Tag Archives: ya

Review Paper Towns by John Green

Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life – dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge – he follows.

After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues – and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer Q gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew.

Genre: YA Fiction
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Release Date: October 16, 2008
Page Count: 305
Source: My copy.
Rating: 3/5

There’s a few things I’ve learned about John Green’s books reading Paper Towns:


-I don’t agree with the common opinion that all Green’s characters are the same.
Quentin Jacobsen (anxiety) is very different from Will Grayson (typical) who is very different from Miles Halter (the great perhaps) who is extremely different from Augustus Waters (oblivion). However:

-I do think that Alaska Young and Margo Roth Spiegelman have a lot in common, or are, essentially, the same character.
And I don’t get it. Not that they are the same really – that’s fine, it happens – but I don’t get their appeal. As Miles is with Alaska, Quentin is absolutely enamored with Margo. And I understand she’s beautiful and popular and spontaneous and adventurous and all of these wonderful things that might lure in a teenage boy, but she’s also really self-absorbed. She’s careless about the ones who love her. She knows that Quentin is actually obsessed with her (and that’s what this book borders on, obsession) and she doesn’t care. She actually plans to hang out with him and blow him off in the same night. And maybe, maybe I can understand their appeal a little bit – on the outside these girls are these free, beautiful spirits, but that’s not enough if you’re just going to walk all over everyone to get what you want, while thinking you’re better than everyone else. The point is, while I may never understand because I’m obviously not a teenage boy, I think there are plenty of beautiful, eccentric, free girls out there that won’t stomp all over your heart the first chance they get. I guess I’m rooting for the underdog. And this is mainly where my rating comes from. Because I truly dislike Margo, and therefore dislike Quentin for stooping to her level.

-I read Green’s books in the wrong order.
Unfortunately, I only discovered John Green last year. The Fault in Our Stars, my favorite book, was the first book I ever read by John Green. Then Looking for Alaska, Will Grayson, Will Grayson, and finally Paper Towns. I’m sure every author wants their next book to be better than their last, and such was the case. Except I read them backwards.

To conclude, I never really thought I’d rate a John Green book three stars. But as it turns out, Paper Towns is my least favorite. And that’s not saying it’s a bad book – there are plenty of books I rated three stars that I really liked – just not my favorite.


Review Clockwork Prince (The Infernal Devices, #2) by Cassandra Clare

In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street—and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa’s powers for his own dark ends.

With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister’s war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move—and that one of their own has betrayed them.

Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, though her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will—the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do?

As their dangerous search for the Magister and the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa learns that when love and lies are mixed, they can corrupt even the purest heart.

Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Release Date: December 6, 2011
Page Count: 502
Source: My copy.
Rating: 5/5
I mentioned in my updates that I am not tired of Clare’s books yet. That after seven books, you’d think I would get tired of Shadowhunters, but I’m so not. If anything, this book has renewed my love for Shadowhunters. You get a better sense of who they are and what they believe in in the prequel series to The Mortal Instruments and I found myself really understanding them. Family and strength and staying true to yourself is part of what makes them tick and I realized that they are truly amazing people.

I don’t get love triangles. I don’t. Kissing one boy in the drawing room and then kissing the other boy in the carriage the next day was not acceptable then and it isn’t now. (At least I don’t think so. When is hurting someone you supposedly love acceptable?) Tessa needs to make a choice. She has needed to make a choice for a while now, and I think what she is doing is wrong. And though she may think she has, I don’t think she has truly made that choice. And it is unfair. How long she has strung these boys along, it is unfair to them, and to herself. But I indulge the love triangles. Why? I don’t know. Why do I watch The Vampire Diaries? It’s unclear, but I think my interest in this story is the setting. The world they live in, not so much the characters (even though I love Will. And Magnus.). Which is weird for me. I have always said I can forgive plot, but never bad characters. And the characters aren’t bad, really, they’re just kind of there. I don’t feel overwhelming emotion for Tessa or for Jem or for Charlotte but I do love the magic. And the danger. And the badassery.

I said the characters didn’t wow me yet I still rated the book five stars. I really do love the world Clare has created, and don’t think I’ll ever get enough of it. I keep waiting for Clare to write a bad book, for me to open one of these books and scream WHAT IS THIS SHIT but I never do. She is an author who never leaves anything out while trusting us to read intelligently. She is wonderful and I will read her work for as long as she puts it out. No matter how many Shadowhunter books she writes.


Review Insurgent (Divergent #2) by Veronica Roth

 

One choice can transform you–or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves–and herself–while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris’s initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable–and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

“New York Times” bestselling author Veronica Roth’s much-anticipated second book of the dystopian “Divergent” series is another intoxicating thrill ride of a story, rich with hallmark twists, heartbreaks, romance, and powerful insights about human nature.

Genre: YA Dystopian
Publisher: Harper Teen
Release Date: May 1, 2012
Page Count: 525
Source: My copy.
Rating: 4/5

My rating may surprise you, especially if you saw my Goodreads status updates. Stuff like “Tris, grow up” and “OMG Tris. Stop. Just stop.” And by page three-hundred-and-something I was completely prepared to give this book one star and start my review with “Fuck this book” (I’ve always wanted to start a review like that. I guess it’ll just have to wait.).

But the thing is, I love this book and I love the Divergent series. I have even marked this book as a favorite, a list that holds only 21 books. Despite my frustrations with this book as I was reading it, I really loved it. I think that Roth is a phenomenal writer. I think her world-building is imaginative but realistic, and frankly, I am in love with Four like I have never been in love with a character before. I think he is an amazing, strong person who puts those he truly loves in front of himself and feel like I can connect with him on so many levels. He’s one of those characters that you wish you had as a friend in real life. And this book is like that – it’s a fast-paced, badass thriller yes, and it’s a really dangerous and crazy world to live in yes, yet you find yourself wishing you were really a part of it. I want to meet all these characters and fight alongside them because having them to fight for would be totally worth it. And I’ve gotta say, it’s been a while since I’ve come across a story with such strong world-building and character development that it made me feel that way.

But Tris, she… well, I’m just gonna come out and say it. She pissed me off. Bad. She was too goddamned reckless. And you want to be reckless fine… your parents died, you feel like there’s nothing else – but there is something else. Someone else. And he is fucking counting on you to be the girl he loves. Not throw yourself into danger. All the things I described about Four before, it’s like Tris fails to see all that. And she is supposed to be the one who loves him! She thinks its okay to basically tear his heart out and stomp on it because she is grieving and because she doesn’t want to live. This is where I wanted her to grow up. This is where I got so fed up with her that I wanted to put the book down. She needed to look at her surroundings and realize the world was falling apart, and she needed to stop and really think about what she could do to fix it before running into situations without using her brain first. She was not being Tris at all through the course of this book – the Tris I fell in love with in Divergent – and it seriously pissed me off. And if it wasn’t enough to do one Stupid Thing and be lucky enough to live through it, she went and did another Stupid Thing. And, though it worked out in the end (sort of), I still don’t agree with how she went about it. I don’t agree with her going against the people who loved her instead of entrusting them to keep an open mind to see it her way.

So, maybe I should rate this book lower based on my experience (and my frustration) with it, but I just love the Divergent world so much, I don’t have it in me to do it. I would definitely recommend it, and can only hope, for the sake of my sanity, that Tris is not such a dumbass in the next book, and actually takes the time to realize that – though her world is in ruins – what she does have… is beautiful.


Review The Edumacation of Jay Baker by Jay Clark

A few “sexy” bullet points about Jay: 
– He is in love with a cheerleader named Cameo “Appearance” Parnell 
– He is forever losing “Love-15” to tennis-playing goddess Caroline Richardson 
– He rocks a touche array of pop-culture references, jokes, and puns 
– His family-life cookie is about to crumble. 

Live vicariously through Jay as he faces off against his mortal enemy, gets awkward around his dream girl(s), loses his marbles in a Bermudian love triangle, watches his parents’ relationship implode, and, finally, learns to get real and be himself(ish).

Genre: YA Fiction
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Release Date: January 31, 2012
Page Count: 272
Source: My copy.
Rating: 3/5

I really liked this book. I liked Jay and his quirks, and loved (most) all of the supporting characters. He suffered from some serious teenage boy syndrome during his rival with Mike and the bad choices he made where Cameo was concerned, but he made up for it in character so that was okay.

I had a real hard time connecting with Cameo, who is mostly responsible for the loss of rating. I know the author tried to portray her as a mistake-prone girl with good intentions, but I just wasn’t buying it. She wasn’t sincere to me.

Caroline, however, I loved. I was able to picture her perfectly and could definitely see myself being friends with her. I know that the author’s fiancee is named Caroline (and he is Jay), so one can only hope that she is like Caroline in the novel, because she is really down to earth. I do wish that we could have experienced the development in their relationship though, rather than “it’s one month later and we’re dating”.

Ms. Lambert was probably my favorite character though. Funnier than even Jay, I thought she was witty and very intelligent. Anyone who has a teacher like this, who cares about their students as much as she did, is really lucky.

I knew going into the novel that its main plot point was a love triangle (which I usually stay away from at all costs) but it wasn’t overdone so it turned out okay. Plus, it was told from a boy’s perspective which is not as common, so I was interested to see how that would play out.

Wholly, The Edumacation of Jay Baker is a humorous, witty contemporary that does deal with some real issues (divorce, etc.), but is not a tearjerker or anything like that. I would recommend it for a pretty light read.


Review Lucid by Adrienne Stoltz & Ron Bass

What if you could dream your way into a different life? What if you could choose to live that life forever?

Sloane and Maggie have never met. Sloane is a straight-A student with a big and loving family. Maggie lives a glamorously independent life as an up-and-coming actress in New York. The two girls couldn’t be more different–except for one thing. They share a secret that they can’t tell a soul. At night, they dream that they’re each other.

The deeper they’re pulled into the promise of their own lives, the more their worlds begin to blur dangerously together. Before long, Sloane and Maggie can no longer tell which life is real and which is just a dream. They realize that eventually they will have to choose one life to wake up to, or risk spiraling into insanity. But that means giving up one world, one love, and one self, forever.

This is a dazzling debut that will steal readers’ hearts.

Genre: YA Psychological Thriller
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: October 2, 2012 (my brother’s birthday!)
Page Count: 342
Source: My copy.
Rating: 5/5

If I went with my first instinct, I would want to give this book five stars. Ideally, for me, I would give this book two ratings: one for the first half (three stars) and one for the second (five stars). But that’s just not how it works so I’ll go with four. (You’ll notice I rated it five stars. I’ll explain that later.)

This book was really two different books for me. Somewhere in the second half, without warning, it went from the story of two teenagers falling in love to a mind-bending psychological thriller. Shutter Island wasn’t as terrifying, and I really wasn’t expecting that from this book.

Lucid started out with two teenagers just trying to find their place in the world. I loved Maggie and quickly disliked Sloane (and her name). Maggie was a free-spirited, outgoing, driven young person, a girl I had to keep reminding myself was seventeen. She rose to the challenge and acted so far beyond her years it was astonishing to me. I admired her strength. Sloane, on the other hand, was an angst-ridden teenage girl who only cared about a cute boy she didn’t know, as opposed to her dead best friend. She swore to God after proudly professing her atheism and seems to care only about having a boyfriend who drives a Porsche. Which okay, is realistic. Sometimes, these are the things that teens care about. But when you put them side by side like that: Maggie, pursuing an acting career, stepping up to take care of her sister, and Sloane, ditching her brother when he really needs her because all she wants to think about is this boy (with whom her relationship is, frankly, kind of obsessive), it’s really kind of pathetic. Mostly, I just wanted to slap some sense into this girl. I wanted to wave Maggie in front of her face and yell, Pay attention! You could learn something.

And so I suffered through Sloane’s chapters because I wanted to learn more about Maggie and her glamorous, albeit lonely, life. Alongside her, I wanted to walk Jade’s dog and go to auditions and fall in love with Andrew. And her side of the story was all at once beautiful and sophisticated, told intelligently from the perspective of a seventeen year old girl turning twenty-six. And that’s not to say her life was perfect because it definitely was not, she just happened to rise to the occasion and make the very best of it, where Sloane could not.

And as I’m writing this review, I thought about changing my review to a three because of how much I disliked Sloane (and her name) and the way the ending went, but by doing that I just proved to myself how deep the psychology of this novel goes and therefore the rating will stay. Because it’s fucking brilliant.

Oh, man. I gotta give this book five stars.

Explaining the depths of this novel and how far it goes to fuck with your head is really difficult without spoiling it. There’s a word I want to say to try to explain, but I can’t even say that word because I’m afraid that will spoil it. (I even looked at other reviews. They didn’t say the word.)

Let me just say this. Everything in this novel is a piece. You may not think it is as you’re reading it and you may just think its another angst-ridden YA novel, but it’s not. It is, but it’s not. It is because it’s not. Or it’s not because it is? DO YOU SEE WHAT I MEAN.

Read it. Just give it a chance. It will seriously fuck with your head, terrify you to the bone, and leave you feeling breathless. And (like me), you’ll realize (hopefully not in the middle of writing a fucking review!) how brilliant it really is. I’m a bit sad that I can’t explain how passionately I feel about it for fear of spoiling it, but if you’ve read it you’ll understand. And if you haven’t, you should.


Rot & Ruin (Benny Imura #1) by Jonathan Maberry

In the zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic America where Benny Imura lives, every teenager must find a job by the time they turn fifteen or get their rations cut in half. Benny doesn’t want to apprentice as a zombie hunter with his boring older brother Tom, but he has no choice. He expects a tedious job whacking zoms for cash, but what he gets is a vocation that will teach him what it means to be human.

Genre: YA Dystopian
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: September 14, 2010
Page Count: 458
Source: My copy.
Rating: 3/5

This book began with some serious eye-rolling from me. I mean, the monsters were called Zoms (is the word zombie so long that it warrants abbreviation?), and our main character was a lazy, angst-ridden teenager who had no appreciation for the cozy world he lived in or the people who worked hard to keep him safe. I said in one of my status updates that Benny had better undergo some serious character development for me to even remotely get along with him, and thankfully, he did. The problem is, I just don’t feel invested in these characters. Or maybe I do. Maybe I just don’t like them very much. But I don’t think that is entirely their fault. The problem is, that the people, the adults that belong to this town of Mountainside shelter themselves and their children so much, that they have no idea what life is really like outside the fences. I mean, really, Benny thinks killing zombies is fun and there are fucking zombie cards. This is not a game. Surviving in the zombie apocalypse is not fun. It’s fucking terrifying. And the adults of this novel are so, so stupid (and Tom you are not exempt because you did the same thing). I just… I can’t even. I can’t wrap my head around the stupidity and negligence of these people. No one wants to talk about anything with each other or with the children, and yet they think it’s okay to send their children out to something that’s called the “Rot & Ruin” when their fifteen. Fifteen. Which, okay, is not that young, especially in the apocalypse, but at least prepare them! I mean, shit, one of your own kids thinks the local factory is producing soda when it is in fact producing cadaverine or whatever the name is… zombie juice. I mean, it makes you smell dead. So, yeah. Not soda. But how could you let your own child walk around that oblivious to everything? I’ve never encountered anything so foolish in my life.

Jonathan Maberry can write a sentence. There’s no doubt about that. I found beauty in normality every few pages. Having said that, the book still reads like a B Movie. I don’t know if that’s a zombie thing or what (this is my first zombie book). I watch The Walking Dead, which is, to me, very real and not B movie-ish at all, but the dialogue and inner monologue here kind of killed me. I couldn’t help but think that people don’t really think like that and definitely (at times) don’t talk like that. It was kind of corny, some of it. So, yeah. I’m not experienced in zombie matters so I don’t know if that’s what zombie-lovers look for (my husband LOVES “corny zombie movies”), but it stood out for me. And the cover and spine are sort of B movie-ish, too. Like I said, I don’t know if that’s just “the thing”.

Besides the stupidity of the characters, the novel was pretty predictable. There were at least two instances where I said to myself, I totally saw that coming. I thought it was drawn out. I went into this novel expecting a suspenseful adventure and that’s not really what I got. At all. It was more of a slow and steady kind a novel. Which is fine, in some cases, but this being a zombie book, I expected more action & adventure. I think I would have been a lot more invested if it was a non-stop thriller kind of thing. Instead, by page 300 (just over halfway through), I wanted to be done with it. Finishing the book was more of a chore for me.

The characters do develop eventually, especially Benny, Nix, and even Tom, so they get easier to deal with. Nix mostly annoyed me with her overwrought emotions, but she is a badass chick who can hold her own, so there’s that. And Maberry did a good job with the bad guys, I truly hated them and wanted them all to die. Wholly though, I just didn’t find myself being very invested in the story or its characters. It was kind of a meh book for me where I didn’t love it or hate it and that’s not the kind of story I really look forward to revisiting. I am conflicted about reading the sequel though. Lilah, though everyone thinks she’s crazy, to me, is the most sane character out of all of them. And the second book seems to focus on that. So I may pick it up. I haven’t decided yet.


Review Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by David Levithan & Rachel Cohn

It all starts when Nick asks Norah to be his girlfriend for five minutes. He only needs five minutes to avoid his ex-girlfriend, who’s just walked in to his band’s show. With a new guy. And then, with one kiss, Nick and Norah are off on an adventure set against the backdrop of New York City;and smack in the middle of all the joy, anxiety, confusion, and excitement of a first date.

This he said/she said romance told by YA stars Rachel Cohn and David Levithan is a sexy, funny roller coaster of a story about one date over one very long night, with two teenagers, both recovering from broken hearts, who are just trying to figure out who they want to be;and where the next great band is playing.

Told in alternating chapters, teeming with music references, humor, angst, and endearing side characters, this is a love story you’ll wish were your very own. Working together for the first time, Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have combined forces to create a book that is sure to grab readers of all ages and never let them go.

Genre: YA Fiction
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Release Date: August 26, 2008
Page Count: 208
Source: My copy.
Rating: 4/5

Having seen Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist The Movie, and loving it (except the emphasis on Norah’s non-orgasms, that was weird [and I’m glad there was only a single mention of it in the book]) I really wanted to read this book. I also liked Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares (mostly), which made me want to get my hands on this book even more. And I really did enjoy it. Even more than I did Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares.

I could see how the overuse of the word “fuck” or any variation of it could make readers want to shy away from this novel (especially being teen fiction and all), but I thought it was appropriate. My views on swearing and sex in teen fiction is this: teens swear. A lot. And sex is part of their lives as much if not more so (with the pressures that go with teen life) than adults. And I don’t think the adults writing the teen fiction should censor these novels to a point where the elements of these teens’ lives are not present. And so, the passionate swearing in this novel worked for me. I think both characters were really passionate in their lives and it made sense for them to express themselves with such passion. But I’ll tell you right now, if the word “fuck” bothers you, you’re not going to want to read this book.

I thought, at times, that Nick was a bit sensitive for a teenage boy, but he had just broken up with his girlfriend so it wasn’t totally unwarranted. But I absolutely loved Norah. She was strong, yet aware of her weaknesses and the mistakes that she made. She had loving parents, which was refreshing – I realize not all teens have that perfection in their lives where parents are concerned, but the reality is that some do, and it was nice to see that. I think Nick and Norah had amazing chemistry – especially in that one scene, whew! – and I enjoyed seeing their relationship develop. Somehow the authors did not enter insta-love territory, despite the fact that the entire novel is the course of one night, they kept it classy – these teens were actually interested in getting to know one another. I loved the backdrop of the music scene – it all felt very genuine. The novel was really short, but not too short to develop the characters. I thought the whole thing was executed brilliantly.