"I spent my life folded between the pages of books." -Tahereh Mafi

Some of my reviews are normal non-spoilery reviews. But some of reviews contain lots and lots of spoilers to help you (and me!) remember what happened when the next book in the series finally comes out. Both review types are clearly marked.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

In a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis

This review is spoiler free!!! 

My rating: 4/5 stars

Not a Drop to Drink was a great book, so I was excited to see a sequel. But I was also a bit apprehensive because it hadn't really left much for a sequel. My fears were unnecessary - this book was a completely new story.

It is probably not necessary to read Not a Drop to Drink first, but you should, because it's a good book. But be warned - the rest of this review does contain some spoilers for Not a Drop to Drink.

This book takes place about 10 or so years after Not a Drop to Drink. Lucy is a teenager and has been raised by Lynn after her own mom dies. Lucy, Lynn, Vera, and Stebbs have created a little town that functions pretty well. Lucy's starting to fall for her friend Carter when people start getting sick. It's polio and since no one (but Vera and Stebbs) has been vaccinated, it spreads quickly. Vera figures out that either Lucy or Carter are the carriers and they are both banished from the town. Lynn's not about to let Lucy wander off into the world without her. Eli once told Lynn that he heard that California has operational desalinization plants and so they head off to California. From Ohio. On foot.  

So obviously they run into a bit of danger. It's pretty common in post-apocalyptic books for characters to travel across the country on some kind of mission, running into all sorts of trouble along the way. And it's so overdone that it often gets really boring. This one isn't. They run into people that they have to decide whether to trust or not. They run into really nice people and they run into total weirdos. And a lot of the time they're just alone. 

The best thing about the book is the mother/daughter relationship between Lynn and Lucy. Lynn isn't Lucy's biological mom, but she's raised her since she was pretty young. It's so obvious that they care deeply for one another. Lucy hasn't grown up to be a clone of Lynn. And motherhood hasn't softened Lynn much at all. They are both strong women, but they are strong in their own, different ways. Lynn is the typical badass, but Lucy has an emotional strength that Lynn doesn't.

The end was a little abrupt. I would have liked to see a bit more about how they are doing or maybe a longer epilogue.


Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Young World by Chris Weitz

This review is spoiler free!!

My rating: 5/5 stars

How could you not love a book with a line like this?
I hose down Babies R Us with the .50 cal.

This book is told in alternating POV between Donna and Jefferson. It's been about 2 years since all adults and small children died from The Sickness. The remaining teens in NYC are getting by as best they can - most have banded together into small groups. One of the members of Donna and Jefferson's group wants to go in search of information that he believes could lead to a cure. A crazy adventure ensues.

Both Jefferson and Donna are really likable and relatable characters. Jefferson's this calm scholar type and Donna's just an adorable badass.
I inquire after his reasoning, diplomatically."So what the fuck was that, dude?" 
Yes, very diplomatic! lol  They're very different from each other which makes their relationship awesome and also makes their narration styles very distinctive (you'll never be confused as to whose chapter you're reading!).
Jefferson and I have been engaged in friendly trench warfare since we were in kindergarten. He's, like, the Guy Who Talks in Complete Sentences. He gives me shit for swearing too much and saying "like" all the time.

I also really liked the writing style - there were bunches of lines that made me snort-laugh.
He bows, then starts intoning a speech like he's wandered in from Game of Thrones.
I do a people check. We've got:
Brainbox (evil genius)
Donna (slightly unhinged girl-power chick)
Peter (gay Christian adrenaline junky)
And me (nerd philosopher king)
Not exactly the Fellowship of the Ring, but not too shabby either, when you think about it. I can't say the selection committee did such a great job at the Council of Elrond.
Four hobbits? Seriously? Out of nine people? I know it all worked out, but - questionable management.
In real life, there are no evil witches, no wise mentors, no fairy godmothers, no evil empires. Everything is shades of gray.
Ugh, I can't believe such a
 useful phrase got hijacked by those fricking books.

There's also a small section that addresses slut shaming that made me so happy. Donna feels threatened by the presence of a new hot girl and is afraid this will ruin her chances with Jefferson. And she's having all these slut-shaming thoughts and has a whole convo with herself about how completely unfair that is. It's the first time I've actually seen slut-shaming so openly addressed and called out in a YA book.

Lots of crazy stuff happens at the end so the next book better get here ASAP or I'm going to freak out!!


Monday, August 4, 2014

Can't Look Away by Donna Cooner


This review is spoiler free!!

I think I might have enjoyed this book if I didn't hate the main character so much. She is just completely worthless. She's the star of a fashion/beauty vlog. Which means she has to comment on what everyone else is wearing. For example, when her dad takes her to a psychologist: 
She has on ugly black comfortable shows. I instantly think of tweeting a picture of the skirt and the shoes as an example of a fashion DON'T.
Because everyone else must care as much about fashion as she does, right? Or maybe the psychologist has slightly more important shit on her mind?

And she's obsessed with popularity. As everyone should be, amiright? 

It's clear Huntsville High School is like any other high school. There are three main groups. The popular group, the semipopular group, and the want-to-be popular group. Some people might claim there is a fourth group of Goths and all the self-styled freaks who don't care about high school high society, but I lump them in with the want-to-bes. I mean, black lipstick and all that eyeliner? It's about attention, and that's really what being popular is anyway, right?
Uh, as one of the "self-styled freaks" in high school, I can definitely attest to the fact that there are some people in high school who simply do not give a fuck about being popular! I had a few more important things on my mind, like getting into a good college with a fucking scholarship.

She's so obsessed with popularity that she totally disses the cute, very nice boy who she's interested in, because he's not popular! Gasp! Seriously, why would this guy even like her? She's totally shallow and uninteresting.

I think this book is supposed to be about the main character dealing with the deal of her sister, but she spends more time thinking about how her sister's death is affecting her vlog and her popularity at her new school than actually mourning the death of her sister.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Talented by Sophie Davis


This review is spoiler free!!

This book finally got me out of my dystopian funk!! I love dystopian - it's definitely my favorite genre but for the past month I've just felt meh about every dystopian I've picked up until I just stopped picking them up. But this one was sitting in my "currently reading" shelf for too long so I had to give it a go. And it was really good! Like so good that I had to immediately buy the rest of the series the second I finished this.

Okay, so first, the bad: This book is pretty cliched. There's all the common plot points: a super special girl (who even has purple eyes because of course); the parents who were murdered when she was young; the perfect boyfriend who she's known forever; the super hot guy who she feels a spark with; the evil government that might not be so evil after all; and the good government that might not be so good after all.  It's all there. But somehow, I just didn't mind. The story was still just so damn enjoyable!

So the world got pretty messed up by some big nuclear thing and as a result, a bunch of people now have "Talents," which basically means they have superpowers. There's a bunch of different types and she details each. Talia can manipulate people's minds and also has telekinsis and telepathy. She's super powerful. She's in her last year at school which means she's assigned to a Hunting team on a trial basis. If she does good, she's in. She has to become a Hunter so that she can get revenge on the guy who killed her parents - well, the guy who ordered it at least - the leader of the rebel government. The rebel government doesn't trust Talents and is against mandotory testing of children to determine who might be Talented. 

I really liked Talia. Sure, she's super powerful and "special," but she's also relatable. She has the same emotions as any other girl and that's what really made this book so great. It's less about the dystopian world and more about her growing up, dealing with betrayal, trying to figure out the kind of person she wants to be.