written by Sarah Mlynowski
Just like Milkrun, the problem with this book was that it seemed extremely pointless. It feels like it could have been written well as a short story, but it doesn't work. Mlynowski tries to be Sophie Kinsella, but she's not. The main character acts like an immature child at times, which makes for a very flat story. Everything is ridiculously predictable and the ultimate solution is even mentioned, not just hinted at, flat out mentioned, in an earlier chapter. I think there was so much potential for a twist, such as Cam continuing a relationship with Gabby's friend, or maybe Cam having parallel lives as well as Gabby. Some of the characters and plot threads were unnecessary to begin with, given too much emphasis for no apparent reason. There is just too much pointlessness, and it's not a very interesting read.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
written by Melissa Marr
While the beginning of this book was frustratingly confusing, probably intentionally so to a degree, as I kept reading, an amazing new world unfolded. The evolving relationship between Seth and Ash is a real joy to read about and is one of the more powerful friendships/relationships out there in the YA book world. Once the mythology is explained, everything clicks and forms such a great new setting that you just want to learn more about! The faeries are interesting little creatures, and it seems like they vary from being relatively good to absolutely evil--quite the interesting dichotomy! I enjoyed reading about the old mixed in with the new, particularly when technology played a part (like the search history being an important part of the plot). Seth and Ash, I just can't stop gushing about the chemistry between the two. It's really a wonderful relationship, but the suspense throughout the book whether they can or cannot survive is heartbreaking at times, in a good way. I do want to know more about Ash's family history; sounds like her father may play a role in future books as his identity is kept secret. As far as that goes, I'm really not sure why a sequel is needed. That is the only loose end I saw, so I'm a little confused & concerned about the quality of Fragile Eternity, which obviously won't stop me from reading it, I'll just go into it a little more cautiously.
Monday, September 21, 2009
written by Kristen Tracy
This book is a little too scatterbrained for my tastes. The narration is all over the place and takes a while to get into, and I found it to be all-too predictable the entire way through. Reminiscent of Louise Rennison, there are these absurd topics that come up and make no sense, but for some reason, the author thinks it's a good idea to keep them in and thinks they're funny. No. No, they're actually not. Parts of it had pretty accurate stream of consciousnesses when it came to how teenagers think, but as far as talk and actions went, I found it to be highly unlikely. I really did enjoy the character of Zena, so it was quite a bummer when she ended up spending the majority of the book not actually in the book. I feel like this would have been a much better read if Zena was the narrator, she's just a more interesting, well-developed character. While I did pick this up for some mindless fluff, I suppose I got more than I bargained for. Tess's relationship with Ben is the most predictably boring relationship ever, and you can tell from miles away exactly what will happen between the two of them, which is extraordinarily frustrating. Way way early on in my notes, I wrote "no way this ends well." and with that many unnecessary clingy moments, I am not surprised. Maybe a different narrator would have made it a more fun read. Tess was just insufferable in what a big deal she made out of small issues. I did enjoy reading about the relationship between her and her grandmother, but other than that, she's an extremely boring typical teen. I just feel like this is an immature book for immature readers.
Friday, September 18, 2009
written by Ellen Hopkins
I made the mistake of reading two incredibly scary books one right after the other, so this was additionally chilling as I had just finished Endgame. But really, I have no idea how Ellen Hopkins does it. As usual, the writing is phenomenal and unique, as is the revolutionary plot, featuring a rebellious Mormon. Hopkins' writing style is just something else, and her tone is realistic, speaking to teens everywhere even though the words are spoken by a Mormon teenage girl. Ellen Hopkins gets into all these dark places, and it really makes one wonder how much effort and pain it takes for her to find them. I found some of the issues extremely predictable (pregnancy, guns), and definitely knew there was a huge climax at some point, but without a clue how it would all fit together. There were some statements of awkward foreshadowing, particularly foreboding statements regarding the future at the ends of chapters. I end my notes with this statement, and feel it is an accurate way to end this review as well: "OH SWEET AMBIGUITY!!!"
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
written by Nancy Garden
I had expressed an interest in what exactly was going through the minds of the shooters at Virginia Tech and Columbine, and a dear friend of mine recommended this book upon hearing me talk. I was intrigued by the incredibly original concept and subject matter, and immediately delved into the book. I had a little trouble focusing at times, but once it all started genuintely getting serious, this was an amazingly powerful book. It has so many extremes. On one hand, you know what happens at the end, but through the entire thing, you keep hoping and praying that Gray has a change of heart. You know that killing is wrong, but at the same time, you know that Gray is a good kid, and everything is so emotionally heavy on both him and you, the reader. There's so much wrong in his life and as a bystander in his fictional story, you can do nothing but sit back and watch the inevitable unfold, as nobody does a thing to help a child that can be helped. And just think, if this is the fictional example, what about the real one? The ending is an unjust one. You know Gray had reason to do what he did, and while what he did was extreme, he needed help, not a jail cell, and that's the saddest part of it all. This is such a powerful book, and I strongly urge everyone who has had difficulty processing the VT shootings or even Columbine to pick this amazing, mind-chilling book up.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
written by Sarah Dessen
I know this was one of her earlier books, and as her earlier books go, it is one of the ones I like more, but the writing style is in need of improvement. Along the way, one can easily trace Dessen's writing style from this to her more recent works and see how much it's changed for the better, but for the sake of this review, the writing style of Keeping the Moon is pretty juvenile (ex: the first sentence of the work is "My name is Nicole Sparks.") I feel like a lot of really great characters were created in this work, but they don't go anywhere, don't do anything. Nothing much happens, and it's really a story stuck in transition. We get to see the very beginnings of Sarah Dessen's words of wisdom that we are so familiar with by now. The other really great thing about the characters is their names. I mean, main love interest's name is NORMAN, and that is not a name you see very often--so much personality! Overall, Keeping the Moon is a good start, but needs more. It's emptier than Dessen's other books. Nicole is overdramatic, but so boring! I think it may have been a more interesting book had it been set in Morgan or Isabel's point of view even, rather than Nicole's. Good start, but could have been better.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
written by Neal Shusterman
Though not as political as Unwind, Everlost makes for another great story set in another amazing world created by Neal Shusterman. I was a little wary going into this, I am not a fan of death stories, but Shusterman dealt with the idea tactly but also in a very straightforward way. He's not out to offend anyone. The story involves a lot of moving around, very much like Deathly Hallows' infamous camping scenes, where nothing much seems to happen, and the story is not being developed. I was waiting a good long while for one of those amazing plot twists that Neal Shusterman is so good at doing. Thankfully, although it came a little late, I wasn't disappointed. The ending is filled with amazing plot twists and, as the rest of the book, creative storytelling that is worth the read.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
written by Dominique Paul
I had read a favorable review by a blogger and decided I should really read this book as soon as I could. Now, upon reading it, I'm regretting that decision. This book has the most whiny, annoying, immature narrator who exists. She is your typical bratty kid who thinks the world is hers and she can get anything she wants. Her family life is a mess, and the book would have been a much better read if the focus had been on them since the very beginning, rather than cramming all the good stuff in the end. It was difficult to get into, difficult to read through, and a huge part of me didn't even want to try after some point. It's just a ridiculously shallow book with a shallow girl. There are some deeper parts, but they all occur in the last two chapters. Ellie gives girls everywhere a bad name. You know it's bad when a 14 year old decides that she is old enough to lose her virginity, and almost succeeds.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
written by Thalia Chaltas
Because I am Furniture is a lot of things, but original is not one of them. The style has been done before, by the likes of Sharon Creech and Ellen Hopkins. So has the story, also notably by Ellen Hopkins and others. The point of view may be slightly new (outsider rather than the one being abused), but it's still nothing amazingly good. While it is realistic and honest and narrated in a tone that is only reminiscent of death itself, this book has been written before. It is annoyingly predictable, and the ending was way to abrupt and cheesy. This is one instance where happily ever after just doesn't work. I do not recommend you take the time to read this, pick up Identical, which you may recall, I wasn't even that big a fan of, and you'd get a better story.
Monday, September 7, 2009
written by Ellen Emerson White
While I still do enjoy reading about Meg and her family's life at the White House, I felt like this book was way too narrow-focused. I realize that the shooting of the President would be an extremely serious event, but I definitely feel it was far too drawn out and could have easily been condensed, leaving room for other stories. I did like seeing some of the characters develop a little more, particularly Steven, through their interactions with Meg. I felt like Meg's temperament after the shooting was accurate, but again, narrow. I would have liked to see more of how others were reacting. We got a glimpse of what was going through Steven's mind, but not really Neal's or especially her cryptic father's. I mean, at the beginning of the book, I was convinced that her parents were going to divorce, which, horrible as it is, would make a really interesting story. It's a little drastic then, to see the relationship between Meg's parents be slightly awkward, wobbly, and unsure, to the most steadfast, loving relationship out there. In general though, the Powers family just has the most personality of any book family I've read about (except maybepossibly the Weasleys). I think the one most powerful line of this book was Meg's mother talking about her shooter, saying only "I hope he gets help." Such a simple line ends up conveying so much about everything: decorum at the white house, her mother's compassion, her mother's position. Amazing. Again, it's a good book, but I'm hoping it's one of those that's a bridge to better sequels.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
written by Pete Hautman
The title is eye-catching enough, but add in the premise? WOW. Never before have I heard of anything quite so...well, insanely absurd, but well-developed! There are moments when the book gets a little preachy (no pun intended) about the whole idea of religion, but some of the ideas are pretty amazingly well thought out. It's not the kind of book I would ordinarily read, but with such a catchy premise, title, and cover, you just want to know where it goes! On its own, the cover image doesn't do much, but with the title, it is extremely catchy. I felt like the characters were all interesting, but could have been elaborated on, particularly Shin. I would have liked to have seen more of Shin's extreme devotion as it developed, at least a few hints here and there. I found the ending to be anticlimactic, and part of me still really feels like this book was just written to be banned, but it's still a compelling read that people interested in the ideas behind belief and religion should definitely consider reading.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
written by Ellen Raskin
The Mysterious Disappearance of Leon (I Mean Noel) is an amazing book that can be equally enjoyed by adults and children alike. Adults reading the book see more layers to it than the kids, but the read is just as mysterious and enjoyable (although the idea of marriage at that young an age will be a squicky one). If you have read Ellen Raskin's Westing Game, and even if you haven't, this is a book you really need to get your hands on. I've read some of her other books, but absolutely nothing compares to these two classics. This one comes fully equipped with hysterical characters and plenty of footnotes. It's adorably quirky without trying too hard. Every thing, every hilarious incident, is narrated casually and in a way that just makes it all funnier. Everything is so tantalizingly cryptic, and at times, downright confusing, but it's a huge relief when everything really falls into place and you realize that every event that was narrated is somehow connected to the big picture scheme. Other than all that, it's a very readable book. The chapters are divided up into small sections and just style-wise, it's an easy but really worthwhile read. It really emphasizes the reason why we love Ellen Raskin so much--plot twists and surprises everywhere! The other really nice thing is that the mystery is not at all obvious. Nobody would ever suspect the outcome, but it's such a compelling one! It's got snark, puzzles, humor, definitely not just a kids' book. It is also really nice, at the end, to get closure from all of the characters, so I do appreciate it when authors like Raskin do things like that.
Friday, September 4, 2009
Found at Reading Keeps You Sane:
CREATE YOUR DEBUT YA COVER
1 – Go to “Fake Name Generator” or clickhttp://www.fakenamegenerator.com/
The name that appears is your author name.
2 – Go to “Random Word Generator” or clickhttp://www.websitestyle.com/parser/randomword.shtml
The word listed under “Random Verb” is your title.
3 – Go to “FlickrCC” or clickhttp://flickrcc.bluemountains.net/index.php
Type your title into the search box. The first photo that contains a person is your cover.
4 – Use Photoshop, Picnik, or similar to put it all together. Be sure to crop and/or zoom in.
5 – Post it to your site along with this text.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
written by Jean Ferris
This was another one of my recent reads that had me underwhelmed. I wasn't a fan of the writing to begin with--I felt that it was trying much too hard to be whimsical and this was overly obvious. It gets better as the plot progresses, but the plot is pretty weak, predictable, and boring. I felt like it was in great need of plot twists and funny situations, instead of just ironically "funny" narration. Now, don't get me wrong, some of the whimsy was hilarious. The character's names were clever and really fun to track. I just don't know, though. If you're in the mood for whimsy, I would strongly recommend Ferris's other books, Once Upon A Marigold and Twice Upon a Marigold. This was more morbid, darker humor, reminding me a times of Pushing Daisies (but really not as funny). I just kept trying to look past the plot, theorizing that there'd be a twist in relation to the characters, the location, the mystery, whatever, and nothing really surfaced. I did enjoy watching the relationship between Sandy and Sunnie progress, but even that felt drastically drawn out (but maybe that's what made it so cute!). All in all, not the greatest book, but there are definitely worse.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
written by Siobhan Vivian
A Little Friendly Advice has its ups and downs, but overall was a bit of a disappointment. If I had read this book by Siobhan Vivian first, I probably would have had a better impression, but having read Same Difference and knowing she's capable of great things, this was a letdown. The writing was fantastic, she really does know how to bring the masterful language, but the plot was pretty pathetic, not gonna lie. The situations were realistic, the dialogue was realistic, but the combination of the different plots just doesn't work. A lot of the emotions seem natural, but some seem extremely blown out of proportion. I'm also aggravated that there was even the need for a cliche love interest, and I feel it would have been a great book without that element. Family and friend issues are more than enough to deal with, but having that supportive boyfriend there, that's going too far. There is some obnoxious symbolism here, but I'm really not sure if it was intentional or not. I think what bothered me most was that a lot of this book was ridiculously shallow. Ruby has so much going on in her life, and how does she fix it? By getting drunk at age 16, of course. I'm not saying that's not realistic, I just don't think it was the best decision creatively. It is one of those scenes where I cringed the whole way through, and particularly upon seeing her mother's reaction. Other than that, plenty of flat characters that I had trouble caring about, not enough detail about the interesting characters and too much on the boring ones. The relationships are, with minor exceptions, extremely empty. Empty flirting, empty friendships, unfortunately accurate, but still empty. I was, for the most part, glad with the ending, although again, the love interest is just irritating. The plot twist at the end redeemed the book for me greatly, but I still greatly preferred Same Difference to this.