5 stars · reread review · science fiction

Reread Reflection: Unwholly by Neal Shusterman

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

Gearing up to finally read book four in this dystology, I decided to reread the three books I’ve already known and loved so I can sink my teeth back into this universe. And there’s no way I could forget just how much I’ve loved Unwholly.

I love how this book literally expanded the reach of book one, Unwind, to focus on the issues of unwinding globally. Basically, in these books, it’s been accepted that parents can decide to unwind their children, which is a jazzed up form of organ donation because technology has progressed so much that anything can be donated. Arm crushed? Replace it with a new, fresh, healthy one. Bash in part of your brain? You’ll get hundreds of pieces of brain tissue from hundreds of unwinds. Just feel like you want to try out a different eye color, or get taller legs, or graft on some better hair–there’s a surgery for all of that. Unwinding is as much a vanity as it is a health industry.

Unwholly is intense. I think what’s most insane about it isn’t the actions of the characters from the previous book, but the new kids on the block. (Not the boy band. I don’t think they exist in this AU.) It just raises new questions of unwinding morals. One character is created entirely from the parts of unwound teens. If you thought you had existential crises, then think again. It’s all at once undeniable that he is living and yet impossible to think he is his own person.

That’s what I love about these books. The questions that spring up. I mean, sure, I’m also in it for the characters, the romance, and the inescapable action-packed plot twists. But they leave you thinking, and wondering, and questioning things. One of the most important things learned is to question everything and think for yourself.

And just wait until you get to book three.

5 stars · reread review · young adult

Reread Reflection: Unwind by Neal Shusterman

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

Neal Shusterman is one of my all-time favorite authors. Unwind is simultaneously one of the most creative and one of the scariest novels I’ve ever read because this could totally happen in the future. I haven’t ever read book four, the last book, so now that I finally have it, that called for a reread of the series so I’m geared up for the conclusion. (Well, kind of. I really don’t want it to end, because I’ve been reading and loving these books for around eight years.)

Unwind is something you kind of have to read before you can really get it. It’s one of those books that sounds horrific when described (and is horrific in execution) but it’s still necessary. It’s still relevant. People today continue to fight over issues that, in this fictional universe, led to the Unwind Accords. That’s what makes these books so terrifying. They make us see what we as a country are totally capable of.

And yeah, I mean, people look at you kind of crazy when you try to describe these books. As in, “You know organ donors? Think doing that, but while you’re still alive, only parents decide to ‘donate’ their kids, and the kids have no choice about it, so they’re cut into a million different parts to help other people who were lucky enough to have parents who didn’t want to chop them into a million different parts.”

And then there are the complex characters, the ones you love, the ones you hate, the ones you hate that you’re beginning to feel empathy today. Shusterman takes societal misconceptions and turns them on their head. Kids who have anger problems, or acted out a lot–instead of getting the help and support they need, they’re being unwound. Even perfect kids, talented kids, are getting unwound because of messed-up reasons.

Unwind makes you think. It makes you cry. Most of all, it makes you want to read more, so it’s a good thing there are three more books after this one.

5 stars · series · young adult

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo; amazing, astounding, astonishing

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Crooked Kingdom

Six of Crows #2

author : leigh bardugo

pages : [hardcover] 536

memorable quote :

I would have come for you. And if I couldn’t walk, I’d crawl to you, and no matter how broken we were, we’d fight our way out together.

favorite character : matthias

summary :

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world.

review :

I’ve avoided reviewing this book, probably because reflecting on it reminds me that it’s one of the most painful stories I’ve read. Beautifully written, wonderfully executed, and the kind of book that makes me cry so much I kind of resent it.

If you haven’t read Six of Crows, you absolutely need to. Not only because it’s book one in this duology, it’ll be one of the best books you’ve ever read. If you’re a fan of fantasy, or inventive new worlds, or great character novels, or heist schemes, you’ll love this book. Then you’ll crave more of it. These books are incredibly hefty–basically, the length of four books compiled into two. I think the duology option was incredibly smart because there’s no room for “middle book syndrome” here. Just nonstop action. And heartbreak.

I still can’t think of Crooked Kingdom without being filled with a curious mixture of happiness and devastation. It worked for me perfectly, and ensured this duology will remain as one of my favorite reads.

But, you know. No spoilers.

Crooked Kingdom picks up just where Six of Crows left off, introducing even more characters (and a few familiar faces for fans of the original Grisha trilogy. I might have squealed). The plot is so intricate. Kaz Brecker, one of the main characters, is truly a master of twisting things toward his will. Often in painful and unexpected ways–painful for his enemies, of course, not always the reader.

Matthias has always been my favorite. But, honestly, all of the main characters are just very adorable–though I think all of them would kill anyone who called them such to their face, apart from maybe Wylan. I loved how this book delves more into everyone’s backstories. It explains so much, not only their actions from the books but their motivations throughout their entire lives.

The book ends, I believe, with a perfect balance. There is room left to expand and create more stories within the Grisha universe, but this particular story arc is complete. Not all ends of it are happy, but . . you’ll just have to read to find out what happens. Honestly, it’s such a wild ride that even a very detailed spoiler review would take pages and pages and pages to write. Leigh Bardugo is exceptionally talented at weaving these intricate plots together and I love it!

Read it. Please. And then you must discuss with me.

5/5 stars

 

5 stars · children's books · fiction

Book Review: The One and Only Ivan

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The One and Only Ivan

author : katherine applegate

pages : [hardcover] 307

favorite character : ivan

memorable quote :

Memories are precious … they help tell us who we are.

summary :

Ivan is an easygoing gorilla. Living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, he has grown accustomed to humans watching him through the glass walls of his domain. He rarely misses his life in the jungle. In fact, he hardly ever thinks about it at all.

Instead, Ivan thinks about TV shows he’s seen and about his friends Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. But mostly Ivan thinks about art and how to capture the taste of a mango or the sound of leaves with color and a well-placed line.

Then he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from her family, and she makes Ivan see their home—and his own art—through new eyes. When Ruby arrives, change comes with her, and it’s up to Ivan to make it a change for the better.

Katherine Applegate blends humor and poignancy to create Ivan’s unforgettable first-person narration in a story of friendship, art, and hope.

review :

I honestly can’t get over how great this book was. Sure, it’s a children’s book, but it’s the kind of book anyone can benefit from reading, especially because I feel like everyone has their own opinions on animal rights nowadays. When do you ever get to read a narrative by the animal himself?

Ivan is a very smart, very underappreciated gorilla who was captured when he was young and dragged off to live with humans, eventually ending in a small enclosure where three walls are glass, one wall is a poor, painted depiction of a jungle. He has plenty of food to eat, a TV to watch if someone remembers to turn it on for him, and sometimes he has the chance to draw. The other animals are his friends and some of the only creatures he’s ever known, particularly now that business is slow and not many humans come to ogle him anymore.

His voice is just so incredibly unique. His understanding of human traits and objects comes from either seeing people use them or figuring out what he himself can use them for. He doesn’t know much of a life apart from this captivity, and might not have been tempted to try to change it for himself–but he wants more, and better, for his friends. I ached for Ivan and the others in this little stop off of the highway. There’s a huge difference between zoos/sanctuaries that give animals plenty of room, try to rehabilitate, or are keeping creatures from extinction, but these roadside attractions (I hope) are steadily disappearing. After living in Florida for a few months and seeing the advertisements for some areas there–I’m sure there are plenty of places around the world still in existence where people pay to, basically, see animals being mistreated.

The narrative is so simplistic, yet powerful, that I think it’s wonderfully done as a children’s book. Kids will definitely feel for and relate to Ivan; he’s grown, in captivity, but his mindset is still rather childish because he hasn’t had grown gorillas to teach him. I’ve seen this book used in children’s literature classes and full-heartedly support that; this is the kind of book everyone needs to go through school reading. No matter how old you are, or what your preferred genre typically is, I suggest picking this up. It can be finished within a few hours, but the personal impact can last a lifetime.

5/5 stars

 

 

 

5 stars · reread review · young adult

Reread Reflection: Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas

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

I loooooooooove this book.

I don’t just like it, L-O-V-E it. So much so that I needed to buy a physical copy of it after first reading the ebook, probably because I needed something to hug with delight after my re-read.

I’ve honestly never read something like Because You’ll Never Meet Me. That stands true even in the re-read. What fascinated me this time around was that there are details in here, tiny ones, that seem irrelevant unless you know what’s going to play a role in book two. Author Leah Thomas was already dropping hints about that plot, and it’s amazing because it isn’t particularly necessary but makes everything seem that much cooler to me.

Just knowing the ending of Nowhere Near You, the sequel, makes reading Because You’ll Never Meet Me even more of a pleasure. No spoilers, of course, even though I could gush about Ollie and Moritz for days. Their characters are so nuanced, imperfect, lovable, kind, frustrating . . . There aren’t many books these days that make me think back to my roots of fanfiction and what I’d want to write about these characters if there aren’t more books made of them. Please give me more books with them.

Basically, Because You’ll Never Meet Me is a book that grows even bigger in your heart, the more often you read it. So if you haven’t picked it up yet . . . what are you waiting for?

Basically me throughout the whole book:

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5 stars · action · books to movies · Uncategorized

Books to Movies: Logan

I can’t accurately express how completely excited I was for this movie. Wolverine and Hugh Jackman are undoubtedly one of the best character and actor pairings I’ve ever seen. As in if anyone else ever tries to play Wolverine in my lifetime I’ll be disappointed.

It’d been a while since I’d seen any X-Men film, really, but all of them pretty much stand on their own as separate films, which is nice if you really aren’t sure about where to dive into the movieverse. I’d say watch at least a few of the originals before getting to this one because, after all, you want to save the best for last, right?

This review will only contain mild spoilers, but if you want to know absolutely nothing about the movie other than knowing I give it 5/5 stars, get out now.

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Let’s talk about characters. I loved the dynamic in this film, because it makes everyone seem so much realistic, more fleshed out, than happens in most superhero films. As always it was amazing to see the relationship between Logan and Charles, aka Patrick Stewart, because I think they have one of the greatest, most interesting relationships out of all of the X-Men. They’re just so good. I can’t even reflect on it without getting hit by a mixture of emotions, that I don’t think I could accurately explain even if I spoiled everything in the entire movie.

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Laura. I’m torn between wanting desperately to adopt her, giving her the good life she deserves, and running as far away from her as possible because she’s terrifyingDafne Keen conveys so much while not speaking a word, and as a child actress that’s only more impressive. I want more movies with her. I want a trilogy that’s only about her. Because those fight scenes including her were so intense, I couldn’t sit back in my seat.

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Still, what I love about these movies (or just Wolverine in particular) is the tongue in cheek humor that comes with it. Maybe to keep me from being a complete and utter sobbing mess, there are still lighthearted moments perfectly interspersed in the script.

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I love that while there’s backstory here, while we know everything that’s going on — behind the amazing action sequences there’s so much character work happening. Between Laura and Logan and Charles, yes, but even minor characters have their chance to shine. And I loved every minute of it.

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That ending? Perfect — perfectly devastating. Everything I’d dreaded and hoped for realized.

Have you seen Logan? What did you think?

 

 

 

 

 

5 stars · series · young adult

Scythe by Neal Shusterman: chilling and amazing

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Scythe

Arc of a Scythe #1

author : neal shusterman

pages : [hardcover] 435

memorable quote :

“You have three hundred sixty-five days of immunity.” And then, looking him in the eye, said, “And I’ll be seeing you on day three hundred sixty-six.”

favorite character :  scythe faraday

summary :

Thou shalt kill.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

review :

I’ve never met a Neal Shusterman novel I haven’t loved.

Honestly, he’s one of the best, most creative, most terrifying authors out there. His books will captivate you until the very end because you honestly cannot predict what will happen next. He’s the kind of author more than willing to kill off any character, so no one is safe–especially not in these worlds he builds. Which is a little ironic, because Scythe is in a way about a society of immortal people.

Imagine a world where people kill themselves for fun. You jump off of a building ten stories up and know in three or four days you’ll be fully healed–best of all, that first fix is free. Legally, they aren’t allowed to not bring you back. No one left in the world remembers a time when everyone born knew that they had only a certain amount of time left to live. Now, death is controlled by the Scythes. They are the only ones who can kill–or ‘glean’, as they call it to make it sound less like murder–and after they’ve chosen someone, they die for good. They’re really the only things to fear in this new world.

I loved this book. But it literally gave me nightmares. I’d stay up just to see how much I could read before I’d really have to get to sleep, and this is the kind of plot sure to give you an existential crisis. There’s some talk about what the point of life is when in the past, all of those people were going to die, anyway. But without death, or war, or hunger, or anything to struggle against, and with even nanites in their blood to keep them from feeling anything too strongly, there’s no art. No inspiration for it. People have all of these years and they just don’t know what to do with themselves in that time. It’s why Rowan and Citra are intrigued by the idea of becoming a scythe’s apprentice; it gives them each a purpose in life.

They each tell part of the story and  I loved hearing each of their voices. Essentially, they’re having the same life experience, but it impacts and twists them in completely different directions. Still, this is the one decision that will unite them forever, although they hadn’t known one another before the apprenticeship.

I don’t want to say anything more because I don’t want to give anything away. I mean, even in the summary of the book it says something that doesn’t happen until halfway through the book. This is the kind of novel you should dive into and just let yourself be immersed in the world and the characters.

It’s so good. I don’t think I can say that enough. Book two can’t come to me fast enough!

5/5 stars