Saturday, April 13, 2013

Review: Paper Towns by John Green

Paper Towns
Book: Paper Towns
Author: John Green
Publication Date: October 16, 2008
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Rating: 3 Stars

I never really understood what people meant by the John Green formula until I read this book. The mysterious, cool, distant girl, the slightly geeky boy, and the journey. It's very reminiscent of Looking for Alaska, which I think is part of the reason I didn't like it as much. Looking for Alaska is my least favorite John Green book, and I think that if I hadn't read that, Paper Towns would've gotten a higher rating from me. As it is, I think it's just a better done regurgitation of LFA.

There are some things about John Green's writing that I really enjoy, despite the repetitive formula. I like how he uses symbolism and how his books usually revolve around one clear concept (in this case, paper towns and facades). Some people might see it as needlessly rehashing something, but his ideas are usually pretty unique and about stuff I've never heard of. Also, his dialogue and characters never fail to make me laugh. The road trip in this book was my favorite part. It was so isolated from everything else and it really brought the friendships among all the characters into perspective. The way they all come together for a 23 hour car ride and the strangeness of the situation highlights John Green's capacity for imagination. Out of all the characters, my favorite character was Radar because he didn't suffer from the melodrama and selfishness that the others had. I didn't have much patience for Q and Margo's dramatics. In fact, I didn't understand how they went from not really talking to each other at all to suddenly in love. For Q, it's understandable. But why would Margo give him the time of day after years of not really interacting with him? Doesn't make sense.

The book is exciting, I'll give it that. I wanted to keep reading. But I got tired of Q's obsession with the projection that Margo was giving off, and I guess that was kind of the point. However, it was too reminiscent of Pudge's angst after Alaska's disappearance. I probably need a break from John Green before I pick up another one of his books.

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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Review: Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker

Ten Tiny Breaths (Ten Tiny Breaths, #1)Book: Ten Tiny Breaths
Author: K.A. Tucker
Publication Date: December 11th, 2012
Publisher: Papoti Books
Rating: 3 Stars

Kacey Cleary’s whole life imploded four years ago in a drunk-driving accident. Now she’s working hard to bury the pieces left behind—all but one. Her little sister, Livie. Kacey can swallow the constant disapproval from her born-again aunt Darla over her self-destructive lifestyle; she can stop herself from going kick-boxer crazy on Uncle Raymond when he loses the girls’ college funds at a blackjack table. She just needs to keep it together until Livie is no longer a minor, and then they can get the hell out of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

But when Uncle Raymond slides into bed next to Livie one night, Kacey decides it’s time to run. Armed with two bus tickets and dreams of living near the coast, Kacey and Livie start their new lives in a Miami apartment complex, complete with a grumpy landlord, a pervert upstairs, and a neighbor with a stage name perfectly matched to her chosen “profession.” But Kacey’s not worried. She can handle all of them. What she can’t handle is Trent Emerson in apartment 1D.

Kacey doesn’t want to feel. She doesn’t. It’s safer that way. For everyone. But sexy Trent finds a way into her numb heart, reigniting her ability to love again. She starts to believe that maybe she can leave the past where it belongs and start over. Maybe she’s not beyond repair.

But Kacey isn’t the only one who’s broken. Seemingly perfect Trent has an unforgivable past of his own; one that, when discovered, will shatter Kacey’s newly constructed life and send her back into suffocating darkness.
“I don’t hate you. I could never hate you. Give me your heart, Kacey. I’ll take everything that comes with it.”

For all the times this Uncle Raymond dude is mentioned in the summary, he sure never appears in the book. At all. Really, you get what this book is about if you just read the last two paragraphs of the blurb.

I thought this book was interesting. It kept me reading, and I was curious to see what would happen. I got a little caught up in Trent's hotness too, but then again I always do that. I liked Tucker's writing style; it didn't drag, and it definitely could have. Why? Because nothing happens in the first half of the book. Kacey settles down in Miami with her sister, Livie, starts working at a strip club as a bartender with little experience, and avoids her hot neighbor, Trent.

A lot of things that happened in this story made me wonder if this was all possible. Running off to Miami without being found by your legal guardians, miraculously finding people who are that good with tons of cash to spare, getting a job at a club where the bouncers and the owners are complete gentlemen... I don't know, seems a little too perfect for me. Maybe I've been reading too many my-life-is-shit novels or something.

After the initial wow-that-guy-is-sexy phase, I started getting really annoyed of Trent and Kasey's reaction to him. Fine, he's really hot. But do you have to mention how you can't speak and your legs turn to jello every single time you meet eyes? Also, I'm sorry, but he's a stalker. There is no way to get around it. It's mentioned later that he has followed Kasey's life for months before he actually met her, and that is just creepy. Somehow, people think it's okay when the hot guy does the stalking, but stalking is still stalking. It's still the act of creeping on another person without his/her knowledge.

Here's the run-down of this novel:
30% Trent staring at Kasey
40% Kasey thinking about Trent
20% Kasey and Trent sexy times
10% actual substance

To conclude, 90% is about Trent. And he's pretty important, but come on. I thought the book was about Kasey healing herself, not her depending on some guy to do it for her. The unveiling at the end definitely gave me a good shock, though I feel pretty stupid for not foreseeing it earlier. I actually got more interested because of it. The book would've been pretty boring and less fucked up if Tucker had left the twist out, although it might still have worked. I thought everything was too easily solved with the epilogue and last chapter. I don't know if therapy is that miraculous. Maybe it is. But the way everyone seemed to come together again... Like the rest of the book and its characters, it seemed a bit too perfect. I didn't think Tucker spent enough time exploring the other characters for the conclusion to make sense; if she'd laid off a little on Trent and Kasey, there might have been some real, believable development in relationships. As it is, this book is interesting if you like runaway snakes and sexual tension.
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Saturday, April 6, 2013

Review: Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices, #3)Book: Clockwork Princess
Author: Cassandra Clare
Series: The Infernal Devices
Publication Date:  March 19th, 2013
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Rating: 4.5 Stars

Danger and betrayal, secrets and enchantment in the breathtaking conclusion to the Infernal Devices trilogy.

Tessa Gray should be happy - aren't all brides happy?
Yet as she prepares for her wedding, a net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute.
A new demon appears, one linked by blood and secrecy to Mortmain, the man who plans to use his army of pitiless automatons, the Infernal Devices, to destroy the Shadowhunters. Mortmain needs only one last item to complete his plan. He needs Tessa. And Jem and Will, the boys who lay equal claim to Tessa's heart, will do anything to save her.
You are not the last dream of my soul. You are the first dream, the only dream I ever was unable to stop myself from dreaming. You are the first dream of my soul, and from that dream I hope will come all other dreams, a lifetime’s worth.

"I had hope enough to take out those old dreams again, to dust them off and give them to you."

"...yours is not the kind of love that can be redeemed only through destruction."
Can I say that after reading A Tale of Two Cities, all of these references suddenly make so much sense to me now? My God, my AP Literature teacher should've just let me read Clockwork Princess instead of harping continuously about how Darnay was the better man (which he was not).

I think this book is the best of Clare's that I've read so far, in that it ends the way the final book of a trilogy should end. Not the way City of Glass did, with more space for more books and unresolved endings. The epilogue has been controversial, and it reminds me a bit of the epilogue for the Harry Potter series. I recall that when people were messaging Cassandra Clare and wailing about whether the ending would make them cry, she said somewhere that it was a bittersweet one. And that's exactly what it is. Something Cassandra Clare really specializes in is not giving people what they want. Most people wanted that happy ending, that assurance that all Tessa's problems would be solved with some miraculous magic. There is magic, but there's also the reality of Tessa's situation and of her immortality. Unlike with The Mortal Instruments, I didn't get the feeling that Clare was pushing the envelope with her plot or the powers that are unveiled.

People have already said things about the love triangle and how beautiful it is, and I'm inclined to agree. Of course, I was a Will/Tessa shipper all the way through (if you couldn't tell through all the Will quotes that I used), but the way that all three of them love each other equally is something that's powerfully expressed throughout the series. Their love for each other is equal parts burdensome and joyful, and no character was left without honor.

One thing about Clare's books that always gets me is how I never seem to predict what will happen. She throws in a lot of curveballs, some more convincing than others. I'm really sad to see The Infernal Devices trilogy end because I loved everything about it. I loved the characters, their humor, the setting of 19th century London. There is a certain subdued power behind the series that I didn't get with The Mortal Instruments, and I hope that Clare brings it back in her next Shadowhunters series rumored to be set in the 1900s which I just stumbled upon in a review O_O (thank you, Maja).

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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Review: Wait for You by J. Lynn

Wait for You (Wait for You, #1)Book: Wait for You
Author: J. Lynn
Series: Wait for You
Publication Date: February 26th, 2013
Publisher: J. Lynn

Some things are worth waiting for…

Traveling thousands of miles from home to enter college is the only way nineteen-year-old Avery Morgansten can escape what happened at the Halloween party five years ago—an event that forever changed her life. All she needs to do is make it to her classes on time, make sure the bracelet on her left wrist stays in place, not draw any attention to herself, and maybe—please God—make a few friends, because surely that would be a nice change of pace. The one thing she didn’t need and never planned on was capturing the attention of the one guy who could shatter the precarious future she’s building for herself.

Some things are worth experiencing…

Cameron Hamilton is six feet and three inches of swoon-worthy hotness, complete with a pair of striking blue eyes and a remarkable ability to make her want things she believed were irrevocably stolen from her. She knows she needs to stay away from him, but Cam is freaking everywhere, with his charm, his witty banter, and that damn dimple that’s just so… so lickable. Getting involved with him is dangerous, but when ignoring the simmering tension that sparks whenever they are around each other becomes impossible, he brings out a side of her she never knew existed.

Some things should never be kept quiet…

But when Avery starts receiving threatening emails and phone calls forcing her to face a past she wants silenced, she’s has no other choice but to acknowledge that someone is refusing to allow her to let go of that night when everything changed. When the devastating truth comes out, will she resurface this time with one less scar? And can Cam be there to help her or will he be dragged down with her?

And some things are worth fighting for…

I can basically dumb this book down for everyone else who hasn't read it yet with 10 basic sentences.

1. Girl with dark, secret past that she's ashamed of telling to anyone because it'll make people see her differently moves to a new place.
2. Girl tries to avoid deep connections with other people, especially attractive males who seem to be potential boyfriend material.
3. Girl runs into Boy on first day of class (literally). Boy is attractive (surprise!).
4. Boy is very interested in Girl even though Girl turns down his every advance (actually, maybe that's exactly why he's interested...).
5. Girl finally lets Boy in. They do lots of fun things, like going to a drive-in theater, meeting parents, feeding each other eggs...
6. Girl finds out that Boy is definitely worth it, and so she pushes him away.
7. Boy and Girl fight because Girl is still insecure even though Boy has made it completely clear that he would do anything for her.
8. Boy and Girl get back together because they're both masochists (especially Boy).
9. Boy and Girl fight again because Girl can't get over anything and would rather cry.
10. Boy and Girl get back together and Girl suddenly decides to forget her past and move on.
11. SEX. Or, as Avery words it, "swesomely amazing sex."

I definitely was reminded of Beautiful Disaster while reading this. It's the exact same formula, with less throwing things and abuse on the male's part. Actually, I think Avery is pretty much guilty of all abuse in this book. I must say that if there's one thing that Armentrout is good at, it's her male leads. Despite all their moments of douchiness, they turn out to be upstanding men, and that's what Cam was. He had astonishingly good moments. There was this one part when Avery says, "Cam, you're a good guy" and he replies with, "I'm only good with you." Pretty heart-melting stuff. His biggest character flaw was getting involved with the hot mess that was Avery. I don't know what to think about the way sexual abuse is addressed in this book. I thought it was overdone in that it was mentioned too much without any details, and it told me nothing new. In a way, it was more a device to further the plot than anything else. In addition, there was an explosion of spelling/grammatical mistakes, and some of the characters have the tendency to speak like middle schoolers who still have to put quarters in the swear jar.

Overall, I didn't really enjoy this. Unlike a lot of people, I actually like the tired, trite formula, just because I'm a sucker for the cliche. But I guess this moment was bound to happen sometime. Now I'm going to expect to bump into a hot guy my first day at college, and what a disappointment that will be.

P.P.S. Still don't get the title. It was like it was drawn out of a hat marked "Typical YA Romance Titles," and then J. Lynn forced it to relate to the plot.  

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