Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

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Genre: Young-Adult, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal
Pages: 409
Series: The Raven Boys #1
Release Date: September 18, 2012
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Date Read: January 31, 2016

3 Stars

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The time I wrote the review, I had a headache so I wrote it in bulletin form. Right now, I have about 15 minutes before I go back to studying for my exam, so I’m not changing the format. I will write a synopsis though.

Blue Sargent lives in a house full of psychics: palm readers, clairvoyants, the works. She herself isn’t a psychic but she’s been told one thing about herself. That she will cause her true love to die when she kisses him. Then one night, she sees a spirit of a future dead. He says his name is Gansey, who she later discovered is a rich boy who goes to a private school, Aglionby. All the boys from Aglionby are referred as Raven Boys. The thing is though, the only reason a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve is if she’s his true love… or if she killed him.

Freaking love that synopsis. It gets to excited and gives you something to dread. Very eerie too. Like the novel is. Onto my bulletin-point review:

  1. The plot of the book is interesting and quite unique, but it can get really confusing at times. For example, I’m still not sure what ley lines actually are or where they come from.
  2. The characters are complex and well-developed (not all of them, unfortunately) and I like most of the protagonists. There is one I don’t like and no one else seems to see that the characters sucks ass; Adam, the self-obsessed, prideful bastard.
  3. The writing of the book is okay, but at the same time, it’s a bit too cryptic/mysterious. I believe the exact words I used in the Buddy Read thread were, “The writing is a bit too formal sometimes, isn’t it? I get wanting to write mysteriously, but could you ease off on the almost-cryptic, twisty lines, Charlotte Bronte?”
  4. Talking about writing, the style also interfered with the connection to the characters. The writing, like it often happens, lacked emotional depth. With all the “I wanna use big words and complicated sentences in the narration” thing the author had going, she missed the part where the book flows and the readers feel stuff.
  5. The pace is a bit slow and the amount of things that went on in the book weren’t enough. It seemed more like a prequel than a first book. It lacked individuality. If this was just one book, it wouldn’t stand at all since almost nothing is answered. I know this was planned as a part of a series, but it should also be able to stand on its own.
  6. And since I had to think for two minutes to remember what the grand finale was, it’s clear that it wasn’t grand, to say the least.

And yeah, with all the bad things I’ve said, it might seem like I hated the book or something. I didn’t. I liked it. It was the kind of book that pulls you in from the beginning. It’s not perfect but it’s not bad, and I will be reading the next one. (Note from the future: I read the next one. It’s so much better.)

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Review: Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon

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Genre: Young-Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 307
Series: None
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Publisher: Delacorte Books
Date Read: January 26, 2016

2 Stars

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Majorly unpopular opinion upcoming because, and I’m sorry to have to say this, but this book is ridiculous.

The idea behind the novel is great. It’s about a girl, Maddy, who’s allergic to so many things that she can’t go outside her house. Ever. Because the moments she does, she’ll face severe allergic reactions and probably die. It’s not the most eventful life but she tries to be okay with it. Until a new boy moves next door and they start e-mail interactions. He makes her realize that she wants more.

The plot is very interesting. Not ridiculous at all. But the book itself… *sigh* I don’t know what gave the author the idea that the shit that happens in this novel would be believable. She was clearly wrong.

At first, the only thing wrong was the writing. This isn’t a well-written novel. The prose lacks details, thoughts, imagery, etc. Basically, it’s a whole lot of ‘I said’, ‘she said’, ‘I did’, ‘she did’ and ‘ooh! an email!’ It didn’t work. We got almost zero insight into any of the characters. They were very one-dimensional. Maddy was childish and inconsiderate. The male protagonist we barely know anything about. Maddy’s mom… not touching her. There was also nurse who was terrible at her job.

It all made for a book that was more of a detailed report on a sequence of events, rather than something you can be emotionally invested in. Soon other problems arose and the book was heading to one star. Something near the ending salvaged it a little, but not much.

The plot was a lot of far-fetched things without explanation and there was a severe case of insta-love. At one point, I thought the book was a joke.

I can’t even say the format was good. I liked the illustration, the little art spread throughout, and thought they were cool but we never got to know why they were there. Did Maddy like art? Did she collect printouts? Was she computer-savvy? Why did you choose that format?! I get that it’s attractive, but you can’t just shove things into a novel for not reason.

Overall, the book was a disaster. The synopsis was interesting and the book had potential, but it wasn’t good. Yet another case of ‘is my copy of the book different from everyone else’s or something?’.

So I, personally, suggest avoidance.

Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

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Genre: Young-Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal
Pages: 352
Series: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children #1
Release Date: June 7, 2011
Publisher: Quirk Books
Date Read: January 23, 2016

4 Stars

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First of all, the cover of this book is super creepy and I really like it. Now, let’s get on to what the cover is covering.

A young boy, Jacob, is given a bunch of photos by his grandfather, who used to tell them stories of the kids in the photos, ones who has peculiar abilities. Jacob always thought they was just stories. You know, made up. Later it turns out that maybe they weren’t made up and that takes Jacob on a journey to a mysterious island. There, he finds the kids, who are still kids even decades later.

Ominous, right? Coupled with the cover, definitely. Still, I didn’t know what to expect from it. This is a surprisingly good book and quite… different. For one thing, it’s funny. Didn’t expect that.

Jacob is a good protagonist. He is the kind of guy you root for. He works really well as the narrator because of his humour, especially because, otherwise, the book could have gotten too serious. Also, the way he sticks to his decisions and is so stubbornly strong-footed is a great quality of his. And I like his vulnerability, how he doubts himself sometimes but doesn’t let anything hold him back.

The other characters (who I won’t mention because I want you to go into this book knowing as little as possible) and Jacob’s relationship with them is nice to watch. Though I do wish we got to more of Jacob with his mother and with his one friend.

I also really like the writing of this book. At times, it was on the verge of being overly poetic but I don’t think it crossed that line. It’s a little dense regardless, which makes for a slower read than I would’ve liked. But I think it won me over when the color of the sky was described as a “fresh bruise”. I loved that.

The world that the author created is quite unique and, you might say, peculiar. Maybe similar elements have been used before in some other book or series, I can’t be sure. I haven’t read anything like it and I really enjoyed exploring.

The one thing that I think didn’t work was that it was slightly underwhelming. In scenes when there was a lot of danger and we knew the stakes were high, it didn’t feel like the stakes were high. The book didn’t have me at the edge of my seat. The action wasn’t exciting enough. I think, in this case, the poetic prose acted as a hinderance.

Also, the Emma and Jacob romance? Still gross. She dated his grandfather. Ew.

Though I did quite like the ending and I’m very curious about the next book. And, knowing what the book is called, I’m feel a cross between worry and excitement for what’s next for the characters. Finally, I’ll say that I really liked this book. It’s interesting and has a great world to explore, and I recommend it to anyone who likes fantasy and some mystery.

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Message From the Future: It’s been almost two years since I read this novel and I’ve tried reading the sequel, but never got past chapter 2. It felt boring and the characters aren’t as memorable as one might except from people with special abilities. I’ve heard it suffers from Second Book Syndrome. Also, the writing got annoying.

Review: The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle

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Genre: Young-Adult, Fantasy, Mystery
Pages: 282
Series: None
Release Date: August 18, 2015
Publisher: Corgi Childrens
Date Read: February 23, 2016

2 Stars

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Every year, toward the end of October, Cara’s family becomes inexplicably accident-prone. They try to be as safe as possible, getting rid of sharp objects and turning off electrical appliances, but injuries still happen and no one knows why. But this time, Cara will try to solve the mystery and maybe end the accident season.

But before she does that, I have a confession to make. I-only-read-this-book-because-of-the-name.

You know how some people buy and read books because of the covers? Yeah, it’s like that with me and names. If a book has an awesome and interesting name (I still maintain that ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?‘ is the best name ever), then I’m going to want to read that book. ‘The Accident Season’ sounded really interesting. Which is why I hate to say this, but I hated this book.

I just couldn’t, for the life of me, like anything. There was one point, near the 60-65% mark, when I thought it was starting to get better. But then chapter 12 destroyed everything. I don’t even know how I got through the last quarter. Oh wait, I do. I did it by skimming through it. And by sheer determination. Because nothing about the book worked for me. The basic plot, about the accident season, could have been interesting but it barely came into play. The whole book was just a series of random people doing random things, weirdness and smoking (weed, too). There was no explanation for things that actually needed explaning.

This book was so vague that it didn’t make any sense. I didn’t know what the fuck was going on half the time and the other half, I didn’t know what the thing that was going on had to do with the plot.

I also didn’t like the characters at all. Cara was childish and annoying, Sam, Cara’s ex step-brother, was there to be the love interest (am I the only one who didn’t find the relationship between Cara and Sam repulsive? Because a lot of people seem to). Their mom was irritating and a terrible parent, in my opinion. There were a few friends: Bea was… high, and Alice seemed almost sensible but then that got ruined as well.

I didn’t like the writing either. Not only was it more than a little incoherent, it felt like the author wrote about 12-year-old who got drunk often, smoked a lot and got high on ocassion. And all the illegal stuff that they were doing was mentioned so casually that everything came off as odd and out-of-place.

Finally, let’s talk about the cliche-ness of it all. This book had all the cliched horror tropes.

  • Creepy house ✔
  • Shop that’s only there so the main characters can go to it once ✔
  • Some person that may or may not exist ✔
  • Convenient Wind ✔
  • Things happening on their own ✔
  • Stupid characters who are stupid ✔

Pretty sure there were some other as well but these are all I remember for now.

And if that wans’t bad enough, the author had to through some YA tropes as well. Like a stupid-ass love triangle and an angsty, overdramatic female protagonist. Though to be honest, Cara wasn’t the only dramatic presence. A lot of the things about this book were overdramatic. Like the writing with the excessive use of metaphors-that-aren’t-really-metaphors-but-really-just-lines-that-sound-deep-and-have-no-meaning.

Overall, I didn’t give a shit about anything or anyone. And other than 10% of it that made me think that the book might be getting better, and the fact that it had could have been good if it weren’t so poorly presented, there was nothing to like. So unless you’re okay with a whole lot of weirdness and little sense, I wouldn’t recommend reading this one.

Review: A Million Suns by Beth Revis

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Genre: Young-Adult, Science-Fiction
Pages: 386
Series: Across the Universe #2
Release Date: January 10, 2012
Publisher: Razorbill

4-25-stars

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A year and a half later, I finally read the sequel. Yay! Though keep in mind, just because it took me a while, doesn’t mean I didn’t like the first book.

The ending of Across the Universe left is with lots of revelations, like who really woke Amy, and a dead Eldest. Now, Elder is the leader of a ship with too many secrets still, and one that might be very far from reaching its destination. Even with years of training, he doesn’t know what to do. Besides, the training was given by Eldest and we all know how good a guy he turned out to be.

In the beginning of the first book, the Elder we were introduced to was naive in so many ways. He was just a kid. But he grew up a lot. In this novel, he grows up even more. He learns truths about many more things and he learns how to be a leader, and what it means to be one. Honestly, the progress we’ve seen with him is beautiful and I was so proud of him. Amy… she’s still a complicated story. She’s grown as well, but not nearly as much as Elder. I no longer hate her though. Instead, I’ve kinda accepted the kinda person she is.

You see, if there’s one thing I have to give Beth Revis credit for, with Amy, is the consistency. Amy is a flawed person. She has trouble seeing beyond her own concerns and when things don’t go her way, she gets angry, she yells, and then storms off. But she’s learning, very slowly, that there are other people around whose lives, choices and opinions also matter. That’s definitely a step in the right direction.

As for the story, I can’t tell you much. It’s about Elder and Amy trying to figure out what’s really going on with Godspeed. And with Eldest gone, that might actually be possible. But in-between that, there’s also the factor that a sixteen-year-old has to lead over two thousand people and those people have very recently been taken off a drug that made them docile. Meaning they’re getting their first taste of freedom. Not to mention, they’re all older than the man (or boy, really) whose supposed to lead them. It’s a clusterfuck alright. But one that I liked reading about. The author did a very good job with it.

The romance, I’m still not totally onboard with. I feel like the only things that attracted Elder to Amy was how different, how animated and loud, she was. Which makes sense since almost everyone else he knew was on drugs, and older than him. That doesn’t mean I don’t have hope for them. The ending of this novel made me very excited, and hopeful, for the future of the series. Finger crossed!

Review: Across the Universe by Beth Revis

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Genre: Young-Adult, Science-Fiction
Pages: 399
Series: Across the Universe #1
Release Date: January 11, 2011
Publisher: Razorbill
Date Read: March 26, 2016

3.5 Stars

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I want to kick things off by saying that I finished read the sequel, A Million Suns, yesterday and even though it took me a year and a half to get to it, it wasn’t because I wasn’t interested. Quite the opposite, really. This is a very interesting novel that leaves you wondering about many things. And I think my anticipation for finding out what would happen next was part of the reason it took me this long, if that makes sense.

The novel is set on a spaceship called GodspeedGodspeed is on a mission to another planet in another star system, one that’s believed to be habitable. The mission is supposed to take hundreds of years so the ship is handled by generations of people who live their whole lives on the ship. The people crucial to settlement on the new planet are in cryo.

We have two main characters. Elder is a citizen of Godspeed and he’s being raised to become the leader (politically) of the ship. Amy was asleep, only a passenger because of her parents, and was supposed to remain that way until planet-landing. But then someone tried to kill her. Her life is saved but she’s awake before her time. She can’t go back to cryosleep so she decides to use her time to find out who tried to kill her, only to discover that she wasn’t the only one. Someone’s trying to eliminate the frozens and the ship has many secrets. It’s up to her and Elder to figure things out.

Like I said before, I found the book to be very interesting. I mean, it’s a murder mystery in space. How cool is that?! And the story was great. I loved reading about life on the ship and how things worked. Elder was a great protagonist.

The is a well-written novel. There are some inconsistencies with the writing (continuity errors) but not many. Elder’s narrative was very well done. Initially, his narrative has a childlike quality to it. But as the novel goes on, you can read the difference, the growth. It was gradual and very believable. His characters development was brilliant. Amy’s on the other hand… not so much.

I didn’t love Amy’s characters. I’m sure no one’s surprised but I still feel the need to explain. You see, Amy had a bad habit of yelling first and thinking later. She was condescending because she knew stuff about planet Earth that others did not, which was stupid since those people had never been to Earth. She blabbered idiotically, threw tantrums (which were understandable) and was quite self-absorbed. Her only concern was that she might have to live her entire life on the ship. As if there weren’t over two thousand other people who shared her fate.

Also, not all the plot points in the novel were well-handled. The main plot was strong but some others were neglected. This could be counted under inconsistencies.

One last thing I wanna add; the cover. It’s misleading. From the cover, this seems like a romance novel and while there is a slight romance, the novel could not be considered a romance. It didn’t bother me but that’s because I didn’t have any expectations going in. If I’d expected, or wanted, a romance, I would’ve been disappointed.

Overall, I liked this book. It’s a different story and a unique setting and I was very interested in the sequel. I definitely recommend giving it a read.

Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

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Genre: Young-Adult, Dystopia, Science-Fiction
Pages: 374
Series: None
Release Date: August 16, 2011
Publisher: Crown Publishers

Star

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Another review repost. This book is one that I read in January of 2016. Considering how popular and well-received this novel is, and the upcoming Spielberg movie, most of you are probably familiar with it. Still, for those who aren’t, this is a novel set in the near future. One in which fossil fuels finally run out and there’s a mighty crisis. But if there’s one thing you know about people, they will find a way to avoid their problems.

This time, the distraction of choice is OASIS, a virtual reality game, of sorts. You can go to school there, you can shop, you can earn money, you can date, and even simply walk around and have a good time.

OASIS is highly influenced by 80s pop culture and the creator, having no heir, decides to hold a competition. The winner gets the game, and the billions of dollars that it’s worth.

Our protagonist, who goes by the name Parzival in OASIS, lives in a trailer park. He’s obsessed with OASIS but because of his limited funds, can only access few parts. When he hears of the competition, he’s all for it. Even if he may not have much of a chance of winning …until he does stand a chance, when he’s the first to figure out the first clue. And that’s just the beginning of his ride.

I expected this novel to be very focused on the game. And it was, but it was also so much more than I could ever have imagined it to be. It kind of blew my mind, in many ways. I could never have guessed the magnitude of the book. I thought that it would be a book about a new futuristic game that you had to win for the grand prize (a bit like the third Spy Kids movie) but it’s not really about the new game. It’s about all the old ones, the classics. And I can’t think of a better way to pay homage to them all.

Also, I can’t help but be baffled by the amount of research that probably went into writing this book. I keep coming back to that. I know many other authors also do lots of research for their projects, but this one is so thoroughly obsessive, that it stands out. Yeah, there’s a good chance most of the research is just the author’s love for 80s pop culture. It’s still impressive.

Another thing I loved was how inclusive it is. I am not a gamer and I hardly know anything about 80s pop culture. Yet I never felt left out. It was written in a way that kept you connected to the book, enjoying it very much, even if you didn’t know all the things being referenced.

Honestly, it would have been so easy to be completely confused or bored by the book, but I never was. It was just written and planned so well. Even the information and backstory, and there was a lot to be given, was placed in all the right moments so that it didn’t feel unnecessary or out-of-context.

I also adored all the characters. My favourite is probably Aech (I love that name), a friend of Parzival’s. Aech was funny and cool and a really good friend. I loved the relationship between Parzival and Aech, their friendship was heartwarming and very genuine. But, talking about relationships, let’s get to the one part that I didn’t like. The relationship between Parzival and Art3mis, who you could call the ‘love interest’. It wasn’t developed enough.

There was so much stuff going on in the novel, the time given to the romantic aspect was limited. And I get that, I do. But still, at times, it felt like the author was trying to make their relationship, and feelings, more intense and serious that they were.

Other than that, this is book about video games, movies, TV shows and music, that tells people how important the real world is. You won’t find that very often. Safe to say, it was pretty amazing. I’ve never read anything like this and I recommend this to everyone. Whether you like video games or not, this is definitely one book you should read.