Archive for March, 2013

YA Fiction Rant

Welcome to Weishi-Rants-About-Stuff-Because-She-Wants-To-Procrastinate-But-Is-Too-Lazy-To-Write-A-Review.

Here is a list of things that bug me when I’m reading a bad book, most often a paranormal romance or dystopian where I want to strangle both the characters.

1. Romance

This section is so big that it’s split into multiple little sections. Let us begin the rant.

-Love Triangles

I hate love triangles.

I understand that a novel demands conflict, and that you want to make your romantic subplot more compelling, but if it actually undermines your character, don’t do it.

Just. Stop.

If these girls (they are almost always girls) really did love their boyfriends so damn much that the stars aligned every time they kissed and they forgot to breathe during these intense caresses, then why do they fall in love with a second dude? I’m sorry, but if you hand me a relationship to read about, try to convince me that they would die for each other and are soul mates and should never be separated even though they’ve known each other for like three days, then why make them suddenly fall in love with another guy?

It has also gotten to the point that, if I read the blurb and a love triangle is described in more than one sentence, I will put that book right back.

– Shallow

There is this stereotype for guys that they are all jerks and only care about your bra size or what you look like or what type of clothes you wear, not your personality. We are constantly complaining about the objectification of women and how they are never seen for what they are, but just for what they look like. And objectification of women is a very real thing, but somehow we completely overlook the stark objectification of men in young adult literature who are sidelined as love interests and pretty things to make out with.

These girls are falling for these guys with beautiful, chiselled cheekbones and mysterious eyes and lean yet muscles bodies and perfect hair and flirty smiles. Descriptions of their ‘stunning’ personalities are overlooked in favour of their perfectly sculpted abs. Our naive and innocent and always virginal main character falls head-over-heels in love with the boy and his godly biceps.

– Insta-Love

You can’t microwave a relationship.

You can’t go from intense, all-consuming hatred to sudden intoxicatingly gooey lovey dovey romance without any explanation and expect me to buy it.

Give me an explanation, even the most contrived one in existence, and I will go along with you. But don’t expect me to go with the formula just because it is the formula.

– Magnetic Connection

Also known as the laziest way to write romance.

Just because you’re too lazy to write legitimate reasons as to why they make a good couple, doesn’t mean you can throw in some pretty line about their souls being tied together and expect that to equal sufficient relationship development. If you qualify it, fine, if its their destiny and some magical force is shipping the hell out of them, then sure, whatever, as long as you explore that.

I just want logical explanation inside the realms of fiction. I hate lazy character development. But I will take it over no development at all.

– Unrealistic

It has been a very long time since I last read twilight, but I seem to remember that when Bella kissed Edward, he quite literally took her breath away. And then later she kissed him and her heart stopped. Not an expression, her heart monitor literally flat lined.

I don’t think I even need to explain why I have a problem with this.

– Complete & Total Reliance

Even more twilight flashbacks happening now, except we’re onto the second book.

Remember that time that Edward broke up with his girlfriend, then she decided to try to kill herself multiple times to hear his voice again? And then we were supposed to take it as romantic and a healthy way to deal with a break up, and not question it at all..

Yeah. That sounds healthy.

2. Characters

They will make or break your book.

And unfortunately, breaking your book is very easy.

– Female Leads

Oh, surprise surprise, you’re an aspiring author.

And you love to read.

And, oh look, you’re nerdy and awkward and no one understands you.

God, what a surprise how you’re shorter than average and innocent and virginal and not like those other girls in your class who just hate how perfect you are.

Wow, your appearance exactly matches this author picture in the back of the book, this is such a coincidence.

Not all books do this. I would actually say some of these things are in the minority, and these traits on their own, or even added together, don’t make a bad character. They’re just everywhere.

Everywhere.

Lots of teenagers barely read anything. Lots of teenagers have tons of sex. Lots of teenagers don’t avoid conversation like it’s the plague.

YA, represent your demographic properly. I want a variety of characters to read about, not the same old same old that gets boring rather fast.

– The Love Interest

The great thing about books as opposed to movies, is that you can’t see what people look like in books. It doesn’t matter how many times you try to press the fact that he is literally the most beautiful thing to walk the earth, I can’t see his face, so I’m not going to base him on his looks. I’m going to base him on what he does, and how he treats people. If he’s a jerk, no matter how amazing he appears, I’m going to be reading about his personality, so you can’t hide his ugly inside with a beautiful exterior that I cannot see.

And the many love interests are complete creeps lacking in any character other than their extreme creepiness.

-Clichés

Stop making cheerleaders horrible and stupid and sluts. Stop living up to clichés that cheerleaders are beautiful but empty on the inside. Not that I’ve ever been to american high school (sidenote: do all american parties have those red plastic cups or have I just been lied to by the movies?), but I really doubt that all cheerleaders are like that. I doubt that all the book nerds are quiet, lovely introverts with extremely high intellects that no one appreciates. I doubt that all jocks are crass and unintelligent and just care about sex. I doubt the mutual exclusiveness of these groups that is hinted at in almost every book about high school that I have read.

3. Appearances

Please stop shoving someone’s appearance down my throat for the sake of putting an image in my head.

I want a description that elicits emotion, not one just to play out like a movie in my brain.

Why the frick should I care if the chair was exactly two centimetres from the left wall and was very brown? Does it contribute to the story? Does it set the mood for the scene? No? Then I don’t care.

4. Dystopian Rebellions

This one is just speculation, but why do all Dystopian books have rebellions in them?

The conclusion of a horrible society doesn’t always have to be the upheaval of that corruption, and there are probably books that do exist that do this, but I have yet to read them.

I want a dark dystopian where nothing gets fixed by the end and humanity isn’t miraculously saved by our vigilante protagonist.

5. Writing Style

Books are not cheap movies.

For the last time, books are not cheap movies.

Books are a way to tell stories differently, books are a way to use language to convey things that images on a screen cannot. When you have all these words at your disposal, when you have emotions that you can express and gorgeous, wonderful ideas that are impossible to say in any other medium, why transform your lovely, potential-filled novel into a bunch of stage directions that happen to go on for a very, very, very long time?

Yes, sometimes this works. Sometimes this is a stylistic choice.

But come on, shake it up a little.

Give me substance.

Give me a reason to quote your sentences for months on end.

6. Covers

Movie Covers.

Covers with models posing dramatically with obviously and badly photo-shopped backgrounds.

Covers with girls in long dresses that are pretty but have nothing to do with the book.

Cover changes mid-series, that are infinitely worse than the original.

There are always exceptions, and I do not discount them, but for the rest of you… why?

Why would you do that?

7. Dumbing Books Down

“Oh, it’s just another teen craze.”

Thanks for dismissing an entire age demographic and dismissing their opinions because you don’t understand them. Thank you, judgemental media outlets, for defining ‘teen’ as a group of individuals that can be ‘solved’ and manipulated like they are some dumb, alien species who don’t understand the intelligence and sophistication required in the literary world. Thank you for generalising this massive and diverse age group into one category because you can’t accept that there is variation in all human beings, not just the obsessive fangirl youth culture that you like to perceive.

Thanks for encouraging authors to write stupid books following perceived trends because they think these stupid kids will take the bare essentials of a novel based on the fact that it has hot vampires in it, even if the writing is horrific and the characterisation is unbearable and the plot is non-existent.

No, it can’t be because this book is an intelligent deconstruction of war and sacrifice and hope that the teens like it. It must be the love triangle. We must have more love triangles. After all, it’s just one of those teen crazes.

8. Missing the point

It’s very easy to see the difference between a book that was written with the intention of making money off a particular hype, or a book that was written because the author thought it was easy to be an author, and a book where the author has poured their heart into their work.

There is a very big difference between people who write because they want to, and people who write because they need to. A very big difference in books that were written on a whim to try it out, and books that were written because the author loved the characters, needed the plot to be told, worked painstakingly over it trying to get it perfect. It is so plainly obvious which is which to a reader.

After all, those are a lot of words to slip up in. And those are a lot of lines to read between.

So…. That Was Fun.

I’m sorry I ranted so much to you, but there you go, now you know my feelings on YA. Not that YA fiction is bad, on the contrary, there are plenty of amazing, spectacular, awesome YA books. But there are also a lot of popular YA books that I do not understand. I don’t understand why people like them or why they exist or why they are bestsellers.

If you’re looking for recommendations for books that are not like this, just visit our top tens page for our favourites.

See you next time!

 

Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor

I feel very conflicted right now.

Some parts of this book I loved, and some parts I hated. But strangely, they weren’t the usual parts of love and hate that I have for a book.

WARNING: SPOILERS

In some ways, you could say it’s the opposite of Unearthly.

Unearthly is a story with a terrible premise and altogether bad initial reaction from the first few pages of bland prose and cliché prologue, but makes a realistic and interesting story as it goes on, as well as really likeable characters, even though it had all the trademarks of a bad book.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone has amazing premise and amazing reviews and incredible initial reaction as well as gorgeous writing style, but as it progresses, more and more clichés from bad books get stuck onto it, and the characters get less and less likeable.

But you’ll find out more about that later.

Summary

Karou is basically this girl who was raised by demons, yet knows nothing about her past or what the demons do. Then something bad happens and she falls into insta-love with this sexy, brooding, angsty angel guy. Oh, and flashbacks.

So this review is going to be structured a little bit differently. Instead of Pros and Cons, I’m gonna deal with three sections of the book separately, and see how this goes. Then we’ll cover the usual of characters and plot and writing style.

Part 1 (up to doors burning)

Awesome.

Part 1 of the book is what sucked me into it and hooked me. I loved Karou’s attitude, her acknowledgement of using the wishes for the wrong things, her humour, and her backstory. I loved the potential for this book. I loved the chimaeras, and the characteristics, and basically I thought the entire set up was so intriguing and interesting.

There was basically so much potential in the first part, and interesting interactions between Karou and Kaz, and the vivid description of the chimaeras was awesome. It set a lot of questions up, and really made me want to read more.

The only problem I had with this first part was Akiva, since it was so plainly obvious to me that he was going to be the love interest, and I thought he was boring and angsty and cliché. Not to worry, though, since I convinced myself he would become awesome in Laini Taylor’s world.

And the scene when Kishmish delivers the wishbone? Awesome. So haunting and amazing and I loved it.

From the first part, I thought I would be putting this on my favourites list for sure. However…

Part 2 (up to breaking the wishbone)

And this is when everything went downhill.

It is so surprising to me at how my reactions to part 1 and part 2 differ so much.

It just shows how much I hate insta-love (yes I know it’s kind of technically not insta-love but I’ll explain later)

God, the romance bugged me so much. Karou went from wanting to kill this dude in her first meeting, to taking him to her apartment in her second meeting and actually falling asleep with him there. I’m sorry, but people do not fall asleep in the same room as people who are going to kill you voluntarily. I would not be comfortable falling asleep in front of some guy I’d only met twice, let alone a guy I knew wanted to kill me. And then she just wants to touch him again and kiss him and they have this romantic date even though a few days ago they WANTED TO MURDER EACH OTHER RUTHLESSLY.

WRONG.

THAT IS NOT HOW ROMANCE SHOULD WORK.

Sorry, I’m getting annoyed. Just that the first part was so good and then… this. I was left with this.

Also, look what happened, IT WAS THE MAGNETIC CONNECTION AGAIN.

NO.

STOP IT.

YA AUTHORS STOP USING THIS MAGNETIC CONNECTION THING TO EXCUSE NOT WRITING REAL CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT.

And onto Part 3.

Part 3 (the flashbacks of Madrigal)

This part was more interesting, but only because it felt completely separate from the book. It was like a whole other fairytale that just happened to be an extra in this book.

The problem is (SPOILER ALERT) with Madrigal being Karou, I just couldn’t grasp that they were the same person. Karou had seventeen years of not knowing her past life. She probably developed into a whole other person. Just because she remembered her past life, doesn’t mean that she suddenly is that same person from all those years ago. She lived for seventeen years without knowing any of it, she lived for seventeen years without even knowing Akiva existed, she’s not going to revert back to being Madrigal when she’s spent seventeen years being Karou, this whole other girl.

It just seemed too far-fetched to me, maybe because Madrigal and Karou acted so differently.

And though the magnetic connection was kind of explained, it also wasn’t.

So Karou is in love with Akiva because she feels this magnetic connection and compulsion to touch him and stroke his abs and whatever, so we get explained that she used to be Madrigal, who was in love with Akiva. This makes sense, I suppose, that her old feelings as Madrigal are catching up on her and so that’s why the love between her and Akiva moves at freaking lightspeed (they say they love each other after literally three meetings. THREE. AND ONE OF THEM WAS WHEN THEY TRIED TO KILL EACH OTHER.).

So this would make sense, Akiva and Madrigal’s relationship developed, except oh wait it didn’t.

First meeting, Madrigal saves Akiva from dying because she likes his face.

Second meeting, Madrigal sees him at this ball thing and they dance, and every time she clasps hands with him she feels safe and loved and she falls in love with him because of this MAGNETIC CONNECTION SHE FEELS.

“Madrigal had no answer. For two years she had been haunted by it, by the feeling, when she had found him dying, that somehow he was hers to protect. Hers. And now here he was, alive and, impossibly, here. She was still grappling with disbelief, that it was him, his face – of which she remembered every plane and angle – hidden behind that mask.”

They had a thirty second conversation with each other when he was dying, by the way. So that compulsion that he was hers is from a thirty second conversation where they both admired how pretty each other were, and then left. And then he stalked her for two years.

So obviously the magnetic connection is still a mystery, since she got it both times she met Akiva.

Apart from that, I liked this bit. I liked Madrigal (even if I didn’t like creepy Akiva), I love fairytales, and the entire backstory and setting.

General Stuff

Writing Style – gorgeous. Perhaps, sometimes, it could get a little overdone, but for the most part, awesome.

Humour – awesome. It’s nice to see a protagonist that’s got more of a personality than one or two sarcastic remarks to make her seem funny.

Setting – awesome awesome awesome. It requires three awesomes. It was that awesome.

Characters – Now here is where it gets complicated.

For the most part, I loved all the characters. Especially Brimstone, I mean, he is a demon, he causes pain, so you’d expect him to be a malicious scary, character, and sometimes he is. But for the most part he is, on the inside, this loving, great, awesome father figure who wants peace, and just as you discover this he (SPOILERS) dies. The entire chimaera family was awesome and lovely and well developed and well thought out.

I loved Zuzana, which was a surprise, since usually the best friend of the protagonist is either really shallow and ugly to make the protagonist look better, or the best friend in the world who sometimes comes off as slightly pathetic and whiny. But Zuzana was her own person. I loved her humour and her personality and how close and accepting she was of Karou’s life.

I even loved Madrigal and Chiro and Nwella, who were only in the book for the last quarter. I especially love the character of Chiro, she’s so interesting and developed and shows Madrigal in a completely different light. Madrigal is seen as perfect but we see, through Chiro’s eyes, that she’s actually quite naive and takes her blessings for granted. I even liked Kaz for as stupid and annoying as he was, he was fun to read about and interesting.

The only two characters I really couldn’t connect with or enjoy or care about, were Karou and Akiva. The two characters I was supposed to like.

I’m still trying to work out why I don’t like Karou.

For some reason, I feel like she is too perfect, though I don’t know why, because it’s not that she’s without flaws (she says so herself that she can be shallow, arrogant and selfish), and it’s not like she makes all the right choices. Maybe it’s because it felt like everyone in the book was basically worshipping Karou. Including the author.

Find one character who doesn’t think Karou is exceptionally beautiful, or smart, or creative. Find one description of Karou that doesn’t make her seem beautiful or deep or aching on the inside or intelligent or artistic. Or perhaps it’s because everything comes to her so easily. Her drawing skills, her fighting, her knowledge of languages, her undeniable beauty, and it makes her so incredible and godlike in this universe. And I always prefer reading about an underdog, about someone with more problems than just not knowing what species they are. So maybe it’s just me, because other reviewers love Karou.

And then we have Akiva.

Good god, Akiva freaks me out.

So he meets this chimaera, who is beautiful and kind and helpful, and he’s like wow, maybe chimaera aren’t so bad, they have a few seconds of a conversation, she leaves, and he dedicates the next two years of his life to stalking her trying to find her again. He breaks into this ball she’s at, dances with her and tells her how they should be together even though she’s betrothed to the scary wolf-dude, and then they make out and fall in love in a month (or something like that). Some people find out and they get sentenced to die. He survives, gets really sad,  and sees this mega beautiful blue-haired girl, walk out of the chimaera portal, and follows her for SOME UNKNOWN COMPULSION which is probably that she’s really pretty. Oh, and she looks sad when no one is looking which makes him really like her.

So then he tries to kill her, but she ends up injuring him and runs away. He still thinks she’s pretty so he stalks her and watches her sleep, thinking about his last girlfriend who was also working for his enemy, and then decides that he really wants to kiss this hot girl he tried to kill. She then tries to kill him later, they decide not to, he goes to her apartment, they go on a date. He sees this necklace that makes him realise that this is his old girlfriend, cries on her legs, then fights his brother and sister (like full on epic battle) for this girl he met A FEW DAYS AGO AND BARELY KNOWS.

Then he makes out with her and tells her he loves her, not because she’s his old girlfriend, but because she’s all beautiful and stuff. She finds out who she used to be, they make out, and then he lets it slip that he kind of murdered her family.

That’s the book.

That’s the entire book concerning Akiva.

Do you see why I do not like him?

Not only does he obviously not love Karou (come on, I doubt you can fall in a love that intense that fast), but he also is a creepy stalker following this random girl, making out with her even though he did essentially try to murder her. And did murder her family. And only likes her because she reminds him of his old girlfriend and that she’s always pretty. He follows this random girl FROM THE ENEMY LINES to a party where there is a WAR GENERAL WHO WILL TRY TO KILL HIM, just so he can woo this girl he barely knows who could be like a psychotic serial killer or something. She could have bodies hanging in her basement, and he wouldn’t know.

That and his name reminds me of Akila (a non-talking dog from Maximum Ride).

Why are angels always so damn creepy in YA fiction?

Quotes

  • “I don’t know many rules to live by,’ he’d said. ‘But here’s one. It’s simple. Don’t put anything unnecessary into yourself. No poisons or chemicals, no fumes or smoke or alcohol, no sharp objects, no inessential needles–drug or tattoo–and…no inessential penises either.’
    ‘Inessential penises?’ Karou had repeated, delighted with the phrase in spite of her grief. ‘Is there any such thing as an essential one?’
    ‘When an essential one comes along, you’ll know,’ he’d replied.”
  • “Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there’s no actual magic in it, but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you can make things happen, almost like magic.”
  • “Once upon a time, an angel lay dying in the mist.
    And a devil knelt over him and smiled.”

Overall

I am very conflicted about this book.

A third of it, I loved.

A third, I hated.

And a third was meh.

Though, admittedly, that ending was awesome.

It’s the type of book that I’m not sure I want to read the sequel to, just because I don’t know if I can take that much more Akiva and Karou making googly eyes, no matter how much Zuzana makes up for it. And now that Brimstone and Issa are probably not going to appear again, it makes me even less likely to want to read it, as part of the reason was to see more of them.

While I did like the book, I felt like I was reading an entire trilogy from the feelings I had, as each reaction was so separate and different.

God, what do I give this?

Ok, for the first part, 5 shuriken stars. Loved the first part so much.

The second part, maybe 2, for how hard it was for me to get through it.

And the third, I guess it would be a 3.

Which, doing the maths, makes it… a really difficult number. I wanted halves. Let’s round up to 3 1/2 shuriken stars.

Lots of people will love this, and probably love the romance, I just could not stand the romance which is what was the downer for me, however I will say that Laini Taylor can definitely write and I’ll see if I can stand enough Akiva for a second book (maybe).

Happy Reading! 😀

 

Light- Michael Grant

Light (Gone, #6)Since my brother and I are fans of the Gone series, naturally we went as soon as the bookshop opened today to read it and asdfhaiefhaoeifh it was pre-signed by Michael Grant himself! Isn’t that awesome! For no extra cost as well! It was even £2 off! I’m so happy right now! But I’m sad and pissed off at the same time because my favourite character died. So basically kinda speechless, so I’m sorry if this review turns out to be crap.

Summary (Goodreads)- sorry!
It’s been over a year since all the adults disappeared. Gone.

In the time since every person over the age of fourteen disappeared from the town of Perdido Beach, California, countless battles have been fought: battles against hunger and lies and plague, and epic battles of good against evil. And now, the gaiaphage has been reborn as Diana’s malicious mutant daughter, Gaia. Gaia is endlessly hungry for destruction. She yearns to conquer her Nemesis, Little Pete, and then bend the entire world to her warped will. As long-standing enemies become allies, secrets are revealed and unexpected sacrifices are made. Will their attempts to save themselves and one another matter in the end, or will the kids of Perdido Beach perish in this final power struggle?

Light, the sixth and final book in the New York Times bestselling Gone series by Michael Grant, creates a masterful, arresting conclusion to life in the FAYZ.

Cons
The series has ended 😦
But in a way this is kinda a good thing, because to be honest the series was getting a little long and stretched out. But no…. I’ve been there since it started, and I can’t and don’t want to say goodbye to the characters that I’ve grown to love and hate.. Even though my most favourite character dies in this (I’ll give you a clue. It’s one of the big four.)

I want to know more!
I want to know about the experimental labs, Connie, Caine, Gaia, what happened to Little Pete, the survivors, Toto, why Sam didn’t have the evil feel towards him, etc.

The blaze of glory
I just felt that it was a little hurried. All through the book it was working up till that moment, and to be honest, I didn’t feel it until I read the next page which had the consequences. It reminded me a little of Rue’s death in the Hunger Games.

Disgusting scenes
Compared to other books there weren’t as many disgusting scenes. I mean, yeah there’s a graphic description of eyes being gouged out and burning holes through bodies, but there wasn’t actually much really really disgusting stuff- the kind of stuff that makes you want to throw up. Compared to Fear this was a field through of daisies. I mean, after reading fear, I couldn’t look at some sweets in the same way as before. But after reading this book, I have to say, even though I hate saying it… I was a little disappointed at the non-icky-ness 😦

Sam
This isn’t really a con in the sense of the book, but I really do need to let my anger out about him. (spoilers/ spoiler hints may follow)
All the others of the big four offered themselves up but he didn’t. It annoyed me so much. He is such a idiot. Stupid. (awesome people will get the stupid reference/ people who have read the book). He deserves to rot in prison. I dislike him. And all the time even up to the end he is the one who everyone trusts and is considered the hero. NB. Dark Knight references to come. He is the Harvey Dent and his “evil” twin brother is the Dark Knight.

Pros
The covers!
I’m just going to use this little paragraph to say thanks to Michael Grant for writing this awesome series and for making the covers look awesome on my bookshelf.
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Epic
It was just epic. Although there were parts of it that I didn’t like, it was epic. Mainly because of all the fight scenes.

The Outside
When I read stuff like this on the news (well… not exactly like this, but you get what I mean) I’m always the outsider looking in on it. How those kids are criminals because they killed and betrayed the law and therefore are a danger to the other people and therefore should be sent to prison. However, looking at it though the kids point of view is a totally another question. It seems so different that way and is going to change the way I look at something, because after reading the hell they’ve been though for the past six books, it seems stupid and selfish to chuck them into prison for trying to survive. So yeah. Sorry. I’m rambling. I’m still kinda in awe of this book. My point is basically that we see it through the eyes of the “criminals” who in their own world are the “heroes”. Funny how things can just all merge into one.

The plot
Compared to the other books it was a lot more thought out. In lots of the other parts there were sudden twists that were just pulled out of thin air, which did annoy me a little. But this book was different. From the start I felt that there was actually a plot, everything was all working towards one thing that would happen, and it did. The ending was Epic. With a capital E just to show how Epic it is.

Couples
I’m not usually one to splutter over cute couples, but hey ho I can always try something new every day! The couples were so cute… Brinanna and Dekka. Caine and Diana. Sam and Astrid. Edilio and Roger. So cute. It’s ashame that half of the couples are broken by the end of it.
haha. My endgame. I will keep you in suspense until you read the book.

Gaia
Best. Villain. Ever.

This picture

I found it off http://gaiaphage.com and it is freaking awesome!

Pons/ Cros
Basically this is a section about stuff that I didn’t want to put into the pros or the cons for fear of offending someone.

I thought it was ironic in places (at least I interpreted them ironically because of my beliefs) in places to do with religion. It’s just one of those things that puts religion in a different light. Like how the bible is from a Christian viewpoint, but if it was written again from a Atheist’s viewpoint, yeah I guess it’s unlikely, but the story would be interpreted differently.

Favourite Quotes

  • Evil. It’s in all of us. You know that, too. It was in you. I saw it in your eyes as you looked down at me in that cooler. Evil, hah. We all want to have someone powerless beneath us while we stand over them.”
  • “I realised, when I saw the forest burning, how fascinating the firelight is. It’s beautiful  and the people stare at it, don’t they? It destroys things and kills people, but humans love it. It is because they crave their own destruction?”
  • “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose”
  • Sit! Lana roared. To Lana’s amazement, Brianna sat. So did Patrick”
  • “You’re insane!
    Compared to what? I haven’t got out much”
  • “Edilio had brought reality with him. And reality had a bad feel.”
  • “She was just that kind of girl: hate at first sight.”

Overall
Although I loved this book, and I hate saying this, but it isn’t quite up to the 5 stars rating :(. I really wanted it to be, and maybe that was the problem because there’s all that psychological thing about making it seem better in your head and then getting disappointed. So maybe that was it. Anyway, I would probably give it 4 shuriken stars 😛

The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

The Bell JarThis is going to be a very short review. (at least, that’s what Past Weishi thought it would be. Present Weishi realises that Past Weishi was very ignorant)

The main reason is that I could not cover everything in this book if I tried. There are probably a lot more coherent and intelligent and wonderful reviews about this book floating around on the internet, and I really don’t think I have the ability to cover everything that is so brilliant about it.

But yes, it is definitely brilliant.

Oh god, is it brilliant.

Summary

Seriously, you should just read the actual blurb for it. It’s a good blurb. Here’s a short version.

Esther Greenwood slowly losing her grip on reality and spiraling into a breakdown.

Cons

Maybe one will come to me.

And maybe not.

Pros

Characters were all flawless. Perhaps it’s because it was based on Sylvia Plath’s own experiences, but you could not say that any of these characters were just characters. They were real people, with very real flaws and very real promises of life and goodness inside them. And Esther was the most amazing character of all, because she wasn’t likeable at times, she did horrible things and said horrible things, except she wasn’t the type of character that you can pin a particular flaw onto, because like all real people, they don’t have one detrimental flaw to them and nothing else, they are made up of lots of little flaws, lots of tiny cracks on their skin, instead of  a gaping big break through the centre.

It is extremely hard to write characters this way. A lot of authors will pin one or two flaws onto a character just to even them out from all the good stuff, they might be spoilt or rude or ignorant or (in some really stupid cases that don’t count as flaws) so modest that they don’t realise they’re obvious attractiveness and intelligence even when their supernatural boyfriend is constantly telling them how amazing they are and why can’t they just see that they’re perfect in every way… Esther was made up of many different facets of personality, instead of one or two traits placed upon her in clichés.

Rationalising everything she did to the point where had to convince myself that she was indeed crazy, though she thought of herself to be perfectly sane. You see her actions mimicked in other characters that she thinks are crazy, you see her paranoia and anxiety and self-hatred but she rationalises so well to herself that I start to think that she is perhaps the sanest person in the room, when in reality it is very different.

The reason Esther slipped into depression was also very believable. A lot of authors feel the need to rationalise this depression with some large, traumatic event, that impacts them like a great shock wave. Esther with her seemingly perfect life didn’t need something to break her, because she broke herself just by living. She didn’t do anything to cause it, it just happened, because all those little things that nagged at her that didn’t seem like anything at the time, slowly built up until in one moment of revelation, she realised just how overwhelmed she was by everything. Not only is Esther trapped by herself, she is trapped by society, by the people around her, by the expectations of her family and this constant need she feels to be perfect and please everyone, and feeling completely out of place in the world. No large traumatic event is needed to make Esther’s depression believable, because large traumatic events aren’t always the reason for depression.

Another great thing was how the book never specifically mentioned the fact that Esther was in depression, or that she needed help. Throughout most of her time, Esther is convinced that she is sane, but at the same time slipping, and we see her descent into this surreal world so built up carefully and somehow so controlled, yet so out of her own hands.

Man, this is turning into an essay. Next thing you know, I’ll be doing an analysis of the wording and structure of the novel (though I will say that I liked how Plath did the scene of her attempted suicide, with the flashbacks and no sense of time passing and altogether way it was done).

Seriously I need to stop now before this turns into an essay, even if I have so much more to say.

Quotes

  • “I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am.”
  • “If neurotic is wanting two mutually exclusive things at one and the same time, then I’m neurotic as hell. I’ll be flying back and forth between one mutually exclusive thing and another for the rest of my days.”
  • “The silence depressed me. It wasn’t the silence of silence. It was my own silence.”
  • “I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, “This is what it is to be happy.”
  • “I felt very still and empty, the way the eye of a tornado must feel, moving dully along in the middle of the surrounding hullabaloo.”

Overall

5 Shuriken Stars. That shouldn’t even be a question. It was amazing and intense and sad and beautiful and brilliant.

 

A Thousand Splendid Suns- Khaled Hosseini

A Thousand Splendid SunsWOW. That was a good book. In fact it was better than good. It’s like. WHOA. On Goodreads it has 4.28 stars. That obviously is amazing. (Sorry if it sounds sarcastic, it wasn’t supposed to)
Credit to my friends at school for making me read and mourn over it.
It makes me feel numb.
So sorry if this review turns out to be crap.

Summary
I would use the summary off Goodreads to avoid spoilers but I feel as if that summary has in a way too many spoilers; ie. I could guess some sad parts in the book without having to read it.

It follows mainly the story of Mariam and is told in a period of two generations. The book is split into three sections.
The first section follows Maraim as a young girl and her obsession with her dad who in the end turned out to be the jerkiest jerk- although the ending did make me sad. When she was a kid she especially wanted to be taken to her father’s cinema to see Pinocchio however, he wouldn’t let her as she was his illegitimate child. She later is forced to marry a man a generation older than her called Rasheed.
The second section of the story follows Laila who is a young girl who lives in the same village as Mariam. She falls for this guy called Tariq, and they are one of the cutest couples in existant. However, then some stuff happens, and she marries Rasheed.
Part three involves the life of Mariam and Laila together and how they develop a mother daughter relationship.

Cons
(Sorry in advance for the use of capitals) IT RIPPED MY HEART OUT 
Well. Actually maybe not as much as I made out, because I was prepared for it.
There was this one part in the middle that just made me just about die on the inside.
And then the ending melted me.

Pros
Historical Fiction
I say this about all books which are historical, but I feel as for this book it stands out more than for others. It’s probably because this isn’t very historical, or fiction. Some parts of this story are still happening all over the world; men abusing women, women having almost no rights, war, fighting, death, etc. It’s relevant, and that just makes it even sadder.

PoV
It was awesome how we got to experience the PoV of both Mariam and Laila. But at the same time I kinda hated it because it made me bond too much with them… so each time they experience sadness- I start to feel depressed. ;(

Different from what I usually read
As the sub-title suggests  it was different from what I usually read. This book has no zombies, no vampires, no ghosts, no werewolves, no murder(ish). But it does have one thing in common; violence. But in a different way; not like tearing your throat out and drinking your blood, but more like “do as I say or I’ll chuck your daughter out onto the streets”

Myself
Reading a book like this makes me look at myself and then think about all the different lives that we lead. If I were in the book I’d be already married and having children. It kinda freaks me out. And also makes me think. Why the hell do I keep complaining about “being bored” or “getting up early for school” when loads of people in this world don’t even have those opportunities. Sometimes… I really dislike myself.

Then the usual again:
Plot
Characters (I wish I could expand… but even the littlest thing such as tenses can give something away to someone reading it)
Writing Style

Favourite Quotes

  • “One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs,
    Or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls”
  • “Of all the hardships a person had to face, none was more punishing than the simple act of waiting”
  • “I will follow you to the ends of the world”
  • “This was a legitimate end to a life of illegitimate belongings”
  • “Mariam lay on the couch, hands tucked between her knees, watched the whirlpool of snow twisting and spinning outside the window. She remembered Nana saying once that each snowflake was a sigh heaved by an aggrieved woman somewhere in the world. That all the sighs drifted up the sky, gathered into clouds, then broke into tiny pieces that fell silently on the people below. As a reminder of how people like us suffer, she’d said. How quietly we endure all that falls upon us.”
  • “Boys, Laila came to see, treated friendship the way they treated the sun: its existence undisputed; its radiance best enjoyed, not beheld directly”

Overall
I haven’t rated a book 5 stars in a long time, but this book deserves it. 5 Shuriken Stars. Not a star lower.
I personally would recommend it to anyone. So yes. If you haven’t read this book. Do yourself a disfavour and read this book. It will tear your heart out. But at least then at the end you can be more… er… “updated with current affairs”? Or.. You could write it on your CV!
Anyway, the messages it basically. Read. This. Book.

The Other Life- Susanne Winnacker

The Other Life (The Other Life, #1)Just in case you didn’t know, this website is run by two people: Me (Yanni) and my bezzie mate Weishi. And of course we have different writing styles, my ones mainly using lots of “…”
Because she was procrastinating all through half term Weishi decided to go through all our (mainly my ones) reviews and change all my grammatical mistakes!
She especially complained about my use of “…” (all through biology today… -_-)
So this review. Just for you Weishi, there will be no “…” besides these 😛

Summary
From Goodreads:

3 years, 1 month, 1 week and 6 days since I’d seen daylight. One-fifth of my life. 98,409,602 seconds since the heavy, steel door had fallen shut and sealed us off from the world

Sherry has lived with her family in a sealed bunker since things went wrong up above. But when they run out of food, Sherry and her dad must venture outside. There they find a world of devastation, desolation…and the Weepers: savage, mutant killers.

When Sherry’s dad is snatched, she joins forces with gorgeous but troubled Joshua – an Avenger, determined to destroy the Weepers.

But can Sherry keep her family and Joshua safe, when his desire for vengeance threatens them all?

Cons
There’s a sequel
It kinda mystifies me because if the writer chose to end the book slightly differently then it would have made a great stand-alone book (which nowadays is a category far too small for my liking) I’m just a little worried that the second book won’t live up to this book’s standard. But then again I worried about that with Neal Shusterman’s Unwind and Unwholly and they turned out to be one of the best books ever!

The Blurb
Tbh Joshua isn’t actually that obsessed with revenge. It’s only a little, and he only puts then in danger once. Only once.

Not enough gore
It was fast and racing, but in my opinion anyway there wasn’t enough gore for a book about Weepers/ zombie-ish creatures.

Pros
I am Legend
It reminded me just a little. No. Maybe a lot. of I am Legend, and this is a good thing because it’s one of the best movies ever made! I think it was mainly the zombie-ish creatures which reminded me of it, as each time I pictured them all I could see was the creatures in the film. It was awesome!

The Cover
I can’t stop going on about how awesome this cover is. In school I just about wave it in front of people’s faces telling it to the world.
It’s like at first it’s a butterfly! Then as you look closer, it’s a blood butterfly! Then it’s a people dripping blood butterfly! Then it’s a dead people dripping blood butterfly! Then it’s a dead butterfly dripping blood chasing life people! It’s so cool!!!
And that’s just about the butterfly!
There’s also a city, which is like “The Other Life” and the barbed wire also like “The Other Life”. Awesome right?

Evil Government Organisation
Evil people. Spoilers-ish to come
Have you ever thought how the government could be hiding something from us? Like we read it in books and everything; where the government has some sort of evil experiment which then gets out of hand, and then when people start dying they don’t lift a finger to help… – because then they would be admitting that they failed and that their society isn’t as good as people think; for example, in Russia, where the government said that there was no crime and so they refused to recognise it and so people did all sorts of illegal stuff. So. What if our government is doing that right now?

And all the other usual Pros:
Plot
Characters
Writing style
etc.

Favourite Quotes

  • “3 years, 1 month, 1 week and 6 days since I’d seen daylight. One-fifth of my life. 98,409,602 seconds since the heavy, steel door had fallen shut and sealed us off from the world” (from the blurb but hey ho!)
  • “I didn’t even know if any of my friends were still alive. What had they looked like? They were nothing but a fading memory” ;( I’d go crazy if that had happened to me
  • “”Every member of this family could recite the entire movie by heart” I wonder what movie this is? Could it be? Could it be? Nope. It’s Ariel. That movie about mermaids swimming and walking (I’ve never seen it- yup I may have no childhood)
  • “I do care. That’s why I hunt them. But if you’ve seen what I have, then you learn to deal with the murders and disappearances. You learn to push it aside and move on. The other life isn’t here any more  This new world has its own rules. Survival of the fittest is one of them. If you’re hoping for kindness and pity, don’t hold your breath.”

Overall
Well, I can be a little biased towards the living dead (but they don’t actually have to be zombies) but this book I have to say deserves the 4.5 shuriken stars that I’m going to give it.
It combined all of my favourite things: the living dead, a tiny amount of romance, a government plot, the world ending, gore, etc.
But if you hate all the things that I mentioned above, forget this review, forget this book as it would probably only convince you that you are the living dead for not having a heart 😛

World Book Day!

If you haven’t guessed from the title today’s World Book Day!!!

This means that everyone who is still in school gets a whole pound (money not getting beat up) to spend on a book or audio-book! How awesome is that?

So if you haven’t got your book token today, you should probably send your librarian an angry email or letter.

So if you haven’t checked out the website already you should! It’s got some great competitions (including some stuff about a years worth of chocolate) and there’s even a whole section just for YA!

http://www.worldbookday.com/

There’s also not only one but TWO World Book Day apps! One’s a general one which makes the voucher come to life and the other’s one specially for YA.

Having just been on the YA World Book Day app I can tell you right now that it’s awesome. There are mini books for free to read on there by all sorts of great authors. I personally have just finished reading Will Hill’s The Secret History of a Teenage Vampire and I’m just about to start Patrick Ness’ mini book! They aren’t very long, but hey ho, there’s a saying isn’t there; “short and sweet”. But I’m not entirely sure that sweet applies to the vampire books as I’m pretty sure that quite a few vampires get blown up… and there’s quite a lot of blood… But then again I guess you could argue that to vampires blood is sweet?

Anyway, just wanted to say Happy World Book Day!