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A review of the Asylum series by Madeleine Roux

Even though I didn’t like this series, it wasn’t a bad series.  I have an old review of this where I complain for four or five pages about things I didn’t like; however, I did keep coming back to it.  I’ve read the whole series, so I can’t complain too much.  Honestly, if another Asylum book came out, I would read it.  

It’s been awhile since I read the series, so some of my memories of it-especially the earlier books-are a little fuzzy, but this is the general idea of what I thought of it.  If anyone wants me to do an in-depth review for each book, leave a comment and I will gladly re-read and review them.

The novels and novellas in this series don’t all take place in the same time period or with the same characters.  It’s not weird, though, and it’s easy to get into.  Even if it’s been awhile since you read the last book in the series, you can pick up the next book and not feel like you might be missing something.  Even though you can go months between reading these books and won’t miss anything, if you wanted a quick reading series to marathon, this is it.  They read really quickly, and, even though I read each of them whenever they came out, I think it would be nice to be able to read the entire story in a few days.  Be warned, though, if you do this some of the flaws and plot repetitions will become more apparent that if you spaced them out.      

I was a little disappointed in the lack of backstory for the villains.  I say “villains” because I can’t think of a better word.  Villain sounds far too dramatic for these characters.  Just bear with me.  Anyway.  I love a good, well-developed villain, especially if their reason for being horrible isn’t any of the stereotypical reasons for villains being evil.  There wasn’t much backstory for any of the villains in the three main novels.  Since they focused on Daniel, and he didn’t know anything about the villains, I guess it makes sense.  I was very interested to read the novellas when they came out because I had hoped that they would give a lot more backstory for The Scarlets and The Bone Artists (the villains in the second and third books, respectively).  But they didn’t.  It gave a bit more backstory for some of the side characters who had been in other books, but I wanted to know the motives behind what the villains did.  The choices characters make that lead them to do evil deeds are often more interesting than the choices the heroes make.  Call me weird.  I really think I would have liked these stories better with better developed villains and rich backstories.  

It seems like each of these books has the same plot, just in a different place with a different frustratingly under-developed villain.  Literally the same plot points will happen in each novel or novella, and, if you’ve read two of the books, you can probably roughly predict what happens in the third.  Even the novellas are like this.  It’s not even a wild, unique plot to begin with.  It’s a normal young adult horror plot, over and over and over again.  If there had been some significance to the repetition, I would have been okay with it.  If there was some complex thing with the backstory and the villains doing the same thing, I would have loved it.  The least that you can do is have one of the characters mention that this happens to them literally every summer, and that it’s really weird how they always end up in the middle of this kind of thing, but the author doesn’t even do that.  

It’s been awhile since I’ve read these books, so I could be remembering incorrectly, but I think the prequel might have had a slightly different plot?  It still mostly followed the same plot, but there were slight differences.  I do, however, have some complaints about the prequel.  In this book there are two LGBT characters, which is cool, but the author doesn’t develop them much past the fact that they’re LGBT.  The main character was bi, but I don’t remember much development past that.  His love interest was a trans woman, but she isn’t developed much past that.  You can’t just say a character is whatever sexuality or gender they are and then stop their development there.  That doesn’t define their personality, or their interests, unless you assume that your readers will assume that every stereotype about that gender or sexuality applies to them.  Which obviously isn’t true, and a lot of stereotypes are negative.  But if I start talking about this I won’t stop talking about this, so I digress.  Let me just end this thought by saying this sort of writing is insulting to the reader who deserves well-developed characters beyond stereotypes.  

I wish that the pictures had more to do with the story.  Some of them will have something to do with it, but others are just random, creepy looking pictures.  I love books with creepy pictures, but if you’re going to have creepy pictures, please have a reason for them other than aesthetic.  I do plenty of things just for the aesthetic, so I’m not really someone who can criticize, but still.  Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children is an excellent example of an author using pictures to add to both the plot and the aesthetic of the story.  

There were some parts of the books where the author would bring in some interesting side-ghost and then completely drop it.  If I’m remembering correctly, there’s some ghost who gives them a spare tire in the third book.  They think he’s real until they get back to the diner and realize that he’s not there.  This is one of the few specific scenes that I remember.  Probably because I’m disappointed in it.  There could have been something about that ghost later, but he’s just dropped.  Maybe it’s to show that the world is full of ghosts, but you’d think that if that was the purpose there would be a lot more of them.  You can’t just drop something like that.  It’s bad writing to leave so many loose ends and unanswered questions.

While writing this, I’m realizing that the writing in the series is really forgettable.  I can remember specific parts of books I read around the time I read these books, but I can’t remember much from these.  I remember the one bit that I mentioned in the last paragraph, but not much more.  

These are about on the same level as a lot of the other horror that I’ve read since reading this series.  I’ve heard a lot of people praising it, so if you’re into this kind of thing, give it a try.  Binge read the whole series on Halloween.  I don’t know.  They read pretty quickly, why not give it a try?  

A review of Killer (Pretty Little Liars #6) by Sara Shepard

Again, spoilers.  

 

I’m going to finish the series, but I don’t really want to.  Part of me thinks I should get the rest of them from the library, put on some music I like, and then marathon the rest of the series.  But I don’t really want to marathon eleven books that I don’t really like.  If all I did was read them, I could probably be done with this series in a week.  But I feel like if I did that I would end up in an irritated reading slump.  

I really don’t like how many insignificant details are mentioned repeatedly.  I don’t need to know the brand name of a character’s shirt, or that they seemingly all use Neutrogena sunscreen.  It doesn’t add anything to the plot, and I’m starting to think that it’s not a bizarre form of character development and is, instead, just vapid.  I know that I said before that maybe there were different stereotypes for people who wear different brands, and maybe that’s true, and I’m just completely wrong.  But what kind of character development can you get from Neutrogena sunscreen?  Are there stereotypes for people who use it?  My grandmother loves it, but I doubt the author is trying to imply that the characters are like old women.  Unless she is.  Then I have to reconsider my entire understanding of the series and possibly life.  

I want to know more of the bands that the characters like.  Spencer likes Radiohead, so, according to google autocomplete, she’s pretentious, smart, and the worst (I typed “Radiohead fans are” into google.  These are actually some of the results).  In my opinion, you can tell a lot about someone from the type of music they like.  If you’re going to develop your characters without actually developing your characters, why mention sunscreen brands when you could mention a band or a song and have so much more development?  Emily relates to the Avril Lavigne song “Nobody’s Home”, and I think that that alone says more about her feelings than several books did.  I know that I’m a music snob, and I want everything to have something to do with music, but I think it could work here.  The author could have discussed their favorite books, but then I don’t think they’re readers.  

I wish that there was some other character development other than the brand names and the two mentions of songs/bands.  I can’t relate to any of the characters, and I can’t even really feel their pain.  Maybe if the chapters were done in a first person perspective?  Each chapter is about a different girl from the group, so I think it would be pretty easy to change it to a first person narrative.  I want to be able to get into the characters’ heads and see exactly what they’re feeling or thinking.  

All of the characters also just seem reckless, irresponsible, and impulsive.  Maybe I feel this way because I’ve always been the responsible, good influence in my friend groups?  But I don’t think that’s all of it.  I think these characters are just irresponsible.  

Maybe I can’t get into the characters’ heads because I’m not part of the target audience?  I’ve said this before, and I still think it.  I’m in the target age range, but, as far as my interests go, I don’t think I’m anywhere near the target audience.  

I don’t think there was anything about the flag thing until book five.  Or it might have come in at book six, I don’t know-they all blur together.  The flag thing seems to be such a big deal, and yet it wasn’t mentioned until now?  You’d think if it was such a big deal it would have been brought up much sooner.  

Spencer copying her father’s entire computer hard drive onto a CD is impossible.  A CD has significantly less storage than a computer, unless it’s a really old computer.  I doubt that Spencer’s father has a computer from the early nineties, though.  Also, it’s not like there’s some easy one click function to copy everything from a computer onto a CD.  Even if the CD had enough storage, it would take so long to copy each item and put it on a disk.  Also, why not use an SD card?  Even though they were expensive, you could get a thirty-two gig SD card back then.  

At the end of every chapter, there seems to be some surprise or drama that’s there just for shock.  Literally.  Every.  Chapter.  After six books of this, I’ve gotten kind of sick of it.  Sometimes it’s not a huge thing.  It’ll just be something weird someone said, but sometimes it will be entire savings accounts being emptied.  It’s just there to be shocking and to get you to keep reading.  

At some point I will finish the series, but not right now.  I need a break from it.  I’m too irritated with these books right now, and I’d rather be reading sci-fi and listening to Interpol.  

On goodreads, I rated this two stars, because I’ve given every other book in the series so far the same rating.  However, I did honestly consider dropping the rating to one star because I didn’t like it that much.  Unless the books get much better, I will probably give the next one one star.  

A Review of Wicked (Pretty Little Liars #5) by Sara Shepard

I think at this point I don’t have to tell you that there will be spoilers.  

 

I’m wondering if I’m getting to the end of liking this series.  

I’m using the word “like” very loosely, because I never really liked the series, it was more just somewhat mindless entertainment.  What I’m about to say could be taken the wrong way, but I mean it in a way that is slightly less horrible than it sounds.  You don’t need to really think to be able to enjoy this series.  There are no big words, or complex plot points, or, really, anything that takes that much brain power to process.  You can completely stop paying attention for several paragraphs, or several pages, and you won’t miss anything.  Even if something did happen in those pages that you didn’t really pay attention to, it’ll be brought up in the next chapter or the next book.  Probably ad nauseam, especially if it’s a small, fairly insignificant detail.  

The exposition that was in the second book mostly involved retelling large pieces of the flashbacks from the first book.  The things that were brought up were important to the plot.  Even though the author would literally retell the entire scene again, these were important plot points, and it’s important to remember them.  Exposition can be very boring to read, but sometimes it is needed.  The exposition in this book (and the two I read before this) involves mentioning random details that have nothing to do with the plot several times per book.  You don’t have to tell me that Emily’s hair is kind of greenish because of the amount of time she spends in the pool.  I got that the first seven times it was mentioned.  You also don’t have to mention that Hannah’s hair is naturally “poop brown” every other chapter.  Also, on a side note about that, in a book in which all the main characters are obsessed with fashion, dating, and other vapid things that won’t matter in two years, you’d think Hannah would use a word other than poop to describe her natural hair color.  I don’t know what color her hair is exactly.  Honestly I’m too scared to google anything about what color “poop brown hair” would be, but I assume that this hair color could be something close to mousy brown?  Which is my natural hair color.  I prefer to call it “that weird shade of light brown that looks gray in certain lights”, which takes a lot longer to say, but if I heard someone say that I wouldn’t judge them nearly as much as I would if they called their hair color “poop brown”.  This isn’t even done in some self-deprecating or sarcastic way.  It’s completely serious.  I’ve also gotten tired of reading about Spencer’s honey colored highlights or Aria’s blue-black hair.  I get it.  You don’t have to mention their hair colors literally several times a book.  

These books keep saying that Ali would hang out with juniors and seniors when she was twelve.  This never happens in real life.  No junior or senior would voluntarily hang out with a twelve year old.  There are twelve year olds who will force themselves into conversations that juniors and seniors are having, but it’s awkward for everyone involved.  It doesn’t matter how cool or pretty the twelve year old is, juniors and seniors won’t want to hang out with them.  Also, being cool at twelve is way different than being cool at seventeen.  Twelve and seventeen year olds probably don’t even share that many interests.  If a twelve year old tries to hang out with a seventeen year old, chances are that the seventeen year old will laugh at them after they leave.  

Ali’s relationship with Ian kind of bothers me, too, because there’s a very specific type of seventeen year old guy who would date a twelve year old girl.  I’m not trying to make blanket statements or be judgemental, but I’ve only seen one seventeen year old guy date a twelve year old girl, and I’m pretty sure that he dated her because he could ask her to do anything and she’d do it.  Honestly, it’s more sad than anything else-she was so desperate for a boyfriend, and she seemed to think that she only had value as a person if she dated someone, so she dated a guy who was probably horrible to her.  I can’t think of any reason, other than this, that a seventeen year old would date a twelve year old.  It’s creepy.  A five year age gap isn’t a big deal when the two people in the relationship are in their thirties or older, but younger than that, I think it’s weird.  

I also couldn’t imagine why a sixteen year old girl would date an immature fifteen year old boy, no matter how tall he is or how nice his eyes are.  Also, if you’re dating someone only for their height and eyes, that’s shallow and horrible.  

I don’t even know what to say about these books anymore.  Most of what I would say would be repeating what I’ve said in my other reviews.  Probably because most of the plot to each and every book is just the author repeating the same things that were said in the last four books.  

I’m going to finish the series.  Even though this is the fifth book and there are seventeen in the series, I am going to finish reading this.  I just don’t know how much longer I’m going to enjoy them.  

Two stars.  Because I’ve given all the rest of them two stars, and I didn’t tear any of my hair out while reading this.  

A Review of Tithe by Holly Black

Spoilers?  Maybe yes, maybe no.  I don’t give specifics, but I do talk vaguely about events, and I do mention that there’s a character death.  If you’re sensitive about spoilers, I would avoid this.  

 

Remember when I said in my kind of review of The Poison Eaters that I had no plan to read any other books by Holly Black because I didn’t want to risk ruining them?  Yeah.  And yet, here I am.  

To be honest, I was never really into this series.  I think these were the first Holly Black books I bought, so, if I hadn’t been interested in them, I never would have picked up The Poison Eaters or White Cat.  I probably read the entire first book at some point, but, before rereading it, I didn’t remember the second half of it at all.  I know that I got about halfway through it several times, but, for whatever reason, I would put it down, and I was never motivated to pick up the next book of the series.  

I’m actually pleasantly surprised.  This was much better than The Poison Eaters.  There was more world building in this than I expected there to be.  I didn’t have very high hopes for the world building, so I went into this not expecting that much, but it had an atmosphere that fit very well with the story.  The descriptions of things were kind of reminiscent of a thirteen year old’s tumblr, but I can see what I saw in it when I was thirteen and had some kind of weird almost fascination with tumblr.  Although this wasn’t the dark, beautiful, grungy aesthetic I thought I remembered from The Poison Eaters, it still had a nice feel and I did enjoy the world building.  

Some parts of rereading this were weird.  I didn’t realize that some lines had stuck with me more than others.  I would be reading and get to a line that made me stop.  There would just be something about that line that triggered my memory.  Then I would remember that when I read it the first time I stopped at that line, and, for whatever reason, thought about it more than the other lines.  There was some line about Kaye’s dolls and their tea party being interrupted.  Apparently, something about that line caught my eye the first time I read the book because I actually have it liked on goodreads.  It’s not like I’ve thought about that line since I read this book last time.  It’s not like I’ve been searching for it to find what it was from, but it was kind of weird to come across it when I wasn’t expecting it.  Also, like with The Poison Eaters, it was weird to read these lines when they mean nothing to me now.  I don’t remember exactly what they meant to me back then-most of the lines were pretty random, or just particularly aesthetic, but I wouldn’t have remembered them in particular years later if they hadn’t meant a lot to me the first time through.  I wish I remember what I thought then and why the lines were important.  

I didn’t connect to or relate to any of the characters I did the first time reading this, but I did relate to the character I didn’t like last time, so that’s weird.  I’m not going to say which character I related to, but I know exactly why I related to them, and I guess I have a newfound appreciation of them.  These characters were not poorly written, but I’ve read a lot of books that had better, more developed characters, and the characters from this book would pale in comparison to any character by Brenna Yovanoff.  

The ending seemed a bit too easy, in my opinion.  I expected it to be harder, or at least more tragic.  There was one character death that I didn’t expect, but I expected there to be so much more.  I’m not going to go into detail because I don’t want to spoil anything, and I don’t consider just saying that there’s a character death is necessarily a spoiler.  (There are actually four deaths of characters who have names, and several deaths of unnamed characters, I think, but if I don’t tell you who it is, are they really spoilers?  Some people would probably say yes.  I say no.)  Anyway, in the end of the book, one of the characters gets a plan to fix everything, and then it somehow works out perfectly and everything’s okay.  That is so not realistic.  I know that stuff did go wrong before that point, and that some people did die, but, like I said, I expected it to be more tragic with a lot of death.  

Everything said that this was going to a very dark faerie story, and this just wasn’t that dark.  Sure, some bits were a little gory, but that alone does not make it dark.  You have to do more than have a fairy stab another fairy in the eye to make a book dark.  Yes, it was senseless violence, and senseless violence is horrible, but to make something dark it has to be more than that.  If one fairy was stabbing another fairy for some other dark purpose, it could be considered dark.  But this was just stabbing for the sake of stabbing.  Gross and violent, yes.  Dark and sinister, not so much.  The intention just isn’t there.

I liked this book, and I will read the rest of the series, but, just like being emo, fangirling over Holly Black’s books was a phase-not who I am.  Three stars.  

A review of The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Spoilers

 

There were good and bad things about this book.  I’m not sure if the good outweigh the bad or the bad outweigh the good.  I didn’t give it an incredibly high rating, so I’d probably lean more towards the bad outweighing the good, but there were some positive things.  

I know I’ve complained in the past about religion in books, and I complained a lot about it in my review of Revolver, so, if you’ve followed my blog for more than a few weeks, you’ve probably seen how opinionated I can be about religion.  However, in this book it was handled really well.  Their religion actually plays a big part in the way that these people think, and it wasn’t used as an excuse to get out of wrapping up plot points.  Mary was religious to start, but she lost her faith in God as the plot developed.  I really liked this.  I was worried at first because I just recently read a book that was overwhelmingly religious, and I really didn’t want a repeat of that, but, even though it was a big part of the book, it wasn’t religious just for the sake of religion.  I don’t know how to properly express how much I loved how the way religion was handled.  It was just so good.  I don’t mind religion in books when it’s important to the plot or characters, and in this it was.  Ten out of ten for this part.  

There was something eerie and disturbing about the fast zombie.  If I’m remembering correctly, her name was Gabriella.  I don’t know what it was about her.  Maybe it was that Mary saw her and spoke to her before she turned, or maybe it was that it seems like what happened to her was something the Sisters did.  Maybe it was that the author had already established the type of zombie in this world, and they were the stereotypical slow, shuffling, moaning creatures that are normally in literature and television.  You can power walk away from a normal zombie, or climb a tree, or do any number of things to get away from a normal slow, shuffling zombie.  You can’t seem to escape from the fast zombie, though.  Obviously zombies are just creepy in general.  They’re literally rotting corpses that are all trying to kill you and eat you-that doesn’t really leave you with a warm fuzzy feeling inside.  Even though they are creepy, being really slow makes them slightly less so, in my opinion.  But if they’re faster than you, you don’t have a chance.  

I also liked that even though they lived in a village that didn’t have technology or seem like anything that would be around today, they were actually in the same time that we’re in.  It just shows how bad the zombies were.  I wanted more parts like this.  

This book also reads pretty quickly, which is a good thing if you’re behind on a reading challenge like I am.  

That’s about it for the positive.  

I’ve seen other people describe Mary as a strong female character, but it’s more strong female character in the tumblr way, which means that she’s not incredibly well developed, but she has an axe, so, you know.  Sure, she fights zombies and made it out of her village alive, but this is a personal narrative, so you’d expect to really be able to get into the character’s head and see what they’re feeling.  You don’t ever really get that sense from the book, though.  Despite what most of tumblr thinks, strong female character doesn’t just mean a female character who fights things.  None of the characters had a lot of a personality, but Mary was the main character, and it was her personal narrative.  She literally had to kill the man she was in love with because he got infected, but she didn’t seem that much more sad than she normally did.  Maybe she was ignoring all of her emotions and trying to be numb, but if that’s the case, make it a little more obvious.  

I also just didn’t like Mary as a person, so, even if she had been more emotional, I still wouldn’t have liked her, I just would have been able to understand her better.  She was so hellbent on seeing the ocean that she didn’t seem to care about anyone else or their needs.  Her brother seems to be dead now because she just had to try to get to the ocean.  Also, it seems like he drowned in the ocean, so…  It feels like it would be wrong to call that ironic since he’s dead, but I definitely thought it.  Also, she abandoned her best friend, the man she was supposed to marry, and a child so she could try to see the ocean.  She seemed to be the only person who could figure out the code for the paths, but she doesn’t think about that before she leaves her friends to figure out the paths on their own.  She just seemed kind of selfish.  Maybe I’m not fair in saying this, and seeing the ocean had been a lifelong dream of hers, but it seems like there are bigger things she should be thinking about.  Also, this kind of selfish thinking is something I’d expect to see from a small child, not a sixteen year old.  

If she hadn’t wanted to go to the ocean just because of a random picture of her ancestor, it would have been more reasonable.  Maybe even symbolic.  Imagine if her ancestor had been a warrior of some sort in her home country.  She defeated all of the monsters there and left to start a new life.  The picture of her at the ocean was taken when she landed in her new land, ready to start a new life.  Mary would fight her way to the ocean, becoming a warrior like her ancestor.  When she got to the ocean she would realize her role in defeating the zombies and go on to help do that.  The ocean would be a symbol of finding a new path and new meaning in life.  Or not.  It could just be a wild goose chase to justify all of those paths.  

I really didn’t like the love triangle in this.  I’ve read some books recently that have love triangles in them, but they didn’t feel like stereotypical love triangles.  This felt exactly like a stereotypical love triangle.  The book was very focussed on the romance aspect of the story, which I found kind of irritating because I would rather have had a lot of zombie backstory.  The love story just seemed entirely unnecessary.  Love stories are great sometimes, but why have love triangles when you can have zombies?  Especially after the fast zombie.  Give me the backstory about that.  Tell me everything about that.  Also, one person from the love triangle is dead, and the other person was left when Mary went to find to ocean, so this seems like this was a one book thing.  

I do own this entire series, so I’ll probably finish the series at some point, but probably not soon.  

Two out of five stars.  

A review of Unbelievable (Pretty Little Liars #4) by Sara Shepard

Again, spoilers.  

 

I think there’s some tumblr post that has the phrase “Advanced meh”, and that’s kind of how I’m feeling about this series right now.  I’ve obviously committed to it, and I intend to finish it, but I have so many mixed feelings.  

I just did some googling and couldn’t find the post, but I’m pretty sure that phrase was somewhere on the internets, and even if it isn’t, it still sums up how I feel.  

I don’t feel like anything really stood out to me in this book.  Yes, they figure out who A is, and Meredith tells Aria and Byron that she’s pregnant (*ooh, plot twist*).  I finished this book two days ago.  It’s not like it’s been several months and I’ve forgotten some things.  I want to be able to talk at great length about everything that’s happening in this series, and all of the events from the book, but seriously, nothing’s really standing out to me.  I don’t even know anymore.  

I feel like Emily leaving her relatives in Idaho was too easy.  (It’s possible that she was in Iowa instead.  It’s a state that starts with “I”, and, in my mind, the entire state is full of cows and rednecks.  Honestly, in my mind, even the cows are rednecks, and they probably listen to country music.  I am far too east coast for this.)  She just left, got back to Pennsylvania, and found that her parents are now accepting of her and her girlfriend.  It just all seems too easy.  I understand the bit with her parents, and how the idea of her being lost made them realize their true feelings, and how it made them accept her.  My explanation of it isn’t great, but in the book it makes sense.  I’m not going to complain about it.  The part that seems too easy is that she got back to Pennsylvania by bus and nothing happened.  In this series, it seems that if something can go wrong it will go wrong.  Travelling across several states by bus seems to be a time when something could go wrong.  I like Emily, and I want happy endings for her, but I think it would go better with the themes in the book if she had at least thought she heard Ali calling her, or she saw a blonde girl who looked just like Ali out of the corner of her eye.  There were so many other times in the series where this kind of thing happened, I would expect it to happen again-especially here-but it didn’t.  

I was thinking more about all the stuff about specifically mentioning the brand names of clothes, and I have a theory.  Maybe it’s some strange form of character development.  It probably sounds weird right now, but bear with me.  Maybe the author mentions exact colors or brand names of clothing because, whenever a main character sees someone, they recognize the brand of clothes that person is wearing, and then judge them based on the brands they wear.  Maybe the specific brand someone wears is a large part of the first impression these girls get?  I don’t know what different brands of clothing say about someone, but I dress like I’m in a nineties alternative band, so I don’t think I’m the person to ask about clothing brands.  I’m just trying to make sense of something that makes no sense to me.

This thought occurred to me because I do something kind of similar to this.  I can recognize what brand an electric guitar or bass is just by seeing it, and, sometimes, the type of guitar/bass someone has will make me think of them differently, even if I don’t know them.  For example, I like people who play PRS electric guitars and any kind of five string bass.  There’s even a specific type of electric guitar that I will negatively judge people for having.  I know why I do this-the guitarist from the horrible band I was in had several of them, and I’m sure I associate them with her now.  Most of the judgement about other people’s instruments is subconscious, and I won’t even realize what I’m doing until after I’ve done it.  Anyway, even if you don’t know me, this says a lot about me, and kind of gives you an idea of what kind of person I am (a pretentious musician), and what matters to me/what my interests are.  Obviously, I’m someone who’s very into music, specifically electric guitars and bass, and you may assume from this that I play electric guitar and bass, which is true.  So maybe the characters in this book just subconsciously think about people’s clothing like this?  I don’t know.  I have so many more reviews to write for this series, I might as well try out some theories.  This is also the only thing I can think of to explain it.  

Mona being revealed as A seemed kind of anticlimactic.  I was expecting something dramatic, but this just didn’t feel like enough.  Mona had already changed to be more friendly with the rest of Hannah’s friends, so it already seemed like there was something up with her.  She had also been a side character who wasn’t mentioned that much in the last three books of the series, so it was kind of weird that she was suddenly a bigger part of the book.  Obviously, something was going to happen and that something involved her in some way.  If she had been a bigger part of the books for more than just the last fifty pages of the third book, and all of the fourth book, I wouldn’t have suspected anything.  But the way it was done, it just seemed weird, and she didn’t really seem like herself.  

I kind of feel like the series could have ended here.  Maybe put in a few more details in the last book, or make each of the books a little longer, and then end it here.  I don’t see where the author could go after this, but this book isn’t even close to the end of the series, so there’s obviously a lot more that happens.  

I still plan to finish the series, and the next book I plan to read is the fifth book in the series.  

Two stars again, because I’m still reading the series, but I don’t love it.  

A review of Perfect (Pretty Little Liars #3) by Sara Shepard

The thing I said about spoilers before my last review for this series still applies, so if you’re trying to avoid spoilers for this book, I would suggest avoiding this review.  

 

I don’t even know what to say.  

If nothing else, I guess I can say that it makes more sense now that I’ve actually read the second book.  

Also, I read this entire book while listening to OKNOTOK on repeat.  Radiohead music paired with Pretty Little Liars is a strange experience, it was kind of surreal, but I would probably still recommend doing exactly what I did.  

I really don’t like that in the prologue they call Ali (I could be spelling that wrong) “sexy”.  In the prologue, she’s thirteen.  You could call her very pretty, even beautiful, but calling a thirteen year old sexy is far too objectifying.  This sort of description isn’t weird within the context of the book, and I’ve learned to expect nothing more from this series, but still.  This book has some flaws that I’m willing to forgive, but objectifying children is not one of them.  

It kind of seemed like the author dropped the subject of Toby’s suicide pretty quickly.  For the first fifty pages, or less, of the book, Emily is very upset about his death, and she even thinks she might be at fault.  Then they just drop it entirely.  I understand that Emily is going through a lot of stuff, like A telling everyone that she’s gay, and her parents freaking out because of that; however, you’d think that, even though she’s going through a lot of other things, she would at least think of the suicide a little.  Even if the only thing said about it was some passing mention about her dreaming about his suicide, or something like that, I would be okay with it.  But it seemed kind of weird to me that it was entirely dropped.  I’ve never known anyone who committed suicide, but I can’t imagine that it’s something you get over quickly.  You’d think this would bother her for a long time, especially since Emily thinks she had something to do with his suicide.  

On that note, I’m still not over my sister’s pet rabbit who died back in early November last year.  I don’t think about it every day, but I avoid going through my pictures from that time, because I know that there are a lot of pictures of her.  I also can’t talk about it because it’s too emotional.  I would expect to be upset about a person dying for much, much longer than being upset about a rabbit.  Emily getting over it, or just not thinking about it after a few weeks or months (I can’t remember how much time passed in this book), seems unrealistic.  

There was a lot less exposition in this book, which I liked.  I do kind of see how the exposition could become important in the later books, because I’ve read only three out of the many books in this series, and they’re already blurring together.  I obviously still remember the important parts, but I could see myself forgetting some of the smaller details by the end of the series.  That said, I don’t know why there was so much exposition in the second book-there aren’t that many details to remember, and it’s the second book, so it’s not like you’re nine books deep into the series.  

There was also still a lot of product placement, and a lot about the specific colors of the clothes the characters wore, because THAT is obviously vitally important to the plot.  I’m not that far into the series yet, so who knows what’s going to happen with this, and maybe it’ll end up slowly fading away.  Or maybe it’ll end up being part of the entire series and I won’t be able to see this as anything more than a fluffy vanity series, which gives fashion more serious attention that suicide.  

I’ve said it before in my reviews for other books in this series, but I’m going to say it again, I don’t think I’m in the target audience for this book at all.  I’ve looked for stuff online about what the target audience for this series is, but all I could find is that it’s targeted towards people in their teens and early twenties.  I fall into this audience, but I still don’t think I’m exactly the type of person in the target audience.  I’m not trying to say that I’m not like other girls, or I’m edgy and alternative and different.  I know that my interests and personality aren’t special-I follow about twenty blogs on tumblr run by girls around my age who are interested in the same things I’m interested in.  I’m not unique, nor do I pretend to be.  However, I think that these books are probably marketed towards the preppier teenage girls who are looking for romance and fluff just as much as they’re looking for a murder mystery.  Obviously that’s entirely my opinion, and I wasn’t on the marketing team for this book, so how am I to know what their target audience was.  I love marketing, and I wish I could know what the people marketing this book said or thought, but that’s probably not possible.  

I mentioned in my review for the first book that I was kind of worried about this series because it’s so long, and I worry that the author won’t be able to make each book original and interesting.  This isn’t a comment against the author-I think it would be hard for any author to write a series this long without it getting boring and repetitive in some parts.  I’m getting more worried about this, though, because now the first three books have kind of faded into a blur in my mind.  I know that whatever I’m thinking about is part of the series, but I probably couldn’t tell you which book it came from.  

I do plan to finish this series, and I plan to pick up the next book fairly soon.  That said, I don’t have very high hopes for the series, and I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if I stopped liking it at some point.  Even if I do stop liking it, I will finish it.  I’ve committed to this series.  I’m going to find out who A is no matter how many books it takes.  But, like I said, no high hopes.  

Two stars.  

A review of Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

There’s one small spoiler and one bigger spoiler.  The smaller spoiler is in a larger paragraph which isn’t entirely about that spoiler, and it’s enough of the review that I don’t want to just mark it, because there’s so much you would have to skip.  The bigger spoiler is in a paragraph all its own, it is marked.  However, I would recommend going into this book not knowing too much about it, so if you haven’t read this book I would suggest not reading my review.  However, if you haven’t read this book and still want to read this review, go for it.  

 

I don’t want to say that I didn’t expect to like this book.  I didn’t expect to dislike it, I just didn’t expect to like it as much as I did.  

This book is surprisingly funny.  I don’t want to be one of those people who says they have a weird sense of humor that not many people get.  I’m sure that at times I’m a pretentious hipster (probably mostly about music), but I’m not quite that bad.  I’ve been watching stand-up comedy since I was twelve, so I have high standards for what I find funny.  I had heard that this book was funny.  I didn’t think that I wouldn’t find it funny, I just didn’t expect to actually laugh.  

I loved that this book, even though it was more serious and dark in some places-like when they find they burned body of the dead flight attendant-it still managed to be funny without it being really forced.  I’ve read some books where the humor is ridiculous, forced, and there just to make the book funny (*cough, cough* any book by Rick Riordan *cough, cough*), but this was not one of them.  

Before I go on with the rest of the review, I want to get my one complaint out of the way.  This complaint isn’t something that made me lower the rating, or made me put the book down, or made me angrily text someone to rant about it.  It just bothered me.  

In the book, there’s a character named Adina.  Adina doesn’t like pageants and is only doing this pageant because her mom agreed to get her a bass for her all girl punk band if she did this.  She also wants to destroy the pageant from the inside.  I like Adina.  She isn’t boy crazy or obsessed with her looks.  She plays bass in an all girl punk band!  Finally a bassist in a book who isn’t a murderer or a socially awkward loser!  (If you’re unfamiliar with my underappreciated bassist rant, check out my review for The Rules.  I’ll link it at the end of this review.)  Anyway, I really liked Adina.  And then the pirates showed up on the island.  I have no complaints about the pirates showing up.  It worked with the story.  There’s literally no way that the story could have gone the way it did if the pirates didn’t show up.  My complaint isn’t about the pirates’ existence, or something like that, it’s about Adina falling for one of them.  Up until this point in the story, she didn’t need a man.  She was an independant woman.  And then this *dreamy* pirate shows up and she gets a little bit drunk and then she sleeps with him.  What?  

After she sleeps with him AND THEN FIGURES OUT THAT HE FILMED IT WITHOUT HER KNOWLEDGE (which is a whole level of unacceptable that I’m not going to go into), she realizes that she really doesn’t need a man, that she’s perfectly fine on her own, which I thought was something she knew all along but apparently not.  I really, really wish that she didn’t have any romantic interest in the book at all.  Almost every book I read has something about a relationship, and I don’t like it.  Not every teenager wants to have a relationship when they’re a teenager.  I fully expect that I’m going to date someone at some point, but I have no interest in dating someone now.  I do find some people attractive, and if they happened to ask me to go on a date with them, I would.  But I would never ask them out on a date, and if they didn’t ask me out on a date, I wouldn’t be upset.  I have books to read and songs to write.  I don’t have time for dating.  I thought that maybe Adina would be the young adult character I’ve been waiting for.  The character who doesn’t have or want a relationship at any point in the book because her life is full and fulfilling without it.  But that wasn’t the case.  I still think she’s a good character.  I’m still glad that, for once, there’s a bassist who isn’t a freak.  But I’m not happy about how the whole relationship thing was handled.  

One more small complaint.  I couldn’t keep track of all of the girls.  Sometimes they were called their names, and sometimes they were called Miss whatever-state-they-came-from.  I only realized how confused I was towards the end, and it was really weird to suddenly realize that there are least three more girls on the island than I had realized.  It’s possible that, since I read this book mostly late at night, I was too tired to pay enough attention.  But whatever.  I’m not really upset about this.  It’s just a thing.  

Now that that’s out of the way, I can list all of the good things about this book.  

If you like to read books because of their diversity, you should read this book.  There’s a trans girl, a lesbian, a girl whose sexuality is never labelled but who isn’t straight, a black girl, and a girl from India.  I’ve read some other books where a character will be something other than a straight, white character, and they won’t have any development other than the fact that they’re not straight or white.  But these characters weren’t straight or white, and they were also really well developed and interesting.  

I heard in someone else’s review that there were commercial breaks in this book.  I didn’t know how I was going to feel about them because, at the time, that seemed weird.  I actually really loved the way the commercial breaks were done.  It gave you information you would need to know later without having information dumps.  Some of the information they gave you would be stuff that the girls on the island wouldn’t know, so it just made more sense to get the information through the commercial breaks instead of through weird bits of narration.  

I was a little worried about this book because the person who recommended it to me said it sounded like Lord of the Flies.  I’ve read Lord of the Flies, and I cried hysterically.  Even though this obviously shares similarities with Lord of the Flies, it’s not really like it.  There is a part in the book where one of the characters says something about Lord of the Flies, but I read this book a month and a half ago, and I don’t remember what the context of the quote was.  This book isn’t really as realistic as Lord of the Flies, but that’s not a bad thing.  I didn’t go into this book looking for some incredibly realistic book, and there isn’t a huge suspension of disbelief.  Honestly, I don’t think I’m ready for another Lord of the Flies yet.  

When I read this book, I had not yet read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and now, looking back on it, some aspects of this book remind me of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  Specifically, the bit at the end about the power point presentation.  I don’t want to spoil anything because you need to go into it not knowing the ending, but THE BIT ABOUT THE POWER POINT PRESENTATION.  

SPOILER One of the parts that I really, really liked was that Taylor was left behind on the island.  It’s not entirely a happy ending.  She went completely insane and was left on an uninhabited island.  Who knows what happened to her.  Everyone being safe, alive, and sane in the end would be unrealistic.  END SPOILER

I also like the last chapter with stuff about what happened after they got off the island.  It was done in a way that didn’t feel like an information dump at all.  

Five stars!  
If you’re interested in reading my bassist rant, here’s the link to the review:  https://haphazardlyreading.wordpress.com/2017/03/23/the-rules-by-nancy-holder-and-debbie-viguie/

A Review of Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick

Spoilers

“Even the dead tell stories…”  And they’re probably better than this one.  This book was so bad that I am now in a reading slump for the first time in two and a half years.  In the last three days, I have started, and then put down, seven different books.  The only book I’m able to read is The Restauraunt at the End of the Universe, which is a great book, but I’m not going to review it, and I don’t want to fall behind in my posting.  

Before I really get into the review, you should know that one of my big complaints about this book is that it’s religious.  I am not religious.  I’m not sure if I’m going to end up accidentally being offensive to someone who is, so if you happen to be religious, maybe just skip reading this review.  I lost two followers after I posted my Zombies VS. Unicorns review, and I’m pretty sure it was because of my possibly offensive joke about “killer unicorn Jesus” (it makes more sense in context), so obviously this has been a problem in the past.  I have nothing against people who are religious, unless their religion makes them homophobic, sexist, or racist.  I’m never trying to be offensive, I just write what I think, or write things that make me laugh.  Sometimes the things that make me laugh are jokes about killer unicorn Jesus, and I still think that’s great.  Anyway, this is just a warning, or possibly an apology in advance, because I may end up being offensive, and if you are easily offended and religious you really should not read this review.  

Now I will actually get into the review.  

I can’t stand thrillers that end up being religious.  This is the third book I’ve read in the last two years that was supposed to be creepy and ended up being about Jesus.  You never see a religious contemporary novel that seems like a normal religious contemporary and then ends with a group of proudly gay dinosaurs befriending the protagonist and teaching them about evolution!  Even though, now that I say that, I really want to read that book.  If anyone reading this wants to write it, please do.  I need it.  

I’m sure there are some times when religion in a horror story or video game makes sense.  In the Outlast games there’s some religion, and it’s fine.  I don’t even know how there would be any plot in the second Outlast game if there wasn’t religion.  I would make some kind of comment on the first game but I don’t remember it that well, so I don’t want to say something that may end up being wrong.  But, in these games, it’s entirely necessary to have religion, and it’s not forcing the religion on you.  In the religious horror I’ve read, it feels more like it’s forcing the religion on you to get another convert than to add to the plot.  If the author is religious that’s fine.  I don’t care.  I just don’t get why they feel the need to ruin a perfectly good thriller by making it be a “meaningful” lesson about God.  I put the word “meaningful” in quotes because, even though the author may see it as a meaningful lesson, I do not.  Why ruin a book that could actually be scary?  They make these books seem like thrillers, when in reality they feel like the opposite.  This is false advertising.  I would not choose to spend my money on a book like this, and yet I’ve owned three of them.  If they had been advertised as what they actually are, thrillers for Jesus, I never would have bought them and I would have been able to spend my money on something I would have enjoyed much more.  

Also, two out of the three books like this that I read have endings where the characters barely fight back against the killer attacking them, and, instead, rely on their faith in God to save them.  In this specific book, Sig literally gave the creepy man who was trying to kill them a gun because he was pretty sure that the bullets this guy had for the gun would make it explode, only damaging his hand.  He does this because he didn’t think that his mother would have wanted him to be a killer.  If I was in a situation where someone was trying to kill my sister and me, I wouldn’t really think about what my mom would think of anything I did.  (To be fair, Sig is a younger sibling while I’m an overprotective older sister, so our decisions are going to be entirely different, but still.)  Even if I didn’t have a little sister to protect, I don’t think I’d blindly rely on my faith in anything to save me.  Of course, it’s easy for me to say that I wouldn’t rely on my faith in anything because I don’t believe in anything divine, but still.  In these books, it seems like religion keeps them from actually doing things, and (remember when I said I might be offensive?) it kind of seems like they almost give up, deciding that whatever happens happens-God will see them through.  In these books, it also seems like the characters have ways they could fight back, but they don’t, instead choosing to blindly rely on faith.  I don’t do religion, so I don’t know, but if you were someone who believed that everything happens because God wants it to, wouldn’t you think that you were being given that opportunity to defend yourself because God wanted you to?  I could be wrong here since I’m not a god myself nor do I believe in any, I still find it weird.  

I could probably go on for several more pages about why I don’t like religion in horror, but I’m now on page four, and I don’t want my review to get tedious.  

I feel like some parts of the book drag on longer than necessary.  Towards the middle, it got a little boring, and I didn’t think that the amount of backstory was entirely necessary.  Maybe the author was trying to drag out some parts to add length?  Because the book is already short (my copy is only two-hundred-six pages long) maybe the author wanted it to be longer?  I don’t know.  The fact that some of it got boring and repetitive didn’t keep me from finishing it in an afternoon, it just made it so that I had to force myself to finish it.  

Some of the book seemed like it was trying to sound profound and deep, even when it wasn’t.  I think there was more of this in the first quarter of the book, but it went on through the whole thing.  Maybe some people like things that try to be deep, but this has always irritated me.  

My last complaint is that it wasn’t scary.  At all.  If it had freaked me out I would have been a little bit forgiving of it being religious.  Not that forgiving, but at least I would have felt freaked out.  Maybe the whole point of the book was to make me feel comforted that Jesus is my salvation, but since that isn’t my faith, I just feel irritated.  Like if you thought you got a really good cupcake cookbook, but it ended up talking about how you need to exercise instead.  I’m trying not to read any horror over the summer because I’m saving all the horror I own to read in September and October (I have big plans for October), and this was going to be the one thriller I let myself read.  And then it ended up being disappointing.  I don’t know of enough horror that I want to read to read another thriller over the summer and still have enough for my October plans, so my one summer thriller is a disappointment.  Sigh.  

One star.  

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