Friday, October 28, 2016

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak is an inspirational YA book about speaking up for yourself and finding your voice. When Melinda starts Merryweather High School, she is alone and an instant outcast. On the last day of summer, she called the police on the biggest party ever. Nobody knows why she called the police except her. Since she has not told anybody what really happened, nobody will talk to her, and Melinda barely talks at all.

She goes through her freshman year hiding behind silence and the comfort of a hidden janitor's closet. Her grades are worse than ever, and her teachers do not like her. The only thing she likes is art. In art, she can express herself without saying a word. An art project helps her face what really happened at the party, and maybe speak up. 

This book is pretty popular, and I had been meaning to read it for a long time, but I never got around to it. I wish I had read it sooner! I loved Melinda. She was an easy character to connect to, and the book was like reading the thoughts inside her head. There were so many details and explanations for things.

I liked the format of the dialogue in the book. Most of the dialogue was like a play, and was like lines in a script. What I liked was that there were no quotation marks. While that is not how you normally are supposed to write dialogue, it really worked for the book. I think that it relates to a theme of silence about not having them. It would have been cool to see them being used at the end, to symbolize her speaking.

Melinda's parents were constantly mad at her and yelling to her about her grades. I wish just once the mother would ask if she was okay. Geez lady, your daughter stops speaking and you do not ask what is wrong? That made me mad at the parents, but in a way that was a really good thing. I really love characters that make you feel a certain way about them, especially anger.

The one thing that annoyed me was that the huge event where she finally can speak up was too short. I felt like the book should have been longer. The pace was strange. It moved too fast and too slow at the same time. This made it a really interesting book to pay attention to, as I suspect that the pace was strategic. A lot of things in the book seemed carefully planned.

I recommend that you read this book!

Title: Speak
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Publisher: Puffin
Pages: 198
Series: No
Rating: 4 Stars

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Believe by Sarah Aronson

Believe is a YA realistic fiction book with a touch of fantasy about having the power to heal others. Janine is one of the most famous people in the world. When Janine was six, she visited Jerusalem. She was the only survivor of a suicide bombing that killed both her parents and dozens and dozens of others. Dave Armstrong pulled her out of the rubble and claimed to have "found God" while holding her damaged hands. 

Ten years later, she still avoids the paparazzi and refuses to speak to them, especially Dave Armstrong, and especially on the tenth anniversary of the bombing. When her friend Abe was hit by a car, he almost died, until she laid her hands on him. A boy who was paralyzed could suddenly walk again after holding her hands. Janine is now said to have healing powers.

Believe was one of the most uninteresting books I have ever read. The pace was very slow and there was not much action. I wanted to stop reading so badly. It is ironic that the book is called believe when the book is very unbelievable. It was all very exaggerated and extreme.

The characters did not have many feelings and were just average. There was nothing special or unique about any of them except for Janine. Really, the only thing special about her is that she was the only survivor of a bombing, and some supposed healing abilities. Janine was very unsympathetic. She always thought about herself and did not really care for others. She was not a complex character. She did not really develop or learn a lesson along the way.

Another thing I did not like was that the majority of the book went on and on about religion and God. The main theme was about having faith in God. I was very surprised about how much religion was involved, and it took away from the "magical powers" of her hands. Speaking of the "magical powers," it was not really clear whether or not she actually has any, and there was not much detail. I only read the book for the element of her healing powers, and it was a huge disappointment.

I do not recommend that you read this book.

Title: Believe
Author: Sarah Aronson
Publisher: Carolrhoda Books
Pages: 290 Pages
Series: No
Rating: 1 Star

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Front Lines (Soldier Girl Book 1) by Michael Grant

The author of the dystopian series Gone is back with a new YA historical fiction trilogy, Soldier Girl. In Front Lines, the first book in this trilogy, it is WWII, but not as students would learn in history class. Women and girls are not cooking and cleaning while the men fight. In Michael Grant's version, women and girls get to fight alongside men in the fight against Hitler. After Japan bombs Pearl Harbor, America joins the war against Hitler. Michael Grant creates an alternate reality of the war in which women could be drafted. 

Three brave girls decide to enlist in the war. Rio Richlin enlists because she wants to do her part and avenge her sister's death in the war. Frangie Marr, who is African American, enlists to help her family pay bills, and she wants to become a medic. Rainy Schulterman, who is Jewish, enlists because she wants to get rid of Hitler and stop what is happening to her family. While they are on their separate paths, all three of them will come together in the Battle of Kasserine Pass. 

I like that while the details and the main topic that women could fight was made up, the places and the Battle of Kasserine Pass are real. I also got to learn more about the war and what it was like. There is a lot of background information provided. The details were really outstanding in the fact that most of them are correct, like the military terms and the names of the boats. There is a bibliography in the back of the book with many sources in it. I liked that amount of credibility, and I did not expect to see one. 

The characters were great! The style about switching perspectives was the same as Grant's style in the Gone series. I really liked how the characters crossed paths, even though they were working in different areas. Frangie was my favorite character. I think she deserved a whole book. Rio had most of the chapters, but she was also the most influenced. She had a key part on the battlefield, and I loved her emotions about firing the rifle. Rainy was very helpful in her intelligence unit, and there were some scenes that I really liked about her. There were other strong characters as well, such as Jenou. She was basically Rio's sidekick. I liked that she brought humor to the book.

Michael Grant is one of my favorite authors, as he wrote the Gone series. He can write fantasy and science fiction just as well as he can write historical fiction. I do not read historical fiction that often, but the fact that Grant wrote it made it more appealing. While the majority of Front Lines is about the war, he also tackles issues of racism and sexism. Frangie wanted to be a medic, and most of her prospective was about the challenge of being a women, and on top of it all, being African American. She handled the criticism well, as did the other girls about their gender and race. 

I did not enjoy the fact that America lost this battle. I think that for a book like this with female empowerment and such inspiration it was not the best choice to put in the book a losing battle. I also did not like that not many events happened in the book. I think that there should have been more battles mentioned than the Battle of Kasserine Pass. Most of the events went on a little longer than was needed, but since this is a trilogy, I understand why.  
I recommend you read Front Lines. I cannot wait to read the sequel, Silver Stars, which comes out on January 31, 2017!

Michael Grant is also the author of the Gone series, which I highly recommend for YA dystopian fans. Read my review of the first book in the Gone series. I am also thrilled to know that Grant is coming out with a 7th book in the Gone series, Monster, set 4 years in the future.

Title: Front Lines (Soldier Girl Book 1)
Author: Michael Grant
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Pages: 576 Pages
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 4 Stars

Friday, October 7, 2016

Series Review: Revolution 19 by Gregg Rosenblum

Revolution 19 is a YA dystopian trilogy about robots enslaving the human race. Twenty years ago, the robots designed to fight in the battlefields became smarter than the humans and wanted peace instead of war. They imprisoned the humans in cities and controlled them and their environment by re-educating them to be perfect.

In the first book, Revolution 19, Nick, Kevin, and Cass lived in a Freepost outside of the city and were safe. Then, Kevin finds a piece of the robots' technology that leads the bots right to them. The three siblings survive. Hoping that their family was taken in for re-education, they sneak into the city to try to save their parents.

In the second book, Fugitive X, the siblings are separated. Cass is taken back to the city for re-education and finds her real birth parents. Kevin is taken to a secret location of rebels and learns about Dr. Winston, the man who invented the robots. Nick joins a different group of rebels and reunites with Farryn and Lexi. In the final book, City 1, the final battle between bots and humans takes place. The leader plans on destroying the robots along with the brainwashed people, and Nick, Kevin, and Cass risk their lives to save their family and friends back in the city.

Revolution 19 was my favorite of the three books. The plot was intriguing and suspenseful. The motive was the most obvious, and they all worked toward the same goal, not like the third book. I liked how Lexi bravely took them in. The robots were cool, and I liked how whenever they spoke, the book showed it in bold all caps. Kevin was my favorite character. He was the smart one with technology. He played a vital role in the first book, and I liked that. He was also funny.

In Fugitive X , the three kids are separated. The bond between them is inseparable. The whole time the three of them wanted to be with each other. I liked that. With them separate, they had to rely on themselves to solve problems. This strengthened them and their bond. Cass and Farryn were adorable. Their touch of romance was the right amount in each situation. I loved how Farryn was the heroic hero, saving Cass. Cass was strong and brave. After being in re-education and having to come out of it and remember, it took a toll on her mind and body, but she kept going. That is my favorite type of character.

City 1 was my least favorite. All the characters had different motives and goals, so it was kind of confusing. The ending was decent, and it wrapped up the story nicely.

I recommend that you read this series!

Title: Revolution 19
Author: Gregg Rosenblum
Publisher: Harper Teen
Pages: 266
Series: Yes
Rating: 5 Stars
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