Friday, August 31, 2012

Shatter Me 9/10

Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war– and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.
For some reason, this book has not touched South African bookstores yet. So I had to place a special order and now own a shiny US hardcover edition. Yay!

I absolutely adored Shatter Me! It is is written in a unique way that is both simple and captivating. Yes, it does fall into some of pitfalls that YA fiction seems to make a beeline for these days. Such as the romance aspect is a little 2 dimensional. I am getting a little tired of Instant Love. I miss books in which the tension between two characters is built up over a period of time.

The world in which Shatter Me takes place is interesting and blends your usual Dystopian aspects with elements from X-Men.

The characters are complex and I loved how Mafi explored how the world would be precieved by someome.

I recommend Shatter Me for fans of Dystopian fiction.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Why I Love YA (With Some Reccomendations Thrown In)

I am proud of my addiction to Young Adult novels. And I am not ashamed to be seen browsing the YA section in my local bookstores. This addiction has taken years to foster and evolve into what it is today and there is no chance I will be kicking the habit anytime soon.

I often feel that I have to justify why I love the genre so much. Especially to those who are not readers themselves. It can be rather frustrating. I feel that people should be allowed to read what they like. As long as it meets a need and makes someone happy, how can anyone judge it? I also love retaliating by suggesting well-known YA titles that, more often than not, gets the reaction of "Oh? That is a kids book? Really?"

So what is it exactly that has me hooked?

To put it simply, YA makes me feel good. There is usually some sweet romance element woven into the storyline. When characters have problems, they are usually treated as obstacles on the path to achievement (whether that achievement is personal or something larger). And, oh, the imagination and creativity involved!

A classic example is Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games trilogy. A personal favorite of mine. Collins has created a whole world for her readers to live in. A world that is seemingly impossible when compared to our everyday realities. It is into this world countless readers have retreated and have gotten to know characters such as the brave Katniss.
The Mockingjay symbol featured in The Hunger Games.

Good YA doesn't talk down to the reader. Rather, it befriends them, welcomes them and invites them over for tea and scones (and how awfully British I feel saying that! Scones. Ha!)

All any skeptic has to do is look online at the multitude of blogs dedicated to YA. Not all of these are run by teens, either. There is a whole wave of adults joining me in discovering just how much fun YA can be.

If you are looking to pick up a YA novel but aren't to sure where to start, I am going to shortlist a few of my favorites here. The books on this list have really been the forerunners for me over the past few years in terms of good, quality writing and storytelling.

Starter YA for the Discerning Adult Reader (In No Particular Order)
  • The Hunger Games Trilogy  - Suzanne Collins
  • Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick
  • Divergent by Veronica Roth
  • On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
  • The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
  • The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series by Ann Brashares
  • Sabriel by Garth Nix
  • Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
I have tried to include examples from different genres and do bear in mind that these are books I have personally read. There are many other excellent books out there and it is well worth checking out other blogs as well as Goodreads, where one can find comprehensive, user-selected lists of titles.

There you have it. YA is my passion! I hope that, if you haven't discovered the magic yet, you will at least give it a try!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Maze Runner by James Dashner (4/10)

Title: The Maze Runner (Book One)
Author: James Dashner
Publisher: Delacorte Books

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls.

Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift.

Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers.

Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.

Ever read one of those books that you feel you should like but really, really don't? Maze Runner was like this for me. This on the list of books recommended for fans of The Hunger Games and I was expecting something  equally epic.

Maybe it is just me, but Maze Runner is not worthy of the hype behind it. The writing just didn't work for me and I felt that the mystique and intrigue Dashner tried to create worked a little too well. I really do not enjoy being confused when reading a book. This could have a lot to do with the little time I have to read these days, that it takes me longer to get through a book, but still.

I found the Gladers' dialect highly annoying. This is a real pet peeve of mine, when authors try and create new slang for their worlds. It is simply distracting and usually adds no value to the story. (Such as Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series... OMW. Awful.)

Maze Runner is simply riding the wake of Hunger Games' success in my opinion.

Up next: Shatter Me! And, oh my word, this book is epiiiiiiiiic!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

My TBR Pile Update

Due to work constraints, I have had very little time to dedicate to this blog and reading. I have, however, still been buying books!

I probably have well over 100 books I have yet to read and many I want to reread to review. But, I have pulled out a shortlist that is now sitting happily beside my bed.

In no particular order, you can expect reviews on the following:
  • The Maze Runner by James Dashner
  • Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
  • Bloodlines and The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead
  • The Pledge by Kimberly Derting
  • Everneath by Brodi Ashton
  • Fury by Elizabeth Miles
  • A Million Suns by Beth Revis
  • The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodgkin
  • Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini
  • Tempest by Julie Cross
  • Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
I apologise for neglecting this blog, but sadly life does have this habit of getting in the way!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Insurgent by Veronica Roth (8/10)

Title: Insurgent (Divergent #2)
Author: Veronica Roth
Publisher: HarperCollins (2012)

I have put both the US and the UK versions of the covers up as I was so bitterly disappointed that the UK publishers decided to change the design for whatever reason. I adored the original Divergent cover and think the US cover of Insurgent is simply stunning. Plus it has one of the faction logos and just seems fitting with the feel of the series as a whole.

The UK cover does suit the series, I suppose. I do like the wings behind the title and the symbolism of the burning leaves. I just don't like change and do not understand why they feel compelled to change covers midway through a series. I want my series to match, dammit!

But onto the review!

It feels like I have been waiting forever for Insurgent. Divergent was easily one of the best books I picked up last year. The big question is... did Insurgent live up to expectations?

I am not going to lie. Compared to the pace of the first book, it started off a little slow. But the action did pick up before midway through and the writing, if anything, was much improved! Veronica Roth really does have a way with words and getting her story across without wasting space on the page.

And the cliffhanger! Yes, there is a cliffhanger! Wow.

I did find Tris' self-depreciation a little annoying, though. I wish she, as a character, had more conviction in what she was doing and the decisions she makes throughout the novel.

Insurgent definitely is the middle book of the series. It feels like it and sets up for the final book well enough. fans of Divergent will not be disappointed, but don't go into this one expecting the rollercoaster ride that book one delivered.

Rating: 8/10