Saturday, January 28, 2017

Bruiser by Neal Shusterman

Bruiser is a mix of realistic fiction and fantasy about the sacrifices one makes for the people they love. In high school, Brewster “Bruiser” Rawlins is voted "Most Likely to Get the Death Penalty." Nobody understands him. Nobody can be friends with him, and he cannot afford to care about anyone. When he takes a chance and starts dating Brontë, she and her twin brother Tennyson start noticing strange things. 

Any injury that they have instantly disappears, and Brewster is hurt in exactly the same way. It does not take long for them to realize the truth- whoever he cares about, their injures always become his. Things take a turn for the worse when they realize that he can take emotional pain away, too, and he is saving Brontë's family from the burn of divorce. While the twins give him the love and friendship that he wants, he is forced to take on more pain than he can possibly handle.  

When I first picked up the book, my initial thought was that Brewster had healing powers, and it would just be an interesting book to read. Wow- it was way better than I thought! I did not expect the story to be so deep, and it was a wave of emotion. This story showcases the difficulties and struggles that come with not having any pain, as well as having too much. It shows the black and white, and gives readers a lot to think about. Usually you don't want to see someone you love hurting, and sometimes you wish you could take their pain away- but what if you could? 

Bruiser is inspirational. There are major themes of family and protection. They all wanted so desperately to help and protect each other. Brontë really wanted to protect Brewster, and Tennyson wanted to protect Brontë. They fought all the time before, and having Brewster around brought them together. I loved how they put aside their differences to help Brewster. They did this even when he was not around to take their pain. 

Brewster is basically an empath that also feels physical pain as well as mental and emotional. I loved that all of his passages were written in free verse! It helped to capture all of his emotions. What's crazier is that the emotions are not all his. The pain is not all his. Bruiser was a very depressing book. Not like a depressing concept, more like a depressing and painful tone. The variety of characters helped to make up for some of the sadness. Cody is young. He is Brewster's younger brother, and some of the things he says and does sounds like a little toddler, and other things he did and said were adult like. He really wanted to protect him.

I loved this emotional, inquisitive book, and I highly recommend that you read it!

Title: Bruiser
Author: Neal Shusterman
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 328 Pages
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Monday, January 23, 2017

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is the first book in this YA fantasy series. Jacob's grandfather always told crazy stories. So crazy, that Jacob's family thinks he is mental. Jacob keeps a bond with his grandfather and just chooses to forget the peculiar stories. But when his grandfather is attacked by monsters, he is forced to admit that his stories might actually be real. Jacob and his dad go to a remote island and find a house where the peculiar kids might still be alive.

I truly did not like this book. It was one of the worst books I have ever read! It had no imagery whatsoever and I could not imagine or picture anything. It was very uneventful and the plot dragged on forever. The beginning was great, but right after they got to that island the whole thing was like a flat line on a heart monitor. Basically the story stopped breathing.
 
Honestly, the book should be used as a bedtime story. I forced myself to finish it, in the hope that it would get better. Then, right before the book ended, it was like the heart started beating again. I was shocked at the sudden change, not to mention that the huge "revelations" were totally unexpected and not developed. Usually I like it when I cannot guess the ending of books, but this was just totally extreme.

I also disliked that his dad was not really a dad at all, more like a temporary babysitter. He basically let Jacob do whatever he wanted and paid no attention to anything. I was also very disappointed in the amount of magic. Really, the only power was the strange non-explained time travel. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that there was time travel in the book. Apparently peculiar people can go in a portal back in time to WW2 when the kids were still alive. There were pictures in the book, often cutting in the middle of a sentence. The book was written in 2011, but it felt like it was written in the 1700's, especially given the black and white photos.

I strongly disliked this book, and I will not read the next books, even though I already borrowed them from the public library. Apparently some people liked it enough to turn it into a movie, and I might watch the movie out of curiosity. However, I absolutely do not recommend this book!

Title: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Author: Ransom Riggs
Publisher: Quirk
Pages: 352 pages
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 1 Star

Friday, January 13, 2017

Trapped by Michael Northrop

Trapped is a realistic fiction YA book about being stuck at a high school during a blizzard. When it started snowing, nobody could guess that it would keep snowing for a week. Scotty, Pete, and Jason are supposed to be getting picked up from Jason's dad. Four other kids are also waiting for rides. Eventual they realize nobody is coming for them. Spending the night at school does not sound so bad. That is, until the power goes out, the pipes freeze, and the roof collapses. As the days go on, the seven kids realize that they have no options left.

The writing is very simple and there is a lack of sensory details. The narrator (Scotty) speaks like a teenager. Yes, I get the point, the kids are teenagers. However, readers cannot go a couple sentences without reading the words "seriously", and "kind of" and things like that. The book was narrated toward the audience, but there were too many hypothetical questions, and if I did not know any better, I would think it is a diary. They were pretty lifeless characters. There was no character development and the characters are pretty standard- the regular guys, the troublemaker, the strange kid, and the girls. There was nothing really special about them. They also missed all types of foreshadowing. I could easily guess what was going to happen way before the characters did. 

The plot was not bad, it was just slow. The events were all necessary and important. A lot of what happened I might not have thought to include, in a good way and a bad way. Some events I was impressed with, but others just were very obvious. I liked the idea of the story, but the little things tore it down. The ending was not what I wanted it to be. The general conclusion was easily guessable, but it ended too suddenly, like someone just yanked the book out of the author's hand while he was still writing it. 

I do not recommend that you read this book. 

Title: Trapped
Author: Michael Northrop
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pages: 232 Pages
Series: No
Rating: 2 Stars

Friday, January 6, 2017

Runaway by Wendelin Van Draanen

From the author of the 5-star book The Running Dream is the YA realistic fiction book, Runaway. Holly was in her fifth foster home in two years, and this one was the worst. Mr. and Mrs. Bender called her a "bad girl," and she was always accused of things she did not do. They make her sleep in the laundry room. Things reach a breaking point when Mr. Bender sticks her head in a toilet and flushes several times. Holly has run away before and has always been caught, but this time she is determined to run away for real and survive on her own.

The beginning was amazing, and I thought that it was going to be a 5-star book, just like The Running Dream, the first review I wrote! Soon after, my thoughts changed. The plot was all messed up. The climax happened too early, and most of the book was about her living and traveling by herself, all over the country. The thing I did not like was that there was no real conflict or intrigue. The conflicts in the beginning were never solved, just avoided. I was hoping for certain endings, but they never came.

Really, I just kept reading it to get to the end and find out what happens. A 12-year-old going all over the country, stealing, living under houses, and jumping trains - it just seemed way too easy and unrealistic. I would have liked to seen more conflicts and more hardship. Runaway made running away seem easy, while in reality we know that is not the truth.  In the author's defense, this was written 5 years before The Running Dream, so comparisons between the two might not be accurate.

I really liked how the book was a journal/diary. Readers saw a ton of thoughts and feelings about her past and her future. There was a lot of confidence in herself, and Holly was determined to succeed. But as I mentioned earlier, this was not as impressive since there were not many conflicts for her to grow upon. They also helped readers be more connected with Holly. I thought it was a really good thing, and the stories shared added to her current situation.

I also liked who the "you" was in the book. While most readers would assume that the "you" was just the diary/journal, it was directed towards her teacher who gave her the journal to begin with. Originally she hated the idea of writing in a journal, but along the way she grew to like it, so there was some character development. I really liked that she remembered throughout the book who the teacher was, and that she was trying to keep up with school. I enjoyed her hiding in the schools. Some of those scenes were really funny!

This book was worth reading, and I recommend it.

Read my review of The Running Dream, the first blog post I wrote.

Title: Runaway
Author: Wendelin Van Draanen
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Pages: 245 Pages
Series: No
Rating: 3 Stars