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A Review of Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Spoilers

 

I tried to read this when I was obsessed with Holly Black’s books because someone told me it was similar.  For some reason, back then, I never made it more than fifty pages in.  Recently, I’ve been putting off reading it because, if it was like Holly Black’s writing, I probably wouldn’t like it.  

I can see why, at thirteen, I never got that far into it because it’s nothing like Holly Black.  It is, however, something I really like now.  

I didn’t even mind the love story in this!  I think I said in my review of Shiver that I’m willing to give love stories more of a chance now; however, realistically, most teen relationships break up, so every teen love story having a happy ending irritates me.  On the first page it says “Once upon a time, an angel and a demon fell in love.  It did not end well.”, so from the beginning you know this is kind of a doomed romance.  And it falls apart so beautifully.  If it’s done right, heartbreak and sadness can be beautiful.  (Don’t believe me?  Ask Shakespeare.)  This is written in such a way that it’s so sad, but it’s so beautiful.  It’s sad, but it’s perfect.  

The world building was also amazing, and it gave such a nice picture of the world without consuming the story.  It was very easy to picture people and places.  If it was done right (which it wouldn’t be), it could be made into a stunningly beautiful movie.  

For the first three hundred pages of the book, the balance of backstory and current events was perfect.  I’m rarely happy with the amount of backstory in young adult books, but in this it was so perfect.  There would be bits and pieces of the backstory that would tie in with whatever was happening in the story, and, even though it was covered fairly quickly, it would be the perfect amount of information.  

I did have a small issue with the backstory whenever Karou started to learn who she was.  For the entire book, it was fast paced with a balance of backstory and present day, and then around page three hundred it shifted to slow moving backstory.  This lasted for the rest of the book.  This wouldn’t have been an issue if it was a short book, because then it wouldn’t be that much backstory, but my copy is four hundred eighteen pages, so, for more than a quarter of the book, it was slow paced backstory.  It was important backstory, and it had to have the level of detail it had, but it was a very sudden shift in pace, and it was weird.  After about sixty pages of it I became less irritated and more interested, but it took sixty pages.  

For most of the time I was reading it, I was thinking that, even though I didn’t like the way the backstory was handled, there was no other way it could have been done.  But I thought of one.  Every so often through the book, there will be a mostly blank page with a sentence or two on it.  These pages always start with the words “Once upon a time” so they are clearly a little removed from the main line of the story.  So why not, from the beginning of the book, have every other chapter or every third chapter be about Madrigal, and why not start each of these backstory chapters with “Once upon a time”?  Then, at the end of the book, Madrigal’s last chapter will be when she dies, and Karou’s last chapter would be when she figured out who she was.  Maybe throughout the book the author could have emphasized the similarities between the two of them so that some people could have put it together?  Starting each Madrigal chapter with “Once upon a time” also would have really emphasized the fact that this is a fantasy.  

Also, imagine the possibilities if the book were written with the chapters alternating storylines.  Obviously, you could read the book as presented with mixed storylines.  You could, potentially, read one character’s story and then read the other character’s story by skipping chapters.  Your view of the book would be different depending on how you read it.  This is missed opportunity that would have made this book even better.  

Speaking of the fact that this is fantasy, I don’t frequently enjoy things that aren’t on the more urban side of urban fantasy, so I didn’t know if I would like this, but I did.  Even though there were some new names for magical things, they weren’t hard to pronounce or hard to remember.  Honestly, the names of people are probably harder to pronounce or remember.  

I was a little bothered by the fact that the author seemed to use chimera as a blanket term for many kinds of creatures.  In Greek mythology, a chimera is specifically a female monster with a lion’s head, a goat’s body, and a serpent’s tail, not just any creature that is a mix of several animals/human.  Also, according to the first search results I found from google, they’re all female, so the stuff about male chimeras in this book is inaccurate.  

I was halfway through writing a paragraph about how I’m pretentious about mythology, so maybe it’s not a huge deal, but no.  I am pretentious about mythology, but there has to have been another name that could have been used other than chimera, or another creature they could have been.  I can be irritatingly picky, but I think it’s reasonable here.  

I was also a little bothered by Karou’s relationship with Kaz, because they have a four year age gap and she’s sixteen.  I have never met a sixteen year old who would feel comfortable dating a twenty year old.  The only guys who would date a girl that much younger than them are horrible people.  They may seem nice, but they’re horrible, and there are probably hundreds of reasons that they can’t get a date their own age.  

Overall, I think I was just impressed by the beauty of this book.  The imagery, the backstory, the heartbreak, the backstory.  

Five out of five stars.  

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A Review of Wither by Lauren DeStefano

I don’t want to say that I bought this entire series because they were pretty, but there’s really no way around it.  To be fair, I bought them used, so I didn’t pay thirty plus dollars on a series just because they were pretty.  I spent less than fifteen dollars for the entire series, so at least my shallowness isn’t costing me too much money.  

I knew a little bit about the books before I bought them but not enough to really know if I would be interested in them.  But they were really pretty, so what does that matter?  I’m not normally this shallow, and I don’t know what came over me when I was buying these.  If I hadn’t seen the covers, the descriptions would not have been enough to convince me to read them.  Literally the only reason I’m reading these is because I own them, and they’d probably look nice in an instagram picture.  

On the wikipedia page for this book, the genre is listed as “Dystopian science fiction”.  It’s very obviously a dystopian book, so that seems fair, but classifying it as science fiction seems like a stretch.  (I’ve seen several reviews saying that it isn’t dystopian, it’s apocalyptic sci-fi, but you need science to be science fiction.)  Let me be clear first what I expect from science fiction, and what everyone from Shelley to Verne to Clarke understood, you take cutting edge science and you play it out to the logical and most horrible speculative conclusion.  That’s science fiction.  It’s science and ethics all in one.  It’s supposed to make you stop and think about where science is and/or should be headed.  

In the science fiction I’ve read, there’s at least a little bit of information about the science behind whatever’s happening, and a lot more exposition so you have at least a general idea of the history of the world before the book started.  (I’ve read Shelley and Clarke, who is awesome and should be read, much Bradbury, Vonnegut, even Diana Wynne Jones plays with the multiverse successfully.  They all use science and its evolution in society as the backbone of at least some if not all of their books.  Issues are not left unexplained.)  In this book, there’s very little history and no science.  I’m a musician, not a scientist, so obviously I’m not picking up science fiction exclusively for the science, but you can’t have science fiction without giving some kind of scientific explanation for things.  It’s not science fiction without it!  I want explanations of why and how everyone is dying so early.  They call it a virus several times, so is it?  Is every child born with a virus that takes twenty to twenty five years to take effect?  Because I think that would be interesting, sort of a weird and horrible new spin on HIV (but that’s been cured since all STDs are gone).  Take away women dying at twenty and men dying at twenty five (because that’s random and there’s never an explanation of why those specific ages are so special, but there are never explanations for anything, so at least it’s sticking with the theme of the book), take away the sister wives, and the love triangle, and make it a story about a virus, and about science.  Make it a story of science going horribly, horribly wrong with cures that only lead to more horrible diseases.  Make it about how people recover from that, if they even can.  Vonnegut would have written this book so well.  Maybe the “perfect” humans who had the new, sickly generation had some hidden virus in their DNA that they would all pass on to their kids?  There are so many possibilities for what it could be, and the author uses none of them, choosing to write a boring romance instead.  

In the book, there are also things about how the only continent left is North America because the rest were destroyed in some war.  Which seems pretty intense.  Like I said before, I’m not a scientist, but I doubt you can destroy literally every continent in the world except one and have the last one still be in decent shape.  Even a single volcano erupting can impact the whole world’s climate.  So we’re to believe, without explanation, that a weapon was developed that was so strong it destroyed literally every other continent in the world BUT didn’t disrupt the ecosystem?  This is just beyond suspension of disbelief.  If one volcano can disrupt the world, most of the world’s land mass being obliterated would certainly have some effect both from the weapon used to pull off such a feat and from the destruction itself.  

Since everyone in this world dies so early, they’re forced to mature much faster, so people younger than sixteen act like adults, but then they’re referred to as men and women.  I feel like part of this book is trying to be, for lack of a better word, shocking, by having such young children doing so much, but some of the effect is lost when you refer to them as men and women.  If they had been referred to as what they were-children-it would would have much more shocking and terrible.  Despite the fact that the reader is told that the character is young, the fact that they’re constantly referred to as men and women makes it easy to forget that the people who are marrying each other are as young as thirteen.  In some ways, this harkens back older times when people were married much younger, sometimes pairing old men with young women.  We don’t do that anymore.  We have laws against that.  By calling the young teens adults, it takes away from the impact of their actions.  

There are lots of parts of the book where it seems like it’s trying (and failing) to be profound and dramatic.  Like when Rhine talks about what she might do if she were a cloud.  Or how an orange blossom fell in a “perfect diagonal” above her.  If she spent as much time thinking about escaping as she thought about these things, maybe she would have been able to escape sooner.  Maybe if the author cut all this out there could have been some actual science in the science fiction?  I will never not be bitter about this.  

For so much of the book it seemed like nothing was happening, and Rhine was just living in the mansion and doing nothing.  It’s not entertaining to read about someone swimming, jumping on a trampoline, and reading history books.  It doesn’t add anything to the plot, either.  It does make you wonder though.  Her actions are those of an adult in some aspects, but her thought are very childlike, perhaps even younger than her age would indicate.  So what is the author’s goal?  Is she trying to make us see that young people are being put into adult roles too soon?  Could be.  Wish it was more science and less speculation about the actions of the characters.

There’s so much that could be cut from this book, and all of it could be replaced with science and exposition.  If you took bits and pieces of the premise and elaborated on them, the book could have been so good.  

I noticed that whenever Linden was described as weak, it would also be mentioned that he had very narrow shoulders.  I think they may have been described as being almost like a child’s?  I don’t remember, exactly, but some aspect of his appearance may have been described as childlike.  Whenever Gabriel was described as strong, it would be mentioned that he had broad shoulders.  The width of your shoulders doesn’t determine how strong you’ll be.  In young adult books, men with wide shoulders are probably good people, but women with wide shoulders are probably villains.  Thinking that someone’s shoulders can determine personality and strength is as ridiculous as thinking that feeling the bumps on someone’s skull can determine their propensity for criminal behavior and mental illness.  

I will finish this series, but it’s just because I own all of them, and, like I said, they would probably look pretty on my instagram.  

I’m going to rate this one and a half stars because it could have been interesting if it had been written right.  

My Favorite Horror (kind of)

I don’t freaked out by normal horror.  I’m not saying this to sound cool or edgy, I genuinely don’t get freaked out by normal horror.  I don’t believe in any supernatural beings, or even ghosts, so they just don’t frighten me.  Even if something is particularly creepy while I’m reading it, I’m not really afraid of it in real life because I know that it doesn’t exist.  The only horror that freaks me out is the really psychological stuff, and I haven’t seen much of that lately.  

 

These are in no particular order, but they really freaked me out.  

 

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

 

Before I get into why it freaks me out, I have to say something.  If you’ve read this you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.  That scene.  With all of the conversations going on at once, going back and forth between conversations, but with no confusion about who’s saying what.  I’ve only seen things like that done in movies.  It was completely amazing.  If you haven’t read the book, this probably makes no sense, but, if you read the book for nothing else, read it for that part.  

There isn’t anything about this book that doesn’t freak me out.  I tried to write a small list of the most disturbing parts, but they’re all so bad that I can’t.  I was even more freaked out, though, after I had someone else read it, and they sympathized with the group I didn’t.  They didn’t see a problem with this society, and actually thought it seemed nice.  Even though the book itself is disturbing and creepy, sometimes people’s opinions of it are just as unsettling.  

To be fair, there’s nothing here that’s going to live under your bed or grab you when you least expect it.  Because those things aren’t real.  The scary thing here, is that it could happen.

 

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

 

I feel like Bradbury is our Cassandra, and we really need to listen.  It’s not just a story.  These things could happen.  So many people think this book is about government censorship.  It isn’t.  Bradbury was very clear about this.  This whole horribly messed up society is a product of everyday people trying to make everyone else happy, so no one is ever offended.  Ever.  Not even a little.  Why if you even want to read an offensive book, you are a bad person.  Think about that.  We could get there.  We’re sliding there now, but we can’t see it because we are so concerned about everyone being happy all the time.  

The first time I tried to read this book, I was eleven.  I had to put it down after the first chapter and go rethink how I spent my time.  This doesn’t creep under the bed.  It creeps in our souls and it’s terrifying.  Most horror books make you afraid to sleep with the lights off for a few days, this book makes me afraid of what we are capable of becoming, and it will for the rest of my life.  

Also, my books.  The day someone comes to burn them, just no.  If they burn, I burn with them.  What else will there be to live for?

 

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

 

I could see this happening too.  ALSO.  THE BOY WITH THE GLASSES.  AND SIMON.  Did anyone ever notice that the author mentions a lot more small children at the beginning of the book than are there at the end?  What happened to them?  I CRIED SO MUCH.  

 

Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut

 

I do not consider this a spoiler because I’m not saying who died.  

I read this when I was fourteen, so I don’t remember it as well as I should so I might be wrong, but I’m pretty sure this book takes place during the apocalypse.  If not that, it just takes place when something very bad is happening.  That, in and of itself, is not what makes it disturbing.  What makes it really disturbing is that the author puts an asterisk beside the name of a character whenever they’re going to die soon.  At first, I thought the three (I think) asterisks that appeared were the only characters who were going to die, but over the course of the book, more characters would get an asterisk beside their name.  I’ve never seen anything else done like that, and it was really creepy and interesting.  Like somehow you know but you can’t warn them.  Like you are a part of the story in a way you wouldn’t be otherwise.

 

Technically this one’s a short story, but I couldn’t think of anything else, so-

“The Flicker, The Fingers, The Beat, The Sigh” by April Genevieve Tucholke (from the anthology Slasher Girls & Monster Boys)

 

This one was entirely psychological and had no monsters, demons, or ghosts.  It was just teenagers making bad decisions, but they were the kind of bad decisions that a lot of people could end up making, which makes it feel more real and more scary.  In the right circumstances, anyone might do what the characters in this story did.  That’s a lot to think about.

 

So, I might not like horror in the classical sense of it.  I think I like dystopian worlds and sci fi views into futures we never want to happen.  Those are scary because those could really happen.  Why waste fear on things that aren’t possible when there are so many things that could come to pass that are worse than a monster in the closet?  

A review of Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Everyone’s read a portal fantasy.  For most people, it was The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe during their childhood, and, if not that, something else from Falling In to Cornelia Funke’s Mirrorworld series has graced everyone’s reading list.  Everyone has opened a door or put their hand over their face on the mirror and hoped that it would take them somewhere else.  

Coraline makes you afraid of the door taking you somewhere else.  

There are literally no bad things that I could say about this book.  I read it when I was thirteen or fourteen, and I’m just as freaked out by it now as I was then.  I’ve known people who read this, considered a tween book, in their late twenties yet still they enjoyed it and felt freaked out.  

Part of the reason I find Coraline so interesting is because it lacks some of the things that are, in my opinion, the most important things in books-backstory and worldbuilding.  

There’s a tiny bit about the Other Mother’s backstory, and a short scene where Coraline talks about bravery and something her dad did, but other than that, there’s nothing but great characters and a thrilling story.  The thing is, this book doesn’t need all the other stuff.  You don’t need to know the character’s entire history to be able to see why they’re doing what they’re doing.  You get to know everything you need to know about the characters without any backstory, and, while reading it, you won’t even notice that it isn’t there.  It never mentions Coraline’s age, but it doesn’t need to because you can tell by the way people treat her, and by the way she acts, about how old she is.  It’s just done so well!  If you’ve read my reviews for any amount of time, you know how obsessed I am with backstory, so you know that this is very high praise, coming from me.  Also, it’s a fast paced and short book, so backstory would bog it down and make it weird.  Coraline is every kid, at some point in their life.  Her parents are weird and uncomfortable, a bad fit, like everyone’s parents are sometimes, yet we still love them and want them to be safe.  You don’t need the rich backstory because her backstory is your backstory, and so you get pulled into the adventure because your mind develops Coraline from you.

That said, I would happily read several hundred pages on the backstory of the Other Mother, and possibly the cat.  The cat can have his own book.  

There’s also barely any worldbuilding, but somehow it works.  You’re given just enough information about the world that your brain will fill in the rest of the details with whatever scares you most.  Just like with the backstory, while reading it, it doesn’t feel like you’re reading something without worldbuilding.  I only realized this after thinking about the book for about a week.  But we all have nightmares that would fit the world for this quite well, and without the direction from the author, our minds freely fill in those details.  Her world is one step closer to our own nightmares.  

I feel like the movie almost makes the story less creepy in some parts.  In the movie, in the beginning, everything is wonderful.  In the book, in the beginning, things are good, but still unsettling.  Also, she goes to the other world less times in the book before it all goes wrong.  Even though the movie is scary, and every time I’ve watched it I’ve been freaked out, I think the book is scarier.  If I’m remembering correctly, the movie adds a bit of backstory and closure, but I think it’s better without.  I don’t think that the book lacks closure, and I think the added backstory is actually unnecessary.  Also, the cat has a bigger role in the book, so it’s obviously better.  

There isn’t much else I can say.  This book never ceases to be amazing and scary, and I would recommend it to anyone of any age.  

Five out of five stars.  

 

On a side note, I read this in the dead of night when I was the only person awake in the house, so, to try to feel less freaked out, I listened to Echo & the Bunnymen while reading it.  It’s a strange combination, but it wasn’t unenjoyable.  

Another side note, I wonder if my cat can go to other worlds?  She seems the type.  

A review of There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins

A few spoilers.  A lot of this book is supposed to be surprising.  I think you should probably go into it not knowing that much, so if you’re picky about spoilers you may want to avoid this review.  One of the spoilers is a small part of the first chapter, one is a detail of another chapter (but with no names mentioned), and the last is a slightly bigger thing, but I knew that spoiler before going into the book, and it didn’t ruin it for me.  

 

For what this book is, it isn’t bad.  It’s not great, and I have no plans to read anything else by this author.  It’s a cheesy, cliched teen horror novel-you can’t expect that much from them.  I went into this book expecting to not like it at all, so the fact that I didn’t hate it is amazing, and I’m considering it a very positive thing.  

I didn’t really find this book scary.  I’m not too easily freaked out, so it’s possible that that’s why I wasn’t freaked out?  I read most of this book at night, or while I was alone in my house.  Even reading it at night didn’t freak me out.  The only time when I felt a little uneasy when when I read the first chapter and then noticed that one of my closet doors was slightly ajar.  The killer had left a door slightly ajar in that chapter so my mind started to wonder, but I quickly rationalized it and decided that something had just fallen off one of the shelves.  Also, I normally stack all my instrument cases in front of that door, or lean them against it just to keep it shut, so it’s not surprising that, without them there, it started to open a bit.  Some of the deaths in the book were surprising, but not in a scary way.  I wanted to be more freaked out, but the book missed the mark.  

I recently wrote and posted an essay called “About Horror” where I discuss my thoughts on the horror genre, so if you’re interested in that, I go much deeper into my opinions on horror, and you may find it interesting.  

I felt like there was too much foreshadowing about Makani’s dark past.  If there had just been brief mentions about how she had to change her last name, or one or two mentions of the mistake she made last year or something, it would have been better.  The way it was done, it just ended up being anti-climactic.  I thought she had done something terrible entirely unprovoked, but there was a lot of context behind the things she had done and it ended up not being nearly as dramatic as I thought it was going to be.  

Honestly, the most disappointing thing about this part of the book is that the author says that Makani’s ex-boyfriend was a diver, but I couldn’t think of a pun about it that related to the Interpol song “Stella was a diver and she was always down”.  I’m actually writing this review later than I wanted to because I was waiting to think of a good pun.  If you think of a good pun, please let me know.  

It seems like in a lot of the thriller novels I read the main character falls in love with an edgy guy who is kind of a loner.  There are rumors of him committing crimes, or just generally being a bad person, but all of those things are just rumors, and he actually has a heart of gold.  This cliche is so overused, and so predictable.  Don’t people get tired of reading about this kind of thing?  And why would someone even be interested in a guy like that?  I know that some girls date bad boys because they think they can change them, but, if you heard all these rumors about someone literally committing crimes, wouldn’t you rethink your crush?  I would.  

It’s a little weird that the author reveals who the killer is halfway through the book.  From reading reviews of this book, I did know that this happened, but, at first, I just assumed that there would be more to figure out.  Maybe an accomplice?  Or some complex reason behind the murders?  Yes, you guessed it, backstory!  But no.  I am still a little confused because wasn’t there a second person who was crying on the bench when the second murder happened?  I don’t think that was ever explained.  

The characters in the book keep experiencing creepy things, and things that are obviously the killer.  But instead of reacting as you would expect them to, they’ll just be like “Oh, I wonder why I feel stressed.  I wonder why the things in my house moving around even though no one else is here stresses me.”  These people have every reason to be paranoid, and yet they dismiss everything, even when it’s not something that’s easily explainable.  It’s like these people live in a world with no horror movies!  If I heard about a serial killer murdering people around where I live, I would be even more paranoid than I usually am.  

I felt like some of the gore in the murders was a little over the top.  I know that the novel is the literary equivalent of a bad slasher flick, but it got to be disturbing after a while.  In one of the chapters about the murders, there was a bit about the sound of this guy being murdered, and exactly what it sounded like WHEN THE TOP OF HIS HEAD WAS CUT OFF.  Maybe this book is meant to be disturbing and gross instead of really scary?  Maybe it’s written just to make your skin crawl with its imagined sound effects and descriptions?  I don’t know.  I prefer psychological horror to gory horror, so this kind of thing is never what I’m into, but in this it was particularly disturbing.  

I think I’ll give this book two and a half stars.  It wasn’t the best book I’ve ever read, but it wasn’t bad for what it was.  

A review of Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Small spoilers

 

I say this far too often, but I waited too long to read this book.  I’ve had the entire series for several years.  Every now and then I’d pick it up, consider reading it, and then not.  Maybe I didn’t read it until recently because it wasn’t the right time?  But writing that line made me cringe, so…  

By the way, when I say I read this “recently” I mean I read it in the first week of June, and just didn’t review it until now.  

For some reason, even though it’s almost October now, and I’ve had almost four entire months to pick up the other books in the series, I haven’t.  I don’t know why this is, because I loved the first book, but for some reason I just can’t bring myself to pick up the rest of the series.  I normally like series.  Not the horrible fantasy series that go on for sixty or more books and are entirely predictable and boring, but I don’t mind trilogies.  Maybe I haven’t picked any of the others up because the way that this book ended was fairly happy?  Admittedly, I did cry for over an hour while reading the ending, but we’re going to ignore that.  Sam was okay and even though everything was sad and I was crying hysterically, it was pretty okay.  I thought Sam was dead, so I was just happy to see him alive.  I don’t want to see these characters suffer, and, since this is a Maggie Stiefvater book, I know they will.  

I do want to read the rest of the series, and I don’t abandon series unless they’re unreadably horrible (I’m looking at you Twilight).  Obviously I’m not abandoning this series, but I just haven’t been able to pick up another one.  Maybe I just don’t want to cry because of a book right now?  There hasn’t been a Maggie Stiefvater book that I haven’t cried at, so I will undoubtedly cry at the next one, no matter what happens.  

Even though I haven’t read the rest of the series (yet), I did love this book.  I tend not to read romances, so I was unsure about whether or not to pick this up.  I used to not read romances because I was a pretentious emo, and I liked to claim that I didn’t believe in love.  I’m still rather cynical, and the idea of a romantic relationship stresses me, but I’m less pretentious about romance now (now I’m pretentious about music, and instagram, so at least I kind of improved), so I’m no longer opposed to reading a romance.  

Some of the characters in this book were really memorable, and some not so much.  Sam and Grace are both very memorable, but I don’t remember that much about Grace’s friends.  Maybe that’s because I read this at the beginning of June and then went on to read fifteen other books that month.  Maybe you’re just supposed to focus on Sam and Grace, so the other characters are purposefully kind of, for lack of a better word, forgettable?  I hate saying that they’re forgettable, because they aren’t, really, they’re just less memorable.  I can’t think of any other word to describe it, so just know that that’s not exactly what I mean.  Grace did seem like a lot of other main characters in young adult novels, but I spent the entire time I was reading this book comparing it to The Raven Cycle.  This book is a lot more like other stereotypical young adult books than The Raven Cycle is.  

Let’s go for a ride on a tangent.  If you’re planning to read Maggie Stiefvater’s books, read these before reading The Raven Cycle because if you don’t you’ll spend the entire time you’re reading this comparing it to The Raven Cycle.  You’ll just end up a little disappointed because the Raven Cycle is so good.  

Back to the review.  Where were we?  Yes.  Grace and Sam were very well developed and interesting.  

If you’re attached to the traditional ideas of werewolves, where (or should I say were, get it?  I’m sorry) they transform only during the full moon, you should know that this doesn’t have that kind of werewolf.  In this, the wolves change when it gets cold, and then, one day, they just don’t turn back when it gets warm.  I actually like this idea.  There are so many werewolf books out there that it’s cool to have something that’s different.  And no one sparkles, so there’s that.    

I like that there were song lyrics in Sam’s chapters.  I’ve seen some books (I’m blanking on which ones) in which the author tries to write song lyrics that end up being all boring and weird.  These were poetic and beautiful.  And I’m a music snob, so if I’m saying this, you know it has to be good.  

Also, Sam was just cute and sweet and shy and he played guitar and wrote songs and had floppy dark hair!  If I do ever date someone, I want them to be someone like Sam.  

I just remembered that my dad reads this blog.  Hi, Dad.  Ignore the last paragraph.  

Anyway.  

I would recommend this book to anyone.  Do you like romances?  This one is adorable.  Do you like paranormal things?  Werewolves!  Do you like sobbing hysterically late at night because you’re just too attached to fictional characters?  Me too.  And you will cry at this.  

Five out of five stars!  

 

By the way, I now have a twitter account, so if you want to see what’s going on in my life, or me trying to be funny, check it out.  There’s a link in my “About” page.  

About Horror

Spoilers for the movie The Disappointments Room.  

 

Recently, I was thinking that to get into the Halloween spirit (because Halloween starts in mid July), I would start watching some horror movies.  So far, I’ve watched five horror/thriller movies, and I only really liked one of them.  One of the others was okay, but I didn’t really like it.  Anyway, I started to wonder if I even really like the horror genre.  I mean, earlier this year I was pretty into it, but, if you look back at those reviews, a decent number of them are negative.  

I started wondering why I don’t like horror, and I have a theory.

First, because I would love to see more of it, let me give you a little backstory of my own.  

Do you remember the Goosebumps TV show that came out in the late nineties?  With over the top horror and terrible special effects?  I watched every episode on television and Netflix when I was younger.  Most of the plots and monsters were so over the top that they were actually laughable.  But every now and then, you’d get one of the less over the top episodes that would be just a little too real.  Maybe when you first watched it you wouldn’t realize how unsettling it was, but that night, when you needed to go get a glass of water, or you think you might hear something outside your window, all the details would come back to you.    

Years later, when I found The Haunting Hour series on Netflix, I watched all of them, too.  Even though I am way older than the target audience, and it’s been a long time since I watched them, the episode “Scarecrow” still freaks me out.  Even though I haven’t seen that episode in years, I can still picture scenes from it, and, when picturing scenes from it, I feel the muscles in my back tense.  The idea of being entirely separated from all other humans, and possibly being the last human in the world is creepy enough.  But to know that you are not alone because some terrible, supernatural being is watching you, and that they killed all the other humans, is terrifying.  

Now nearly every horror movie, novel, and video game is entirely over the top, some as badly as Goosebumps.  It’s not just a monster, it’s that monster exaggerated until the suspension of disbelief is too great.  It becomes more ridiculous than scary.  

Take the new It movie, for example.  I haven’t watched the new one or the original, nor have I read the book.  I have, however, seen many discussions of it on tumblr, and the memes about it are literally everywhere.  They’re impossible to avoid, so I know a lot more about this movie than I ever cared to know.  

One of the complaints that I’ve seen several times is that the new clown is way over the top, and purposefully scary.  I agree with this.  The one from the original looked more like a normal clown, this clown looks like a mask from a Halloween store.  

Imagine with me:  I look out my window and I see someone dressed as a creepy clown.  That’s unsettling, but it’s clearly someone trying to be creepy.  Obviously, it’s worse for me because I live in the middle of nowhere, not some modern high rise, so it takes more effort to come out here to scare people.  Also, most of the people who live on my street are in their sixties or older, and they wouldn’t dress up and try to scare people.  If there was someone standing in my yard, staring at my window, it would be pretty obvious that it was targeted directly at me, which would make me kind of uncomfortable.  However, like I said, if I lived in an apartment complex and saw someone dressed as a creepy clown outside the building, I would assume that they were just trying to freak a bunch of people out.  I probably wouldn’t think about it that much.  It would be someone else’s problem (and if you haven’t read that book, you really should).  I would assume that someone else would have seen it and that they would deal with it.

Now that I think about it more, there are two people I know who would probably think it would be funny to dress as a creepy clown and try to freak me out.  So even though I live in the middle of nowhere, if I saw a creepy clown, I would assume it was one of them, and that the other one wasn’t far away.  

I would be much more freaked out if I saw a normal looking clown outside my house.  With a creepy clown, its entire purpose is to freak people out.  With someone who’s just wearing a normal clown costume, you don’t know what their goal is.  Maybe they’re here for a party (surprise!), maybe they’re just trying to freak you out, but maybe they want to break into your house and wear your skin.  With a normal clown, there are more things that you’re unsure of, so it’s creepier.  (I mean, really, he could just be there for the party, or the party could take a sudden and horrible turn.)  Also, in my opinion, after the whole creepy clown thing that happened last year, I’ve kind of gotten used to them?  I mean, obviously I don’t want to encounter one in a dark alley, but I don’t want to encounter anyone in a dark alley.  Preferably, I’m never even in a situation that ends with me being in a dark alley.  

Honestly, I’d be most concerned if I saw a middle aged man attempting to hide behind my mailbox because then you have no idea what his goals are.  With the other two things, there’s every possibility that they’re just trying to scare you, with a random middle aged man, his goal probably isn’t freaking people out, so what is he trying to do?  And what part of the internet will show the video?

I specifically say middle aged man because if it’s a guy in his teens or twenties it’s possible that he’s just trying to freak people out.  With a middle aged man, chances are he wasn’t dared by friends to do something stupid.  Is this fair?  Probably not.  But if you’re looking to freak me out, now you know.  That’s probably not smart to publicize, but here I am.  

 

Horror is so much scarier when it’s just a few steps away from reality.  Then it’s easier to relate the things happening to your own experiences, and you’re more likely to be freaked out.  A demon clown isn’t scary.  A normal clown that can move from the road by your house to right outside your door inhumanly fast is.  Even a normal person who can do that is scary.  Maybe it’s just someone who’s slightly creepy, maybe they have a certain look in their eyes or unnaturally long fingers.  Maybe you can explain that all away by saying that some people look strange, but then they also move inhumanly fast.  That’s harder to explain, at least before you are dead from sudden and unexpected creepy thing attack.  

You can’t explain a creepy clown.  I mean, you can say it’s a person in a mask, but it’s still a person (I refuse to even entertain the possibility that a clown is part of its own species.  It’s a human in a costume, and I won’t accept any other explanation).  Creepy things are creepier when you can try to explain them, but they defy explanation except as something supernatural.  

Let’s move back to my original complaints about the horror genre.  Not all horror can be realistic, I get that.  Vampires, zombies, werewolves, and demons are not realistic.  Some suspension of disbelief is needed to enjoy any horror novel, film, or game.  I’m not looking for realistic horror, though.  I just want it to be something that’s believable.  If the whole concept seems unbelievable and impossible, EVEN IN A BOOK WORLD WITH PARANORMAL THINGS, then the author owes the reader a good explanation in the end.  If you’ve followed me for any amount of time, you know that I love backstory, so GIVE ME THE BACKSTORY.  I love mythology about horrible monsters.  

My favorite of the horror movies I’ve watched recently was The Disappointments Room.  I liked it because it didn’t use normal horror movie cliches like jump scares or excessive gore to freak you out.  Instead, it had a character who was actually mentally ill.  You’re left wondering if what she saw was real, or if it was just in her own mind.  I’ve recommended that movie to pretty much everyone I know, and I would willingly watch it again several times.  Literally, my only complaint about the movie is that the cat died, but I’m a cat person, so you shouldn’t have expected anything more from me.  

This is the sort of realistic horror that I’m talking about.  Something like that could actually happen.  

Also, with all of the terrible things happening in the world today, I kind of feel like some horror just gets tedious.  I don’t need to watch a thriller to be freaked out, I just need to look at the articles my phone suggests to me.  I’m constantly bombarded with horrible things, so maybe some horror has just lost its appeal when one is living in the what is seemingly the end of days?  

I don’t know.  

I’m probably going to try to read some horror sometime soonish, just because it’s been a while, but I don’t know.  

If you know of any good horror that isn’t ridiculous and over the top, leave a comment and I’ll read/watch it.  

A Review of Made For You by Melissa Marr

I’m going to write this spoiler free because if you knew the ending it would be ruined for you.  I do mention some things that could be considered spoilery, but they’re things that were mentioned in the book description, so I don’t consider them to be spoilers.  

 

I’ve had this book since it came out.  I tried to read it several times, but, for some reason, I always put it down.  I had actually convinced myself that I wasn’t going to like it.  I only picked it up because I’ve been nearly in a reading slump for two months (I think I blame Revolver), and, since this is nothing like anything I’ve read recently, I thought it might keep me out of a reading slump.  

I was so convinced that I wasn’t going to like it that, while reading the first fifty-ish pages of the book, I was trying to work out how I’d write the negative review.  

So now I have to say this, I actually really liked it.  

Don’t get me wrong, it had its bad bits, but I didn’t expect to like any of it.  

The book was engaging enough that it didn’t really bother me that I found the characters unrelatable.  Also, just because I didn’t relate to the characters doesn’t mean that they were poorly written.  They were interesting characters.  They had deep emotions, and they seemed like real people.  They just weren’t people I could relate to.  They’re preppy people from the south.  I’m a kind of goth Radiohead fan from the northeast.  Obviously, I am a very different person than the main characters in this book.  

I didn’t like that Eva literally admitted to dumbing herself down to appear attractive to guys.  I don’t get what kind of person would do that.  If a guy doesn’t like your intelligence he isn’t someone you want to date.  Who would go out with someone who liked them because they were dumbing themselves down?  Eva was entirely aware of the fact that she was doing this and didn’t stop until Nate told her to.  She didn’t even seem bothered by it.  Not even when it was pointed out.  I’ve been sitting here trying to expand on this paragraph, but the only thing I’ve done is make a lot of disgruntled expressions and run my hands through my hair in disgust so much that it is now sticking straight up.  Dumbed down female characters are never okay.  

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but that was about six months ago, and it applies to this book, so here it is again.  

I don’t understand why there’s such a focus on romance when so many horrible things are happening.  Someone attempted to murder Eva.  This person actually did murder three of her friends.  He attempted to murder another of her friends.  If this happened to me, romance would be the last thing on my mind.  To be fair, romance isn’t a huge concern of mine (even though I am a tiny bit worried that I’ll die alone with my tribe of cats), but even if it was a big concern of mine, I think I’d be more focused on the psycho killer obsessed with me.  Maybe I’m not a good judge of these things.  I’ve literally never acted on any crush I’ve had, and I would probably only go out with someone if they asked me first.  Maybe other people see romance as a pleasant distraction from whatever they’re going through?  If I were in this situation, it would probably just stress me more.  This is why I’m single.  

Even though I’m nothing like Eva, or any of the other characters, I still found the story interesting, and the characters were still interesting enough to read about.  

I really liked how the different perspectives were done.  Most of the chapters were from Eva’s perspective, some from the perspective of Judge, and a few from Grace.  The chapters from Judge’s perspective gave you just enough information about him to figure out who it was just before it was revealed.  I think that was the author’s goal.  Before, I only knew enough to be pretty sure it was one person from a specific group of people.  I was literally going back and forth between two or three people it could have been until Judge started talking to Eva and it all came together.  

I’ve read so many books where there’s a boring reveal, or too much foreshadowing so that you figure it all out a hundred pages before you’re supposed to, so this was just amazing to read.  It all fell into place so perfectly.  Most of the murder mysteries I’ve read recently have been kind of bad, but this was done so perfectly.  I may even pick up some other books by this author.  

A lot of people seem to think that this book is intensely creepy, but I didn’t feel freaked out.  I actually read the last seventy five pages on my back porch at night, and, to be honest, the giant moth that landed on my face freaked me out way more than the book.  Yes, it’s a creepy book.  It’s a creepy idea.  Eva can literally see people’s deaths.  There are murders which, while not explicitly detailed, aren’t leaving anything to the imagination, and there are crazy people.  All of that’s creepy, but, at least to me, it lacked creepy atmosphere.  It can’t be creepy if there isn’t atmosphere.  I kind of feel like the romance may be why it lacked the creepy atmosphere.  It’s hard to be a romance and a thriller at the same time.  Paper Valentine pulled it off pretty nicely, but there were other factors that made that book creepy.  

This book kind of reminded me of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer.  I don’t know why, because there aren’t that many similarities other than a girl who’s in an accident and then gets supernatural powers, but there was something about that that just seemed similar.  Did anyone else see this?  

I think I’ll give this one four stars.  Not the rating I expected to give it, but it definitely deserves it.  

A Review of Indelible by Dawn Metcalf

All the spoilers!

 

I am so sick of reading about hot faeries.  Faeries are not hot or dateable.  They’re vaguely threatening and probably out to get you.  They’re not romantic and sweet, they’re malicious and mischievous.  Why are there so many YA books about dating faeries?  If I lived in a world where faeries existed, and if one wanted to date me, I wouldn’t fall head over heels with some gnome boyfriend.  I would be concerned.  I would think that they wanted to get me to fall in love with them, and then, after I fell in love, they would probably either murder me or imprison me for the rest of my life.  

Honestly though, the way the world is going these days makes being trapped in a faerie world sound cozy.  

I really wasn’t motivated to read this book.  Most of the book consisted of boring, plotless “adventures” with a sprinkle of instalove.  You could cut a hundred pages out of this book, and it probably would have been better.  This did not encourage me to keep reading.  And it wasn’t the only thing.

Even the premise for this story is kind of boring.  While reading it, I had several theories for what small changes could be made to make it better, but, now that I’ve finished it, I don’t think they’re enough.  

One thing that could have been improved is making the faeries really, really horrifying.  There were some bits about faeries with big, creepy teeth, but it didn’t go much further than that.  Why not have gruesome, horrible faeries?  That would have made it slightly better.  

Joy and Ink travelling around and marking people with Signatura got a little tedious after a while.  Obviously, some of it was necessary, but it got repetitive.  Why not leave some of those scenes out?  Or use them for character development?  Why not leave out the entire romance part and just make it about creepy faeries?  Really, we need more books about old style Celtic faeries coming for our pets and children.  

There were a few scenes with backstory, but most of them were one character explaining something to another character. Some people may consider them information dumps.  I was so desperate for backstory that they didn’t bother me, but, to be fair, I love any and all backstory, so that’s not a surprise.  

There was so little character development that it was impossible to feel for the characters or relate to them.  You get better character development in a Lifetime movie.  There was so little about the characters that I literally couldn’t tell you anything about them.  The only thing I remember is that Inq is goth, and I only remember this because she was referred to as the “goth girl” repeatedly.  You can’t just define a character by saying that they’re goth.  What am I supposed to assume about that character?  That they listen to The Cure?  That they have cool boots?  I don’t know.  I want to be able to write at great lengths about the character development, but that’s kind of hard when there was literally none of it beyond simple stereotyping for one charcter.  

Not only did this book lack character development and backstory, but it also had no world building beyond a few quick statements about place.  I imagined my own world for it, but I’m pretty sure I’m completely wrong.  Somewhere it mentioned where it was set, I think it may have been North Carolina?  I don’t know.  Somewhere in the south.  But that was mentioned maybe one or two times, so I was easily able to forget it, and, instead, imagined somewhere more like New York City.  Maybe because for the past two weeks I’ve mostly listened to Interpol’s song “NYC”?  I don’t know.  Normally when I realize that I’ve been imagining a world (or an aspect of a world) wrong, I get irritated with myself for not paying attention, and then I have to reimagine the whole thing.  With this book, I honestly don’t care that I imagined it wrong for the entire book.  It was better this way.  I think I liked the juxtaposition of faeries in the city than faeries in the country.  Faeries are expected in a pastoral setting.

I was really irritated by the lack-of-communication cliche between Joy and her friend.  I can’t remember her friend’s name at all.  See what I mean about the characters being so bland that they don’t stick with you at all?  Anyway, Joy and her friend had several fights because Joy just wouldn’t tell her what was going on.  Sure, dating a faerie sounds a little far fetched, but all Joy did was give vague answers to questions and unbelievable excuses for why she did weird things.  Miscommunication/lack of communication can be a great thing in comedy, but when writing about more serious things it’s just irritating.  

In my mind, I pronounced “Ink” and “Inq” the same way.  According to the book, “Inq” is pronounced with a clipped “q”, but that doesn’t really help much.  Try googling that.  You will get couponing tips.  Is there such a thing as a clipped q or is the author trying to make up her own language rule?  I kept trying to say it different ways, but whatever I tried still sounded like ink.  I can’t even imagine how confusing this would be as an audiobook.  

The ending seemed too easy.  Yes, Joy almost died, and Ink almost died, but then Joy just drew the symbols and everything worked itself out, and they were both healed, and happy, and in love.  

I find it kind of strange that for the entire story Joy couldn’t do anything, and made horrible decisions, and then, at the end, she can fix everything.  Why couldn’t she do anything earlier in the book?  Why can she do things now?  

It took me two weeks to read this book.  Normally, I read books pretty quickly.  I have a blog to write for, and, because of reasons I’ll reveal sometime in the next month, I have to do A LOT of extra reading.  This book reads pretty quickly, so I planned to have it finished in two or three days.  But no.  Two weeks.  For those two weeks, I was constantly trying to convince myself to not finish it, and to read better things instead.  Obviously, I finished it, but I had to force myself to.  

One and a half stars.  It would have been just one star, but I like the cover, so it gets an extra half star.  

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