Posts tagged ‘YA books’

November 17, 2015

H2O by Virginia Bergin

When I look for books, sometimes my only reason for buying it is that is has a cool enough cover. And that was totally the case for this book series. H20, originally titled “The Rain” has this excellent cover with an ominous intro line.

 “It’s in the rain…and just one drop will kill you.”

I was actually almost to the register, and buying books for my nephews when it caught my eye. So up it went into my book pile, and by the end of the night I had read the whole thing.

H20 is written as the diary of Ruby, which can get annoying if you don’t like stream of consciousness story telling. But if you know me and my feelings about Meg Rosoff, you know that I don’t mind it at all.

Here’s the thing. Virginia Bergin, isn’t nearly as talented at the fine line between the art of a diary written for a story, and an actual teen diary. So that’s where the similarities in the writing style end.

Nonetheless, Ruby’s story caught me. It’s a tale of death, destruction and sloppy stupid teenage mistakes that literally anyone would make if one day, rain started killing people. In fact, that’s how the story starts. She’s at a Jacuzzi party, kissing the boy she’s been wanting to kiss for ages. The the parents get home and see an unsanctioned party with half-nude teens and panic. They’ve been listening to the news and they know that there’s something very wrong with the storm that’s about to roll in. I’ll spare  you the details, but typical teen crap happens, and cute boy Ruby was kissing- goes out in the rain.

That’s when this book finally gets real. The rain does it’s thing, and that teen boy starts to bleed out from the inside. Then begins the stupid idiotic mistakes Ruby makes during this colossal world apocalypse. She tries to save dogs, cats and other little creatures who have been munching on corpses infected with rain. She repeatedly runs out in light, but deadly drizzle wearing flip flops. She wastes precious clean bottled water to dye her hair, and finally she steals makeup from every single store and experiments with it.

She makes countless other mistakes throughout the book, but those are her worst offenses. Regardless, it’s almost refreshing to see a YA protagonist who unabashedly cares about things you’re not supposed to care about during an apocalypse event. This is a teen girl, on her own, there’s literally nothing normal about her situation. So why would we expect her to be like the heroines of other dystopian novels, who are 100% ready to protect themselves and fight. Of all the books I’ve read where the world goes wrong, I honestly think I would react most like Ruby. I probably wouldn’t fight back, or hoard supplies well. I would go find the fastest car I could, and drive it around an abandoned town picking up nail polish and puppies.

That’s not all Ruby does, but you know to find out what happens in a book, you should probably read it. All in all, I give H2O, 3.7 stars. It’s a little slow, some of the writing is sloppy. But if you want something that feels like a genuine reaction to a world ending freak event. It’s worth it. Oh by the way, it has a sequel.

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August 7, 2012

Happy Pub Day Throne of Glass!

Originally called Queen of Glass, this book became wildly popular on fictionpress.com, a website I started using when I was in middle school. I officially joined the site in 2005, and shortly thereafter the story was suggested to me by another author. At the time it still had under a hundred chapters; she had just finished the first book, and the start of the second was online. It was amazing; I read it when I was home, and on my phone, I printed out pages and pages of it so I could pretend like I was doing work, and read it instead, and I did that until 2007 when S.J. Maas finished the series.The worst part, was waiting. Each chapter was published months apart, so I would reread the entire book just so I could remember where the characters left off. In Ardalan, Maas created a world that was so much like our own, but also starkly different. From the descriptions of war, pain, slavery, and heartache; to the beauty and regality of nature and magic. I honestly couldn’t believe that someone who was my age could write that way. It also made me realize something about myself. I wanted to write. Forever, for a living, for a meager postage stamp wage, or even for nothing. I wanted to write. So you can see why I have been following Ms. Maas’ progress with her amazing series. Right?

I’ve been eagerly awaiting the return of Ardalan and its famous assassin since she took the series off the web in 2008, and today I finally got to read the book that I’ve been waiting for, for four years. Now I’ll actually tell you what’s it about.

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men—thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her… but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best. Then one of the other contestants turns up dead… quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined –Goodreads

Celaena is one of my favorite heroines; she’s blunt, sassy, sarcastic, a bookworm, and a full on badass. Her character is strong; she survived so much before the book starts (check out the Throne of Glass Novellas on Maas’ Goodreads Page) but she’s still a totally normal teenage girl, and it makes her super relatable. Some of my favorite parts in the novel are her quick attachment to Fleetfoot, and her candy freakout, because dogs and candy are two of my favorite things. In addition to the totally normal teen girl-ness of her character. Celaena is, as previously mentioned, a bad-ass. As in full on BAMF. She’s an assassin, so her fighting skills are superb and the scenes in which she fights her competitors gave me an adrenaline rush.

However, this is a fantasy novel first and foremost, and unlike the original draft of the story, the fantasy is much more clearly outlined. The King of Ardalan is known for his cruelty as well as for banishing magic under his rule, the magic seemed to bend to his will by disappearing entirely. Well, not really. In his ever so lovely glass castle  there are Wyrdmarks, which hold the power to open gateways to another realm, or all the other realms; no one really knows. That element alone held a plot device that I don’t recall from the original series.

I feel like I’m fangirling this post instead of making sense, so I’ll just leave you with this. If you’re looking for a high fantasy novel, with absolutely amazing characters, and the occasional plot twist that will drive you just a tiny bit crazy; or if you just want some good old fashioned butt-kicking action. This is the story for you. If you’ve already encountered this amazing story, then I just hope you dream of Erilea. (In case you couldn’t tell, this book gets ALL the stars.)

In closing, Happy Pub Day S.J. Maas!

July 20, 2012

Lightning Strike Survivors Group

Imagine yourself in Los Angeles, when an Earthquake strikes. Not just any earthquake either, I mean, an earth shattering, skyscraper leveling, mammoth of an earthquake. It destroys everything, but your family and home are spared. Weeks later schools open again, providing rations to students who attend and that’s where Struck, by Jennifer Bosworth begins.

Mia Price is a unique young girl who has been thrust into caring for her mother, and her younger brother after the earthquake. Despite this normal role she’s taken on, she has a not so normal addiction: Getting struck by lightning. She’s been struck several times in her life, and despite the scars that cover the majority of her body, she feels a pull to the lightning that occurs in every storm, and she yearns for another strike. The book is interesting to being with, the simple concept of a person who WANTS to be hit by lightning is intense, and (I hate to say it) electrifying.

Then there’s Prophet. Can you guess his role? He’s a religious fanatic who (post-earthquake) has successfully convinced the majority of L.A.’s survivors that he has predicted the rapture. I’ll give the man a bit of credit here. A televangelist, Prophet predicted the earthquake that leveled the majority of the city on national television, seconds before it happened. He’s also predicted a second storm, 3 days from the start of the novel that will end the world as we know it.

As a big fan of the Dystopian, it was great to finally see one that is set in the modern day. The idea of an earthquake happening and leveling the city of L.A. is a plausible reality, and some of the most interesting of the novel are Bosworth’s imagined responses to a natural disaster of that size. Aside from that I loved the way Mia responded to her world. She took nearly everything as a challenge, and never backed down. Once she realized what she had to lose, it was like everything became real for her and she fought. And I LOVE a character that fights. Mia doesn’t just fight against a mysterious force, or against the Prophet, she fights her family, and she fights herself, and that’s what really made this book come alive (though the lightning helped).

July 16, 2012

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

If you haven’t read Divergent (which by the way i really reccomend)…I’m so sorry for the spoilers.

Divergent was interesting, but the climax was where the book really grabbed my attention, you know, the part where they forced nearly the entire population of Dauntless to kill the Abnegation. That kickstarted the series for me, and then I had to know what happened to Tris and Four. Can their relationship survive the civil war that is tearing their life apart? Can Tris actually face what she did while trying to survive? Will Four ever reconcile with his father? Then I also had these other, less character based questions like: What exactly was Erudite’s purpose in killing nearly an entire faction? What secret did Tris’ parents die to protect? What happened to the Dauntless when they realized what they had done?

Insurgent was more or less a full on kamikaze of answers for me. I got unexpected answers, answers that raised new questions, and answers to questions I never actually asked. It was the world building novel, it helped me understand how each faction worked (Tris, Four and their allies get to be around each faction). It also built upon Tris’ character, and the lengths at which she would go to protect people. Insurgent  made the world more real to me. It made it conceivable. There’s a reason that each community developed, and more importantly it sets us up for the bigger question…but I’m not telling you what that is, you’ll have to figure it out for yourself. :]

July 8, 2012

Finding Dan Wells.

So I was just at work, minding my own business, when my boss requested that I clean up the YA section. As you might guess, that’s my favorite part of any work day. I bopped on back to the display, and instead of actually working…I scanned the covers for something interesting. This cover popped out at me:

Image

It looked AWESOME, The girl on the cover didn’t seem to be killing herself or floating in water, she looked strong, ergo my immediate interest. Plus, you can’t beat a dystopian future that has the Manhattan skyline in it. So I devoured it (and not in a literal book eating sense). The female protagonist was brilliant and I was surprised at the amount of actual research that had gone into creating the background for the genetics in the book. The woman who wrote the book (and i assumed it was a woman because the characters voice just sounded so, well, feminine) had to be like a scientist or something, like Kathy Reichs! I was wrong. There’s no other way to say that; Dan Wells, is a man, and doesn’t seem to be a super scientist (but if he is please feel free to tell me!)

After finishing Partials I had this strange hope that there would be a second book in the series already published. Like the first book was just on the NEW book display by chance, or because of a misfile. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case (Fragments will be released in 2013). I set off to find something else by him, and I did.

I Am Not A Serial Killer is about a teenage boy named John Wayne Cleaver who has a particular set of rules to stop his sociopathic tendencies from forming into well, actual serial killer tendencies. He is unpredictable, charming, funny, and strangely, easy to relate too. Wells also takes time to explain why John’s sociopathic tendencies are so strong. Whether it was the family owned mortuary he lived and worked at, or his abusive absentee father, there are highly plausible explanations. The novel was amazing. In addition to having this intensely interesting pyschological profile for his main character, it’s a fantasy/horror novel. Think, demons, murders, and an internal battle between the sociopath identity he denies and the guy he wishes he could be.

I finished it in a few hours and then made my boss get me the next two novels. Mr. Monster, and I Don’t Want to Kill You. They are equally amazing, and I recommend Dan Wells in general as a writer. I’m off to read some more, Hollow City by Wells was released on the 3rd, and I received it from my boss yesterday . Happy Reading!

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