Saturday, October 20, 2012

Perfect You

Perfect You
written by Elizabeth Scott

I'd been waiting a very long time to read this book, and I'm sorry to say that I was underwhelmed.  Granted, it is one of Scott's earlier works, and she also has a history of being a hit-or-miss writer for me, but the summary sounded like it had the potential to be a cute, well-written book, and I was sad to see that it didn't deliver.  That isn't to say that there weren't good ideas.  There were.  The focus on the family and friendships outside of just your typical YA focus on a relationship were so good in theory...but ultimately also fell short.  It was mostly just frustrating to read.  Most of the problems, if not all, could have been solved with a dose of communication, and other than a particularly moving scene between old friends toward the very end of the book, when it didn't mean much, the characters just didn't spend enough time talking to each other, leading to overblown problems.  It's unfortunate that this does mirror what often happens in real life, but I read to escape real life, to find solutions, to see characters make mistakes I make, and see how they fix those mistakes or live with them.  The main character, Kate, ultimately did...neither of those things.  What a horribly passive character.  Characters have flaws, characters should have flaws, and Kate's drive for perfectionism was a great opportunity for exploration, but the surface was barely scratched.  Scott does a great job creating complex characters, but often doesn't seem to know what to do with all those complexities in the scheme of the story, other than in her incredible Living Dead Girl.  I keep waiting and wishing for another book by her as good as that one was, and I keep being let down.  Has the bar been set too high?  Another huge gripe that would be an oversight to ignore is the blatant moral at the end of the story, where the exact words the reader is told to emulate are "try to be happy".  Sure, optimism is a strong force, I will not deny that, but denying a teen readership the reality that oftentimes, human beings, particularly human beings in their teenage years, are in deep emotional pain is just offensive.  Depression and human hardship are real.  Don't let anyone tell you to just "try to be happy" as a coping mechanism.

Also by Elizabeth Scott:
As I Wake
Between Here and Forever
Love You, Hate You, Miss You
Something, Maybe
The Unwritten Rule
Stealing Heaven
Living Dead Girl

I got this book from...PaperBackSwap
currently reading: Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Talor

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Because It Is My Blood
written by Gabrielle Zevin

Zevin's intricate storytelling ability continues to amaze me.  Where the latest trend in YA fiction is to write serial fiction with cliffhangers and stories that are like puzzle pieces that make no sense without their companions, Zevin takes the time and effort to craft her stories into books that fit together, but do stand on their own two feet as well.  The self-contained nature of the story allows new readers to jump right in without necessarily having to read the predecessor, which tells me that Zevin cares more about the story than the additional revenue that comes from writing serialized books.  And as a reader, that matters to me.  But beyond all that, there's just the fact of the matter that this is a good story.  There are so many layers to everything that unfolds, but Zevin keeps it all at just the right amount of character development, settings, and plot points to keep it from getting confusing.  Such a great, suspenseful, well-woven read.

Rating: 5/5

Also by Gabrielle Zevin:

All These Things That I've Done

I got this book from...:BookMooch

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Claim to Fame

Claim to Fame
written by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Claim to Fame is a book with a pretty interesting concept but ultimately questionable execution.  Everything is wrapped up a little too neatly, a little too hastily.  With Haddix's popular Shadow Children series, the length of the story gave us the opportunity to really delve into the depths of her created world.  Here, she created a world but didn't seem to have enough time to fully explore it.  Some of the characters and plot points ultimately seemed entirely unnecessary upon the book's conclusion, and it just seemed like the story was trying to do too much.  It had some pretty cool plot twists, but fell flat overall.

Rating: 3/5