Young Elites: A Book Review

Book: Young Elites

Author: Marie Lu

The Young Elites (The Young Elites, #1)

Blurb:

I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

My thoughts:

I thought the Legend series by Marie Lu was okay at best so I wasn’t too excited when I heard about Young Elites. That quickly changed after I read the blurb and an interview with Marie Lu saying that she wanted to write about the creation of a villain.

description

Right from the start, Adelina stole my heart (and I was a willing victim).  She’s deformed and is abused by her father who is willing to sell her off as a mistress for a little bit of gold. It’s impossible not to feel any sympathy for her but at the same time Marie Lu has done an excellent job showing Adelina’s dark hatred and her desire to inflict pain, making it obvious that she is no hero. This is made only more obvious when Adelina buckles quickly under Teren’s threats against her sister Violetta to give him information about the Young Elites. I got caught up in this wondorously complex character who likes causing pain but at the same time despises herself for enjoying it. She hates her father but at the same time she really wanted to please him and I think she really did regret committing patricide. This probably makes me sound like a twisted person, but I enjoyed watching Adelina descend the steps towards insanity and darkness. I hoped for her redemption, but at the same time I knew she was never gonna get it.

Adelina’s relationship with Violetta was one of my favourite book sibling relationships. Adelina resents her sister’s naivety and innocence and is clearly jealous of Violetta’s charisma.  Combined with Adelina’s sadistic tendencies, you’d think that Adelina would do her best to hurt her sister. Surprise! She’s fiercely protective of her sister and constantly thinks about her well-being.  Violetta is one of the few people Adelina loves unconditonally and she would do anything (and everything) to keep her safe and happy. Later in the book, it’s revealed that Violetta has a huge secret. I can’t tell you what it is without giving major spoilers but I can tell you that Adelina’s love for her sister is not unrepriocated; Violetta does her best to keep her elder sister safe as well.

Contrary to what the blurb suggest, there is not a love triangle. In fact, the romance plays a smaller role than you would expect. I was not a huge fan of the love interest, Enzo. Sure, he was dark, dangerous, royal and mysterious but his coldness at the beginning of the book kind of put me off and I wasn’t a fan of the tough training he imposed on Adelina. But I guess I’m kind of a hypocrite because during reading, I found myself anticipating the Adelina/Enzo scenes; they had an explosive amount of  chemistry .

So if the book wasn’t full of romance, what was it full of? Action. Swords, knives and control of powers.Not just quantity but quality too. I loved  watching Adelina use her powers (even if I was somewhat creeped out at the same time). Marie Lu did an amazing job giving a description of the working of everyone’s powers and the energy web. Can I just say- Wow!

On a more serious note, the book spends a huge time discussing how the scary appearance of malfettos (those are the young elites) bred first contempt and then fear amongst the society. It got worse when the government started using them as a scrapegoat for all sorts of mishaps and accidents. Stuck among a society which openly discriminated against them and reviled them, the young elites struck back with attacks. And then it continued in a pointless circle (see what I did there?) which just kept escalating. Pretty profound actually, if you think about it. I guess it reminds us not to hate people just cause they look different, or act different.

This book doesn’t have much of a storyline but I found myself enjoying it just the same. It was all thanks to the elaborate world-building and awesome characters. At parts it got kind of dark and disturbing and I didn’t always like it but as a whole I loved the book.

My Ratings:

Cover: 2/5

Plot: 2/5

Characters: 4/5

Romance: 4/5

Action: 5/5

Plotholes: 4/5

Ending: 3/5

Overall Rating: 4/5

Recommend it to: Anyone who wants to read something dark set in an amazing world with powerful characters. At the same time, all the reasons to read this book make it PG 13.

Book similar to this: Cruel Beauty, The Masque of Red Death and Pure

Cracked: A Book Review

Book: Cracked (Soul Eater #1)
Author: Eliza Crewe

Cracked (Soul Eater, #1)

Cover:2/5

Plot:4/5

Blurb:

Meet Meda. She eats people.

Well, technically, she eats their soul. But she totally promises to only go for people who deserve it. She’s special. It’s not her fault she enjoys it. She can’t help being a bad guy. Besides, what else can she do? Her mother was killed and it’s not like there are any other “soul-eaters” around to show her how to be different. That is, until the three men in suits show up.

They can do what she can do. They’re like her. Meda might finally have a chance to figure out what she is. The problem? They kind of want to kill her. Before they get the chance Meda is rescued by crusaders, members of an elite group dedicated to wiping out Meda’s kind. This is her chance! Play along with the “good guys” and she’ll finally figure out what, exactly, her ‘kind’ is.

Be careful what you wish for. Playing capture the flag with her mortal enemies, babysitting a teenage boy with a hero complex, and trying to keep one step ahead of a too-clever girl are bad enough. But the Hunger is gaining on her.

The more she learns, the worse it gets. And when Meda uncovers a shocking secret about her mother, her past, and her destiny… she may finally give into it.

My thoughts:
As soon as I read the blurb, I knew I was going to have a ‘bad’ protagonist with tons of sass and attitude. Have I mentioned that they are my favourite type of books? I usually love books with angels and demons…especially when they don’t get too religious. So, it kind of felt like Eliza Crewe wrote the book with me in mind.

I enjoyed the new take on the Crusaders;instead of ancient knights searching for the holy grail to protect it, they search and protect something just as rare- noble individuals. When Meda accidently runs into a group of full demons and is saved by the crusaders, who mistake her for a Beacon (a noble individual) she goes along with it in the interests of self preservation and for information. Hilarity ensues as Meda tries to keep her cover (yep, unfortunately that means no soul-sucking) and her life and figure out what the hell Hell wants with her.

Characters:5/5

Meda is the reason that this book works. She’s so bad that she’s great. We meet her as she’s in the middle of a meal. For her, that means the soul of some depraved individual. At times, she can be sadistic, manipulative and annoyingly egocentric. She is always shamelesy self-centred, downright rude, and all kinds of dark and witty. She is the body-ripping, soul-eating main character that I never knew I wanted.

Death is my art form–when I fight, I’m a ballerina. Graceful. Chi lacks my grace, but makes up for it in energy and enthusiasm. His fighting style is like breakdancing–strong and frenetic with some really sweet moves. Jo’s is . . .the Macarena. Ugly but gets the job done.

Jo and Meda have a rocky relationship at first.This may or may not be due to the fact that Jo distrusts Meda. Of course Meda purposely tries to antogonize Jo by flirting with her not-yet-a-boyfriend.With her snarls and threats, it’s impossible not to love Jo. Even though Jo is as thoroughly good as Meda is bad, both are equally cynical and jaded. She (and everyone else around her) sees herself as an invalid but despite her disability she is still one tough chick. After reading this book, the world Doctor will have a whole new meaning for you.

“I’m pretty sure Jo couldn’t talk about the weather without somehow including a threat. Forecast today: cloudy with a chance I’ll kick your ass

Chi is not-Jo’s-boyfriend. He has a great sense of humor and loves playing the knight in shining armor role. Meda finds it very easy to manipulate his desire to protect the weak by portraying herself as weak. But despite his naivete where Meda is concerened, he is a genuinely likable and three-dimensional character.

I consider the many tools at my disposal, eyeing his large blood-splattered frame, and settle on my weapon of choice – one so infrequently used I need to dust it off first.
My eyes fill with tears. “Wha–” I swallow hard “– what were those things?”
“Demons.” Thanks, Einstein. I got that part. I let a tear trickle over.
He hurries to reassure me. “Don’t cry – I’ll protect you.”
Humiliating. Absolutely humiliating.

Romance:N/A

Um… no romance. Not really. Sure, Meda flirts with Chi but that’s more to annoy Jo than anything else. And of course there’s the hot half-demon, half-human demon spawn but he makes an appearance for,like, eight pages. But this book is so good it doesn’t need romance. Or maybe it’s good because of the lack of romance. I think I’d lose a lot of respect for Meda if she started following some guy around like a good little puppy. Ew, no i can’t even imagine that.

Ending: 5/5

Cliffhangers and Death. If you somehow missed the message that Eliza Crewe was an evil genius, you’d get it as soon as you finished the book. You have no idea how desperate to read the next book, Crushed.

Plotholes:4.5/5

I’m still a bit surpirsed that Meda managed to keep her cover for that long ( I mean hello, her attitude was way obvious) but the balance between good and evil was perfect in this book (unlike most other books about demons). And the world built was mega-interesting. There were plot twists but they actually made sense. So 4.5/5 for the Plotholes in this book.

Overall Rating:5/5

Consider me awed. By the world, by the characters, by the plot and by Eliza Crewe. I am surprised this book isn’t more famous. So go ahead and read it and help this book become a little more famous. But yeah there’s quite a bit of cussing in this book. If you aren’t fine with that, I wouldn’t recommend this book to you.

Juliet Immortal: A Book Review

Book: Juliet Immortal
Author/Authoress: Stacey Kay

Juliet Immortal (Juliet Immortal, #1)

Cover: 5/5

Plot:4/5

Blurb:

An intense paranormal love story featuring Romeo and Juliet, literary history’s most tragic couple, who meet again, not as true lovers, but truly as enemies.

The most tragic love story in history . . .

Juliet Capulet didn’t take her own life. She was murdered by the person she trusted most, her new husband, Romeo Montague, a sacrifice made to ensure his own immortality. But what Romeo didn’t anticipate was that Juliet would be granted eternity, as well, and would become an agent for the Ambassadors of Light. For 700 years, she’s fought Romeo for the souls of true lovers, struggling to preserve romantic love and the lives of the innocent. Until the day she meets someone she’s forbidden to love, and Romeo, oh Romeo, will do everything in his power to destroy that love.

“These violent delights have violent ends
And in their triumph die, like fire and powder,
Which as they kiss consume.”
—Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

My Thoughts:

Me? I’m the kind of girl who think’s that the Romeo and Juliet love story is not an epic romance, but an epic case of insanity. At the very beginning of the drama, Romeo is obsessed with a girl named Rosalind but as soon as he sees Juliet, he instantly falls in love with her (and we all know how I feel about instalove). Moving along, Romeo and Juliet get married. I know that people got married early in those days but please keep in mind that these were 14 and 15 year old kids who met and fell in love within 3 days. Crazy, right? If you think that’s bad- I haven’t even started yet. A mere few hours after getting married, Romeo goes ahead and offs Juliet’s cousin (in the name of self defense). But the part that irks me most about this loony story is that both of them commit double suicide. Even worse is that this willingness to kill one’s self for the sake of love is glorified and touted as proof of ‘twu wuv’.  So as soon as I saw this quote in this book, I kind of fell in love.

“Glamorizing death, making dying for love seem the most noble act of all, though nothing could be further from the truth. Taking an innocent life—in a misguided attempt to prove love or for any other reason—is a useless waste.”

 

This was after I realised how much I liked having Romeo and Juliet locked on opposing sides of a war with Juliet protecting young lovers and Romeo in his batshit crazy way, coercing them to kill each other. Like, woah! I really, really liked the idea of Juliet attempting to annihilate Romeo instead of sighing over him.

Characters: 3/5

Juliet had a very clear, unique and easily identifiable voice. She was a seven hundred year old cynic who had died at age fourteen but was stuck inside a  sixteen year old’s body. When you finally wrap your head around all that, you’ll appreciate how hard it had to be for Stacey Jay to portray Juliet. Even though Juliet, as a rule, has a hard time trusting people, for an immortal she shows an unprecedented amount of compassion. Surprisingly, despite the fact she’s beemake even though it made her so jealous.

Romeo…Oh! Romeo was totally and completely crazy. If there was an asylum for immortals, Romeo would have a place. Perhaps the most frightening thing about him was his utter disregard for humans and their ambitions. Or maybe it was the fact that he could lie without telling a lie and then when caught in the act, justify it all. Despite his evil ways, Romeo, like all seductive players, has a charismatic sort of  narcissism. You can kind of see why Juliet fell for him in the first place. Well that and the poetry.

Romance:1/5

Ugh! No to the romance. Ben is a sweet enough character I guess (who would have thought that he had anger issues? but the romance was love at first sight. How could Juliet be stupid enough to think that love at first sight was possible, again? I mean she must have seen where insta-love had gotten her in the first place: With a knife in her back. Literally. So why was she masochistic enough to go and do it all over again?

Ending: 2/5

The ending was as terrible as the romance. It was a quick, abrupt deus ex machina which made no sense at all. The rest of the book was beautiful; why did the ending have to spoil it all.

Plotholes:3/5

The insta-love. And the fact that Juliet’s going thorough the whole fiasco a second time. Enough said.

Overall rating:

At times, this book was beautiful and poignant. I loved the whole new take on the epic Romeo and Juliet romance. I loved the setup of the world. So yeah, this book IS worth reading. 

However, the book has a few flaws- most notably, the instalove. I guess you can’t escape instalove if you want to read YA paranormal romance. <sigh> Pity.

 

 

On The Jellicoe Road: A Book Review

Book: On the Jellicoe Road

Author/Authoress: Melina Marchetta

On the Jellicoe Road

Cover: 4/5

Plot: 5/5

 Blurb:

I’m dreaming of the boy in the tree. I tell him stories. About the Jellicoe School and the Townies and the Cadets from a school in Sydney. I tell him about the war between us for territory. And I tell him about Hannah, who lives in the unfinished house by the river. Hannah, who is too young to be hiding away from the world. Hannah, who found me on the Jellicoe Road six years ago. Taylor is leader of the boarders at the Jellicoe School. She has to keep the upper hand in the territory wars and deal with Jonah Griggs – the enigmatic leader of the cadets, and someone she thought she would never see again. And now Hannah, the person Taylor had come to rely on, has disappeared. Taylor’s only clue is a manuscript about five kids who lived in Jellicoe eighteen years ago. She needs to find out more, but this means confronting her own story, making sense of her strange, recurring dream, and finding her mother – who abandoned her on the Jellicoe Road.

My thoughts:

If you thought-even for a second- that it was impossible for a single book to be light-hearted and mysteriously dark and emotional, then you need to read this book just to prove yourself wrong. The book starts off with a fun and frivolous rivalry between three groups of teenagers; the students from the Jellicoe School, the Cadets and the Townies. The three groups negotiate with each other so seriously and solemnly for land access, return of hostages and so earnestly declare ‘war’ on each other, it’s impossible not to get drawn in. Throughout all the skirmishes and pranks, the characters come up with such sharp, witty remarks it’s impossible not to fall head over heels for them.

Melina Marchetta introduces another dimension to this book by bringing in the histories and backstories of all of the characters. The leaders of the three opposing factions somehow bind together to become a group of five. Together, they figure out the tragic and beautiful story of a group of five friends who fell apart when a member died. As the story winds together the teens figure out just how entrenched the story is in their pasts. This book is about past and present colliding and of figuring out how history can shape your story. It’s about how things get lost in interpretation (or should I say, misinterpretation?) and figuring out how everyone belongs.

Characters: 5/5

The characters in this book wrung me out, stamped all over my heart and ultimately broke it. I guess I have some masochistic tendencies because I went back to this book over and over again. And every time I had a reaction just as intense (if not more so) than the previous time.

I don’t know when it happened-maybe it was the very first page or maybe it was somewhere further along the book- but a part of my heart was relinquished to Taylor. I think these two quotes do a brilliant job of describing what Taylor wants:

“I crave history. I crave someone knowing me so well that they can tell what I’m thinking.”

“‘What do you want from me?’ he asks. What I want from every person in my life, I want to tell him. More.”

Taylor is abandoned over and over again. First by her mother at a petrol pump and then by her closest confident and mentor, Hannah in her very own backyard. When they leave she becomes closed off and cynical. She becomes depressed and even slightly suicidal. She’s nowhere near perfect but maybe that was part of the draw. The pain is often overdone in YA and maybe it was here too. But her pain was so honest and raw, it actually hurt me.

Fear not! Taylor did not spend this book as a mourning and abandoned vegetable (Yes Bella, I’m looking at you). Taylor had a strong support system and she- I wouldn’t say she got over it- but she functioned admirably; she lead her school in the ‘war’, was an admirable house leader and made a bunch of hilarious quips. By the time I was done with the book, I was attached to her like…like a suction cup on glass.

Ben, Anson Choi, Raffaela, Santiago, Jenna. They form the support system and they were just so witty and profound and multi-dimensional, I kind of fell in love with them. The unnamed girl with the eyebrow piercing deserves a special mention too.

Romance: 5/5

Jonah Griggs is bad. Like killed-his-father bad (don’t worry it was self-defence) He’s as disciplined and tough as hell but he’s a softie (especially when it comes to Taylor). He’s intense without being melodramatic…and I’m doing a terrible job explaining him. The goodness of Jonah Griggs cannot be described in a paragraph. Let me just say that Jonah is not the kind of guy you let into your heart- no, he’s the kind of guy who just walks in without an invitation but with so much panache that you don’t mind.

Plotholes: 4.5/5

It took me a while to get into the rhythm of Melina Marchetta’s writing. I was a bit confused with the italic parts and how that story tied in with the rest of the story. But the story unfolds really nicely once you get into the flow of it.

Overall Review: 5/5

I’ve done a terrible job explaining this book but it’s not completely my fault. This book is a literary masterpiece and you should read it. Right now. In fact maybe you shouldn’t even have read the review cause I have the sinking suspicion that this is the type of book best enjoyed when you know nothing about it.

We Were Liars: A Book Review

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

We Were Liars

Cover:4/5

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

Plot: 3/5

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

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

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

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

Characters:2/5

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

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

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

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

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

Romance: N/A

Writing:1/5

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

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

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

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

Ending:3/5

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

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

Plotholes:2/5

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

Overall Rating: 2/5

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

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.