Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Unremembered by Jessica Brody

Unremembered is the first book in a YA science fiction trilogy. Freedom Airlines flight 121 crashed in the ocean, and there were no survivors except for a sixteen-year-old girl floating in the water. Records say she was not on the plane at all, in fact her DNA is completely unregistered. She is unharmed. She has violet eyes and is downright beautiful. There's nothing wrong with her. This girl is perfect. However, this girl has no memory of anything, not even objects or food. And she has incredible strength, speed, and intelligence that shouldn't be possible. She struggles to piece together her memories and who she is. Her only hint is a necklace and a boy who claims to have given it to her.

While the broad theme of amnesia is quite common, this is something else and I loved every page. Unremembered combines some of my favorite things in books- time travel, amnesia, and the question, "what makes us human?" I loved the mystery aspect as well as the romance that made it feel more realistic.  The concept of a perfect human being was very captivating, and the complicated question of what "human" actually means. My only critique would be that at times, I had to go back and re-read chapters or pages because there was just so much to understand, and it went at a very fast pace.

I have read this book about four times now. It is just addictive, I don't know how else to describe it. I finish reading the book, and I have the sudden urge to go pick it back up and read it again! There are these huge things I loved, but the little details were amazing, too, even adding hints of humor. For example, the fact that she falls in love with grilled cheese sandwiches. Lighthearted information like that helps to calm the book from the huge thrills.

I am glad I bought this book, and I highly recommend it! I cannot wait to read the next book in this series, Unforgotten! I also look forward to reading another book the author has written, My Life Undecided.

Title: Unremembered
Author: Jessica Brody
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux (BYR)
Pages: 320
Series: Yes, Book 1 of 3
Rating: 5 Stars

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Survive by Alex Morel

Survive is an empowering YA realistic fiction book about a girl's new desire to live. Jane has lived in Life House, a mental hospital, for the past year. She has earned the privilege to take a flight home for Christmas and visit her mother. But she never intends on making it. Her plan is to down a bottle of pills. Right as she's about to swallow them, the plane crashes in the snowy mountains.

She wakes up alive, and stranded with one other passenger, Paul. For the first time in her life, she wants to live. Their plan is to climb the mountain up to the plateau, where they can be seen for rescue. Through the journey, both discover the true meaning of life and find a love for each other. However, against the wilderness, the chances of both of them surviving are slim. 

After reading the summary on Goodreads, it was pretty obvious what was going to happen, but I picked up the book anyways because I liked the angle of it. I was pleasantly surprised! This isn't just a story of climbing a mountain, it's a story of climbing their own personal mountains of loss, pain, and heartache, and finding the hope and strength to keep going when all seems lost.  It inspires readers to do something with their life and teaches that you make your own miracles, and you are in control of your destiny.

I loved the intense emotion in this book, and I loved the change in mindset. Jane went from "I can't, I can't do it!" to "Yes, I can!" It's essentially The Little Engine That Could but for teens, and with emotion, romance, and a plane crash on a snowy mountain. I loved the survival aspect and the battle against nature. It is hard enough to conquer fear and depression, let alone with brutal weather and a literal mountain. I have no doubt in my mind that readers will shed quite a few tears.

I highly recommend this book! If you are interested in survival books and conquering nature, I would also recommend Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. I read his series back in 6th grade, and it is great for all ages! 

Title: Survive
Author: Alex Morel
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 259
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Friday, February 9, 2018

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

All the Light We Cannot See is a YA historical fiction novel about WWII from the perspective of two kids. I found this book at my school library. This is the tale of a blind French girl, Marie-Laure, and an orphan, Werner. He has a knack for engineering, which lands him a place in the brutal military academy, the Hitler Youth Group. Marie-Laure and her father must flee after the Nazis occupy Paris, carrying a jewel rumored to have protection powers. Her great-uncle owns a radio, and together they work with the resistance, broadcasting coded messages to end the war. Unbeknownst to them, they are in grave danger.

I wanted to love this book, I really did. It's the winner of the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award finalist, and Goodreads choice awards winner in 2014! So, this has a really good reputation, and I had extremely high hopes. Unfortunately, it took all my strength to finish it. I never stop reading a book in order to accurately review it, and I always hope that it would get better at the end. All the Light We Cannot See did not.

All the characters were flat and I had no interest in them whatsoever. Quite frankly, I did not care if they ended up dead or alive. That's really harsh, I know, but there was nothing special about them that made me connect to them or stick with them. Maybe it would have helped if it was written in first person because the characters were so distant. They did not take any risks, they did not change at all. Werner and Marie didn't even meet until the last like 50 pages. The book is 500 pages long!!! It made me angry that he was just like a statue. Honestly, I'm not sure what the point was of the characters' existence.

Every chapter was a page, and it kept switching perspectives of so many characters that I couldn't keep track. By the end of the book, I sadly could not remember half of them. It's safe to say this book isn't very memorable. I'm not sure why people like it so much and gave it so many awards. Also, I wanted more of the war, the fighting. I understand the book is about innocence, but it was too innocent. They are working with the resistance, but they don't even know what they are resisting! Don't expect to learn about the war by reading this book. Okay, and the diamond? What in the world was the point? That little fairy tale had no impact on the plot at all.

I don't know, maybe adults would appreciate this book more, but I personally really didn't like it at all. I don't recommend this book.

Title: All the Light We Cannot See
Author: Anthony Doerr
Publisher: Scribner
Pages: 531
Series: No
Rating: 1 Star

Friday, February 2, 2018

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha Verse Book 1) by Leigh Bardugo

Shadow and Bone is the first book in the YA fantasy trilogy, The Grisha Verse. The series was recommended to me by a friend. The nation of Ravka is divided because of the Shadow Fold, an area of darkness consisting of monsters that feast on humans.  The one person who can destroy it and bring peace to the world is Alina Starkov, the Sun Summoner.

Growning up as an orphan, the only family she's ever had is Mal, her best friend. When they are attacked by monsters, Mal gets badly injured. Alina saves his life by using a power she didn't know she had. Alina is the one and only Sun Summoner. She can control light. She is taken away from Mal and to the royal court to be trained as a Grisha. At first she bonds with the leader, Darkling, but it soon becomes clear that his intentions are not to save the world. He has far more sinister desires.

Shadow and Bone was amazing and even better than I expected it to be! In fact, this book was so great that I am at a loss for words, which almost never happens. So, this review will be short and sweet. I loved the magic, and the personification of her light was breathtaking! The Fold is unique and I was not expecting the conspiracy surrounding it! I have not read many books with that type of setting. Darkling is so creepy and scary! His villain role was written quite nicely. Alina is an incredible heroine, and her character development from shy and confused to brave, strong, and bold was phenomenal!

I highly recommend this book, and I cannot wait to read the next book, Siege and Storm! I am also excited to read the prequel, The Demon in the Wood, about why Darkling became so evil.

Title: Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Pages: 358
Series: Yes, book 1 of 3
Rating: 5 Stars

Monday, January 29, 2018

The Pain Eater by Beth Goobie

The Pain Eater is a deep YA realistic fiction novel that is full of pain, but also of hope. While Maddy was walking home after a play, five boys jumped out from the shadows and attacked her. Ashamed and afraid, Maddy keeps it to herself. Seven months later, at the start of a new school year, Maddy's goal is to sit quietly and hide. That task becomes rather impossible when two of her attackers show up in her English class. The bullying worsens, to the point that she doesn't know what to do or how to cope.

Meanwhile, in her English class, the teacher assigns a group novel, where every student has to contribute a chapter. The book the students write is The Pain Eater, about how everybody in a village makes a girl (Farang) literally consume their pain, so the rest of the people can be happy. As the story evolves, the students turn on Maddy, and fact and fiction blur together. With the help of Maddy's new friends, she beings to realize that her silence just gives them more control. Speaking up may be what can save her and Farang, too.

It is very rare to encounter two stories in one. Both Maddy's story and Farang's story were amazing, and I would read Farang's story even if it was just a book on its own! The parallelism and juxtaposition were extraordinary, and it really showed through. It is very obvious as the story goes on and the two worlds collide. Farang's life is basically a huge metaphor for Maddy, and I have never read anything quite like it!

I was disappointed that the teacher did not do much to help. Sure, Ms. Mousumi was concerned, but with the direction that the class discussions took, the correspondence and allegory was so blatantly obvious that I am surprised she did not realize. However, it is an accurate representation of how things really are in high school.

I recommend that you read this book!

Title: The Pain Eater
Author: Beth Goobie
Publisher: Second Story Press
Pages: 236 Pages
Series: No
Rating: 4 Stars

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Contribute (Holo Book 2) by Kristy Acevedo

Contribute is the YA sci-fi sequel to Consider in the Holo series. The holograms lied to all of Earth, and Alexandra is the only person who knows the truth. She took a leap of faith into the vertex at the last second to tell everyone the truth in 2359. Alex struggles to cope in a seemingly perfect allusion without her anxiety medication, her family, and the knowledge that everybody is lying. She joins the Umbra, a secret rebellion formed by former Earth leaders to take down the holograms and get everyone get back home.

I am glad I bought this book! One thing I loved was Alex's evolution in this book, and in the series. She is terrified and just wants her family and friends and to go back home. Readers watch her evolve from that, out of her shell of anxiety and able to lead the people of Earth. Being the face of Earth is terrifying on its own; this takes pressure to a new level. Honestly, I don't think I would have been brave enough to do some of things she did.

This book also reveals truths about Earth and shows the attitude of people. Most of the humans did not want to go home; they did not want to earn their future. I loved that specific conflict of whether or not truth even matters, and the laziness and selfishness of humanity. However, Contribute clearly showcases that even one person can make a difference and change the planet. This book also teaches a lesson to not blindly trust the government.

I was very impressed at the vast amount of imagery and how much the book pulled me into the world. This is 300 years later, and apparently they figured out how to make light a solid, so their whole world and surroundings are customizable and created entirely by light. Surprisingly, this could be realistic. The Harvard Gazette claimed to have achieved this fate in 2013. They shot a lazer into a cloud of Rubidium that created what they described as "light sabers." Theoretically, it wouldn't be so far off if in 300 years from now we could make furniture out of light. So, I have to give the author credit for coming up with a setting that is is crazy, but also believable.

I highly recommend this series, and I hope the author writes more books!

Read my review of the previous book, Consider!

Title: Contribute
Author: Kristy Acevedo
Publisher: Jolly Fish Press
Pages: 330
Series: Yes, Book 2/2
Rating: 5 Stars

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Stick by Andrew Smith

Stick is a YA realistic fiction book about the special bond between two brothers. Stark McClellan has anotia. He was only born with one ear. He is called Stick for being tall and thin. He's constantly bullied for how he looks, but his brother Bosten always defends him at school and on the streets. But neither boy can defend themselves from their abusive parents. When Stark's parents find out that Bosten is gay, he runs for his life. Stark loves his brother, and runs after him, in search of his brother and people who will love them for who they are.

I must say- Stark is only 14. Yes, he is tall, but somehow I find it hard to believe that he can drive successfully 15 hours straight safely by himself. His voice also sound like he's 17. Stark was forced to grow up way too soon and learn to take care of himself. I had to constantly remind myself that he's only 14, which makes this tale even sadder and more infuriating. The level of responsibility on his shoulders is way too much for anyone. To say this book is emotional is a vast understatement. 

Stark is one of my favorite male narrators of all time. He has so much piled on him, but somehow he manages to keep a clear head and maintain a positive outlook. This kid gets up every time he falls, and isn't afraid of anything. He is the type of character who will always stick with you. Stark would be an amazing role model for everybody, and teaches others to be comfortable in their own skin. Stick teaches those in tough places to never give up searching for safety and love. While running away is not something I would recommend, know that there is always somebody in the world who will accept you for who you are. There is more to life than your burdens. 
I highly recommend this book, but only for older YA readers due to a few intense situations. I am looking forward to reading another book of the author's, Grasshopper Jungle.

Title: Stick
Author: Andrew Smith
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Pages: 292
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars
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