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A Review of Panic by Lauren Oliver

Some spoilers, probably.  

 

Do you ever find a book on your shelf that you have no memory of ever buying or receiving?  It’s nothing like anything you would ever buy, and it’s nothing like anything anyone would ever give you-but there it is.  

Yeah.  I have no idea when I got this or how I got this, and, as far as I know, this just materialized on my shelf sometime in the last couple months.  But why not read the random book that possibly materialized?  

Whenever I started reading this book, several people commented to me that it seemed like it would be similar to The Hunger Games.  When I looked it up online several people said the same thing, so I kind of went into this thinking it would be kind of like The Hunger Games.  It ended up being nothing like The Hunger Games, which I’m actually really happy about because I didn’t like The Hunger Games.  I did end up not really liking Panic either, but not because of any similarity to any other book.  

I’m not going to go into detail about what makes the two books different, because one, they pretty much have no similarities, and two, I’m trying to not be too spoilery.  

I found this book similar to Rooms, which is the only other book I’ve read from this author.  The characters in both books seem very similar as far as personality goes, and in both books all of the parents are horrible.  Also, it seems like what separates this author’s young adult books and her adult books is the amount of sex and drinking.  Obviously there’s more to adulthood than just sex and drinking.  You also have to pay taxes and maintain your lawn.  

Obviously not all parents are going to be amazing parents, but not all parents are neglectful drug addicts.  This was such a big part of both books that I kind of wonder if the author is trying to work through something.  If that’s the case, I totally get it.  I went through a period of writing songs that were literally the same song with a different chord progression.  I didn’t try to make it about the same thing, but it’s something I thought about a lot, and, whether I wanted to or not, I ended up writing about it.  This period lasted about a year and a half, and I’ve only recently stopped writing the same song repeatedly.  If the author is working through something, then I take back any criticism of this, because I get it.  However, if this is the author trying to be relatable for the teens, I don’t like it.  I see many things going around tumblr and instagram, and pretty much every other place on the internet, about how people hate their parents.  Like I said before, not every parent is going to be flawless, but not every parent is horrible.  There are plenty of teenagers who get along with their parents.  Most, if not all, of the parents in this book were horrible.  That’s just not realistic.  Also, I’m so sick of reading about people hating their parents.  I don’t hate my parents.  I don’t always agree with them on everything, but no one always agrees with everything another person says.  

I also just didn’t relate to any of the characters, and they weren’t written in a way that made them feel real so you could connect to them.  (I’m going to end up comparing the way every character in a young adult book is written to the characters from Brenna Yovanoff’s books, so I have kind of unrealistically high standards, but whatever.)  A lot of the characters seemed like characters I’ve read about in other young adult books.  They were unoriginal and boring.  The characters that I thought were the most unoriginal were Bishop and Nat.  They just seemed like the stereotypical side characters that you could see in any young adult book.  

It’s said in the book that Carp is a town where everyone knows about everything, so why did it take years for the police to figure out about and try to stop Panic?  You’d think that if everyone knew everything, they would’ve known much sooner.  You’d also think that, since it injures people, they’d have figured out about it sooner.  This just doesn’t seem realistic.  

I did like that Heather was 5’11 with wide shoulders.  In a previous blog post, I said that I wanted to read a book with a female character who was six feet tall instead of five feet or shorter, and this does have a taller female character.  What I didn’t like about Heather being tall is that she seems to hate any girl shorter than her.  I totally understand that being taller than the people around you can make you insecure, but hating people because they’re shorter or because they have narrower shoulders than you is ridiculous.  I know that this is something that people do, but it’s just irritating.  Height doesn’t matter and it shouldn’t be a basis for hatred either way.  

I kind of expected this to be less of a contemporary novel, but it still seemed very contemporary, especially with all of the family drama that was happening through the entire book.  There’s nothing wrong with contemporaries, and I know that they’re very popular, but I’ve never liked them, so this book just ended up not working for me.  

I’m going to stop my review here, because if you do plan to read this book I would suggest going into it without knowing that much about it.  

I’m giving this book two out of five stars, because I didn’t really like it, and I probably won’t keep my copy, but I did stay up an hour and a half later than I normally do just so I could finish it.  

Flawless (Pretty Little Liars #2) by Sara Shepard

Even though I kept my review for the first book in this series fairly spoiler free, the rest of the reviews will probably have a least a few spoilers, so read with caution.  

 

Before I get into what I did and didn’t like about this book, I have two things to tell you.  

The first thing has nothing to do with the actual story but kind of has to do with the book, and I’m emotionally scarred so you have to be too.  I bought this book used.  I buy most of my books used.  I rarely find anything in the books I buy, and if I do find something, chances are it’s a bookmark.  I’ve never found anything really memorable in a used book.  Until now.  I was about a hundred pages from the end of the when I flipped the page and more than ten very long, curly, black hairs fell out of the book.  My hair is short, straight, and ginger.  I don’t even live with anyone who has hair similar to this.  A stranger’s hairs seemed to be tucked into the book.  Obviously this doesn’t change my rating of the book, I just thought it was particularly horrible.  

The second thing has more to do with the actually story.  I bought the first four books of this series in a box set, and I assumed that this box set had the books in order.  Every other book box set I’ve ever bought-even the used ones-has had all the books in order, and I didn’t think to check this one.  So I picked up the second book in the box.  

I was a little confused that there seemed to be things that happened that I hadn’t read about, but I thought that maybe this was just a series where a lot of things happened in between books, and maybe all of the missing details would be filled in through backstory!  I got fifty pages into it before I realized that it was the third book and not the second.  

I am not proud of this, but it is funny.  

After I actually started reading the right book it made a lot more sense.  

There is far too much exposition in this book.  This series is really long, so if the author decided to remind the readers of obscure details that happened several books back, that would make sense.  That would be helpful because chances are people won’t remember the obscure little details from five or ten books back.  But this was the second book.  There were pages of exposition.  Some of it was just repeating the exposition from the first book.  She didn’t just limit herself to small details that were very briefly mentioned that people probably forgot, the author retold entire scenes that were very prominent and long in the first book.  

I think this is why it took me so long to realize that I was reading the third book.  Like I said before, I thought that this was just one of those series where each book takes place weeks or months after the book before it.  People had broken up, and suddenly a certain character had committed suicide, but there was so much exposition that I thought this must have been the first it was mentioned.  It’s kind of irritating to read through all of it, because I remember how Hannah first became bulimic.  It’s a pretty big plot point.  I’m not just going to forget it.  Retelling the entire thing just bogs down the story.  In this book there was already so much stuff about The Jenna Thing, you don’t have to throw in huge parts of the first book.  

I don’t even know if all of this exposition would be necessary in the later books.  Obviously, like I said before, obscure details, but if the later books are trying to finish the story, and also remind you of the last ten books, how’s it going to read?  I read ten books between reading the first and second book, and I didn’t forget things.  I don’t know.  At this rate, it seems like the last book will be all exposition.

I know that this complaint is fairly minor compared to some of the other things I’ve complained about in reviews, but, like my amp/bassist rant in my review of The Rules, this is a me thing, and I can’t not bring it up.  

Spencer says that Wren likes the same indie bands that she does.  The only band they mentioned both liking was Radiohead.  Radiohead isn’t an indie band.  This book came out the same year as In Rainbows.  Radiohead wasn’t even slightly an indie band in 2007.  Perhaps they could be referring to a different band as their indie band, one that they didn’t mention before, but the author mentions quite a few different musical artists through this book, so you’d think if Spencer and Wren both liked another band she would have mentioned it.  

Also, instead of mentioning the brand of clothes that everyone wears, why not mention all the bands they like?  You can learn a lot more about someone by knowing what bands they listen to than you would if you knew what designer made their shoes.  

Remember how I said, in my review of the first book in this series, that I wanted there to be less brand names as things got more serious?  Things obviously haven’t gotten too serious yet, but they’re getting worse, and there are still a lot of brand names.  I’m only on book two, so there’s still a long way to go, I was just hoping maybe there would be a little bit of a difference.  

Since I picked up the third book instead of the second, I did accidentally read some serious spoilers.  I wouldn’t say that they ruined this book, but it did take a lot of the shock out of some of the things that happened.  Like Toby’s suicide.  I wasn’t surprised, but I had read the spoilers.  I probably would have been if I hadn’t seen the spoilers.  I’ve been watching the tv series on Netflix, and Toby seems to survive a lot longer there.  

I can’t remember if I mentioned in my last review, but I don’t think I’m really in the target audience for this book.  I mainly read YA books, and I’ve been getting more into mysteries and thrillers lately, so I’m not entirely out of the target audience, but I’ve said before that I’m nothing like these characters, and I just don’t think I’m really in the target audience.  

I considered doing a semi-ironic playlist for this, but I couldn’t think of anything to put on it.  

But I won’t leave you entirely without music.  

While I was reading this, I had three lines from the chorus of the Blur song “There’s No Other Way” stuck in my head on a loop for about four hours.  I wouldn’t recommend doing that purposefully, but it’s accurate for my experience of reading the book.  

I’m giving this book two out of three stars.  Because I intend to finish the series, I just don’t like it that much.  

About rereading books/a kind of review of The Poison Eaters/general thoughts on things and people changing

This isn’t really a review, and it’s not really a discussion.  I don’t have any specific plans for what I’m going to say or how I’m going to say it, I’m just going to write, and we’ll see where it goes.  Obviously, this will be edited, and you’re not just going to get five pages of rambling stream of consciousness, I’m just saying that I can’t promise anything with this piece of writing.  

 

I read this book for the first time when I was thirteen.  At that time, I had just finished trying to be preppy and happy, and whatever else I thought people wanted me to be.  I was really angry about most things, as many thirteen year olds are, and my way of expressing my rage was to become emo.  It probably looked ridiculous with my ginger hair, but everyone makes weird fashion choices at some point in their life.  

Anyway, at thirteen I hated most things.  (I considered saying that I disliked most things, but I think it’s more accurate to say hated.  I’m still cynical and pessimistic, I was just far more vocal about it back then.)  The only thing I didn’t hate-other than My Chemical Romance and my long suffering cat-were Holly Black’s books.  

These characters were everything I wanted to be.  None of them liked their parents, or their town, or most of the people they hung out with, either.  They were all dark, rebellious, and snarky.  I could relate to them more than I could relate to most of my friends, at the time, and I would have rather hung out with these fictional characters than with anyone I knew.  Which, thinking back on it, is pretty unfair to all of my friends.  Sure, some of the people I liked when I was younger were horrible, but most of them were fine, I guess that’s thirteen for you.  

I’m going to move on before this becomes several pages of me cringing at younger me.  

To say that I loved this book would have been an understatement.  This book was everything to me.  I used to not even put it on my bookshelf-instead keeping it beside my bed, so I could reread parts of it whenever I felt like it.  If I had reviewed this book back then, it would have had five stars, and the review would have been twelve pages of fangirling.  

But not anymore.  

Now, even though I’m not cheerful and preppy, I’m not nearly as horrible as I was back then.  I’m still alternative, I’m just grunge instead of emo.  I also don’t listen to emo music unless I’m feeling particularly nostalgic.  The books that live beside my bed aren’t by Holly Black, they’re by Ray Bradbury and Douglas Adams.  As I’m writing this, I’m not listening to Fall Out Boy, I’m listening to a playlist of Blur, Radiohead, Joy Division, and Placebo.  Thirteen year old me would see me now as an insufferable hipster, and I’m not upset about that.  

I’m a completely different person than I was when I was thirteen.  But I didn’t think that it would change the way I thought about this book.  This book obviously meant everything to me for a reason, why wouldn’t it mean everything to me now?  

Sigh.  

I regret rereading this book.  I don’t think I can say that I regret reading any other book.  I didn’t like reading Twilight, but I don’t regret it.  A Clockwork Orange made me uncomfortable, and I don’t think I would have missed out on anything if I hadn’t read it, but I don’t know if I would use the word regret.  

I, without a doubt, regret rereading this.  If I hadn’t reread this, I would remember it forever as the book that I love, and a book that I read until it literally started falling apart.  Now I remember it as being kind of disappointing.  

It wasn’t too bad until I read the two stories that used to be my favorites.  I had remembered the one as having beautiful, yet subtle, world building.  In my mind, the story sounded like how I want my instagram to look.  I remembered it as being a beautiful, dark, grungy world, but it wasn’t.  I remember all of the stories having an atmosphere similar to this.  It’s just this story in particular that I remembered having the most, or the best, worldbuilding.  A lot of the reason I wanted to reread that story in particular was because I wanted to be immersed in that beautiful world building.  I guess it’s appropriate that, in my mind, I described it as subtle, because there wasn’t any.  I had a very active imagination, and apparently I had just imagined all the atmosphere.  Now I realize that much of the reason I loved this story was because of what I made it and not what it really was.  

The reason I liked the other short story was because I found the main character to be very relatable.  Now, looking back at it, I see exactly why I related to that character, and exactly why I liked him, but now there’s only one way that I’m like him, and the rest of everything that he does irritates me.  Not liking this story wasn’t as upsetting as not liking the other one, but it was still upsetting.  

I honestly considered putting the book down after I reread my two old favorites.  In the end, I decided to keep going because I had nothing left to ruin.  

Even though while rereading this I didn’t like it, I can’t fairly say that it’s a bad book.  If you’re the emo of your family, or you like dark urban fantasy, give this a try.  They aren’t as bad as I’ve made them out to be.  It’s just that I’ve stopped being so critical of the world around me, like the characters in the book are, so I don’t relate to them so much.  Maybe this is about growing up.  Maybe this is about changing points of view.  Maybe this is about seeing my place in the world and my family more clearly.  Maybe it’s about all of that.  

Given the amount of times that I’ve read this book, I think I can say that it’s probably done at least a little bit to make me the person I am today.  I still plan on keeping this book, I just won’t reread it ever again, and I probably won’t reread any of her other books that I loved.  

I don’t know what I would give this as far as a star rating goes.  I would have given it all the stars when I first read it, but now I would probably give it a low rating.  I don’t know.  It’s not bad if this is the kind of thing that you’re into, or if you’re the family emo, but if you’re more like me now, or if dark fantasy isn’t your thing, it’s probably not your cup of tea.  

Places No One Knows playlist

“Popular” – Nada Surf

I thought that the title of one of Marshall’s chapters was a reference to the title of the album this song is from.  Also, after the Radiohead reference in Paper Valentine, I wouldn’t have been surprised to see a Nada Surf reference in one of her books.  I also thinks that this song could work for several characters, depending on how you look at the song and the characters.  

 

“Twin Size Mattress” – The Front Bottoms

It’s mentioned that Marshall has a twin size mattress.  And I think this fits the mood of most of his chapters.  

 

“Parklife” – Blur

I think this fits more with the first half of the book than the second, but maybe it could work for Waverly’s friend group?  

 

“Cute Without the “E” (Cut From the Team)” – Taking Back Sunday

Autumn was emo, and this is a classic emo song.  It would be wrong of me to make a playlist for this book without including some emo music.  

 

“The Artist In The Ambulance” – Thrice

I don’t listen to ninety percent of the emo music I used to listen to; however, this is a song that I still listen to occasionally.  It’s not my favorite song in the world, but this is much more bearable than most of what I used to listen to.  

 

“Dance, Dance” – Fall Out Boy

There was a dance in the book, which Autumn helped with.  And this is another classic emo song.  

 

“Passing Through A Screen Door” – The Wonder Years

Another emo song, but I think it could be relatable for Marshall or Waverly.  

 

“Coffee and TV” – Blur

This song has themes of feeling like you don’t fit in and trying to find your place in the world.  I think all the characters could relate to this in some way.  

 

I considered putting in a song by Mindless Self Indulgence, since they were specifically mentioned in the book, but I only know one of their songs, and it’s entirely the wrong mood for this book.  Also, The Offspring is specifically mentioned in that part, too, but I would rather delete my blog than ever recommend a song by them.  

A review of Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff

Spoilers.  

 

Since I always make good decisions, I thought it would be a good idea to not take notes for this book while reading it.  Obviously I would remember everything I wanted to say.  Obviously the review wouldn’t suffer at all without me already having a very detailed outline.  Sigh.  So, point taken.  Notes next time.  Sorry dear readers.  

Marshall seems a lot like Finny from Paper Valentine.  Tall, wide shoulders, dark hair (even though Finny’s hair was bleached, it was naturally dark).  No one really liked them.  They’ve had hard lives, but really, they have a hearts of gold, and they’re incredibly sweet.  The fact that they’re very similar doesn’t make them dislikable-I liked both of them.  For some reason, I prefered Finny, but, if you asked, I couldn’t give you any specific reasons.  Anyway, these characters both have pretty similar personalities and appearances.  

It’s not just Finny and Marshall who are like this, though.  A lot of love interests seem to be tall with dark features and wide shoulders.  I’m not saying that guys who look like that are unnattractive.  Guys who look like that are fine.  But, in books, there are lots of tall, attractive, dark haired guys with wide shoulders.  It gets a little tiring to read about basically the same guy repeatedly.  I don’t have any specific problems with Finny or Marshall, I just think they’re both a little cliched.  Finny is probably slightly less cliched, in my opinion, which may be why I like him more, but I could just think that because I read Paper Valentine first.  

Even though I did like Marshall, I don’t think his relationship with Waverly will work out.  I do think that they’re a cute couple, but there are many couples who are cute in high school who don’t work out.  They think they’re going to be together forever, but in the end they realize that they aren’t as perfect as they thought they would be.  I just feel like their personalities are too different, and they didn’t even get to know each other very well before they started dating.  Maybe it would work out.  Maybe I have no idea what I’m talking about.  Whenever I read books about a cute couple, I want to be able to think of them being together forever (which is weird for the cynical pessimist that I am, but whatever), and with this book I just couldn’t see their relationship working out.  I think it would be a nice relationship for a few months.  Maybe it would be a nice relationship until the end of highschool, or until the middle of college, but not forever.  

One of the things that I really liked about the book is that Autumn was a realistic, not at all stereotyped, emo character.  Most of the emo characters I’ve read about have been stereotypical emos who probably cry themselves to sleep every night, sulk constantly, and probably write My Chemical Romance lyrics on their converse because *aesthetic*.  Autumn wasn’t like that at all.  She was actually a lot like how I was when I was emo, and I’ve never come across an emo character who was the kind of emo I was.  It was really cool to actually see an accurate, relatable emo girl.  I don’t even mind that she became kind of preppy in the end, because that’s not unrealistic.  Despite what everyone says when they’re emo, being emo is normally something you grow out of.  Then you’ll either become preppy (again), or you’ll become grunge instead, and then you’ll obsessively play Radiohead on the bass, like me.  Autumn was just written so perfectly.  I loved her.  The way she talked and acted was so real and I JUST CAN’T.  I LOVE HER.  

I like that there were occasionally chapters from Marshall’s perspective in addition to the chapters from Waverly’s perspective.  You get so much more out of their middle of the night interactions with both perspectives than you would if it was just one person telling the story.  I am slightly disappointed that Marshall’s chapter called “High, Low” wasn’t a reference to the Nada Surf album High/Low, but that’s just me, and I’m not complaining that it wasn’t a reference.  

I felt like not a lot of stuff happened in this book.  Waverly starts dating Marshall; Waverly stops hanging out with Meribeth and kind of becomes her own person.  All of the characters seem to grow as people, but that can’t be the only thing that happens in the book.  I did love this book, and I would recommend it, but in the end I was left wanting more.  I don’t know how I would suggest changing it to make more happen, because things do happen, it’s just that not that many things happen.  Even though I’m kind of complaining about this, I don’t think there was another way this could have been written.  Maybe this book is more about the characters developing as people instead of doing things.  Obviously, emotion and character development are very important things, and a novel without any emotion would be miserable to read, but I was still left wanting.  

Even though I didn’t dislike Waverly, she really reminded me of someone I used to be good friends with.  Now that person irritates me, so whenever Waverly was being especially like that person, I couldn’t help but find her annoying.  Mostly, she was a really well-written, interesting character, and, like I said before, all of the characters grow as people through the novel, so it’s really interesting to see her become a better person.  If you didn’t used to know someone who was like Waverly, you probably won’t find her at all irritating.  

This book wasn’t perfect, but I did really like it so I’m giving it five stars.  In the end, I think I like books with more action to go along with the character development.  A nice balance between action, character development, and world building makes for the best book.  

A Review of Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard

Last night, I was reading Pretty Little Liars.  I was sitting in my bedroom that smelled like vanilla because that’s the kind of perfume I wear.  Literally everything I own smells like vanilla.  In the distance, I can hear a car alarm.  I wish that whoever was stealing that car would just steal it faster.  Oh my god.  I’m trying to read a book.  You’re ruining my aesthetic.  Anyway.  Picture the scene:  I’m listening to Blur, wearing pajamas, and my cat is sleeping on the pillows on my bed.  There’s a little bit of eyeliner smeared under my eye, and I’m tapping my foot to the beat of “Beetlebum”.  I set down the book for a minute to write this semi-ironic mockery of a page from chapter thirteen because I think it might make a good opening for my review.  

I don’t know how I feel about this book.  Part of my brain says that since I binge watched most of the first season of the show on Netflix, and, if I had the time, I would have read this book in a sitting, I liked it.  But the other part of my brain says that since I was embarrassed to be seen reading it in public, I didn’t like it.  

Honestly, part of me is still embarrassed to admit that I’ve read this, yet here we are.  

Let’s talk about characters first.  I couldn’t relate to any of them, but I honestly didn’t expect to relate to any of them, so this isn’t a negative point, exactly.  It’s not a positive point, either, but since I went into this expecting to not relate, it doesn’t take anything away from the book.  

That said, I still didn’t really like the characters.  All of them are pretty much the opposite of anything that I am.  Even though I said that I don’t care that I don’t relate to them-and I honestly do not care that I don’t relate to them-it goes beyond that.  I don’t even like them as people.  Hannah steals from the mall (seemingly frequently); Aria drinks underage and dates a teacher (more on that later); and Spencer kisses her sister’s boyfriend.  I didn’t mind Emily, but I didn’t love her, either.  

Aria’s relationship with Ezra really bothers me.  I know that the age difference between them isn’t huge, and in an older couple it wouldn’t be weird at all, but Ezra is in his twenties and Aria is still in high school.  This isn’t even legal.  Sure, you can find plenty of “Ezria” hate online, but you can find just as much, if not more, stuff about how this is true love, and a beautiful relationship.  I don’t think I ship it.  I’ve had problems in the past with relationships in books where one character is in their teens and the other in their twenties.  I’m not just going to let this one go because it’s a popular ship.  I’ve only read the first book, but from what I’ve seen from the commercials for the show, and from discussions on tumblr, it seems to be one of the main ships in the fandom.  I don’t know.  I just can’t get behind something like this.  When one person in a relationship is so much older than the other, it is too easy for them to take advantage of the younger person.  And, if not that, the older person’s personality could take over and the younger person could lose their identity.  There are times when it is good to have someone your own age to relate to.  When it comes to working out first serious relationships, this is one of those times.   

I noticed that there was a lot of product placement in this book.  The brand name of every piece of clothing was mentioned down to the specific color because nothing in this book can be left to the imagination.  But it went further than brand names.  In one part of the book, Hannah is looking for ice cream and there is literally this line:  “Her mom didn’t buy Ben and Jerry’s, so Tofutti Cutie 50-percent-less sugar faux ice-cream sandwiches would have to do.”  I feel like I just sat through an ad.  I feel like the author should have added “#not-sponsored” after that line.  Unless it was sponsored and, if it was, what even.  There were so many other ways that the author could have phrased that.  Maybe, “Her mom didn’t buy good ice cream, so the hippy vegan ice cream would have to do.”  Or something along those lines.  That line isn’t flawless, but you get what I mean.  

There’s only one situation where I would be okay with this.  If, as the series went on, and things got darker (because from what I’ve seen from commercials and tumblr things get really serious later in the series), the brand names would be mentioned less and less, until there weren’t any.  Almost like in the beginning of the series the characters were more concerned with brand names and fashion than anything else, and, later in the series, they became less concerned with it.  Or maybe they even stopped being concerned with it at all because they had much more important things to think about.  It would show character development.  I would actually be really happy if it ended up being that way.  Fingers crossed, at least they would have some redeeming qualities.  

This book reads like it’s being written by a preppy teenage girl.  Which was probably the goal, since it’s about a group of preppy teenage girls, but it was kind of weird to read.  Some of the ways things are worded makes them sound so vapid and irritating.  This isn’t my biggest complaint.  I know that the author probably did this purposefully, and even if she didn’t, it makes sense.  It just make me want to rip my hair out.

While I was reading the book I thought the author was misusing the phrase “hook-up”.  The characters seem to use it to mean sleeping with someone OR just making out with them.  There’s a huge difference between those two things.  Also, in every other book I’ve read, hook-up has meant only one thing.  According to the internets, hook-up can mean just making out with someone, but I’ve literally never heard it in this context before and honestly didn’t even know that it could be used in this context.  I guess it’s not wrong.   It’s just being used in a way I’m not used to, but I actually had to look it up to figure out how it was being used.  

I’m kind of worried about this series.  According to wikipedia, it seems like there are sixteen books in the series.  I don’t know how the author is going to keep this interesting for sixteen entire books.  From what I’ve seen, a lot of different people are or could be “A”, and there’s a lot of drama, but this has to go on for sixteen books.  How repetitive is this going to get?  I’m really hoping that this isn’t one of those series where each book has roughly the same plot, just different people doing the same things.  I’m kind of worried that this is going to end up being one of those series.  

On a kind of fangirly side note, I really liked that Spencer liked Radiohead.  I know it’s a very small part of the book, and it wasn’t a huge plot point, but it’s Radiohead, so it’s worth mentioning.

I ended up giving this book three stars on Goodreads, because this is my second time reading it, and I intend to finish reading the series.  I kind of hate myself for giving it this rating, but it’s honest and fair, so three stars.  

A review of White Space by Ilsa J. Bick

I’m going to try to be spoiler free, but I don’t know how I’m going to do, and there will probably be vague spoilery things scattered throughout.  Read at your own risk.  The entire review is very vaguely spoilery with some more spoilery bits.  There is one very specific spoiler, but I marked it.  It’s probably best to go into this book not knowing too much, so even though there is more I could talk about, I’m not going to.  I don’t want to possibly ruin the reading experience for you.  

 

I’m sure you can tell from reading my other reviews that I don’t frequently give out five star ratings.  Many books are given two or three stars.  Four if I enjoyed them.  But not this book.  This book was so good.  I don’t want to say that I didn’t expect to like it, because I did expect to like it, but I definitely didn’t expect to like it as much as I did.  I’ve come pretty close to crying at some books this year, but this was the first book I’ve read all year that actually made me cry.  I didn’t cry a lot, but I cried a bit, and that counts.  

This book was weird, because there are some aspects of it that I’ve hated when they were in other books but loved here.  Like how, at the end of almost every chapter, it would end in a cliffhanger or literally just stop mid sentence.  I think there are some reviews on this blog where I complain about cliff hangers,  but here they worked.  I don’t even know how.  I was surprised that I wasn’t irritated.  I completely expected to find the cliffhangers and unfinished sentences irritating at some point, but I didn’t.  They worked for the entire story.  Somehow.  Honestly, I don’t even know how the author did that.  

This book did take awhile to read.  Obviously, since it’s a five-hundred-fifty-one page book, it’s not going to be something I can read in three hours.  But I figured that since it’s a young adult book, and I can normally read about fifty or sixty pages of a young adult book per hour, that I would be able to read this fairly quickly.  

That wasn’t the case.  

I didn’t keep track of how long it took to read this book, but it was probably about twice the amount of time I thought it would be.  It’s not a bad thing that it took so long to read, but it did throw off my reading/reviewing schedule a bit because I thought it would take a week to read, and it ended up taking much longer than that.  Like I said, this isn’t a bad thing, and this isn’t a complaint.  I’m used to being able to read books fairly quickly, and this one was not something that could be finished quickly, and, even though I don’t mind now, it was kind of irritating while reading.  

It could have just been me, but it felt like the second half of the book went faster than the first half.  It’s totally possible that it was all in my head because, for the first half of the book, I felt like I was going to be reading this book until I died, and it just felt better to know that I was half done with it.  I also started to dislike Emma at some point, but I stopped disliking her after I got more than halfway through the book.  I’m pretty sure that I only felt the way I did because I was feeling unproductive and like I wasn’t reading enough, and for some reason I took out that frustration by randomly disliking her.  

While I’m on the topic of Emma, around the middle of the book the chapters from her perspective got longer and, since I was in the middle of my Emma-hate, this irritated me.  I understand now that all of those chapters were setting stuff up for the end.  After having finished the book, I’m glad that there was so much detail put into all of the stuff in the middle; however, while I was reading it, I didn’t realize that this was all worldbuilding.  I thought that it was just random side-plot.  Even though I’m very happy with how it was done, at the time, it just made me moody.  

I think this might be a book that you have to completely finish before you decide if you like it or not.  My opinions of it went back and forth A LOT while reading this.  During the beginning I loved it, during the middle I got a little irritated, and then I started loving it again towards the end.  After I finished it, the bits in the middle that I didn’t like before started to make sense, and I stopped disliking them.  

The characters were interesting because all of the characters I expected to love, I didn’t, and all the characters I didn’t expect to love, I did.  I expected to really like Eric and like Casey slightly less (for whatever reason), but I actually really liked Casey.  Maybe I liked Casey more because Eric is more like me?  And it is so easy to pick apart the flaws of a character who is too much like me.    I don’t know.  I also prefered Tony and Rima over Emma, which ended in a lot of sadness for me, but I’m not going to go into detail about why because spoilers.  

Pretty much any expectation you have for this book will be wrong.  In a good way.  

One thing I didn’t like was that some characters would show up and then die very quickly after they came into the story.  I know that a lot of these characters were meant to be side characters, but still.  {Spoiler} Mainly this is me complaining about Tony.  He should have been a main character.  He deserved better.  I’m still bitter about this.  {End spoiler}

On a side note, kind of about that spoiler, I really liked the scenes from that part with all the gasoline on the ground when Tony, Rima, and Casey were all in the van together.  It was really well written, and, in my opinion, one of the creepiest parts of the book.  

The other complaint that I have is that I didn’t love the dialog.  For the most part, the dialog was fine.  Better than fine.  It was great.  I loved this book.  But I didn’t like how much stuttering the characters did.  I get that they’re scared, and stuttering is a way to show that they’re scared, but use it sparingly.  After a while it just got kind of awkward to read and it kind of took away from how serious the book was.  

I really liked the part with the black goo.  It reminded me of a thing I watched on TV when I was way too young to be watching that kind of horror.  In the show I watched,  there was some kind of black goo that would melt people, or, if I’m remembering correctly, make them murder people or themselves in horrible ways.  If I’m remembering correctly, the black goo wasn’t the main thing.  The bigger part of the plot was that people in a small town were killing themselves or other people in bizarre, disturbing ways, but it’s been a lot time since I’ve watched this, so I don’t remember everything perfectly.  The black goo is what I remember most, and it haunts my dreams to this day, so that part was much creepier than it would have been if I hadn’t watched this thing.  

The ending seemed to go by a little quickly.  Not in a bad way, and it was written well, but it just seemed to move kind of quickly.  I honestly don’t think that there could have been any other way to write it, and there couldn’t have been random bits of backstory while all of the stuff was happening at the end.  I did still like it, it’s just that there was so much more happening and it suddenly got kind of sad (this is where I cried).  

Even though I do have some complaints, I would still rate this book five out of five stars.  

Cogling by Jordan Elizabeth Mierek

Spoilers.  Because this is more of a rant than a review.  I did not like this book.  If it was the end all, be all of books for you, look away.

 

I honestly don’t know where to start with this.  This is the fourth time I tried to write this review/rant.  I don’t know what to talk about first or what order to put my complaints in.  This might be all over the place, but AT LEAST I FINALLY WROTE IT.  

I did not like this book.  The one star rating I gave it on goodreads was far more than it deserved.  Quite frankly, I think it could pull stars away from other books by sitting too close to them on the shelf.  

Let’s start with the characters.  

None of the characters act like teenagers.  Enda is fifteen, but she acts like she’s twelve or younger.  She doesn’t think like a teenager or use the logic that a teenager would.  Here’s an example, she thinks that if she goes to the police or the king (that escalated quickly, because everyone just gets in to see the king the way they do) they’ll help her with all of her problems and everything will be okay.  At fifteen, and living in a corrupt and class-divided society, I wouldn’t have thought that.  I wouldn’t even have thought that at thirteen.  Does the author just not know any teenagers?  Or does she just develop characters really poorly?  I don’t know.  This is just one of many examples.  It seems that every time Edna expresses an opinion or devises a plan her thinking is incomplete and immature.  

It bothers me that most of the reason Edna wants to get her brother back is because he keeps “the evil” away.  She mentions saving him to keep “the evil” away many times but never says she misses him or loves him for his own sake.  She doesn’t want to save him because it’s the right thing to do, or because she’s his sister, and she loves him.  She wants to save him for a reason that’s kind of selfish, in my opinion.  

I’m really bothered by the way the romance is written in this book.  Ike is very aggressive with the way he kisses Edna, and it’s kind of disturbing to read about.  Literally, the first time he kissed her, he stuck his tongue in her mouth and kissed her in a really weird aggressive way.  There was too much detail put into each description of a kiss.  I don’t want to hear about how Edna’s knees got weak or about Ike’s tongue.  It’s disturbing and gross.  It adds nothing to the plot.  I’ve read American Gods, which is very explicit in some scenes, so it’s not as if I’ve never seen this sort of thing before.  But there are big differences.  In American Gods, the characters were consenting adults and their actions fit with the plot.  In Cogling, one character is a seemingly experienced street-boy-prince and the other character is a sheltered, naive, young housemaid.  Given the immaturity of Edna, and the simplicity of the plot, the kissing bits seem to serve no purpose other than to boost the book from middle grade to young adult.  

Also, can we talk for a second about the similarities between the way the doctor kisses Rachel and the way that Ike kisses Edna?  The same words are used, the boy and the man do the same things.  But when the doctor kisses Rachel, it’s creepy and weird, yet when Ike kisses Edna it’s supposed to be romantic.  The doctor’s kisses are creepy because he sticks his tongue in her mouth, but when Ike does it it’s fine?  What?  You can’t say something is romantic, and even desirable, in one sentence, and then say that it’s creepy and wrong in the next.  I know their intentions are different, but Edna could have been as upset by Ike’s kisses as Rachel was by the doctor’s.  Just because you don’t mean to be creepy doesn’t mean something isn’t creepy.  Also, I don’t know many girls who like to feel that they are being kissed in a forced and aggressive way.  This doesn’t make for romance.  It justifies rape culture.  

Also, whenever it talks about Ike thinking of Edna, the book says that he thought about her lips or her mouth.  One time it actually said something about how he thought about how her lips were swollen after nearly drowning.  She nearly died, and he’s thinking about how her mouth is attractive?  I sat here for five minutes trying to think of how to describe what I feel, and the only thing I could come up with were many disgusted facial expressions.  Oh my god.  Then, whenever he talks to her he looks at her lips.  That’s not love.  He’s objectifying her.  But this seems to go along with the author’s conception of love.  Ike loves Edna for her physical characteristics, and Edna loves her brother because he can make her good.  No one loves anyone because of their personality or their intelligence or their wit.  I guess even the author knew this would be too big of a suspension of disbelief since none of the characters had personalities developed far enough to identify with let alone fall in love with.  (Burn.)

The grammar in this book is horrifying.  In one sentence she uses “its” instead of “it’s” twice (even my grammar checker is highlighting my retelling of her grammar errors).  Not just one stupid grammar mistake that should have been caught during the editing process but two.  In the same sentence.  There were also times when there were literally just misspelled words.  It seems like in some parts of the book the author started to use a simple word but decided to step-up her writing with the ever helpful thesaurus.  Instead of picking a better word, though, she got one that was vaguely close-ish to the original word and used it even though it was semantically incorrect.  For example, Edna’s finger is irritated from rubbing something, but it says that her finger was “exfoliated.”  Exfoliated doesn’t mean that your skin has been rubbed off to the point of pain (if it did, body wash would be so hardcore), it means scrubbing dead skin off.  I don’t know why she chose to use this word instead of saying that her finger was rubbed raw or something.  It took something away from the scene because the author was trying to be serious, then she wrote exfoliate, and I couldn’t take it seriously.  

I kept forgetting that this is a young adult book.  At least I think it’s a young adult book.  I’m honestly not sure because in one sentence Edna will be acting like a ten year old, and in the next she’ll be calling some woman an “alley whore.”  I’m not kidding.  This is an actual quote.  I would assume that that kind of thing wouldn’t be in a middle grade novel, but I would also assume that the writing would be a little more complex, and the characters would be a little more mature in a young adult book.  

Everything in the plot of this book was so easy.  Edna needed someone to take her to the swamp and then IMMEDIATELY she found Ike.  But she didn’t just find him, he tried to rob her, then he heard her story and decided he would take her to the swamp.  And, of course, he knew exactly how to get to the swamp and how to defeat the hags.  Whenever they needed something it was right there and easy to find.  It’s so unrealistic.  That’s not how life works, and that’s not how a book should work either.  Not a well-written book anyway.

There was a part towards the end where for half of a page there was a bit that got really into social justice, and then she just dropped it.  I had been told by a friend who had read this that there was a bit of social justice stuff at the end, but it was random and very quickly dropped, so I was looking for that part. I honestly didn’t realize that that was the part until I had finished the book and there was nothing else about social justice.  I kept thinking that that part wasn’t actually the bit my friend was talking about because, if I hadn’t been told that it was coming, and if I hadn’t been looking out for it, I probably wouldn’t even have noticed it.  I’m not exaggerating when I say there was half a page on this stuff.  Wait, no, I am exaggerating.  There was less.  And it was weird as it didn’t really fit with the rest of the story.  If there had been bits of social justice stuff scattered throughout the story, then a lot at the end, where maybe it would become the point of the book, it would have been more reasonable.  As it was handled, it doesn’t add anything to the plot, and I can’t imagine why the author put this in.  In fact, it makes everyone seem even more shallow when it gets dropped at the point when Edna and company can be rich and live in the castle.  Social justice doesn’t matter anymore, I guess.   

I’m going to end my criticisms of the book here, even though there are plenty more things that are wrong with it that I haven’t mentioned yet.  I could honestly go on for hours about everything that’s wrong with it, but it would be weird to have a review longer than the book.  

But before we leave this train wreck, I want to say a few more things about this sort of book and publishing.  

Whoever bought this book was looking for a well-written, enjoyable book, and instead they got this waste of paper.  (Those poor sad trees.  I’m sure they dreamed of being more than this.  Toilet paper, maybe?)  It’s not okay to publish something this bad because it’s not fair to the readers.  Your goal as an author, or as a publisher, should be to make books that are well-written and that people would actually get something out of.  This publisher is obviously not doing that.  There were spelling and grammar mistakes that should have been picked up by the word processor the author used, or, if not that, an editor should have noticed.  If you’re going to publish something, it should at least be grammatically correct.  

Another reason it’s not fair is that it’s not fair to the author.  The publisher (for the little they are worth) never pushes the author to be better.  They take a book that’s worse than a first draft written by a thirteen year old and they publish it.  I’m sure it feels great for the author to be able to hold their published book, but wouldn’t they feel more proud to have a book they know is amazing?  Maybe some of these authors have some kind of talent that could actually become something if they really worked on it.  However, instead of pushing themselves to be better, and instead of editors pushing them to be better, they get their poorly written novel published and think they have well-developed talent.  There are plenty of positive reviews on this book on goodreads.  If the author checked the reviews, I’m sure she’d see all the positive ones and ignore the negative ones, because that’s what people do.  But without an editor to push her, or the bad reviews to goad her, is she going to improve?

A few words on the so called publisher.  The information on the website about submitting a manuscript sounds like the rules for a writing contest for children.  When I was younger, I would enter a lot of writing contests for children, so I know what these things look like.  If I didn’t already know that this was a serious website for publishing a book, I would have thought it was something for children.  If your professional website looks like a contest for children to enter, you may want to rethink your would-be publishing empire.  Really the bulk of this book’s problems lay at the feet of the publisher and their editors.  This book has the potential to be a really interesting book if it was edited well, and the author was encouraged to fix the issues.  She would gain experience, becoming a better author.  The public would get a book worth reading.  The publisher should be ashamed of themselves.  These days everyone wants to be famous and fast.  Great authors work for years and years to hone their craft under the guidance of good editors.  Publishing houses that just churn out work without challenging the authors to do better serve no one but themselves.  

Like I said before, I gave this book one star on goodreads.  I would have given it no rating, but I’m pretty sure the only book I haven’t given a rating was Lord of the Flies, and that was because it messed with my emotions so much that I didn’t know how to rate it.  (The boy with the glasses.  Need I say more?)  I know exactly how I want to rate this book, my problem is just that one star isn’t low enough.  But, until goodreads starts to offer ratings of negative numbers, I guess I’ll just have to stick with one star.  

If you were thinking of reading this, please don’t.  Spend your hard-earned money on something better.  Perhaps Twilight.  I hate Twilight.  

The Program by Suzanne Young

Spoilers.  

 

I don’t actually remember why I bought this book.  The idea is far too close to a contemporary (I don’t read contemporaries.  Ever.), and the world isn’t nearly dystopian enough for me to forgive that.  I think I bought it because it was two dollars at a used book store, and, for some reason, I was curious.  

It’s possible that since I read and love things like Brave New World and Fahrenheit 451, this kind of dystopian just doesn’t do it for me anymore?  But even if that’s the case, this still didn’t seem that dystopian.  In the book, pretty much everything was the same as it is now, the only thing that was different is that suicide was an epidemic.  Which, by itself, isn’t dystopian.  Yes, there are people from “The Program” who can take people’s children and wipe their memories, and the parents don’t seem to see this as a bad thing, but, again, that alone does not make it dystopian.  So many things I’ve read about this book say that it’s a really good dystopian novel but I’m really just not seeing it.  There isn’t even an oppressive government, or mentions of some horrific war.  If I hadn’t repeatedly heard people say that it was dystopian, I wouldn’t have thought that it was.  It didn’t even have the dark, ominous, haunted feeling of a dystopian novel.  It reads like a depressing contemporary.  

Even though I’m going to complain about this book a lot, it did have an interesting idea. If it was written right (and written with way more sci-fi in it), it could have been really good.  But it wasn’t written that way, and I didn’t like it.  

The idea of “The Program” itself is kind of disturbing.  Teenagers are sent away to literally get their memories erased because they were sad.  Then they’re fed a bunch of lies about what their life had been like before “The Program”, and they’re released into the world to live their hollow lives.  (Saying “released” made me think of The Giver, which is a much better, and much creepier, dystopian.  If you’re thinking of reading The Program, you should read The Giver instead.  It sticks with you in that creeping way of a good dystopian.)  This could have been done so well.  It had so much potential.  If this had been written differently, this could have been so good.  I’m going to talk more about how it could have been written to be better at the end of the review.  

That’s pretty much the only thing I could say that I liked about the book.  

I’ve seen other reviews of this book praising it because it very openly talks about sex.  I don’t know how I feel about this.  The other reviewers were saying things about how it’s important to talk about these things very openly because these are things that teenagers go through, and they need to be talked about.  I know that some teenagers do go through this kind of thing.  But some don’t.  I haven’t even had a boyfriend yet.  I’d honestly rather have another electric guitar than have a boyfriend, so obviously relationships are not a big deal for me.  I know a lot of other teenagers who haven’t had a relationship yet, so obviously relationships, and the physical side of relationships, isn’t something that every teenager experiences.  But you never see a book written for the teenager who doesn’t want a relationship yet.  You only see the ones written for the teenagers who are in relationships or who desperately want them.  Honestly, I can only think of four of my friends who have actually dated anyone, and two of them dated each other, so…  No, I don’t have a huge group of friends, but still.  Who would want a boyfriend when you can have cats and books and Radiohead CDs?  And, really, some of us are just busy trying to figure ourselves out, let alone trying to hold one half of a relationship together.  

I’m getting away from my point.  If the physical side of Sloane’s and James’ relationship had added something to the plot, I probably wouldn’t be complaining about it right now.  But it didn’t add anything to the plot.  Maybe some of the praise coming from reviewers is because the author didn’t try to hide what happened behind a bunch of weird metaphors?  In this book they just say what happens and don’t try to hide it.  They don’t go into voyeuristic, graphic, explicit detail, they just don’t hide it.  Which I guess could be good?  I’ve read books where I think two of the characters might have done something… or there could have just been a lot of kissing.  And it’s not like I was just not paying enough attention.  I would reread those parts repeatedly to see if I could actually figure out what happened, and every time it was just as vague and confusing.  It’s irritating when you can’t tell what exactly is happening in a book, and I’m glad that they didn’t hide it behind weird metaphors, but I still don’t see a reason for this to have been in the book.  It adds nothing to the plot.  Actually, it may take away from the plot.  But, as one of my friends who has also read the book says, you can’t take away from the plot when the book doesn’t have one.  

As a side note, imagine a world where many teens did not remember who they had even had sex with because their memories were wiped.  Where does this lead?  If they go back to their lives believing they are virgins, what of the people who knew them before?  Would they end up depressed again because everyone knew things about them that they didn’t remember?  Would they forget that they had a horrible relationship with someone before “The Program” and then get back into the same bad relationship right after “The Program”?  

This book is very similar to the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and that movie actually covers this.  The two main characters fall in love, break up, get their memories wiped, and then fall in love again.  There’s another character who falls in love with someone, gets her memories wiped, and then falls in love with him again.  Clearly this is an issue, and part of the plot of the whole movie.  You will make the same mistakes again, in love or life, if you can’t remember them from the first time around and grow from them.  

I think the biggest similarity between the  two is the way the memories were wiped.  In The Program, a person would take a pill, and talk about their memories, and the pill would attach itself to the memories or something, and then the second pill would erase them.  In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the person would talk about the memories, and I think there was some kind of brain scan thing to locate the memories, and then they would erase them later.  That’s just so similar.  Also, The Program came out nine (I think) years after the movie did.  I’m not saying plagiarism, I’m just saying.  Anyway, this movie is much better than The Program.  Which is weird for me to say, because the movie was a rom-com, and I don’t like rom-coms.  But this was one was really good, and if you want romance and memory erasing, try this instead.  

The relationship between Sloane and James made me realize that it’s kind of boring to read about a relationship that’s already been established.  It’s fun to read about people falling in love.  It’s less fun to read about people who have already fallen in love.  And even though there was plenty of backstory about how they fell in love, it wasn’t the same.  When you’re reading something where the people haven’t admitted their feelings yet, or they haven’t fallen in love, anything could happen.  Maybe they won’t even end up together.  Who knows what could happen!  But in this, you knew what was going to happen, and it just wasn’t fun.  

It was kind of hard to read a personal narrative from someone who was as sad as Sloane was.  I have no problem with a sad narrator or a sad main character, my personality trends toward the sadder, depressive end of the pool.  I actually like sad or sulky narrators better than really happy ones, especially when they’re really sarcastic and self-deprecating.  I find them really relatable.  Those are probably my favorite narrators.  Anyway, it was hard to read this because almost every chapter ended with Sloane saying that she wanted to die or talking about how much she hates her life.  I get that the point of this book is that she was so sad that she was sent away to “The Program”, but all of her thoughts were about how sad she was and how she couldn’t function.  I know that some sad people are like that, but I’m not that type of sad person so she was hard to relate to.  Even in the end, when she was happy, I didn’t want to read about her.  Partly because, at this point, she was only a shell of a person, and maybe partly because she was so irritating during the first half of the book that I couldn’t form any connection with her.  I don’t know.  

I like sad narrators when they’re like the one from “Love Will Tear Us Apart” from Zombies VS. Unicorns.  For some reason I’m blanking on his name.  Whatever.  That short story is funny in some parts, but in other parts he completely drops all of the humor, and you can see that he’s deeply sad.  That short story, even though it’s mostly sarcastic and snarky, has some of the saddest, most poetic lines I’ve ever read.  Maybe The Program also had some sad, poetic lines that I just missed?  But the entire book was meant to be sad, so particularly sad lines wouldn’t stand out like they did in “Love Will Tear Us Apart”.  Also, it wasn’t poetic in any way, so I seriously doubt that there was some beautiful, profound line that I just entirely missed.  I don’t know.  I’ve gotten entirely off topic. If I don’t stop now I’m going to keep talking about the short story, and, instead of having a review of The Program, I’ll have twenty pages of fangirling about a short story that has nothing to do with this book.  

Basically, to sum up the last two paragraphs, I like sad narrators with a really good sense of humor, and Sloane was just horribly sad with no sense of humor.  

Another reason that I didn’t like the super sad narrator is that I mirror the emotions of the characters I read about.  Even if I don’t connect with a character or like a character, I will mirror their emotions, and I won’t even realize that the emotions I’m feeling aren’t mine.  Because of this, reading this book made me a sad mess.  I’m normally sadder than the average person, but since I’m always like that, I’m used to it.  It’s my normal.  What I was feeling during and after reading this book was not my normal level of sad.  Not everyone mirrors book characters, so this may not be a problem for you.  But it was a problem for me, and I’m sure it’s a problem for some other people, so I’m mentioning it.  

This story was really predictable.  Obviously she gets sent to “The Program”.   Obviously there’s a love triangle.  Somehow there’s a rebellion against “The Program” (you would think they would just wipe their memories and nip that in the bud) that she can join at the end, and, even though that was weird, it does follow the path of pretty much every young adult “dystopian”, so it’s not too surprising.  If all of your knowledge of the world came from young adult books, you would think that all teenagers do is rebel against oppressive governments or authority figures.  To be fair, I honestly didn’t see the whole rebellion thing coming, but that’s not a good thing because it’s even less believable than the rest of the book, and the rest of the book isn’t that believable.  

On a different note, I’ve noticed recently that there seem to be a lot of suicide books.  Thirteen Reasons Why came out ten years ago, and suddenly it’s a series on Netflix.  The Program series centers around suicide, and there are three books and several novellas in the series out already.  Also, it’s not like a bunch of adults are writing these, but teens aren’t into them.  These books are selling.  These books are popular.  Many teenagers are buying and reading suicide books.  And there’s no way that I’m the only teenager who mirrors book characters, so I’m sure that there are many other teenagers who read books like this and then feel deeply sad.  Some of those teenagers probably started off more sad than I did, so how are they coping with this?  This seems concerning!  People should be concerned!  Why are suicide books so popular?  Are teens okay?  Are suicide books becoming the next big thing?  :/  Clearly, if they become the new big thing, this blog will be a fangirl heaven for Vonnegut, Bradbury, and Arthur C. Clarke.  

 

If I had written this book, it wouldn’t be a series with three or more novels.  It would be a Bradbury-ish short story.  In my version, “The Program” wouldn’t hide the fact that they’re erasing people’s memories, yet the parents would be okay with that.  Parents would willingly send their kids away to get their memories erased.  Isn’t that scarier?  

From there, there are two directions it could go.  The first one is that the book would focus on Realm.  Instead of all of the nonsense about him falling in love with Sloane and then finding her after she was done with The Program, I would have him fall in love with her and then never tell her.  He would do this because he would take his job very seriously, he would want her to recover, and he wouldn’t want to risk her not recovering just because of him.  Maybe he would even know that he would never find someone else like her, that she would be the only girl he would ever fall in love with, but he loves her enough to let her go.  This experience would make him grow as a person, but he would also get very sad because he just watched the only girl he would ever love walk away (maybe she would even forget him).  Because of his sadness, they would wipe his memories too, erasing all that he gained as a person from the experience.  

The other way I could go with it would still focus on Sloane, but it would start on the day that she was taken away to “The Program”.  In my version, no one around her would have tried to kill themselves, and she wouldn’t even be that sad.  She would be sad, obviously, but not to the extent that she was in the book.  Her parents probably would have sent her away because they didn’t want to be the people with the sulky child.  At first, most of the story would be about how she didn’t want to forget her life, and how it was all a misunderstanding, and she shouldn’t be there.  But as the story progressed, she would slowly stop complaining as she forgot everything and became a hollow shell of a person, albeit a socially acceptable hollow shell, that her parents were proud to have.  Have a little soma, my dear, you’ll feel much better.  (And if you don’t know what that refers to, you need to read more of the old dystopians.)

In my opinion, both of those would be much sadder than the original and also much better.  

I’m sure that at the end of this series there will be some kind of happy ending.  But that’s not realistic.  In the real world, there aren’t always happy endings, and even though I don’t want every book to be something that could totally happen in the real world, there need to be some books that don’t have happy endings.  I know I’m guessing at the end of a series I will likely never read, but there is a time and a place for endings that make you sad.  This should be one of them.  

One and a half out of five stars.  Because this could have been wonderfully sad, and maybe it could have really meant something, but instead it followed every young adult book cliche.  And it was so maudlinly sad as to be hard to read.  

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