Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks

The Bunker Diary is a realistic fiction book for older teens who like thrillers. Linus Weems, who is 16, wakes up in an underground bunker after being kidnapped by a stranger and being drugged with chloroform. The bunker he is in has six bedrooms, a kitchen and a bathroom. There are also microphones and cameras for the kidnapper to watch every move. Soon more victims arrive - Jenny, Anja, Bird, Fred, and Russell. They discover that any attempt of escape is met with punishments of deafening noise, knockouts with gas, or food being poisoned or stopped. The group of six must figure out how to live in captivity with each other and survive among the means of the kidnapper upstairs.

I really liked the thoughts of the main character, Linus. I loved that in his diary entries there would be a ton of tangents that just go on and on. While some might find that annoying, I appreciate such thoughts and thought-provoking questions that he rhetorically asked in his journal.  I love books where the book is a journal/diary because you get to see more of the character. I enjoyed the scenes where Linus told readers about his past. I liked how the information would still be relevant at the point in time to the story. I was very intrigued and was on the edge of my seat the whole time I was reading. There were some funny moments, but most of it was intense.

I would have liked to know more information about the kidnapper and his motives. The Bunker Diary contains a lot of unanswered questions in the end, and my viewpoint of the story might change if there was a second book. It would be really cool if there was another book, but in the viewpoint of the kidnapper.
 
The ending of this book was horrible! On one hand, I can't believe this! Seriously? This is the worst type of ending ever! I am so angry about what the author did to this ending! On the other hand, good job to the author for making the characters so attachable that I care about them and have anger about it.  

However, I have to caution readers about the content and controversies in this book and do not recommend it for younger teens. This book can be very shocking and contains a lot of dark things. It is still a thrilling read, but be prepared to read some things that you would not be expecting. 

I was surprised to find out that this author, Kevin Brooks, is also the author of one of my favorite books, iBoy! Although I read it a long time ago, I remember how much I loved it! Read my review of iBoy.

Title: The Bunker Diary
Author: Kevin Brooks
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 268
Series: No
Rating: 4 Stars

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Homefree and Sensitive by Nina Wright

If you are a teen who enjoys reading YA fantasy books, then you may like these two books. Easter Hutton's life is a mess to say the least. Her parents are divorced and her mother goes through boyfriends as often as night and day. She and her mom live in a temporary trailer park in Florida. In school the students hate her and throw raw eggs at her. As if that is not enough, Easter keeps accidentally astral projecting in the middle of her classes and in the hallways. She also channels other people's thoughts, which can be very embarrassing in public!

In the first book, Homefree, Easter battles these problems. Her astral projecting brings her to interesting places and situations where she meets other teens that have similar powers, including her friends she knew in the past. With a nice teacher's help, she discovers a place for people with powers, called Homefree. The second book, Sensitive, follows her and her friends though the first weeks at Fairless Grove Academy, the headquarters of Homefree. Easter learns more about her powers and realizes she can talk to spirits, and must help settle a misunderstanding from 200 years ago. She also must find her missing mother and help her troubled friend.

I enjoyed Homefree more than Sensitive. The first book contained more of a mystery, and I loved seeing Easter in school and the chaotic life with her mom. There was also more of a story line and I was constantly intrigued. Homefree has an amazing mix of reality and fantasy. I also enjoyed the accidental use of powers. For me personally, I like it better when characters have no control over their powers and do funny things. Both books had a sense of humor and really good figurative language. There was a lot of French in both books, but not so much that it was hard to understand.

Sensitive had more romance in it. Cal and Easter were sweet together. The beginning of this second book was amazing and quite funny and sarcastic. Teleportation was cool, and I liked that the kids each went in separate directions. Even though they were in the same house, they had different jobs to give them individuality.  I enjoyed that Sensitive felt like a continuation of the previous book, like another chapter. However, I do feel that both of these should have been combined into one book. I feel like there was not enough material to go into the second book and therefore was stretched out too much. The ending of Sensitive I felt was too sudden and not developed enough.

There are many themes in the two books. There are some heavy topics such as mental health and addiction, but they are not thorough. Homefree more focuses on bullying and friendship while the second book focuses on independence and family, plus romance. I would give Homefree 5 stars and Sensitive 3 stars, which averages to 4 stars for the two of them.

I recommend that readers read both of these books together! Individually they might not be perfect, but together there are enough differences for there to be something for every reader.

Title(s): Homefree and Sensitive
Author: Nina Wright
Publisher(s): Llewellyn Publications and Flux
Pages: 234 pages, 240 pages
Series: Books 1 and 2 out of 2
Rating: 4 Stars

Friday, February 17, 2017

Linked by Imogen Howson

Linked is a YA science fiction book with a sequel. For the last three years, Elissa has been getting a tremendous amount of pain and bruises appearing out of nowhere, as well as scary visions and hallucinations. A couple days before a surgery, she discovers that her hallucinations are actually real, and that she is seeing the world from somebody else's eyes. That person turns out to be the twin she never knew existed, and they share a mental link. That link should have disappeared many years ago, but instead it got stronger.

Lin is her Spare, born from a rare abnormality where one egg splits into two identical copies. We know of that as twins, but on the planet Sekoia, these are rare and not supposed to happen. One of the siblings will be normal, and the other one would have some special power. Lin is electrokinetic. Parents keep the normal child and give the other to the government to be experimented on. Spares are told that they are not human and their lives do not matter. Lin escaped from the facility where she was held, and Elissa and Lin decide to run away to a different planet where they can be protected. The Sekoian government will do anything to stop the girls from exposing the dangerous secrets that could destroy the planet. While Lin is powerful on her own, together they are so much more.

I wish that there was more of an exposition. The book opened right away with rising action and jumped right to action and the main idea. I wanted to see more with Elissa on her own in her daily life. The book opened up right at the doctors office with the surgery idea and then jumped to meeting her twin. School was something I wish I saw more of. There was one scene in the locker room with her former friend, but daily life was an element that was missing. I just felt like there should have been more of an exposition before getting right to the main idea. Other than the shaky beginning, the book was amazing!

Linked dived deep into human rights and ethical issues. The book shows how even though there are laws and acts in place to prevent discrimination from happening, there are ways to get around them. Lin was a type of character that I have not seen much of. Lin was raised in thinking that lives do not matter, and the only real family she had was her sister, Elissa. Lin was willing to do anything to help her sister, and Elissa had to stop her many times from making harmful choices with her powers. She did not really understand what was wrong with hurting some people to help them escape. Lin's personality showcased certain points of view that we do not see in everyday life.

The relationship between the girls was strong. Not just because of the mental link, but the love they have for each other. Elissa had never met this girl in her life, and she decided to throw her future away and help the sister she never knew. Most of the book took place in space, which I really liked. The book is set in the future, and I loved the advanced tools and space travel that they had. I loved the hint of romance between Caden and Elissa. It helped the plot move along and added something special. 

I recommend that you read this book, and I cannot wait to read the sequel, Unravel.

Title: Linked
Author: Imogen Howson
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Pages: 368
Series: Yes, Book 1 of 2
Rating: 4 Stars

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Afterward by Jennifer Mathieu

Afterward is a YA realistic fiction book. When 11-year-old Dylan is kidnapped, his rescue also saves 15-year-old Ethan, a teenager who was living with Dylan and his captor. Ethan was kidnapped four years earlier when he went on a bike ride and never returned. Dylan has autism and is non-verbal. He is not adjusting well at home and is traumatized. His sister, Caroline, really wants to help him, but Dylan cannot tell her what happened or how to help. The only person who knows what really happened is Ethan.

Ethan blames himself for not escaping earlier when he had the chance, and Caroline blames herself for Dylan's kidnapping, since she was supposed to be watching him the day he was taken. While they both have the kidnapping in common, they also have something else in common- Ethan and Caroline both need a friend.

The thing that I did not like very much was the fact that the story started three months after Ethan and Dylan were returned to their families. I wish there was a scene of the police returning them to their families. I feel like there was not enough emotion from the kidnapping. Showing the amount of progress and adjustment would have been more beneficial if readers saw what they were like when they first got home. I also wish that there was a perspective from Dylan. Readers did not really get a feel for how hard his life was, and it was hard for me to connect with him. I would have loved to read what Dylan was going through.

At first Caroline and Ethan were only friends and hanging out because of the kidnapping, but overtime the friendship became real. It really shows how friendships can form in dark times. I am glad that there was not much romance. There was one scene where I thought the book was totally going in the wrong direction, but that path did not last for long.

The real background knowledge that we got was in Ethan's therapy sessions with Dr. Greenberg. There was so much emotion. Ethan talked about what happened to him and had flashbacks. A real theme in the book was therapy. Caroline and her family were falling apart, and they did not have a therapist, but Ethan's whole family did. The book showcased how talking to people can help their problems. Caroline felt a lot better after venting to Ethan sometimes. There was a lot of internal conflict. Afterward had more internal conflict than any book I have read.

Ethan and Caroline both had a heavy share of guilt, blame and frustration. Caroline's burden was about how to help her brother, not watching Dylan close enough, and her parents splitting up. Ethan's burden was guilt about not running away all the times he had the chance, and he wrestled with memory issues and talking to Caroline. The only answers Caroline could possibly get were from Ethan, but the answers she wants are horrible. I loved that they played music. It distracted them from their problems, and at times was hilarious.

I recommend that you read this book!

Title: Afterward
Author: Jennifer Mathieu
Publisher: Roaring Book Press
Pages: 320
Series: No
Rating: 4 Stars

Friday, February 3, 2017

Life in a Fishbowl by Len Vlahos


25131061Life in a Fishbowl is a YA realistic fiction book about what one would do for their family. Jared Stone has a malignant glioblastoma multiforme brain tumor, and he is dying. When the doctor tells him that he will not live for much longer, he decides to sell his life on eBay to get money to support his family when he is gone. Many are interested, but after eBay takes the ad off in violation of rules, the one person left is a television producer. Jared accepts 5 million dollars in exchange for him and his family to be on a reality TV show, Life and Death. However, the show takes away all privacy and completely changes what really happens. Jackie, Jared's 15-year-old daughter, creates her own TV show to expose the true reality of reality TV.

When I read the synopsis on Goodreads, I was so excited to read it! However, the subject of the book and the description is misleading, and I am very disappointed. The focus was not really even on the family or about all the changes. The concept did not even seem like a real problem, since there was no "normal" for comparison. It was very fast-paced, and there were way to many characters, so it was hard to keep track of them. There were view points from all ten characters in the book, which made it much harder for me to connect to the family.

A perspective I was not expecting was the perspective of the tumor. Gilo, the malignant glioblastoma multiforme, had a perspective which contained dark humor. It talked about finding Jared's brain "delicious" and that his memories "tasted wonderful." Gilo's passages were about him eating more and more of Jared's brain and eating and watching memories. This was kind of disturbing and funny at the same time. The tumor almost felt... guilty that he was hurting the man. The characterization was so strong that I could connect to him/it and feel sympathetic. Gilo even had character development! This is just so strange. Technically, a tumor is alive, but it was waaaaay to personified.

Life in a Fishbowl also tackled some human rights issues. The idea of euthanasia was heavily involved, as well as the first amendment. A campaign was actually created called Free Jackie Stone, and the book showed the true reality of reality TV. I liked the concept. I loved the idea about reality TV, and it is a problem today about believing everything we see on TV. Sibling relationship was also big. Megan, Jackie's younger sister, had the classic little sister role. Her perspectives were refreshing, since she was the only one who liked being on TV. I liked the character of Jared. He cared so much about his family and was willing to sacrifice everything so they could live an easier life when he was gone. The title is a really great metaphor to illustrate the invasion of privacy. Fish are trapped in a fishbowl, and they were trapped in their house.

Overall, the book was okay. I would have enjoyed it more if there were less perspectives and the description was accurate, but I loved the concept. This is the type of book that some people would like and some people would not. So, if you want to read it, go ahead. Just make sure not to get your hopes up.

Title: Life in a Fishbowl
Author: Len Vlahos
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 336
Series: No
Rating: 3 Stars
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