Thursday, February 28, 2013

Between the Lines

BETWEEN THE LINES
BY JODI PICOULT & SAMANTHA VAN LEER

In Between the Lines, characters in books have lives beyond the ones we read about. Just because they're quiet in shy in the story doesn't mean that they are out of it. One of the main characters, Oliver, is one of them. He lives in a fairy tale, one where he has to go through an adventure to save a princess with no bravery. 
Delilah reads that book, and falls in love with it. After a while, Oliver tries to figure out how to talk to her while still in his prison of fiction. When he does, the two fall in love, and it becomes a matter of how to get together an attain that happily ever after.
This book was a collaboration, which really amazed me. It was written like it was from the same mind, thinking the same thoughts, no need for second thoughts. Of course, this was authored by writing gods, so maybe I shouldn't be so surprised.
So, the idea that characters have a life outside pages is pretty freakn' awesome. I mean, anyone who writes has figured out that their characters begin to develop on their own agenda. They just do. And just because the pages say one thing, it doesn't mean the characters don't have entire other lives of their own.
Now, there was something I had a bit of a problem with- the romance.
Okay, so maybe I'm just holding onto the last threads of the 'kissing is icky' part of life, but for some reason I really don't like the love-at-first-sight type of romances. Or maybe it's because that type of romance is almost always solely based on looks, has no depth, and doesn't exist. And it lived up to expectations. It was shallow, looks-driven, and didn't feel like it existed. If you're drawn to a person because of their personality, Delilah, don't suddenly go into the 'sculted chin, chisled chest' (or was it the other way around) thing. Picoult, Van Leer, I expect more of you.
My last complaint is about the characters. I don't know why, they just didn't seem to have much of a personality. It's like they were as two-dimensional as the words on the page.
To make this review a sandwich (which I'm supposed to do or something like that), I'll talk about the writing style itself. I loved it. Not purple prose, but not emotionless. It seemed really relatable and kind of urged me forward in the story. In other words, wheeeeee! A story with a writing style I can appreciate!
I'd recommend it.

-Corinne


Monday, February 18, 2013

The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things

THE EARTH, MY BUTT, AND OTHER BIG ROUND THINGS

BY CAROLYN MACKLER


Fifteen-year-old Virginia Shreves has a larger-than-average body and a plus-size inferiority complex. She lives on the Web, snarfs junk food, and follows the "Fat Girl Code of Conduct." Her stuttering best friend has just moved to Walla Walla (of all places). Her new companion, Froggy Welsh the Fourth (real name), has just succeeded in getting his hand up her shirt, and she lives in fear that he’ll look underneath. Then there are the other Shreves: Mom, the successful psychologist and exercise fiend; Dad, a top executive who ogles thin women on TV; and older siblings Ana├»s and rugby god Byron, both of them slim and brilliant. Delete Virginia, and the Shreves would be a picture-perfect family. Or so she’s convinced. And then a shocking phone call changes everything.
Yeah, sounds pretty cliche, right? Boo-hoo, I'm not perfect, I'll die in a hole sort of thing? Well, now that you've crossed the river and reason and jumped to conclusions, I'll say that this was one of the best books I've ever read.
When I first saw it, I was pretty sure I'd eventually choke on the romance and spend the next five days puking up little hearts. Even worse? There was a huge possibility for that to happen. The main character, Virginia, did have a sort-of boyfriend. Well, he liked her and she was pretty sure he didn't want to be seen in public with her, which is pretty realistic for real life teen romances. Her touchiness on the subject and the fearful what-does-he-want thoughts I loved, I think they really added character and realism.
The family structure, sadly, was very realistic too. Virginia feels like they never notice anything about her but fat, rebellion, or fat. It doesn't really help that her mother didn't notice Virginia's A+ on a huge language arts assignment put on the fridge, but she did notice when a picture of a model (dubbed "the Food Police") was put on. Or that her father hasn't been much for interacting before, but once she got onto a diet, he noticed Virgina a lot more.
The strain to be perfect was very prevalent in this book, and I almost felt a little bad when Virginia loosened up a bit and started rebelling against her mother's rules. The one thing that really bothered me about this was that the first time she really rebelled was something big, with no hints leading up to it. You don't just suddenly start skipping school, I mean, there had to be some better reasons for it. And then she buys a non-refundable plane ticket without her parents knowing. I mean, I'd have liked some kind of hint that she didn't like being the good girl before that.
Otherwise the emotions were handled well and focused with equal ability. It really changed how I felt depending on what the character was feeling, it was done just that perfectly.
The characters were amazing in this book. No Sues, no sparkles, no need for a refund. But seriously, each of them had a unique, interesting, and realistic.
I'd recommend this book without hesitation.

~ Corinne

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Divergent


DIVERGENT

BY VERONICA ROTH
    After re-reading this book from when I first got it last year, I decided to do a review for ya guys!
 In Beatrice (or Tris) Prior's dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to a particular virtue-- Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is--she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself. She moves from her home in Abnegation to Dauntless, the complete opposite faction of her own. Little does she and her fellow new initiates know, the Dauntless initiation no longer requires bravery, but the ability to kill heartlessly.Together she and the other initiates must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are--and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers the treachery and selfishness that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

    I loved this book. I think everyone enjoys a little dystopian once in a while, but it's getting OLD. Most YA books you can guarantee will have romance and some disaster that's come over the world. Hunger Games series, Dwellers series, Delirium series, the Chemical Garden series, the host series, I could go on for HOURS. I'm not saying that I don't enjoy these books( I'd die before I said that) but YA novels in general are getting too predictable. (And, just for the record,  you don't punch a guy when he says you're being pathetic when you were being pathetic, and a waterfall isn't the most romantic place to have your first kiss.) My opinion, not yours. Don't go away in a big huff just because I'm picking about romance!
- Aiofe

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Dreamsleeves

                                                                  DREAMSLEEVES
    BY COLEEN MURTAGH PARATORE

Dreamsleeves follows Aislinn (whose name means 'dream', by the way) during the summer before her thirteenth birthday. Poor and with a drunkard father, her life gets worse as her dad's drinking does, so she tries to save herself with an ideas of hers- Dreamsleeves.
Dreamsleeves are the white part of 'Hello! My name is-" stickers with your dream on them. Her second youngest brother, D, wishes for a little red car. She wishes for her father to stop drinking.
Of course, it doesn't help that her friend, Maizey, chose Sue Ellen, the stuck up rich girl, to be her friend instead of Aislinn, and she wants to woo pretty boy Mike Mancinello. Her mom's going to have a new baby, and her world's falling apart.
The first thing I want to say about this story is that I love the way Coleen Paratore wrote it. The style she wrote it in made it sound much more emotional and realistic, nostalgia shaking you to your core, sadness ripping your heart, and hope blossoming.
Sadly, there were many problems to go with it.
Honestly, I don't mind the 'daddy why do you drink?' sort of plot, and I think that it was done well in this book (though I've never been through such an ordeal, so I may be wrong). What I didn't think was done as well was all the distractions that were thrown in. 
The one-or-two-wah-I-don't-know sided romance was fine, even though I'm not much into the topic (maybe because I'm a lonely, lonely soul). No, it was the my-friend-won't-talk-to-me-and-now-she-likes-my-enemy-better-than-me thing. Yeah, we get it, she's your best friend and you're sad, but we had a real nice plot that doesn't involve griping about it. I've felt that feeling a thousand times, and it wasn't really done right. It's not really jealousy, like Paratore described it as, it's hatred of both people involved. Then it's hatred of yourself. It goes like that, and when I've experienced it, I was never jealous of the person who had "stolen" my friend from me, because no one is jealous of a monster.
"But Cori-" You start. "Don't call me that." I finish. "But, Corinne," You begin again, "That was minor. It didn't distract the story from its plot too much, did it?" No, you're right, it was more of a little nuisance, but it bothered me.
Another distraction I feel horrible about mentioning is just how much she talked about her Roman Catholic faith. No, I don't mind that that was her religion, she could be a cultist for all I care, but it just seemed like all the instances she said it was getting in the way of my enjoyment of the book. It wasn't crucial to the plot and really turned me off.
Now, the characters. I loved most of the background characters, or even the non-narrating main characters (her father, Mikey). Instead of the normal "here is my character okay that's it", they actually had lives. Aislinn's dad collected hubcaps, Maizey was scared not to be accepted, Mikey wasn't just the cute boy, he was the cute boy with a personality. Awesome.
The sad thing? There was one character I had a couple issues with- Aislinn. No, I don't mean because she had flaws, it would be boring if she didn't, but occasionally she just didn't feel as realistic as she should have. At one point, she wet her bed (ew), which was actually when I started noticing the problem. Yes, it happens to some people, but the way she reacted was... not up to par. Instead of the feeling of "I'm acting like a three year old, I feel horrible" it was more of "this isn't my fault". Preteen girls don't do that. Crippling self-doubt and little self-worth is pretty much a tween girl's life. I don't care how strong she's supposed to be, you don't escape that kind of incident without a bit of emotion.
At another point, she finds out that long long ago when the earth was green, her dad threw away one of her favorite stuffed animals. Okay... that's... sad, I guess. But the cry-fest she replied with wasn't right for the subject. It wasn't her kitten, it was a stuffed rabbit. It had been years since it happened. I'm sorry, there was just too much emotion wasted in something so unimportant, something that was hardly mentioned afterwards.
One last thing before I get back to the review, the dreamsleeves themselves. Considering that 'Dreamsleeves' is the title, I was disappointed about how little they were mentioned. They felt like more of a background thing than part of the plot, which I didn't really like.
Overall, though, the book was okay, with realistic characters but a very distracted plot. The emotions were handled well, but not always in the right places. I would recommend it, but only to the more dramatic type.

~ Corinne

City of Bones

                                                           CITY OF BONES 
                                                                  
                                                 BY CASSANDRA CLARE                                                                          ★★★★★

City of Bones is the first part of The Mortal Instruments, a YA urban fantasy trilogy, as well as Cassandra Clare’s first novel. 
Set in New York City, the story opens with fifteen year old Clary witnessing the murder of a blue-haired teenage boy in a nightclub - the only problem is no one else can see what she has seen, not even her long time best friend, Simon. 
Events in Clary’s life just get stranger when her mother disappears without warning and monsters start to infest her home.  Suddenly Clary is seeing odd and unusual things everywhere. Demons, vampires, werewolves, faeries and warlocks start to be apparent all over New York City.
Luckily Clary’s path seems destined to cross with that of Jace, a shaggy haired blonde teenage boy that Clary first saw in the nightclub (murdering the blue haired boy) and he introduces her to the hidden world of the Shadowhunters.  A world where werewolves roam the streets of Chinatown, faeries live in Central Park, and vampires ride demonically powered motorbikes…
The Shadowhunters are Nephilim.  Traditionally Nephilim are the children of angels who have bred with mortal humans, but in City of Bones the Nephilim were created when the Angel Raziel mixed his blood with human blood in the Mortal Cup.  The Shadowhunters exist to fight demons and are trained from birth for this purpose, the Mortal Cup can be used to create more Nephilim - making it a dangerous weapon in the wrong hands. 
The vampires in City of Bones have most of the traditional vampire weaknesses and strengths (including being able to turn into bats) but they are the results of a demonic viral infection rather than the more traditional evil undead.  
The Shadowhunters refer to them, and all other races not of pure human origin, as Downworlders - but they do not hunt vampires unless they turn rogue and start to kill humans.  The vampires only have a small part in this story but they make their presence felt with both humour (drunk vampires have an unfortunate habit of spontaneously turning into piles of dust until they sober up) and menace (drunk vampires seem more likeable than sober ones)!
I honestly enjoyed this book and think it is a must for any bookworm

-Aiofe

Welcome to YAs read YAs!

Well, I think I should start by introducing myself. I am Corinne, and I will be your humble host as you read this review site.
Why did I start this blog?
I noticed that a lot of YA (Young Adult) books were getting amazing reviews, but when I read them, they didn't seem right. Instead of being focused on the teenage-life aspects of things and making the main character sound like a real person, the authors would make it an aged-down censorship-up adult book, which is simply not the case.
So I have gathered a small team, soon to be rising, of young adults, preteens, and teenagers that review the books that we're targeted to read.
Will we always give stunning reviews? No, that's not the point. We want to base things on realism of emotions, actions, and other teenaged goodness. I've read plenty of books that do it wrong, and I will comment on that. I will mention that the book is bad if it is. I will whine about teenaged werewolves that never wear shirts. It's what I do.

Here is our team-
Aiofe
My sister, Robin
Ashley
Brett
And I, Corinne

I will be inviting others soon.

Have a nice day!