Monday, September 24, 2012

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

Publication Date: June 16, 2009
Publisher: Speak
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 383
Synopsis: It’s been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parents’ divorce—or since the fighting started. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live.

A job in a clothes boutique introduces Auden to the world of girls: their talk, their friendship, their crushes. She missed out on all that, too busy being the perfect daughter to her demanding mother. Then she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she’s been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend.
Review: First thing's first: My copy of this has the new cover. You know the one. All of Sarah's books got makeovers recently. And although I do like the new covers, I'm still extremely fond of the old ones. I mean, look at that cover right above this! It's adorable! I don't know why they changed them. So I'm going to ask you guys: do you prefer the old or new covers? Anyway. To the review.

   I'm a solid fan of Sarah Dessen, although some books are better than others. This is definitely one of the better ones. In fact, Along for the Ride is currently competing with The Truth About Forever in my head for the title of Sophia's Favorite Dessen Book. (To be quite honest, though, TTAF is probably going to win--it just has that special place in my heart.)

   Auden is an intelligent girl. She's a hard-worker and very mature, which made her grow up quickly and took away her opportunities to experience normal teenage girl things, such as slumber parties, sneaking out, parties, etc. She reminded of Macy from TTAK in that way. However, Auden is also very judgmental and afraid, not wanting to go out of her comfort zone.

   That changes when she spends the summer in Colby with her father and stepmother, Heidi. I liked Heidi a lot. She was a character I could sympathize with, and I loved how the reader got to see lots of layers to her. Auden's father, on the other hand, I wanted to slap. Multiple times. Okay, basically every time he was in a scene. But whatever. Auden's new friends, Maggie, Leah, and Esther, were lovely characters. I became very fond of them quickly.

   Like in all of Sarah's books, the protagonist starts off very flat and then gradually blossoms. The plot starts off slow and quite a few pages pass before the reader can really get into the story. And--this is probably everybody's favorite part--there's a swoon-worthy boy.

   Eli was such a great character. I loved him. He was sweet and likable. He said so much but with so few words. Basically, he was a classic Dessen boy.

   I don't know what it was about this book that made it so much more likable than... I don't know, Just Listen or What Happened to Goodbye, but for some reason, I really fell in love with Along for the Ride. Along for the Ride is the perfect read, whether you're at a beach or at home, procrastinating on homework. It has the perfect blend of self-discovery, romance, and happiness.

   4.5 keys.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian

Publication Date: September 18, 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster BFYR
Format: ARC
Page Count: 368

Lillia has never had any problems dealing with boys who like her. Not until this summer, when one went too far. No way will she let the same thing happen to her little sister.

Kat is tired of the rumours, the insults, the cruel jokes. It all goes back to one person– her ex-best friend– and she's ready to make her pay.

Four years ago, Mary left Jar Island because of a boy. But she's not the same girl anymore. And she's ready to prove it to him.

Three very different girls who want the same thing: sweet, sweet revenge. And they won't stop until they each had a taste.
Review: If Burn for Burn was a food, I think it'd be potato chips--addictive, enjoyable, but not substantially filling. Let me explain.

   Burn for Burn is definitely an entertaining book. But I guess I was expecting a little more, especially since Jenny Han's Summer series is one of my favorites. The three main characters, Mary, Lillia, and Kat were all fun to read about, as each had their own voice and history, but they lacked the depth I was accustomed to while reading Jenny Han's other books. (I know I'm mentioning Jenny Han a lot, even though she co-wrote it with Siobhan Vivian, but it's because I haven't read much of Siobhan's books. Only one, actually.)

   The plot was definitely really interesting. It kept me turning pages and wanting to know every vengeful act. The revenge plans were so entertaining. I'm not sure if I should feel bad for liking reading about revenge, or if it's just the effect of a good book, but either way, I couldn't help but root for the three girls.

   The ending felt rushed. A lot of things went on within a small number of pages, and I wished the authors could have elaborated more on the ending. Also, the ending felt abrupt. I was looking forward to a more solid conclusion than what was given.

   I will say that I'm pretty hooked on this series! I can't wait for the second and how the revenge story continues. Burn for Burn is an exciting and vengeful story that will keep you turning the pages and wondering about the subtle supernatural elements.

   4 keys.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Publication Date: January 3, 2012
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Format: Hardcover
Page Count: 387
SynopsisHumans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, the ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . . 

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.
Review: Maybe it's just me, but I didn't really see too many similarities to Cinderella in this book. Frankly, that's a good thing, because Cinderella happens to be my least favorite fairy tale. She always came across to me as a really hopeless girl who only received her wishes because of a fairy godmother. Way to make things happen on your own, Cinderella. But I digress. Cinder (the character) was much different than Cinderella (the princess), and Cinder (the book) was much better than Cinderella (the fairy tale).

   Cinder automatically breaks the mold of the typical YA heroine by being a cyborg. She's different, although there are definitely many similarities between cyborgs and humans. Cinder is a likable character. She's independent, caring, and has the right amount of hotheadedness.

   The plot moves along well. There is always something to keep the reader interested. Scientists are working to find a cure for an awful plague that's spreading throughout New Beijing. Cinder is caught between freedom and revealing her true identity. And on top of that, there's a war on the horizon that seems pretty darn inevitable.

   There was a lot of great things going on for this book. However, there were two big problems for me: the romance and the predictability. Kai is a perfect gentleman, but he somehow lacks that intrigue, that spark that pulls the reader in. He is kind and smart, yes, but there is just something missing. Also, the story was very predictable. It wasn't as exciting as it could have been due to this. Although I'm not sure whether it's because Marissa Meyer did a good job of foreshadowing or if the plot was just particularly predictable, either way, I wish it could've been more surprising.

   Cinder weaves together strands of science fiction, fairy tale, and mystery to create an entertaining and enjoyable novel. It's definitely worth a read!

   4 keys.

*On a personal note* I know I've been very inactive and absent lately, and I'm sorry to say that I don't have a concrete excuse. All I can say is that I just started freshman year of high school in the IB program, and the workload has been overwhelming, especially in math. I've been spending hours doing homework, sleeping early to wake up at six for band practice, etc. It's difficult to keep up with, and it's nearly impossible to find time to read. I hope I can find time for reading and blogging, but until then, I'm afraid my blog will be updated very sporadically. I apologize for the lame excuse.
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