Friday, June 28, 2013

Review: What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang

What's Left of Me (The Hybrid Chronicles, #1) I should not exist. But I do.

Eva and Addie started out the same way as everyone else—two souls woven together in one body, taking turns controlling their movements as they learned how to walk, how to sing, how to dance. But as they grew, so did the worried whispers. Why aren’t they settling? Why isn’t one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, the neighbors shied away, and their parents begged for more time. Finally Addie was pronounced healthy and Eva was declared gone. Except, she wasn’t . . .

For the past three years, Eva has clung to the remnants of her life. Only Addie knows she’s still there, trapped inside their body. Then one day, they discover there may be a way for Eva to move again. The risks are unimaginable-hybrids are considered a threat to society, so if they are caught, Addie and Eva will be locked away with the others. And yet . . . for a chance to smile, to twirl, to speak, Eva will do anything.


My Review:

What's Left of Me has a brilliant behind it, and Zhang delivers in the execution of this story.  I would have thought this book was a dystopian if I hadn't seen a post on the author's blog about its genre.  She said that it actually takes place during modern times, but in an alternate America where people have always been born with two souls.

POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD

Eva and Addie are basically the ultimate twins, but they aren't twins in two bodies; they are two souls in the same body.  This book is told from the POV of Eva, the recessive soul who can't actually control her body anymore.  The story really captures Eva's feelings of longing to have some control of the body that she and Addie share.  Addie and Eva have a complicated relationship because they have to share a body.  Addie wants Eva to gain control occasionally because she knows it makes Eva happy, but she also doesn't want to give up her own control.  I loved both Eva and Addie, and I loved how they cared about what the other wanted.  

The other hybrid characters were interesting to read about too.  Between Hally/Lissa and Devon/Ryan, I thought Devon and Ryan were easier to distinguish between.  Ryan was my favorite of those two, and I could see a sweet romance developing between him and Eva.  Devon was more closed-off.  I couldn't really see the difference between Hally and Lissa.  Eva always knew which was which, so as a reader I did because she did, but otherwise, I wouldn't have been able to tell.   

I thought the world-building was well done.  The concept of two souls in a body is fascinating, especially when it comes to romantic relationships, which will probably be explored more in the next book.  With the exception of Dr. Lyanne, I didn't like the doctors at Nornand because of what they wanted to do to the kids there.

Even though this isn't actually dystopian, if you like YA dystopian, this is a book that you will like.

Katie 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Review: Thousand Words by Jennifer Brown

Thousand Words Ashleigh's boyfriend, Kaleb, is about to leave for college, and Ashleigh is worried that he'll forget about her while he's away. So at a legendary end-of-summer pool party, Ashleigh's friends suggest she text him a picture of herself -- sans swimsuit -- to take with him. Before she can talk herself out of it, Ashleigh strides off to the bathroom, snaps a photo in the full-length mirror, and hits "send."

But when Kaleb and Ashleigh go through a bad breakup, Kaleb takes revenge by forwarding the text to his baseball team. Soon the photo has gone viral, attracting the attention of the school board, the local police, and the media. As her friends and family try to distance themselves from the scandal, Ashleigh feels completely alone -- until she meets Mack while serving her court-ordered community service. Not only does Mack offer a fresh chance at friendship, but he's the one person in town who received the text of Ashleigh's photo -- and didn't look.

Acclaimed author Jennifer Brown brings readers a gripping novel about honesty and betrayal, redemption and friendship, attraction and integrity, as Ashleigh finds that while a picture may be worth a thousand words . . . it doesn't always tell the whole story.


My Review:

Thousand Words is a book dealing with tough issues that can happen to teenagers in today's world because of all the technology used.   The topic, sexting, isn't one that I've read about in other YA books before.  The characterization and storyline are well written and interesting.

POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD 

Ashleigh is a great main character who has become very shaped by what she did at one pool party before school started.  That was the day that her friends convinced her to take a picture of herself naked and send it to her boyfriend so he wouldn't forget her when he went to college.  Little did she know how much this mistake was going to come back and bite her.  Through the book, the readers get to learn more about her and see that that picture doesn't define who she is.  People made many untrue assumptions about her when the picture was forwarded to them.  As said in the book, "A picture is worth a thousand words, but it doesn't tell the entire story."

Mack was a good character that Ashleigh meets in community service.  He never talks at first, and then they become friends.  By the end of the book, he tells her that he got the text with her photo, but he didn't look at it.  He helps her realize that she is more than that text.  He wants her to know that it doesn't define who she is, though it may seem like it does now.  He knows she can move past this experience in the future.  Mack is not a love interest for Ashleigh.  Their relationship remains a friendship.

This book does a great job of showing how, in a situation like this, it is impossible to assign the blame to a single person.  Ashleigh tries to blame her friends for telling her to send the picture in the first place, but she could have said no to taking and sending it.  Kaleb shouldn't have sent the picture around after he and Ashleigh broke up, so he obviously gets blame for that.  But if Ashleigh hadn't sent him the picture in the first place, he wouldn't have had anything to send, so she deserves blame.  She doesn't always realize that, since she sees herself as a victim more than a perpetrator.  The book also shows the long-term implications of this situation especially for Kaleb.  He's an adult, and if he is charged as a sex offender, he can't be a teacher like he wanted to.  

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.

Katie

 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Review: Manicpixiedreamgirl by Tom Leveen

Manicpixiedreamgirl Sometimes the most dramatic scenes in a high school theater club are the ones that happen between the actors and crew off stage.

Seventeen-year-old Tyler Darcy's dream of being a writer is starting to feel very real now that he's sold his first short story to a literary journal. He should be celebrating its publication with his two best friends who've always had his back, but on this night, a steady stream of texts from his girlfriend Sidney keep intruding. So do the memories of his dream girl, Becky, who's been on his mind a little too much since the first day of high school. Before the night is over, Ty might just find the nerve to stop all the obsessing and finally take action.


My Review:

This book is a rather short and quick read that packs a great story into its pages.  The characters are complex and seem like real people.  The story is engaging and keeps the reader invested the entire time, making this a great book.

POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD

Tyler is a fantastic male POV protagonist.  He is pretty much obsessed with Rebecca Webb, and this obsession sometimes hurts his relationships.  For example, he isn't really fair to his girlfriend, Sydney.  She's a good person, yet he has such a huge crush on Becky that it can get in the way of his relationship with Sydney.  While he likes Sydney, he would rather date Becky if he ever gets the chance.  Once he and Becky become friends, he doesn't hesitate to go hang out with her at her house, even when he had to ditch Sydney to do so.

One interesting part of the story is the idea of Becky that Tyler has built up in his mind versus the actual Becky.   He has it in his mind that she is basically perfect, and he doesn't like finding out things about her that mess up that image.  He sees her smoking pot, and he doesn't like that because the Becky in his mind would never do that.  He also finds out that the real Becky does things with guys, things she doesn't really want to do, but she never says no to them.  Tyler feels maybe some jealousy about this, but he more feels her image collapsing.  I loved how, by the end of the book, though Tyler has admitted his feelings to her, the reader doesn't know if it will work out for Tyler and Becky, and if they will get together as a couple.

 I liked how this story was told.  The present storyline technically takes place over the time frame of one single night.  To give readers the full story, the book alternates between the present storyline and flashbacks into the past.  This allows the reader to get to know the story and the characters in both the timelines.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.  

Monday, June 17, 2013

Review: Dare You To by Katie McGarry

Dare You To (Pushing the Limits, #2) If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk's home life, they'd send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom's freedom and her own happiness. That's how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn't want her and going to a school that doesn't understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn't get her, but does....

Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can't tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn't be less interested in him.

But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won't let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all.


My Review:

As someone who read Pushing the Limits last year and loved it, I was excited to read this book to get Beth's story.  While she was an interesting character in Pushing the Limits, she becomes fully developed in this story.  The romance, characters, and plot are all awesome.

POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD

Beth has put up a shell around herself after bad things have happened to her in the past.  She finds it difficult to let her walls down to allow people to care about her.  She has had a rough life with a father who left and a mother who drinks and does drugs.  Her mom also has an abusive boyfriend, and Beth feels like it is her personal responsibility to protect her mom from the boyfriend.  Beth lives with her mom's sister until one night when she takes the blame and goes to jail for something that her mom did.  She is bailed out of jail by her father's brother, and he makes her come live with him.  She is reluctant at first, but eventually, she finds herself really liking her new life. 

Ryan is the guy who is supposedly perfect, but there is actually more to him than that.  His family is extremely concerned about appearances.  It caused them to not accept his brother, Mark, as gay.  They don't even talk to or about Mark anymore.  His dad puts a lot of pressure on Ryan to be a major league baseball player right out of high school.  College has never been an option for Ryan in his dad's mind.  Ryan's parents also fight, but they pretend like they're the perfect couple in public.  His mom is more accepting of his writing talent, and the writing competition that he wants to miss a baseball game to attend.  

The romance between these two was so well developed and sweet.  Their relationship starts as dislike.  Beth thinks Ryan is a cocky jerk, and he doesn't like her either.  At first, Ryan only tries to ask her out because of a dare.  When he starts to fall for her, he calls the dare off.  Watching their relationship gradually progress from dislike to like to love is wonderful to read.  Beth and Ryan as a couple is certainly complicated, and it isn't easy, but they make it work.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.

Katie