Tag Archives: book review

Eleanor and Park {Book Review}

This is the best YA book I’ve read in a while. I mean, I read a few others that were pretty good, and I’ll get to talking abut them, but this was just far and away one of the best ones. It’s not really the kind of book I would re-read, but it was one of those books that just really got it. What it’s like to be a teenager, I mean.

It’s terrible and frustrating, and you feel like people are always thinking about you badly, and sometimes you’re right, but most of the time, they’re just thinking abut themselves. I can’t say a lot about this book without giving away spoilers, but here are some things that are true:

The prose is excellent. Each character is distinct, and it feels like your best friend is confiding in you, the whole time. The crises are realistic; this is not a book about a town waiting with bated breath to hear of their prom queen. This book is about surviving and falling in love even when you don’t totally mean to. It’s about Darcy loving Lizzie before he even knew he liked her, and not knowing what to do about it. It’s about the fact that some adults can be trusted and some can’t, and you don’t always know who belongs in what camp.

This book has a ton of music references, comic books, and some sort of fighting that I have already forgotten the name of. But really, this book is not about fighting, or heroes, or even music – it’s about how all of these things bring two wildly different people together. It’s a book abut love, fear, and escape, and it is simply excellent.

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To Have and To Hold {Book Review}

To Have and To Hold, by Jane Green, is a marvelous book. It’s written in a really unique style that I appreciate – it’s third person narration, and is consistently set in the present. It’s almost like the narrator is watching something with me, and telling me about it as we watch. Personally, I found that this specific writing style really helped me visualize the characters and their actions a little bit more clearly.

The story is pretty simple: woman is married to cheating husband, has no idea. The thing that really makes this book stand out is the fact that it’s entirely character driven; while there is certainly a plot, it takes a backseat to the characters themselves. It’s an old story, and one that’s been told multiple times. But this unique take on it is entertaining and flies by, and as time passes, you find that not one of the characters is perfect. All of them are flawed (fatally so) and their relationships are more than worth following through to the end.

This reader gives To Have and To Hold an enthusiastic thumbs up. On a scale of one to the sun, this book is somewhere near Mercury. Definitely worth checking out at your local library!

The Bermudez Triangle {Book Review}

This is another book that I picked up a while ago that I decided to give another try this week, and I am so glad I did – it really made me realize the sort of prejudices I had as a freshman in high school, and while I’m a little embarrassed, I’m also glad I had an opportunity to see how far I’ve come.

So The Bermudez Triangle is written by Maureen Johnson, and is about three girls who are friends, and their discovery of their sexualities and love interests, but really it’s about their friendship. And their friendship is sort of turned upside down by all of their love lives, and when I first started reading this book when I was 11 or 12, I put it down almost immediately. And reading it again, now, I can see easily why I did; I was a homophobe. And maybe I still am, maybe I’ll look back in 10 years and think the same thing I’m thinking now. But the thing is, back then, I didn’t want to read about two women in a romantic relationship. I just wasn’t interested. I embodied the “it’s all right for others…” mindset.

While I accepted gay people as being part of the world, and, if I recall correctly, affirmed their right to equal protections and everything, I didn’t fully see them as a part of my world. They were there, but separate – something I could easily ignore if I had a mind to (which, it’s clear from this re-reading, I did). It’s just something interesting that I noticed as I was reading this book, and that brings me to the review itself.

This is a good book. It’s a book that a person of any age can read and relate to, with strong themes and a great plot. The characters are fabulous and flawed, and the writing is never unwieldy, yet always intelligent and entertaining. The biggest reason this novel is a must-read, though, is the emotional connection it builds with the reader. This book accomplishes what every book aspires to do – it is on some level emotionally compelling to every person out there. It isn’t a girl book or a guy book or an any type in particular book.

It’s just a really good book, and I’ve already recommended it to my brother and his friends, and now I recommend it to you.

 

The Gemma Doyle Trilogy {Book Review}

I should start by saying I’m REALLY behind. The last book in this trilogy was published in 2009, which sets me a solid five years behind the actual release date. However, if you’ve an interest in gothic supernatural fiction and you haven’t read the books then by all means, read on.

So the series started out okay. Written by Libba Bray between 2003 and 2009, the series as a whole is something like 1800 pages (I haven’t counted, don’t quote me). I actually read the first book back around the time it came out, and then promptly abandoned the whole series when I found out there was no set release date for the next book. I rarely have the patience to wait indefinitely for a book although there are certainly series where I make exceptions! However, I read a review of the third book recently, and decided to give the whole series another try – it was the week after my LSAT, and I was determined to waste a little time.

I started reading, and it was all right – I won’t say it was gripping or anything, and there were certainly times where I found a lot of the characters hugely irritating. I found myself wondering why Gemma was surrounded by such quirky and frustrating people on all sides, as well as about her deep well of forgiveness. But overall, it had an interesting premise, and I was willing to explore further. So I read the second book, which was all right, and then I read the third book because by then I had come too far, and honestly, it was fine.

I found myself counting pages down to the end in the last book, which is never something you want to be doing, and I felt like the second half of the last book was sort of shoddily put together. There were just too many ends and too many loose strands by the end, and Bray’s attempts to tie them all up wound up being unwieldy. It was just too long without being complete, and so many unnecessary plot points were added near the end, presumably in an attempt to force character development. Characters that should have passed long before or become larger obstacles faded away anti-climactically, and Gemma’s loyalty to people she was constantly angry with became unrelatable.

Ultimately, I think the biggest problem was that I am outside of this novel’s target demographic. I have to face the facts; I am no longer a teenage girl. This book would probably have thrilled me when I was 13, but I just didn’t find it nearly as appealing now. While there are a lot of books I read when I was younger that I re-read and enjoy to this day, this series was not one of them. As I read, it was hard to deny that I had outgrown this particular series.

Final recommendations: If you are interested in supernatural or fantasy literature, have an interest in historical fiction (1800s England), or like reading books with strong female leads, feel free to give this book a try. If any or all or these things apply AND you’re a teenager, try harder to pick it up. While this book is unlikely to blow anyone’s mind, it was ultimately a pleasant and quick read, and had an undercurrent of feminism that I enjoyed even when I was frustrated with every other part of the book.

The Fault in Our Stars {Book/Movie Review}

My post yesterday was short and without a title for two reasons. The first is, simply, because I was running out of time – I spontaneously invited my friends home after the movie, and we played euchre, talked about TFIOS, and generally hung out until after midnight. One of my friends decided to stay the night, and I realized that I had approximately three seconds to get this blog post out before I had to give up sweets for three days. The second is because I needed a little more time to process my thoughts before I wrote about them, so I gave myself a bit of a pass.

I suppose there should be some sort of minimum word count or something, but I haven’t really bothered to set one because of my penchant for getting caught up in situations like this.

But this post is not an explanation, so much as it is a book/movie review – The Fault in Our Stars.

Written by John Green, The Fault in Our Stars (TFIOS) is a book about two teens who have cancer, and miraculously escapes being about cancer itself. In the novel, Hazel and Augustus navigate the pitfalls of teenagerhood, love, and the many varied side effects of dying. It manages to be hilarious, morose, and uplifting all at once, and it’s the kind of book that is fully worth the tears it brings. While it is not the best book in the universe – and you will never hear me call any book the best book ever, because I don’t think there can be only one – it is certainly one that should be allowed into your life.

Basically, I loved it. Above and beyond the story and the characters, there’s a spirit in this story that comes out and overwhelms you. It made me realize that I too am dying – not quite as quickly, but dying all the same. All of us are – in fact, that is the one thing we all have in common at all times. We are all slowly dying, battling the loss of consciousness that will one day overtake us. But between now and that moment, we have a little spare time, a little infinity, if you will, and it is up to us to fill it in the best way possible.

So I loved this book, and I went to see the movie, and you will read a hundred thousand accounts of how amazing this movie is. So instead I will talk about the one thing that disappointed me.

While I did love it, I also found the reason I’ve preferred reading love poetry to having such poetry read to me. Some words deserve to remain on the page, for that is where they shine; when said aloud by an actual person, they feel strange rather than beautiful, childish rather than profound. I found that this happened with many parts of this book – words that had meant so much to me, had given me so much to think about, felt intrinsically different when they  were spoken rather than written. There are so many quotes in the book that struck a chord in me when I was reading – but when I saw them played out on the screen, I felt as though something was missing in translation.

And I’ve realized this is the case with many books. Mary and Colin say a great many things in The Secret Garden that sound (to use Mary’s turn of phrase) queer when said aloud. Anne of Green Gables, whose words are lovely and poetic on paper suddenly seem overdramatic in movie form.

Nevertheless, The Fault in Our Stars is highly recommended by this reader and viewer.