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.)
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?
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.)
Like VAMPIRES or DYSTOPIAN SOCIETIES WHERE THEY VACCINATE AGAINST LOVE or RELIVING THE SAME THING OVER AND OVER and stuff.
Remember when I liked Vampire Academy? Well I also read Bloodlines, the spinoff book. Because I’m cool.
Author: Richelle Mead
Okay you guys, this book was not as good as the Vampire Academy books but mostly I think that’s because I wanted dear Sydney the Alchemist to be less awkward so that she got more action. If I am going to read YA paranormal stuff, I want more romance, you know? What is the point otherwise? I am looking for cheesy romance, and there is not as much in this as in the VA books. HOWEVER, it was still pretty good and one of the characters that gets kind of a crappy deal in the VA books (Adrian) gets a lot of page time here and you can tell there WILL be some romance. Anyway, so I can’t really say much more because it will spoil the other books, but I can say that the last line in this one makes me really excited for the next one. (I still feel bad for liking these books so much ugh.)
So in that way where Ali encourages my worst habits, like reading YA books, she advised me to read Delirium by Lauren Oliver.
Author: Lauren Oliver
So in this book, Lena is about to turn 18 and then she’s going to get this awesome operation so that she never gets deliria, which is FALLINGINLOVESICKNESS. Her mom committed suicide ’cause she felt too many feelings so Lena is super pumped to be protected against it but THEN SHE MEETS A BOY, DUH. The writing style of this book was impressively not the worst, like is often the case in YA, so it was pretty good. Ended with a cliffhanger, of course, and of course the next book isn’t out for forever (like a few months), but still pretty great! Another bonus: the dystopian world is not the worst, either! Aside from love, the government is pretty anti things like music and having lots of fun with your parents, which makes a lot of sense if they’re against love. You get pretty into the characters, too, so this is actually a pretty superb example of YA. Way better than Matched also.
So then I read more Lauren Oliver! And actually I can’t remember which of the Lauren Oliver books I read first; I read them very close together. This next one was written first, fun fact.
Title: Before I Fall
Author: Lauren Oliver
This book has been described as Groundhog Day meets Mean Girls and that’s totally true. Basically, Samantha dies and keeps reliving that same day with different outcomes. Sometimes that’s a little dull, because you just want it to get to the point already, you know? But then it picks up more as you learn more and more along with Sam about all the mean stuff she and her mean popular friends were up to. Sam becomes more honest with herself and I get really excited about decent messages in YA books, so that’s great. Delirium kept my interest better, but this is also a quick, excellent read. Yay for Lauren Oliver!
Only nine books behind now! Also I’m reading another book for grown ups so go me! ALSO happy Mindy-Kaling’s-book-comes-out Day!
So the next easiest category I found in the YA books I’ve read was BOOKS WHERE KIDS ARE EXCELLENT MUSICIANS. I have read three of these. And really “read” is stretching it because one of the books was this book, from Penguin:
Authors: Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral
So this book doesn’t actually come out until February and I read it because I know a dude who works at Penguin. So anyway, the book is entirely made up of photographs so it’s a quick read because there’s almost no reading to do. Basically it’s about piano genius Glory who meets this dude Frank and then goes crazytown until she can only play Chopsticks because her dad thinks Frank is lame and tries to keep them apart. OH WOE AND ANGST etc. Then the book makes you doubt the narration of the photos and blah blah and it was just so gimmicky that I thought it was kind of terrible. The images were nice and everything, and they’ll be even nicer in the final copies (since I saw an advance copy, it wasn’t as pretty as it’ll be later) but the story was just not even a little compelling to me. The characters were so flat because pictures and they really couldn’t be three-dimensional and it’s too bad. Good try, Penguin. I bet kids will like this, though, because angst or whatever. And maybe it’s even a bonus that the characters are barely characters, because then you can SUBSTITUTE YOURSELF IN YAY.
At the Brooklyn Book Festival, I heard Gayle Forman read from If I Stay and then talk about how she didn’t have a love triangle in her book because love triangles are lame and why do young adult books always have those? I was intrigued, so I read:
Title: If I Stay
Author: Gayle Forman
So in this one, cello genius Mia gets in a horrible car accident that kills off her parents and she’s all kinds of in a coma. But lo! She can see everything going on around her, like her awesome (guitar genius) boyfriend, Adam, coming and being sad and her other family coming and being sad and she basically thinks about her life as it was and how it will be if she wakes up and it’s really good and deep for a YA book, all talking about things that matter like what it means to be alive and whatnot. So read this one!
After reading that I was like, YAY let’s read the sequel:
Title: Where She Went
Author: Gayle Forman
And it was such a disappointment. Don’t get me wrong, it’s well-written. It’s told from hottie guitar-player Adam’s POV and he’s going on and on about how hard it is to be a super famous guitar player since his band, Shooting Star, took off. (Sorry Gayle, but that is a terrible band name.) It is SO ANGSTY and SO OBNOXIOUS. Again, teens are into that kind of thing sometimes, but I don’t listen to Evanescence (anymore) and I don’t want to hear all the whinyness about how hard life is when you are famous and rich when I am worrying about real jobs and paying the rent and whatever. Or ever, really, because I’m just not into angsty teen books. SO READ IT IF YOU ARE, it’s still a good book, just not my thing. Also, there were some great Mia/Adam moments that made me keep going, so there are those, too. Just. Not as good as the first.
YAY PRODIGY MUSICIAN CHILDREN IN LOVE.
So, instead of doing a post per book I’ve read I’m going to COMBO UP some of the young adult stuff because I don’t want to bore my own pants off writing about books I read what feels like a million years ago. SO HERE WE GO. YA PARADE: JOHN GREEN VERSION.
My first foray into John Green novels:
Title: Will Grayson, Will Grayson
Authors: John Green and David Levithan
So this book is about two dudes named Will Grayson (one gay, one not; both in various stages of heartbreak/love-sickness throughout) who meet each other by chance and become kind of friends. It’s pretty good. John Green’s parts are HILARIOUS whereas David Levithan’s are super depressing but also pretty good. Lots of quirkiness!
I liked it enough to buy Looking for Alaska, because Katie said it was super good and also because it wasn’t available in any of the ebook libraries available to me. (Four ebook libraries, by the way. In case you were curious how many libraries I belong to, the answer to that is three, but hopefully soon four. AND THEN FIVE EBOOK LIBRARIES OMG.) Anyway, so I bought it and it was pretty good also.
Title: Looking for Alaska
Author: Just John Green this time, you guys.
In this more depressing book, Miles meets hot crazy babe, Alaska, when he transfers into a boarding school and his once-boring life becomes super exciting and adventurous. Thanks, hot crazy babe! Miles is obsessed with last words, which is pretty great. Anyway, THEN SOMETHING TERRIBLE HAPPENS and Miles and his roomie, The Colonel, try to figure it out, and it’s all coming-of-agey and sad and really good.
Next, because it was available on the KINDLE FROM LIBRARIES HOW EXCITING, I read An Abundance of Katherines.
Title: An Abundance of Katherines
Author: John Green again, surprise!
This one is about socially-weird dude, Colin, and all the chicks named Katherine that he dated. (He only dates Katherines, in fact.) The most recent Katherine (#19) has dumped him and he’s super sad about it because quirky sad boys are John Green’s thing, so he and his BFF Hassan go road-tripping to feel better. They meet a hot babe named Lindsay (THAT’S MY NAME) (ETA: Actually, her name is Lindsey with an E which is lamer.) and Colin’s life is changed FOREVER. This is the weakest of the three I’ve read, I think, because it is just quirk-ville and the characters are less believable but it’s still 4 stars good, so read it anyway.
John Green is a pretty cool dude, you guys! Read his books! (I guess I will round out his books by reading Paper Towns, also.)
P.S. The cover images might be weird/low quality. I’m not sure what’s going on with WordPress image uploader, if anything. Might just be my internet. Anyway, sorry if it looks gross!