Sunday, May 19, 2013

The 5 Kinds of Characters in Almost Every YA Book (That I'm Tired of)

The 5 Kinds of Characters in Almost Every YA Book (That I’m Tired of)

Before we start, I would like to make sure you know that this is based on opinions, not facts. If you don’t feel the same, I understand. Now, onto the clichés.

1.   The Popular Girl

Don’t tell me you’ve read a book set in High School without this character. She’s mean, annoying, and hates the main character for no reason in particular. Usually, she’s blonde with blue eyes and is super rich.

Why am I tired of her?

Because no one bothers to write a good one. Why is she mean? Why does she hate the main character? If she’s such a jerk, why does she have a posse? This isn’t explained. She has nothing to do with the plot. She’s basically there to be annoying.

2.   The Dark, Edgy, Mysterious, Handsome, [adjective] Boy

He’s Miss MC’s love interest. He hides so much, he’s so dark… She needs to find out more. As we go along, we find out he has a bike, a tragic past, and a 24 pack. I mean, most teen boys don’t have abs to speak of. I’m not sure how Mr. Dark gets away with it.

Why am I tired of him?

I don’t like him because, really, he makes no sense.
I already pointed out the teen boys and abs thing, but now there’s the romance factor. What girl wants a boy who’s unwilling to say anything about himself, ignores her, and, usually, is rather cold? No one. No girl wants that. So why does the main character? Because the author might not remember that, in her girlhood, she wanted to kick that kind of guy in the nuts.
Also, he just gets boring. Yeah. Got it. He’s mysterious. It was interesting the first sentence, but now? No. Just no.

3.   The Super Average Main Character (Except They’re Not)

This is the MC with stick-straight brown hair, an average body, brown eyes, and over-average grades. Because they can be average in every sense but grades. Oh… GASP They have a super mysterious and weird past?! Never saw it coming, they’re just so average!

Why am I tired of them?

Well, does the author really, really have to emphasize that they’re just that average? I mean, sure, there are lots of average people out there, but they don’t narrate themselves as average. It’s just annoying.

4.   The Paranormal Love Interest

This guy is a vampire, an alien, a demon, etc. So, basically a monster by all means. That, most likely, would not look human (okay, maybe the vampire, but whatever). Yet somehow, this one does. And he speaks perfect English. And is the only one with a heart of whatever. Because he’s special.

Why am I tired of him?

Well, I don’t hate all of them. It’s just the ones you know don’t make sense. Angel/Demon love story, and the demon looks human. Okay, I guess that’s okay for Christian demonology, but so there are so many other cultures to choose from! Why can’t he be a Wadget, huh? HUH?
Cough So, uh, yeah. Aliens, they probably won’t look human at all. Starfish are from our planet and look nothing like us, what would an alien be like? It just makes me feel cheated. I understand the needs-to-be-relatable thing, but really?
Vampires I’m just bored with. After (and during) Twilight, they kind of lost their shine.
This goes for any kind of non-human creature.

5.   The Tragic Past Character

This doesn’t go for all of them. I’ll clarify.
This is the character that angsts all day long. Their parents died at three (they probably don’t even remember it), they lost someone else they loved, their parents are neglectful or abusive. Something like that. Yet the author completely forgets to bother with the whys and hows and what it has to do with the plot.

Why am I tired of them?

They’re overused, one. I mean, there’s probably more characters with sob stories than ones without in the YA world.
Also, as I mentioned, it rarely has to do with the plot. The character just angsts annoyingly and mentions their past all the time. It gets in the way. That’s why.

~ Corinne

Saturday, May 18, 2013

What Curiosity Kills


Mary feels different, but can't explain why. The fainting, the strange cravings...and worse, the things she's noticed about her body.

Mary doesn't know where to turn. If she tells her parents or her sister, she'll risk losing everything. She has no other family, no way of knowing if what she's going through is normal. Everyone she's ever known and loved could reject her...

There’s a lot to say about the YA paranormal section. The first thing I can think to say is that the bad ones always seems to get noticed more than the good ones. And despite writing paranormal myself, I’m not a huge fan of what there’s out there. So do you know how much it means when I say I loved this book?

First off, there were the characters. Yay! Non-Mary-Sue and non-Gary-Stus! No sparkly vampires! Believable quirks and personalities! Personalities! The love interest wasn’t always right and perfect! He lied and deceived the main character! She questioned how good he was for her! My favorite paranormal love interest ever.

Of course, I still wasn’t too huge a fan of some of the backstories. Then again, I am rarely pleased with backstories. Yes, I understand the main character was adopted and had to get into the system somehow, but did Ms. Ellis have to make it so horrible if it wasn’t going to be mentioned ever again? Then again, this is a series (I’m still waiting for the second book, though), so maybe it’ll get mentioned again. Maybe.

Wait, can I get back to the romance for a second? Oh, yeah, first book with romance I’ve liked so far. Because, c’mon, the guy’s not perfect! Well, he did have the dark hair and such description, but whatever. I’m still stuck on the lies and deceit. And distrust! Tee hee, I love this romance.

Okay, now mandatory writing style check-up. Ms. Ellis sounded just right, echoing the ways teens speak without mocking it. The main character was rather genre savvy, too, which is always good. Always good.

The plot. I’ve got to say, it was original. I mean, in how many books do people (SPOILER ALERT) turn into cats? I mean, Ms. Ellis could have used werewolves or something, but cats. I’m not sure what to say. It’s not bad, I mean, I love cats, but it didn’t hit me in the face and make me say “WHOA GURL SO ORIGINAL”. Well, neutral towards that, I am.

So, one last thing to say. As much as I loved this book, sometimes you had to wonder if the main character was a self-insert. She seemed very similar to the author, complete with southern accent. This doesn’t necessarily make her a mouthpiece or insert, but it did kind of bother me.

Overall, this was a great book. There were a couple issues, but they weren’t important and didn’t bother the story that much. I would recommend it.

~ Corinne

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

No Safety in Numbers


My second book review started where I'm sure most people's do. I was in the teen section of Barnes and Noble, waiting for something to stand out. Against the background of dark, thick, hardcovers stood a thin, bright yellow paperback. It fit in the same genre as the others (I was in the action and disaster section), but it seemed so different, and not just visually. This was a book about regular people living in modern times, which is a refreshing change in this genre.

The book I am reviewing is No Safety in Numbers by Dayna Lorentz. Like I said before, it has elements of a YA action/disaster novel, but more realistic. The book is told through the eyes of four typical teenagers who were stuck in a shopping mall after a biological contaminate. I personally love that concept.

But did it live up to my expectations? Not really. The characters, for one thing, really didn't. They all had their individual motivation, which I appreciated. But some of them seemed a bit flat, or stereotypical of the genre. Switching perspectives only have us a new story, not a new personal view.

Also, the content itself wasn't too great. You know how when you have bad wifi connection your computer runs really fast, then impossibly slow, then so fast you can't follow where it's going? That is what this book felt like half the time. The slow moments were enjoyable, but felt out of place.

All in all, I would say this book is worth a try. It's a fast read, so I would recommend trying it when you get a chance. But that being said, I would not go out of my way to read it again.


Sunday, May 5, 2013

Out of the Easy


It’s 1950, and as the French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets, seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine is silently stirring a pot of her own. Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer.
She devises a plan get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in an investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street. Josie is caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans lures her in her quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test.
With me, historical is almost never an option. I get hung up over inaccuracies, bored with the technology, or frustrated with the way they speak (this is the reason Old Yeller is my bane, besides the dog d- never mind). How did Ruta Sepetys get past this? No, seriously, I'm getting worried that there was some kind of brain control magic in this book.
The point is, this book defied my usual ways. I found the first chapter on Figment ( and was like 'meh'. Y'know, prostitutes, history, the south... not my thing. Then I went on a trip to a city with more stores than five, and found it. I was like, meh, prostitutes, history, the south, money to burn... Sure, I'll get it.
Best. Book. Decision. In. My. Life.
I fell in love with the characters after probably three sentences. They felt so in-depth, so real. I get annoyed really fast with stencil-characters (more on those later), but there weren't any. It's like Sepetys grabbed someone off the street, stole their personality and every detail of their life and put it on paper. In a good way. Okay, some of them suddenly disappeared, though. That was kind of annoying. Frankie showed up, like, twice. There was so much moooooooooorrreeee!
It's kind of hard to define the plot. That's neutral, not good or bad. It's more like a snippet (a snappet, it was long) of Josie's (the main character) life. And there were so many elements (especially by the end) that it was hard to tell what was going on. And who's dead anymore? I mean, there were a bunch of dead people.
Oh, and then there were the emotions. Sepetys, were you trying to make me cry? Like, three times over? My tear ducts were dry by the end of the book. How do you do that, Sepetys, what are your secrets?!
So, basically what I mean to say is go buy the book. And cry. And laugh. And cry some more. You will not regret it unless you find the topic of prostitutes too hard to swallow.

~ Corinne

Saturday, May 4, 2013

A quick update

I feel the need to tell you guys about what may or may not change soon.
Okay, I realize that *GASP* there's a non-YA, nonfiction book review on this site. Books like these may be reviewed if they center around teens/appeal to teens/etc. Thought you should know.
Also, we have a bit of a cast change. It is now:

Corinne (myself, the most prevalent)

Expect it to change over time. That happens sometimes.

Lastly, I'm planning to launch some non-review features. All literary, don't worry. I just want to add some humor to our sad, gloomy blog.

~ Corinne

A Smile as Big as the Moon


How far would you go to stand up for your belief in others?  Would that change if everyone else thought you were crazy for the measures you took? When Mike Kersjes, a special education teacher from a high school in northern Michigan, is confronted with these questions, his answer is clear; whatever it takes. In just 274 pages worth of a compelling memoir, he describes the year-long journey it took to get his team of twenty students, ages fourteen to seventeen, to Space Camp on Huntsville, Alabama. Their sucess in the face of doubt and competition makes this book an enjoyable, heartwarming, and fast read. 

I would recommend this book for many reasons. First, the writing style is brilliant. Witty and natural, though poetic, it makes the experiences come to life. The characters are the second reason. They are all real people, so of course they're nicely rounded out and feel natural. The reader falls in love with at least one instantly. Really, there is something or somebody that every reader can connect with. 

On that note, I feel like I should warn everyone reading this that this is a hard book to find in most chain bookstores. I found my copy in the gift shop for a science museum, for example. But most online stores such as Amazon should have it in stock. 
~ Caroline