books to movies · fiction · young adult

Books to TV Shows: 13 Reasons Why

To start off, I have to admit that I watched the show without reading the book first. Sometimes I like doing that because often reading it will get my expectations too high–but there was so much hype and controversy about this series that I wanted to start watching it without having any of it spoiled for me.

First I wanted to talk about Thirteen Reasons Why visually. It wasn’t particularly stunning, structured like a typical teenage TV show. Most of the scenes take place in a high school, or a coffee shop it seems that every kid in school goes to at all hours of the day. If you’re going to tell a story about contemporary teens, you don’t have very many choices, so I’ll give them that. What really got to me was that it seemed like, eventually, half of every episode was spent with multiple, extremely slow, zoom-ins on characters staring soulfully at nothing, while various other characters repeated their name. Seriously, I think that’s how I learned everyone’s names, because these scenes happened so much. I just wanted to fast-forward and push on.

Speaking of, let’s talk characters. Most of them are pretty unlikable throughout; only a few seem to have a spark of redemption, or explanation for why they may act they way they do throughout the series. Jeff and Tony were my absolute favorites and probably the only people that I would really want to befriend. High school is rough for everyone, but this one seems exceptionally horrific.

There aren’t too many characters seen that don’t attend or work at the school. Most of those other characters are the parents of those involved in some way–most importantly, Hannah’s and Clay’s. Hannah’s parents . . . I felt terrible for them. I could understand their struggle to find something, someone, to blame for this tragedy, because to them it came completely out of nowhere. It was impossible for them to know her school life as intimately as her classmates did.

On the other hand, there are Clay’s parents, who seem to know there are horrible things happening to him, and that he has problems with anxiety, and yet can’t seem to enforce any rule that might help him heal, grieve, or grow. To me it felt like every time they doled out a punishment or decided they were going to force him to do this or that to help him, there was absolutely no follow through. No mention of it again, beyond a few arguments after he disobeys them. Obviously Clay has realized his parents have no real intentions of forcing him to do anything.

I’m not going to go into any detail about the tapes or anything, though if you do watch it or have read it and want to discuss more specifics I’d be happy to in the comments! Honestly, I think what confused me the most is that I never really had a clear idea of what Hannah’s intentions were by making these tapes. Some kind of revenge? Desperation? Or did she just want everyone else to feel that same nothingness she had been? By the end of it, I was left feeling like she’d created them to make others feel so guilty, so bad, that they might be driven toward suicide, too.  I’m not sure this was the intention, but it slowly ate away at how I’d felt for Hannah throughout the series.

I’m still left with conflicted thoughts. It wasn’t the best series I’ve watched, just judging from composition, and wasn’t the best when it came to content, either. I don’t like how I felt while watching it. I don’t like how I felt after watching.

Have you watched the Netflix series? What did you think of it?

 

 

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 · fiction · young adult

Love and First Sight; an extremely adorable and awesome contemporary

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Love and First Sight

author : josh sundquist

pages :[hardcover] 281

favorite character : will

summary :

Love is more than meets the eye.

On his first day at a new school, blind sixteen-year-old Will Porter accidentally groped a girl on the stairs, sat on another student in the cafeteria, and somehow drove a classmate to tears. High school can only go up from here, right?

As Will starts to find his footing, he develops a crush on a sweet but shy girl named Cecily. And despite his fear that having a girlfriend will make him inherently dependent on someone sighted, the two of them grow closer and closer. Then an unprecedented opportunity arises: an experimental surgery that could give Will eyesight for the first time in his life. But learning to see is more difficult than Will ever imagined, and he soon discovers that the sighted world has been keeping secrets. It turns out Cecily doesn’t meet traditional definitions of beauty—in fact, everything he’d heard about her appearance was a lie engineered by their so-called friends to get the two of them together. Does it matter what Cecily looks like? No, not really. But then why does Will feel so betrayed?

review :

This book was extremely cute, and I loved every minute of it!

Love and First Sight is a very fast read. I flew through it in a day, because every time I reached a new chapter I simply had to know what was going to happen next. It isn’t even that this novel is action-packed or filled with plot twists; the characters and what they’re going through was just so interesting, I couldn’t get enough of it.

Will is transitioning at school where he’s the only one without sight. I’ve always had the greatest respect for how the visually impaired navigate a world that isn’t really attuned to their talents. Will can easily memorize routes through school, how many steps and turns it takes to get him from one close to another, but if someone was guiding him for instance they wouldn’t realize he can’t orient himself by visual landmarks.

I loved how not everyone in the book knows how to handle Will, because it isn’t a glossed-over representation of his life. People fail at explaining things to him because they compare one visual to another when he has no reference for either. They don’t understand why he can’t simply imagine colors. But he finds himself a great group of friends who, though they make mistakes, keep pushing toward a better understanding of Will.

The interesting concept here–that an experimental surgery could potential restore someone’s sight–completely captivated me. Will’s thoughts are an emotional turmoil and it’s easy to follow his progression from elation, to uncertainty, and worry. Will’s been blind his entire life, so to think that could all change completely rocks the foundation of his world.

I can’t wait to read more by this author! His writing was very light and fun, a good counterbalance to the heavy topics here. I can’t recommend this book enough.

5/5stars

 

5 stars · fiction · series · young adult

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

 

1 star · fiction · young adult

“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.

5 stars · fiction · young adult

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

 

4 stars · fiction · young adult

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