Tag Archives: teen fiction

Book Review: The Always War

Book: The Always War

Author: Margaret Peterson Haddix

Recommend: Eh. It was alright and not a long-term commitment…

I found the concept interesting even though I think I’ve read everything dystopian that is possible lately. I am addicted, hoping to find something outstanding. This wasn’t it. Now mind you, this wasn’t bad. It was fast, interesting and had decent characters but it just lacked that pizzazz to make it really good. I wouldn’t be upset if I had bought this but I don’t think I’ll be purchasing this one anytime soon. If there was another book, I would read it but it would be another library pick up.

The basic idea is a war that seems to have gone on for forever. No one can remember a time before the war and it seems that there will be no time after it. When a war hero runs away and finds out that things are not what they seem, how will the world handle a sudden change in reality?

Basically Ender’s Game meets every other dystopian novel ever written. It made me want to pull out my Orson Scott Card again 🙂

Final Rating:

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Book Review: Underworld

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Book: Underworld

Author: Meg Cabot

Recommend: Definitely worth reading. Better than the first book!

After reading the first book in this series, I had to know what happened next and so I requested book two from the library. More often than not, the second book in a series is not a strong. There are many reasons for this including a much shorter time to write it, using something to prolong the story or the introduction of a poorly planned love triangle. This book however, suffers from none of these things and while it isn’t the strongest bit of writing I’ve ever read, this is a big step up from the creator of Princess Mia.

A modern retelling of the story of Persephone, this story follows Pierce as she tries to save her cousin from school bullies who place him in a life threatening situation. As she tries to help her cousin she learns more about her situation in the Underworld and who John really is.

I think the writing was far better in this book and the plot clipped along at a good pace. Overall, it was a much stronger read than the first book. At one point I wanted to shout at the main character like the dumb girl in every horror movie you’ve ever seen that goes into the scary house instead of calling for help and waiting outside. Yep. She has not one but two big moments where she is really that clueless. I mean does she not know the story of Persephone at all?

There were a couple of plot points in here that were a little too lame to be real and while the writing was better, I wanted more insight and detail than the author gave.

While this was a much better read than the first books, it still wasn’t among my favorites.

Final Rating:

Get it used…

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Abandoned Book Review: Velveteen

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Book: Velveteen

Author: Daniel Marks

Recommend: Nope! I couldn’t get through this one and don’t think you’ll be able to either.

I thought the concept of this book was interesting. What do you do in purgatory if you are a dead teenage girl? Something new and different right? Then I started reading. The beginning read like a YA version of The Lovely Bones. I was immediately annoyed. I continued to read, hoping that visiting purgatory would be more interesting. I was horribly wrong. This was like a cheap rip off of The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis meets the Cassandra Clare books. Everything was very vague and the characters were all modern which wouldn’t fit the notion that some souls had only been there a little time and others had been there for a very long time. In short, the author’s version of purgatory wasn’t believable.

Then I hit the first action sequence. It reminded me of a bad video game fight that didn’t make much sense or have enough detail to be enjoyable. At this point, I was done. I only made it through 72 pages of the book. I just couldn’t bring myself to read any further.

While this book might have some redeeming qualities later on, I wasn’t going to stick around to find out. This is one that I wouldn’t recommend wasting your time or energy on.

Final Rating:

TRASH IT!!

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Book Review: Article 5

Fiction - February 08

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Book: Article 5

Author: Kristen Simmons

Recommend: It was an interesting read. Not at all what I expected.

I saw this one a few months ago. It was on my massive list of books to read. I thought the concept was interesting. What if having a child out-of-wedlock was illegal? What if breaking a statute meant that you would disappear? What if the government was run by a moral code and one religion? That is the questions the author poses. What would the extreme case look like?

I really enjoyed the story line. What I didn’t like was the completely negative spin it took on traditional values and Christianity. The author seemed to think that having morality regulated would turn into something horrible. While anything can be taken too far, I think that the author forgets that the ideology in the book seems to be based on Biblical ideals and core of the Bible is God’s love for the people He created. The author seems to think that a world run by Christianity would be a world full of unfair rules and regulations and that the slightest thing would be met with extreme consequence. A world run by true Christian values would be one of love, caring, sacrifice and mercy, not violence and hatred. A situation similar to the book occurred a month or so ago in Mali (Couple given 100 lashes after child born out of wedlock) but it wasn’t Christians, it was under Islamic extremist rule.

I also think that there is a huge structural flaw with Article 5 of the statues. I think the idea that someone would be condemned for being a single parent doesn’t make sense with the structure she has created. If the whole idea is to promote traditional values, there still would be single parents, even if children weren’t born out-of-wedlock. What about widows/widowers? What about cases of rape? What about cases of abandonment? It’s just not solid enough to make sense to anyone reasonable.

While this was a fun fast-paced thrill ride, I think the author is trying to push her agenda through an engaging story.

Final Rating:

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Book Review: The Power of Six

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Book: The Power of Six

Author: Pittacus Lore

Recommend: Much better than the first book!

After reading the first book in this series and seeing the movie, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to continue with it. I Am Number Four was a decent read but wasn’t amazing and the movie was just awful in comparison. So I really thought that I would just not continue the series. Then I watched a review of the book online. After that, I found a copy at the library just sitting on the shelves. I figured it was a sign and so I picked it up. I’m glad I did. While I still don’t think this series is the best thing I’ve ever read, it is definitely improving in my opinion.

This book follows Four, Six and Sam as they try to find others from Lorien and try to evade the law, who are chasing them after the events in Paradise, Ohio. We are also introduced to Seven, who is stuck behind abbey walls in Spain and her guardian has given up on training her and preparing her for what was to come.

I think the series is getting better. I still think that the writing could use some work. The writing just seems to miss some things. I think the love entanglement issues through the story feel forced. It is just too extreme in some places and in others there isn’t enough emotion. I’m just not fond his writing style in general and it just seems like he misses the mark.

Much better than the first book and entertaining but not one of the best books I’ve read.

Final Rating:

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This made me thirsty..

Books: The Water Wars

Author: Cameron Stracher

Recommend: If you’ve got nothing better to do…

I have been wanting to read this book for quite some time. I kept choosing something else over it. I finally decided to pick it up today after I realized that it was shorter than anything else I had in my hands and might as well. So i started in sitting in the coffee shop at the bookstore that has become almost a daily after work stop lately. Man do I really miss the comfy chairs. Barnes and Noble take note!

I started in and quickly realized that this was not on the best seller’s list for a reason. While the concept is great, the writing is stilted and simplistic. The characters have no depth and they are just not interesting to read. Everything I wanted to know more about wasn’t expanded on and the most mundane things went plodding along for forever. The apparent death and the resurrection of character just got ridiculous. After a while I never counted on anyone being dead because sure enough, they would show up again. I got rather annoyed and definitely sped through it quickly because I was annoyed by the fact that yet another promising plot was completely destroyed by poor writing. It could have been so much more!

The only thing this book succeeded in doing was making me very thirsty. Thirsty for water and better writing.  I loved the idea I just wish the rest of it had measured up!

Final Rating:

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Not what she’d bargained for…

Book: Trafficked

Author: Kim Purcell

Recommend: It’s not for everyone.

I was wandering around Barnes and Noble again, looking for something new to read. I seem to be spending more and more time there lately. I found this book on the teen fiction shelves and decided to pick it up. I had a whole mess of books in my hand and for some reason, I decided to start in on this one, thinking i would read a few pages and decide that it wasn’t worth my time. While this book wasn’t the most amazing thing I have ever read, it definitely grabbed my attention and kept me enthralled in its pages while I read.

This tells the story of a young girl from Moldova who was sent to America to be a nanny. When she arrived, she was placed with a family who never paid her, tried to take her documents and didn’t allow her to leave the house. She was forced to work crazy hours and had to deal with a family full of secrets and lies. while the story line was compelling, the main character fell somewhat flat. Her lack of emotion created a bit of a disconnect in my opinion. She was just missing something that needed to be there for the reader to be more empathetic with her. Coupled with the fact that she was spared much of the true torture that many in this situation go through, it seemed like the author was afraid to take the story as far as it would have gone logically simply due to the audience, causing the reader to come back to reality somewhat. She had the chance to do something very jarring and make her point, but it was as if she got scared. I think for this book to have a greater impact there needed to be more horror in the situation. This was definitely a one time read.

Final Rating:

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Why do I read teen books?

I have fielded this one quite a bit lately. Usually it’s someone who has never picked up a piece of teen fiction in their life and in their arrogant superiority says something like this, “You’re thirty now. When are you going to start reading more mature books?” Usually I blow this off and think that they have no idea what they are talking about but recently I met a fellow reader who was concerned for my current taste in literature. She commented on how I used to focus on serious books and she was appalled that I had moved backwards, to teen fluff. I was forced to sit down and seriously contemplate what I was doing and why.

I came up with a couple of different things. I was raised to believe that books should have redeeming value. There should be a good reason to read them. So as a child I devoured huge amounts of classical literature, reading things well beyond my years. It shaped who I was as a person. I never fit in with my peers and didn’t really understand them. I was thankful for this. I have a solid background and foundation to build from. However, I found myself drawn more often to science fiction and fantasy as I grew older. Some of this was because I have an extremely active imagination. The rest because I loved the chance to escape from reality.

As i started to move in this direction with some of my reading, I was disturbed to find that most of these books were way too adult for me – and I was an adult! It was the last thing I wanted to fill my mind with all the time. I felt like I was running out of things to read. I was given recommendations for lots of books, most of which I had to stop reading because I found them disgusting or they were shallow and not worth my time. While there were some exceptions to the rule, for the most part, I was really frustrated. Then Harry Potter happened.

Immediately I was drawn to it due to all the controversy surrounding it. I picked up the first three books and read through them quickly and then read them again. I went out the next day and got number four. I was in the line at midnight for the release of book five. I thought they were the exception.

The Twilight happened and the teen book scene erupted. I quickly began reading these books because they were an escape, relatively clean and had compelling story lines! Then I began to see that many of the authors were telling important stories through these books in a way that adult fiction seemed to have mostly forgotten. While the writing tended to be a bit more simplistic it was an actual story! Not some mundane bit of drivel about some housewife’s inner struggles but a REAL story with heroes, villains, monsters and real people all put into the mix together.

As a teacher, the last thing I want to do when I get home is read something heavy, depressing or dull. I want an escape and teen books seem to be where it’s at lately. If you’ve written this section off, I’d recommend taking another look. You’ll never know what you’re going to find.

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I can’t wait for the next one!

Book:Divergent
Author: Veronica Roth
Recommend: If you are fan of The Hunger Games and other dystopian society books.

I decided to read this at Barnes and Noble using my free hour of reading. I was very frustrated to find out that I could not in fact read this book for free, only the second book I have ever found like that. I stomped off and grabbed a copy off the shelves, plopping myself in one of the uncomfortable hard chairs that have replaced the big overstuffed armchairs I sorely miss.

I didn’t move for the next two hours as I devoured this debut novel. Set in what seems to be a post apocalyptic society centered around the Hub (the former Sears tower). Every person in their world must make a choice at the age of 16. A choice that they must live with for the rest of their lives. Which faction they will be a part of. Faction comes before blood, friendship or love and once a teen chooses they will live the rest of their life with their faction, forsaking everything they knew. While many choose to stay where they had been raised, others choose to move to another faction, tearing families apart forever.

I found this book to be a power packed ride through a world where your personality was more important than your family. As someone who is very different from most of the people she is around, I found it interesting because what happens when you do not fit in? What do you do when you exhibit traits from more than one faction?

The only negative I would give for this book is that some of the writing seemed a bit sloppy. It seemed like the author rushed to get the story out there instead of spending a little bit of time on things like word choice. I love the fact that most teen fiction is all about telling the story but sometimes it pays to take the time to be more selective.

I am actually trying to resist the temptation to purchase it on my nook so that I can read it again. I don’t know if I will be successful.

Final Rating:

Get it new!

Buy it new 🙂

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Fairest of All

Yes, that's actually the cover

Book: Fairest of All

Author: Serina Valentino

Recommend: If you are a Disney fan.

I’ve been watching Once Upon a Time on CBS. If you aren’t familiar with the show, it is basically all the fairy tales you grew up with mashed together and put into the real world by a curse. A curse that wouldn’t allow for any happy endings. The only person who can break the curse is the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming who grew up in the real world.

I have always loved the ‘true version’ of fairy tales. The idea that we don’t know what really happened or what motivated a character to make the choices that they did. The author most known for doing this though is unfortunately extremely dull to read. I keep my eyes out for these kinds of stories because I love to read them.

This book, is one such story. It takes the Disney version of Snow White and wonders what could cause the queen to want to kill her stepdaughter. Why would someone be so evil towards a young girl. What created that jealousy. How could Snow White’s father choose such a horrible woman to raise his only child?

The thing I loved about this book was that it did an amazing job of answering all the questions behind the story of Snow White but still made it feel like a fairy tale with a sad ending. It somehow gave a more realistic that’s the rest of the story feel while maintaining the original vibe of the fairy tale we all grew up watching (since most get exposed to the Disney version before they read the real version).

The only negative I might mention with this book is that it felt like the queen’s switch was a bit too abrupt. Her change was a bit like flipping a switch instead of something more gradual. I would rather have seen her more conflicted about the choice she decided to make in the end.

This was definitely a fun read for a bit of lighter fare.

Final Rating:

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The Twilight Guide

Book: The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide

Author: Stephenie Meyer

Recommend: If you love Twilight

Okay, I just picked this up this afternoon, spent a few hours reading it cover to cover after finding Alice’s story and reading it first.  As a Twilight nut, it was a great read. It was amazing to see all the little details that I hadn’t quite put together or that we just didn’t know. This book goes through the Twilight universe and acts as a shortened version of the Twilight Lexicon, while including things that even the Lexicon wasn’t aware of.

The only fault I could find with this was that there was a bit more repetition than I would have liked and less detail than I wanted. Of course, I’m not sure I would have been satisfied with anything less than novellas on each of the characters. There was also one slight physical issue I had with the book- the letters run if even the slightest bit of moisture touches them. I was drinking a soda and a bit of condensation from the outside of the can got on my finger. I wiped it off and then proceeded to touch the book causing a couple of letters to smear.

While I don’t know that I would read through this cover to cover again, I can definitely see myself using it quite a bit as a reference to all things Twilight.

Final Rating:

Get it new!

Buy it new 🙂

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The world of Cassandra Clare

Books: City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass, Clockwork Angel, and City of Fallen Angels

Author: Cassandra Clare

Recommend: Yes with a slight reservation…

Okay, I picked these books up quite a while ago and read the first three. Over the summer I picked up Clockwork Angel and just never got around to reading it. I have so many different fantasy novels that I’ve devoured lately that I wanted to be clear on the details since this is a very complex mythos. So when the new book came out, I knew I had to pick them up and read through the first three again before getting to the other two. It took me 4 days to get through all five books and I’m still reeling a bit from the ending of the last one.

City of Bones- Clary is just an ordinary girl who can see some very strange things- or so she thought. Her delicate world comes crashing down when she meets a pompous boy named Jace. Her life will never be the same again.

I loved this book. The author introduces you to a complex mythology that combines many different mythos in a new and different way. In a way it almost reminded me of something from the mind of Joss Whedon. I loved the romance and the twists she took with it. I have never read a book like this that took quite that turn. It was unique and heart-wrenching.I honestly can’t think of a single thing I didn’t like about this one except that I’m a sucker for a happily ever after but since there were three books, I hoped that if I kept reading I would get it.

City of Ashes- In this book we watch painfully as Clary and Jace struggle with the truth of who they are to each other and the reality that the are both a part of something that has been dragging on since their parents were their age.

This book and the last book somewhat merge for me honestly. The two story lines flow int each other. I love though that they know the truth and can’t seem to fight it. One of my favorite themes is that yo can’t fight love, no matter what happens. No matter how hard you try to fight it. They both try so hard to fight against what they feel but are unable to, even though it is wrong. In this book you start to see some of the history behind what is going on in their world and you start to get answers that you didn’t have before. I think the only fault I would have with this was the fact that even the first time through I had a feeling of what was going to happen at the end, although it probably wouldn’t be obvious to most people.

City of Glass- This book brings the conflict to a head. It honestly is one large climax. This is the point that the other two books have built towards. I really enjoyed the fact that everything wasn’t tied off in a simple and easy to handle conclusion at the end of each of the first two books. I was glad that I discovered the series once all of the first three books were out though. I don’t want to ruin too much of it by giving away too much plot or how it will end but I promise the ending is worth reading to the end for!

Clockwork Angel- This story is set in London during the late 1800s and is a departure from the first three books and is appropriately it’s own series. However the two are set in the same world of shadowhunters. I loved that this book seemed very orginal from the first even though it did bring in a familiar face or two. I loved Tess and honestly was begging the whole time to know what was up with Will and I think every reader will be wondering that one as well. The end of the first book left me somewhat unsatisfied though because I was wanting a simple and neat conclusion on it, which I didn’t get-yet.

City of Fallen Angels- I just finished this one this evening and I’m honestly very frustrated with this book. I was hoping that she was going to leave Clary and Jace be for a book at least but that doesn’t seem possible. Instantly you can sense that something is wrong with the happy couple but no one has any idea what or why something is going wrong. I love the player version of Simon and that for a while things seemed to be centered around his drama. However we were very quickly back to an impossible mess for Jace and Clary. A character thought gone from the first three books will make a reappearance towards the end and honestly, it is the one thing in this whole series that I genuinely haven’t liked. I know that there is more to come but I want some resolution at the end of a book, especially when I am going to have to wait months if not more than a year for the next installment. I didn’t mind this in the first three books because I didn’t have to wait. This time though, I think I’m going to get annoyed with it. I may have to write something to get my frustration out honestly.

I would definitely recommend reading this and getting started before the series gets much bigger. Each of these is somewhere between 300 and 500 pages. They are quick reads considering how long they are but definitely is going to take the average reader a while to get through. I enjoyed reading them thoroughly and have been hearing rumors of a movie, which I would LOVE to see.

Cassandra Clare isn’t getting quite the exposure she deserves honestly. She should be getting talked about as much as Stephenie Meyer and Suzanne Collins honestly. I would put this series on par with Twilight or The Hunger Games. Definitely worth your time.

Final Rating:

Need more than one copy!!

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Number 4

image

Book: I am number four

Author: Pittacus Lore

Recommend? Definitely.. Was a good read

So I took today for myself and decided to go bum around the book store. I had been wanting to read this book for a while but just hasn’t gotten to it yet. I want sure if I would like it or not but I was intrigued. I also had to get it read before the movie came out. I hate seeing a movie before I read the book and avoid it when I can.

The time flew by while I read and before I knew it, I had finished the whole thing.

The book tells the story of a boy who is one of nine surviving gifted members of his race. He was sent to earth as a young child running from the cruel race that had killed all the people of his world. They have been found but must be killed in order. Three are already dead and he is number four.

The story us really well written and fun to read. The characters are believe and contain some depth.

The only complaint I would have about this book is that the author needs to be a bit more descriptive sometimes. I don’t think you get a real good sense of what is going on at the ‘ climax. It gets a bit tough to follow.

That being said, it’s a fun fast paced read that well make you not want to put it down. I’ll be reading the next one when it comes out.

Final rating:

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Buy it new 🙂

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Hungering for more Hunger Games

Books: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay

Author: Suzanne Collins

Recommend: Yes yes and yes!

The Trilogy

I was reluctant to pick these books up. Two of my friends recommended that I read them and so I half-halfheartedly tried to find it at the library. It was harder than finding a copy of a Stephenie Meyer book, which is saying something. So, I went to the book store and bought the first book. One of my coworkers began to bug me and so I picked it up. I started reading and didn’t put it down until I finished. I called my coworker and begged her to bring the next two to work with her so I could read them. I finished them that night.

These books are a futuristic look at what was once the United States and what had become the country of Panem (meaning Bread). The country is divided into 13 districts and the capital. Their lives center around the hunger games. 2 children from each of the 12 remaining districts are chosen to compete against each other in a fight to the death where only one can come out the victor.

The story centers around a girl named Katniss who takes her little sister’s place in the hunger games. She unknowingly starts a revolution, changing the face of their civilization for good.

This story was a unique blend of so many different genres and it created a fresh and gripping story line that held me until I had finished them all.

There are of course the necessary love triangle, ultimate opponent and seemingly insurmountable odds. The only fault I could find with this amazing series is that some of it is a bit too predictable. I knew who would win the first set of the Hunger Games. I knew who Katniss would choose (although if you don’t- I won’t spoil it).

With a movie to look forward to (and hopefully the rest to follow), I can’t wait to see how this book gets interpreted for the big screen. I just HOPE I am not as disappointed in their choice for Katniss as I was with another favorite heroine of mine from a book series that was turned into a movie…

Definitely something to check out for readers of all ages!

Final Rating:

Buy it new 🙂

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Stephenie Meyer novella

new Meyer yay!!

Book: The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner

Author: Stephenie Meyer

Recommend: Yes, reading the Twilight series through Eclipse is necessary to fully understand it.

I have to admit, I am a huge Stephenie Meyer fan. She has created compelling characters that her readers can really relate to. In her new book, you see through the eyes of a newborn vampire who is destined to die in the aftermath of a confrontation with the Cullens at the hands of the Volturi. Bree is confused and overwhelmed by a lack of control as a newborn vampire but she tries so hard to figure things out. Every book that she writes just gets better. Her ability to make you care about a character is amazing. I hope that someday she finishes Midnight Sun (please oh please?)

The only complaint I have is that the book is just too short! I wanted more and by the end, I wanted her fate to be different.

I can’t wait for more new Stephenie Meyer! Definitely a must-read author in my opinion.

This book has definitely made me excited for the upcoming movie. I can’t wait!

 

Final Rating:

Need more than one copy!!

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