26 January 2014

Every Day

Author: David Levithan
Series: Every Day #1
Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

I have to admit, for the first 25% to 50% of this book, I did not feel very invested.  The main character is hard to relate to and sympathize with for the sole reason that the main character is not one single being, but has the embodiment of a different person each and every day it wakes up.  In fact, A makes a point of trying not to hold onto many specific memories from any one body it inhabits so that it doesn't get confused and mixed up in its current day.  And while that makes for a fascinating and original plot, it makes it difficult for the reader to connect with.

And then we get to the plot of the novel itself, which is a tale of young love.  A falls hard for the tragic Rhiannon and against A's better judgement and rules A sets forward for itself, it decides to attempt a relationship with Rhiannon while it bounces around from body to body all over the county/state.  And while this plot is not really engaging, and neither is the side plot of the young man who wakes up on the side of the road and believes he has been possessed by the devil, the characters that A starts to embody become more and more interesting.  Thus, even though we only spend a few pages with each one of them, I still found myself connecting to them, even if it was for such a brief stance.

The last 25% of the novel I found more and more difficult to put down.  A has to come to a decision to test if it wants to try to change the rules of its existence in order to find an inkling of happiness and love, or to continue on how it has been living its entire life.  And the motivations behind its decision and the decision itself as so well developed and play out so gracefully that by the end, it's hard not to relate to A no matter who you are for the sole reason that A is unlike everyone and still goes through the same things as everyone all at the same time.

The fact that this is a series, however, is a shock to me.  I will leave well enough alone and end this series after this novel, but it was an interesting enough novel on its own.

The Here and Now

Author: Ann Brashares
Rating: 3 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

I received an advanced reading copy of this novel from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review.

The first thing that brought my attention to this novel was the cover; beautiful and different and somehow achingly heartbreaking all without even reading the synopsis of the novel.  Knowing Ann Brashares from The Sisterhood series (the entirety of which I own) that I adored growing up, the cover art and the author alone were enough for me to dive in, no further questions asked.

I will say perhaps I am a little biased.  Romance is not my favorite genre, although young adult romance is better that adult romance, as it is oftentimes at least attempted to be mixed with a legitimate plot instead of force fed raw.  The Here and Now is no different; a legitimate plot it does hold.  I am also a little biased because while I love sci-fi and fantasy, it has to be done right, and when you get into the likes of time travel I get very picky, as time paradoxes abound, especially when the author makes no attempt to treat the world as a subset of multiple universes and attempts to change the future by going to the past (right off the bat, my brain scream fiction and paradox at this point).

The Here and Now falls prey to this point, which is why I did not enjoy the novel any more than I did.  It was still an interesting and engaging read, but a bit predictable at times (for example, when Prenna gets the letter, I had more than an inkling of an idea what it would say before the truth was revealed).  And the time paradoxes aside (though it counted for a large majority of the plot), it was a well written novel, though enjoyable probably more by leisure reading teenagers than physics nerds and engineers such as myself.  The romantic side of the story was a bit off for my taste, but I will admit that I did enjoy the ending and how the relationship developed and played out.

Overall, I would be hard pressed to point out anything special about The Here and Now, but it was an interesting and refreshing change of pace for Brashares based on her other literature I have read.  And while not exactly my cup of tea, it was engaging enough for me to follow through to the end instead of giving up halfway through as I have been more inclined to do recently.

23 January 2014

These Broken Stars

Author: Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner
Series: Starbound #1
Rating: 3 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

I am always up for some good space opera reading, and I have heard a lot of good remarks regarding this book, so I thought I would give it a try when the waiting list disappeared at my local library.

While there are hints to sci-fi and space exploration near the surface, what this novel boils down to is yet another young adult romance novel about two people on different sides of the social spectrum that get forced together when they are seemingly the only two survivors dumped onto a foreign planet.  And while the exploration of the foreign planet could have been intriguing and suspenseful, the backstory and scenery of the planet, and even the mystery behind the shadows and voices that begin to appear hardly register while the focus remains on Lilac and Tarver.

And while sci-fi has to be one of my favorite genres when done right, at the end of this novel it felt more like a paranormal novel than sci-fi, as the revelations of what is happening on the mysterious planet seems more far fetched and fantastical than sci-fi futuristic.

While an enjoyable enough of a read, it wasn't a page turner and I read it in conjunction with another book or two, so it never really deserved my full attention.  As for the fact that it is the first in what I believe I saw is a trilogy, I have a hard time seeing how they will expand upon the root of this novel based on the ending of it, and it hardly held my attention enough to want to continue on into the series.  So while it was a well enough written novel, it isn't one to add to my collection, and doubtful it is a series I will continue onward with.

11 January 2014

Requiem

Author: Lauren Oliver
Series: Delirium #3
Rating: 1.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Bury

Never before have I been so disappointed in the ending of a book, much less a trilogy/series.  To end the book in such a way, which is to say not end the book AT ALL, was so disheartening after I barely enjoyed the series to begin with.

Delirium started off slow, way too romantic for my taste, but the premise was unique enough and interesting enough to get me to try Pandemonium.  And then Pandemonium offered some of the action that Delirium lacked, and while it introduced a cliched love triangle to over sell the romance department that Delirium delivered, it was still enough of a balance to garner my interest and make me want to see the series through to the end.

And now... and now???  Now I wish I had never wasted my time with this series, especially since I read Delirium and Pandemonium both twice before finally starting in on Requiem.  It wasn't that Requiem was slow or that Lena's "character development" was even less believable here than how suddenly she one eightied in Pandemonium.  These issues I could have forgiven Oliver for, probably.  But the story just stops, and offers no climax or no resolution.  It is as if Oliver did not know how she was going to finish the series, as if she never expected to have to write the finale and resolve the novel, so when she got to the point where she would have to... she simply didn't.

The two man themes in this novel/series are the love triangle between Lena/Alex/Julian and the issue of the Invalids and how the Wilds are no longer even safe for them to hide out in.  Neither one of these fundamental themes was resolved.

And, yet again, Oliver introduces a new style of narration, this time involving Lena and Hana, bringing back a character I hardly cared about in the first place and whose addition left half the novel feeling almost completely hopeless.

Requiem was a drag to pull myself through, and I wish I had not wasted the time or the effort now that I have "finished" the series.  At least with the Matched trilogy, the series got better as it went along and the final novel made me appreciate my resolve to stick it out in the end.  Requiem ensured that I will never read another series by Lauren Oliver again.

02 January 2014

Pandemonium

Author: Lauren Oliver
Series: Delirium #2
Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

While Delirium was a straight forward narrative, Oliver throws a bit of a curve ball at us in Pandemonium by switching the narrative between a present Lena and a past Lena.  While I did not see much point to the style, it did allow essentially two different tales to be told in the same novel without a gaping hole in between the two since the narratives are woven together throughout the novel.

While Delirium offered little action and much romance as Lena set upon a path to self discovery, so to say, Pandemonium – while not living up to its name – at least offered more action and a little less drama.  Of course, Lena spends a good portion at the beginning of the past tense cycle moaning and groaning over the loss of Alex and second guessing her decision to leave now that he is gone.  I guess this, however, is to be expected, seeing as how she is under the influence/infected by love.

Why in her first person narrative Lena hints that she has changed a lot, especially in the present timeline, I didn’t really see her character develop that way.  Granted, her demeanor has definitely changed; that I will not argue with.  But I didn’t see that development in her character as a progressive, subtle change.  Instead, it felt more like she changed almost immediately once she arrived in the Wilds, as if the scenery itself were enough to harden her and make her tougher and colder.

Pandemonium offered more action and suspense then Delirium, but it was still far from a fast paced, stay up under the covers all night type of page turner.  The introduction of Julian soon becomes a replacement for the lost Alex and the related romantic angle.  I knew it was only a matter of time before Lena got over Alex and let another guy “infect” her, but at least I thought it would be the bad boy Tact.  And least Oliver had the decency to switch it up a little.  While Lena fell for the first guy she met in Delirium, as least she had some self control in Pandemonium and waited past more than just one guy introduction before falling again.


While the cliffhanger at the end made me roll my eyes a bit to myself, the plot was still interesting enough throughout the novel that I quickly started in on Requiem to finish out the series.

01 January 2014

Delirium

Author: Lauren Oliver
Series: Delirium #1
Rating: 3 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

Any interesting thought if nothing else; what if the power of love was thought to be a virus, and that at the age of eighteen you were essentially lobotomized to remove your capacity for love?  And, it appears, your ability to love is not the only thing you lose, but most sense of strong reactions or feelings.  Essentially, every one over the age of eighteen becomes a bit of a robot or zombie.  The premise reminds me a little of Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies, a “trilogy” I absolutely loved growing up and still enjoying today.

Like the main character in the Uglies series, Lena starts out counting down the days until she is finally able to receive the cure for love.  Her mother, deep in the throws of love after three botched surgeries, finally committed suicide after not being able to survive with the disease, and it seems Lena fears nothing more than falling pray to the same disease, especially since her older sister fell victim to it for a time as well before she was cured.

But as the time to her cure looms closer, Lena is lured into a bit of a rebel mode, thanks to her friend Hana.  And before she knows it, Lena finds herself falling for the mysterious Alex, and begins to realize that perhaps that love is not the horrible disease that everyone has led her to believe and that, even if it is, maybe it is a disease worth having.

Again, any interesting premise if nothing else, but the idea of love being a disease set it a typical dystopian society unfortunately leads to a rather standard and fluffed out young adult romance novel.  Lena, instead of counting down the days to her surgery in excitement, now counts down to them with a bit of dread and she finds herself torn between her relationship with Alex and her fear of turning into her mother.  And as she begins to unravel the secrets and lies of the community she has grown up in, she begins to question what really is at risk in her utopian society.


While this book was a bit of a skim read as I glanced over most of Lena’s inner dialogue and quite a bit of the dialogue between the characters as well, the series at least as potential for the next novel in the series, Pandemonium.  It definitely ends on a cliffhanger, and the cliffhanger leads me to believe that the sequel will be more action packed and a little less teen romance angst than Delirium, so I will continue on and see how it all unravels.