Category Archives: Uncategorized

Mad About the Boy

I have nothing to say that’s not a major spoiler, so everything is after the jump.  Proceed with caution.  Or reckless abandon.  Whatever.  Follow your heart.

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There’s Gonna Be Hella Good Times at My Moon Party

Pfeffer_Life_As_We_Knew_It_2006Life As We Knew It by Susan Pfeffer has a pretty exciting premise.  A highly anticipated asteroid show ends up colliding with the moon and pushing it out of its orbit and closer to the Earth, causing all sorts of calamity.

I think my favorite part by far is the beginning, where everyone is hotly anticipating how cool it will be to see an asteroid hit the moon, and then instead it ruins their lives. Continue reading

Friends Like These

althea-and-oliver_612x913I really like the cover for Althea & Oliver by Cristina Moracho.  We should have more yellow books.

I’m going to try to start out every post by saying something nice if I can come up with something.  Not that this book was terrible–I enjoyed reading it, it wasn’t an act of pure torture like DUFF.

Althea and Oliver are prototypical YA friends–a boy and girl that aren’t complete losers but not technically in the ‘in crowd,’ right on the cusp of ‘will they or won’t they,’ being raised by single parents (his a hipster widow, hers a bourbon-soaked professor). Continue reading

Why Couldn’t This Be Earl and the Dying Girl? Or Just Earl. Just Earl Would Be Awesome.

Me_and_Earl_and_the_Dying_Girl In my old age, I’ve come to realize that I have very little patience for books that I don’t like. If it doesn’t grab me in the first fifty pages or so, I’ll typically give up and move on to something I might actually enjoy. (Case in point, my recent abandonment of I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, which I found so insanely grating that I actually returned it to Audible.) So I’m kind of angry at myself that I stuck it out for Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, because guys, I really really REALLY did not enjoy this book.

The “Me” in the title is a kid named Greg, who is bumbling his way through senior year of high school with one goal – to be completely invisible to everyone around him. He goes about this by becoming friendly, but not friends, with every group on campus in an effort to blend in everywhere but belong nowhere. This has been his M.O. for the majority of high school and it has, for the most part, succeeded in keeping him being noticed by pretty much anyone, even though he thinks that if he doesn’t work SUPER HARD at blending in, the whole system will just fall apart. His only real acquaintance is his “coworker,” Earl, with whom he shares a love for the kind of movies that most high school kids can’t stomach. Together, they spend their free time creating remakes of their favorites with their own twists. Greg’s life is working out pretty well for him (at least in his own mind), until his mother forces him to befriend his classmate Rachel, who was recently diagnosed with stage 4 leukemia.

Before I get into this review, I want to say that I understand this is a book about teenagers, and that teenagers are, by and large, narcissistic assholes. They just are. They actually can’t help it. I took a development psychology class in college and was fascinated by the theories on teenagers and where they are in their mental development – namely, that they are unable to see the world beyond their own little sphere of self and those close to them, partially because they lack the life experience and partially because their brains just haven’t developed to that point yet. So yes, I get it, but if I wanted to experience the real, ugly, narcissistic assholery of the average teenager, I’d go hang out at a high school. So perhaps that might explain why being shoved into the head of a character like Greg for the 6+ hours of this audiobook just wasn’t my cup of tea.

One of my main problems with the book is that I feel like the characters were never fleshed out very well (except for Greg, who I frankly could have done with less of). Most of the time, Rachel seems like a tertiary character, and I was surprisingly not all that upset when she (spoiler) died. Greg’s parents, who actually had the potential to be interesting because they were just that odd, were background as well. We know more about the bust size of Greg’s crush than her actual personality, and I forgot until 3/4 of the way through the book that Greg even had sisters.

Earl felt more solid, but something about his characterization made me uncomfortable, even as I found him the most interesting and relate-able character in the book. He was the only major character of color, and it was like the author so wanted to make you aware of this fact that he threw every stereotype in the book at the kid. Poor and not living up to his potential? Check. Absent dad? Check. Alcoholic mother? Check. Gang member little brother who already got a girl pregnant at 13 and deals drugs on the side? Check check checkity check. And yet even with all of this, Earl is still the best character in the whole book, mostly because he remains just as annoyed with Greg throughout the book as I am, only he gets to tell him off for it.

I don’t want to say that Greg doesn’t have a character arc, because he does. He goes from being basically a loner to having someone in his life that he actually cares about. But he never fully commits to the people in his life being in his life. He describes his best friend as a coworker and acquaintance. His interactions with Rachel are enjoyable, but he admits that what he most enjoys about them is that he’s good at making Rachel laugh and that he enjoys the feeling of being good at something. When Rachel inevitably dies, his grief is not over losing someone important in his life, but over losing the opportunity to have someone important in his life. His arc leads him to realize how he has shut people out, but never reaches the satisfying conclusion of letting people in.

And maybe that was my problem from the get-go. Greg’s an ass. I wanted to see him become something other than an ass, but he never quite gets there. I can’t say I wasn’t warned. The author does like to point out, ad nauseum, that this isn’t a typical YA book, don’t expect typical YA book-type revelations to happen, OMG THIS IS NOT A JOHN GREEN NOVEL, etc. So yeah, I get it. And maybe for some people, that’s the wonderful, refreshing thing about this book and why so many people love it – that it shows teenagers in all their self-absorbed glory, the world in all its harshness. It shows that sometimes, we don’t let the dying girl in until it’s too late and have to live with that regret. In that way, it’s an admirable story to tell, but it’s not the story I wanted to read.

ETA: The trailer of the movie is actually what made me want to read this book, and I still think it looks better than the book itself. I’ll be curious to see.

Because You Could Die Literally At Any Point Today

theduff__spanDuff by Kody Keplinger has been out for awhile.  Long enough that I remember shelving it while working at Borders and that was at least five years ago.

I’ll be honest, the premise on the back never sounded that appealing to me, but then I saw they were making a movie out of it, and I was like, “surely they wouldn’t make a movie out of a boring, horribly written book” so I got it from the library.

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When Hitler Killed Jesus

urlThe first few chapters of Dark Eden I was on the fence.  The trees go ‘hmmmph hmmph’ like a million times.  They don’t have the adjective ‘very’ so the characters say things like ‘it was good good’ or ‘sad sad SAD.’

As you can imagine that gets annoying annoying fast.

My grievances aside, I ended up really liking this story.  It’s a nice departure from dystopian YA and twisted fairy tales, which I’ve been reading a bit too much of lately.

The story is set in Eden, a dark planet somewhere out in space.  A couple hundred years ago, three men and a ship called Defiant left Earth’s perimeter and jumped through space, landing on Eden.  Unexpectedly along for the ride were also two space police–Angela and Michael, who were trying to stop Defiant.

Though full of life, the planet has no sun, only plants and animals that give off light.  Unsure that their damaged ship will even make it back to Earth, Angela decides to stay on Eden with one of the 3 men of Defiant (Tommy).  They have several children, who have children, etc. until they’ve sired a family of 500+ really inbred folks. Continue reading

” Eat some more tarts and go pet your horse Feyre, this is as good as it’s going to get for you”

urlOk so I warned you that I’d be reviewing about fifty Beauty and the Beast knockoffs.  I mean that in a loving way, Sarah J Maas–I’ve been looking forward to your novel–A Court of Thorns and Roses.

Feyre lives in a cottage in the woods with her pretty useless dad and 2 older useless sisters.  Because of a promise to her (dead) useless mother, and a crippling sense of duty, Feyre spends most of her time Katniss-style, shooting stuff in the woods with arrows.

Not too far from her home looms the wall separating the humans and the fairies.  Fairies around these parts are nasty, scary, magical beings that you do not want to play with.  When Feyre shoots a wolf in the woods that evening, she tries to tell herself it’s just a wolf, not a fairy in disguise, even though she purposefully uses an ash arrow (their only weakness).

Unsurprisingly for plot purposes, the wolf was a fairy.  When a frightening beast creature comes to claim her life, Feyre must choose between her death or living forever with him on his estate.  Grudgingly she chooses to leave her life of drudgery with her horrible, ungrateful family and follow the beastie into the woods.

When they arrive at his estate Feyre’s beastie turns into a beautiful dude wearing a mask.  His name is Tamlin, and he and the rest of his court were cursed at a party that has left them all wearing their masks permanently.  Feyre’s only role in her new home apparently is to eat a lot of food and dress nicely.

I can understand not wanting to live forever in a magical world where everything can kill you, your host is prone to fits of rage, and you’re bored out of your mind–but I don’t understand Feyre’s longing to return to her family.  They really sucked.  Eat some more tarts and go pet your horse Feyre, this is as good as it’s going to get for you.

Tamlin is determinedly close-mouthed about what’s wrong with the fairies, why he is wearing a mask all the time, and why Feyre can never return home.  Despite the fact that Feyre is there for murdering one of his buddies, he’s pretty pleasant to her.  We all know where this is headed but I feel like the author rushes it.  One moment Feyre is raging about being trapped with rude horrible fairies and the next she’s skinnydipping with one.  Nothing really happens in the interim that makes that feel natural.  For instance, no one builds Feyre a gorgeous library because she’s illiterate (FINALLY FINALLY an illiterate character, I was literally just pining for one two posts ago).

However, even if the transition is worked a bit awkwardly, Tamlin and Feyre are coyly flirting all over the place before you know it.  But the bad fairies keep encroaching on Tamlin’s territories and something bad is clearly going on–though no one will explain it to Feyre.  After a particularly bad event, Tamlin decides to ship Feyre back to human-land.

When Tamlin took her, he brainwashed her family into thinking she was caring for their aunt, and also reinstated all their former wealth.  Despite all her earlier bitching about missing her family, Feyre is only back a day before she’s complaining about being with them.

Finally getting wise to the overarching plot of her storyline, Feyre realizes that by leaving Tamlin she left him in danger.  She finds her way back to his estate only to find it abandoned.  One of the servants explains to her the fairy curse, why Tamlin brought her there, and where he is now.

Let me take a moment to tell you HOW specific this fairy curse is.  Like, if someone put a curse on my husband that only a stretch-marked thirty-year old with hip dysplasia, a dachshund, and a dinosaur tattoo could break.

Anyway, despite being told it’s hopeless, Feyre finds the Queen of Bad Fairies (not her real name) and makes a deal to rescue Tamlin. He’ll be freed if she can complete 3 trials set before her OR by answering a riddle the Queen gives her.  I don’t want to spoil the ending but I will just say–the riddle is pretty obvious.  Like even for me and I suck at riddles.

Despite some plot pain points I’ve mentioned above, I really enjoyed this twist on Beauty and the Beast. Supposedly it’s going to be a series, but it is able to stand on it’s own as well.