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Young Adult

Book Review: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Mist and FuryTitle: A Court of Mist and Fury

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

I was a survivor, and I was strong.
I would not be weak, or helpless again.
I would not, could not be broken.

INFO | Goodreads

BUY | The Book Depository | Amazon


_review

A Court of Mist and Fury is the second part of Feyre’s story.  Her wedding to Tamlin is approaching but she struggles with the memories of being Under The Mountain, and feels suffocated by the Spring Court.  Swept away by Rhysand to uphold the bargain that saved her life, she must survive the mysterious Night Court, and learn not only how to control the new powers she has gained as a Fae, but how to stop the nightmares in her head of those awful months with Amarantha.  Meanwhile, a terrible war is stirring, and Feyre’s new powers may just be the key to stop it…

As I read this book, I had decided already in my head that it was an instant five stars without question.  It had reduced me to tears after all, and surely a book that can create such an emotive response is a good book?  I was flying the Team Rhysand flag high, right up until the final chapters.  You see, nearing the end of the book, I began to feel that I was flying the Team Rhysand flag not through choice, but because Tamlin’s character had been utterly destroyed by the author, and I had been pushed into a position where it was wrong to want to root for Tamlin.  Is this an example of a poor plot?  Or was it done intentionally?  I can’t decide.  Feyre’s integration into the Night Court changes her entire outlook – she learns things about both Tamlin and Rhysand that shock her, and I wonder if her changing allegiance is less a reflection of Tamlin’s behaviour and more a reflection of Feyre’s perspective changing.  The story is told in first person, after all – we are receiving her biased account of the story.  Or perhaps this is just me trying to justify bad writing?  Who knows…

I also can’t help but make comparisons to the first book, which in my eyes was a near-perfect piece of YA Fantasy.  The writing was a little sloppy in book two compared to A Court of Thorns and Roses.  It was repetitive too in its use of language – too much purring and growling. Speaking of which, there was an awful lot of sex in the book and sexual innuendos (more erotica than anything else at times).  I know the Fae seem like quite sexual creatures, but a lot of the word count did go into these themes, when maybe more development was needed elsewhere.

Clearly, I could write an essay of criticisms for this book, yet… I still loved it.  Loved it despite all those flaws.  I just love the world and the lore.  Feyre is feisty and strong, hungry to be active and fight for herself; she is a truly badass heroine.  Brought back to life by the high lords at the end of the first book, she possesses a unique kind of magic that has so much potential, and it is exciting to see her attempts to wield that power. I think visually the magic would work really well on film, so I’m really hoping they adapt the series at some point.

I also thoroughly (and maybe reluctantly, too) enjoyed learning about Rhysand and his backstory.  I did feel however that his character was mostly boosted by the presence of his four friends, who added some comic relief to the story too.  The moments of banter among the members of the Night Court are some of the best moments of the book for me, as I loved the chemistry of the group and found myself laughing along at their mischief.  However, I did find that I was often more engaged by what was happening between Mor and Cassian and Azriel (and their confusing love triangle) and Amren’s ancient power than I actually was by the protagonists.

If I’m being honest with myself, I really don’t know if this book is even worth the 4 stars I am going to award it.  However, there are some interesting chapters – the Weaver and the Bone Carver were particularly excellent – and clearly there was enough in the book to keep me reading like a maniac whenever I could to get the book finished.  I know a lot of fans will be upset with the book, but that certainly won’t stop me from waiting eagerly to read the third installment (out in 2017).

Star Rating: ★★★★ (4/4)

Emma

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June 16, 2016
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Book Review: In Real Life by Cory Doctorow

In Real Life by Cory Doctorow

Title: In Real Life

Authors: Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang (illustrator)

Genre: Graphic Novel, Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy

First Published: 2014

“This life is real too. We’re communicating aren’t we?”

INFO | Goodreads

BUY | The Book Depository | Amazon


review

In Real Life is a stunning graphic novel about teen Anda and her time spent on the MMORPG, Coarsegold Online.  Initially joining a clan to eliminate players who break the rules, she soon befriends one of the players she has sworn to destroy – he teaches her that things aren’t always as clear-cut as they appear, and that behind the game avatars are real people.

I was intrigued by this story since I’d first heard about it – I was curious to see how the online world would be portrayed.  I’ve dabbled in MMORPGs before and agree with the benefits of online gaming (and can also sympathise with the misunderstanding parents conundrum that Anda faces).  I thought the book approached gaming from a fair and neutral perspective; it showed the benefits of the community and the real friendships online gaming can forge, and also presented the downsides, exploring such things as cultural differences.  It appreciates the immense power of the Internet, and how online communications can affect real life.

Don’t just think because it’s video games people can’t get hurt.

The story was shorter than I had expected.  Events seemed to happen very quickly, and there are some areas that could have benefited from further development.  For example, I think I would have liked to have seen the friendship between the two main characters grow outside of the game; I would certainly buy any sequel produced that continued their stories.

The illustrations were one of the best parts of the book – the character creation page was particularly fascinating to look at, and the busy fantasy world scenes were colourful and exciting.

Overall the story was easy to read, and I finished it in just over half an hour.  I would read it again, but the plot wasn’t quite as exciting as I had expected.  Considering the landscape they had to play with, I was hoping for something more like Username: Evie, but instead IRL focused more on morals and culture than adventure.  It’s a shame that the story didn’t quite meet my expectations, as paired with those gorgeous drawings, it could have been a winner.

Star Rating: ☆☆☆½ (3.5)

Have you read this book?  What are your thoughts on it?

Emma

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May 16, 2016
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Book Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses

A Court of Thorns and Roses

Title: A Court of Thorns and Roses

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

First Published: May 2015

“We need hope, or else we cannot endure.”

INFO | Goodreads

BUY | The Book Depository


_Summary

(From Goodreads)

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it… or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

_review

I seriously couldn’t put this book down; it was addictive, and finally I can understand what all that hype was about.

“Don’t feel bad for one moment about doing what brings you joy.”

I love a twist, and despite vaguely knowing in advance that this was a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, I was still surprised when the truth surrounding the Spring Court came out in the second half of the book.  I enjoyed the fact that the story reversed the overused stereotype of the young woman needing saving; Feyre taught herself to hunt and provided for her family, ultimately putting her own life on the line to save her friends and lover.  It was sexy and incredibly contemporary for a fantasy novel based on such an old story.

However, the complexity of the curse, and the very specific conditions under which it could be broken were a bit unconvincing.  It could have been simplified and it wouldn’t have taken anything away from the story itself.

It was fairly clear that Tamlin or Lucien were going to be potential love interests for Feyre, and I was looking forward to studying their behaviour and trying to guess who would be Feyre’s best match.  Then, I re-read the blurb on a whim, and it just blurted out who it would be (see summary above!).  Since it takes a good portion of the book for their relationship to develop, I was quite disappointed that such a crucial theme was revealed in this way.  Still, Tamlin was very well written, and I loved how his power had parallels with the image of the ‘beast’ in the fairy tale.

“We need hope, or else we cannot endure.”

Curiously, often the books I like the best are the ones I am most critical about; A Court of Thorns and Roses is a good example of this.  I have to be honest and admit that it took me a little while to get into the story.  I appreciate that new worlds need time to be explained, but I found the build-up to when Feyre crossed the wall a bit tedious in places.

I also found Feyre’s chemistry with Rhysand, the High Lord of the Night Court, a bit unsettling, and hope their connection remains as just a friendship in the sequel; she sacrificed too much for Tamlin to just be swept away by someone else.  Nevertheless, Rhysand was a very exciting and mysterious character with interesting powers, and I’m sure we’ll be seeing him again in A Court of Mist and Fury.

Overall, the book as a whole was just brilliant – the characters are unique, created with a lot of care and depth, and I found the history of war and violence between the two races very interesting.

Star Rating: ★★★★½ (4.5/5)

Who else loved this book?  Oh, and is it just me, or would Nesta and Lucien (who haven’t even met yet!) make a great pairing?  I know it’s a good book when I start matchmaking…

Check out my review of A Court of Mist and Fury here!

Emma

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April 30, 2016
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Book Review: Gates of Thread and Stone by Lori M. Lee

Gates of Thread and Stone by Lori M. Lee

TITLE: Gates of Thread and Stone

AUTHOR: Lori M. Lee

GENRE: Fiction, YA Fantasy, Magic, Dystopian

FORMAT: eBook

PUBLICATION DATE: 5th August 2014

‘Keep silent, keep still, keep safe.’

INFO | Goodreads

BUY | The Book Depository | Amazon


_Summary

In the Labyrinth, we had a saying: keep silent, keep still, keep safe.

In a city of walls and secrets, where only one man is supposed to possess magic, seventeen-year-old Kai struggles to keep hidden her own secret—she can manipulate the threads of time. When Kai was eight, she was found by Reev on the riverbank, and her “brother” has taken care of her ever since. Kai doesn’t know where her ability comes from—or where she came from. All that matters is that she and Reev stay together, and maybe one day move out of the freight container they call home, away from the metal walls of the Labyrinth. Kai’s only friend is Avan, the shopkeeper’s son with the scandalous reputation that both frightens and intrigues her.

Then Reev disappears. When keeping silent and safe means losing him forever, Kai vows to do whatever it takes to find him. She will leave the only home she’s ever known and risk getting caught up in a revolution centuries in the making. But to save Reev, Kai must unravel the threads of her past and face shocking truths about her brother, her friendship with Avan, and her unique power.

Review

This is the first YA fantasy book I have read in a long time, and I loved it!  Kai was a really strong heroine, and her power was fascinating.  I do wish I could have seen more of her magic at work in the book, but there are a few sequels to develop this further.  Avan was certainly an interesting companion for Kai, though as he holds many secrets, he spends an awful lot of time being vague and dismissive; at times this did become a bit annoying.  I did however love the chemistry between him and Kai, and the surprise beginnings of a love triangle when the pair meet Mason.  I wasn’t sure who to root for…

Human minds are fragile things. Supply them just enough magic and miracles to keep their reverence, but not enough to challenge what they think they know of the world.

The world in which Kai lives is really quite unique.  I can only describe it as Dystopian Fantasy – traditional fantasy elements with a science fiction edge.  I found it fascinating!  My favourite part of this world were the metal animals known as ‘Grays’; these can be modded and are run by energy stones – more machines than anything else.  I also loved the Gargoyles, a refreshing enemy beyond the wall.

The cover of the second book in the series: Kai riding a Gray.

And you never knew what a person could do fueled by hope.

Just a little something I didn’t like – I felt there was a lot of dialogue.  I love it when characters communicate, but there was an awful lot of talking.  I’d love to know if this is a trait of YA fantasy, as I find that adult fantasy is much more descriptive.

My biggest criticism however is the ending.  I think writing about time manipulation must be difficult, and the final scenes of the book are where Kai uses her powers the most.  I kept forgetting what speed time was going along at, and it was pretty tricky to visualise and keep up.  Maybe it’s just me?  I think it would work wonderfully as a film though!  However, the ending in general was very unpredictable and bittersweet, enough to make me what to continue reading the story in book two.

Star Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ (4/5)

What’s everyone else’s verdict on this book?  I know I’ll certainly be reading the sequel!

Emma

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January 31, 2016
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Book Club Review: Me, Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

me earl

Title: Me, Earl and the Dying Girl

Author: Jesse Andrews

Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Contemporary, Comedy

This book contains precisely zero Important Life Lessons, or Little-Known Facts About Love, or sappy tear-jerking Moments When We Knew We Had Left Our Childhood Behind for Good, or whatever.

Goodreads | The Book Depository


summary

Amateur film maker Greg Gaines is encouraged by his mother to befriend an old acquaintance who is dying of cancer.

review

One thing I’ve learned about people is that the easiest way to get them to like you is to shut up and let them do the talking. Everyone likes to talk about themselves.

I have to start really by saying that I thought this book was hilarious. The narrative style – rambling monologue – is a perfect fit for Greg’s humorous persona. It won’t be for everyone – I would only recommend it to a third of the bookworms I know – but it was perfect for me and the sarcastic, dark comedy I love.

One night Mom had a little too much wine at dinner and confided to us all that, before we were born, and after she realized her children would have Dad’s also-not-Jewish last name, she decided she wanted all of us to be “surprise Jews.” Meaning, Jews with sneaky Anglo-Saxon names. I know, it makes no sense. I guess it shows that a vulnerability to brain fungus runs in the family.

Greg is the most honest protagonist I have ever met, and the perspective is refreshing and shocking. His narrative is blunt, which gives the impression that everything we are reading is authentic.

There are a lot of home truths in this book. Greg is a very self-centered protagonist and this is constantly reinforced throughout the book. This was something I picked up on in my Checkpoint post the other day, before I had even finished the book. This is a story not about Rachel the “dying girl”, but about Greg. He is egocentric, and when he realises his character flaw, it is too late. I hoped his epiphany would happen while Rachel was still alive. I really think I had been lulled into The Land of False Hope by other YA books, believing that right at the last minute, Greg would fall in love and Rachel would find the will to continue her battle with cancer. Or at the very least, I was hoping there would be some kind of romance subplot – I know The Fault In Our Stars didn’t end happily but there had been love and that had given the death (not being too specific about said death as this isn’t the place for spoiling OTHER books) more emotional impact. When Rachel died there was a surprising realness to it. It just happened rather anticlimactically. Greg didn’t get the girl (he didn’t want the girl), and yet either way the girl was going to die. There is something in that which I find more shocking in some ways than TFIOS.

This book probably makes it seem like I hate myself and everything I do. But that’s not totally true. I mostly just hate every person I’ve ever been. I’m actually fine with myself right now.

I really like the contrast in personalities between Greg and Earl. I didn’t really dig Earl particularly, but I admired that he had the insight to see that Rachel deserved their attention. I did wonder if this rare tenderness shown by Earl was hinting at a potential romance (*hopeful face*) but Greg was so caught up with himself that I don’t think he even would have noticed.

The book never pretends to be something it is not, and there’s a life lesson buried in there somewhere I think, about not knowing what you’ve got until it is gone.

The most beautiful thing about you is that you’re not a sock puppet.

Star Rating: ☆☆☆☆ (4/5)

Emma

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October 31, 2015
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Book Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Graphic Novel)

17333322

Title: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Graphic Novel)

Author: Ransom Riggs, Cassandra Jean (illustrations)

Genre: Graphic Novel, Young Adult, Fiction, Paranormal

‘I used to dream about escaping my ordinary life, but my life was never ordinary. I had simply failed to notice how extraordinary it was.’

INFO | Goodreads

BUY | The Book Depository


_Summary

(Adapted from the Goodreads summary)

A horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow – impossible though it seems – they may still be alive.

_review

Overall, I enjoyed the story, and the plot was what saved the graphic novel from being a disaster.  I loved the mystery and horror elements combined, and the unexpected twist of what the monsters really were (but don’t worry, no spoilers in this review!)

For my tastes, the illustrations were a little bit too messy and simple, and rather than this coming across as artistic, they felt a bit lazy instead.  However, there were some details in the drawings which did redeem it for me – the gas masks, the birds and the monsters were all done very well.

I also loved the contrast of real photographs alongside the illustrations.  Ransom Riggs actually collects old and unusual photographs as a hobby, and there’s an interesting little article on the photographs here, for anyone as disturbed as I was by them.  Before reading the article, I had naturally assumed that they had been edited for the book, but it seems as though they really are just strange pictures – how intriguing!

I always knew I was strange, I never dreamed I was peculiar.

After a little research, I have also learned that the story is currently being made into a film directed by Tim Burton (who is one of my favourite directors!).  According to Ransom Riggs’ website, it is set to be released in March 2016 – this has made me very happy indeed!  The trailer, which I find uncannily merry, can be watched here:

Lastly, I had assumed before reading that the book was a standalone story, but I was wrong, and for some reason that really disappointed me.  I’m not convinced that it will work as a series, but we’ll see, we’ll see.  I really did enjoy the story, but I think I’ll be reading the later books in the traditional format so I can experience Ransom Riggs’ writing style.

I’m actually going to do a slightly different rating system for this graphic novel.  The story and characters were strong, but I felt it wasn’t complemented by the style of illustration.  Fans of the story might think otherwise, but as a first taste of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, I personally feel it didn’t do the story justice.

Story Star Rating: ★★★★ (4/5)

Illustrations Star Rating: ★★ (2/5)

Emma

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September 9, 2015
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Book Club Review: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

Title: Ender’s Game

Author: Orson Scott Card

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopian

“In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves. And then, in that very moment when I love them…. I destroy them.”

INFO | Goodreads

BUY | The Book Depository


review

Ender’s Game was so different from the books I have been reading recently; I was excited but apprehensive about what it would be like. Thankfully, reading it was well worth the risk.

Ender’s Game follows Andrew Wiggin (known to most as Ender), as he is accepted into Battle School. With the fear of another attack from the aliens known as Buggers, the adults push Ender to the limit, to see if he has what it takes to command their fleet.

I was rooting for Ender from the start. I loved that he stood up for himself, that the fear of becoming like his awful brother Peter was shaping him into a kind, compassionate person. I liked the style of narrative – I enjoyed being able to see inside Ender’s head whilst objectively viewing his behaviour.

I thought it was a very clever book. Scott makes no attempt to hide that the adults are exploiting Ender in a truly immoral way, breaking him down piece by piece. Yet, that big twist at the end (I refuse to ruin it for potential readers) springs out of nowhere. Perhaps a more observant reader would have picked up on subtle clues, but I was completely beside myself when I found out. I just knew the consequences for Ender would be dire.  Funny how adults messing around with children’s heads results in the child growing into an unstable adult, and in this sense I could see parallels with We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves (review found here).  It really did sadden me.

One of the elements of the book I really enjoyed was the moral conflict, something that really affects Ender near the end of the book. I touch on this in my checkpoint post too. At what cost will the human race ensure their survival? I found it alarming that the humans wanted to literally wipe the Buggers out of existence. Fear makes people do horrendous things, but I was surprised at how vicious humans were portrayed to be – children and adults alike.

I also found the politics between the children to be very interesting, and another way the book is clever. It reminded me of Lord of the Flies – how hierarchies and groups formed among the children. Knowing Ender’s fear at the beginning of the book, I was so proud of him when he was promoted again and again, each time becoming stronger.

I could talk about this book all day as it has completely blown my mind, but this review has to end somewhere. Has anyone read any other books in the series?  I’d love to know what happens to Ender in the end.

Star rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

Emma

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August 31, 2015
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Book Review: Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Title: Where She Went

Author: Gayle Forman

Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Romance, Contemporary

Format: Paperback

Publication Date: 5th April 2011

‘You were so busy trying to be my savior that you left me all alone.’

INFO | Goodreads

BUY | The Book Depository


_Summary

It’s been three years since Adam’s love saved Mia after the accident that annihilated life as she knew it… and three years since Mia walked out of Adam’s life forever. Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Julliard’s rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia’s home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future – and each other.

Review

So, when I finished If I Stay and heard there was a sequel, I said these words: ‘I had complete closure, and in my opinion there was nothing more to be said.’  I take them back, I take them all back!

Where She Went is Gayle Forman’s follow-up story to the heart-breaking journey of Mia Hall, who is made to choose whether to continue living, or to die, after losing her entire family in a car accident.  In the second book in the series, Adam is our narrator, and his band has finally made it big – he is a rock star.  But he isn’t happy.  Plagued by a lack of closure after Mia leaves for Julliard and stops returning his calls, he is feeling isolated from his friends and disconnected from his music.

I recently posted a review about Ugly Love, where I said how a romance novel often loses my interest if I’m not rooting for the main couple.  In my eyes, Adam and Mia are the perfect couple, because they are realistic.  They are awkward, funny, and share a passion for music – all qualities that make a match between them feel authentic.  So, understandably, I did have my worries about where the book would go, when a fifth of the way through, Mia and Adam see each other for the first time in three years.  In that time, both of their careers have taken off, and Adam has a new partner.

“You know, I thought about that a lot these last couple of years,” She says in a choked voice. “About who was there for you. Who held your hand while you grieved for all that you’d lost?”

I think the only reason this sequel worked was because Adam was the narrator.  Seeing the events from Adam’s point of view, seeing how he struggled with how Mia had left him, made me so sympathetic towards him, even though I could understand why Mia had done it.  Glimpsing into Adam’s head in this way was a stroke of genius on Gayle Forman’s part, and his perspective was very convincing. I didn’t even feel like Adam’s relationship with Mia was unnaturally obsessive (maybe others will perceive it differently), and he grew as a person when he finally saw her again and put his hurt to rest.  Romance, character development, lots of tears – I couldn’t have asked for more from the sequel to one of the best books I’ve read this year; I highly recommend it.

Star Rating: ★★★★★(5)

Anyone else read this? Anyone else shedding rivers of tears because of Gayle Forman?

Emma

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August 8, 2015
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Book Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Title: If I Stay

Author: Gayle Forman

Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Romance, Contemporary

Format: Paperback

‘Sometimes you make choices in life and sometimes choices make you.’

INFO | Goodreads

BUY | The Book Depository


_Summary

In the blink of an eye everything changes. Seventeen year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall what happened afterwards, watching her own damaged body being taken from the wreck. Little by little she struggles to put together the pieces- to figure out what she has lost, what she has left, and the very difficult choice she must make.

_review

All the feels.  That’s the saying, isn’t it?  When you’re on the bus and you have to look out the window to stop yourself from sobbing all over the man across from you.  This book was brilliant for many reasons, but number one because it made me cry on public transport.

I realize now that dying is easy. Living is hard.

Despite all these tears, I have to say that I thought the book started quite slowly – I seem to be saying that a lot lately.  Maybe I’m getting impatient in my old age?  It took me a little while to get into the style of the book; at the beginning, I felt disconnected from the flashbacks and memories as I did not yet know the characters.  It soon picked up, and I found the characters to have a lot of depth.  I wanted Mia to choose life because I really liked her, and thought her love for her boyfriend Adam to be utterly authentic; I was rooting for them.  I enjoyed the way that we were able to watch how each of her close relatives (and the hospital staff) dealt with her state: her chatty Gran, her quiet Gramps, the supportive and worried nurse.

Her affection towards her family reminded me of Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda.  I loved the fact that Mia’s parents were cool and she had a good relationship with them. Maybe it is just the material I have read in the past, but I so rarely have come across books with really positive parent-child relationships. I always had a good relationship with my parents as a teenager and it is refreshing to see this reflected in teen/YA fiction.

I couldn’t find any evidence that Gayle Forman has a musical background (though I actually didn’t look very hard), but she writes with such a genuine passion for music, that I was truly convinced of the importance of it in Mia’s life.  I also found the flashback to Adam and Mia’s cello scene hilarious:

‘Play me,’ he said.

‘What?’

‘I want you to play me like a cello.’

It conjured up memories of Titanic – “draw me like one of your French girls” – and I really couldn’t take it seriously.  I am not very musical myself (which always made me the odd one out in my house) so the sensuality of that experience really went over my head.  Still, it was silly, and that’s what love is about sometimes.

I’m disappointed to hear that there is a sequel.  I felt Gayle Forman ended the book spectacularly.  I had complete closure, and in my opinion there was nothing more to be said.  She had made her decision, end of story.  Has anyone read the sequel?  I would be interested to hear some thoughts on this.

Edit: I read the sequel!

Star Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

Emma

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July 8, 2015
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The First Book to Find Its Way into My Heart (and Break It)

 “Few things leave a deeper mark on the reader, than the first book that finds its way to his heart.”

The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafón

I remember the first book that made a lasting impression on me, because I still think of it often, even now.

I read Four Days Till Friday by Pat Moon when I was 13/14, and I remember reaching the end of the book and being utterly shocked, horrified in fact.  I didn’t know books could do that.  I hadn’t realised just how much power an author had.  So distraught was I, that I bought a notebook in the days that followed and rewrote the entire story with a happier ending!

I suppose you could say that the book actually set a precedent for my own creative writing after that.  Unsatisfied with the ‘everyone lived happily ever after’ spiel, I sought to be moved by my writing, and enjoyed pushing boundaries.  I remember writing an unnecessarily long-winded creative writing piece for my GCSE English coursework, about a girl recovering from amnesia after a car accident.  As she starts to regain her memories, she begins to realise that she wasn’t the only girl in the car accident… but she was the only one who made it out alive (I got an A* for it and I always hoped it was because I’d made the marker cry).

So, I suppose I should thank Pat Moon for breaking my heart (and stamping on it), because it was my first experience of truly realist fiction, and it helped me to progress as a writer.

If you want a good cry, I recommend reading Four Days Till Friday (and check out what Goodreads has to say about it).  If you do plan on reading it, beware of spoilers in reviews – it’ll ruin the entire experience.  It isn’t available to buy on The Book Depository, but I’ve seen it for pennies on Amazon.

What was the first book to really touch you?  Have you ever been completely moved/emotionally winded by a piece of fiction?  Comment below!

Emma

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June 29, 2015
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