Blog, I must be kind of a big deal, because someone actually asked me to specifically review this book and then she sent it to me! This happens all the time for Real Live Book Bloggers, but usually from publishing houses and not from friends who read their blog. STILL. I’m basically famous.
Author: Julianna Baggott
So here’s the scoop on this post-apocalyptic/dystopian tome. Once upon a time, everything was happy and people went to Disney and had 3D movie glasses (the red and blue kind) and kept their kids safe by putting tracking devices in them and everything was sunny. Then the Detonations came, and they were special bombs with Special Science in them that not only clouded up all the world from the sun (mostly) but also made anyone outside the Dome fuse to whatever they were near, living or dead, when the Detonations occurred. Mutants!
What is the Dome, you ask? Why, it’s the place where all the special people with the right connections went to avoid getting hurt / fused in the Detonations. Handy! Everything outside the Dome blows because basically you’re fending for yourself by eating mutant squirrels and hoping not to get eaten by other mutant people. Inside the Dome blows, too, because the government is super strict and turns its best soldiers into mutant fighting machines for fun. Also, everyone inside the Dome is called a Pure by the ‘people’ outside, some of whom (Dusts) are mostly dust and will probably eat you and others of whom are fused in groups (Groupies) and will probably eat you and others of whom (Pressia, one of the protags and narrator) have doll-heads for hands. Also, when you turn sixteen if you’re outside the Dome, the Dome calls you in to either train you to be a soldier if you aren’t too badly mutated, or if you’re super ugly they use you for target practice.
Mostly my opinions on this book are that it is too melodramatic, too long, and not compelling enough. What some people call “grotesque” (Pressia’s doll-head hand, Groupies, Dusts) I call eye-roll worthy, and over the top. I had a really hard time getting into it at all because there were just so many eye-roll worthy details that were just dripping with melodrama. Or Pressia’s buddy and future love interest, Bradwell, the boy with the birds in his back because he fused with a flock of birds.
And then there is Partridge, who uses his kind-of-friend, Lyda, to break out of the Dome. Lyda is interesting, Partridge is kind of a turd, and of course his dad is a big political figure in the Dome and when Partridge and Pressia meet you’re like OH WILL THEY BE IN LOVE? because you know, this is YA, but Partridge keeps thinking of Lyda, who he mostly just used for her connections and kissed once, so for a while you’re just like WHERE IS THE LOVE?
This is YA, but my friends, there is very little romance, and what romance there is feels incredibly forced. I found this disappointing, because a good cheesy romance can often save melodrama for me, but that was not the case here. Boring, like two kisses the WHOLE book, melodramatic, and way too long to be the first in a trilogy.
It does get more political than your average YA book, though, which I liked. Particularly the bits about feminism. After Twilight took us back quite a ways, it’s nice to see a book recognizing. I also kind of liked the multiple narrators, even though I usually don’t. I didn’t totally like it, but I didn’t hate it, and it kept things from being TOO boring, although, like I said, mostly this was a dull book.
I gave it 3 stars because I liked it okay, but I would not be compelled to continue with the series.
Coming up next: I will finally finish blogging about the books I read in 2011. (Oops.)
Hey, blog. I’ve been horrible about updating again. I blame my internet for being unreliable. Anyway, let’s move on…
I first heard of Ramona Ausubel almost a year ago when I read her haunting and beautiful short story “Atria” in The New Yorker. The story was so great that I remembered it and, over the summer, looked her up, to see if she’d written anything I could get my hands on, and found out she had her debut novel coming out in February. Then either in November or December, I saw an ad in Shelf Awareness Pro for a free galley, I entered to win one, and I got one! Thanks, Riverhead Books!
Author: Ramona Ausubel
This novel centers around a remote Jewish village in Romania that decides, after finding a stranger in the river, to combat the impending World War II by reinventing themselves and their world. The effort is led by Lena, a young girl, and the stranger, and while the village’s plot works for a while, the war creeps in and our narrator, Lena, who has grown into a young mother, is forced to flee the village with her sons.
I loved this book. It was sad, and beautiful, and haunting, and surreal, and every sentence was one I wanted to mark because it was so poetic and lovely. If none of these words sound like they describe books you ordinarily like, don’t read it. You won’t like it. But if you do like poetic, dreamlike, borderline magical realism (not quite though, sorry), you absolutely should read No One Is Here Except All of Us because it is THE BEST. It’s a book that creeps into your bones and stays there.
And after (or before) you read it, read “Atria” because it’s also really excellent.
Ramona Ausubel, I am keeping an eye out for more of your writing.
I give to you a mass post because frankly, I would like to get on to reviewing better books and I am tired of talking about books that were kind of boring. So here are five boring books, reviewed minimally. Also I think I’m going to start linking to Goodreads pages instead of Amazon ones ’cause, you know, independent booksellers.
Author: Marie Lu
So. Here’s basically how it goes. PLAGUES. DYSTOPIA. TRUE LOVE. CORRUPT GOVERNMENT.
“Oh, hello, my name is June and the government thinks I am the best at everything. My bro is pretty good too, but he’s DEAD so I’m going to find his murderer, and also I’m hot.”
“Oh, I’m Day, everyone thinks I’m a super-criminal-murderer or whatever but I just ran away because the government told me I had a shitty score but actually I’m pretty good at running around and stuff, just look at how I can escape the police, time after time! Also, I’m hot! Also, I may have accidentally killed ur bro. Would you like to be in super-mega-love?”
Predictable and boooooring. Sry, Marie Lu.
Title: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
Author: Michelle Hodkin
“Oh man. I wish I knew how my friends died but I just can’t remember… also… weird the way the people I don’t like are just, like, dying you know???” It was okay, but mostly this book is another really obsessive teen relationship book plus mysterious murders and deaths and stuff. It tries to be all paranormal, but mostly doesn’t make any sense.
Title: Anna and the French Kiss
Author: Stephanie Perkins
I was kind of fond of this one in that way where it is just your typical YA my-dad-sent-me-to-Paris-to-go-to-school-because-he-doesn’t-understand-me-but-then-I-fell-in-love romance. Nothing special, but if you’re looking for a simple, paranormal-free romance that is cheesy and set in France, go read this.
Title: Gossip Girl
Author: Cecily von Ziegesar
Know why those girls on the cover are laughing and having so much fun? Because they are watching Gossip Girl on the CW. If they were reading Gossip Girl, they’d be totally bored.
Title: Anna Dressed in Blood
Author: Kendare Blake
If you thought undead/human romance was weird, don’t worry, this is the way more orthodox dead/human romance that you’ve been waiting for. I’m not really into ghost love, and also I cared about none of these characters. Except maybe Cas’s witch-mom, she was okay. Maybe his cat, too.
Anyway, hope you enjoy these books I wouldn’t recommend! Now I can blog about awesome books I read like The Marriage Plot and No One Is Here Except All of Us. Hurrah!
Oh my god, blog, it’s your birthday in that way where exactly one year ago TODAY I posted your very first post, which were some resolutions or whatever because you know, beginning of January. (For those who are interested, I would say I was mildly successful with resolutions 1, 2, 3, and 7, successful with 5, and not at all successful with 4 and 6.)
Anyway, I am not really into the idea of making resolutions this year so instead I’m going to tell you all about what I read last year, since this is a book blog and I’m curious. You can see the whole list of books I’ve read here. (By the way, I don’t know if you realize this, blog, but every book I read I post about. I’m behind on a few books right now, but I promise I will blog about all of them, and the list of books is up to date as of this moment. Also, just realized that I forgot about Legend so I added that to the list in roughly the area where I read it.)
TOTAL NUMBER OF BOOKS READ IN 2011: 56
- Hardcover books read: 2
- Paperback books read: 9 (6 ARCs)
- Ebooks read: 45
I did not realize that I read so few books that are actually books and not ebooks. I did, however, just buy two books I’m super excited about reading and they are real books, and they are for adults of the grown variety, as opposed the the young one. Speaking of…
- Adult books read: 16
- YA books read: 34
- Middle grade books read: 6
(Fun fact: the vocabulary level of the middle grade books was much higher than that of the YA books.)
Also, you guys, I knew I was reading a lot of YA but holy hell is that way too high a percentage of YA books. More than 50% of the books I read this year were for young adults. I know I am kind of close to / in (according to some) that age range, but… that is ridiculous. Reading YA books in and of itself is not ridiculous, but they aren’t even the books I enjoy the most, so I should spend more time with books I love or am more likely to love.
What books did I enjoy the most, you ask? Here, I will give you my TOP THREE BOOKS READ IN 2011, although they are in NO ORDER OKAY? I can’t decide on which is best, which is why there are three.
- Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
- No One Is Here Except All of Us by Ramona Ausubel
If you haven’t read the first two, do so immediately. I read them both as library ebooks and I am on the hunt for cheap copies at The Strand or another used book store to buy because they are so worth owning. The third you must read immediately after it comes out in February. I will hopefully have blogged about it by then.
I guess I will make a few resolutions, too, but in the way of books and this blog.
- More than 50% of books I read should be FOR ADULTS. Seriously.
- Read MORE than 56 books. 75, even? (Should be doable depending on my job situation. I just looked at my books again and while I was in college I read 9 books, whereas from the summer program in June to the end of December I read the other 47.)
- Blog AT LEAST 4 times a month, lazy. That is so easy, why am I not doing it yet?
- Blog about more movies / TV shows! I do those things, too, not just read books!
Okay, blog. We had an okay 2011 in terms of me blogging and reading, but we can do better this year, right?
So the entire world read The Help and unlike GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TRAMP STAMP and cetera, I actually heard from some people I know (Alison) that it might be something I like, and also it wasn’t of the violence-around-every-corner-mystery-time genre that I’m not really attracted to at all. (I’m looking at you, tramp stamp.) Other things: Amy Einhorn of Amy Einhorn Books (you know... the publisher of The Help?) came to NYU’s Summer Publishing Institute so… I felt like I kinda had to read her main moneymaker. (SIDENOTE: Okay, Tramp Stamp Dragonface’s publicist AND editor came into SPI as well [that’s Sonny Mehta and Paul Bogaards of Knopf over at Random House (THE MORE YOU KNOW, OKAY?)] but I just don’t have any desire to read a book that used to be titled Men Who Hate Women, and also probably I will eventually read the series, just not yet. Let me live in my fantasy world of corny YA romance and popular fiction for a while.)
But anyway. The Help, which originally I was really oh-hell-no about because of the dialect thing, which Kathryn Stockett deploys all over the place, was actually pretty good. I waited like two months on the library’s ebook waiting list, then I got it and read it on my phone. FREE BOOKS YAY.
Title: The Help
Author: Kathryn Stockett
So here’s the thing, you guys. I actually did kind of like this book. And by “kind of like” I mean that I liked it, okay? (With some caveats.) Here’s the thing. The story is actually really compelling. And it’s pretty well written, too. You almost don’t even notice the dialect. (Or at least, it isn’t obnoxiously in your face after a few paragraphs when you get into it.) And it’s a quick, emotion-filled read.
For those of you who don’t know, it’s 1962 Mississippi and racism is rampant. Progressive
Emma Stone Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan wants to be a writer / in publishing [I know that feeling…] and also really liked her maid growing up, who disappeared while she was at college because Skeeter’s mom sucks. Anyway, she gets a couple other maids to write about racism in the South and also what it’s really like to be the help. Super controversial, civil rights, etc. Also privileged white ladies are a little Mean Girls, except instead of wearing pink on Wednesdays, they all agree to put new bathrooms in for the help so that they don’t catch diseases, so it’s a lot more racist. Anyway, The Help is a book about a book about the help. And also a book about the help. And stirrin’ up trouble!
Anyway, like I said, it’s pretty good. There’s one scene in particular between Minny and Cecilia Foote (the sluttiest slut in all of Mississippi because she has big boobs and used to be poor, which obviously makes someone the worst) where Cecilia has a [highlight to see spoiler: MISCARRIAGE] and it is just so viscerally written and upsetting and it will stick with me forever. It was really well done. I also really like Skeeter and Stuart’s thing and the way it pans out. Super realistic!
Caveats: I feel weird about this being written by a white lady. I feel weird about the dialect. I feel weird about how I like the purple and yellow together on the cover.
Otherwise, though, I was pretty into it. Probably you should read it.
Sometimes I like to read books because everyone who reads is reading them, and also the obnoxious pink and orange cover of One Day kept catching my eye at bookstores. So I went on the library waiting list for the ebook version of this one and, although it took over a month, finally downloaded it to read. And I am sorry you guys, but I do not understand how it has gotten so much attention with how lame it is.
Title: One Day
Author: David Nicholls
So this book is about how obnoxiously-leftist-feminist-political-turd-who-is-way-hotter-without-her-glasses-obviously Emma is totally into party-boy-doesn’t-give-a-shit-about-politics-but-is-super-hot Dexter (“Dex”) and how one time they hook up after college graduation and then they meet up every year after that and have awkward we’re-pretending-to-be-friends-but-secretly-we’re-in-love-with-each-other-lol moments. Both of them have crappy lives because obviously life is crappy when you aren’t with the person you love. OBVIOUSLY. And then the ending irritates me more than anything, because it is obviously meant to pull at your heartstrings and it is so cloying and horrible.
Other things that are horrible: seriously, stop talking about Emma’s stupid lips or Dex’s stupid eyes or anyone’s stupid hair. The romance novel language is THE WORST. Also, the characters are stupid cookie cutters and two dimensional and I didn’t give a rat’s rear about them. Also, the Britishisms felt forced and awkward. (Sorry, Brits.)
Actually, I just figured out the worst thing about it, and it is that it makes me think these two words: Lifetime Movie. So read it if that’s your thing, but ignore it if it’s not, and you’ll be happier.
Other things: I hear the movie is also terrible and Anne Hathaway’s accent is laughably bad.
Other other things: HAY YOU GUYS I CHANGED MY BLOG ALL UP. Check out my clips (I’m so professional) and my books read list up in the corner. Hopefully a background change will be coming soon ’cause that’s the one thing I’m not really happy with.
Other other other things: THIS SONG (and video). So good.
Because who doesn’t love books involving suicide, social isolation, and serial runaways?
Title: Thirteen Reasons Why
Author: Jay Asher
Maybe some of you (all you readers who don’t exist) remember that I read the facebook book a few months ago, half by Jay Asher. I decided I liked that enough to read Thirteen Reasons Why, and also this book is kind of a big deal so there’s that, too.
Anyway, the book is about Hannah Baker, or rather, about the tapes she left for certain people to hear after she committed suicide. Heavy stuff, guys. The tapes are basically about what and who made Hannah want to kill herself, and they’re to be heard by all the people who are to blame, and also Clay Jensen, poor dude. Of course he’s full of guilt as he listens to all the tapes before he is to send them on and none of this book is a happy story.
But you know what? Way better than the facebook book and even though I find the idea that someone would be angry enough to leave suicide tapes behind really really disturbing, the concept is way more believable and way better executed. (Sorry, Jay Asher, but I couldn’t really get behind FACEBOOKFUTUREBOOK.) Also, good things for kids in schools to think about: small actions make a big difference. (HEY THAT WAS FACEBOOK BOOK’S MESSAGE, TOO.) Not my favorite book in the world because I didn’t find it super compelling (like I said, same message as about a million other books), but I gave it 4 stars on Goodreads, because it’s well written and one of those books that’s obviously going to be a big deal to teens.
Author: Stephen Chbosky
So I read this book because I have a girl crush on Emma Watson and she’s in the movie adaptation. I have to say, guys, I have no idea how they are going to make this into a movie I like because honestly, this book was not very good.
This book is all about social outcast Charlie who somehow finds his way into a “cool” crowd of kids and all his (mis)adventures. I’m a be real, though, it was way Catcher in the Rye except only the bad parts, like how the narrator is really obnoxious about not understanding anything, except this book is even worse about that because this kid does not understand anything at all even more than Holden didn’t. But somehow this group he falls into of seniors (while he’s a freshman) thinks he’s the bee’s knees and get him all sorts of drugged up and girlfriend-ed and it’s weird you guys, it makes no sense.
Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand why teen readers are into this. It’s all growing-up-y and it’s great if you’re a social outcast and you’re like If Charlie can get friends and he is SO WEIRD AND CRIES ALL THE TIME totally I can get friends too. But if you have even a little post-teen perspective the whole thing just seems shallow and try-too-hard and frankly disturbing, because these seniors hanging out with Charlie do a lot of questionable things to a boy who is so socially stunted.
2 stars, Goodreads. Because ugh.
So, uh… good luck, movie industry. I will probably (totally legally) stream this on the internet after it comes out just to see if Emma Watson can save it.
Title: Paper Towns
Author: John Green
I also decided to finally finish my John Green reading before the next book comes out, which roommate Katie is totally pumped about and pre-ordered, so I’ll probably borrow her copy because I’m cheap. (Run-on sentences are fun.)
So here’s another quirky-girl gives boy-who-would-probably-not-attract-quirky-girl-in-real-life the run-around book. Don’t get me wrong, it’s entertaining, and I like it, but John Green, this girl does not exist in real life, and if she does, she does not function socially very well. She could not manage to be super popular like Margo, and probably no one would go looking for her, because boy-who-would-not-attract-her also wouldn’t be into her, because he’d see that she’s kind of a mess, you know?
So anyway, Margo kidnaps Quentin (Q) in the night to go mess with a bunch of people who messed with her, and then she runs away and Quentin and friends try to find her because she always leaves clues. And it’s super entertaining, and it’s got endearing characters (even if they aren’t quite real and are very derivative of his past books), and if you like John Green, obviously you’ll like this because it’s quintessentially John Green. Quirk, romance, mystery, funny, and smart, while just barely missing the mark on being deep and profound because you can’t get over the characters-who-don’t-exist, so you can’t really get into their problems.
That’s it for now you guys but guess what. I’m reading TWO BOOKS FOR GROWN-UPS right now. So I promise it won’t always be this ridiculous shower of young adult books. (Sry.)