Tag Archives: YA

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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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.

Don’t judge a book by its genre!

For as long as I can remember I have loved to read, and my tastes have run from the highest of brows to the lowest. I spent ample amounts of time absorbed by Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, and various other “classic” authors. I’ve also spent quite a lot of time devouring romance novels, the kind with nearly nude covers and heros and heroines that are always quivering, science fiction/fantasy, and YA novels.

Even now, Ernest Hemingway, Shel Silverstein, John Green, and Nora Roberts all have a place on my bookshelf, and it really gets my goat when someone argues that a book is bad because of its genre. I mean, I understand having a preference for one genre or the other personally – but to claim that all romance novels are bad, or that all YA fiction is bad, is simply foolhardy to me.

There are books worth reading in every genre, just as there are books that aren’t. For example, Harry Potter and The Hunger Games are generally placed in the same genre, but i would argue that the former is far superior to the latter. Both are YA, both dystopian/fantasy fiction – however, one has superior rhetoric and stronger, more relatable themes to me, and that makes all the difference. And this holds true in every genre – there are good books and bad books, certainly – but you can’t judge a book by its genre!

And I suppose the biggest reason it bothers me is that there are a lot of books I enjoy that are romance, or YA, or both – so often, it can be difficult not to take such criticism personally.

So if you’re a person with a dislike for one genre or the other, take a careful look at your reasons, and try not to make generalizations. Think about your audience – the problem with critiquing books is that the people reading your critiques are almost always well – read enough to disprove your point if they are so inclined.