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A Review of Mortal Danger (Immortal Game #1) by Ann Aguirre

A few small spoilers.  

 

I’ve been wondering if I should pick this book up since it came out.  I heard about it a few months before the release date, and the premise seemed kind of interesting, but I kept thinking that I probably wouldn’t like it for some reason so I kept not buying it.  Then I saw that the cover from the first book had been changed, and now the whole series is so aesthetic and pretty.  So I bought all of them.  This method of book buying has been horrible in the past, and you’d think I’d learn to avoid the pretty books with premises that were not entirely promising after I read Wither, but apparently I don’t learn from my mistakes; however, this time it was not a mistake.  

I’m actually glad that I put off buying and reading this series until now.  Back when it came out, I don’t think I would have appreciated it as much as I do now.  I probably would have liked it, but not the way I like it now.  

It starts with a line that just pulls you in.  “I was supposed to die at 5:57 a.m.”  Then it goes on to give the exact reason she was supposed to die at 5:57 a.m, and it becomes so, so sad.  I’m not going to go into it, even though it’s all in the first chapter, so it’s not like a huge spoilers from later in the book, but I think the shock gives a lot to the story.  The way it’s told is so dark and sad.  She’s resigned to the fact that it will not get better (“There is no light at the end of this tunnel.”), and she talks about what she’s doing in such a cold way, making it even more sad.  I’m going to stop talking about this before I spoil something big.  

I really like that Edie starts off as an almost morally gray character.  I don’t think I’ve read anything with a morally gray main character, but I’ve heard several people talking about how much they love morally gray protagonists, so I was really wanting to read about one.  In the beginning, all Edie cares about is revenge.  She’s using the favors she got to start her plan to get her revenge.  Bringing down the pretty, popular people is what’s motivating her.  Then she befriends them, her opinions of them change, and she starts to think about her revenge plan less and less.  There’s so much character development in just one book, but it doesn’t feel rushed or unrealistic.  I’ve read books where the characters go through horrible things and don’t change at all, but in this book the amount of character development went along with what she was going through.  If it had been done any differently, it wouldn’t have been realistic.  

Edie was also so easy to empathize with.  I think anyone can empathize with her because everyone has felt the same at some point in their life.  For the first part of the book, she is very interested in getting her revenge, but she’s also a genuinely kind, nice person.  If you can read this and not feel something for Edie, you probably don’t have a soul.  

I really like the kind of creepiness that this book has.  It’s not the kind of Stephen King horror where there’s a monster in your closet and it’s coming to get you, nor is it the kind of psychological horror that I normally like.  This book is just creepy enough to get under your skin and wait.  While reading it, you don’t think that it’s that creepy.  You think that you’re fine and not at all freaked out.  You’re wrong.  The monsters aren’t particularly grotesque, but the fact that they seem to always be there, just watching and waiting for the right time to act on whatever horrific thing they want to do is disturbing.  They’re the kind of monster where you don’t think of them that much until you hear a noise outside your window at one AM, that leaves you wondering if it’s the black eyed children or the man with the bag.  You don’t think about it until you go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and wonder if your reflection won’t smile back at you.  It’s the kind of creepy where you don’t realize how freaked out you are until months later.  I think this is becoming my favorite kind of horror.  

There were a few elements of Edie’s relationship with Kian that I didn’t like.  He would repeatedly be vague and weird and then, when she rightfully got irritated with him and tried to figure out what he was hiding, he would just kiss her to shut her up.  If I dated someone who kissed me to shut me up, I would break up with them immediately.  That’s not romantic or sweet, it’s a guy forcibly making his girlfriend stop talking because he doesn’t want to be called out for being secretive and distant and strange.  The book never addresses this as being bad, and actually seems to think it’s okay, and very romantic.  It’s not.  It never is.  

The other thing I didn’t entirely love about their relationship is that it had a happy ending, which sounds weird, but I have reasons.  I’ve said before that I love doomed romances, and I love the ones that were doomed from the start, so you can watch them fall in love all the while knowing that it will not end well.  The relationship in this book felt like the relationship with Karou and Akiva in Daughter of Smoke & Bone, so I was excited to watch it all fall apart.  It all happened so quickly, and they were so, so in love, and I assumed this was all leading up to something that would tear them apart.  But no.  They’re happy.  In a certain part of the book (again, not saying specifically because spoilers), I was so sure that it would be the moment where it all came crashing down, but it didn’t happen.  I was hoping that there would be heartbreak, and that I would cry, and, even though I did almost cry during the last chapter, it wasn’t because of their relationship.  

I loved this book and I plan to read the next books in the series very soon.  Five out of five stars.  

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A Review of Stunning (Pretty Little Liars #11) by Sara Shepard

Spoilers

 

This is the first book in the series that I considered not finishing.  All of the other books have been bad, but they’re bad in the way that a Lifetime movie is bad.  This series isn’t something I’m proud of reading, but wow, it’s entertaining.  The plot twists are ridiculous enough to make the entire thing completely unrealistic, but it’s still entertaining.  I’ve read most of the books in this series in an afternoon, but this one took several days, and I almost gave up on it half way through.  

It’s not like each book has the exact same plot, it’s just that there’s only so much you can do with the same four characters, and seventeen books might be pushing it.  (I mean it’s not like it’s the Raven Cycle.  That could be 100 books long and I’d fangirl over every one of them.)  This isn’t a comment specifically against this author.  I don’t know if many authors could write seventeen books about the same people without them feeling a little repetitious.  In every book, Hanna gets jealous of someone (probably because of something to do with a boyfriend); Aria has her own relationship issues and probably temporarily breaks up with someone (or keeps secrets from them and makes things awkward); Emily pines after “Her Ali” and how their love was lost; and Spencer makes a myriad of mistakes (probably involving drugs).  There are plenty of plot twists, but none of them disrupt these specific events.  You’d think that a plot twist would throw off the entire course of the book.  It’s a plot twist.  That’s what it’s supposed to do.  This is the point of having a plot twist.  But it doesn’t do that.  To be fair, it’s not like the characters just take this in stride and work it out on their own, they freak out about it and there are plenty of bits where they panic about things, but despite that they seem to just continue on the same path they were on before without much disruption.  

The author has given Isaac a chance to be a supportive friend/boyfriend with the whole baby thing, but this book doesn’t have his full reaction, so I have to get the next one from the library.  I really hope that he takes it well so that there can be ONE good boyfriend in this series.  Mike and Noel haven’t done anything despicable, but Mike got back together with Hanna after she stalked him and his new girlfriend because she was jealous, and Noel is Noel.  I don’t know if there’s a specific reason that I don’t like him, but I don’t like him.  

I don’t understand why Mike was so flattered by Hanna literally stalking him and his new girlfriend.  There is literally footage of her wearing camouflage and hiding behind plants at the mall so that she can watch them with binoculars.  There’s also footage of her stealing Mike’s new girlfriend’s pictures from a photographer.  Hanna is jealous and possessive, and it’s not healthy.  But there’s no mention of how creepy that was.  Actually, Mike gets back together with Hanna because no other girl did that much just to get back together with him.  That would be because doing that much to get back together with someone is really ridiculously creepy and literally stalking, not a sign of affection, but whatever.  This book has just glossed over so many unhealthy relationships, so let’s just happily ignore this one as well.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, having relationships like this in any sort of media and portraying them as okay will normalize them.  Having Hanna and Mike end up as a happy couple (as of the end of this book) says that it’s okay to be a stalker when you don’t like your boyfriend’s new girlfriend, and that these behaviors may make it so that you can get back together with him.  But stalking is never flattering.  It’s not a sign of healthy love.  It’s illegal.  

While we’re on the topic of unhealthy relationships and ignoring just how bad they are, I really wish that there was more stuff about how the relationship Aria had with Ezra was toxic.  I’m not asking for characters to break the fourth wall and give me bullet points for why it was an unhealthy relationship, I just want some sort of acknowledgement that there was a serious power imbalance created and abused by Ezra.  There was a bit about how Aria knew the relationship wouldn’t work out because Ezra was just using her for an ego boost, but it doesn’t say that the relationship was toxic or bordering on abusive, which it was.  

Maybe the author doesn’t realize that she wrote a power imbalance like that?  This comment does not come from a place of judgment, I’m just suggesting something.  It can be really easy to write something into what you’ve written without realizing that you did it.  I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned before that a year ago I spent six months trying to write songs but they all ended up being about the same thing.  I didn’t realize that it was in my head to the extent that it was until I wrote all of those songs (that I have now destroyed).  I’m not saying that the author had power imbalances in her head while writing, I’m just using myself as an example so you can see I’m not judging.  Anyway, it can be really easy to write something into your work without realizing it, and, if she didn’t purposefully write the power imbalance, she might not realize it was there, and then she wouldn’t know to address it in any way because she just wouldn’t see it.  Maybe her goal was to write a relationship that was unhealthy, and a power imbalance just happened?  That would complete the goal of writing an unhealthy relationship.  I just wish there had been some mention of the relationship being toxic.  It could even be something said kind of in passing about how she realized it would never work because he was using her to boost his ego AND because he seemed to be purposefully creating a power imbalance.  

In defense of this book, it came out in 2012, and I don’t remember seeing anything about power imbalances in relationships at that time.  I don’t think I actually heard about power imbalances in relationships until I got a tumblr.  But that doesn’t justify it.  Just because it wasn’t something people talked about doesn’t mean it wasn’t an issue.  Also, to me, the power imbalance was so obvious that I don’t know how it could not be addressed.  

On a significantly less serious note, for the last two books there has been a lot of judgment passed on anyone who wears Doc Martens or combat boots.  My pair of Doc Martens are literally the most comfortable pair of shoes I’ve ever owned, and, if I’m not wearing them, I’m wearing combat boots (probably somewhat worn out, distressed combat boots that the characters in this book would judge).  I don’t even understand why people would judge footwear.  It’s so unreasonable.  Unless you’re judging someone for wearing crocs.  Not only is that reasonable, it’s encouraged.  

I normally rate these two stars because, even though I don’t particularly like them I’M STILL READING, but I’m going to give this book one star because I almost didn’t finish it.  

 

On a side note, if you’re having trouble finishing this book, I’ve found that listening to the Pearl Jam song “Do the Evolution” on repeat and at a very high volume can be surprisingly motivating.  

My Intimidating TBR Pile Tag

I found this tag on the YouTube channel Thoughts on Tomes.  I will link her channel and the specific video for this tag at the end of the post.  I wasn’t tagged by anyone to do this, but I wanted to talk about my TBR, and this sounded fun, so I’m doing it.  

 

1) What book have you been unable to finish?

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher.  I’ve owned this for years, and I’ve tried to pick it up several times, but I never get that far into it before I put it down.  It’s just missing something that makes me want to keep reading.  I own both books in the series, so I could easily marathon them one weekend, and I really like the idea of the book, but I keep getting distracted by other, newer books.  

Also, The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd.  I tried to read it a couple times, but didn’t get more than fifty pages into it.  A few months ago, I read about half of it, but I had to force myself to read that much, and, after reading that, I put it down again.  I’m bothered by the graphic descriptions of animals being dissected, and that’s enough to make me not want to pick it up again.  

 

What book have you yet to read because…

2) …you just haven’t had the time?

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson.  I really want to read it, and I finally bought it, but I know I’m probably not going to get a review out of it, so I’ve been putting off reading it.  

 

3) …it’s a sequel?

The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey.  I read The 5th Wave when it came out, but that was a while ago, and, back then, I didn’t have much interest in where the series would go from there.  I recently got The Infinite Sea, and I’m kind of curious where the story will go, but I don’t remember that much of the first book, and I would have to reread it before reading the second.  I plan to read both of them this year, but the first book isn’t short, so I don’t know when I’m going to have time for it.  

 

4) …it’s brand new?

I don’t have a lot of books that are brand new that I plan to read.  I haven’t read All the Crooked Saints yet, despite the fact that I’ve had it since it came out, but I haven’t not picked it up just because it’s new.  Also, it came out in October, so it isn’t exactly new anymore.  

 

5) …you read a book by the same author and didn’t enjoy it?

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake.  I read Anna Dressed in Blood (which I’ll probably reread soon so I can review it better) and Antigoddess, and, even though I didn’t hate either of those, I didn’t love either of them.  I’ve heard a lot of good things about Three Dark Crowns, and the idea sounds interesting, but the ideas for the author’s other books sounded really cool too, and I ended up feeling kind of indifferent towards them.  

 

6) …you’re just not in the mood for it?

Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills.  I wouldn’t normally buy a contemporary like this, but I got this in an Owlcrate box so I didn’t really have a choice.  I want to read it because the Owlcrate editions have such pretty covers, and it came with a fair amount of merch for that book, so I would like to be able to use and appreciate that; however, I want to be in the right mood to enjoy a contemporary, which will probably never come because, as a rule, I don’t read contemporary novels, but I’ll probably spend six months waiting for the mood to strike me.  

 

7) …it’s humongous?

Night Film by Marisha Pessl.  It’s six hundred forty pages long.  This is one of the longest books on my shelf.  I think I’m really going to like it, but I’m probably going to wait until over the summer to read it because I’ll have more time then.  

 

8) …because it was a cover buy that turned out to have poor reviews?

How to Lead a Life of Crime by Kirsten Miller.  I didn’t entirely know the idea behind this book before I got it, but the cover and title were so cool that it just has to be good, right?  Seemingly, not so much.  I read around seventy pages of it and figured out that not only is the swearing bowdlerized, but some of the themes in it are things that bother me (I’m not going to say specifically what part it is that bothered me because spoilers.  I’ll review it some time this year).  I read some reviews of it, and, even though some of them are glowing, a lot of them seem negative.  

 

9) What is the most intimidating book in your TBR pile?

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke.  This one’s over a thousand pages long.  My mother and sister both think I’ll like it, and I liked the TV series, but I don’t know when I would have time to read a thousand page book.  

 

10) Who do you tag?

 

I don’t know any other book bloggers, so I won’t tag anyone, but if you want to do it, go for it.  If you post it, leave a link in the comments and I’ll check it out.  

 

Video I got the tag from:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PtwxRsmEELg&t=327s

 

Thoughts on Tomes channel:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpnjp7mgeQGdtesz5v6xY_A

Why You Should Read Brooding YA Hero: Becoming a Main Character (Almost) as Awesome as Me by Carrie Ann DiRisio (A Kind of Review)

Do you come out of the holiday seasons feeling drained and sulky?  After having to see so many people, and having so many people in your house, do you just want to curl up under seven blankets with a magically refilling teacup and a stack of books and not do anything for two weeks?  Are you worried that after you make your complex nest and brew an excessive amount of tea, you’ll end up with the wrong book?  Are you worried that you’ll have take apart your entire nest and get up to find a new book, losing all of your warmth and possibly spilling your tea in the process?  Are you irritated by most love stories in young adult books?  Have you been searching endlessly for a book with werelemurs?  

I have a book for you.  

Brooding Ya Hero is a funny, fast read which will distract you from your post-holiday anxiety.  Also, since it’s such a fast read, you’ll be able to start your goodreads reading challenge off right, so you can have about a month of being ahead of schedule before you become addicted to binge watching something, and you end up twenty books behind schedule.  I’m totally not speaking from personal experience.  I’m not writing this review on December 29th, sixteen books behind.  Haha.  

Anyway.  Brooding YA Hero is a good book to read after your holiday anxiety for the following reasons:  

It looks at all the ways young adult novels are terrible, but in a funny, readable way.  It’s not a very serious discussion of the ways young adult novels can be problematic, and it doesn’t hit you over the head with what it’s trying to say, but it gets its point across in a very concise and intelligent way.  

There are werelemurs.  

Character development was great, because all of these characters are stereotypes, so, if you’ve read about any of these tropes, which I’m sure you have, you already know them.  I’m not saying that it’s okay to use cliches and stereotypes as character development (you’ve heard me complain about this enough times to know that I can’t stand it), but this book uses it in a way that mocks the books that use it seriously.  She uses stereotypes to point out the stupidity of using stereotypes.  I’m there.

There isn’t a huge, overarching plot, so if you’re mentally drained and so tired that you’re barely even a person anymore, you won’t have to focus on some complex plot for three hundred thirty pages.  That’s not the point of this book.  The point is a humorous look at this genre.  It obviously does have a plot, but it’s not full of twists or small, complex things you have to remember so it can make sense.  

There are werelemurs.  Honestly, if that’s not enough of a reason to get you to read this book, I don’t know what would be.  Werelemurs.  If you read for nothing else, read it for the werelemurs.  

It repeatedly drags Twilight.  It’s not over the top about it, and it never specifically mentions the name of the book, but it’s obvious and beautiful.  

Also, if you like this book (or the idea of this book), you should read The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynne Jones.  That book specifically makes fun of those fantasy series that have seventy or more books so far and two new ones coming out every year.  Also, it’s Diana Wynne Jones.  She can’t write a bad book.  

Much love for werelemurs.

A Review of Ruthless by Sara Shepard

Spoilers.  

 

Here we are again.  I have a lot to say, so I’m just going to jump right into it.  

It wasn’t the first time there was cup size shaming in this series, but it was much more prevalent in this book, and I didn’t like it.  As someone with a bigger cup size, I’ve heard all of this stuff said to me, and it sucks.  The fact that the characters do this makes them even less relatable, and it makes me feel bad for the “bad” characters they’re saying these things about because I know how that feels.  Shaming a girl for her cup size is pointless, and it will never not be infuriating.  

There are lots of allusions to what happened in Iceland, but there are never any details about what happened in Iceland, and I’m just getting irritated by it.  The thing that happened in Jamaica was brought up at the beginning of one book and revealed by the end of it, which was really nice.  I was getting really sick of the author mentioning “The Jenna Thing” for the first few books before finally explaining what it was, and now she’s doing the same thing with “The Iceland Thing” (which isn’t actually named that, but I’ve named it that for dramatic effect).  When will I finally learn what unforgivable, life ruining thing they did?  Is it going to be something that isn’t revealed until the end of the series?  Or worse yet, will it never be revealed because then I get to make up what happened.  

There are so many horrible boyfriends who come and go throughout this series that I no longer trust any love interest who comes in.  Sure, they seem fine, but all the others did, too, and you can see how they turned out.  If there had just been a few guys who were actually nice, and actually supportive to their girlfriends, I would be more likely to trust the new love interests, but, the way it was done, I can’t.  

Maybe the author could have made it so that Isaac was there for Emily during her pregnancy?  They could have still been broken up, but it was his child too, so he could have been there for Emily to support her in whatever decision she decided to make.  He could have been there as support while she delivered the baby, and he could have helped her pay for things.  Since she doesn’t have the baby now, I assume that she put it up for adoption.  I’ve never had a child or put one up for adoption, so I can’t speak from personal experience, but I can’t imagine that that would be an easy choice to make, and Isaac could have been emotional support for her.  

If Isaac had turned out to be an okay guy, I would probably have higher hopes for the other love interests in the series.  I think the author really missed out on an opportunity to redeem one of her characters.  Why spend so much time trying to redeem Ezra Fitz when you could redeem a character who actually deserves it?  

Which leads me right to my biggest complaint.  

In the previous books, the relationship between Ezra and Aria was bad, but it wasn’t a huge deal.  I was irritated by it, and I had problems with it, but I wasn’t so irritated by it that I was distracted from the rest of the book.  

This time was different.  

So, apparently, Ezra wrote a book.  Which doesn’t sound like a terrible thing, does it?  Think again.  It’s called “See Me After Class”, and it’s a book all about a teacher dating a student.  Exactly the same way that Ezra dated Aria.  He even told her that it was how he wanted their relationship to go, except for the fact that the fictional version of him died in the end (I hope that’s foreshadowing).  He gave Aria the manuscript to read, and, when she had some constructive criticisms of it (like anyone would for a first draft of someone’s first novel), he freaked out at her.  He wasn’t just a little bit sensitive, or a little bit insecure, he started going off about how her criticisms of those few parts of the novel must mean that the entire thing was worthless trash.  AND THEN, as if this hadn’t gotten bad enough, he denied her attention and affection because she had the audacity to criticize his writing.  Later, when she refuses to say that his book is better than Hemingway, he does it again.  He yells at her about how this must mean that the book is horrible, and he denies her attention and affection again.  He’s only saying these things so that she feels bad, and so that she’ll reassure him that his book was amazing.  He just wants her to build up his self-esteem, and he wants to hurt her when she doesn’t do this to his liking.  His tone was literally described as “acidic” when he was saying these things to her.  He also tried to pressure her to tell her mother about their relationship when she wasn’t ready to.  He didn’t listen to a word she said about how her mother would consider it weird that she was dating someone who used to be her teacher, and repeatedly tried to pressure her into it AFTER she said that she didn’t want to.  Later in the book, while they’re at a party, she tries to tell him that if they’re constantly seen together, people will talk, and she didn’t want that.  So he yells at her.  At a party.  And then he goes and makes out with another teenager in the coat room, which is a whole other level of bad.  From what I’ve seen in this book, Ezra is abusive.  The relationship is toxic.  This is not a relationship that should be romanticized or supported by fans.  

It’s obviously not the responsibility of authors to show us healthy relationships.  It’s their job to tell stories, not to show us how to live.  It’s not the responsibility of any kind of media to show us how to have healthy, happy lives.  That’s not what it was created for, and that’s not what it does.  If this was its purpose, we wouldn’t have entire channels dedicated to reality TV.  However, there are ways that people must go about depicting the relationship.  

Having borderline abusive relationships portrayed as healthy and desirable in media normalizes this sort of relationship.  Women will read about a man treating his girlfriend horribly, and, even though some of them will see this the way it really is, some of them will see it and think that, since it’s portrayed as a positive relationship, it’s okay for men to treat them this way.  And men will read about relationships like this, and, even though some of them will see this the way it really is, some of them will see it and think that, since it’s portrayed as a positive relationship, it’s okay for them to treat women that way.  This is damaging for everyone.  

Whenever I’ve tried to find a target audience for this series I haven’t been able to find a straight answer, but I assume that the majority of girls reading these or watching the TV series are in their teens or early twenties.  You can’t have a seventeen book series telling young girls that it’s okay to date their teachers, and it’s okay when he starts to be abusive!  I know that this book doesn’t explicitly say, “Go and date your teachers!  Tell them that their books are better than Hemingway!” but it never says not to, and it depicts it in a positive way.  The author can’t even use the friends as a counterpoint because they don’t know the whole story of the relationship.  

Normally, when I’m ranting like this, I’ll say something funny and probably self-deprecating halfway through to lighten the mood, and so that I seem like a better person who isn’t attacking an author, but I’m too angry for sarcasm right now.  

You can have unhealthy relationships in media.  You should have unhealthy relationships in media.  You have a nice, realistic balance of healthy and unhealthy relationships in media.  But the unhealthy ones have to be shown in a way that makes it blatantly obvious how unhealthy they are.  Even if the people in the relationship don’t notice it, there could be friends who are constantly trying to get them out of it, or saying that it’s unhealthy.  I’m not asking for a footnote to remind us that it’s unhealthy every time they do something bad, I’m just asking for them to not romanticize unhealthy relationships and abuse.  I feel like I’m asking for the bare minimum, but I’m still disappointed.  

I’ve seen several people arguing that this relationship is okay because the legal age of consent in Pennsylvania is sixteen, and Aria was sixteen or older while dating Ezra, but there are different rules when it comes to students dating teachers.  When a teacher dates their teenage student, they don’t end happily ever after, they go to jail.  Other people have argued that since plenty of teenage girls would happily sleep with the actor who plays Ezra in the TV series, it’s okay.  No.  It’s not.  The fact that some teenage girls would sleep with the actor who plays the character does not make the character’s actions redeemable.  

There’s nothing about this relationship that is good, and it’s just possibly setting young girls up to make similar mistakes in their own relationships later in life.  I’ve heard people talk about how they can entirely remove themselves from a book, so the toxic parts of it don’t impact them at all, but I don’t think that anyone can really entirely remove themselves from a book.  This is especially bad for young, impressionable girls who may not see how this is bad.  Since, in the book, this relationship is not seen as creepy or abusive, young girls could come away from this book wanting to have a relationship like Ezra and Aria’s.  That is not okay.  

If you’re a huge fan of the Ezria ship, and if you disagree with the points I’ve made, please tell me your reasoning behind saying this relationship is healthy.  I’m curious as to how the fans of this ship convince themselves that it’s okay.  

I gave this book two stars on goodreads because I’ve given all of the others two stars.  I don’t know if that actually represents my feelings towards the book or if I’m just going with the same thing that I went with for all the other books, but I don’t know what other rating to give it.  

Currently Reading (ish)

The holidays are a mess, and I have significantly less free time for reading than I expected to have.  I was thinking that I could just read the next Pretty Little Liars book today, since I’ve read most of them in a day, but then I realized that I had to go somewhere today, and I’m so tired that I’m barely even a person, so that wasn’t really an option.  

So, instead of writing my usual review, I will be talking about three books I’m currently reading and my opinions on them so far, and three books I didn’t finish reading.  

 

First, the ones I’m currently reading.  

 

Ruthless (Pretty Little Liars #10) by Sara Shepard

Zero people are surprised that I’ve picked up another book in this series.  I’m so close to being done, though!  And they’re like reading a Lifetime movie, which can be very entertaining, in a horrible way.  Also, now that I’ve gotten to this point, I cannot stop.  I’ve read more than half of the series, and I can’t not see this wrapped up.  It’s like when you start watching a cheesy rom-com on Hallmark, and, at first, you swear that you don’t care about it, but then, once you’ve seen some of it, you have to watch it to the end.  Not that I have any experience with that…  Anyway, so far the book hasn’t been any better or worse than the ones before it.  I did notice cup size shaming in this, which always irritates me.  I’m pretty sure there’s been some level of that in the other books, and, honestly, I expect nothing more from these, but I don’t specifically remember the parts of the other books where this might have happened, so I can’t definitively say if this is the first time or not.  I also feel like a lot of the side plots might not be wrapped up by the end of the series.  I’ll go into this in more detail in my review, but, every few chapters, something seems to come up.  I’m not going to mention the specific things here, because spoilers, but there are so many things that are happening that aren’t inherently important to the plot, and I’m wondering how many loose ends there will be.  

 

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

I’m rereading this for several reasons.  The first is because it’s been a while, and I love this series, and the other is that I want my next instagram theme to be inspired by the aesthetic of it.  That’s one of the things I really love about this series, though.  The entire thing has such a wonderful aesthetic to it.  Rereading it is like spending time with old friends you haven’t seen in a while and still getting along perfectly with them.  I want every book to feel like this.  

 

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

(I’m only a hundred pages into this, so I don’t have that much of an opinion of it yet.)  I’m so used to sad sci-fi.  This is not sad sci-fi, and it’s a nice change.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m always going to love my depressing, possibly anxiety inducing, old, dystopian stories, but, every once in a while, it’s nice to have something that isn’t that.  It’s not really laugh-out-loud funny, but I guess it’s more lighthearted.  There are also lines that are beautiful, and not funny (“Look out at the nothing and feel it looking back.”), which I always love.  The swearing is cut out of this book, but it’s done in such a way that you know what word they’re saying, so it doesn’t really bother me.  It’s also told in various documents and emails, and it’s amazing.  I’m planning to finish this book in the very near future, and then I’m going to buy the rest of the series.  

 

And now to the ones I didn’t finish.  

 

Article 5 by Kristen Simmons

I tried to read this when it first came out, and didn’t get more than a hundred fifty pages into it.  I tried to read it again about a year later, and didn’t get more than a hundred fifty pages into it.  So I set out to read the entire thing this time.  At some point I bought it (because I figured that if I was suddenly struck with motivation to read this book I should be able to act immediately), and I hate getting rid of books without reading them, but this was just too bad to finish.  The pacing was entirely wrong.  In some parts it was too fast, in some parts too slow, and every character had little to no development.  If there had been a couple chapters before everything went horribly wrong, it would have given readers a better look into how the world worked and what it was like, but, the way it was done, it didn’t do that.  And it didn’t really give other world building, so the entire thing was left feeling flat and boring.  

 

Splintered by A. G. Howard

If thirteen year old, My Chemical Romance obsessed me had found this, she would have loved it.  But now?  I am not impressed.  I’ve also tried to read this one several times, but I’ve never been able to get into it.  I would have loved it when I was in my Holly Black phase, but I’ve read so many better things since then.  

 

(On a side note, the Pulp song “Like A Friend” (which is what I’m listening to right now) has the line “Come on in now, wipe your feet on my dreams”, which is one of the best lines I’ve heard in britpop.)

 

Amity by Micol Ostow

I also tried to read this one when it first came out, but, since I’m practically a nocturnal creature, and since I was more easily scared back then, I would keep getting it from the library and not reading it.  I’d skim the next chapter and see that there was a mention of a face oozing pus, and I’d put it down.  It turns out that that scene wasn’t scary.  And the next hundred pages weren’t scary either.  Really, it seemed like nothing happened in those hundred pages, and I read a review that said it had nothing to do with the actual Amityville house, so I don’t see a point in reading this anymore.  

 

So that’s what I’ve been reading and not reading recently.  I’m definitely doing reviews for Ruthless and Illuminae, and I’ll probably be doing a review for The Raven Boys.  

A Review of Because You Love to Hate Me edited by Ameriie

Because of the holidays, I will be posting less for the next few weeks.  So look for my posts on Thursdays!

 

There will be small spoilers scattered throughout, so read with caution.  I don’t think that I completely spoiled anything, but if you’re sensitive about spoilers, you probably shouldn’t read this.  

I read the prompts before I read the stories, so that may have impacted my opinions of them.  I don’t think it entirely matters whether or not you read the prompts before or after, and I don’t think I lost anything by doing this.  

I will not be reviewing the things written by the booktubers after the stories because, when I tried, most of them ended up saying things like “there’s really not much to say about this…” and then basically summarizing what they said.  It was repetitive and added nothing to the review, so I’m not including it.  

 

“The Blood of Imeriv” by Renee Ahdieh

This story was really hard to get into.  I found myself reading paragraphs and then having to go back and reread the same paragraph because I just didn’t absorb anything I had just read.  I wanted to get into it, but, no matter what I did, I just couldn’t.  It was repeatedly said that the main character was controlled by his emotions, but, other than yelling at his sister, kicking the robot, and, you know, what happened in the last two pages of the story, he seemed almost emotionless.  He felt more like a moody teenager than a real villain.  Yes, I know, the last two pages of the story.  That’s certainly not the behavior of a moody teenager, but it did not seem truly villainous.  Maybe there were more emotional bits that I just didn’t pick up on?  Like I said, this story wasn’t something that really grabbed my attention or pulled me in, so there’s every possibility that I missed something.  

Two out of five stars.  

 

“Jack” by Ameriie

Unlike the last story, this story captured my attention from the first line.  The best part of this story is that the foreshadowing is right there.  Right in the first line.  And then it comes back in the end in a way that you will never expect.  Maybe if you paid very, very close attention, you could figure out what was happening before the end, but part of what makes it so amazing is that you don’t.  While reading it, I was actually thinking that it’s kind of weird because there isn’t really a villain, is there?  Oh, how I was wrong.  There is a villain, but they’re written so well, and you sympathize with them so much that you don’t even realize that they are the villain.  

This story ripped my heart out of my chest and crushed it.  Five out of five stars.  

 

“Gwen and Art and Lance” by Soman Chainani

The prompt for this one was a mix of modern day King Arthur and the Persephone-Hades myth.  I don’t like King Arthur, and I think that Hades and Persephone are creepy and not at all something that could or should be a love story, so you’d think that I wouldn’t like this one that much.  But I did.  There’s just something about it that pulled me in.  Maybe because it’s told in text messages?  I love any story that’s told in text messages or found documents, or anything that isn’t normal.  Even though there were things that were obviously inspired by the King Arthur legend, it didn’t feel like it was hitting you over the head with references, which I liked, since I don’t like the King Arthur legend.  Or, at least, I don’t like the anti-female, everyone hate Morgan Le Fay way the Arthur legend is told now.  

My one complaint is that it didn’t seem to fit with the theme of the anthology.  It didn’t seem like it was really a tale of villainy.  The characters didn’t seem like great people, but I don’t know if I would go so far as to call them morally gray, and that’s what I expected to get from these stories.  To be fair, I wasn’t really thinking about any of that while I was reading because I was too busy enjoying the story, but it just seemed to be missing someone who could really be considered a villain.  The things that people did to each other seemed to be more like catty, high school things than villain things.  Maybe this is an attempt to have a different sort of villain?  One who doesn’t murder, one who isn’t bent on world domination?  But I feel like, if that’s the goal, it’s almost saying that everyone could be a villain, and that’s a little too real and too close to reality for me.  Especially now, when a lot of people seem to be horrible, and when you don’t know who you’ll find out is a “villain” next.  If this is social commentary, it’s not bad social commentary, it’s just TOO SOON, and I tend to not look for that kind of thing in the books I read anyway.  

I could be wrong here, and I’m just speculating about why it could possibly be this way.  It’s possible that none of this is social commentary and I’m just reading far too much into it.  

Anyway, despite the things I didn’t love about this story, all of those things were things that I thought of after I read it, so I’m still giving it five stars.  

 

“Shirley and Jim” by Susan Dennard

I’ve discovered that I don’t really like reading about romances with happy endings.  They’re boring.  They’re cheesy.  They’re cliched.  They all end up the same way, and, in my opinion, they all end up very unrealistic.  However, I have discovered that I love reading about romances that are doomed.  I devoured Daughter of Smoke & Bone, and that’s entirely a doomed romance.  One of my favorite series, The Raven Cycle, is centered around a romance that can’t happen.  

This romance is so gloriously doomed.  It’s wonderful.  

This was another that I didn’t expect to like because I’m not that into Sherlock Holmes retellings.  I got one season into Sherlock on Netflix, but I had to force myself to watch it, and I watched it more to be able to understand the references than because I actually enjoyed the series.  But this story is so much better.  Why would I wait years between seasons when I could just reread this excessively?  There are lines in this that are so beautiful, so amazing, and they’re just thrown in casually (and frequently).  It’s not even like the rest of the story is very casual, and then there are some lines that just stand out because of their beauty.  The entire story is beautiful, and then there are lines that just get deeper and more beautiful.  It’s really stunning.  I will now end up comparing every other story in this anthology to this one, and none of them will measure up (just like real life will never measure up to fairy tales).  

Moriarty is written so well that, even though you know he’s not a good person, you like him.  A lot.  He’s written in such a likable way that I forgot he was the villain until the end.  He’s relatable and he’s interesting and he seems worthy of being a love interest, and it’s all so easy to forget that he’s the villain.  

One of my favorite parts of this story was the part about how justice isn’t real.  I know that I just criticised the last story for possibly having some sort of social commentary, but it’s different when the social commentary doesn’t leave you with an anxiety headache (not that the other possible social commentary did, I’m just saying that a lot of social commentary and things that are happening these days do), and it’s something that you very much agree with.  It’s worded so well, and, if I could fit all of it on a three by five inch note card, I would have written it down.  

I feel like this story is going to be on the same level as “Love Will Tear Us Apart” for me.  I’ll come back to it any time I feel really bad and need something familiar and comforting.  

There’s literally nothing bad about this story.  Five out of five stars.  

 

“The Blessing of Little Wants” by Sarah Enni

This story wasn’t my favorite, but it really was not bad.  Its greatest fault was simply that it wasn’t “Shirley and Jim”.  Going into this one immediately after reading that probably wasn’t the best idea.  I read about half of it and then put it down because I couldn’t get into it.  I wasn’t absorbing it in the way that I knew I would if I wasn’t still thinking about the last story, so I decided to try to give it a little time.  After eating dinner, watching a Pearl Jam documentary, stressing about literally everything that has ever happened and ever will happen, and listening to Audioslave for a while, I was ready to start it over and absorb it the way I knew I could if I wasn’t thinking about the other story.  

I feel like there could have been more world building.  There’s obviously a limit to the amount of world building you can do in a short story, but Bradbury did it beautifully every time, and I’m not asking for everything.  I want more on how the magic system works in this world.  I want more on who, what, and how Thomas is.  I want an ending that’s a little bit longer, a little less rushed, and a little more explained.  Like I said, I’m not asking for the world, I’m not asking for the moon upon a stick, I’m just asking for a little bit of information to kind of flesh out the world and make it seem more real.  Don’t get me wrong, the world did still seem real, it didn’t feel forced or strange, it just could have been better.  

Four out of five stars.  

 

“The Sea Witch” by Marissa Meyer

I read the prompt for this before I read it, so I knew from the beginning that it was a doomed love.  That said, there was something about it that wasn’t quite as satisfying as the other doomed loves that I’ve read about.  Maybe because he was never really in love with her?  Maybe because I didn’t get to see them actually be in love for any period of time.  It was more a story of revenge than it was of doomed love.  Which is not a bad thing at all, stories of revenge are great, too, I was just thinking there would be beautiful, doomed romance, and there wasn’t really any.  I do like how this is kind of an origin story for the sea witch from the “Little Mermaid”, and I would totally accept this as cannon.  The world building and character development are both good.  I don’t know what else to say about this.  It’s good.  I liked it.  It’s not the kind of doomed romance I like, but it’s still good.  

Four stars.  

 

“Beautiful Venom” by Cindy Pon

This was an interesting take on the Medusa myth.  Normally I’m picky about retellings of myths because I was a huge mythology nerd as a child, but this one was done very well.  It isn’t retold with the exact same gods and exact same mythology, but I think that makes it better.  With a different set of gods, there’s more freedom with the way the myth can be retold, I think.  Even though there wasn’t a lot of world building, it was very easy to picture the world.  

Three and a half out of five stars.  

 

“Death Knell” by Victoria Schwab

There was something about this that reminded me of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making.  There was a bit in that book about death (which I will not attempt to summarize because there’s just too much, and there’s no way to tell you about it without leaving some part of it out), and this story had death as a young boy.  I really like short stories that start with one sentence paragraphs that pull you in.  “Death is a boy with brown eyes.”  How can you not want to finish that immediately?  

Four out of five stars.  

 

“Marigold” by Samantha Shannon

You can’t just remake the Erl King.  And, if you are going to attempt to remake it (which you shouldn’t.  It’s a horrible idea.), you have to do it impeccably.  I think by this point you know that I don’t think that this one was done impeccably.  I’ve loved the Erl King ever since I can remember.  I remember plenty of times when I read it, or when my mother read it to me, but I was so young the first time that I heard it that I don’t remember.  I know it so well, it’s weird to see any part of it changed.  This story didn’t even really feel like the Erl King, it felt like a stereotypical young adult fairy short story.  This story also felt a little slow, and I don’t know why it ended up being as long as it was.  

The one thing I liked was that you go into it thinking one group is the villain and it turns out that you’re wrong.  

Three stars.  

 

“You, You, It’s All About You” by Adam Silvera

This was another that grabbed me from the beginning.  It’s about a teenage girl who deals illegal, magic drugs.  This is everything I want in a story.  For some reason, the idea of magical drugs fascinates me (it was done on Doctor Who at least once, wasn’t it?) and I’ve liked reading about teenage criminals since I read White Cat when I was twelve.  I could easily have read forty or more pages of this story, and, even though it has just the right amount of backstory, I want to know everything about this world.  

Five out of five stars.  

 

“Julien Breaks Every Rule” by Andrew Smith

Even though I liked this story, it has some low points.  I’m pretty sure that I get the point of it, but I think it could have more of a point.  Like, I get it, he knows where this guy lives, and this is foreshadowing, but I almost feel like I read fifteen-ish pages where literally nothing happened.  Can he just kill people by thinking that he wants them to die?  Is this Mara Dyer, but a fifteen year old boy who can do no wrong, instead of a sixteen or seventeen year old girl who falls in love with a guy I hate to love?  I guess that this story had a realistic amount of swearing for a fifteen year old boy.  So frequently authors ignore the fact that people in their early to mid-teens tend to swear just to sound cool.  

Three out of five stars.  

 

“Indigo and Shade” by April Genevieve Tucholke

I don’t know.  It wasn’t bad, and it had an interesting concept, I just couldn’t get attached to the main character.  I also had trouble figuring out exactly what time period the story was in.  There was an angry mob, so that makes me think that it was some time a while ago (but maybe that says more about the state of the world I want to believe in), but he talked about fighting with a hipster guy, and that seems more like a now thing.  

Two out of five stars.  

 

“Sera” by Nicola Yoon

Even though this story was short, it wasn’t lacking in any way.  So frequently stories of this length feel like they are, for lack of a better word, missing something.  World building, character development, a complete idea or plot, something is missing.  Not this one, though.  It starts with people watching CNN and being worried, which I think is a relatable feeling to anyone in America right now.  Just that can set the mood for the entire rest of the story, and it does it really well.  It’s incredibly dark, but in a way that fits, and it’s amazing.  

Five out of five stars.  

 

When I averaged the ratings of all of these stories together, I got 3.9 stars.  But I’m going to round it up to four.  

A Review of Twisted (Pretty Little Liars #9) by Sara Shepard

Spoilers

 

I just want to get this series done.  The last book felt like a conclusion.  It should have ended there.  It wouldn’t have been a flawless ending, but everything was wrapped up nicely.  Why is there another book?  We’re already over halfway through the series, and none of the loose ends are being wrapped up.  Actually, every book just brings up more loose ends that probably won’t get wrapped up by the end of the series.  

One of my biggest complaints at this point is that there has been no character development.  None of them have learned from their mistakes, none of them have changed as people, none of them make better decisions.  They’re basically the exact same people they were at the beginning of the series, but now they’ve actually murdered someone (more on that later).  You’d think that the kinds of experiences they’re going through would be life changing.  You’d think that coming very, very close to dying repeatedly would make you think about your life in a way that you possibly didn’t before.  I doubt someone could go through all of this and still be the same person after it was over.  But these girls are exactly the same.  It doesn’t make sense!  Will they change at all over the course of the series, or will they be the same in book sixteen as they were in book one?  I know that some of the characters have anxiety and nightmares because of all that’s happened, but this kind of thing seems like the kind of thing to entirely change a person.  I’m not a psychologist, I don’t know how people deal with trauma, but I don’t know how someone could be so unaffected by the things these people have gone through.  

It seems like the reason that a lot of the bad things happen in this series is that none of the people talk to each other about any of the serious things that are happening.  If Hanna had just talked to her father about the pictures that were taken of her and how she was being blackmailed, it could have been dealt with.  She wouldn’t have had to steal ten thousand dollars from her father’s campaign to pay they guy to not release the pictures.  We all know that at some point stealing the money will come back to haunt her, but if she had talked to someone about it, it would no longer be an issue.  If Emily had told someone about what Chloe’s dad was doing there wouldn’t have been any misunderstandings between Emily and Chloe later in the book, and the problem would have been dealt with.  They would all have much easier lives if they just talked to people about what was going on.  Aria could have talked to Noel about her jealousy, they could all talk to the police about “A”, and Spencer could have not done whatever it is that the book is alluding to her doing to get into college.  

If someone was threatening to tell everyone something I was keeping a secret, I would probably tell everyone myself.  Because, either way, everyone is going to know, so it would be better to do it on my own terms.  I have no dark, life ruining secrets, so obviously I’m in a different position than they are, but my point still stands.  If I was in the same position that they were in, I would still reveal my own secrets.  It gives you the upper hand against whoever is stalking you, and it makes it so that you’re still in control of your life.  

The book starts by talking about something that happened while the girls were all in Jamaica.  It was nearly constantly mentioned, kind of like “The Jenna Thing” back in the first few books in the series.  I assumed that, like “The Jenna Thing”, what they did wouldn’t be completely revealed until several books later.  It would constantly be there, reminding you that something happened, but it would take a long time to actually tell you what it was.  Luckily, I was wrong.  But the thing they did in Jamaica ended up being much more serious than I thought it was going to be.  They literally murdered a girl.  I am not exaggerating.  Literal.  Murder.  Because she was acting strangely and they thought she might be Ali.  There’s more to it than just that, but I’m not going to summarize the whole thing for fear of messing up a detail, and because it would probably be boring for all of us.  The girl they thought was Ali (who was actually Tabitha) was being kind of weird, but it was more like she was trying to mess with them.  They were all over TV and in magazines, of course someone will try to mess with them.  The reasonable reaction to that is not to push them off the roof.  Again, like I said, there’s more to it than that, and there are little details thrown in through the entire book, so, unless I went back and took notes of each thing that happened, I would not be able to put all of it in here.  Also, since a lot went into it, it wouldn’t be a quick thing to summarize.  Anyway, now these girls have literally killed someone.  Someone who was innocent.  I don’t even know where the author can go from here.  

Also, I feel like there shouldn’t have been the thing with Jamaica AND the thing with Emily having a baby in the same book.  It’s just too much drama in three hundred and five pages.  I’m sure that all of these things will come up in the next book, and I’m sure that we’ll get more information about both of them in books to come, but I want all the backstory now.  

In earlier reviews, I mentioned the amount of product placement in this series, and I said that I would mention in later reviews if it continued.  It’s gotten worse.  The book has about the same number of mentions of fashion designers, but now there are more mentions of phone brands (because being obsessed with what brand of phone someone has isn’t shallow at all), and there are a lot of mentions of food brands.  I don’t know why any of this matters.  Is the author trying to tie it to our world because they eat the same corn chips that I do?  Because that isn’t world building.  It actually just feels like some kind of sponsored product placement.  

My last item to talk about is something that I’ve meant to mention for every review I’ve done so far, but every time I forget.  About half of the characters in this series are described as having “gravelly voices”.  So either half of these characters smoke a lot, have thyroid problems, have really bad allergies, or they are affecting a strange voice thing.  It seems weird.  There are other ways that voices can be described, and most voices are not gravelly.  Maybe they’re trying to be sexy?  I’m not sure how the above conditions are sexy, though.  That’s something to think about.  The internet tells me that a study was done showing that men are more attractive with husky voices and women with more breathy voices; however, both lower their voices when they are flirting.  So, are these girls always flirting with everyone?  

I honestly don’t know what to rate this.  I gave it two stars on goodreads, but I don’t know if that’s an accurate way to express my feelings towards it?  I’m going to finish the series, and I’m going to finish it fairly soon (I hope), but the books seem to be getting worse.  

A Review of Dangerous by Shannon Hale

Spoilers, because I’m irritated

 

Remember back in the mid two thousands when every young girl devoured Shannon Hale’s princess books?  I particularly liked Book of a Thousand Days, but I read a fair number of her books and loved them all.  I haven’t picked up one of her books in years, but I bought this when it came out because I had only good memories of her writing, and this was sci-fi so it couldn’t not be good.  

Not so fast.  

I don’t even know where to start.  There’s so much wrong with this book that I can’t even.  

Let’s start with Maisie.  There are several reasons why I don’t like her.  First, the way the author portrays her homeschooling.  I know a lot of homeschooled people, and they’re nothing like Maisie.  The author makes it so that Maisie is awkward and socially inept just because she’s homeschooled.  She had never heard swear words and didn’t know what they meant, so all the swear words in the book were replaced with “bleep”.  Or “bleepity”.  If you’re going to bowdlerize a book, at least make it obvious what word you’re altering.  There are times when editing out swearing makes sense, but swearing can be important.  It shows emphasis.  Also, if it’s someone who doesn’t frequently swear, it shows just how serious that particular situation is.  I would rather express myself in ways other than swearing, so I normally only swear when I’m covering a song with swearing in it, or in some of the songs I’ve written when I’m trying to put emphasis on something.  Despite this fact, I kind of want to swear in this review just to make a point.  I’m probably not going to do that because both of my parents and some of their friends read this blog and I would feel awkward if they saw that, but just know that the thought is there.  

I hate bowdlerization.  Anyway, back to Maisie.  

She makes several comments about how she wishes she could understand how to interact with other teenagers, and she just generally acts like a stereotype of a homeschooled person.  Like I said, I know a lot of people who are homeschooled, and none of them are like this.  I’ve met far more people who went to public school who are socially awkward than I’ve met socially awkward homeschoolers.  And then, at the end of the book, Maisie goes to public school and is very happy.  She’s even reunited with the boy she fell in love with.  Are you kidding me?  Just the fact that they happened to go to school together and happened to have the same first class together is already so unbelievable, but I’ll get to the ridiculous suspension of disbelief later in my review.  Just the fact that Maisie is excited about school and happy about school is just insane.  Has this author ever actually spoken to a teenager?  Ever?  I’m sure there are some teenagers who love school, but I’ve literally never met one.  Also, after Maisie goes to public school, she seems way less socially awkward.  Which seems to be implying that if she had gone to public school from the beginning, she never would have been socially awkward.  This is just another stereotype, and shows that the author didn’t talk to any homeschooled teenagers before writing this book.  Of course, you are going to find some socially awkward homeschoolers.  But social issues are not a product of schooling choice alone, or there wouldn’t be any socially awkward public school kids, and, trust me, there are.  

My next complaint about Maisie is that she constantly talks about how she’s not a “stupid girl”, she’s unique.  Not like other girls.  “Stupid girls” are the girls who fall in love, and who aren’t into science.  As a girl who is a hopeless romantic and a musician, I’m irritated.  I fall in love and don’t like science, and that’s fine.  A sci-fi novel was the last place I thought I’d see the “not like other girls” trope, and yet here it is.  There are so many books with this trope, but it was especially judgmental in this one.  She implied that if you’re not into science and you want to date, you’re vapid and shallow.  

According to the book, Maisie is fifteen or sixteen.  She doesn’t act that way.  If you told me that she was twelve I would have believed that.  She acted more like the protagonists that I’ve seen in middle grade novels.  She overreacts to everything, she is very controlled by her emotions, and a lot of her decisions seem to be very immature and kind of self centered.  Really, with a couple edits and a younger set of characters, this could be a decent middle grade novel.  I think the characters would be more relatable for a younger age group.  Just take out the romance and you’re good.  You could also cut out anything about the swearing, including the “bleeps”.  You’d have to cut out the bit with Wilder and Maisie almost sleeping together, but that was awkward and forced anyway and never should have been there.  But then, maybe her immaturity is just another side effect of homeschooling, which I think we’ve covered.  No.  Go talk to a homeschooler.  

Allow me to go off on a tangent for a minute.  In the book, Wilder says that he “hooked up” with several girls at astronaut camp.  I hate the term “hook up”.  If someone says that they hooked up with someone, so many things could have happened.  Like, was it one kiss or is one of you possibly pregnant?  It could mean too many things.  Did Wilder kiss a few girls at astronaut camp, or did he sleep with several girls at astronaut camp?  Because one isn’t a huge deal, but the other is a lot more serious.  I’m not someone who would shame people for how many people they sleep with, but if you’re fifteen or sixteen and at an astronaut boot camp, you really should not be sleeping around.  

After reading this, I see why I tend to avoid young adult sci-fi.  So many authors these days jump between genres and don’t take the time that the old sci-fi authors took to really develop their skills in the sci-fi genre.  Not that there’s anything wrong with writing in different genres, it’s just that it can’t be easy to go from princesses to alien nanites and super powers.  

I think that the entire sci-fi element of this book was executed poorly.  Just using analogies that involve stuff about cells won’t make it a sci-fi book.  It’s not sci-fi just because you made a joke about mitochondria.  Having the kids attend astronaut camp does not alone make a book sci-fi.  Also, even though it had cell analogies and alien technology, it didn’t have nearly enough actual science.  I’m not someone who reads sci-fi for just the science, but the science is obviously a very, very important part of sci-fi.  It’s science-fiction.  Without science, what is is?  

The suspension of disbelief was just too much.  I was fine with the alien nanites, I was fine with the superpowers, but it’s all downhill from there.  Do you honestly expect me to believe that our planet is being invaded by pink, ghost-like aliens who possess humans to enjoy the food?  And Maisie surviving her fall?  She fell from the edge of our atmosphere without burning up, freezing, or running out of air.  Remember, this is after she lost the alien nanites that gave her super powers and armor.  She’s completely human.  I don’t care that she got a parachute at the end, (that bit was impossible too) this entire scenario was completely unbelievable.  This is where the science should have come in.  But no.  You could say that on the bright side I didn’t see any of the plot twists coming, but that was because everything was so ridiculous and arbitrary.  

Part of what makes old sci-fi so good is that it’s all so possible.  The stories feel so real and so perfect for the time we’re in, even though a lot of good sci-fi was written decades ago.  This book does not feel real.  This book doesn’t feel like it could happen.  You want good sci-fi that’s still relevant today?  Read literally anything by Bradbury about space, Vonnegut (try Galapagos), or Clarke (I suggest Childhood’s End).

I think that the book would have been better (and I use that lightly) if the story was told in two or three books.  The way it was written, it was so fast paced that there was no time for world building or character building.  There was no time for the characters to build real relationships.  When Wilder was introduced, I didn’t like him.  He seemed to get better, but he was only better for maybe a hundred pages before he started being horrible again.  There wasn’t enough of the book with him being a good person for me to change my mind about him.  When he turned against the other characters, at least in my mind, they should have seen it coming, and so I didn’t really feel bad for them.  If there had been several books, there could have been more scenes with him being better, and I might have started to feel differently about him.  However, the way it was done, the parts where he was a good person weren’t long enough to change my mind about him.  

Also, if the book had been longer, there could have been more world building and character development.  There could have been actual science.  There could have been relationships between characters.  If there had been character development, maybe I would have actually felt bad when they died.  

There’s one line that really stood out to me, and I can’t decide if I love or hate it.  “He was quoting Macbeth again.  He’d forgotten the Beatles but not Macbeth.”  I feel like, in the right context, that line could have been startling and sad.  I think the line was probably meant to be sad, and to express how he lost so much because of the alien nanites, but Maisie is so dramatic for the rest of the book that the line just kind of blended in with the others.  When done correctly, lines that can be heartbreaking and beautiful.  In the short story “Love Will Tear Us Apart” in the anthology Zombies VS. Unicorns, it’s done beautifully.  In the first paragraph, the narrator references the Arctic Monkeys, and then casually compares cannibalism to eating the best mac and cheese you’ve ever tasted.  That pretty much sets the mood for most of the story.  The best part is that the narrator is so matter of fact and relaxed that it doesn’t feel weird.  But then there are some lines that are so sad and so sudden, and so unlike the rest of the story, that you can’t help but pay extra attention to them.  They mean as much as they do because they’re so different from the rest of the story.  The way that this story is written, one slightly more dramatic line doesn’t stand out.  All the meaning behind that line is lost because it’s nothing new.  I love beautiful, heartbreaking lines in books, and this book had the potential to have that, but it didn’t because they couldn’t stand out from the static of drama in the rest of the book.  

Maybe this book would be more appealing to someone who was into superheros?  It has superhero-ish themes, so maybe if that was something you liked you’d be willing to look past its flaws?  I’m not really into superheros, and I’m definitely not into poorly written books, so it wasn’t for me.  

Two out of five stars.  

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