Sunday, May 27, 2012

Review: Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

Pandemonium (Delirium, #2)Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Lauren Oliver just keeps getting better and better for me. There hasn't been a book that I haven't liked from her, then again this is only the third book that I've read by her. But I think it's safe to say that I've become a fan of her work and writing.

The Good:

The plot was fantastic. Lena does change a bit from Delirium, but her change is expected and very realistic. The chapters went back and forth from "then", which takes place right after Lena escapes to the Wild, and "now", which happens many months after this when Lena is living in New York.

Both show how Lena is adapting to her new world. In the wild, she experiences hunger, death, and survival. In New York, she's experiencing survival in a different form. One that is a lot more dangerous than battling the elements.

At first, I was really into the chapters about the Wild, but after awhile the chapters taking place in New York got really interesting and I wanted to know what was happening.

Since Alex is captured or dead, there is a new love interest and I was ready to hate him. I hate love triangles and knew that the new guy didn't stand a chance. But the more I read about Julian, the more I hoped Alex was dead.

Alex didn't really have much of a presence. His role was to open Lena up to a world she never knew about, because of this he was a great guy without any flaws or hangups. Julian was so different. There was a childish quality, but also someone who was willing to stand up fight. He struggled, like Lena did, but his change was natural and their relationship made sense given their circumstances. He was also flawed and I liked that about him and surprisingly enough liked him with Lena.

The Okay:

I still don't think that the virus and love is explained all too well. There is a mention that passion is close to love, so people stay away from it. But for the most part, it still doesn't make sense to me. Unlike the last book, we don't really see much of the cured world, so this wasn't as big of a problem as before.

I would like a better explanation though.

The Bad:

Sadly, the bad is due to the ending which is predictable, but something I wish didn't happen. It's a bit of a spoiler, so if you'd like to read the spoilery rant, click here to visit my goodreads review of this.


Overall, the book was fantastic. I enjoyed it a lot more than Delirium and loved how the characters were realistic and flawed. I hate the ending, but I'm hoping that the next book won't focus so much on it and instead on the resistance.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Review: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Delirium (Delirium, #1)Delirium by Lauren Oliver
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lauren Oliver is a great writer, she proved that to me when I read Before I Fall, and with Delirium the same great writing is there. The story isn't as good, but I think it's due to the premise of the story.

Delirium is about a world where love is a sickness and when you reach the age of eighteen, you need to be cured of this horrible virus.

Once you are cured, everything is better. Except, it's not. Parents no longer have feelings towards their kids, couples go through the motion, and people stop loving each other. In this world, it's hunky dory to the people, but to the reader we can clearly see that this is really messed up.

The Good:

At first, I was bored Lena and loved Hana. By the middle of the novel, I still loved Hana, but I liked Lena too. Lena is someone who was really into the system, so her reluctance to do anything, given with what happened to her mother, was realistic and made sense. She does start to change once she falls in love, but even then when she first finds out what Alex really is, she stops all contact with him. In a lot of other novels, she would have continued her relationship and changed completely, but Lena didn't. I really liked that about her.

Did I mention that Hana was awesome? If I didn't, then well...she was awesome.

I really liked the world that Lauren Oliver created. Not the virus, but the fact that the people are so heavily governed and that they think that this is for the good of the people is scary. Hmmm, maybe this is why the government decided to 'cure' everyone of love when they're eighteen. They reach the age to vote, get cured, then stop caring about how heavily oppressed they truly are.

The Okay

Once Lena falls in love, she starts to become a bit stupid. Considering how oppressive her country has become and how scared she was before, she seems to stop caring. Even though she knows of the consequences.

I've never been in love before or in a relationship so I don't know how that affects or changes people, but I do know that if I lived there and was in love with someone, I wouldn't have done some of the things Lena did.

The Bad
Sadly, while I did like many things in the book, the thing that I didn't like was the premise. I think it's because love wasn't really defined properly in this. For example, I do love my family and with that love comes caring, loyalty, and a bunch of other emotions. And we do see that with Aunt Carol and her children, she doesn't have any motherly love for them and treats them in a mechanical kind of manner. She's doing things for them, not because she loves them, but because it's her job and duty as a mother.

At the same time, there are scenes when you could tell that she does care for her children, husband, and Lena. Her trying to remind Lena that after she's cured she won't want to hang out with Hana so much, showed that she did care. She even looked a little sad when saying this. She actively tries to help Lena through her examinations, because she wants what is best for her.

But then, she calls her kid stupid because one of her daughters can't speak. It might just be me, but I kind of wish the virus was explained a bit more, because it did seem inconsistent at some points.

Other than that, I quite liked the book.

Rating: 4 stars

Monday, May 14, 2012

Review: Sweetly by Jackson Pearce

Sweetly (Fairytale Retellings, #2)Sweetly by Jackson Pearce
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After being disappointed with Sisters Red, I was hoping that Sweetly would live up to my expectations and for the most part it did. I found Sweetly to be a lot better than Sisters Red. Almost all of the problems I had with the previous book in this series wasn't an issue anymore.

The Good
I liked how Sweetly felt like a modern retelling. When I was reading this, I never thought that this would be better if it was set back in the day.

Another thing that I liked, and is a huge plus in this book, is that Gretchen grew up. In the beginning she's a girl who is trapped in the past, but as the story progresses she changes to a girl who takes action instead of waiting for her brother to do things.

Plus, she was complex and fleshed out quite well. This made her a stronger heroine, because she felt real.

But I think the biggest plus for me in this book was the logic actually made sense.

The Okay
Sophie was a character that was intriguing and mysterious and while I never hated or liked her, I was expecting more from her. In the beginning it seemed like she may be a witch, mainly because Ansel falls for her almost automatically and Gretchen feels safe and not afraid to open up when around her. Also, the men in Live Oak seemed a lot nicer to her than the women.

In the end, she wasn't a witch, but I do wonder if that was some sort of missed opportunity there. [It would have been nice to see her having a sinister motive instead of just working with the Fenris....which is sinister, but not as sinister as a woman working alone and doing evil things. (hide spoiler)]

The book was also kind of predictable, so there was never really any surprise when the secrets were revealed. When it came to Ansel and Gretchen, I understood why they didn't figure things out. But Samuel, he didn't really have an excuse.

Yes, he knew things, but it's not until Gretchen does most of the work that he figures things out. This surprised me because he's a hunter and is Silas', the hunter from Sisters Red, brother. It just didn't make sense to me.

The Bad
I never bought the relationship between Samuel and Gretchen. It seemed like the only reason they got together was because they didn't really talk to anyone else in their age group. Everyone thinks Samuel is crazy and Gretchen...well it kind of seemed like there was no young guys in Live Oak.

Samuel doesn't even seem to like Gretchen at first, so when he gets together with her I was wondering where it came from. I don't know, it kind of seemed like it was thrown in because YA novels always need to have a romance in it.

I did like that it didn't dominate the plot though and there was very little of it, so I suppose I can't complain too much about it.

Overall:
Sweetly was a vast improvement to Sisters Red, the writing is still crisp and the story made sense for a modern retelling.

I have a feeling that the next novel in the series will be even better. The Little Mermaid is a dark tale, so I wonder what Jackson Pearce will do with it. [I just hope there are no Fenris there, but I kind of think there will be since it was revealed that the girls by the ocean are the dark ones, girls who have lost their twin and are now the lovers of Fenris.........I think I just figured out how then ext book will be. (hide spoiler)]


Rating: 4 stars

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Review: Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce

Sisters Red (Fairytale Retellings, #1)Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Sisters Red has a lot of things I like in a novel; great writing, intriguing premise, and tons of potential to blow my mind. It's also a fairy tale re-telling, which is one of my favourite genres. I love seeing how authors change up fairy tales into something new. Plus it has a pretty sweet cover. It's simple, but nice at the same time.

When I first read Sisters Red, I was immediately sucked in. The prologue is dark, gritty, and reminded me very much of Little Red Riding Hood. It really helped set the tone that this would be a dark novel and that Pearce wasn't afraid of killing innocent people.

However, once the story shifts to the present, since the prologue takes place seven years ago, the intensity of the prologue gets lost in translation. There are still people who get killed and the Fenris do seem scary, but by the middle of the book it seemed like the story was at a standstill. The novel does pick up again, but the ending becomes a bit clich├ęd. It is a fairy tale retelling, so it makes sense, but after the prologue I was expecting something different, especially given how dark it was.

I won't go over the plot too much, since there are a lot of reviews that include that, but I'll just mention some quick points of the novel.

The Good:

Like I said before, the writing is crisp and has a nice flow to it. Pearce is a talented writer and she clearly knows what she's doing. There were times when I did get bored, this happened in the middle of the book, but the writing kept me in.

Even though I couldn't relate to Scarlett March all that much, I did like her as a character. I feel like she'd be one of those characters that you'd either love or hate, because she's so polarizing. She's incredibly complex and different. Instead of being a traditional beautiful heroine, she's scarred and only has one eye. Because of this, she feels like the only thing she has in life is hunting. She doesn't believe she can do anything else, especially with the way she looks. She is very focused and has a one track mind, but because of her circumstance it did make sense.

I also liked the contrast between Scarlett and Rosie. Scarlett is very hard, but Rosie is the opposite. She's soft, has moments where she's a bit tstl, but she wants more than hunting in her life. The sisters do love each other, but they depend on each other to live. Scarlett lives through Rosie sometimes and Rosie feels like she can never repay Scarlett for saving her life. The dynamic between the two was interesting to watch.

The story is told in two viewpoints, Scarlett and Rosie. They both have distinctive voices and different things they focus on.

The Okay:

The setting of the novel was in modern times, but there were times when I felt like it wasn't. There are cars, guns, and the Price is Right, but there were times when it felt like that didn't matter and that the world was the world before.

The romance between Rosie and Silas seemed a bit forced and only happened because Rosie doesn't have much interaction with men who are just human. I kind of wished that Silas and Scarlett were a couple, just because I wanted to see her not be full of rage. Plus, it would have helped her see that there is more to life than hunting and that she's just as beautiful as any other girl. Instead, two pretty people hook up and the one who is scarred is left to be the third wheel.

I liked Rosie, but her sections of the novel was mostly about her feelings towards Silas. Plus, after fighting Fenris for so long, it kind of makes me wonder why she keeps forgetting to take her knives with her when she goes out. The age difference didn't bother me, since despite it's modern setting it felt like this world was set back in the day.

I did wish for the characters to grow a bit and while they are developed, they are a bit one note in their actions. Scarlett only cares about hunting, protecting Rosie and Silas, as a best friend and hunting partner. Rosie wants to help Scarlett, but wants to do other things...like make out with Silas. Rosie does grow a bit, which is great. But Scarlett is pretty much the same throughout the book.

The Bad:

I found the logic to finding Potential Fenris to be a bit too much. It's kind of a spoiler so I won't post it here, but if you do want to read it then you can visit my Goodreads' review for it. Just click here.[In order to be a potential Fenris, you have to be the seventh son of a seventh son and the werewolves need to get you on your seventh year.

This is definitely not impossible, but Scarlett and Rosie have killed more than a hundred Fenris from the time they learned about them to the end of the book. Remember, this is set in modern times...modern times where people don't really have kids. Back home in Africa, there are people still popping out babies. I have relatives who have a lot of kids. It's hot there, so there is probably not much to do but have kids, but in America? It's hard finding couples that have more than two kids, let alone finding someone who is the seventh son of a seventh son.

The amount of Fenris killed by Scarlett, Rosie, and Silas would make a huge dent to their population. The fact that the Fenris don't realize that there are people killing their own and it's all situated in one place is mind boggling. The Fenris, despite their lack of soul, are smart. So I don't know how they could overlook this. (hide spoiler)]


The spoiler goes back to the setting, if this was set some 100 years ago it might have made sense, but it just isn't all that plausible, to me, for this to happen in this day and age.

I know, it may seem like such a minor detail, but I couldn't get passed it.

Overall:

I did like the book, despite the logic of some things. Pearce is incredibly creative to create this world and the characters. I think making Scarlett so scarred and angry was a brave thing to do. But, I was expecting something a bit more so I was slightly disappointed. Still a good novel though. I hope Sweetly is just as good, if not better.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Teaser Tuesday


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:


  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

I'm reading two books:


"Well, that's even more suspicious than the private services," Scarlett says, perking up. "It takes a while for the soul to die - I bet the wolf was starting to take over the body for a few months before the family issued the official obituary."

pg. 145 of Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce.




What Donkey saw that night would be revealed much later. But by then, it was far too late...

pg 115 of 20th Century Boys by Urasawa Naoki




If you have a teaser, please leave a link and I'll check it out!

Monday, May 07, 2012

Review: The Selection by Kiera Cass

The Selection (The Selection, #1)The Selection by Kiera Cass
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I thought I would hate this, mainly because it has a lot of things that I don't like. I don't like love triangles...actually, I really hate love triangles. It's one of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to Young Adult novels. Why does there have to be two guys? Why? What's wrong with just liking one person and leaving it at that?

I also was wary of the Bachelor like theme. I've sadly seen one episode of the horrid show and I kind of find it incredibly distasteful and gross. Maybe it's because the guy (or girl) is in a massive love triangle.

Anyways, despite my misgivings I decided to read the book and it wasn't that bad. In fact, I liked it for the most part.

America Singer lives in a dystopian like world where people are categorized by numbers. The higher the number you have, the better you life will be. Also, your number determines what kind of carry you have. Fives, like America 's family, are entertainers. While Sixes, are servers.

Which brings us to boy number one in America's love triangle, Aspen, who is a Six. (Aspen, America...I see what you did there). America doesn't care that he's a Six, her family would be against it, and he doesn't like that America would probably provide for him more than he provides for her. Plus there is a law that tries to limit people from doing this.

Boy number two is Prince Maxon. He's holding a Bachelor like game, where girls around the kingdom have a chance to be proposed by him. America signs up, because Aspen told her to, and is chosen. America and Aspen break up, America goes to the castle, and starts to develop feelings for Maxon.

Now the triangle is complete.

America, for the most part, is focused on one guy during the novel and I did like her growing friendship with Maxon. I would have been fine if the novel focused more on this and America's growing feelings for him.

Some of the things that I found odd:

After America lets Maxon know that she's in love with someone else, she makes a deal with him. He keeps her at the palace for as long he needs her to be there for the Selection and in return, she'll give him insider information on the girls. It sounds like a fine deal to me, only America avoids most of the girls and the conversations she has with Maxon is almost never about them.

Sadly, this did bug me a bit because I wanted to see America interact with the girls. But we never really see that. A lot of the girls are interchangeable and for the most part I didn't really care for them.

And then there was..

While reading the novel, I felt like Aspen would show up during America's selection process. This was a given. I did think he would have some ties to the rebels, which would cause America to choose whether she wants to support the kingdom and Maxon, or the support the rebels/freedom and Aspen.

Instead, the book ends in a cliffhanger. Maxon doesn't even pick a girl by the end. This was disappointing, because for the most part I did enjoy this novel but then it ends abruptly. It didn't even feel like a full novel because of that.

I will probably read the next book to see if Aspen and Maxon go head to head...for the kingdom and not America.

Rating: 3 Stars

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Review: By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead by Julie Anee Peters

By the Time You Read This, I'll Be DeadBy the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peters
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

After reading Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, I was recommended this book. They both deal with suicide and depression, so I got it and read it.

Even though I didn't love Thirteen Reasons Why, I still remember the book and how I felt reading it. On the other hand, after I finished, "By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead." I didn't feel anything. Not anger, not sadness, not joy. Just meh.

No that's not true. After I read the ending, I thought, "That's it?"

The ending was left open-ended, leaving it up to the reader to decide what happens to Daelyn. I don't mind this, I watch a lot of Asian dramas and some of the books and they love their open ended stories. So I'm fine with this kind of ending. In fact, sometimes it can evoke different feelings out of you, depending on your mood and mindset.

But for some reason, I didn't like the open-endedness of this novel. In the book, Daelyn wants to commit suicide, she's had enough of life and can't wait till she kills herself. She's attempted to do this a few times, but each time she fails.

Daelyn doesn't want to fail again, so she joins an online community that promotes suicides. The site provides different ways you can kill yourself as well as tips for the big day. The only condition is that you have to wait for 23 days before you kill yourself.

The site is disgusting and I didn't like hearing about it, because of the seriousness of the matter, but at the same time it was interesting. It does scare me that there are probably sites like this out there.

In any case, Daelyn joins and the 23 days commence. During this time she meets a boy named Santana who doesn't leave her alone. Daelyn can't talk, but he can't stop talking. [Later in the book you find out that Santana is dying, which does add a nice contrast to Daelyn's life. Daelyn wants to die because she's sick of life, but Satana is dying, but wants to live longer. (hide spoiler)] I don't know why he wasted so much time with her (at least at first), but it does make some sense later on in the novel.

The more Daelyn hangs out with Santana, the more she wants to live...except she doesn't. I never felt like she was willing to change her plans because of Santana. Did she like him, yea. But was she going to let that stop her? I don't think so.

Which is why the ending didn't sit well with me. I don't think it was written in a way that provided two options of Daelyn. Not only is her mind set on killing herself, but she doesn't want to change. She doesn't. And I'm not knocking her feelings and characterization. I'm not. But in order for the ending to work, Daelyn needed to have some self reflection and inner turmoil about suicide, especially after meeting Santana.

Instead, she wants to kill herself for 95% of the book, then near the end she struggles a bit, then goes back to how she was before.

I dunno, it just didn't work for me.

Rating: 2 stars

Review: Thumped by Megan McCafferty

Thumped (Bumped, #2)Thumped by Megan McCafferty
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Not sure how I feel about this one. I liked Bumped, but Thumped disappointed me. Everything happened quickly, it was incredibly predictable, and the ending was a little too perfect.

The Good:

Um...I liked seeing more of this world. And the terminology that the characters use was interesting.

Even though he's a bit too love sick, Jondoe is still somewhat likeable. The fact that he's a major celebrity because he doesn't shoot blanks is funny.

Melody still kept me interested, despite the fact that she was a bit stupid in this novel. She does grow up a bit, but there is only so much growth you can do in a few days.

The Okay:

Zen and Melody's relationship was better developed in Bumped. Since there is an eight and a half month time skip, we don't see what happened once they realized they liked each other. It was almost as if their relationship stood still and that they didn't see each other until this book happened.

So when the two are talking about sex and love, it kind of made me wonder why. I do understand that in this world sex happens, but when it came to these two it seemed like Zen was a bit too desperate for that.

I also didn't like that Zen had a growth spurt. I liked that he was 'vertically challenged.' It made him different and stand out. Now he's getting offers to be the next Johndoe.

The Bad:

It didn't have the same feeling as the first book, so maybe that's why I didn't like it as much as I wanted to. The first book, while not perfect, was incredibly over the top and I'm assuming was meant to be taken as satire. In Thumped, it's not as over the top and instead of seeing more of their world, the story is bogged down by romances and boy trouble.

It was due to this that I got to see the characters a bit more and realized that they're not really that great. They're very one note and not developed properly.

But I think the thing that I didn't like the most was the lack of interaction between Melody and Harmony and I think this ties into the time skip problem as well. In the last book, the two were still trying to figure out a relationship between one another. During the time skip, they apparently talked almost every day and did their best to keep in touch. In Thumped, they only have a few scenes with each other and their interactions seemed different.

I'm still glad I read this, just so I could see the conclusion to the story. I just wish that it still had the same tongue-in-cheek flavour as Bumped.


Rating: 2 stars