Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Title: Thirteen Reasons Why
Author:
Jay Asher
Genre:
YA

Where I got it:
ODLC (the e-book library)

One sentence:
Clay Jensen finds cassette tapes recorded by his classmate and crush, Hannah Baker, who committed suicide weeks earlier, and he discovers that he is part of the thirteen reasons why she killed herself.

Themes:
Suicide, guilt, lies, truth, judgment, teenage angst

Main character:
I really loved Clay. He seemed down-to-earth, and though he is touted in school as the “perfect guy”, I found that his character was much more multi-faceted than that. His emotions were easy to connect with and believable.

Secondary characters:
As much as I liked Clay’s character, it was the character of Hannah that really struck me and raised such mixed feelings. As much as I dislike the idea of suicide and have negative emotions toward someone who would put themselves and their family through such a painful experience, I found that I didn’t hate Hannah. I understood and connected with her, even if I didn’t agree with her ideas, and that really made her decisions and actions hit home for me.

Writing style: The alternating narration between the cassette tape playing and what Clay is doing at the same time threw me for a loop at first, but I grew to really appreciate the parallels between Clay and Hannah and their unique emotions

Plot:
The plot truly intrigued me from the beginning, the idea of receiving cassette tapes from a girl who had just committed suicide. I thought it was suspenseful, emotional and kept me thoroughly entertained as there were few dull moments.

Best scene:
The thirteenth reason kept me on the edge of my seat, especially using a twist on what we had come to expect.

Positives: 
Characters, entertaining and suspenseful plot, writing

Negatives:
There were some ideas that Hannah held that I didn’t agree with, but they really worked to characterize her, so I suppose that this negative is almost a positive.

Ending:
Loved it. It drew everything to a close in a bittersweet moment that had me jumping.

Verdict:
A fascinating and heart-wrenching read that reverberates in the reader.

Rating:
9.0 / 10

Monday, August 30, 2010

Review: The Prophecy by Dawn Miller

Title: The Prophecy
Author: Dawn Miller
Genre: YA Christian fantasy

Where I got it: ODLC (the e-book library)

One sentence: Five teens are reunited by a nightmare from their childhood and realize that their memories have been blocked by an evil force at work, and they must work together to stop it and uncover the truth.

Themes: Faith, truth, defeating evil, memory, friendship.

Main character: Jonah was an interesting and entertaining character. He had a fascinating past, and had a well-rounded personality. He had flaws, but they didn’t overwhelm the fact that he was a good protagonist, which was key to the plot. Jonah had to struggle with himself, with guilt, which made me connect to him.

Secondary characters: Few characters were as well-written as Jonah, but J was also well rounded and had issues to deal with that were interesting. I found the other secondary characters (Sam, Carly, Jenna) to be one-sided. Sam was portrayed as “the good one”, and had no obvious flaws besides the fact that he was deceived at times, and Jenna was basically annoying.

Writing style: Lots of POV’s. Some of the writing was a little choppy so I had to re-read every once in a while. There were also a lot of flashbacks which became slightly confusing.

Plot: I grew frustrated. At first, the whole supernatural evil thing was awesome and really spooky until I found out what they really were. Also, the memory block was reiterated too much. After the first couple times I heard that they couldn’t remember what had happened in the past, I became annoyed. I didn’t know why they couldn’t remember, and the author just kept dragging the issue on and on.

Best scene:
Ending scene; lots of action, enough said.

Positives: Jonah’s character, beginning, spookiness

Negatives: Lots of confusion, stereotypical characters, slow plot movement.

Ending: Left open for the next book in the series. Not very exciting.

Verdict: Just okay. I found the plot was overdone, and after the beginning, there were things that really distracted me from just enjoying the read.

Rating: 4.1 (2 stars)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Review: The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff

Title: The 19th Wife
Author: David Ebershoff
Genre: Historical fiction / murder mystery

Where I got it: Oregon Digital Library Consortium AKA my local library's electronic book site (audio and e-books).

One sentence:
Two stories intertwined: that of Ann Eliza, recently separated 19th wife of Brigham Young who begins a crusade against polygamy, and of Jordan Scott, a young man thrown out of the FLDS years earlier whose mother (also a 19th wife) has just been accused of murdering his father.

Themes:
Family, belonging, faith, finding out who you are, polygamy, murder, intrigue.

Main character: Ann Eliza inspired mixed feelings in me. Because the mixed media describing her story were written both by people who held her in high regard and those who didn’t, I really got the full view on her character. It was tough because other parts in the book explained that she gave the correct story, but she may have inflated or diminished the importance of some events. It makes her a realistic historical character, but also makes the reader wonder if everything she says is true.
I though Jordan Scott was a complex character who I really enjoyed reading about. There were many aspects that could have dominated his characterization, but Ebershoff skillfully weaves in these important characteristics without making them overwhelm Jordan.

Secondary characters: I absolutely love Johnny, he was such a cute and snarky character. But he also shows a lot of the issues that Jordan struggles with, just in a more comical way. It’s almost sad to know that this young kid knows so much.

Writing style: Interweaving two stories as well as including “historical” documents, emails, clippings, web sites and research papers really draws the reader in. I loved reading through the different types of media on Ann Eliza, which really gave me a well-rounded view of the character.

Plot:
Entertaining and interesting concept and plot, but I found it to drag on, especially Ann Eliza’s bit. There was a lot of information to take it, some of which I found interesting, some of which…not so much. I found myself looking forward to Jordan’s murder mystery because I was drawn into which of the wives would murder their husband, and why.

Positives:
I loved the two plots, the characters, what seems like intense research and the writing of Jordan’s part.

Negatives: Length, some of the ‘scholarly’ language of Ann Eliza’s section was boring and difficult to get through.

Ending: Wrapped up nicely. The epilogue was a little lengthy, especially since at that point I kind of just wanted to it be done.

Verdict: I struggled a little bit to get through some of the extended details and some slow moving parts, but I really enjoyed the story and learning more about polygamy.

Rating: 7.7 / 10 (4 stars)

“Ann Eliza’s death remains a mystery. But mysteries, by their very nature, are meant to be solved.”
-pg.131

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Listen In



One of my favorite songs that I thought I'd share with you. Ron Pope is an absolutely amazing singer. Hope you enjoy!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Review: Intertwined by Gena Showalter

Title: Intertwined
Author: Gena Showalter
Genre: YA paranormal/fantasy

Where I got it: Oregon Digital Library Consortium AKA my local library's electronic book site (audio and e-books).

One sentence: Aden Stone, a teen with four other souls living inside him, each with a different paranormal talent (time traveling, raising the dead, seeing the future and possess other people), meets Mary Ann Gray, who silences the voices, and the two of them are dragged into supernatural danger along with a werewolf shape-shifter and a vampire princess.

Themes: Forbidden love, supernatural abilities, family issues, danger and intrigue.

Main character: Aden Stone was abandoned by his parents because they thought he was crazy. He's been in and out of multiple foster homes and institutions. He is an outcast with few friends, has an interesting back story and connection with Mary Ann. I didn't really feel like his personality came through as very unique or memorable, just the fact that he had four other people living inside of him.

Secondary characters: I first thought that Mary Ann and Aden would fall in love, but it was actually really refreshing that they just remained friends. Mary Ann has had everything in the past, a stark comparison to Aden. She didn't really make much of an impact with me, although the past with her mother turned into an interesting plot point.
Their love interests; Victoria, the vampire princess, and her werewolf-shape-shifter bodyguard, Riley, seemed entirely one dimensional. Both seemed attracted to and sought out Mary Ann and Aden for no apparent reason. The romance was not very convincing and the characters seemed very stereotypical.

Writing style: Showalter's writing style was both fast paced and detailed when the situation required it. Nothing popped up that jolted me out of the story, and that's how I can often judge if the writing is awkward or badly written.

Plot: The concept of this book really drew me in, but it turned more into werewolves, vampires, faeries and goblins more than the voices in Aden's head. The first half of the book was quite different from the mess of paranormal creatures that swooped in toward the end. The twists and turns were entertaining, but also slightly overwhelming.

Best scene: The beginning scene in the graveyard where Aden fights off zombie corpses.

Positives: Concept, fast paced action and writing, multiple story lines with two romances

Negatives: Characters, ending, some of the plot points were lost on me.

Ending: Slightly thrown together. The ends were somewhat tied up (leaving room for a sequel, of course), but there was no closure.

Other/Random:

Verdict: Fun and entertaining, but not anything with depth. Good for a quick, light YA read.

Rating: 6.7 / 10 (4 stars)

Similar To:

Working on a format for reviews. Got a little tired toward the end, so might have to work on that. And not giving away the answers to the ending questions in the beginning.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wow, I suck. Only a few weeks in and I can't even keep on a regular schedule for posting. I know I should start with lower expectations, especially since I never planned for this to be a super organized and intense bloggy-thing, but you know the worse part? I look at the blog itself at least once a day and just think; wow, I should really write a blog post right now. That's the worst part. I have the time (summer, no job, etc.), but not the inclination. And I freaking look at it every day. If I have the time to look, you think I'd have the time to write.
It's tough, I guess. Pressure? But there really is no pressure. No one reads this, I write it just for fun and practice. Yes, it'd be nice if I could write every day... okay, maybe just regularly, but this is for me.

Moving forward, in the past few days I read The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein which made me cry. It was so intense and so sweet and I just connected into the characters so solidly. The end was touching. Also just finished Dead Until Dark, which was odd, to say the least. The main character, the premise, the setting. I don't know. It was odd, but quirkily (that's not a word, in case you were wondering), so it was cute. It made me laugh. Where else can you find a vampire named Bill?