Monday, February 23, 2015

Review: Uninvited by Sophie Jordan

From Goodreads: When Davy Hamilton's tests come back positive for Homicidal Tendency Syndrome (HTS) - aka the kill gene - she loses everything. Her boyfriend ditches her, her parents are scared of her, and she can forget about her bright future at Juilliard. Davy doesn't feel any different, but genes don't lie. One day she will kill someone. Only Sean, a fellow HTS carrier, can relate to her new life. Davy wants to trust him; maybe he's not as dangerous as he seems. Or maybe Davy is just as deadly.

My Rating: 3 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Uninvited by Sophie Jordan was a book I hesitated to read because I hadn’t really liked the first book, Firelight, in Jordan’s previous series. But, I decided to give her writing another chance because I thought the premise of Uninvited sounded interesting.

One of the aspects of Uninvited that I enjoyed was the growth in Davy’s character. At the beginning of the novel, she had the perfect life – she was rich, popular, smart, musical, dating a hot jock, and had a loving family. Once Davy tested positive for HTS, however, her friends dropped her and her parents began to avoid interacting with her. Yet even as her life changed; Davy continued to believe herself to be superior than other HTS carriers. Over time though, Davy learned to look beyond people’s superficial features, and became less of a damsel in distress.

The same depth of characterization, unfortunately, wasn't given to Sean. Not only would I have liked to learn more about him, but he just seemed to serve the purpose of conveniently showing up whenever Davy needed help. As well, even though the romance wasn’t insta-love, it sure seemed like it because I had no clue why Sean fell for Davy. What made her so unique from the other girls that he interacted with? 

Another reason I had to lower my rating of Uninvited was because of the weak worldbuilding and premise. For example, even though the novel was set in 2021, there wasn’t much of a difference in the technology. In addition, I learned very little about the Wainwright Agency or how HTS was discovered.

Furthermore, from a scientific perspective, the premise of Uninvited is illogical. Since, HTS affected more males than females in the book, this suggests that it's a case of X-linked recessive inheritance. For Davy to be a carrier and her brother to not be one, it implies that her HTS allele is on the X chromosome provided by her father. This would mean that Davy's father should also have the HTS allele and therefore test positive, which he doesn’t!

Ignoring my issue with the genetics of the premise though, – I spent way too much time thinking about that, – I liked that Uninvited makes readers think about whether we’re a product of nature or nurture. Although the governmental authorities in Uninvited seem to side towards nature, the book does a good job of demonstrating instances where people committed violence as a result of their environment.

Uninvited was released in January 2014 by HarperTeen. 

Comments About the Cover: Why is the model positioned like that?!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Review: The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

From Goodreads: The last time Lex was happy, it was before. When she had a family that was whole. A boyfriend she loved. Friends who didn't look at her like she might break down at any moment. Now she's just the girl whose brother killed himself. And it feels like that's all she'll ever be. As Lex starts to put her life back together, she tries to block out what happened the night Tyler died. But there's a secret she hasn't told anyone - a text Tyler sent, that could have changed everything. Lex's brother is gone. But Lex is about to discover that a ghost doesn't have to be real to keep you from moving on.

My Rating: 4 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Although I’ve read numerous books where the main plot involves a character dealing with the death of a loved one, I’ve yet to read a book where the loved one is a teen that died by committing suicide. The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand helps to fill that void in the YA genre.

While I would liked Lex regardless, due to her love for math and science and the fact that she embraced her nerdiness, Hand also made Lex easy to sympathize with. What really struck me though while reading The Last Time We Say Goodbye was how incredibly real Lex’s emotions felt - from feeling guilty about not having responded to her brother’s text the night he committed suicide, to being angry at her brother for leaving her family even more broken than it originally was, to distancing herself from her friends in order to avoid feeling any type of emotion - and how evident it was that she loved her brother.*

Given how common suicide is as a cause of death, I would have liked the back of The Last Time We Say Goodbye to have contained a list of resources for teens thinking about committing suicide or trying to deal with the death of someone who has committed suicide. As well, since Alexis was beginning to look forward to moving away for college and starting over somewhere where she wouldn’t be known for the tragedy her family experienced, it would have been nice to have an epilogue to see how she was doing after some time had passed.

A moving novel that explores the what-ifs that can never be answered when a loved one commits suicide and the accompanying guilt and grief that comes with their death, The Last Time We Say Goodbye was released by HarperTeen on February 10, 2015. 

Comments About the Cover: I like how the title is written on a Post-it and stuck on a mirror because that was how Tyler left his suicide note.  

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (HarperCollins) for free via Edelweiss.

*Hand mentions at the end that her own brother committed suicide when he was a junior in high school, and I think the emotions that she personally must have experienced in the aftermath of her brother’s death were conveyed extremely well into the pages of her novel.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Review: Fairest by Marissa Meyer

From Goodreads: Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told ... until now. 

My Rating: 4 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: When I first found out that the release of the final book in Marissa Meyer’s The Lunar Chronicles, Winter, would be delayed by almost a year, I groaned and wondered why I was being tortured. Thankfully, to ease the wait for Winter, Meyer wrote Fairest. 

A novel that tells the backstory of Queen Levana, Fairest enables the reader to see Meyer’s villain in a new light. No longer do you just see Levana as some power hungry ruler trying to conquer Earth through biological warfare, but as a more complex character who started with good intentions of wanting to ensure that her home and people prosper. However, years of neglect by her parents, psychological abuse from her sister Channary, and unrequited love eventually cause Levana to resort to any method possible to gain affection. It’s impossible to not pity her by the end of the novel!

A highly recommended read if you’re a fan of The Lunar Chronicles, Fairest was released in January 2015 by Feiwel & Friends. 

Comments About the Cover: The cover does a great job of making you wonder what Levana’s face looks like under her veil.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Review: Monstrous by MarcyKate Connolly

From Goodreads: The city of Bryre suffers under the magic of an evil wizard. Because of his curse, girls sicken and disappear without a trace, and Bryre’s inhabitants live in fear. No one is allowed outside after dark. Yet night is the only time that Kymera can enter this dangerous city, for she must not be seen by humans. Her father says they would not understand her wings, the bolts in her neck, or her spiky tail - they would kill her. They would not understand that she was created for a purpose: to rescue the girls of Bryre. Despite her caution, a boy named Ren sees Kym and begins to leave a perfect red rose for her every evening. As they become friends, Kym learns that Ren knows about the missing girls, the wizard, and the evil magic that haunts Bryre. And what he knows will change Kym’s life.  

My Rating: 3.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Although I found Monstrous by MarcyKate Connolly to be a solid read, I do think this book will appeal more to its target audience of middle-graders. As an older reader looking for a great MG read, I found the plot lagging at times, and wasn’t at all surprised by the twists that were revealed. (The lone exception would have to be the ending – but that was only because it was so random).

To younger readers, especially young girls, however, I’d recommend that they give Monstrous a try. Firstly, it has a female protagonist who isn’t a damsel in distress. In fact, I really liked that Kymera repeatedly rescues her friend, Ren, rather than it being the other way around. Secondly, I appreciated that the one of the messages of Monstrous was to not judge people based on their physical appearance.

Monstrous will be released by HarperCollins Children's Books on February 10, 2015. 

Comments About the Cover: I love the illustrated look of the cover! 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (HarperCollins) for free via Edelweiss.