Monday, November 27, 2017

Review: Satellite by Nick Lake

Title: Satellite
Author: Nick Lake
Publisher: PanMacmillan (November 2017)

A teenage boy born in space makes his first trip to Earth. 
He’s going to a place he’s never been before: home. 
Moon 2 is a space station that orbits approximately 250 miles above Earth. It travels 17,500 miles an hour, making one full orbit every ninety minutes. It’s also the only home that fifteen-year-old Leo and two other teens have ever known. 
Born and raised on Moon 2, Leo and the twins, Orion and Libra, are finally old enough and strong enough to endure the dangerous trip to Earth. They’ve been “parented” by teams of astronauts since birth and have run countless drills to ready themselves for every conceivable difficulty they might face on the flight. 
But has anything really prepared them for life on terra firma? Because while the planet may be home to billions of people, living there is more treacherous than Leo and his friends could ever have imagined, and their very survival will mean defying impossible odds.
I was blessed with an advanced review copy of Satellite by the wonderful PanMacmillan SA. Thank you again for being so supportive of bloggers locally!

Satellite would have been an amazing read, but I am just one of those readers who gets super irritated by sms-speak. The whole novel is told in this way with ''u'' for "you" and the like. I honestly didn't see the point of this nor did I feel it added any value to the reading experience. If you are someone that would be irritated by this style of writing, perhaps read a sample first before purchasing the book.

The book did have some good points, though!

  • Leo is struggling with his sexuality, which adds to his character and the story.
  • The science felt pretty solid and I enjoyed reading about life in space, especially the struggle encountered with zero gravity.
  • Leo himself is a good, solid character. His growth in the novel is interesting to follow.
  • There is a lot of tension in the novel, and action sequences which would make for a great film.
  • It deals with relationships with family, which is not something a lot of YA oddly focuses on.
  • It's set in a believable future with feasible problems being experienced on Earth.

Satellite is also a very sad read at times and I think fans of more dramatic, character-driven YA will enjoy it.

To compare it to The Martian though is a bit of a stretch. But I don't really take any kind of comparisons seriously, as they are often just used to draw people into the novel. Sorry, but it's true.

The best part about this book is that it will be enjoyed by boys, who honestly drew the short end of the stick when it comes to choices on the YA shelf. So if you need something for your 15-17 year-old son to read, this is not a bad bet.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Review: Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

Author: Jennifer Mathieu
Publisher: Hoddler Children's Books (September 2017)

Moxie girls fight back! 
Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with her small-town Texas high school that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes and hallway harassment. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules. 
Viv’s mom was a punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, so now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond. Pretty soon Viv is forging friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, and she realizes that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.

Firstly, a huge thank you to PanMacmillan SAfor providing me with a review copy of Moxie. I seriously appreciate the support you guys have given the blog over the years.

I really enjoyed this book. Moxie really pushes a strong feminist message and I think, in this day and age, that is really good for teens to have access to books like this.

There are a lot of other things to appreciate with this book, so it deserves bullets. I love bullets.

  • Vivian is no one special. She is just a regular teen who does something awesome.
  • All the teens in this book talk and behave like teens. 
  • It also deals with other issues like family and friendships.
  • Not all boys are bad.
  • Not all adults are perfect.
  • All relationships have issues. But it is up to us how we handle those issues.
I really don't want to go into detail, as it is so easy to give away elements of the novel which would add to the reading experience.

I will say this though. Read Moxie if:
  • You are tired of boys being the answers to girls' problems in YA.
  • You feel oppressed by the system and need a little motivation.
  • You want to engender some independence and self-worth in your own daughters.
  • You love books set in high schools.
  • You love realistic characters.
I hope this goes on recommended reading lists for schools. It probably won't because it will surely not be approved by all member of the faculty or even some conservative parents. But, I still hope it finds its way into the hands of teens, not just girls, but boys as well.

Review: Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Title: Turtles All the Way Down
Author: John Green
Publisher: Penguin (October 2017)

Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis. 
Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.
Those who have been following the blog for a while might have picked up that I am not the biggest fan of John Green. I was not excited for this book. I did not care that this was coming. But, I was also curious. I wanted to see if Green was capable of listening to criticism and if he was able to improve on the faults in his Stars.

I was also fortunate to have had R230 in Exclusive Books vouchers, so I basically paid R10 for Turtles. At least, even if the book was shit, I was going to get my money's worth.

When I picked the book up, I found I could not put it down again. I could relate to Asa on some weird level. While she is OCD and I am not, I am a chronic nailbiter, sometimes fiddling with my nails until I draw blood. Asa has a weird tick that she does with her finger and I found that so relatable. Just like I sometimes used my nails as an outlet for my stress, Asa treats her finger in much the way. And it is not something either of us has full control over.

I also found Green lost a lot of his eccentricities in his writing. His teens were a little more toned down, although Asa still felt like a Manic Pixie Dream Girl at times. I also enjoyed the simplicity of his writing. I felt he was simply getting the story out on the page with very little embellishment. This made me happy.

This book is about Asa and her struggles. The plot is secondary to that, so don't expect anything exciting to happen, but rather approach this book as one would getting to know a new acquaintance.

If you hated all the books Green wrote before Fault in our Stars, try this one anyway. And fans will enjoy it regardless.