Saturday, August 30, 2014

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Title: Isla and the Happily Ever After
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Published: August 14, 2014
Publisher: Usbourne
Genre: YA Contemporary/Romance
Buy: The Book Depository

The cafĂ© is boiling. The atmosphere is clouded with bittersweet coffee. 
Three years of desire rip through my body and burst from my lips: “Josh!”
His head jolts up. For a long time, a very long time, he just stares at me. 
And then…he blinks. “Isla?”

Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on brooding artist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And, after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer break, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to face uncertainty about their futures, and the very real possibility of being apart.

Throughout my reading this book, I've jumped from a four star rating, to a three, to a two, to a four, to a three point five, back to a two. But the thing is, having finished it and taken all into account, I honestly can't imagine giving it anything less than five. Not because the romance was cute or the love interest was 'swoon-worthy', but for reasons I think are so scarily personal, they're even hard to share in a review.

But I'll try. 
I'll try.

Firstly, Isla pissed me the hell off. Now exchange that 'hell' for the f bomb I was too scared to put in. 
She was jealous, she was selfish, she was unbelievably paranoid, she was self-abusive and the list is seriously never-ending. I had never felt so strongly, both positively and negatively, toward a character before in my life, and I had no idea why. 

But I do now. Because Isla is me, except maybe take away the 'firey' non-auburn hair.. completely change the skintone.. and swap genitalia, but other than that, she's definitely me! Haha

I'm jealous.
I'm selfish.
I'm unbelievably paranoid.
I'm self-abusive.

When I read, I read to escape all that, so I think you can imagine the anger and frustration I felt when I started reading about all the negative aspects of my personality, all the parts of me that I despise. I literally wanted to pull my hair out because I felt like Perkins was throwing all my mistakes right back at me, and I hated that.

Then Isla changed. 
Sure she needed help getting to the point of realisation necessary for this book to make sense, but so do I. This book was to me, what Hattie was to Isla, and it's because I can't help but to relate to her story and development, that I can't help but love it.

This book was far from perfect, I'll tell you that now. Sometimes actions feel out-of-character, sometimes the cheese factor sky-rockets and you don't need to roll your eyes because they're already doing it. Sure, sometimes the writing is a bit sloppy and parts don't fit in with others, but I think when you can admit that and still love the book, then you've got yourself a favourite on your hands.

As to the negative reviews some people have been giving this book, it just goes back to the fundamental idea that different people have different tastes. It's obvious not everyone's going to love it, but I feel that, with this book in particular because it's so character-oriented, not really having much of a plot outside of Isla's character, it really does come down to how much you can relate to Isla, because it's not one of those books where you can dislike the main character and still like the story. If you don't relate to Isla and end up disliking her, it won't be too good a read for you. But that's just unfortunate.

I don't know how to recommend this. Honestly it's just a matter of luck. If you're lucky, the kind of person you are, will take to Isla's character and her journey. If you're unlucky, you won't.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

You Need To Not

Hey guys!

Ever get annoyed by book characters? Haha yeah well you're not the only one!

I'm a bit of a complainer, I'll admit, and I made this weird little video about the things characters do, that annoy me haha.

Hope you enjoy!

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

Title: The Scorch Trials (The Maze Runner #2)
Author: James Dashner
Published: August 1, 2011
Publisher: Chicken House
Genre: YA Dystopian
Buy: The Book Depository

Solving the Maze was supposed to be the end. No more puzzles. And no more running. Thomas was sure that escaping meant he would get his life back. But no one knew what sort of life they were going back to..

Burned and baked, the earth is a wasteland, it's people driven mad by an infection known as the Flare.

Instead of freedom, Thomas must fact another trial. He must cross the Scorch to once again save himself and his friends.

I don't like being frustrated; I'm pretty sure that's something we all share. And sadly, frustration is all I felt while reading this book.

I honestly cannot believe that I'm 360 pages further into this story, 360 pages passed the point I was dropped off at the end of the first book, and I still don't know anymore about what's actually going on. Well, maybe random little bits and bobs, here and there, but definitely not enough to justify a whole book!

I started reading this book, quite eager to find out the whole point of the maze, the whole point of the first book, excited even. But the more I read, the more I realised 'The Scorch Trials' is literally just a bridge between The Maze Runner and The Death Cure. I mean, obviously a connection is always needed between books, continuation links from one book to the next, but that's just the problem. I didn't feel like this book actually had its own story, that was connected both ways to the first and the third books. I felt like it was the continuation link, something that could've been accomplished by a novella; much shorter and more direct. 

I am so deflated right now. Because this book felt like the the link between two train carriages, the bridge between two actual stories, a lot the book bored me. There were parts I thought were good, but they were so disperse throughout, that reading the fillers in-between almost didn't feel worth it, and even at that, 
most of said parts came at the very end. 

I thought the pacing was incredibly slow. Clearly. I thought the characters could have done with a lot more development. I thought the book could have been improved with alternating points of view. And I thought Dashner kept us confused for far too long, without rewarding us with enough new material.

I do, however, know that I'll read the third book in the trilogy. So fair play to Dashner for achieving that, anyway.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey

Title: The Fifth Wave
Author: Rick Yancey
Published: May 7, 2013
Publisher: Penguin
Genre: YA Science-Fiction / Dystopian
Source: The Book Depository

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. 

After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. 

And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. 

After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one. 

Now, it's the dawn of the 5th wave. On a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth's last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, until Cassie meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan may be her only hope for rescuing her brother and even saving herself. Now she must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up. Cassie Sullivan gets up.

Ahh.. The Fifth Wave.
I think I can safely say this wasn't in any way, shape or form, the story I had been expecting since buying the book. And to be honest, I don't mean that in the best way. An alien invasion, striking Earth in multiple waves, metaphorical waves might I add, and driving the human race to near-extinction. Just how, exactly, do you interpret that synopsis?

There were a lot of aspects I really disliked, frustrated to the point where I had to put the book down and take a breather, and just as many parts I really enjoyed, which kept me trudging through the tough times. [Am I an alliteration God or what?]

I guess I'll start with the parts I liked, so I sound so negative haha. I absolutely loved the dark, almost eerie ambiance of the book. I started reading, with the typical YA cliche optimistic mind-set even though I knew the story's premise was an alien invasion. It was a pleasant surprise, as you can guess, really unique in contrast to the feel of almost every other YA book I've read, and I really enjoyed that.

The characters. Oh man, the characters. Another part of the book I found myself really enjoying, and surprisingly so. Granted, I liked some way more than others, and even at that, there were aspects of every character's personality I didn't exactly love, but that just made it more realistic. I loved how every character was distinctly different, and felt real, true to their personalities when you take into account what's going around them.
There was, however, a particular character I could honestly say I hated, which kinda segues into what I didn't like about the book.

Reznik. Ah the dickhead. Remember my saying I got so frustrated I sometimes had to put the book down? Yeah, it's predominately because of this guy. For a huge chunk of the book, I saw him as this unnecessarily, unjustifiably cruel character, and that seriously affected my reading experience throughout the rest of the book. Usually when there's an antagonist, I see their motives or possible motives for being so harsh, which even leads me to liking their character a lot more than I should because they're so complex and interesting. But in Reznik's case, I just saw a big slab of mean! To the book's defense, this is sort of resolved nearer the end, but that's just the point, I can't put myself through painfully slow, seemingly meaningless chapters in which your villain acts like the devil incarnate himself, without reason, and then see he wasn't all that bad. Even when it was resolved, it kinda felt like a cop-out because, and I'll try not to spoil the story, he had to do it.

The most disappointing part of the book, in my opinion, was how slow the first half was. Don't get me wrong, I know in books like this the world development and such is necessary in the first hundred pages or so, but there were times I actually and genuinely questioned why sentences were put in. I suppose it's Yancey's writing style, and how it didn't sit too well with me, but I honestly felt like some parts were unnecessarily descriptive and a tad too vague. The beginning of each part, for example, you know, when you come across those blacked out pages and you switch points of view? I felt like Yancey took too much time describing and talking about things the reader knew nothing about, and too little time establishing just who was actually narrating, and as a result it took me a few pages to get back into the story.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that the writing didn't flow as well as I was expecting.

But yeah, that's what I thought about the book, or most of what I thought anyway. It was a pretty good read, especially as it neared the end, but the storytelling was really weak in places.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Storm by Brigid Kemmerer

Title: Storm
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Publisher: Kensington
Publication: April 24, 2012
Genre: YA Paranormal
Source: Easons

Secrets are hard to keep when your life's at stake.

Becca Chandler is suddenly getting all the guys; all the ones she doesn't want. When she saves Chris Merrick from a beating in the school parking lot, everything is about to change. Chris is different from the guys at school... really different. He can control water just like his brothers can control fire, wind, and earth. The brothers are powerful and dangerous. And now that Becca knows the truth, so is she.

When the mysterious new kid, Hunter, turns up, Becca thinks she can trust him. But when he goes head-to-head with Chris, Becca's left wondering who's hiding the most dangerous truth of all.

For a book, chock-full of YA cliches, it was actually a pretty good read!

'Storm' by Brigid Kemmerer. A fast-paced story about Becca, who, after saving Chris from having his ass handed to him by two older guys, discovers that her previously thought to be normal world isn't so normal after all. It's your typical paranormal story, reminding you over and over again of how a lot YA books tend to fit into the same mold, yet it brings quite a few original and interesting ideas to the table at the same time. 

Okay first of all, we'll settle this YA cliche thing shall we? Girl falls in love with a secret paranormal guy. Girl learns of guy's strange world but accepts that she's part of it now. Girl is in danger because she knows too much. Love triangle happens for a little bit. Drama. Drama. Then climax.
The sarcasm is a surprise to both you and me, because aside from the cookie-cutter story developments you can see in a lot of YA books nowadays, this book was actually pretty impressive! In fact, with the cliches out of mind, this book was a pretty good start to an interesting and unique series.

Kemmerer's take on element-manipulation was incredibly refreshing. I went into it expecting strong similarities to our friends over at The Legend of Aang, but really, the similarities ended with the basic idea. I loved the history we were given, even thinking the book could have done with more of that aspect, done with more of a setting up-feel which kinda lacked here.
The plot was really quite fast-paced, what with fight scenes in every other chapter. I did think, however, that Kemmerer's writing faltered at those points, because the action, for the most part, felt really choppy and unclear. There were parts of the story that I felt, weren't at all necessary, and actually brought the book down in my opinion, but they might be considered spoilers to some people, so I'll just leave it at that.

I both liked and disliked the characters. While the plot was quite cliched at times, the characters were surprisingly original and felt real, which isn't something you come across all too much nowadays. The book didn't have a huge amount of character development, but what it did have was evenly spread out, between the three main characters and the few secondary characters. 

So those are my thoughts.
I would recommend if you're willing to ignore the cliches and focus on the many original sides of the story.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Throne Of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Title: Throne of Glass
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication: August 2, 2012
Genre: YA Fantasy
Source: Easons

Meet Celaena Sardothien. 
Destined for greatness.

In the dark, filthy salt mines of Endovier, an eighteen-year-old girl is serving a life sentence. She is a trained assassin, the best of her kind, but she made a fatal mistake: she got caught.

Young Captain Westfall offers her a deal: her freedom in return for one huge sacrifice. Celaena must represent the prince in a to-the-death tournament—fighting the most gifted thieves and assassins in the land. Live or die, Celaena will be free. Win or lose, she is about to discover her true destiny. But will her assassin’s heart be melted?

Well.. that wasn't what I was expecting was it? Fortunately, it was even better!

'Throne of Glass' is definitely successful in jump-starting what I believe will be a five or six-book series. I can say, without having to second think it, that I'll be continuing, even excited for that matter! It's incredibly action-packed, what with fight-scenes and training in ever other chapter, but not to the point where you need to take some time out and re-form your tired and melted brain. It's fast paced when need be, but not without slower tempos when Sarah J Maas decides to fill in the more fantastical elements of her fictional world. Definitely a solid starter, for what I think is going to become a fantastic series!

Getting into the more nitty gritty stuff, there were aspects I liked, and others that I disliked. I guess I'll start with the positives, so I don't sound like the pessimist I am, haha.

Maas, in this book, has created some of the best and most realistic characters I've read in YA literature. They aren't your typical YA fantasy stereotypes, although a chunk of their personalities are undeniably from some sort of mold. Even with Celaena at the forefront, and Maas so obviously intending to develop the protagonist to an extent slightly further than that of the others, I still found side characters Chaol and Nehemia, to be the most impressive. Not only did they strike me as more original, though I do admit that Celaena is incredibly original also, but personally, they came of as the most complex and interesting. I really appreciated that.

As for the whole competition aspect, I don't have too much to say, other than the fact that it was really enjoyable. What I do have a lot to say about, however, is the lack of world-building. I'll just say it simply. The world of Erilea definitely piqued my interest, as did it's outlined history, but that's kinda where it just ends. I wanted more backstory, more of how they got to the point they're at in the novel, more than what I received anyway, which I think is missed opportunity, but something that motivates me, even more, to read the second book.

Anyway, that's all I've got for this one!
All in all, Throne of Glass was a great read, even worthy of the hype, I'd say.