Monday, January 25, 2016

Review: This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

From Goodreads: 10:00 a.m. The principal of Opportunity, Alabama's high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve. 10:02 a.m. The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class. 10:03. The auditorium doors won't open. 10:05. Someone starts shooting. Told over the span of 54 harrowing minutes from four different perspectives, terror reigns as one student's calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.

My Rating: 2.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: With the rise in gun violence and the issue of gun control in the media, it’s not surprising that Marieke Nijkamp’s This is Where it Ends ended up on my radar. Then, I found out that Nijkamp is an advocate of diversity in YA, and I knew I had to read her book.

Unfortunately, although This is Where it Ends features PoC and gay characters, the characters lacked depth. Also, with the story being narrated from four different viewpoints, it was hard to connect with any of the characters, especially when some of their voices sounded kind of similar. Furthermore, I didn’t like that the main characters were so obviously portrayed to be victims; each had their own sob story, and it was apparent that I was supposed to sympathize with them. I wish Nijkamp could have written This is Where it Ends in such a way that I would have cared about her characters even if they had trivial problems.

In addition to the four viewpoints, there were tweets, texts, and blog posts from students in between chapters, which were unnecessary to the story. The voice, however, that was clearly missing from the story was that of the shooter. Those involved in school shootings often have suffered from years of abuse or have mental health issues – and that appears to be the case with Tyler – but there seems to be some vital information missing in This is Where it Ends. What makes Tyer decide violence is the best solution to his problems? How does a loving brother and boyfriend become capable of so much cruelty in such a short amount of time?

Although I felt that This is Where it Ends wasn’t suspenseful enough and – as cold-hearted as it sounds – didn’t really care about most of the people that died, I did like the ending. There’s a sense of hope that the town of Opportunity will recover from the senseless violence with time.

This is Where it Ends was released on January 5, 2016 by Sourcebooks Fire. 

Comments About the Cover: Its simplicity makes it eye-catching.  

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Sourcebooks) via NetGalley.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Review: Their Fractured Light by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

From Goodreads: A year ago, Flynn Cormac and Jubilee Chase made the now infamous Avon Broadcast, calling on the galaxy to witness for their planet, and protect them from destruction. Some say Flynn’s a madman, others whisper about conspiracies. Nobody knows the truth. A year before that, Tarver Merendsen and Lilac LaRoux were rescued from a terrible shipwreck - now, they live a public life in front of the cameras, and a secret life away from the world’s gaze. Now, in the center of the universe on the planet of Corinth, all four are about to collide with two new players, who will bring the fight against LaRoux Industries to a head. Gideon Marchant is an eighteen-year-old computer hacker - a whiz kid and an urban warrior. He’ll climb, abseil and worm his way past the best security measures to pull off onsite hacks that others don’t dare touch. Sofia Quinn has a killer smile, and by the time you’re done noticing it, she’s got you offering up your wallet, your car, and anything else she desires. She holds LaRoux Industries responsible for the mysterious death of her father and is out for revenge at any cost. When a LaRoux Industries security breach interrupts Gideon and Sofia’s separate attempts to infiltrate their headquarters, they’re forced to work together to escape. Each of them has their own reason for wanting to take down LaRoux Industries, and neither trusts the other. But working together might be the best chance they have to expose the secrets LRI is so desperate to hide.

My Rating: 4 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: While reading This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner, I thought the Knave of Hearts sounded like a pretty interesting character. So, I was thrilled when I found out that he would be one of the main characters in Their Fractured Light. Imagine how surprised I was then to find out how personal his motives really were for wanting to screw Roderick LaRoux!

Although I liked learning more about Gideon and Sofia and seeing them work as tentative allies, Their Fractured Light became way more enjoyable when Lilac, Tarver, Flynn, and Jubilee entered the scene because it greatly increased the tension. What I really loved about Their Fractured Light, however, was how all the little details that I’d forgotten about from the previous books in the series came back to play a part in this book. So, if you haven’t started the Starbound series, it’s good to do so now that all the books are out; and if you have, it might be worthwhile to reread the previous books before reading Their Fractured Light to fully appreciate how much planning Kaufman and Spooner must have done before writing this series.

A splendid conclusion to an amazing series, Their Fractured Light was released by Disney-Hyperion in December 2015. 

Comments About the Cover: This is my favourite cover of the series because it has a lot of purple, my favourite colour.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Mini Reviews: Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin and Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

From Goodreads: Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. The thing is ... Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure - media and otherwise - is building up in Riley’s so-called “normal” life. On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it’s REALLY like to be a gender-fluid teenager. But just as Riley’s starting to settle in at school - even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast - the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley’s real identity, threatening exposure. Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created - a lifeline, new friends, a cause to believe in - or stand up, come out, and risk everything.

My Rating: Somewhere between 3 and 3.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Jeff Garvin’s Symptoms of Being Human hooked me right away with its beginning line of “The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?”. It’s a question I’ve never really given much thought to, but it’s an important issue for trans and genderqueer teens. That’s why, even though I wasn’t blown away by the story, I liked Symptoms of Being Human. It shows the challenges of coming out, but also addresses the importance of speaking up – and does so with a narrator whose biological sex we never find out, which I thought was pretty cool. 

Symptoms of Being Human will be released on February 2, 2016 by Balzer + Bray. 

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

From Goodreads: Seventeen-year-old Mercedes Ayres has an open-door policy when it comes to her bedroom, but only if the guy fulfills a specific criteria: he has to be a virgin. Mercedes lets the boys get their awkward, fumbling first times over with, and all she asks in return is that they give their girlfriends the perfect first time- the kind Mercedes never had herself. Keeping what goes on in her bedroom a secret has been easy - so far. Her absentee mother isn’t home nearly enough to know about Mercedes’ extracurricular activities, and her uber-religious best friend, Angela, won’t even say the word “sex” until she gets married. But Mercedes doesn’t bank on Angela’s boyfriend finding out about her services and wanting a turn- or on Zach, who likes her for who she is instead of what she can do in bed. When Mercedes’ perfect system falls apart, she has to find a way to salvage her reputation and figure out where her heart really belongs in the process.

My Rating: 1.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn isn’t a book I’d normally read because I tend to avoid books where there’s cheating. However, I decided to give it a try for two reasons: 1) Flynn is a Canadian and 2) there aren’t too many YA books that deal directly with sex. Unfortunately, while there are some good quotes in Firsts about sex, I just couldn’t connect with its main character, who’s basically a spoiled girl that tries to justify the fact that she has sex with guys in committed relationships to cover up her own issues.

Firsts was released by St. Martin’s Griffin on January 5, 2016. 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Macmillan) via NetGalley.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Review: The Treachery of Beautiful Things by Ruth Frances Long

From Goodreads: The trees swallowed her brother whole, and Jenny was there to see it. Now seventeen, she revisits the woods where Tom was taken, resolving to say good-bye at last. Instead, she's lured into the trees, where she finds strange and dangerous creatures who seem to consider her the threat. Among them is Jack, mercurial and magnetic, with secrets of his own. Determined to find her brother, with or without Jack's help, Jenny struggles to navigate a faerie world where stunning beauty masks some of the most treacherous evils, and she's faced with a choice between salvation or sacrifice - and not just her own.

My Rating: 2.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: The Treachery of Beautiful Things by Ruth Frances Long was a book that captivated me immediately because its beginning reminded me of Natalie C. Parker’s Beware the Wild. I had no idea that this was a faerie book though, which I typically avoid. But, Long’s writing was lovely, and I was soon drawn into the story.

Over the course of the novel, however, I became annoyed by Jenny’s decisions. For example, she chooses to trust Jack for no apparent reason (and then develops feelings for him quite suddenly too), runs off by herself whenever her feelings get hurt, and decides to rescue a baby fairy because it's a baby. Uh no, a baby fairy is still a fairy!

As well, the ending was really confusing. I didn’t really understand what was going on, and I still have no idea how it became possible for Jenny to get her happy ending.

The Treachery of Beautiful Things was released by Dial Books in August 2012. 

Comments About the Cover: It’s a pretty cover, but the main character didn't go into the woods in a dress.