Category Archives: 3.5 stars

Requiem by Lauren Oliver

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars.

Every book has its beginnings. A fresh protagonist to fall in love with, a new world to explore, a story to watch play out. By the end of the book, it’s time to say goodbye to what we’ve come to know – not only the settings that have taken root in our minds or the characters who have made their way into our hearts, but the lessons we’ve learned. With series, I find this more difficult; with several books and hundreds and hundreds of pages to entrench ourselves in, it should be more gut-wrenching, more bittersweet. But when I put Requiem down, it wasn’t as devastating as I wanted it to be… it wasn’t anything at all, really. Continue reading

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Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars.

Apathy is such an ugly word. We should always connect with the characters we read about, even if it’s not in a positive way – or we should fall in love with the author’s writing, or the setting of the story. In Under the Never Sky, none of that happened. Instead, I felt it: apathy.

A synopsis of the plot would probably pique readers’ interest. In Under the Never Sky, humans live in sheltered Pods where, through technological advances, they access the Realms – virtual realities in which one can do almost anything without fear. Aria grew up in a dome called Reverie, safe from the Aether storms that threaten the lives of all in the Pods. But a reckless choice and an unfortunate consequence causes Aria to be thrown out of her home and into the Outside, a dangerous place full of savages and empty of the comforting pleasures Aria has always known. There she encounters a gifted savage named Perry, and embarks on a journey to find her mother, Lumina.

It’s not like this was a bad book. Continue reading

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The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars. I almost cannot believe that I am giving less than 4 stars to a book by Maggie Stiefvater.

The Raven Boys revolves around Blue Sargent, the daughter of a clairvoyant mother. Blue herself cannot see the future, but she amplifies the powers of those around her – and, ever since she was young, she’s been told that if she kisses her true love, he’ll die. After seeing a shocking vision one night, Blue finds herself entangled in a group of academically and financially superior guys from Aglionby Academy. Known as the Raven Boys, Blue knows that she shouldn’t get caught up in their conquests – but, inevitably, she’s drawn deeper and deeper into their dangerous, mysterious circle.

I have terribly missed reading Maggie Stiefvater’s writing. It’s still beautiful, and her decision to write about the supernatural, prophecies, and Glendower shows that she’s not afraid to try new things in the realm of young-adult fiction. Continue reading

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Fever by Lauren DeStefano

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars.

The beginning of Fever immediately follows the ending of Wither. Now with her much cherished freedom, Rhine runs away with Gabriel in order to find her brother, Rowan. On the way she encounters dreadful enemies she did not dare to expect, including the crazed leader of a creepy circus, and a force from her past she had once purged herself from. Continue reading

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Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

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Rating: 3.5/5 stars.

I like books that make me feel. I felt pretty anguished and surprised when I read about babies being electrocuted on page 20. Why would anyone electrocute innocent babies, you ask?

‘They’ll grow up with what the psychologists used to call an ‘instinctive’ hatred of books and flowers. Reflexes unalterably conditioned. They’ll be safe from books and botany all their lives.’

No! Not books! Condition them to detest Doritos or cottage cheese – anything but books!

I also like books that make me think. Here is a quote that made me think (I sent it to a friend via text, too): Continue reading

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Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Cover via Goodreads.

3.5/5 stars.

I had to write a report/review of this book for my AP US History class, so I’ve decided to use that as my review. I apologize for my frequent book reviews and not so frequent posts about everything else – spring break has finally arrived, so I will get right on that!

In Unbroken Laura Hillenbrand narrates the odyssey of Louie Zamperini – from his success as an Olympic athlete to his internment as a prisoner of war under the Japanese. Zamperini started off as an unruly child, but his rebellious nature was reformed into a healthy addiction to running – due to his talent, he was chosen to represent the United States in the Berlin Olympics. Afterward, as World War II began, he changed his career and became a bombardier. When a rescue mission went awry, he ended up alone in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. His fight for survival at this point only surfaced the ocean of his struggles, as he proceeded to be captured by the Japanese, who treated him horribly and inhumanely. However, after suffering from hateful and dehumanizing torture in several camps, Zamperini was able to return home once the war ended. Life was not a basket of peaches then, but eventually, he rose above his trials and tribulations and emerged unbroken from the battles he had faced.

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Hallowed by Cynthia Hand

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars.

I feel almost gratuitous giving this book 3.5 stars.

I’ll start with the things I liked about Hallowed. Hand writes well – better than most young-adult paranormal authors do – and skilfully avoids most of the typical YA story conventions that can be found in a myriad of other books. The plot is paced in a way that is entertaining but not overwhelming, and the characters are capable of keeping readers’ interests.

I’m not sure why everyone loves this book and lauds it so highly though. Nothing reached into my heart and grabbed me, nothing made me want to press those Kindle buttons until my fingers broke from strain, nothing really made me care about the book beyond my basic feelings of surprise and sympathy.

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You Against Me by Jenny Downham

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars.

I tried to explain the plot of this book to several of my friends at school, and while some times it went successfully, there were other times when it didn’t. On the surface, You Against Me is about Mikey, whose fifteen-year-old sister, Karyn, has been raped. The young man charged with raping her, Tom, also also has a younger sister named Ellie. Mikey and Ellie meet each other and begin to form a bond, but their connection may bring devastating consequences.

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All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars.

I remember reading Elsewhere and Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin and enjoying them both. Zevin has a knack for creating unique stories and All These Things I’ve Done is no exception.

However, the dystopian aspect of the book could have been developed more. Chocolate and caffeine are illegal, there are copious amounts of crime, mafia families are present and powerful, but how did it get this way? How are these things affecting society? Even though Anya isn’t directly affected by these things because of her position as the daughter of a crime boss, a more comprehensive view of life in 2083 would’ve been nice.

Furthermore, All These Things I’ve Done feels like buildup for the next book in the series. The plot starts out strong, but by the middle of the book any sense of danger dissipated and the conflict was almost nonexistent. At the end, everything happens at once when all the action could’ve been distributed more equally throughout the entire novel.

That being said, I’m looking forward to the next book in the Birthright series. I didn’t really connect to any of the characters besides Anya, but her dry humor and sense of practicality made her a likable narrator whose voice I grew to love. All These Things I’ve Done ended in a way that leaves many possibilities for the plot of the second book, and I’m eager to see where Zevin takes the story in terms of Anya’s family and her relationships.

Overall, a well-written story that didn’t entirely live up to its potential. Not horrible, though. Recommended to fans of young-adult dystopia novels and books about mafia families and organizations.

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The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars.

Thomas noticed the spider silently treading across the carpeted floor of his bedroom. He froze. Oh snap, he thought, this could be the end of me. He knew that taking innocent lives was sinful, but fear forced him to kill the terrifying creature with his phone book. Then, spiders began to emerge from literally everywhere – out of the windows, the walls, the dresser – and they crawled toward him. Their hairy, black bodies enveloped him and ate him alive.

As most of already discerned due to my lack of activity on Goodreads and WordPress, I’ve been busy. I have resorted to reading right before I go to bed now for ten to fifteen minutes. The Book of Lost Things is not something you should read before going to bed.

John Connolly’s writing in this book feels like a darkened fairy tale. He captivates readers with an entertaining plot and takes them on a journey that includes a variety of allusions to stories such as Hansel and Gretel and Little Red Riding Hood. There are moral lessons aplenty, centering on loss, grief, and the irreversibility of one’s actions.

While I liked the book, I did not love it. I never felt compelled to continue the story after putting the book down. I understand Connolly’s intention of using fairy tales as part of the plot, yet his inclusion of them became overbearing and detracted from the originality of his own story. And, of course, a myriad of disturbing events took place – that’s more of a personal qualm, however.

I recommend this book to fans of dark stories or fairy tales. If you’re like me and run after sighting a spider… well, there are plenty of books in the literary sea.

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