Monday, May 6, 2013

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Publication Date: February 1, 1999
Publisher: MTV Books
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 213
Synopsis: Charlie is a freshman.
And while he's not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it.

Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But he can't stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a deeply affecting coming-of-age story that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.
Review: Oh, boy... I'm almost afraid to review this book. The Perks of Being a Wallflower already had so many odds againt it before I read it, I think it's almost a bit unfair. This was one of the few scenarios when I watched the film before reading the book. I didn't care for the film, but my friend loved the book. He handed it to me a few days ago and said, "You're going to read this."

   And so I did. I read it even though I was sure that if I had a nickel for every time I saw the quotes, "We accept the love we think we deserve," or "In that moment, I swear we were infinite," on a hipster photo, my wealth would rival Beyonce's. I read it even though the movie was disappointing. And I read it even though I had a strong feeling that it wouldn't be my cup of tea.

   I tried my best to go into this one with an open mind. And while I did not despise this book, I didn't particularly enjoy it. Charlie was a strange character. I had a difficult time relating to him. He didn't feel like a 15/16 year old to me. Instead, he sounded more like a young, naive child, despite some heavy themes of sex, drugs, and sexual assault. Perhaps that was intentional, as this book documents his growth as a character, but I found it a bit jarring. His closest friends, Sam and Patrick, weren't particularly appealing to me either. Sam was a girl that caused my feelings towards her character to be pulled in different directions. Patrick was funny and provided bursts of delight, but also had that certain misfit quality that all of the characters had.

   This book is written in letters to an anonymous "friend." And while I thought it was fitting of Charlie's character to write this whole book in letters, it also failed to compel me. There was no constant plot going on to leave me wanting more. In a way, if I stopped after one letter and never picked the book up again, the story would've still felt complete.

   The writing is very dull and dry, in my opinion. Similar words and phrases are constantly repeated, making the reading experience very tiring. There are certain parts that contain a subtle beauty, such as the quotes that have been tired out by all the pictures and bracelets they've been printed on, but overall, the writing was very lacking of emotion.

   Perhaps my review is unfair because I already has a preconception of the book, but The Perks of Being a Wallflower failed to impress me, despite the many fans of it that I've encountered. I'm not sure if I'd personally recommend it, but many people love this novel, so I would encourage other interested readers to give it a shot.

   2.5 keys.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

Publication Date: October 2, 2012
Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children
Format: eBook
Page Count: 574
Synopsis: Annabeth is terrified. Just when she's about to be reunited with Percy—after six months of being apart, thanks to Hera—it looks like Camp Jupiter is preparing for war. As Annabeth and her friends Jason, Piper, and Leo fly in on the Argo II, she can’t blame the Roman demigods for thinking the ship is a Greek weapon. With its steaming bronze dragon masthead, Leo's fantastical creation doesn't appear friendly. Annabeth hopes that the sight of their praetor Jason on deck will reassure the Romans that the visitors from Camp Half-Blood are coming in peace.

And that's only one of her worries. In her pocket Annabeth carries a gift from her mother that came with an unnerving demand: Follow the Mark of Athena. Avenge me. Annabeth already feels weighed down by the prophecy that will send seven demigods on a quest to find—and close—the Doors of Death. What more does Athena want from her?

Annabeth's biggest fear, though, is that Percy might have changed. What if he's now attached to Roman ways? Does he still need his old friends? As the daughter of the goddess of war and wisdom, Annabeth knows she was born to be a leader, but never again does she want to be without Seaweed Brain by her side.

Narrated by four different demigods, The Mark of Athena is an unforgettable journey across land and sea to Rome, where important discoveries, surprising sacrifices, and unspeakable horrors await. Climb aboard the Argo II, if you dare....
Review: Holy snap. This book was just one huge, exciting ride. Rick Riordan has outdone himself. Thankfully, Annabeth and Percy are finally reunited, letting the fangirl in me finally have peace. However, their adventure is anything but peaceful. Oh, no--this book brims with excitement and trouble. And I loved every minute of it.

   Thank the gods--Percy and Annabeth meet again. Their relationship is much more intense after such a long separation, and seeing the broken cracks in both characters after such a difficult time was surprisingly touching. The other heroes featured in this book are just as fierce as they were when they were introduced in the previous books. Out of Jason, Piper, Frank, Hazel, and Leo--the other protagonists besides Annabeth and Percy--I think Piper and Leo are my favorites. I connect with them better than I do the other three. Percy and Jason are practically equals in their own camps, so naturally, there's a bit of a feud between them at times. They both feel the need to be leader and to be the head of things, so there's some tension between the two boys. However, Annabeth usually eases this tension. Hopefully, Percy and Jason's rockiness won't deter them from their bigger goal in the next books.

   But although there are seven heroes, one particularly shines in this novel: Annabeth Chase. Annabeth is the daughter of Athena, the goddess of wisdom, craft, and warfare. This immediately tells the reader that Annabeth is an intelligent girl, but never before have we been exposed to exactly how amazing Annabeth really is. She stands out with her wit and wisdom, and her special attributes are on full display in this installment. Annabeth has always been one of my favorite characters in the original Percy Jackson series, but this book completely blows her previous achievements out of the water.

   Oh, the twists and turns in the plot left me breathless! It was impossible to put this book down, because there was always something big going on. The way each hero pulls together their own unique powers to fight for a larger goal is wonderful, and the way they have their own personal dilemmas creates an intricate plot that Riordan does a noteworthy job of crafting.

   The ending made me want to cry and pull my hair out, especially because the next book doesn't come out until this fall. The cliffhanger left me hanging on with slippery fingers, and left me in such unrest! The Mark of Athena is probably the best Heroes of Olympus novel so far, reaching a new height of intensity and peril. It's going to be nearly impossible to wait for the release of The House of Hades.

   5 keys.

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