Okay, so maybe April is almost over. So what? It just means you all will have another one of these wrap ups to look forward to even sooner. Be grateful, because the April Wrap Up will be much lighter fare. Anyway, on to the books!
Author: Lamar Giles
Publisher: Harper Teen
Release Date: April 21, 2015
Reading Level: HL710L / 4.9
Recommended For: Fans of Bad Kitty, Harriet the Spy, and Scarlett Undercover.
Whoa! I wasn’t expecting to like this novel as much as a did, but it was a ride from start to finish. Lauren—or Panda—is a fantastic photographer, but she hides her skills so no one will ever suspect that she’s also Gray, the blogger famous in her school for revealing the secrets the most popular members of the student body would like to keep hidden.
Lauren is such a fun character, and so real. She’s smart, she’s talented, but she’s also flawed. Despite her moniker, Lauren has a tendency to see everything in black and white, which leads to a lot of the conflict between her and her friends, her ex-boyfriend, her family, and the town. Instead of becoming defensive, though, Lauren grows during the course of the novel, and it is so refreshing to see.
Lauren is also biracial, as is her best friend, Ocie. Her ex-boyfriend, is African American, and there are a slew of other diverse characters that make an appearance. Best of all, these identities are active parts of the novel, and the realities of being biracial and African American are discussed at various points. In an interview for his newest book (It’s called Overturned, check it out!) Lamar Giles talks about how his identities aren’t just surface level, and as reader, I so, so appreciate that. It makes every character, even the side ones, that much more complex and rich. Seriously, read this book if you haven’t, and make sure to check out Giles’ other novels, Overturned and Fake ID.
Title: The Rest of Us Just Live Here
Author: Patrick Ness
Publisher: Harper Teen
Release Date: October 6, 2015
Reading Level: HL700L / 4.6
Recommended For: Fans of Carry On, We Are the Ants, and More Happy Than Not
This was a huge book to look out for a couple years ago, but from the reviews I read/watched after it was released, the reception was very divided, mainly because of the format. I personally didn’t mind the set up, but there were other aspects I didn’t really like.
This book follows a group of four friends: Mike and Mel, the mayor’s kids; Jared, Mike’s best friend; and Henna, Mike’s long unrequited crush. Mike and Mel’s mom is running for congress, but Mike’s anxiety-induced OCD and Mel’s battle with anorexia make for propaganda fodder. However, in addition to the group dealing with relatively normal teenage issues like impending graduation, burgeoning relationships, and figuring out sexuality, these teens also happen to live in a world where “the vampires took my brother” is not only a normal sentence, but a highly relatable one.
Since it’s Patrick Ness, the characters and world are well written. I love the alternating perspectives between our “normal” kids and the “indie” kids, and I thought Ness used the format to point out the ridiculous aspects of Young Adult lit quite well. His commentary on love triangles was wonderful. Once again, my biggest problem was that it was too short! A lot of the positive reviews I’ve seen praise the ending of the book for being realistic and honest. I guess that could be true, but I didn’t like it. I didn’t like it! It was such a non-resolution I actually threw the book across the bed like, no this can’t be it where are the last 100 pages??? Also, I had problems with the ending relationships, but I won’t go in to that here.
Fans of Patrick Ness should read this, fans of parodies should read this, and heck, contemporary fans should read this. However, if you’re looking for a pure fantasy book, look elsewhere.
Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Release Date: January 3, 2012
Reading Level: 790L / 5.8
Recommended For: Fans of Illuminae, Graceling, and The Fairy-Tale Detectives
Everyone and their brother has read this book, it feels like, and even if you haven’t I’m sure you’re heard about it. Fairy tales in space? Cyborg Cinderella? In fact, this wasn’t even the first time I read it. I first read Cinder back when it first came out, but I never continued with the series. Since I actually own the rest of the books, I want to finish them before the year is out. I’ve already read/listened to Scarlet, so look forward to that in April’s Wrap Up.
My thoughts are pretty much the same as when it came out: It’s a good, quick read, but it’s obviously a debut. Sometimes the characters do really stupid stuff in order to forward the plot, and the foreshadowing is a bit obvious. Still, I liked the story Meyer’s begins to build in this one, and from what I’ve read so far, it’s the strongest book in the series.
Titles: The Hound of Rowan and the Second Siege
Author: Henry Neff
Publisher: Random House
Release Dates: September 25, 2007 and September 23, 2008
Reading Level: 810-880L / 5.9-6.5
Recommended For: Fans of Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and the Raven Cycle
This was another re-read for me last month. I want to finally read Neff’s new book, Impyrium, but since it’s kind of a spin off of the Tapestry series, I want to get through this series again, first. Check out more of my thoughts here!
Titles: Archie Vol. 2 and Jughead Vol. 1
Writers: Mark Waid and Chip Zdarsky
Illustrators: Veronica Fish and Erica Henderson
Publisher: Archie Comics
Release Dates: 12/20/16 and 7/26/16
Rating: 2★ and 5★
Honestly, outside of sharing the same world, these comic series couldn’t be more different. Archie is the stereotypical contemporary high school angst, and Jughead is a fun, off the wall little mystery. Kind of. Well, they do solve a mystery, and bring down a secret military operation. You know what? Check out my reviews of the two series, Archie and Jughead, to learn more.
Title: Lady Oracle
Author: Margaret Atwood
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: Sept. 27, 1976
Reading Level: N/A / 6.8
Recommended For: Fans of Gothic novels, especially romance gothics, fans of Atwood
Normally I wouldn’t post books like this on here, but for the sake of honesty, here it is. I read Lady Oracle, Margaret Atwood’s third book, for a class in March. The discussion we had in class about it was interesting, and made me appreciate the stylistic approach Atwood took in this novel.
Still didn’t like it, though.
Joan Foster is a former fat kid (trust me, she won’t stop reminding the reader) turned bored wife of a ineffective political activist. In her free time, and for extra cash that her husband never seems to have, she writes costume gothics, or lurid romance novels that happen to take place in a castle. However, when she accidentally publishes a book of feminist poetry (accidentally? How do you accidentally publish a book?), every secret she’s tried to keep away from the public eye threatens to come out. Suddenly Joan’s life is looking a lot more like the costume gothics she writes, but will she be able to get the same happy ending as her heroines?
Like I said before, I can appreciate all the different topics explored in the novel, and how Atwood uses the gothic trappings to explore women’s liberation in writing and in general. However, this book severely dates itself, both in cultural references and sensitivity. Plus, even though one can argue about the purpose of Joan’s characterization and the view of women and so on and so forth, she’s just annoying. She’s annoying! Reading her point of view is agonizing, and I can say from the deepest cockles of my heart, that I do not care what happens to her.
Well, that’s all of them! Check out the other reviews I linked in this post, and let me know if you’ve read any of the books I mentioned. What were your thoughts?