July 11, 2011

“Feed” fails to satisfy my hunger — A Review

“We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to totally suck.” And so starts “Feed” by M.T. Anderson (320 pages). I love the first line of this book. It’s the main reason I picked up this book in the first place, but the novel as a whole didn’t have enough to keep it.

Plot in a tweet:
Finally, we can chat, shop, etc. by using our brains. Rad! Or is it? #Feed

I was actually thinking about stopping the book after a couple of chapters. The storyline was just OK. The characters were annoying. I couldn’t stand some of the slang they were using.

I know it is set in the future and I know that language will change, but it seemed like Anderson just picked a couple of words to use like every couple of like words. It was like meg difficult to like read at first.

I kept going though. I think that “Feed” is set in a very interesting world. I kind of felt cheated with that though. The author would mention black areas or rumble or something, but then would never talk about how that came to be, etc. I would have liked to know more about what lead us down this path. Not a ton, but hints of it would have been nice.

Instead of this book, read “Knife of Never Letting Go.” You’ll thank me.

Name I hated: Quendy

Favorite exchange:
“Maybe these are just our salad days.”
“Huh?”
“You know. Happy.”
“What’s happy about a salad?”
She shrugged. “Ranch,” she said.

Prison sentence: A day. (I think I just wanted to finish it.)

Final word: “Meh.”

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July 6, 2011

Take the trek down “Blood Red Road” — A Review

Family. Friendship. Love. The ties that bind us.

“Blood Red Road” by Moria Young (464 pages) is a great coming-of-age dystopian tale with a strong female lead character.

Saba lives with her father, twin brother and sister in a barren wasteland. One day, a bad sandstorm and cloaked men come for a visit. They wreak havoc and end up kidnapping Lugh. Saba decides to take off on an epic quest to rescue him.

I really enjoy dystopian books, and I have to say that “Blood Red Road” delivers. Young is able to paint a clear picture of the world without taking 20 pages for each description.

A warning, this book is written in dialect. That normally doesn’t scare me off, but I thought it was worth noting since some people can’t stand it. While it is in dialect, I didn’t think it was over the top. It was easy to read, and after a while you won’t really notice that much (at least I didn’t).

There are many little extras thrown into the book that I just loved. I want you to discover them for yourself, but one I just have to share — Saba has a pet/friend crow. Nero is one of my favorite characters from the book. Now I want one, too!

Favorite line: “Friends don’t owe, she says. Friends don’t repay.”

I don’t normally say this about today’s YA, but I felt like this book could have been broken up into at least two books. Some parts felt kind of rushed. The world was enough that I wanted to visit a little longer in some places, but wasn’t allowed to. I didn’t realize until I had finished, but on the title page it does say, “Dustlands Book One,” so maybe the next book will give me my fix.

I don’t have any siblings, so maybe I don’t know what I am talking about, but sometimes the brother-sister love thing was a little too much. I realize twins are supposed to have a super deep connection, but it rode the line a couple of times between grieving sister and “Flowers in the Attic” feelings. Maybe it was just me?

Final thought: A great, quick read that will leave you wanting more. (4 out of 5 flames)

July 4, 2011

That’s Kind of an Ugly “Birthmarked” — Review

I had seen “Birthmarked” by Caragh M. O’Brien (362 pages) on a couple of “Best Dystopian YA” book lists, so was very intrigued and ordered it.

I have to say that I was disappointed. I wanted to like it, I really did. It just didn’t live up to expectations.

I’m still not exactly sure how I feel about the book. It just never had a WOW factor for me. I can’t deny that the book is a quick read and I actually wanted to be reading it, but it just didn’t have any redeeming qualities.

I thought the characters were kind of flat and the plot was predictable.

Final thought: It was OK, but I wouldn’t recommend it to any of my friends. (3 flames)

Back of the book (from goodreads.com):

“After climate change, on the north shore of Unlake Superior, a dystopian world is divided between those who live inside the wall, and those, like sixteen-year-old midwife Gaia Stone, who live outside. It’s Gaia’s job to “advance” a quota of infants from poverty into the walled Enclave, until the night one agonized mother objects, and Gaia’s parents are arrested.

Badly scarred since childhood, Gaia is a strong, resourceful loner who begins to question her society. As Gaia’s efforts to save her parents take her within the wall, she herself is arrested and imprisoned.

Fraught with difficult moral choices and rich with intricate layers of codes, Birthmarked explores a colorful, cruel, eerily familiar world where one girl can make all the difference, and a real hero makes her own moral code.”

July 4, 2011

Talk about “Sloppy Firsts”: A Review

“Sloppy Firsts” by Megan McCafferty (298 pages) is just as it says, a sloppy first book.

Jessica Darling is not so darling and I found that she could be really irritating. What kept me reading is that she can also be really funny. That, and I really liked one of the guys (not telling which one though!)

I agree with her friends, I was sick of listening to talk about Hope (and her period).

Favorite word from the book: “Jackassinine”

Favorite part: “So I’m sloppy seconds, is what you’re saying.”
“Oh no, Jessica,” he laughed. “You’re sloppy firsts.”

Oh, and a warning, NOTHING gets resolved. It just ends.

I’m not sure if this was just my version of the book, but at the end was an excerpt from “Charmed Thirds!” What happened to “Seconds?” I couldn’t even read it because I didn’t want spoilers.

Final word: It was OK. I will probably read the next one just because the ending gave me absolutely no closure. It was like the ending to “Veronica Mars.” (3 out of 5 flames)

Back of the book:

“My parents suck ass. Banning me from the phone and restricting my computer privileges are the most tyrannical parental gestures I can think of. Don’t they realize that Hope’s the only one who keeps me sane? . . . I don’t see how things could get any worse.”

When her best friend, Hope Weaver, moves away from Pineville, New Jersey, hyperobservant sixteen-year-old Jessica Darling is devastated. A fish out of water at school and a stranger at home, Jessica feels more lost than ever now that the only person with whom she could really communicate has gone. How is she supposed to deal with the boy- and shopping-crazy girls at school, her dad’s obsession with her track meets, her mother salivating over big sister Bethany’s lavish wedding, and her nonexistent love life?

A fresh, funny, utterly compelling fiction debut by first-time novelist Megan McCafferty, Sloppy Firsts is an insightful, true-to-life look at Jessica’s predicament as she embarks on another year of teenage torment–from the dark days of Hope’s departure through her months as a type-A personality turned insomniac to her completely mixed-up feelings about Marcus Flutie, the intelligent and mysterious “Dreg” who works his way into her heart. Like a John Hughes for the twenty-first century, Megan McCafferty taps into the inherent humor and drama of the teen experience. This poignant, hilarious novel is sure to appeal to readers who are still going through it, as well as those who are grateful that they don’t have to go back and grow up all over again.



June 27, 2011

Don’t be friends with “Very LeFreak”: Review

“Very LeFreak” by Rachel Cohn (320 pages) had such an interesting premise: Witty college student deals with technology addiction. Hilarity ensues, right? Well, not exactly.

The main character, Very, is well, to put it nicely, VERY, VERY annoying.

I realize that chatacters have to have flaws to grow and everything, but jeez!

There are even characters that I actually enjoyed in the book, if only they were the title characters.

Now, don’t get me wrong, this book does have some redeeming qualities. It had some laugh-out-loud funny parts. I couldn’t get enough of her grandma! And … yeah.

And I am not sure how it went so wrong. I lived “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist!” Guess Cohn is just better as a team.

Bottom line: It is OK. It is a quick read, so at least there’s that. (2 out of 5 flames)

Back of the book:

Very LeFreak has a problem: she’s a crazed technology addict. Very can’t get enough of her iPhone, laptop IMs, text messages, whatever. If there’s any chance the incoming message, call, text, or photo might be from her supersecret online crush, she’s going to answer, no matter what. Nothing is too important sleep, friends in mid-conversation, class, a meeting with the dean about academic probation. Soon enough, though, this obsession costs Very everything and everyone. Can she learn to block out the noise so she can finally hear her heart? Rachel Cohn makes her Knopf solo debut with this funny, touching, and surely recognizable story about a girl and the technology habit that threatens everything.

 

June 8, 2011

Doesn’t get better than dystopian love: “Divergent” review

image

Choice. Choice is not usually something that characters in dystopian novels normally get a lot of. Instead, it’s the main character reacting to stuff.

“Divergent” by Veronica Roth (496 pages) is all about choice, one of reasons I found it so refreshing.

Beatrice is an active force that I could pull for. She wasn’t just waiting for a guy to save her (::cough:: Disney). And she was just one of the many strong female characters.

I know everyone is comparing this book to “Hunger Games,” but I think “Divergent” is different enough that it stands on its own. At no time did I feel like I was being played, unlike some of the “Twilight” ripoffs.

“Divergent” has a really interesting plot, and Roth builds a beautiful world. I am not sure I really understood the Chicago connection — I think just being vague would be better. As of right now it hasn’t mattered, but maybe later it will.

I read the book in one setting, and my only complaint is the second book isn’t out yet! (5 out of 5 flames)

Back of the book:

“In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue — Candor (the honest), Abnegation(the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity(the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent) On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is — she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series — dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.

May 28, 2009

Not just a “Pretty Face” — Review

Pretty Face Cover

Mary Hogan gives us a refreshing read in “Pretty Face.”

The novel centers around the main character Hayley, who lives in Santa Monica and can’t stand it. Being fat makes her an outcast in California, in school, at the beach — even in her own home. Her mom urges her to fight the fat, but Hayley can’t seem to commit and doesn’t really know if she wants to.

Failing at fighting the bulge and at boys, Hayley pretty much gives up until her parents decide to send her to Italy. While there, Hayley tries to find herself.

A funny, witty fat teen in the lead — a character that you don’t run into enough — captivated me. I was pulling for her. I wanted her to win, to succeed, to find herself and be happy. I felt that I could really relate to Hayley and what she was going through. Her plight comes across very honest and raw.

Won’t you find out if Hayley gets her happy ending?

Final say: Fun, quick read. (4 out of 5 flames)

May 28, 2009

I don’t care what you saw — “How I Lied” Review

What I Saw Cover

“What I Saw And How I Lied” starts out as a noir coming-of-age story with so much potential, but by the end becomes a predictable sub-par movie plot that’s been done before. Why Judy Blundell decides to throw it away, I’ll never know.

Set in 1947, 15-year-old Evie goes on vacation to Florida with her family. While there, her father is trying to do business with a couple staying at the same hotel. While they are busy with that, Evie becomes preoccupied with Peter, an ex-GI. When an accident leaves one dead, Evie has to sort through the details to uncover the truth.

I do have to admit that I couldn’t put it down and read it in one sitting, but I wasn’t satisfied by it at all. Blundell kind of glances over the really interesting parts like the setting — which she really could have changed to anywhere and had the same story instead of using it to the full potential.

The racism after WWII is one of the most interesting aspects. The characters are all deeply flawed, and I had a hard time finding one that I liked.

Final verdict: Lots of potential that’s lost on delivery. (1 out of 5 bitch flames)

May 21, 2009

Fat Camp Fatties — “Huge” Review

Huge book cover

Fatties at camp — while not a new idea, an interesting one all the same. Sasha Paley’s “Huge” first caught my attention with the great cover art and title — I mean, come on, a huge so-more and “Welcome to fat camp” makes it a definite must read for fatties everywhere.

Upon opening the book, two very one-dimensional characters greet me: Wil — a rich bitch that is forced to go to camp by her parents and April — a poor, fat teen that has saved all her money to go away to camp with no support from her mom. These two opposites get paired to be roommates at Wellness Canyon, a very pricey fat camp.

This seems like a great opportunity for hijinks and lots of drama — and oh, is there.

And while it is a fun ride, the book precedes to quickly snowball in the last ten pages or so into a horrible mess. The author basically chucks the mood of the entire book to deliver a touchy-feely ending that seems so detached and leaves me wishing the last ten pages didn’t happen.

BITCH NOTE: This book is not about size acceptance. The author seems to want everyone to be the same size, much less the same person. Tagline of the book should be changed to “If you were skinny, you’d be happy.” (1 out of 5 flames)