The Haters by Jesse Andrews: Maybe I should have DNF’d?

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The Haters

author : jesse andrews

pages : [hardcover] 352

summary :

Do you have a favorite band?

Okay. Good. Unfortunately, it also sucks. And Wes and Corey can tell you exactly how.

There is nothing Wes and Corey can’t hate on. Even bands they love. In fact, they are incapable of loving anything without relentlessly figuring out ways to hate it, too.

And so when they are sent to a place as soul-crushing as jazz camp—which is populated almost completely by competitive maniacs who are trying to seem chill by talking in Jazz Voice—Wes and Corey hate on it with extreme prejudice. Fortunately, so does a girl named Ash, who may even be a bigger and better hater than the two of them combined.

When the three of them run away from camp, start their own band, and go on tour, it seems like a great idea. Except that they are faced with a basically unanswerable question: How can confirmed haters even try to make music that maybe doesn’t suck?

The answer takes the form of a catastrophic, hilarious, romantically tangled road trip from Jesse Andrews, bestselling author of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. You can feel free to hate on it. But you can also love it, too. Because maybe those are kind of the same thing.

review :

I was super excited to read this book because obviously I’ve read Andrews’ previous book (I don’t know many people who don’t know something about Me and Earl and the Dying Girl) and think he has a really great, unique way of telling stories. Unfortunately this one didn’t really do it for me.

I went into The Haters without knowing too much about it. I briefly read some of the front flap and then dove right in. I have to admit that I know next to nothing about jazz, was surprised to see a contemporary book all about jazz music, and then was a little excited because that’s something new, something cool. And then within the next few dozen pages, all of that disappeared with only a few more references to jazz musicians and not much else.

I think what made it so hard for me to get into this book and the road trip is that there’s no real end goal. Wes himself acknowledges that none of them are actually good at playing music, yet they continue to do so, and they have no real destination in their journey. They all abandon their cell phones because it will be the ‘cool’ thing to do. That’s basically their justification for a lot of the illegal things they do, too. I do like that at the end of this novel, the character need to face real consequences for what they’ve done. That isn’t something that happens a lot in YA so I was actually pleased to see that.

But, at the end of The Haters, I don’t feel like I came away with much else. A lot of the book is taken up by dialogue of Wes and Corey hating on various things, making a bunch of jokes I guess high school guys always make, and then . . . not much else. It just wasn’t the one for me.

2/5 stars

Reread Reflection: Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken

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How do you review a book after you’ve already read it? Review the reread!

I absolutely loved The Darkest Minds which was the first book in this trilogy. When I finally got my hands on book three, I remembered pretty clearly what happened in that book and was less certain about Never Fade. That calls for a reread!

First of all, I have to admit Never Fade suffers from the second book slump. I like it, but nowhere near with the passion of how I loved book one. This involves more of the political intrigue, a lot less of the action. There’s a lot happening but it’s all verbal plot twists, not exactly action scenes, except for probably the very first and last scenes of the book. Ruby shuts down so much when she’s around the League that it’s hard to get a read on her for . . kind of anything, which leads to an unfortunate monotone in places when she’s trying not to feel and all.

There are some pretty good plot twists in here, though, and those easily kept me reading. I mean, it’s kind of like you’re thinking nothing else could go worse, and then everything goes much worse than you could ever think possible.

Before this reread, I couldn’t remember too much about Never Fade apart from pieces of the end of the book. And then I kept thinking, no, that couldn’t possibly be how it ends . . . but it does, and it still makes me a mixture of sad and angry. All in all, it made me unsure if this is a trilogy I’ll reread in its entirety again. I still have a special place in my heart for The Darkest Minds, because when I read that it felt so clever and unlike anything else I’d ever read. Never Fade brings in more dystopian tropes, and, well, I’ll be putting up my review of book three in a few days.

So, while I really liked this book, I don’t feel like I absolutely need this book.

 

 

Wires and Nerve was everything I needed in a graphic novel

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Wires and Nerve

Volume 1

author : marissa meyer

illustrator : doug holgate

pages : [hardcover] 240

favorite character : wolf (always)

memorable quote :

“I misread the romantic tension, Didn’t I?”

summary :

In her first graphic novel, #1 New York Times and USA Today bestseller Marissa Meyer follows Iko, the beloved android from the Lunar Chronicles, on a dangerous and romantic new adventure — with a little help from Cinder and the Lunar team.

In her first graphic novel, bestselling author Marissa Meyer extends the world of the Lunar Chronicles with a brand-new, action-packed story about Iko, the android with a heart of (mechanized) gold. When rogue packs of wolf-hybrid soldiers threaten the tenuous peace alliance between Earth and Luna, Iko takes it upon herself to hunt down the soldiers’ leader. She is soon working with a handsome royal guard who forces her to question everything she knows about love, loyalty, and her own humanity. With appearances by Cinder and the rest of the Rampion crew, this is a must-have for fans of the bestselling series.

review :

How could I not love a graphic novel that continues one of my favorite book series? Especially because it means one of my favorite characters, Iko, is going to get her very own happy ending–well, probably. This is only volume one, so who knows what adventures could happen next!

The only thing I hated about this volume was how quickly I finished it, and how long I know I’ll need to wait until volume two.

Let’s talk about the artwork first. I’ve avoided graphic novel adaptations in the past because the images never quite line up with what I’ve had in my mind while I’m reading. The same is true for Wires and Nerve, because most of the character designs weren’t quite what I’ve had in mind. Still, maybe because it’s an extension of the series, it was easier to separate in my mind that this is Iko’s story, and everything else was it’s own entity. What kind of cemented it for me is that the characters still act and talk the way they have in the previous books, so even without the bulk of text that comes with a novel it was easy to feel the characters’ personalities shine through.

This volume made me excited for the series to come because it shows how the world has remained imperfect after Winter. There’s a natural progression in the plot, something for Iko to overcome, and some opportunities for romantic feelings in the future. I absolutely love that Wires and Nerve didn’t focus on any specific relationship with Iko because she’s never really had the chance to be the center of attention before. I’ve loved seeing what her dreams and motivations are–and how much of a badass she is. Iko can really shine and I’m waiting to read more about her!

5/5 stars

 

“Piper Perish” by Kayla Cagan was nowhere near as good as it could have been

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Piper Perish

author : kayla cagan

pages : 405

release date : (expected) february 28th 2017

favorite character : adams

summary :

Piper Perish inhales air and exhales art. The sooner she and her best friends can get out of Houston and into art school in New York City, the better. It’s been Piper’s dream her whole life, and now that senior year is halfway over, she’s never felt more ready. But in the final months before graduation, things are weird with her friends and stressful with three different guys, and Piper’s sister’s tyrannical mental state seems to thwart every attempt at happiness for the close-knit Perish family. Piper’s art just might be enough to get her out. But is she brave enough to seize that power, even if it means giving up what she’s always known? Debut author Kayla Cagan breathes new life into fiction in this ridiculously compelling, utterly authentic work featuring interior art from Rookie magazine illustrator Maria Ines Gul. Piper will have readers asking big questions along with her. What is love? What is friendship? What is family? What is home? And who is a person when she’s missing any one of these things?

review :

I really wanted to like this book. Not just because I’ve had a great record with loving YA novels published by Chronicle Books. Not just because I share a fantastic first name with the author. It sounded so interesting, like nothing I’d ever read before. Unfortunately, there were more frustrations in this novel than anything else, and it left me with nothing unique to hold onto. It’s the kind of book where the plot will grow fuzzy a few days from now.

Piper Perish is about just that: A girl named Piper Perish. She’s an artist, from Houston, in high school. I know this because the book is told in journal entries and in about every entry she complains about how limited Houston is compared to NYC. Actually, I feel like this was a very accurate representation of teenage ranting, but it didn’t translate well to real storytelling. The journal entries didn’t progress throughout the half year they detail so much as passionlessly chronicle Piper’s lives in a vividly failing attempt to capture teenage slang in the written form. There’s no indication of what year this is intended to take place within, so with the technology available in Piper’s world I assumed 2017 was a fair choice for setting. For teenagers so “cool” Piper constantly harps about how cool they are, their word choices are awfully . . . uncool, for lack of a better way to describe it. It was hard to read.

There was a big factor in the beginning of the novel that almost made me DNF it right away but I hung on, because I partially hoped it would right itself partway through the book and also thought I should give the rest of the plot a fair chance. A main character in the book reveals very early on that he has an interest in boys, while he has been dating a girl for a few years. Thus said girlfriend goes on a slightly insane spiral thinking that because she has short hair, she has accidentally convinced him that he likes men. Later that thinking shifts to how did everyone but me know that he was gay? 

I’m so incredibly tired of authors just ignoring the fact that, hey, it’s true: You can like GUYS AND GALS. Basically most of the book was her coming to terms with the fact that yes, he loved her, just not in that way. This is a horrible example for teens who’ll be reading this book. There’s EVERY CHANCE some guy could love a girl, yes in that way, and then when he finds a guy to date instead, love him too. He doesn’t have to be straight. Or gay. Or even define himself by being bisexual, because I get that people don’t have labels, sexuality is more complex, and all. But the word bisexual? Not once does it appear (and I’m reading an advanced copy so, if for some reason this changes, I would be incredibly pleased to know about it!). Not even as a consideration or an afterthought.

Throughout the rest of the book, this was marring my experience, but I have to admit it didn’t truly detract from the plot because not much happens. Tiny situations resolve themselves. Plotlines that could have been interesting, such as a certain character potentially having very serious unresolved mental illness issues, are never even addressed. The only thing that isn’t stagnant is time.

1/5 stars : should have DNF’d

I received an advanced copy from Chronicle Book for review and this in no way affected my honest review. They are an incredible publishing house and I’ve loved working with them. If you would like to read some of my favorite books by them, check out my reviews on The Clockwork Scarab and The Falconer.

Nowhere Near You by Leah Thomas IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE BOOKS OF ALL TIME

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Nowhere Near You

author : leah thomas

pages : [hardcover] 400

favorite characters : ollie & moritz (duh)

summary :

Following up her acclaimed debut, Because You’ll Never Meet Me, Leah Thomas continues the stories of Ollie and Moritz in another heart-warming story of unique friendship.

Ollie and Moritz might never meet, but their friendship knows no bounds. Their letters carry on as Ollie embarks on his first road trip away from the woods–no easy feat for a boy allergic to electricity–and Moritz decides which new school would best suit an eyeless boy who prefers to be alone.

Along the way they meet other teens like them, other products of strange science who lead seemingly normal lives in ways Ollie and Moritz never imagined possible: A boy who jokes about his atypical skeleton; an aspiring actress who hides a strange deformity; a track star whose abnormal heart propels her to victory. Suddenly the future feels wide open for two former hermits. But even as Ollie and Moritz dare to enjoy life, they can’t escape their past, which threatens to destroy any progress they’ve made. Can these boys ever find their place in a world that might never understand them?

review :

THIS BOOOOOOOOOOK.

I don’t know why, but after I first read Because You’ll Never Meet Me and completely and utterly fell in love with it, I never realized that there was going to be a sequel. Then I happened to catch a blog post on one of my favorite blog’s about Nowhere Near You and the happy squealing was immense. When I was contacted to actually read and review this book, it’s a miracle I was actually able to form a coherent sentence to reply to that email. I’m still incredibly awed that I was able to read this book, before it was even published. I don’t think it’s something I’ll ever get over and I plan on keeping this ARC forever after.

I suppose it would help if I could be a little more succinct about why these books are so lovely and important to me. It’s important to note that they’re incredibly different from one another, too. Because I’ll Never Meet You is much more character-driven than the plot-driven Nowhere Near You. Luckily I love both types of stories and getting such different narratives offers not only a well-rounded view of our narrators but an exciting and different worldview. We don’t even know much about the world that’s shown in this sequel until close to the end of the first book. While book one masquerades a bit more like contemporary fiction, book two is science fiction through and through. And it’s amazingly charming and witty in the way it works these very improbable characters into a world just like our own.

Well, not exactly like our own, because then we would have our own Moritz and Ollie. Flawed though they may be, they’ve successfully captured my heart because they’re so incredibly sweet with each other. Even when Ollie is being a rambling annoyance or Moritz is so consumed by his own dark thoughts that he drags down anyone in the vicinity as well. Their friendship (which I know, I know, may possibly turn into more but I’m TRYING not to get my hopes up) is so real. They’ve never met each other. They can’t meet each other. But even through the letters they share, they know one another more intimately than most people have the privilege to ever know another person. They can make each other laugh (I know, with Moritz it seems near impossible). They fight with each other. But they always make up in the end, as stubborn friends tend to do.

There isn’t anything I could honestly say I disliked about Nowhere Near You. It was more than a solid sequel; it would be great wholly on its own. The cover is gorgeous. The characters are gripping. I absolutely can’t wait to see what could possibly happen next . . . although I’m not entirely certain there’s going to be a book three. I wasn’t even expecting #2, so I’ll take what I can get and be happy with it.

I can’t recommend this book enough and know that, once you get your hands on it, you’ll be extremely jealous that I was able to read this beautiful story months before you were. And now you’ll be left itching for more, too. You’re welcome.

5/5 stars

 

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven: An important book about mental illness and suicide

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All the Bright Places

author : jennifer niven

pages : 387

memorable quote : The thing I realize is, that it’s not what you take, it’s what you leave.

favorite character : violet

summary :

The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park in this exhilarating and heart-wrenching love story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die.

Soon to be a major motion picture starring Elle Fanning!
 
Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

This is an intense, gripping novel perfect for fans of Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Gayle Forman, and Jenny Downham from a talented new voice in YA, Jennifer Niven.

review :

Wow. This book.

For starters, I snagged this book at a library sale in perfect condition for only $1 and, after vaguely recognizing the cover and summary, thought it was a brilliant deal. Now I’m sure that I’ve gotten the better end of it, because I feel like this is a book you’ll need to read more than once. I’m sure in a year or so I’ll return to it, in spite of how difficult it was to read. This is a book about mental illness, suicide, and how those who haven’t personally experienced either may react to these important issues.

I think that an important thing to realize going into this is that the book isn’t perfect, but for the most part it’s realistic. Finch and Violet are both exaggerated and unrealistic in that they don’t feel like actual teenagers. Like a lot of YA, these teens are extremely eloquent, seem able to run around wherever they want at whatever hours of the day they want, and are obsessed with ‘cool’ things like 80s music, records, and the online equivalent of zines. It’s kind of annoying that all of the things that YA main characters scoff at are the ‘normal’ things that teens do, and it’s like they need to reach back thirty years to really express themselves. Honestly, I’m not sure how much of this phenomenon is the fact that most YA authors haven’t been young adults for a long while.

Another important thing about this book is how mental illness can be perceived and ignored by adults AND  young adults. Those who are ‘there to help’ might not always be there to help. For example, guidance counselors may not catch the same warning signs that another trained professional might. A friend might accept those signs as just part of their personality. When something might finally be seen as more than just a teenager acting out, getting into trouble–typical teen angst–it might be too late. In reading a few reviews, I could see how frustrated some readers were that no one was helping Finch or Violet even though in the first chapter they literally meet on the school’s roof because they’re both contemplating suicide. I was just heartbroken by how realistic it is that nothing is really done about it. People are so good at hiding what they’re feeling and what’s really going on in their heads. There’s such a stigma about acknowledging mental illness that most people don’t want to contemplate it about themselves, let alone suggest its existence to the people surrounding them.

Let’s talk about Finch and Violet’s friendship. It really isn’t healthy, even though it brings out great things (mostly hope) for both of them. The big red flag for me is how much Finch is bullied at school, most prominently by Violet’s closest friends, and how she does nothing to speak against this. Even in the portion of chapters that are through her POV she never mentally acknowledges that he shouldn’t be spoken to in this way, if she’s too afraid to speak up. In this case, silence speaks louder than anything else. Another wholly unrealistic aspect is how willing Violet is to go along with Finch’s random adventures, even at times like 3 A.M. She hardly knows this guy, owes him nothing, knows her parents will never trust her again if she’s caught–but she risks everything for him.

This book was nearly impossible to put down once I started to read it. The writing was captivating, the chapters alternating between viewpoints flowed together incredibly. I loved reading about the roadtrips (and now want to plan my own trip around my own state doing crazy things that no one really knows about). I loved that this was a story about two teenagers trying to take care of each other and seeing how much the support of just one person can affect someone.

I’d recommend this book to anyone. It’s a fast, meaningful read that will leave you thinking about the major topics discussed in the novel.

4/5 stars

 

The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles

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The Edge of Everything

author : jeff giles

pages : [hardcover] 368

favorite character : ripper

summary :

It’s been a shattering year for seventeen-year-old Zoe, who’s still reeling from her father’s shockingly sudden death in a caving accident and her neighbors’ mysterious disappearance from their own home. Then on a terrifying sub-zero, blizzardy night in Montana, she and her brother are brutally attacked in a cabin in the woods–only to be rescued by a mysterious bounty hunter they call X.

X is no ordinary bounty hunter. He is from a hell called the Lowlands, sent to claim the soul of Zoe’s evil attacker and others like him. Forbidden to reveal himself to anyone other than his victims, X casts aside the Lowlands’ rules for Zoe. As X and Zoe learn more about their different worlds, they begin to question the past, their fate, and their future. But escaping the Lowlands and the ties that bind X might mean the ultimate sacrifice for both of them.

Gripping and full of heart, this epic journey will bring readers right to the edge of everything.

review :

OKAY SO THIS BOOK WAS FANTASTIC BUT IT NEEDS A SEQUEL AND IT DOESN’T SAY THAT THERE’S ONE EVER COMING?? AND THIS BOOK COMES OUT IN JANUARY 2017 BUT I READ IT IN JULY 2016 EXPECTING IT TO BE A STANDALONE, HAVE I MADE A HUGE MISTAKE?

Possibly, because it was fantastic and now I have to wait probably forever for a sequel. This is terrible. This is worse than a hand full of papercuts. This is worse than leaving out your favorite book in a rainstorm.

Okay. So. The Edge of Everything was a book I went into knowing literally nothing about because the ARC I have of it doesn’t have the summary on it. Or at least didn’t print it anywhere I thought it necessary to be. I love going into books knowing little to nothing about them, so dove right in. Or, actually, before bed one night I read the first few pages and then consciously had to stop myself because I knew that if I continued, I’d never get to sleep. That’s how immediately gripping it is. I made an excellent choice, too, because the entire next day I read the book.

The Edge of Everything is crazy. Zoe isn’t a perfect main character (even though I know somewhat about her life, I don’t feel very attached. I don’t really know what her hopes and dreams are at all). But she’s a strong lady. She’s basically been keeping her family together ever since her father died in a caving incident and she’s so great with her little brother, who has ADHD and is adorable and owns a ladybug shaped bed. Through crazy circumstances she meets a young man she names X and their worlds collide.

This is the kind of book where you have to allow yourself to accept star-crossed romance because there’s insta-love all over it. Zoe and X know each other for three days (more or less) and they’re already prepared to move worlds for each other. There are some ways in which this totally makes sense (more for X, with his strange background, than for normal Zoe) and some where I was slightly tempted to roll my eyes. But The Edge of Everything managed to stay on the edge (ha) of becoming too much of a ridiculous romance. Because it became about more than romance. It became a story about finding yourself, gaining freedom, understanding others, learning mercy . . . Ugh. I loved this book so much.

There isn’t much about the different worlds aspect that I can say without giving anything away, so I won’t mention anything at all. I loved going into it and learning all about it through X’s experiences and explanations, so that’s the approach I’d recommend to other readers. Then you can come back here and rave about it to me as much as I just have.

Basically, this book is awesome. It shows everyone is neither fully evil or fully good. It shows how our world looks through the eyes of another. It shows how interesting insta-love can be if you just suck it up and deal with it like I did.

5/5 stars