Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Where She Went - Gayle Forman

Where She Went is the sequel to If I Stay which if you haven't read, it's amazing, you should.  If you're planning to read If I Stay, stay clear of this review because it will contain spoilers.

A Spoiler Free Bit About The Book

Three years after Mia's accident Adam is the lead in the hit sensation, Shooting Stars.  His band is at the top like he always wanted but fame and fortune isn't all it's cracked up to be.  Nothing will ever be the same after his split with Mia.

But one night in New York they find one another again.  If you had a second chance at first love, would you take it?

My Review

I found it very hard to sum the book  up above.  I don't want to keep copying the blurbs, I want to put my own spin on them but I couldn't make this book sound interesting.  The real blurb is great in comparison but I'm giving a more honest insight I think.

First of all, I didn't want to pick this book up.  That may be one of the causes as to why I didn't like it.  I loved If I Stay so much I knew this wouldn't compare and  I was right.  Mia's accident and her decision whether or not to stay was a beautiful insight into life and this was - weirdly - far more depressing.  

The first chapter throws you into Adam's point of view which confused me at first because I assumed we'd be with Mia as we were for If I Stay.  I was dissapointed with Adam who struck me as ungrateful.  Yes, stardom isn't what you wanted after all, but you don't need to whine about how your life couldn't be any worse.  He needed to man up, not that his issues weren't justifyed, just that he didn't attempt to do anything about his situation until near the end and that irritated me.  He loved wallowing in his own self-pity and I was not happy to have to read his depressing and grim prose just because I wanted to find out what'd happened to Mia. 

I was delighted when I started hearing about Mia again, after all, I was in this for her and she was the only reason I didn't put his book down after chapter one.  Her story in If I Stay was one I loved right down to my soul and I needed to know about her recovery and if she followed her dreams.  I had loved Adam in If I Stay too.  He'd been the perfect match for Mia but I found in Where She Went that he'd grown into someone I didn't like and I had no interest in following.  He continued to annoy me through the course of the novel.

I struggled through with no motivation at all and it was a difficult slog.  I also found a missing full stop at the end of a line.  How does something like that get missed? (I don't blame Forman for that but her copy-editor/proofreader.)

I only really started to enjoy it when both Mia and Adam started admitting things to each other.  I had this feeling of 'finally!'.  The ending was powerful and everything came together neatly.  At least it had a satisfying conclusion.  But I wish I hadn't bothered.


Plot - 5/10 - didn't really know what I was supposed to be hoping for

Way Plot Was Pursued - 7/10 - the past and present alternating worked well

Characters - 7/10 - Adam got on my nerves but Mia somewhat balanced it

Style - 7/10 - there was nothing wrong with the style I can think of

Pace - 7/10 - started slow and felt like a slog

Would I recommend it? - No. I almost want to pretend this book didn't happen.

Would I look up the author? - No.  If I Stay was amazing but now I'm having doubts.

Where She Went couldn't handle the immensity of it's predecessor and was nothing in comparison.

Molly Looby
Author / Editor / Blogger / Reviewer / Wrimo / Movellian / ZA Ready

Thursday, 24 April 2014

15 Nerd Girl Problems

Here are some pictures for a change.  Back to book reviews next week. :)

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Looking for Alaska - John Green

A Spoiler Free Bit About The Book

(I tried wording this on my own but I couldn't work out how so here's the real blurb from Goodreads)

Before. Miles "Pudge" Halter's whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the "Great Perhaps" (Fran├žois Rabelais, poet) even more. He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.

After. Nothing is ever the same.

My Review

I think we need to get this out of the way before I talk about anything else.  No, I did not think this was as good as The Fault in Our Stars - but what is?  This is still in my top five books I've read in 2014.  It was perfect and beautiful and powerful and thought-provoking.  But TFIOS took my soul away where Looking for Alaska gave it back.  Soul stirring.  That's the perfect way to describe this book.

So did I enjoy it?  Yes.  Of course I did.  John Green is such a beautiful, beautiful writer.

The boarding school setting isn't new to Teen Fiction but this was different.  I've never been to a boarding school, as fun as it would be to set a book there, I just couldn't do it.  It's one of those places I would find it hard to imagine being.  But I didn't have a problem during Looking for Alaska.  The description made it so easy for me to construct Culver Creek in my head that it didn't matter that I'd never been to a boarding school.  The setting was everything in this book.  It was vital that it be set in a boarding school as nowhere else could this story take place.  The characters lived together and learned together.  It was an amazing dynamic to be thrown into having only gone to school myself for the seven hours a day, five days a week.  Also, usually the American school system confuses me but in Looking for Alaska the actual school work and what year they were in and what exams they had to do wasn't important.  It made it easier for me, a painfully British person, to understand.

Enough about that.  That's got to be the longest paragraph I've written about setting in my life.  My own novels would be lucky to get a paragraph that size!  So onto my favourite thing, the characters.  Now at first I found Miles very pretentious and a little annoying.  I found it odd that he didn't have any friends and didn't appear to care and awful lot for anyone.  But that doesn't mean I didn't like him.  I liked him in that way that I wouldn't want to meet him in real life but I would like to follow his story, if that makes any sense.  Miles grows into an entirely different person during the novel and once he started to change, I started to love him like the other characters.  I found The Colonel and Alaska fascinating and I loved their exchanges with Miles and each other.  I couldn't stop reading when they were on the page.  Each of the characters felt pretentious in their own way but they still felt so real.  We're all a little like that sometimes, it's human nature.  All the characters, even the more minor characters felt rounded and full and real which leads me to the conclusion that John Green can join Patrick Ness as a master of characterisation.

After I got used to Miles and got firmly into the story, I couldn't put it down.  I couldn't think of anything bad to say at all.  I just sat and read and read and read.  One morning I was about half way through and I just sat in my pyjamas with a cup of tea and read to the end.  There was no time for getting dressed.  Not when there was still pages to read.  I was there with the characters, tears in my eyes as they cried.  I was so connected with them, probably because they were so real.

The ending, ah, the ending.  It was so perfect.  The tone was just right, spot on what it needed to be.  I turned the last page and felt this complete, full, bitter-sweet feeling that I wouldn't swap for any other feeling in the world.

So yes, I enjoyed Looking for Alaska on a similar level to TFIOS.  But Looking for Alaska was incredible on a whole other level.


Plot - 10/10 - never read anything like this

Way Plot Was Pursued -10/10 - was as amazing as I expected

Characters - 9/10 - the pretension was a little tiring at first

Style - 10/10 - so beautiful

Pace - 10/10 - couldn't put it down - perfect

Would I recommend it? - Yes, for so many reasons.

Would I look up the author? - Yes, as I said during TFIOS review, I'm going to read everything this man's written.

Where The Fault in Our Stars stole my soul, Looking for Alaska gave it back.

Molly Looby
Author / Editor / Blogger / Reviewer / Wrimo / Movellian / ZA Ready

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Eve - Anna Carey

A Spoiler Free Bit About The Book

Sixteen years after the plague devastated the country, Eve is finally ready to graduate from School and learn her trade, excited about living in the City of Sand until one night when her world changes forever.  All of a sudden Eve goes from being certain of her path to unsure what's true and what isn't.  All she knows is that she has to run.

My Review

I read Eve in a number of days that would've been hours had I not had to work and whatnot.  It was so easy to read.  The story flowed and the action never let up for more than a chapter or so.  It was the easiest thing in the world to disappear into the pages and I think that's half the battle.  So well done Carey, you got me hooked.

I will start with the beginning, I've heard it's a very good place to start.  Eve throws you straight in with a letter from her mother who died from the plague when she was eight (I think it was eight).  This was a brilliant way to start the novel.  I at once wanted to know more about the plague and about orphaned Eve and how she survived without her mother.  And of course I now had an attachment to her mother after reading her words.  After that beginning, it was easy.  The chapters were just the right length that you didn't feel cheated because they were too short or bored because they were too long.  They were just short enough that I decided to read the next one when I got to a chapter break.  Meaning I read the book in no time.  When I read fast it means I'm enjoying it and I enjoyed Eve a lot.

Eve as a character was very different from what I was expecting.  Usually your painfully naive girl at the beginning is timid and cautious and then grows into a fighter and wins your respect as a reader.  Eve didn't follow that pattern.  Yes, she may have started the book being a goody-two-shoes, following all the rules and even ratting out her fellow classmates but that added to her character.  She was best in her class and she knew it, adding a level of arrogance to her which you don't usually see at the very beginning of a novel.  But of course she was arrogant!  It made perfect sense.  Since attending School she'd constantly been told she was beautiful, intelligent and witty by her teachers.  Why wouldn't she believe she was perfect?  I suppose this could put you off her a bit but I liked her all the more.  She was human.  She was cruel and full of herself like so many of us are.  It was the perfect balance of this and her redeeming qualities that made me want to read her story to the end.

As Eve continued there were a lot of profound moments about love and what love means that really hit home for me.  I thought they were beautiful and thought-provoking.  Most teenage fiction novels focus on the love-at-first sight, infatuation, head-over-heels love.  But in Eve it was softer.  I felt the love for her friends more strongly than the boring couple-y love that seems to be necessary everywhere.  Saying this however, she did fall in love with the love interest too fast - especially for a girl who has always been taught to fear men.  This part didn't make sense for me.  Regardless of the fact that most of the things you were taught were a lie, it would still be a struggle to let those things go.  Most certainly if you're eighteen and already stuck in your ways.

The description throughout was just right for me.  There wasn't huge boring chunks but little snippets here and there which made it much easier for me to picture a scene than to try and create it in one huge paragraph.  

I was also very fond of the ending.  I knew there was a little bit of information that was being held back from Eve and from the readers and when it came to light I wasn't expecting that to be it at all!  However, I didn't know that it was a trilogy and as I enjoyed Eve so much I'm going to  have to read the next two.  But to be honest, I wasn't ready to make that kind of commitment.

A little something stuck out for me, and I didn't know where to write about it so I'll stick it here at the bottom nice and random.  I found a lower-case letter after a full stop.  And yes, I did read over it to double check it wasn't correct and I was the idiot, but no.  I could see no reason for it.  Just a clear mistake that stuck out like a small kid on a basketball team filling in for the star player.  How embarrassing.


Plot - 7/10 - nothing original here, not saying that's a bad thing

Way Plot Was Pursued - 8/10 - thoroughly enjoyed jumping from place to place with Eve

Characters - 8/10 - Eve was great and I can't wait to see how she develops

Style - 9/10 - have nothing bad to say about style

Pace - 9/10 - mostly fast all the way through

Would I recommend it? - Yes. It's an easy read.

Would I look up the author? Yes.  But at the moment I've got far too many books to read!

Eve was one of those books that you just fall into, you blink and you've finished it.  And yes, that's a compliment.

Molly Looby
Author / Editor / Blogger / Reviewer / Wrimo / Movellian / ZA Ready

Thursday, 3 April 2014

BZRK Reloaded - Michael Grant

A few minor spoilers lie within if you haven't read the first instalment, BZRK.

A Spoiler Free Bit About The Book

BZRK is left shaken after their last battle against Bug Man and the Armstrong Twins.  Vincent is crazy and Ophelia is even worse.  How will BZRK face up against Bug Man without their best twitcher and leader, Vincent?  And how can Plath face that she didn't kill the evil Armstrong twins while she had the chance?

My Review

I was wary when I picked this up.  I felt that the original BZRK was a really tough read.  It's very sciencey and techy and I'm not.  So just like in the first instalment, I just switched off when there was description about how things were working and about the body down in the meat.  Because of this, I found it really difficult to picture a lot of things that were going on.  I also found it difficult to follow in places.  But this would be a proper geek's dream, but that's just not me.  I imagine these books are phenomenal if you can follow Grant's tech speak, which I couldn't.

I found BZRK Reloaded even harder to follow because at first I couldn't remember who anyone was.  I was reading and wondering who was good and who was bad and who was new and who was from the original BZRK.  I hardly remembered anything.  The confusing names that I couldn't pronounce made it even harder for me to recall who was who.  And when new characters were introduced I got even more confused.  I thought I'd get over this in a couple of chapters but no.  I struggled the entire way through.

I also didn't care for the characters, but I think that's because I couldn't remember who they were.  The very main ones I worked out and understood but I can't say I really cared for them.  There was nothing pulling me to them, nothing making me want to read about them.  I think this is why I found BZRK Reloaded so hard to pick up.  There was nothing driving me to read it.  But the weirdest thing is that while I was reading it I was enjoying it.

This, I believe, is down to Grant's style.  I loved Grant's other novels.  I've read the entire GONE series and Eve and Adam and I couldn't fault them, they were amazing.  Because I've read so much Grant, his writing style has become so comfortable.  The sentences within themselves, even if they're techy and sciencey, are so easy to read.  I might not understand what's being said but I can read over it no problem.  Grant's sentences flow so perfectly.  It's so ridiculous, but I love how he constructs a sentence.

However, I did constantly compare BZRK Reloaded to the GONE series and Eve and Adam and it just wasn't on that level.  I don't think that's Grant's fault though.  I don't think I'm the target reader for BZRK where I am for his other books I've read.

What annoyed me the most was the ending.  It seemed to be over awfully quickly and I hadn't felt any distress or concern or anything.  I got to the end and was like oh, what was the point?  Everything had been saved for book 3 which I feel like I have to read now even though I don't want to.


Plot - 5/10 - It was too similar to the first one

Way Plot Was Pursued - 5/10 - I found it hard to follow

Characters - 6/10 - they were fine and made sense but I felt nothing for them

Style - 10/10 - I can't fault Grant's writing style

Pace - 8/10 - the pace was fine apart from the end

Would I recommend it? Yes, but only to a very techy sciencey 11-17 year-olds.

Would I look up the author? Yes, of course, I still love Michael Grant's work, I'm sure there are others of his works I'll like better.

BZRK Reloaded was pretty much what I expected all round.

Molly Looby
Author / Editor / Blogger / Reviewer / Wrimo / Movellian / ZA Ready