Wanderlove: A Book Review

Book: Wanderlove Author/Authoress: Kristen Hubbard

WanderloveWanderlove

Cover: 5/5

I love both covers. Okay, the first one might be a bit of a cliché with a petty girl being wistful and the second might be a little cartoonish but both of them cover (pun not intended) the main aspects of the book. The first cover is gorgeous. A little bit sad, wistful and hopeful at the same time. Personally, I think that the violet flowers (could they be violets by any chance?) were a great addition, somehow bringing colour, vibrancy and playfulness into a cover that would have otherwise been sort of dull, without messing up the pensive quality of the book. The second cover is something that I can actually imagine Bria, the MC, drawing. It’s a outline map of Mexico with all the important sights that she saw marked and sketched (or pencil-shaded) with exquisite detail. Along with the quintessential, anonymous backpacker girl (you’ll see why that girl is so important in the story; she’s sort of Bria’s muse). And the backpacker girl just so happens to look a bit like Bria. Coincidence, right?

Plot:5/5

It all begins with a stupid question: Are you a Global Vagabond? No, but 18-year-old Bria Sandoval wants to be. In a quest for independence, her neglected art, and no-strings-attached hookups, she signs up for a guided tour of Central America—the wrong one. Middle-aged tourists with fanny packs are hardly the key to self-rediscovery. When Bria meets Rowan, devoted backpacker and dive instructor, and his outspokenly humanitarian sister Starling, she seizes the chance to ditch her group and join them off the beaten path. Bria’s a good girl trying to go bad. Rowan’s a bad boy trying to stay good. As they travel across a panorama of Mayan villages, remote Belizean islands, and hostels plagued with jungle beasties, they discover what they’ve got in common: both seek to leave behind the old versions of themselves. And the secret to escaping the past, Rowan’s found, is to keep moving forward. But Bria comes to realize she can’t run forever, no matter what Rowan says. If she ever wants the courage to fall for someone worthwhile, she has to start looking back. Kirsten Hubbard lends her artistry to this ultimate backpacker novel, weaving her drawings into the text. Her career as a travel writer and her experiences as a real-life vagabond backpacking Central America are deeply seeded in this inspiring story. Wow! Wow! Wow! It’s hard to imagine a plot more exciting and wholesome than what this blurb promises but somehow it’s true. This book is full of new experiences, adventure, gross hotels, travel tips, art, self-discovery and second chances. It seems hard to believe that all this can be found in just one book. But this book is not just any book. Dun dun dun. This is a backpacking book. And a pretty good one too. The scenery adds to the plot and brings it from great to swoon-worthy (if you’re the type that swoons over books; and I totally am.) . Mayan cul­ture, pineapple liquitas, the vibrancy of crowded cities, the jun­gle, the humidity, the rides on the chicken buses, and the bluest waters with exotic fishes in it.

Characters: 4/5

Backpacking has been on my bucket list since…forever. My destination wasn’t Guatemala and Belize (it was Europe in case you wanted to know), but whatever. Same difference, right? And just like Bria, I have the tendency to overplan and compartmentalize. Thankfully not overpack though. Travel has been over-romancised in Bria’s mind. She wants nothing more than to learn how to be spontaneous. Her goal for the summer is to learn how to travel effortlessly and ‘just go with the flow’. Unfortunately Global Vagabonds, the tour group that she signed up with, is non-conducive to her goals.  Every­thing is planned out for her from the walking tours to the food they eat. There’s no downtime or room for self discovery.  Once an oppor­tu­nity to ditch them arises, she takes it to prove her­self to all her  doubters back at home that she can do this. And to herself as well. Bria is the kind of character that evolved as the book went on. In several ways. As a traveller, she lost her fear of shabby rooms and humongous insects. As an artist, her drawings became more emotional and complex. And as a person, she tried new things, overcame several fears, regained her self confidence and started acting more spontaneously.

Rowan has a…checkered past. He subscribes to a policy of wanderlove.

“Wanderlove is about forgetting the bad things and focusing on the good. Out with the old and in with the new… The only way to escape the past is to keep moving forward.”

His life used to be like a nonstop rave, with rowdy parties and pounds of…something (that is probably not bananas). But during the time the book is set, he’s on the straight and narrow (except for a few stray pranks here and there, misguiding not-so-well-travelled travellers). But seriously, other than the pranks part, Rowan was a sweet guy with a lot of travel knowledge and an interesting perspective on life. Starling was a pretty interesting character. She’s Rowan’s half-sister and alleviates her first world guilt by volunteering as a teacher in third world countries for pennies. Throughout the book, her goal numero uno is to keep Rowan happy and safe. Even if she has to keep him safe from himself.

Romance: 5/5

Loved, loved, loved the romance in this book. It’s an interesting pairing but it makes so much sense. I liked Bria and Rowan as friends. The way they shared their philosophies, talked about books, travelled together and encouraged each other to step out of their comfort zone. But those two had chemistry and I was really, really glad when the friendship turned into something more. The romance was so believable. Their issues were handled perfectly. All in all, I think the romance was sweet and believable.

Ending:4/5

Perfect ending. The story ending is the closure but not-yet-the-end type. And that’s my favourite type. We closed one chapter of their life but that doesn’t make the story over (I’m not a fan of Happy Ever After’s in case you didn’t notice). But I’m cutting off 1 star for the cheese. Sometimes it works but not this time…

I can wait until tomorrow to call my college, where I’ll probably be sleeping on a cot in the basement, but at this point, I don’t care. When you fall for a guy like Rowan, nothing’s certain. But I’m pretty sure we’ve found the antidote to Wanderlove: each other.

Seriously, overkill.

Quotables:

Envy is when you want what someone else has. Jealousy’s when you also don’t want them to have it.”

“Hearing about vacations is like hearing about dreams — no one cares except the person who’s experienced them.” “What everyone forgets — even me — is the people who actually live here. In places like Central America, I mean. Southeast Asia. India. Africa. Millions, even billions, of people, who live out their whole lives in these places — the places so many people like us fear. Think about it: they ride chicken buses to work every day. Their clothes are always damp. Their whole lives, they never escape the dust and the heat. But they deal with all these discomforts. They have to.
“So why can’t travelers? If we’ve got the means to get here, we owe it to the country we’re visiting not to treat it like an amusement park, sanitized for our comfort. It’s insulting to the people who live here. People just trying to have the best lives they can, with the hands they’ve been dealt.”

“Prices are relative. So is poverty. So is happiness.”

And this one made me laugh because it’s just so…Bria.

“I want to draw you. All of you.’ Then I pause. ‘That came out wrong-you can keep your clothes on.”

Plotholes:3/5

At the beginning, Bria comes across as sort of snobby and a bit of a brat. In fact, when she was on the plane and lied that she was a photographer, I wanted to simultaneously laugh at her, slap her and slam the book shut. Not necessarily in that order. Besides up till, like 1/8th of the book, it seemed like Bria and the author was keeping us (the reader) at arms length. But seriously, don’t give up on the book. It gets better. And once you get Bria’s backstory, all will become clear.

Overall Rating:4/5

A great summer book when you’re stuck at home. I almost felt like I was on the trip with Bria. I loved the characters and the plot was pretty good. And the cover’s really pretty. Almost like an accessory. So stop making excuses and pick up this book. As soon as possible.

Lovely Vicious: A Book Review

Book: Lovely Vicious (Lovely Vicious #1)

Author/Authoress: Sara Wolf

Lovely Vicious (Lovely Vicious, #1)

Cover: 2/5

It’s good looking enough but I can’t remember a single time when Isis ever went swimming. So, it’s pretty much inaccurate unless Sara Wolf wanted to convey the fact that Isis felt like she was drowning…okay that’s kind of metaphysical. Too metaphysical. 2/5 for the cover.

Plot: 3/5

Seventeen-year-old Isis Blake hasn’t fallen in love in three years, nine weeks, and five days, and after what happened last time, she intends to keep it that way. Since then she’s lost eighty-five pounds, gotten four streaks of purple in her hair, and moved to the Buttcrack-of-Nowhere Ohio to help her mom escape a bad relationship.

All the girls in her new school want one thing – Jack Hunter, the Ice Prince of East Summit High. Hot as an Armani ad, smart enough to get into Yale, and colder than the Arctic, Jack Hunter’s never gone out with anyone. Sure, people have seen him downtown with beautiful women, but he’s never given high school girls the time of day. Until Isis punches him in the face.

Jack’s met his match. Suddenly everything is a game.

The goal: Make the other beg for mercy.

The game board: East Summit High.

The reward: Something neither of them expected.

The blurb’s a bit misleading. I thought it would be a cheesy, fun, flirt love-hate romance. It definitely is not.

Sure, Jack is an Ice Prince and Isis is cynical and disbelieving of love but there is so much more to the story than that. By the time you get to chapter 5 or so you’ll find out that Jack works as an escort and Isis was abused emotionally. Their backstories are truly tragic and I think the representation of who they become because of their experiences is pretty accurate.Through most of this book, I felt like a balloon was trapped in my throat. It was just so sad at times but Isis would never let me cry. Her tough, cynical, overtly-honest words refused to let me feel any pity for her. Only sympathy. Even when I got near the end of the middle and found out that their backstories were a lot more tragic than originally stated, I still couldn’t cry because neither Isis or Jack were the type to appreciate crying.

But there were times I burst out laughing. Sure their antics were a little….implausible and immature. But they were hilarious. And they lightened the mood considerably. Without them, this book would have been gloom and doom and full of angst. With it, it was dark with a streak of humour.

Characters:4/5

Isis: She comes across as totally confident and in-control but she’s hiding a insecure mess. She’s been abused- mentally, emotionally and physically and it’s done a number on her self confidence. But she’s really loyal. And that’s what gets her dragged into this whole ‘war’. Isis was a character I really enjoyed. I read this book in bed and I she made me roll off it  laughing with her intensely sarcastic and sometimes deeply inappropriate retorts.

Jack: I get the feeling that I’m supposed to like this character, but I just can’t. It’s a mess. He’s too ice-cold for me to really feel anything for/about him. He keeps on doing stuff which is morally…just not done. I really don’t have much tolerance for this guy. Maybe he’s supposed to get my sympathy but he pretty much dug his own hole. What I do like about him: In the ‘War’, he’s able to keep his own. When Isis comes up with a one-liner that would have embarrassed me to pieces he notches up the ‘War’ another level with a clever quip and a less-than-clever prank.
Also his Mom was really cool. Although isn’t it a bit sad when you like the love interest’s Mom more than you like the character?

Kayla: Okay, this she was a really interesting character. One that might be more interesting than the MC…Nah, she isn’t but she comes a close second. Kayla is Isis’s best friend but their relationship isn’t that simple. For one thing, Kayla gets seriously annoyed whenever someone takes her for just another pretty face. She isn’t and Isis is one of the first to actually acknowledge it.  Kayla has a serious crush on Jack. So that’s one thing that really complicated their friendship.
I think I was kind of creeped out (just a little bit) when Isis paid Jack to take Kayla out on a date. I was even more creeped out when he agreed (because it was kind of obvious that he liked Isis) but it became clearer by the end of the date. Kayla reminds Isis of a prettier version of her younger self- naïve and carefree.

Besides these characters, there was a whole cast of supporting characters who were pretty amazing. I think I especially loved Wren. He plays a huge part in this book and despite the fact that you should think that he’s evil ( gasp!- he’s Nameless’ cousin) he’s actually the sweetest and most caring character in the book.

Knife Guy was hilarious (not that you would think that from his nickname) and Avery definitely played her frenemy part well.

Romance:1/5

Yes, I agree that Jack and Isis are like a modern-day Romeo and Juliet.  But only because the whole Romeo and Juliet romance was pretty messed up. They were 14, Romeo ditched another girl for her, they got married, killed relatives, forgot about silly things like- I don’t know, pulses?, and poisoned themselves. Yep, totally messed up. And that’s what the romance in this book is like. It’s not a hate-love relationship. It’s like  a hate-hate turned into lust relationship. Gross.

But I can see the attraction. Maybe… deep down, somewhere.

Writing: 5/5

There were two things I loved about the book. One was Isis. The other was the dialogue with Isis.

“How did you find me? If you hacked into the Club’s computer to look up my appointments – ”
“Whoa, I think you overestimate me, shitlord. Last time I checked all I did was be in the wrong place at the right time. I saw you and had to – ”
“Stalk me.”
“ – delicately approach you. In a sideways manner. From behind. Without being seen at all. For ten minutes.”

I would love to slap you right now, but I’m currently wielding a nine pound ball and I’m afraid that would be called murder

“You’re drunk.”
“Yeah, and you’re ugly, but do I complain about it? No! Because I don’t complain about things that I can’t change. That’s called intelligence.”

Don’t you have something to better to work on?” I hiss. “Like golfing or eating prunes or dying?”
The old lady looks shocked.
“Okay, sorry, not dying. But seriously, prunes are good for you.”

Plotholes:2/5

Most of the war was completely unrealistic. At times, it got really, really vicious. I kept on thinking something like ‘He/She went too far. They’re gonna get screwed.’ throughout the book. The Principal’s involvement was really pushing it too far. I mean since when would a professional get involved in such a childish and immature prank war?

At times it seemed like this was a fanfiction. A bunch of fun, hilarious events haphazardly connected to each other with a bucket load of immature insults thrown in. I’m certain that the war part of this book would’ve been a lot of fun to write but in the realistic scheme of things, it doesn’t make much sense. It was created solely to show that Isis and Jack could take a whole lot of crap and keep moving. Which is an admirable message, but I think the ‘War’ was the wrong way to go about showing that both characters were strong, creative and versatile individuals.

Warning: The book features quite a bit of profanity. It kind of bugged me so I’m including that here.

Ending: 4/5

Oh my gosh. This is the definition of a cliff-hanger. <spoiler> She gets amnesia, forgets about Jack and meets Sophie </spoiler>. I need to see where this is going. It’s heart breaking. Heart-breaking I tell you. This was really, really well-written.

Overall Rating: 2.5/5

I’m sure this was a fun book to write and it was definitely a fun book to read but if you actually think about this book for a minute, then you’ll realize most of this book makes no sense. The only redeeming features (the ones that stopped this book from being put in the same category as Matched or The Selection) was the excellent dialogue and the some of the characters. If you can ignore every thing else, then you should really enjoy this book.

 

The 5 Most Over-Rated YA Books

There are some books for which the anticipation of reading them is far better than actually reading them. You know what I’m talking about. Those books that friends swore up and down were great, brilliant and genius, the ones publishers touted as the book or the last book in a series which just falls flat. There are some books which surprise you in a good way but then there are those which shock you and make you  kinda understand what people mean when they say ‘I don’t like to read’.

Well these are mine. My disappointments, fails, whatever you want to call them. The top 5 most over rated books I’ve read or at least tried to.


 

1.)

The Lord of the Rings (The Lord of the Rings, #1-3)

Book: Lord Of The Rings

Author: J. R. R. Toilken

Description:  Through the urgings of the enigmatic wizard Gandalf, young hobbit Frodo Baggins embarks on an urgent, incredibly treacherous journey to destroy the One Ring. This ring — created and then lost by the Dark Lord, Sauron, centuries earlier — is a weapon of evil, one that Sauron desperately wants returned to him. With the power of the ring once again his own, the Dark Lord will unleash his wrath upon all of Middle-earth. The only way to prevent this horrible fate from becoming reality is to return the Ring to Mordor, the only place it can be destroyed. Unfortunately for our heroes, Mordor is also Sauron’s lair.

Why it’s on this list: It was probably the writing. Did Toilken really have to drag and stretch everything out? If you thought the ooh-pretty-picture syndrome in Eragon was bad, then there are simply no words to describe the sheer over-description in this book. Does each tree need a rhapsody sung about it? Does each flower need a ballad in its name? Do you like it when world history is info dumped on you in annoyingly large chunks of poetry? Well, unless your answer is yes… then you won’t like the writing style of the book.

Another thing that annoyed me about this series (or book actually I didn’t get too far) was the insipidness and shallowness of the society the characters live in. It’s as if other than a few major players, no one in the world gets a personality; they’re just zombies.

I think this book put me off fantasy for quite a while.


 

2.)

The Selection (The Selection, #1)

Book: The Selection (The Selection #1)

Author: Kiera Cass

Description: For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.


But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

Why it’s on this list: You should read my review here. It’s practically a rant on what all I hate (a word that’s not nearly strong enough) about this book. The sketchy world-building with the awkward caste-system and nonsensical history was a major complaint. But that complaint was eclipsed by the shallowness of the characters and their interaction. Nothing about this story was smooth- from the dialogue to the plot. It all seemed very haphazard and thrown together. I’m not at all sure why this book was so celebrated. I mean, sure it had a nice cover but this book is the reason people say:  don’t judge a book by its cover.


 

3.)

Looking for Alaska

Book: Looking for Alaska

Author: John Green

Description:  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” (François 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.

Why it’s on this list: If you know me, you probably know my opinion on John Green’s books. If you don’t, well you can read it here.  And if you want my opinion on this book particularly you can read it here. This book was kind of an awkward read for me. There were several parts in the book where I was like : Wait, what? Why would they do something that stupid? The answer wasn’t clear to me by the end of the book. So this was a pointless read besides a boring one.


 

4.)

Matched (Matched, #1)

Book: Matched (Matched #1)

Author: Allie Coondie

Description: Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander’s face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate… until she sees Ky Markham’s face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it’s a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she’s destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can’t stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society’s infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

Why it’s on this list: Yet again, it’s the characters which break this book. The world building wasn’t too bad. But only because the world was completely lifted off The Giver by Lois Lowry (fantastic read, by the way). The romance in this book was completely screwed up. We have a love triangle which features Cassie: the robot, Xander: the best friend and Ky: the ‘aberration’. So completely predictable. Forbidden love Romeo and Juliet-esque style follows and it is mind-numbingly insipid. But it makes sense because that’s what the characters are too. None of them have any sort of free thought or talent. I’m all for making characters ‘ordinary’ and ‘believable’ but this was just overdone.

 


5.)

Twilight (Twilight, #1)

Book:Twilight

Author/Authoress: Stephanie Meyers

Description: First, Edward was a vampire.

Second, there was a part of him – and I didn’t know how dominant that part might be – that thirsted for my blood.

And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.

When Bella Swan moves to the gloomy town of Forks and meets Edward Cullen, her life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. With his porcelain skin, golden eyes, mesmerizing voice, and supernatural gifts, Edward is both irresistible and impenetrable. Up until now, he has managed to keep his true identity hidden, but Bella is determined to uncover his dark secret.
What Bella doesn’t realize is the closer she gets to him, the more she is putting herself and those around her at risk. And it might be too late to turn back…

Why it’s on this list: A lot of you are probably wondering this. I mean it’s not like Twilight has a good reputation, so how can it be over-rated? It had a good reputation. Once upon a time. In 2009 or so? But here are the common list of complaints: Bella Swan is a boring,wimpy Mary-Sue based on the author, Edward Cullen is a creepy, blood sucking, sparkly stalker and the romance between them is unhealthy.  And that’s basically the summary of this 498 page fiasco. How could you possibly not say this book is overrated?


So that’s the list. Which book do you think is the most over rated?

5th Wave: Book Review

Book: 5th Wave

Author/Authoress: Rick Yancey

The 5th Wave (The Fifth Wave, #1)

Cover:4/5

It’ pretty, isn’t it? It also fits the book pretty well. In fact, I can imagine several scenes in which the picture on the cover would be appropriate. 4/5 stars for this cover.

Plot:

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up

Contrary to what the blurb suggests, this book is not about zombies. Not even close. It’s about aliens. Evil aliens.

For some reason (which is not revealed in this book but which will probably be revealed later), aliens decide to take over the Earth. Not content with simply being considered superior and having humans completely downtrodden, they want to remove all humans from the face of the Earth. And to do so they will go to extreme lengths. Really extreme. By extreme they mean much more than electromagnetic waves which prevent satellites and electricity from working and diseases for which there is no cure. I can’t tell you much more about the plot without give you spoilers. Just let it be known that it’s spooky, creepy and at points nail-bitingly scary. And more full of twists and turns than a road up a mountain.

Characters: 4/5

Cassie: Cassie is an overly-sarcastic and flawed (she knows it too) heroine who made a promise to her dear and departed Dad to keep her brother safe. Except he gets captured by aliens in the disguise of soldiers. So it’s her job to get him back. As soon as you read the first few pages, it’s obvious that she’s deeply paranoid and missing a few marbles here and there. But we can excuse her for that. After all, she has been through a lot. Fans of Katsa (from Graceling) and Penryn (from Angelfall) will probably love this character.

Evan: He’s the love interest. And is a pretty interesting character if I do say so myself.  Just as insane as Cassie and defintiely more dangerous. He saves Cassie’s life (this is debatable). However I really can’t tell you much without giving major spoilers. But since, I want to talk some more about this awesome character, let me give you 3 words: He’s a traitor. Okay that tells you a lot while telling you absolutely nothing. But hopefully, this hint makes you curious enough to read this book.

Ben Parish: This guy carries a whole lot of emotional burden. Ben Parish is driven by a desire for revenge against the aliens who murdered his sister, and his own guilt because he was unable to stop them. He’s crazily loyal and a pretty fierce protector. He would have made an ideal soldier but then he finds out the evil plot. Good for him, not so much for the aliens. Also, for some reason it is impossible to simply refer to him as Ben. Hence he is always known as either Ben Parish or zombie.

Nugget: He’s Cassie’s little brother and is sometimes stupidly naïve and trusting. But he’s only 5 so I guess it’s pretty much justified. I think one thing I envy him for is his blind faith in Cassie and then in Ben. Despite being so young, he’s pretty much able to hold up his own in the team and I found his POV super interesting.

Besides these gems, we also have side characters who are pretty well rounded. We have the emotionally-stunted, Annie-Oakley like Ringer (three guesses why that’s her nickname in the Army) and the brilliant survivor who used to be Cassie’s dad.

Romance:2/5

Okay, the romance in this was pretty bad. For some reason, Cassie has a huge crush on Ben Parish, a guy who she hasn’t seen since the beginning of the end of the world. …we-ird.

Then, if the romance between Cassie and Evan was a pattern of  footsteps, it would be like: one small step, one small step, a huge leap, another leap, run back as fast as possible, stampede forward (the space of four huge, flying leaps). Definitely weird. But if it’s any consolation, there was some chemistry between the two. And it wasn’t just because both of them were kind of crazy and weird.

Dialogue:4/5

This book is extremely quotable. We have the deep, profound stuff like:

“We’re here, and then we’re gone, and it’s not about the time we’re here, but what we do with the time.”

Cruelty isn’t a personality trait. Cruelty is a habit.”

“How do you rid the Earth of humans? Rid the humans of their humanity

“What doesn’t kill us sharpens us. Hardens us. Schools us. You’re beating plowshares into swords, Vosch. You are remaking us. We are the clay, and you are Michelangelo. And we will be your masterpiece.”

And there’s the badass, honest stuff which somehow just makes you proud to be human:

“But if I’m it, the last of my kind, the last page of human history, like hell I’m going to let the story end this way. I may be the last one, but I am the one still standing. I am the one turning to face the faceless hunter in the woods on an abandoned highway. I am the one not running but facing. Because if I am the last one, then I am humanity. And if this is humanity’s last war, then I am the battlefield.”

“You can only call someone crazy if there’s someone else who’s normal. Like good and evil. If everything was good, then nothing would be good.”

“When the moment comes to stop running from your past, to turn around and face the thing you thought you could not face–the moment when your life teeters between giving up and getting up–when that moment comes, and it always comes, if you can’t get up and you can’t give up either, here’s what you do: Crawl.”

And then there were sentences that were humorous in a dark sort of way. Just what you need when you’re in the middle of a book full of the scary and the serious.

“We’d stared into the face of Death, and Death blinked first. You’d think that would make us feel brave and invincible. It didn’t.”
“There’s an old saying about truth setting you free. Don’t buy it. Sometimes the truth slams the cell door shut and throws a thousand bolts.”
“What were they thinking? ‘It’s an alien apocalypse! Quick, grab the beer!”
“I would kill for a cheeseburger. Honestly. If I stumbled across someone eating a cheeseburger, I would kill them for it.”
Plotholes:3/5
The romance= Not good. Other than that, I don’t really have any complaints.
Overall Rating:3.5/5
Freakishly scary in some parts, this is what I had hoped what the Ender’s Game would be like. Anyone who’s a fan of aliens, apocalypses, survival and dystopian need to read this book. Falls in the same category as Ashfall by Mike Mullin, The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken, Unwind by Neal Shusterman or Angelfall by Susan Ee.

 

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 Selection:A Book Review

Book: The Selection (Selection #1)

Author/Authoress: Kiera Cass

Cover:3/5

The Selection (The Selection, #1)

 

The cover’s gorgeous but let me make it clear- it’s the only thing about this book that is. I guess it teaches me not to be lured in by fancy covers and false pretences. But if there was ever a time, I could be forgiven for judging a book by it’s cover- it’s this book. I saw a pretty but frivolous model wearing a pretty but frivolous dress on the cover and what do I expect? A pretty but frivolous book. Duh! What else was I supposed to think after this book claimed to be like the Bachelor? I expected a light fluffy read that you walked away from shaking your head but with a smile on your face anyways. As you might have guessed from my mini-rant, it wasn’t. Not even close. The selection was the kind of book you want to throw repeatedly at the wall until the cover which led you there fell off. Sadly, I wasn’t able to do this (I read an e-version of this book) so I’m contenting myself with writing a scathing review.

Plot:1/5

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself�and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

You know how people always say that satisfaction is the result of what you get divided by expectations?

I opened the book with very little expectations. I didn’t expect something profound and beautiful from the book. So how was it that what I got was even less than my expectations? I’ll tell you why.
Hmm… maybe it was the messed up plot? When I heard ‘the Bachelor’ heres what I thought of. Cat fights, makeup, eliminations, etc. And that’s clearly what Kiera thought of too but somehow she’s managed to mess it all up. I really couldn’t bring myself to care about the eliminations since I couldn’t bring myself to care about the characters. The makeup thingy- oh we were totally ripped off. Despite America being adamant she was just ‘average’, she refused to get a makeover. The cat fights were shallow, frivolous and totally fake.

Characters:1/5

Our MC, America Singer (have you seen a more pretentious name?) spends the first half of the book complaining about her doomed Romeo-Julietesque romance (more about that in romance) and the abject poverty her family suffers from.  Pasta and apples slices for dinner, two full wardrobes- and she claims that she is ‘poor’? Forgive me for not believing you, America Singer.

What else do I hate about her? Well for starters, America thinks she is ‘average’. Of course we all know that in the young adult world, ‘average’ means amazing and modest. ‘Average’ heroines are the ones who are as beautiful as the sun and stars put together, the ones who know how to play a thousand different musical instruments and knows a gazillion different languages. They are the ones who are assured and reassured by their love interest that they are not just ‘average’- they are beautiful and smart and kind and… the list goes on. (Rolls eyes)

So what does our main character have going for her? Oh yes! She just happens to be just pretty and talented enough to capture the attention of dearest Prince Charming. She gets the chance to be in the most retarded game show ever to win the hand of the most eligible bachelor ever- the aforementioned Prince Charming.  But because Kiera Cass doesn’t want to make out heroine sound money-grubbing and opportunistic, she takes the opportunity to add some more tension to the mix and make her heroine dead set against the idea of even entering the contest.

But that’s only the beginning. This book is an array of shallow narcissistic one dimensional characters.

Our MC’s mother is an overdone version of Mrs. Weasely. Pushy, shovey, red-headed and not above bribes to get her children to do stuff they should have had the common sense to do anyways. Face palm.

Everyone in this book from Prince Charming to the ‘villain’ Celeste is a huge stereotype. If you plan on reading this book, don’t read it for the characters.

Action: 1/5

There were supposedly some raids but the main action in this book is Celeste demanding America give her her dress. Stupid, shallow and…did I mention stupid?

Romance:1/5

Aaargggh! A love triangle. Between Prince Maxon and a childhood friend  boyfriend ex-boyfriend palace guard Aspen. I’ll give you a minute to stop laughing over the names.
Maxon- Prince Maxon was seriously one of the most awkward characters I’ve ever had the misfortune of meeting. He’s a walking stereotype in the fact that he’s a typical Disney Prince- Perfrct, nice, naïve, calling everyone ‘my dear’ and completely boring.

And at the same time, he’s so contradictory. He claims to be bad with women but then proceeds to charm his way through all of the beautiful contestants. Apparently they found his awkwardness and creepiness endearing. Or something. (Personally I found it creepy) But then it’s possible that they were charmed by the glittering crown on his head.

 His behaviour makes even less sense. America wrongly assumes that Maxon is about to rape her then she proceeds to knee him where it hurts and then he doesn’t even care? Pathetic and weird. Then she tells him that she’s here for the food and in love with someone else so she doesn’t even want to be the damn princess. Well, I’m guessing any sane, non-pathetic guy would have eliminated her on the spot. Even if he’s kind and caring-especially if he’s kind and caring because he’d give the chance to someone who actually wanted it.

But we’ve established that Maxon’s neither kind nor caring. So I shouldn’t have been surprised when he threatened to kick her out when she claimed that one of the other girls was sabotaging the rest of the girls. But…talk about double standards and ‘for the sake of the plot’ moves.

Aspen- Aspen’s even worse.  He’s a chauvinistic prig who just can’t stand his helpless, dainty woman lifting her delicate, unmarred hands to get him some food. He throws an immature, prissy tantrum and breaks up with her when she makes him dinner. Dinner for God’s sake. Personally, I think the only reason Kiera Cass made the duo break up was because she couldn’t stand the thought of her pure, innocent little MC actually cheating.

Worldbuilding/Plotholes: 1/5

Kiera Cass you shouldn’t even have gone there. Seriously. Your world building sucked. I have no idea what ‘poverty’ in The Selection World is like. Unless it’s chicken, pasta, apple and iced tea. I have no idea why the Chinese would want to attack the Americans for having a massive debt. Waging wars are expensive. Neither do I get why they would want to use Americans for labour. For decades, Americans have been using machinery and cheap imported labour. They wouldn’t know how to do real labour if their lives depended on it. And I have no idea why America would suddenly consent to being named after a man who supposedly greatly aided them in winning them their freedom from the Chinese (they only gave George Washington a state and the capital). Or for that matter why they would accept the shoddy caste system in which they are all ranked from 1-7. As the saying goes: More full of holes than Swiss cheese

Overall Rating:1/5

So, if you can see past the obvious plot holes and if you don’t mind the messed up plot or the contrived, fake romance or the  shallow, self-absorbed characters or the utter lack of action… then you truly deserve to be lured in by the misleading cover into this horrible toilet paper thing that’s masquerading as a book.