6 Tropes That YA Would be Better Without

I love young adult fiction. I really do. I love reading about people my age, who face similar things but react so differently. I love the way it’s so easy to slip into their characters and into the amazingly detailed worlds. But (there’s always a but, isn’t there), I can admit that the young adult genreisn’t perfect. Some messages that some young adult books convey…well they’re unhealthy (not to mention completely untrue) to say the least. I’ll be touching on some of them in this post.


 

  1.  Boys and girls can never be just best-friends.

    This is not entirely a Young Adult fiction phenomenon. In fact, in real life many people seem to believe this too. But I’m going ahead and starting my list with this thing because it happens all the time in young adult fiction. It usually goes like this: Boy and girl have been best friends since they were babies, one of them develops romantic feelings for the other, they refuse to tell their friend because they don’t want to ‘ruin things’, inevitably they wait too long and a new romantic interest shows up, they get jealous and they end up confessing their love and boom- instant love triangle. I’m serious this trope has been overdone (that’s why it’s called a trope).
    Characters stuck in this trope: Gale and Katniss from the Hunger Games, Simon and Clary from the Mortal Instruments (at least for the first few books)
    Books which managed to evade this trope: I’m going to be a little more specific- I want  male and female main characters who are not related to each other (and neither of them can be a LGBT for this to work) but who still don’t have romantic feelings for each other, no matter how much you tilt your head and squint. Not surprisingly, this lowers the list quite dramatically and the only thing I can think of off the bat is Forever Mine by Elizabeth Reyes (and even that comes with a whole set of other problems). In it Sarah has a great relationship with her best friend Sydney, who is male and has his own girlfriend.


     

  2. No matter what your ‘soul mate’ does, you should forgive them.

    Stalking you, scaring you…hurting you– we’ve all been taught in real life that we should never be with a person who doesn’t respect you as a person or who scares and hurts you. It’s called abuse people. And no matter what the situation is, it is unforgiveable. So why did we forgive  Four so easily for taking a part of Tris’s ear off with a knife (on purpose) in Divergent or Patch trying to scare Nora into leaving him alone in Hush, Hush? And before you feminists get all superior- it’s not just the men who hurt women. In the Hunger Games, Katniss toys with Peeta’s emotions and pretends to love him before revealing it was all just a sham. And what does Peeta do? He just swallows his pride to play the part of the not-so-star crossed lover for the sake of the Capitol and Katniss’s family? Sure, it’s  different but at the end of the day- it’s just another kind of abuse.
    Books stuck in this trope: Like I mentioned above, Divergent, Hush, Hush and the Hunger Games all fall into this category
    Books which are totally against this trope: Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard deals with emotional abuse,  Bitter End by Jennifer Brown and But I Love Him by Mandy Hubbard deal with physical abuse.


  3. Parents and  teachers (basically all adults) are incapable of fully understandin and helping you.

    Like my English teacher would say, a huge part of being a teenager is wanting to show that you’re self-sufficient and independent. In other words, we teenagers would like to believe we don’t need no grownups. So in books like the Iron King by Julie Kagawa, the parents are the last one who are let into the loop. Because they wouldn’t need to know that their son is being held hostage by the fae and has been replaced with a changeling, would they? Nope, not at all. Even the Harry Potter series is not safe from this trope. Dumbledore, though a great man is eventually shown to be fallible and most fans believe Harry would have been better off never trusting him in the first place.
    I can not, and I repeat- can not think of a single young adult fiction book in which there is a reliable adult around who the main character trusts and tells them about everything.



  4. Whining can be endearing.

    Bella Swan from Twilight is perhaps the most well-known for this trope (boo-hoo, i’m not pretty, it rains so much here, my boyfriend won’t turn me into a vampire, he wants to celebrate my birthday, and it rains so much here *sob*) but there are others too. Zoey from the House of Night series and Cassia from the Matched trilogy, I’m looking at you. Authors, there’s one really important thing you need to know about teenage girls: Most of us are not whiny and none of us find whiny people endearing. If you need to give your narrator’s voice a little bit of oomph, then whininess is not the way to go.
    Some books without this trope: Graceling by Kristin Cashore, Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder and The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman- all three are great books with non-whiny heroes who have excoriating circumstances thrust upon them but still rise to meet the challenges with minimal self pity and whining.


  5. Love at first sight exists

    This trope exists in so many forms. Of course there is the ‘You don’t need to walk by again, I believe in love at first sight’ but perhaps the most common form in young adult fiction is ‘I had never seen that boy before but I felt an instant connection’. The ‘We met in a dream and that’s how we fell in love’ one’s pretty common too. All so different but they have one thing in common- they’re all annoying.  Not to mention unrealistic.
    P.S. the ‘We met in a past life’ one counts too. Cheaters *sticks tongue out*
    Character stuck in this trope: Ethan and Lena from Beautiful Creatures, Daniel and Luce from Fallen
    Books without this trope:  The Gallagher Girls and Heist Society by Ally Carter. I’m not sure if Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan gets to go in this category or not. After all, Kami and Jared have never met but at the same time they’ve been each others best friends (even if each of them thought the other was imaginary).  But it’s so good, I’m going to go ahead and put it here.


  6. Everything will work out (even if you do nothing)

    So here’s what happens when you’ve got a huge problem that stresses you out completely- a magical and amazing outsider will come in and wave their magical fairy wand and your problem will disappear forever. How often does this happen in real life? Once? Twice? Oh wait, I remember…never. You usually have to work hard to make your problems disappear. Even if they do disappear, it’s because you’ve matured and grown and thus have bigger problems to worry about. So yeah, I hate happy ever afters when the main characters do nothing to deserve them.
    In fact, there’s a fancy latin name for this whole trope. It’s called deus ex machina. Wikipedia defines it as a plot device whereby a seemingly unsolvable problem is suddenly and abruptly resolved by the contrived and unexpected intervention of some new event, character, ability or object. It also makes it pretty clear that this is undesirable.
    Books with this trope: This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E Smith and The Chemical Garden Trilogoy by Lauren DeStefano
    The exceptions to the rule: Lord of The Flies by William Golding- but only because I think if it went any further, I would have freaked out.


 

So that’s a list of some things I hate about YA. What about you?

Cassendra Clare Has a New Series?

It’s been exactly five minutes since I ended my Cassendra Clare reading spree. Over the last week, I have read the last two books of both the Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices. And now, I’m kind of at a loss. It’s a sad but true fact that the Mortal Instruments series with all it’s loose ends has now been officially tied up with the stunning and epic conclusion: The City of Heavenly Fire. Which, if you haven’t read yet, you need to read as soon as possible. I can promise you it was phenomenal and at the end, there were less dead characters than I expected. (Incidentally that’s one thing I really like about Cassendra Clare’s books- few people die.  Authors like Rick Riordan, Veronica Roth and Suzanne Collins should take a few pointers. It would probably make for a set of happier fandoms.) 

So what are we going to do now that the Mortal Instruments series is over? Re-read the books, fangirl about how great it was, eagerly anticipate the movies (just so we can criticize them for cutting all the important parts out) and lament the fact that it’s completely over? Well yes, of course we are. But if you haven’t read the The Infernal Devices series yet, you have that fall back. I know a lot of people who actually prefer the Infernal Devices series, which is kind of a prequel to the Mortal Instruments. We get the backstories of a bunch of characters who played important roles in the series. The Infernal Devices is  set in Victorian England, the heroine is a bookworm in love with two boys who are the best of friends but so different, there are strong female characters not limited to the MC and there is an evil psychopath hell-bent on killing all the shadowunter in the world because of his twisted sense of ‘justice’. What’s not to love?

Or you could read the Bane Chronicles, a series of short stories based on Magnus’s extraordinarily long and exciting life which is tantalizingly hinted at in the Mortal Instruments. You can see who Magnus was before he got involved with Alec and after he met Will. This series of mini-stories was co-written by Cassendra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan and Maureen Johnson- all spectacular authors. And wanna know something cool? When you put all the books together, you get one big picture. I think Magnus would approve.
What to Buy the Shadowhunter Who Has Everything (The Bane Chronicles, #8) by Cassandra Clare The Course of True Love  and First Dates  (The Bane Chronicles, #10) by Cassandra Clare The Rise of the Hotel Dumort (The Bane Chronicles, #5) by Cassandra Clare Vampires, Scones, and Edmund Herondale (The Bane Chronicles, #3) by Cassandra Clare Saving Raphael Santiago (The Bane Chronicles, #6) by Cassandra Clare 
The Runaway Queen (The Bane Chronicles, #2) by Cassandra Clare What Really Happened in Peru (The Bane Chronicles, #1) by Cassandra Clare The Last Stand of the New York Institute (The Bane Chronicles, #9) by Cassandra Clare The Fall of the Hotel Dumort (The Bane Chronicles, #7) by Cassandra Clare The Midnight Heir (The Bane Chronicles, #4) by Cassandra Clare

But if you’re the unlucky and misfortunate sort who’s already read through all three series, but is still desperate for a Shadowhunter fix, you’re not as unlucky as you could be. In March 2015 (I know, that seem so far away), Cassendra Clare is releasing a new series called the Dark Artifices. The first book is going to be called Lady Midnight and it will feature Emma Carstairs (we were introduced to her in The City of Heavenly Fire). A cover hasn’t been released as of yet but a description has. Here it is:

Los Angeles, 2012. It’s been five years since the events of the Mortal Instruments when Nephilim stood poised on the brink of oblivion and Shadowhunter Emma Carstairs lost her parents. After the blood and violence she witnessed as a child, Emma has dedicated her life to the eradication of demons and being the best, fastest and deadliest Shadowhunter since Jace Lightwood. Raised in the Los Angeles Institute, Emma is paired as a parabatai with her best friend, Julian. As Emma hunts those who caused the death of her parents, the trail they’re following leads back to those they’ve always been taught to trust. At the same time, Emma is falling in love with Julian — her closest friend and, because he is her parabatai, the one person in the world she’s absolutely forbidden by Shadowhunter Law to love. Set against the glittering backdrop of present-day Los Angeles, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches from the warlock-run nightclubs of the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica.

Fans of Cassendra Clare and her world of Shadowhunter will doubtlessly be ecstatic to hear this amazing piece of news but at the same time there are some people who are…not. “Isn’t enough, enough?”, they wonder. “Hasn’t Cassendra Clare already stretched this world as far as it can go? Doesn’t she have any originality? How long is she going to exploit this world over and over again to earn money?”. Yes these are actual questions being asked. And maybe it is valid. Cassendra Clare has written three series and nineteen books based on Shadowhunters. Isn’t it time for her to give it up?

No. It’s not. I like the fact that there are so many books about this world. It makes it feel more real, you know? In fact, I really admire Cassendra Clare for getting so into the world and the backstories of all the characters. And I’m so glad she decided to share it with us fans in the form of books. I get kind of annoyed when authors develop backstories for the characters and histories for the world and share it on the news somewhere. Most of us don’t see those articles and the few who do are… No, I’m not even going there.

As for originality, I think that Cassendra Clare has it in spades. The Mortal Instruments and the Infernal Devices are set in very different settings, with very different characters (although Jace and Will are kind of similar…) and very different plots. If there’s anything that Cassendra lacks, it is definitely not originality.

So, personally I am very excited about The Dark Artifices. I will definitely read Lady Midnight as soon as it comes out. In fact, I’ve already put it on my to-read list on goodreads.com. You should too.

We Were Liars: A Book Review

Book: We Were Liars
Author/Authoress: E. Lockhart

We Were Liars

Cover:4/5

I thought the cover was pretty good. All that sunshine, swimming and water suggest a cutesy, light-hearted and fun summer read but the subtle shadows and the smudgy letters make sure we don’t misjudge the book by it’s cover. Also, the way that the whole cover is lightly blurry is pretty cool. Personally, I thought it was a representation of the narrator’s state of mind- confused and unable to remember the whole truth.

Plot: 3/5

Blurb:
A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.
Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE

My thoughts: So to keep the suspense alive, we’re not supposed to tell you anything about the plot. Too bad. This time I’m not going to follow the rules. It’s ridiculous to expect us to know whether we want to read a book or not without a decent blurb. And a few words strung together haphazardly does not a blurb make.

There’s actually not much to the plot. Basically, Cadence Sinclair is wealthy. She is loved (maybe because of the previous statement). She is one of the Sinclairs, a good-looking “old-money Democrat” family. They have names like Liberty, Taft, and Tipper (oh the heights of pretentiousness that can be reached are high indeed).They go to Ivy League schools. They have trust funds. They have sired a generation of children, the leader of which is Cadence. Cadence and her crew call themselves “The Liars.” The Liars are composed of her cousins Mirren, Johnny, and the outcast Indian love interest, Gat. All of them the same age.Every summer, the liars go to a private island where they spend their holidays in beach houses specifically built for their mothers. Every year, they spend their days playing in the sand, swimming in the sea and generally being lazy and having a good time. Until the summer when they’re all 15. That year, something horrible happens. Something which Cadence has no memory of but makes her sick anyways. She theorizes she was a victim of something so awful, her mind blocked it all out to protect itself. But Cadence is desperate to remember what happened that fateful summer. This book shows two summers in parallel. One happening in the present and the other in the form of flashbacks.

Characters:2/5

I had little to no patience for the characters. They were such cliché’s based solely on stereotypes. There was nothing original or interesting about them. Let’s start with the MC

Cadence Sinclair is a snobbish little hypocrite. From the very beginning, I was certain I would never see eye-to-eye with her. I was not proven wrong. There are precious few  characters that can get away with calling their Mom ‘mummy’ without me losing any respect I could have had for them. Kids under the age of 10, people pretending to be snobby heiresses, snobby heiresses who exist for comedic purposes only and people from the Victorian era. Cadence falls into none of these categories. She actually is a snobby heiress. The type who speaks flippantly of Tiffany crystals, silverware, Mercedes cars and Harvard. The type who’s just rich enough (or going to be rich enough) to get away with not knowing the ‘help’s’ names and caring more about yellow labs than people. After the ‘accident’, it’s hard to feel any sympathy for her. Not only is it partially her own fault but she stops functioning like a normal human being after it. Her grades drop, she stops taking interest in any activity, she sends pathetic e-mails to her cousins asking about Gat and then sends even more pathetic e-mails to them pretending she doesn’t care. She falls into bouts of self-pity where she moans about her migraines (which apparently could end the world) and the fact that she had to go to Europe the previous summer instead of being allowed to go to the beach house. And rich enough for her to be hypocritical about her wealth, criticising her mother for depending on it, and giving away all her worldly possessions ‘to be charitable’ and ‘do some good in the world’.*Facepalm*

Despite the fact that Mirren and Johnny form one whole half of the ‘Liars’, they’re given disproportionately little screen-time (what do you call it in a book?). Apparently Mirren is candy-sweet and a bit of a romantic. Johnny is archetypical annoying male cousin, sometimes prone to annoyingness. Each of them appeared in what, four scenes each? Not nearly enough for the ‘supposed’ main characters.

Gat Patel was somewhat annoying. But at the same time, he was the character that seemed the most…real. He kind of reminded me of Gus from The Fault in Our Stars. He is self-aware. Too self-aware in a hopelessly pretentious way that some people think teenagers are like (and maybe we are…just a little). But he still feels authentic and less contrived than the other characters. I liked him. He is accepted into The Liars, but he’s not altogether accepted in the family. Because of his skin color, because of his lack of family money, he feels left out.

The Grandfather was another interesting character. Proud, manipulative and a bit bigoted. But no one dared to ever tell him that because he was in charge of all the money. He used to pit all of his daughters against each other, to make them prove that they deserved the inheritance and that they could make good use of it. He was a really twisted character but at times he could be a loving and fun grandfather, spontaneously taking his grandchildren on outings and tossing money everywhere. Did anyone else automatically think of King Lear?
The liars theorize that he became twisted after losing his wife and his manipulative behaviour was a cry for help, for his family to actually start acting like a family. For once (the first and last time ever) I agree with the liars.

Romance: N/A

Writing:1/5

More than anything else, it was the writing which killed this story. The whole book is in the point of view of the MC who had the incredibly infuriating tendency to write in disjointed prose with an overuse of commas and repetition of words. The sentences are fragmented and the main character is forever using long, running metaphors to describe everything.

And then I completely loathed (no, it’s not too strong of a word) the way she over dramatized everything. Take a look at this:

Then he pulled out a handgun and shot me in the chest. I was standing on the lawn and I fell. The bullet hole opened wide and my heart rolled out of my rib cage and down into a flower bed. Blood gushed rhythmically from my open wound,
then from my eyes,
my ears,
my mouth.

It took me forever to realize that she didn’t meant if literally; only figuratively and that her Dad didn’t really shoot her. But seriously, what else was I supposed to think?

Ending:3/5

Don’t read this unless you want spoilers. <spoiler> At the end, Cadence tells us about their plan for the fire. We’ve been told throughout the book that Cadence and Gat, at least, are very bright kids. I thought burning the house was a clever and beautiful twist, until Cadence said that they would light it from the inside. I repeat- from the inside. Who (especially supposedly ‘brilliant’ kids) would be stupid enough to light a mansion on the fire from the freaking INSIDE? And then they’re surprised that people died? People this stupid simply do not exist.

I think the whole ghost/ the MC went crazy thing was pretty good. Obviously, I knew that something was up throughout most of the book: (When the Liars hung back from welcoming Cadence on the docks, how they were always in Cuddlemere despite the fact it was ‘haunted’, how they never went anywhere and there was no interaction between them and anyone other than Cadence, etc.) but I was never able to actually put my finger on it. However, a lot of people said they saw the twist coming from a mile away. </spoiler over>

Plotholes:2/5

Gleck! That was the sound of me choking. This book is full of plotholes. The most obvious being the ending, but there was other, smaller stuff that really bugged me. The only reason this book got more than a one was because there wouldn’t have been much of a story without some of the obvious pitfalls.

Overall Rating: 2/5

Considering the fact this was supposed to be the ‘It’ contemporary book this year, I was pretty disappointed. But I never was a big E. Lockhart fan anyways, so I guess it’s all okay. If you’re able to get past the choppy and annoying writing style and the even more annoying main character, this book is actually a real page-turner. Full of suspense with a not-too-shabby plot and a decent (if slightly stupid) ending. Unfortunately, I could not and neither could most people. I would not recommend this book to anyone unless they would like to read it to make some sort of point (which type of point that would be, I have no idea).

5 YA Books You Need to Read (Even If You Are An Adult)

There are a lot of people who say they don’t like Young Adult fiction. Maybe they think it’s too childish- that everything’s over-explained, that it’s overdramatic and over-exaggerated. But that’s ’cause they’re reading all the wrong books. Here are 5 YA books which you will love even if you’re against the whole genre (at the moment.)

1.)

Book: On the Jellicoe Road
Author/Authoress: Melina Marchetta

On the Jellicoe Road

Blurb: Im dreaming of the boy in the tree. I tell him stories. About the Jellicoe School and the Townies and the Cadets from a school in Sydney. I tell him about the war between us for territory. And I tell him about Hannah, who lives in the unfinished house by the river. Hannah, who is too young to be hiding away from the world. Hannah, who found me on the Jellicoe Road six years ago.

Taylor is leader of the boarders at the Jellicoe School. She has to keep the upper hand in the territory wars and deal with Jonah Griggs – the enigmatic leader of the cadets, and someone she thought she would never see again.

And now Hannah, the person Taylor had come to rely on, has disappeared. Taylor’s only clue is a manuscript about five kids who lived in Jellicoe eighteen years ago. She needs to find out more, but this means confronting her own story, making sense of her strange, recurring dream, and finding her mother – who abandoned her on the Jellicoe Road.

Why you need to read it:
Forget John Green. If you want real, pure, strong emotions, a realistic YA about growing up with amazing dialogues and a lovely romance– you need to read this book. This is definitely not just a book for teens. Of course, it can be read by teens as well but On the Jellicoe Road actually has a very sophisticated subject matter.The book deals with abandonment, responsibility, learning to depend on others and moving forward even while remembering the past. But what really stole my heart is the writing; the way the story is told is simply stunning.
Each and every character was multi-faceted and 3-dimensional.There’s Taylor, who suffers from abandonment and authority issues but is still given the enormous responsibility of leading her school in the rivalry against the Cadets and Townies. And then there’s Jonah who killed his own father and owes Taylor more than she knows. I can’t say much more about the characters without unravelling parts of this amazing story. And trust me, trying to figure out how everybody’s past is connected to each other’s is part of the reading experience. Just trust me on this- All of the characters had powerful, important, utterly moving back stories. And somehow, Melina Marchetta managed to expertly wind them together so that at the end we have a bunch of puzzle pieces that fall together perfectly to create a mind-blowing book.


 2.)
Author/Authoress: Rainbow Rowell
Eleanor & Park
Blurb: Two misfits. One extraordinary love.
Eleanor
… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough…Eleanor.
Park… He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises…Park.
Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.
Why you need to read it: 
I’m never sure if I really love this book or hate this book. But I do know that this book is unforgettable.
Why I love it: I love the characters. I love how they’re so relatable even though (and maybe because of this) they are both misfits. And even though you’d never think the combo would work, I love how the big (in both personality and size), loud, red-headed,tough, loner Eleanor fits with popular (superficially at least), generally good and happy Park. I love the way they encourage each other and help each other with their problems. I love how they react when they learn something new about the other’s life, especially when it’s so unfamiliar to them. And I love the way they’re able to find common links and similarities with each other even when they seem so, so unlike. But what I really love about this book are the things Eleanor and Park say to  each other. The things they say… Oh my God!…they’re  simultaneously sweet, uplifting,heartbreaking and bitter-sweet. But at the same time, they simply reek of honesty and whenever they say something truly profound, you can tell they truly mean it. 
Why I hate it : I hate how this book is able to wring so many tears out of my eyes. I hate how I can’t read another book set in this time period without subconsciously referring to this one. And I hate the sad, unfinished feel of this book. The ending is perhaps the most heartbreaking one I’ve read. There are no happy ever afters in this book; Only an ending which we all wish is unfinished but is instead unfortunately and ultimately final. I wanted to rage and scream at the ending because Eleanor and Park deserved so much more. In fact, even though it probably detracts from the story, I wrote up my own Happy Ever After for them (which, trust me is serious business since I’m normally against happy endings in books).


3.)
Book: The Giver
Author/Authoress: Lois Lowry
The Giver (The Giver #1)
Blurb: Jonas’ world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the Community. When Jonas turns twelve, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.
Why you need to read it: 
This book is a freaking classic. I’m serious. We could wait our whole lives for a YA dystopian book this good. Lois Lowry is a genius who created a creepy world that’s oddly enthralling. Just imagine it- everything that makes life painful and unhappy…hunger war, pain, negative emotions- gone as if they never existed. But along with it, everything that makes life, life – contentment, happiness,love- they would all be gone. Along with choices and free will and the ability to make decisions. The themes in this book are so strong and so profound and perfect. This is the kind of book you can read over and over again and get something new out of it every time.I read the book for the first time when I was in fourth-grade and I’ve read it 3 times since. And without fail, I find a new piece of symbolism hidden somewhere deep inside the book that makes me look at the whole story with new eyes.

4.)

Author/Authoress: Neal Shusterman
Unwind (Unwind, #1)
 Blurb: Connor, Risa, and Lev are running for their lives.
The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child “unwound,” whereby all of the child’s organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn’t technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive.
Why you need to read it:
I am a huge fan of this book! HUGE! Here’s what I can really say about this book: It’s the kind of book which makes you think. Set in a crazy world where abortion is illegal but organ harvesting of teenager’s isn’t, this dystopian book has quite a few political undertones; the biggest issue in the book being pro-life or pro-choice. It speaks about identity and at points it even gets a little spiritual. For example,  if you are divided into parts and not really dead, would your soul disappear or would it just be spread. After reading this book you’ll practically be forced to deliberate on topics like morality and ethics of organ harvestation and how much control parents/guardians should really have.
The characters in this book were truly amazing. Neal Shusterman is a genius for creating such realistic characters that grow and change throughout the book. Each of them had a distinct voice, so for the first time ever- I didn’t completely hate the idea of having more than two POV’s in a book. If you have the time, then let me convince you to read this book right away. Read my review of it here.


Author/Authoress: Elizabeth Wein
Code Name Verity (Code Name Verity, #1)
Blurb: Oct. 11th, 1943-A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it’s barely begun.
When “Verity” is arrested by the Gestapo, she’s sure she doesn’t stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she’s living a spy’s worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.
As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage, failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?
A Michael L. Printz Award Honor book that was called “a fiendishly-plotted mind game of a novel” in The New York Times, Code Name Verity is a visceral read of danger, resolve, and survival that shows just how far true friends will go to save each other.
Why you need to read this book:
Whatever you read in the blurb about history, WWII, fighter planes and torture – you need to know that they’re not important. Okay, they are pretty important (in real life and this story) but most of that won’t matter to you much by the time you’re halfway through the story. Because as soon as Maddie enters the picture, the story of Verity’s and Maddie’s friendship will completely blow you away. This is one of the best friendship I’ve ever encountered in a YA book. Both of them look up to each other and will do anything and everything to keep each other safe.The phrase “Kiss me Hardy. Kiss me, quick” may sound totally innocuous to you now, but after reading this book, you won’t be able to say that sentence without spontaneously bursting into tears.
 But that’s not the only aspect of the book that completely wowed me. Something that I see authors and filmmakers struggle with is how to portray a strong, kick-ass female who can hang with the boys and still retain her femininity. Elizabeth Wein has no such problems doing so. I have looked high and low but have never seen such an amazing interpretation of a ‘strong but feminine woman’.
After reading this book, I stared at the book for almost 5 minutes in shock. This book makes you feel so much; It will tire you out emotionally and leave you at a loss for words. Consider me awed.

So if you’re an adult who’s not really into YA but has been coerced/begged/threatened into giving it a chance, you should pick up one of these books so you can join us happy campers on the YA bandwagon. If you’re already into YA fiction and are hoping for something mature, emotional and basically amazing to read then you should also pick up one of these books.

Which book would you put on this list?

Uninvited: A Book Review

Book: Uninvited (Uninvited #1)
Author/Authoress: Sophie Jordan

Uninvited (Uninvited, #1)

Cover: 4/5

  I like the simplicity of the background and the clothes Davy is wearing. They contrast and really highlight the hair ( see what I did there?).  In fact, I loved the juxtaposition so much, I actually attempted to draw it. Unfortunately, the hair that I drew came out nowhere near as beautiful as the hair on the cover. And the tagline : They say she’s a killer. One day she will be. Pure genius.

The cover’s obviously pretty and the hair twisting into DNA strands at the end is super cool but…I still can’t give the cover a 5. I guess I can blame part of it on my dislike for covers with pretty girls with amazing hair on the cover. They’re a dime to a dozen, and honestly-they’re sort of cliché and unoriginal.

Plot: 2/5

Blurb: The Scarlet Letter meets Minority Report in bestselling author Sophie Jordan’s chilling new novel about a teenage girl who is ostracized when her genetic test proves she’s destined to become a murderer.
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 thoughts: I like the whole idea of the Homicidal Tendency Syndrome. I really do. It makes sense. After all, hasn’t mankind been trying to figure out how to identify psychopaths, sadists and murderers from the beginning of time? I like the idea that it can be identified by a single gene. And I can see how that idea will inevitably lead to a mandatory test issued by the government to see if it’s citizens carry that ‘kill’ gene.
But in the book, it remains pretty much nothing more than an idea. Sure, we see how badly people who are HTS positive are treated. In fact 3/4th the book was spent in boring, repetitive descriptions of how the MC had it all- close friends, an amazing boyfriend, a close family who adores her, an acceptance into Julliard and the general respect of everybody else- and how she lost it all in one swoop when she was tested HTS positive. I can understand that it was hard for her to be treated badly and I appreciate the point Sophie Jordan tried to make: that a lot of HTS people were treated really badly even though they didn’t deserve it. But, come on 3/4th of a book? That’s way too much. There’s no action, romance or anything halfway interesting in that part of the book. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

It does pick up after 3/4th the book after Davy gets sent to a special facility created by the government for training. But it was too little, too late.

Characters: 1/5

Davy: I did not like Davy at all. She was judgemental and snobby. And it took her forever to accept that she really was a HTS carrier. In fact most of the book, her attitude is like:

I’m different. The exception.

Throughout the book she judges the HTS carriers harshly. Really harshly. And when someone judged her or pointed out that she was a HTS carrier as well, she used to get very, very angry, whiny and tearful.  Another thing I hated about Davy was her Mary-Sue’ish factor. About it- it was waaay up there. She was a music prodigy– she has an amzing voice and sheplayed the violin, piano, cello and God only knows how many more instruments. Okay, I guess that justifies her early admission into Julliard. I’m not annoyed with that part. It’s plausible even if it’s kind of out there. But here’s what I do have a problem with:

“And as if being a music prodigy isn’t enough, when you were four years old you walked into my room and finished the puzzle that had been kicking my ass for the past week.”

You have the breeding the other girls lack. Gentility, if you will

So let’s do a mental tally of what Davy’s like so far

  1. She’s pretty
  2. She’s a music prodigy and she’s crazy talented.
  3. Everybody loves her. Her parents, her brother, her friends, her boyfriend. You name it- they love her (until they find out she’s HTS positive, anyways)
  4. She’s super smart too.
  5. She apparently has ‘good breeding’ and ‘gentility
  6. She was lucky enough to be born rich unlike most HTS carriers. Not that she took advantage of it, because then she wouldn’t be sweet enough.

Kay, really how much more Mary-Sue can you get?

The side characters…well, most don’t play a major role.

Family: Her Mom and Dad don’t exist in the book until they have to sign a waiver allowing her to go to the killing school. I guess that was supposed to prove a point. Like how they withdrew their support or something but it didn’t come across like it. It seemed more like Sophie Jordan forgot they were supposed to exist at times. She did something similar with Davy’s brother. He was the ex-‘family screwup‘ (his and Davy’s word’s- not mine) and he would randomly pop up to say something ‘inspirational’ and ‘caring’ and then pop back out of the story until the next time Davy felt like she needed motivation.

 Old friends: Davy’ boyfriend passive-aggressively makes her breakup with him after she becomes HTS positive. Maybe he’s a boy but he definitely doesn’t deserve the friend part of boyfriend. But even he doesn’t even compare to Davy’s best friend, Tori. Now Tori breaks all of friendship’s major rules and then some. First of all, she discusses Davy behind her back. Then this part is where the ‘and some’ comes in- she reports her so-called best friend for having violent tendencies after Davy breaks up and slaps her previously mentioned jerk of a boyfriend. Can you believe that?

New friends: Davy didn’t really make an effort to make any new friends after she was found t be HTS positive. She thought she was above them or something. Gil was her only friend throughout. He was one character that I was rather ambivalent towards. He was a computer genius, got perfect ACT scores, was kind of a wimp physically but really loyal deep down.  A cliché. But he might grow into his role in the next few books.

Romance:1/5

This is the part of the book in which there’s a major difference of opinion. Some people like Sean. Others really, really don’t.  Personally, I fall into the second category. He’s the hot, smooth bad boy who warns the MC not to trust him, pushes her away but rescues her anyways. Yes, that one. The one who’s been featured in, what a thousand books? already. Seriously someone should write a new type of love interest. It can’t be too difficult.

Action:5/5

 Throughout most of the book, I was like Wait- what? That makes no sense at all. But I never actually gave up on the book. Somehow the action and the general fast-pace of the book kept me reading. Even when this book passed a point in stupidity at which I close most books. And because I can say that, I can say that the action in this book was pretty well written.  In that respect, this book kind of reminds me of Divergent. Or maybe I was reminded of that book only because of the part where the HTS carriers are taken to a secure facility to be trained and taught how to kill effectively.

There are plenty of descriptions of violence that aren’t sugarcoated for a younger audience. But even then, this book managed to stay within the boundaries set for young-adult. Nothing was exaggerated for the sake of evoking a sense of disgust.

This book has the most important element necessary for a dystopia: a very real sense of fear, frustration and helplessness. A sense that things are bad and they’re gonna get worse. I’ve read plenty of dystopian books that have failed to convince me that things are really that bad, but there’s no danger of that here.

Plotholes:3/5

Sophie Jordan was able to incorporate a lot of important, mature themes like nature vs. nurture, hypocrisy, how treating people as if you expected violence from them actually encourages violence, how women are generally treated as means of entertainment and how they are simultaneously patronized and feared. It was commendable that she brought in all these issues but somehow none of these issues worked their way to the forefront. They all sort of sunk into the background, pretending to be unimportant while an inane, annoying romance and a vague, shaky plot enjoyed the limelight.

Dialogue: 2/5

I searched this book, cover to cover but all I found were these meh-sentences. Nothing particularly catchy or inspiring here.

“Exactly what he wanted me to do. Exactly what they all thought I would do. Everyone in here. Everyone out there in the world. A world so afraid of carriers, it makes killers out of the innocent.”

“Never forget that we are more than the genetic code. We can be more than labels applied to us. We can be more than what others whisper behind our backs. Free will exists. We need to choose to be the best we can be and we need to help others do the same. Believe in yourself.” 

 Overall Rating: 2/5

This book came with a lot of expectations. Not just for me (although I did have them after reading Ms. Jordan’s book Firelight which was actually pretty good)  but for everyone. This book has been compared positively to Article 5 by Kristen Simmons, The Program by Suzanne Young and Reboot by Amy Tintera. All major dystopian books which have made big names for themselves. But somehow the work managed to be ordinary, bland and clichéd. Just another case of a book that didn’t live up to it’s high expectations. Kind of like The Selection by Kiera Cass if you think about it.