Made You Up: A Book Review

Please don’t let this be a delusion. Please let this be real.”

Book: Made You Up

Author: Francessa Zappia

Made You UpBlurb:

Reality, it turns out, is often not what you perceive it to be—sometimes, there really is someone out to get you. Made You Up tells the story of Alex, a high school senior unable to tell the difference between real life and delusion. This is a compelling and provoking literary debut that will appeal to fans of Wes Anderson, Silver Linings Playbook, and Liar.

Alex fights a daily battle to figure out the difference between reality and delusion. Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8-Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. She’s pretty optimistic about her chances until classes begin, and she runs into Miles. Didn’t she imagine him? Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. But Alex is used to being crazy. She’s not prepared for normal.

My thoughts:

This book made me bawl. Like a baby. Before I began to read this, I couldn’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to have to second guess whether everything I saw was real or not. I couldn’t imagine having to take pictures so I could pore over them later to evaluate whether that Nazi gas mask was a figment of my imagination or not.  I couldn’t imagine being unable to trust myself. I couldn’t imagine ever being strong enough, brave enough to accept a mental disease but determined to make my way through life with it. I couldn’t imagine it then, but now I don’t have to. Because, people Ms. Zappia already did that for me via Alex.

“Was everything made up? Was this whole world inside my head? If I ever woke up from it, would I be inside a padded room somewhere, drooling all over myself?
Would I even be myself?”

As an unbelievably brilliant but unreliable narrator, Alex’s definitely one of my favorite heroines of 2015.  She has depth- and she’s so sincere, your heart will break for her over and over again. But at the same time, she’s so plucky (I’m sorry to use such an old-fashioned word, but it’s really the only one that works) and determined to work past her mental illness, that you have to admire her too. She’s kind of a bitch, so it’s hard to feel sorry for her. But it’s so easy to like her, to care for her (and what happens to her) and to love her.

“You know a school is run by stuck-up sons of bitches when it doesn’t even have a bike rack.”

Though this book is about schizophrenia (A mental disorder triggered by a breakdown which leads to faulty perception, inappropriate actions and feelings, withdrawal from reality and personal relationships into fantasy and delusion, and a sense of mental fragmentation), it’s not all about a girl who’s suffering from a disorder. Alex is a real girl who exasperatedly loves her little sister, engages in prank wars, baits mean-girls and forms strong friendships.

As for the romance- Oh my god, I’m still fangirling over it! There is no insta-love and there are no love triangles (which we’re all very grateful for, I’m sure). Miles (red hair,blue eyes and a possible sociopath- which is really rare to see in YA love interests) and Alex are imperfect characters- not broken characters who need to fix each other, just imperfect ones- who gradually fall in like and then in love with each other. They both combat aspects of their personalities they dislike in themselves, but just being around each other brings out the most beautiful parts of their character in a very natural way. Together they’re unabashedly nerdy, sarcastic, witty, supportive- and altogether, perfect.

“Dear Asshole : Thank you for keeping your word and believing me. It was more than I expected. Also, I’m sorry you were inconvenienced by my gluing your locker shut at the beginning of this year. However, I am not sorry that I did it, because it was a lot of fun.
Love, Alex.”

If you want a book that will really make you feel, something that’ll end with you throwing the book away, collapsing into tears and then lovingly picking up the book again to read it sometime when you’re stable again- then this is the book for you. If you want something that explores perspectives and reality- then this is the book for you. If you want something beautiful, profound and heartbreakingly compelling -this is the book for you.

Overall Rating: 4/5

Other books like this; Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, Hatelist by Jennifer Brown

Quotables;

“People say teenagers think they’re immortal, and I agree with that. But I think there’s a difference between thinking you’re immortal and knowing you can survive. Thinking you’re immortal leads to arrogance, thinking you deserve the best. Surviving means having the worst thrown at you and being able to continue on despite that. It means striving for what you want most, even when it seems our of your reach, even when everything is working against you.”

“I didn’t have the luxury of taking reality for granted. And I wouldn’t say I hated people who did, because that’s just about everyone. I didn’t hate them. They didn’t live in my world.
…But that never stopped me from wishing I lived in theirs.”

“Intelligence is not measured by how much you know, but by how much you have the capacity to learn.”

“Believing something existed and then finding out it didn’t was like reaching the top of the stairs and thinking there was one more step.”

“There were three of them, all with rapiers, and she had only a dagger. It would have been a wretchedly uneven fight, if she were human.
It was still a wretchedly uneven fight; it was just uneven in her favor.”

Book: Crimson Bound
Author: Rosamund Hodge

Crimson Bound

Blurb:

When Rachelle was fifteen she was good—apprenticed to her aunt and in training to protect her village from dark magic. But she was also reckless— straying from the forest path in search of a way to free her world from the threat of eternal darkness. After an illicit meeting goes dreadfully wrong, Rachelle is forced to make a terrible choice that binds her to the very evil she had hoped to defeat.

Three years later, Rachelle has given her life to serving the realm, fighting deadly creatures in an effort to atone. When the king orders her to guard his son Armand—the man she hates most—Rachelle forces Armand to help her find the legendary sword that might save their world. As the two become unexpected allies, they uncover far-reaching conspiracies, hidden magic, and a love that may be their undoing. In a palace built on unbelievable wealth and dangerous secrets, can Rachelle discover the truth and stop the fall of endless night?

Inspired by the classic fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood, Crimson Bound is an exhilarating tale of darkness, love, and redemption.

My thoughts:

I really don’t know where to start with this book. I mean, I thought Cruel Beauty was good but when I was done with this book I think I just sat stupefied, my mind a blank vacuum. And I mean that in the best way possible. This book is a mashup of Red Riding Hood and The Girl With No Hands (off the top of my head, I can’t figure out which fairytale that was-but don’t worry, the story had some elements which gave me an eerie sense of deja-vu). Normally, I have no patience at all for Little Red. I don’t mean to sound callous, but if you’re a little girl and a wolf tries talking to you on your way to Gramma’s house, then you start screaming and run to the closest crowded place. Jeeze, isn’t that the whole point of Stranger Danger? But Rosamund Hodge did something miraculous in Crimson Bound- she made Red Riding Hood relatable. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be a hero? And which teenager hasn’t felt that ridiculous bit of hubris that we could save the world- or if not that, at least change it for the better? I have to admit, my answer to both questions is a ‘not me’. But I’ve learnt that sometimes, our harmless attempts to save the world end up hurting ourselves. And sometimes, talking to a creepy stranger in an attempt to figure out how to defeat his master ends with a pervert taking away what makes you human and dooms you to the life (or maybe, just an existence) of becoming a creep like him. And the result of this situation is one badass but relatable heroine who’s into self-flagellation (I’m weird because I’m majorly into figuratively self-flagellating protagonists. What can I say?  Their internal monologues are always interesting.)

Like always, Rosamund Hodge keeps the romance interesting, a little crazy and profound. Okay, make that a lot crazy and a very slow, sweet romance (I know, who would’ve thought?).There’s a confused sort of love-triangle, but even if you don’t like love triangles,  don’t immediately strike this book off your  list; the romance is so twisted and the characters are so confused about each other, you’ll end up liking it. And the writing is impeccably deep. Some lines or paragraphs will just strike  somewhere deep in your heart.

Be warned: Here lie intrigue and betrayal. Let me just say, I  saw those betrayals coming about as well as Rachelle did- which is to say, not at all. And those betrayals… they gutted me absolutely. If you like the kind of  books which will turn you inside out with their devastating plot twists (that you would have totally seen coming, if only you hadn’t been so absorbed in the story), then you will love this books to bits. You will love it even as the tears are running down your face. That’s a promise.

Overall Rating: 4/5

Quotables:

“This is the human way, she thought. On the edge of destruction, at the end of all things, we still dance. And hope.”

“Mademoiselle, you are very kind,” he said to Soleil. “But I did not lose my hands for the purpose of making you feel special.”

Other books to Read: Cruel Beauty, Juliet Immortal

Mortal Heart: A Book Review

“We are all of us, gods and mortals, made up of many pieces, some of them broken, some of them scarred, but none of them the total sum of who we are.”

Book: Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin #3)
Author: Robin LaFevers

Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin, #3)

Blurb:

Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own.

She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind doesn’t mean she has.

My thoughts: 

Just finished reading Mortal Heart and I was totally blown away. Like a tornado just ripped through me. Seriously. But then I expected nothing less. Ever since I read the first book in the trilogy, I knew I was going to love all of Robin Lafever’s books. So far, I haven’t been wrong.

Like all us His Fair Assassin fans expected, this book was all about Annith. To be honest, I was a little worried about that. Both Ismae and Sybella constantly mention Annith’s saintliness- her nobility, her kindness and her innocence. In their heads, she sounds so freaking pure and pliant, I thought I was going to hate her on principle. Luckily she’s not and luckily I didn’t.

Growing up in the convent has made her a little more naive than Ismae and Sybella who were well and truly jaded by the outside world but Annith does have a backbone and she’s not boring to read about. Not in the slightest.She’s a completely ordinary daughter of death (or about as ordinary as you can get when you’re a daughter of death) meaning she doesn’t have any special gifts at all. But what she lacks in talent, she makes up for in pure determinaton and a stubbornness that you can’t help but admire. What endeared me most to her was her talent at pretending to be the good little novitiate while eavesdropping on secrets behind closed doors (Come on, who can resist a protagonist who eavesdrops?). Despite her ferocity and skill, she has her embarrassing moments (like a failed seduction, or excessive name-dropping)  and is heartbreakingly childish in her quest for affection from anyone.

This book is more than just a story of Annith’s self discovery; it’s essentially crucial in wrapping up the arc of this trilogy. In the end: this is the end. I just cried a little as I realised that.
It was a bit slow at the beginning- if anything, it has reaffirmed in my mind why I would never go to a covenant: It would be too boring. Let’s face it, if a fictional covenant where kick-ass female assassins trained occasionally felt tedious, I would never make it  in a real and totally ordinary one?

But don’t worry, the story picks up the pace really fast as soon as Annith makes her grand escape. What follows next is a series of action, wild horse rides, crazy stunts, arrow-shooting and warriors (both male and female). 464 pages of medieval fiction and I didn’t even get bored once!

Balthazar was the love interest of the story and well…let’s just say that who he is is surprising. I was less surprised than I was supposed to be because of this alternatively pesky and lovely little things called spoilers (which I try not to give out unless I’m actively trying to annoy someone or they beg me for them).
He’s charming- quite dashing actually and like all the guys in this series, he has a dangerous edge and is very, very good with banter. I might have a tiny crush on him (just a tiny one though- I have a strict policy on historical book boyfriends). This romance was not without it’s challenges and trials, and I was constantly guessing at how it would end.

Comparing it to the other two books in the series, I would say that Dark Triumph is my favourite followed by this one followed by Grave Mercy. The historical politics and court intrigue of the the previous books took a back-seat in Mortal Heart. It was less historical fiction and more fantasy, with more time spent on the truly fascinating Pagan religious beliefs of the time and the Nine Gods which were essential to them.
Another notable difference was that this book felt significantly less dark than the other ones. I wouldn’t go as far as to say it was light, but it did deal with less heavy topics compared to the previous ones. I think a huge part of that was because of Annith’s upbringing. Growing up at the covenant wasn’t a cakewalk but at the same time it was nothing compared to regularly being abused by your father and sold off like livestock to a ‘husband’ like Ismae or dealing with violence that was almost off-hand in it’s execution and the threat of incest like Sybella.
Like all of the books in this trilogy, I think you could read this alone, but reading it in order of sequence will make this series so much more enjoyable.

One last thing. Before I I start handing out ratings to the book, I want to hand out a couple of hints to those of you who haven’t read it yet. Not spoilers- just hints.
The title of the book, Mortal Heart probably refers to Balthazar and the cover unlocks the huge role Annith is supposed to play (but we don’t get to find out what that role might be until close to the end). So, chew over that, will you?

My ratings:

Cover: 5/5
Plot: 5/5
Characters:5/5
Romance: 5/5
Plotholes:5/5
Ending:5/5
Overall Rating: 5/5 
Other books like this: The Throne of Glass series with it’s assassin and fantasy is evolving book by book to slowly become as awesome as this one.

Just One Wish: A Book Review

Book: Just One Wish

Author/Authoress: Janette Rallison

Just One Wish

Cover:2/5

No. Just no. I don’t like this cover at all. Maybe it’s because it’s so boring. Nah, that’s not it. It’s because the cover was purposely made boring. It’s hard to tell what the MC looks like because the author never said what she looked like. Author’s sometimes do stuff like this  because they want us readers to subconsciously project ourselves into the main character’s role. And it’s a nice idea and all – in theory.

In practice I find it really annoying. I’d rather have a character with a little bit of a description (but that does not mean huge tracts of poetry in an ode to her beauty) because otherwise I automatically keep changing the main character’s looks. And so the MC ends up constantly changing like Aphrodite’s. Or like a kaleidoscope. And believe me that’s annoying. As soon as the character does something new in the book, I have to adjust what I think the character looks like so I can fit in her looks with my preconceptions.

Sometimes I don’t even bother. I just let them look like huge question marks in my head. But believe me, it’s  hard to imagine a visual scene when you have no main character.

Plot:4/5

Seventeen-year-old Annika Truman knows about the power of positive thinking. With a little brother who has cancer, it’s all she ever hears about. And in order to help Jeremy, she will go to the ends of the earth (or at least as far as Hollywood) to help him believe he can survive his upcoming surgery.

But Annika’s plan to convince Jeremy that a magic genie will grant him any wish throws her a curveball when he unexpectedly wishes that his television idol would visit him. Annika suddenly finds herself in the desperate predicament of getting access to a hunky star actor and convincing him to come home with her. Piece of cake, right?

Janette Rallison’s proven talent for laugh-out-loud humor, teen romance, and deep-hearted storytelling shines in a novel that will have readers laughing and crying at the same time.

I didn’t really think I would like this book, because let’s face it- stalkers are creepy. And no matter how much I love the character, the truth is Annika is a stalker. Another reason: I hate books about cancer. They’re just too depressing and faux philosophical. For example, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green or . But somehow, Ms. Rallison managed to balance this book and make it non-creepy and even somewhat light. A huge part of that is due to the dialogue.

“No wonder he has such nice teeth. They probably pay him in dental floss.”

“That’s the thing about the internet. It’s really good at giving you pointless facts like how many horses a star owns, but not important things like how to invade his trailer.”

And I hate to say this, but maybe it was the implausibility of this story that made it so great. I mean I totally am against ambiguity and implausibility but it’s part of what kept this books so light and fluffy. I mean what kind of security guard would actually let two teenage girls on to a TV set? Even ones dressed as animal wranglers? And what kind of Holywood actor or actress can drop all of their plans to seea fan? Even if said fan is sick with cancer? But somehow it all made this book seem cute instead of stupid.

In the book, the whole stalker thing is kind of a novelty. Sure, it’s kind of weird and creepy but most time’s the girls’ ideas and their embarrassment when their plot inevitably fails is hysterical.

Characters:3/5

Annika: Right from the first chapter, I knew I loved the MC. For the sake of her sick younger brother, she woke up at 4:30 to  go to Toys-R-Us and pick up an action figure. Unfortunately getting the new Robin Hood toy is not so easy. While she’s over there a fat and mercenary creep shoves all of the action figures into his cart. He refuses to relinquish even one of them without a sum of $150. Of course, the MC is unwilling to pay the huge and unreasonable sum. What she does next is epic and the stuff movies are made of. Quickly distracting the creep, she grabs one of the action figure and runs all the way to the check in counter. Definitely a Robin Hood move.

Her determination and …creative ideas (most people use the other cr-word to describe her ideas) is basically what enables her to fulfil her brother’s wish. That and her ability (or maybe it’s a disability) to tell crazy lies with a straight face. Either way, she was a fun character to read about. If you used ‘spunky’ to describe Elizabeth Bennet, then you’ll have to use something like super-spunky to describe this character.

Miranda: Her best friend Miranda is pretty supportive too. She’s a whole lot more pragmatic and practical but she seems to have this motto: Best friends don’t let each other do stupid things…alone. She’s there for her friend through thick and thin (whichever is the bad one) and tries calming and convincing her friend not to do the stupid things. Tries being the keyword.

Steve: Steve is a character who yo-yo’s around quite a bit. Or at least Annika’s opinion of him does. But all in all (I can’t believe I actually used that phrase… my second grade teacher made us all promise to never use it), he’s a pretty intuitive guy who keeps his promises. He’s a nice guy. I hate the word nice; it’s so bland. But nice is the only real word to describe Steve because let’s face it, he’s a little bit bland. Just a little bit.

Romance:4/5

Opposites attract, right? Right. And the Annika and Steve pairing is clearly such a case. Annika is headstrong, stubborn and adventurous. And Steve is a movie star who’s pretty much Mr. Nice Guy most of the time. I didn’t really like Steve at the beginning but somehow Annika’s personality made him shine by the end. She challenges him and he challenges her right back. Plus, you have to love their banter.

Ending:4/5

Woah! Woah! Woah! Is it legal to do that? To leave us poor readers in the lurch and wondering if the sweet, innocent, 6-year old is going to die of cancer? And what’s going to happen next in that relationship? If so, it shouldn’t be. I need a sequel. And I need it now!

Too bad there’s never gonna be one. I love these type of books. Somehow, you get so into the book, you keep wondering what’s gonna happen after it’s all over.

Plotholes:3/5

Like I said, so many things in this book were implausible (look up at plot). But no, I don’t think I picked up any unhealthy messages  in the book. So 3/5 it is.

 Overall Rating:3.5/5

Parts of this book made no sense at all. And the love interest seemed to have no personality at all for half of the book. But somehow, the sheer novelty of the plot and the MC’s plan to get Steve to meet her brother made this an enjoyable book. The MC is amazing!

Unwind: A Book Review

Book: Unwind (Unwind dystology #1)

Author/Authoress: Neal Shusterman

Unwind (Unwind, #1)

Cover: 4/5

Right away the cover sets the tone for this book. Creepy, disturbing and dark. Just looking at the cover gave me chills. However, for those for you who are worried, the book is not as ghastly as the cover implies. The characters are very human. It’s just the world they’re placed into that is disturbing. One thing I love about the cover: the fingerprint identation. Identity is a major aspect of this book and what better way to represent that then by a fingerprint?

Plot:5/5

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.

Yes the plot is actually as creepy as it sounds.

Unwind by Neal Shusterman is a novel about a world gone insane (to a frightening degree) in which children between the ages of thirteen and eighteen can be legally signed over by their parents or guardians to be put through a harvest camp so that others can take their organs, tissue and blood. Yes, you heard me. Organ harvestation camps.

In these camps, ‘problematic’ children and tithes (people who are brought up for the express purpose of being donors) have all of their organs harvested (or at least 99.44%) so that they can be reused. To make this world even more screwed up, transplants are pretty common in the world. You have less than stellar vision? No problem, you don’t need to get glasses. Glasses are so pointless when you can just get a new eye. Going bald? Ouch! you better cover that spot up soon. You can always use the lustrous locks of some poor teen.

“I’d rather be partly great than entirely useless.”

This is what a boy about to be unwound says. And it reflects pretty well what society seems to think. Entirely useless children have no real place in it. They are more valuable in parts than as a whole.

So what’s the history behind the organ camps? Well apparently there was something called the Heartland Wars in which people fought over the issue of the legality and morality of abortion. The verdict? Abortion is illegal when the child is a foetus but you can always have all of their organs harvested while they are  between the ages of 13 and 18. How’s that for morality? And if you just can’t wait to get rid of the child, you could always use the ‘storking’ method. People can leave infants on other people’s doorstep and thus legally handing over their responsibilities of the child. And they’ll be forced to take it in. Perfectly legal and moral. As long as you don’t get caught of course. The problem is usually the storked families don’t want the infant anyways.

Anyways, as much as the plot creeps me out, you can see the sheer potential Neal Shusterman has created in this world. And he doesn’t disappoint. This book is crazy good in a creepy sort of way.

Characters: 5/5

The book is told in multiple POV’s. Thus, giving us a good feel for the thoughts and emotions of each character. I’ll write about them in chronological order.

Connor: He’s a troubled teen. Not particularly good but not particularly bad. He’s not vicious, spiteful or difficult. But he has quite a temper, goes looking for trouble and mostly lazy.  But his parents are also lazy and selfish. Bought in by all the unwinding-is-good propaganda, they sign him up to be unwound. And this is where the story starts. Understandably, Connor is not really into the idea. So he runs away in the middle of the night. He’s tracked by a Cop. To get away from him, he uses Levi as a hostage.

Lev is a tithe, a child born and raised to be signed off as an Unwind as soon as he turns thirteen. There’s no polite way to say this. But Lev is … brainwashed. His oldest brother is vehemently against the process, but his deeply religious parents have convinced Lev that being tithed is a great honor that he must follow through to the end. And Lev is not happy that the end will come later rather than sooner.

Disturbed by the chaos of an AWOL Unwound holding a tithe as hostage, Risa makes a plan to escape. She’s a ward of the state whose piano playing skills weren’t enough for her to make the cut. The budget cuts. And so she is signed up to be unwound. Unsurprisingly this doesn’t fit in well with her ambitons.

When these three meet, they make a plan to stay off the radar of the Cops (in the book the cops incharge are called juvenile authorities) who plan to take them to the harvestation camp (Okay, Risa and Connor do.)  Lev, who feels he was deprived of the purpose and honour of giving up his life, gives them up but immediately feels remorseful (frankly, that part really annoyed me). Thankfully, all three of them escape (there wouldn’t be much of a story if they didn’t). Risa and Connor end up in the basement of a safe house and Levi ends up in the company of an interesting kid called CyFi who suffers from something like dual personality because half of his brain was a transplant from another kid.

In the basement of the safe house Risa and Connor end up in the company of several children. One of them is Hayden. His parents divorced but were unable to decide who received custody. In pure spite, each of them signed the papers agreeing to let Hayden be unwound so that the other wouldn’t get custody. Talk about priorities. Another is Raymond. Raymond is a violent, psychopath who attacks Risa in an effort to get to Connor. He’s also a traitor. But even he doesn’t deserve the fate he receives. He’s unwound at Happy Jack Camp (that name is revolting, isn’t it?). That chapter is one of the most disgusting, horrifying scenes I’ve read. Scratch that. It is the most horrifying scene I’ve read. I almost puked. His unwinding takes place with him strapped to a table, conscious and under anaesthesia. The whole time, a nurse talks to him and warns him that he’ll lose ability and feeling in each of his limbs as they get harvested. Definitely not a scene for the faint hearted.

All three main characters grow and change so much in this book. Connor becomes responsible and trustworthy. He starts thinking before he acts (Risa’s influence no doubt). But his rough around the edges personality never truly goes away. Risa is the character who changes the least. She was never naïve, but I think her experience makes her a little jaded. Still she remains clever and full of life throughout the book. Holy Hell! does Lev change a lot? It was heart breaking to see him go from annoying little tithe to angry suicidal bomber to loyal and regretful friend. I predict that Lev’s a character to be watched throughout the series.

Romance:5/5

The romance in this book was like a little sidenote to the whole story. But you should feel assured that it was a good sidenote. The romance between Risa and Connor was sweet and intense but it didn’t take over the entire story like romance tends to do in most dystopian novels. Hello, Divergent or The Hunger Games? The character were willing and able to put the needs and necessities of other Unwinds before their own romance. And thank god each thought of theirs wasn’t nauseatingly sweet thoughts about the other.

Ending: 5/5

On a scale of 1-5 for cliffhangers, I’d put the book at about 2.5. The ending was pretty bitter sweet with each character having lost stuff important to them. <spoiler> Risa loses the use of her legs, Connor loses his arm and it gets replaced by an organ from an Unwind (which is something he feels is morally irreprehensible) and Lev gets put in jail trapped in a suit which doesn’t allow him to move at all. </spoiler>

Plotholes:5/5

This book really makes you think. It’s the type of dystopian book which has quite a few political undertones (and overtones too). I mean, pro-life or pro-choice- that’s quite a difficult decision to make. Maybe that’s why it’s so sensitive.

It speaks about identity and at points it even gets a little spiritual. Like 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.

Overall Rating: 5/5

It’s rare enough for me to give one book a 5/5 rating but two in a row? The sky must have fallen. But Unwind deserves this rating. Deep, interesting and unique characters, a twisting and new plotline. Plus it really makes you think. I’d recommend this book to everyone over the age of 13 because there is one chapter that is particularly revolting (Raymond’s unwinding). That chapter is not terribly descriptive but it is the stuff of nightmares, so beware.

 

The Darkest Minds:A Book Revew

Book: The Darkest Minds

Author/Authors: Alexandra Bracken

The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds, #1)

Cover:2/5

There was nothing wrong with the cover …. But nothing really made it stand out (you would think that the orange on the cover would be like a flashing beacon, but no it actually isn’t). Combined with the fact that Disney was the publisher (I’m not really a Disney princess fan; not when they messed up the fairytales so much) , this book really didn’t look so appealing. So, I passed it up for a long time despite its good rating for other books with better covers (but inferior content). Moral of the story for publishers: Readers judge books by their covers. Moral of the story for readers: Trust your fellow readers and goodreads.com; seriously, they rarely guide you wrong.

Plot:5/5

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control. Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones. When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her-East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents. When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.

The plot in this book deserves more than 5 stars. It was attention grabbing and I’ve definitely never seen something like this before in this genre. If any such book exists, it’s a cheap knockoff (even if that book was written earlier)

Characters:5/5

The characters in this book were amazing. From Ruby, the main character to Chubs (I guess his designation is the sidekick but he was too smart for me to think of him as one) to Zu, the adorable little girl who was mentally traumatized enough into not speaking. Most books have one character (if they’re lucky) who stands out. But the awesome thing about this book is that there are many such characters.

Ruby: Ruby starts off at the beginning of the book knowing almost nothing about the world she lives in. But she has a good reason for this. Ever since she turned 10, she’s been stuck in a rehabilitiation camp (the concentration variety) because the adults are scared of her awesome super powers. So far this sounds like the plot to a cheesy comic, right? Wrong. Let’s just drive the stakes a little bit higher. Majority of the children in America had succumbed to a mysterious illness and died. The rest…developed super powers. Naturally everyone was scared. So they stuck their kids in camps which were designed to make the powers go away. That’s one brilliant thing about this book: The government and adults acted almost exactly like you would expect them to act in such a situation. However because this is dystopian fiction, the camps are horrible. The children in them are mistreated- the most dangerous ones are killed, the rest are treated brutally, not allowed to talk, forced to do hard menial labour, etc. Disturbingly,there are several parallels between the ‘rehabilitation camps’ and the Jewish concentration camps set up in Nazi Germany during WWII. But this really didn’t set in for me until Ruby tells us how her mom had told she would be allowed to shave when she was 12 but she didn’t actually do so until she was almost 16. In this book, Ruby is special because she is one of the last ‘oranges’ (that’s a code name for her power level and basically means she can mess with people’s minds- literally! ) and also dangerous for that reason. But here’s the catch: She has no idea to control her powers. Right from the beginning we can see how much her powers scare her. With one touch, she erased her best friends memory. <spoiler> somewhere in the middle we learn that she also erased her parent’s memory and in the end she erases Liam’s memory.<okay, relax spoiler’s over>. Ruby’s a good character. She’s nice without being too sugary. Scared enough without being a total coward. Powerful but not invincible and awkward enough without being cringe-worthy.

Liam: If Ruby’s a good character, than Liam is an even better one. Having come from a less notorious camp, he’s less troubled than Ruby and much nicer, sweeter and more naive for it. Liam is the kind of guy who has an actual personality. As soon as he meets her, Liam is all for travelling with Ruby. However this is not because of some twisted love-at-first-sight thing (thank god!) but more a reflection of his personality. He’s not the type of love interest whose life would revolve around his love for the MC. Ahem, Malcahi from Sanctum, I’m looking at you. No, Liam had much more going for him such as his need to help others and his  loyalty to his friend. Definitely a swoon-worthy romantic love interest.

Zu: It’s hard to learn about a character who doesn’t talk. I mean, can’t talk. Although no one ever says what, it’s implied that Zu was tortured and tested upon in the camp and was so affected she stopped speaking. Despite the fact that she doesn’t talk, it wasn’t exactly hard to learn about her. She’s a yellow (that means she can make stuff explode) but more importantly, she’s a loving little girl who’s interested in dressing up, needs a serious dose of self-confidence and fiercely loyal to her family (whether they’re related to her by blood or just bound together by necessity).

Chubs: Chubs is a character I really enjoyed. Annoyingly assured his intelligence was superior, a little bit (okay, actually a lot) distrustful and insecure- he’s the type of character who grows on you. And he didn’t just grow on me as a reader, he grew on Ruby too. As he came to trust her more, they had surprisingly insightful and profound discussions.

Clancy: This is a character who oozes charisma (not surprising, since he is the President’s son). At first I was kind of annoyed with him for appearing because I really didn’t want a love triangle. But there’s a lot going on underneath the polished and charming exterior of this boy. I guess you could call him the villain of the piece but I was never really able to muster up any real hatred for this character (By the way, Ruby wasn’t able to either). Sure he was petty, arrogant and jealous with a strong cruel streak. But that somehow added to his charm (believe me, I know how messed up that sounds) but somehow he managed to make it all up with a short letter to Ruby.

R-

I lied. I would have run.

-C

 

Romance: 5/5

The romance in this book was surprisingly good. It wasn’t too heavy, neither was it too light. It didn’t hurt that the characters involved in it were so brilliant either.

Plotholes: 4/5

 This book was surprisingly realistic. I mean if a virus such as IANN did exist I could imagine the world (or at least America) going to Hell in a handbasket like this. Of course there were some unhealthy messages in here. For example, Ruby’s whole relationship with Clancy but the book made it clear that the relationship was unhealthy.

Overall Rating: 5/5

No, I’m not surprised I gave this book a five star rating and you shouldn’t be either. It was amazing, I promise you and totally deserves this rating. Buy this books as soon as possible so that you can read it over and over and over again.

Ashfall:A Book Review

Book:  Ashfall
Author/Authoress: Mike Mullin

Ashfall (Ashfall, #1)

Cover: 1.5/5

The cover didn’t exactly drum up much enthusiasm for me. For some reason, I was reminded of Narcissus after seeing the cover. A mirror? Seriously? I know that teenagers can be self-obsessed and writers writing in first person need to have people look in mirrors so that their readers can get an accurate description of the main character,  but in the wake of an apocalypse why would people spend time staring at their face in mirrors? That’s a good question and one they don’t answer anywhere in this book because nothing like this ever happens in the book. I guess the other things on the cover are accurate enough, though.  For example, Darla really does wear a grey sweat shirt and she does have blonde hair. But I’m still hung up on the fact that their is a huge mirror which is hugely inaccurate and taking up all the space on the front cover.

Characters:4/5

The Main Characters move around a lot and rarely meet the same person twice so there’s not a lot of characters that I can really talk about. However, I can vouch for this: Mike Mullin has gone for quality over quantity. There are two main characters in the book and the author’s done a great job with their characterization.

The characterization is… realistic (there’s no other way to describe it. I hate to break it to you, but kids who face hardship don’t automatically become Enid Blyton kids. The girls don’t automatically learn how to wash dishes, sew clothes, make food and go on adventures. The boys don’t immediately launch into a crusade of adventures gone wrong where they have to rescue their friends and comfort the girls. Most post-apocalyptic books would have you believe that the kids who survive are either

a.) mean, tough kids who will not hesitate to shoot you, maim you, steal things, etc. etc.
b.) someone who the mean, tough kids care about
c.) abnormally and weirdly lucky enough not to be shot or maimed and even more lucky to find safety, shelter and food

Maybe they’re right. Survival is a tricky thing which does not really tie in with morality anywhere. But I’d like to believe that the progress we’ve made from an ape like thingy to a human over several million years can’t be erased in a day. Even if that day includes the eruption of a super volcano.

This book features a teenage guy ( words can’t describe how refreshing it is to have a strong, male main character for once) who is a real teenager. Sure, he’s selfish enough to want to stay at home and play computer games while his parents visit his boring relatives but he’s kind of selfless too. He cares for his family enough to go and make sure they’re all right even though several feet of ash cover the ground. He has a heart and he demonstrates his respect for human life over and over again as he meets several people through the course of the book. Sometimes this trait gets him into trouble while at other times it’s his saving grace.

Darla is one of my favourite female characters ever.  She is the ultimate woman (yes, woman- not girl). She’s intelligent, proactive and strong. More importantly, she’s resourceful, clear minded, determined and capable. Without her, the MC would have died several long, miserable deaths and she doesn’t mind reminding him of the fact several times. If Annabeth from Rick Riordon’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians ever grew up, I imagine she’d both look and act like Darla. In fact, I’d say Darla would be Mary-Sueish if not for the fact that she’s seriously lacking in empathy. Oh well, I guess you can’t have everything.

Plot: 4/5

Under the bubbling hot springs and geysers of Yellowstone National Park is a supervolcano. Most people don’t know it’s there. The caldera is so large that it can only be seen from a plane or satellite. It just could be overdue for an eruption, which would change the landscape and climate of our planet.

For Alex, being left alone for the weekend means having the freedom to play computer games and hang out with his friends without hassle from his mother. Then the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts, plunging his hometown into a nightmare of darkness, ash, and violence. Alex begins a harrowing trek to seach for his family and finds help in Darla, a travel partner he meets along the way. Together they must find the strength and skills to survive and outlast an epic disaster.

Now that I think about it, a supervolcano is actually a pretty novel idea for a book plot (pun intended). Mike Mullin delivered the plot amazingly well with strong characters and emotion evoking incidents.

Romance:4/5

The romance in this book was initiated by Darla and that’s a remarkable feat. In young adult books, why is it always the male who has to take initiative? Personally, I think Alex and Darla have a lot of chemistry. The romance is one of the best things about this book.

Action:5/5

 A fifteen-year-old boy left alone for the weekend. An attempt made by him to get to his family in the wake of the mother of all natural disasters. An eruption. Bandits.  Cannibals. Prison Escapees. Fighting. Snow. Choking ash.  More ash. Murder.  Rape.  More ash. Love.  Refugee camps. Escape. Marauders. More ash. This book has action of all kinds- physical, mental and emotional.  Mike Mullin must be a crazy kind of guy to imagine all of these things in the minutest detail. But I don’t mean he’s thrown in a bunch of stuff for shock value or to evoke a sense of disgust like Julianna Baggot did in Pure. It’s all plausible and beautiful in a twisted sort of way.

Plotholes:5/5

No plotholes as of yet. Or none that I could identify, anyways. I think I was a little too caught up in the story to notice any major discrepancies. Way to go Ashfall!

Overall rating: 4/5

Why are you still reading my review? This book was amazing times infinity. If you haven’t read this book yet, you don’t know what you’re missing out on. This book reminds me of why I love young adult dystopian post apocalyptic books so much. If you need a reminder or if you’re not truly into the genre yet, buy (or settle for reading) this book right away.