Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer- Michelle Hodkin

I decided to read this book because Beth Revis liked it. And I think Beth Revis is Super Awesome.
Plus, this book has an awesomely cool cover and a cool name and was purported to be creepy.
I like creepy.  Creepy is fun.
So, Mara Dyer.  She survives this building collapsing on her and her friends and doesn't remember any of it. Her friends are dead, but she's alive.
After this traumatizing experience, her family moves to Miami and she's put in some snotty private school (apparently the building collapsing was just not traumatizing enough and they had to make it worse).  She's feeling rather out of place and keeps having hallucinations, such as seeing her dead friends in the mirror.
Meanwhile, there's a Hot Guy at school who seems to think Mara is the Greatest Chick Ever, but of she is suspicious of him.
As Mara's relationship develops, she also starts imagining horrible things happening to people . . . and then they happen.  She can't decide if she's crazy or if she's demonic.
Most of the book is about Mara and Noah (the Hot Guy) and also Mara's visions.  More creepy things have been happening, and despite the fact that she managed to save the life of a pit bull (+100 points from me), she's getting rather worried.
Personally, I was hoping for some more creepiness, but after the ending . . . well, everyone's all about the twist at the end, so I'm definitely going to be reading the sequel.  There is WAY too much that we don't know yet.  Way too much.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Lover's Dictionary- David Levithan

This is going to be a short review because this was a short book.
However, this was also a really cool book.
There are a lot of love stories out there.  But I have never seen one told in this way.

Seriously, it's brilliant.  Each page has a word.  And under the word, there is a description of something that happened in the narrator's relationship that could be described by that word.

So the book goes from A-Z, telling the story of this relationship in a sort of disjointed way.  It's not linear, and a lot of it is very general, but there are also some things which are peculiar to that relationship alone.

I think anyone who has been in a relationship can find some truth in this book.  There are always uncertainties, issues, problems, and still some really amazing moments.

I liked it quite a bit.  I think you should read it, too.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight- Jennifer E Smith

This book felt real to me. Probably because so much of it took place on an overnight flight to London Heathrow, and the main character, Hadley, had to figure out how to get around London without ever having been there before. I did find it odd that no one seemed to want to help her; when I was living in London and would wander around by myself, all kinds of people would try to help me. Mind you, it's a damn big city, so they weren't always able to do so.
I give it extra points for the title, too. Since I secretly love statistics, anything statistical that seems illogical (like love) makes me laugh. Yes, I laugh at statistics jokes. I laugh at physics jokes too, but don't tell anyone.
Hadley was a believable character; she was still angry with her father for leaving her and her mother and going off to Oxford, and thus did not want to go to their wedding in London. Knowing what a pain in the ass weddings can be, and how it would be bizarre to see your dad marry someone you don't know, I would likely feel the same way.
The love interest, Oliver, was a charming sort; I think I found him this way because he made psychology and statistics jokes. Yes, he would carry Hadley's suitcase too, but that alone does not a charming man make; my jerk British ex would do that, and I still hate him (but I am still friends with the non-jerk British ex).
This was a light read, nothing earth-shattering, but enjoyable nonetheless.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Things About Love- Jackson Pearce

Hey!  Did you know that this anthology has other good authors' work BESIDES Rachel Vincent's?

Well, it does.  In fact, it has one story by Jackson Pearce, local superstar.

I was pretty excited about this story.  See, it's set in the As You Wish world.  I LOVED As You Wish.  In fact, I'm holding a contest which will have TWO winners who will both receive a SIGNED copy of As You Wish!  Just check over to the side for the link.  You won't regret it.

Instead of the story of Viola and her jinn, erm, Jinn, we have the story of her gay ex boyfriend Lawrence.  Lawrence is in college, and jinn have been keeping tabs on him for years just to make sure he doesn't go off and reveal jinn secrets.

This story is told in a way similar to Viola and Jinn's.  The sections alternate between Lawrence and Juliet, a jinn historian. Juliet isn't really keeping tabs on Lawrence.  Instead, she's using him for reasearch.

Juliet's mission is to understand love.  That's why she named herself Juliet; she'd heard that Romeo and Juliet was a love story.  Jinn do not typically love.  They live in Caliban and sometimes feel lust, but not love, at least until Viola and Jinn did.  So Juliet is in the real world, hanging out with Lawrence, trying to understand it.

This story, though short, was pretty satisfying.  For one thing, I was terribly excited to get back to the world of Caliban.  Though I would have liked to see Viola and Jinn, it was nice to see things from other perspectives.  Juliet's blatant lack of social skills was quite amusing.  She would ask questions of Lawrence that made very little sense to most humans, trying to figure out the differences between love, lust, and friendship.  He ended up taking her along to social functions and both of them got their feelings twisted up by various potential lovers.

The ending was open-ended, but it felt right for the story.  Love, you see, is very hard to define.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Secret Year- Jennifer Hubbard

This is not a love song.
Sure, Julia was a girl from the privileged part of town, and Colt was a boy from the not so privileged part of town, and yes, they did spend a year secretly meeting each other by the river for various trysts.  But Julia had a boyfriend, another privileged sort, and she wasn't in love with either.
Then, she goes off and dies in a car accident.

Colt can hardly believe it, but who can he talk to about it?  Nobody knows they knew each other.

There really isn't much romance in these typical teenagers' lives.  It's not like so many YA love stories in which they meet their immortal soul mate.  Their relationships are molded by lust, hatred, greed, cruelty, angst, and confusion.

Julia's brother discovers a notebook Julia wrote in.  In every entry, she wrote to Colt, but he never knew it existed.  So her brother passes it on to him to help him come to terms with her death.

While the characters were realistic, I didn't particularly like them.  Of course, I don't like most real people; I think they fall short by my standards.  But it is nice to see a book written about believable teens.  And sometimes their normality and issues made me laugh out loud.

To me, the underlying theme of this book seemed to be that high school doesn't matter.  Once you get to the world outside high school, no one really cares what part of town you're from.  No one cares who you dated.  And the girl who died?  Well, after high school, she'll fade away as well.

But there are still many similarities between the real world and high school.  There will always be people who think they can do anything they want because they have money.  There will always be people who don't fit in.  There will always be people who feel like they're trod upon everyday and can't understand why.

Colt was pretty average.  He thought he loved this beautiful girl, but he knew she would be ashamed of him.  She couldn't take him to the Country Club; he doesn't belong there, and she has to have someone to take, even though she doesn't like her boyfriend much.  She loved having their secret affair; she got a thrill out of it, but whether there was any love involved is kind of hard to say.

One thing I did not like about this book was that no one seemed to be defined by their interests, their talents, their intelligence, or their personalities.  It was basically 1. you live in a mansion on Black Mountain; 2. you live in substandard housing in the flats, or 3. (and there was only one of these) you live sort of in between so apparently this gives you an identity crisis.  The entire system was based purely upon where you lived.  Now, I knew some snotty stuck up wealthy kids in school, and I knew some poor kids who were made fun of for being poor, but there was generally at least a little more to it than that.  Just because you were poor does not mean you like to sit on your back porch shooting targets.  Being wealthy does mean you go off to the Country Club every weekend.  Except for their environments these kids were pretty much the same.  They never noticed how much alike they were because they were so wrapped up in their demographics.  You switch a Black Mountain baby and a flats baby at birth, they'd be the same.  But the one who was supposed to be in the flats would just go to the Country Club instead  of shooting in the backyard and vice versa. 

This is definitely the sort of book aimed more toward older teens based on the subject matter.  They all have sex.  Those girls take their bras off right quick and those guys are rearing to go at any moment.

There is also a delightful scene in which Colt's brother reveals his homosexuality and his parents go temporarily insane. "Don't you know what those guys do to each other?!" asks the father.

Colt's brother, Tom, was one of the few reasonable voices in the story. Sure, he's gay, he's only a freshman in college, but he actually had a personality.  He wasn't an "oh I'm gay, let me flit around like a sparkle pony and wear lip gloss" type of gay character.  He was just a reasonably intelligent young man who found out that in the real world, you could be who you are and not be defined by where you lived.

The book did not end with Colt saying "Yes!  I am over Julia!  I am in love with whoever!  Now I can be happy again!" but the secret does get out.