May 30, 2010

Review of "Looking for Alaska" by John Green

"Looking for Alaska"
by John Green


Pub. Date:
March 28, 2005

Synopsis: Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words – and tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what the dying poet Francois Rabelais called the “Great Perhaps.” Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young. Clever, funny, screwed-up, and dead sexy, Alaska will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps.

Looking for Alaska brilliantly chronicles the indelible impact one life can have on another. A stunning debut, it marks John Green’s arrival as an important new voice in contemporary fiction.

"Looking For Alaska" beat all of my expectations, which were extremely high. I had read lots of great reviews of this book and I am so glad I finally picked it up off my bookshelf. One of the things I love about John Green is how realistic his characters are. Sometimes when I read a book I picture the characters being older than their stated age, but I haven't come across this problem reading Green's work. I also loved how each character was very distinct. Chip has a huge personality, while Miles is much quieter. Alaska's mood is all over the place, intimate one moment and uncaring the next.

I really liked how the book was set up in two parts, before and after. I had some guesses to what the before and after was referring to but I was totally wrong. Books like "Looking for Alaska" are the reason that I like to know as little about the plot as possible. I was totally shocked when the turning point of the book happened, but it still made sense.

"Looking for Alaska" is both well written and entertaining. The interactions between the characters are hilarious, but Green also focuses on serious subjects. The book shows the growing pains of being a teenager, from smoking, drinking, pranks, to first sexual experiences. I have to admit that this isn't my favorite John Green book, I liked "Paper Towns" just a little bit more, but I will be reading more of his books. I am so excited that I own "An Abundance of Katherines" already! It looks like there is a movie in the works based off the book with a 2013 release date.

May 19, 2010

Review "Something Like Fate" by Susane Colasanti

"Something Like Fate"
by Susane Colasanti


Pub. Date: May 4, 2010
Pages: 240

Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Lani feels an instant spark with Jason, but tries to ignore her feelings because he's dating her best friend, Erin. When Erin goes to summer camp, Jason breaks up with her and Lani starts seeing him in secret. Lani and Erin are both obsessed with fate--horoscopes, birth charts, dream analysis, etc.--and Lani must decide if her relationship with Jason is meant to be, even if it is what a fortune teller predicted will destroy her bond with Erin. Readers will understand both Lani's connection with Jason, who "feels like home," and her bond with Erin, which was crystallized when they were in a car accident years earlier, but has been weakening. Erin's reaction to the romance is intense, and Lani soon find herself a social outcast, while her friendship with her closeted gay friend, Blake, is strained after he's outed and harassed. Lani's obsession with the mystical can feel more like a device than an innate part of her personality, but her struggle with fate nonetheless adds needed depth to this familiar romantic triangle.

I haven't read any of Colasanti's other books, but I fell in love with the cover and just had to read it. I absolutely loved this book and couldn't put it down. I loved Lani, Jason, and Blake as characters, they had terrific chemistry and I wanted to be friends with them. They just brought the book to life. Lani's relationship with Erin was complicated but believable. I feel like I could relate to the characters very well because I had similar experiences with friendships going poorly when I was in high school. It is amazing how destructive teenage girls can be and I thought Colasanti hit the nail on the head in that aspect.

I also liked the role that fate played in the book. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason and sometimes it is hard to see how anything good can come out of such terrible things. Even though Lani and Erin seemed to take fortune telling and astrology to the extreme, I still enjoyed seeing how they played out in the book. It almost felt like an ancient play where you are told by The Fates that terrible things are going to happen to the characters but this only draws you in more.

I feel like a lot of the reasons I enjoyed this book is because I could relate to it on a very personal level. I'm not sure if everyone will have this reaction to the book, but I highly recommend it. I think fans of Sarah Dessen books will also enjoy "Something Like Fate". I will definitely be picking up more of Colasanti's books; I already bought "When It Happens" and "Take Me There". To learn more about Colasanti's books check out her website here.

May 12, 2010

Review "Jekel Loves Hyde" by Beth Fantaskey

"Jekel Loves Hyde"
by Beth Fantaskey


Pub. Date: May 3, 2010
Pages: 282

Synopsis: Jill Jekel has always obeyed her parents’ rules—especially the one about never opening the mysterious, old box in her father’s office. But when her dad is murdered, and her college savings disappear, she’s tempted to peek inside, as the contents might be the key to a lucrative chemistry scholarship.

To improve her odds, Jill enlists the help of gorgeous, brooding Tristen Hyde, who has his own dark secrets locked away. As the team of Jekel and Hyde, they recreate experiments based on the classic novel, hoping not only to win a prize, but to save Tristen’s sanity. Maybe his life. But Jill’s accidental taste of a formula unleashes her darkest nature and compels her to risk everything—even Tristen’s love—just for the thrill of being . . . bad.

I have to admit I was a bit disappointed by "Jekel Loves Hyde". I loved the character Lucius in "Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side" and found his narrating voice of the story refreshing; however, I didn't fall in love with either Tristen or Jill. They both seemed pretty generic, Tristen as the misunderstood rebel and Jill as the smart girl who needs scholarship money for any hope of a future. On top of the characters being predictable, the plot didn't have any huge twists. I wish Fantaskey had been a little more creative in her interpretation of the story because I felt like it was just too predictable. I am trying not to give away any spoilers, but I didn't find Jill's actions towards the end of the book to be very believable. It seemed way too out of character and I feel like she should have realized what was happening to her.

With all this said, the book was still enjoyable. The book wasn't too long so it was a quick read. Jill's character was very generic, but she was strong willed and made it through situations where most people would have crumbled. The family dynamics in the book were really interesting. Jill takes on the role of the parent in the family. Tristan struggles to live with the knowledge of his family's past and tries to figure out how he can escape the madness that he fears will eventually overtake him. Even though the premise of the book was interesting, it just didn't have any flare.

May 5, 2010

Review of "My Soul to Save"

"My Soul to Save"

By Rachel Vincent


Pub. Date: December 9th, 2009

Pages: 288

Synopsis: When Kaylee Cavanaugh screams, someone dies.

So when teen pop star Eden croaks onstage and Kaylee doesn't wail, she knows something is dead wrong. She can't cry for someone who has no soul.

The last thing Kaylee needs right now is to be skipping school, breaking her dad's ironclad curfew and putting her too-hot-to-be-real boyfriend's loyalty to the test. But starry-eyed teens are trading their souls: a flickering lifetime of fame and fortune in exchange for eternity in the Netherworld—a consequence they can't possibly understand.

Kaylee can't let that happen, even if trying to save their souls means putting her own at risk….

I really loved the first "Soul Screamers" book "My Soul to Take", but "My Soul to Save" just didn't have the same feel to me. I really enjoyed the plot about teens selling their souls to demons in order to become A List celebrities. It was believable that stars would accept such an exchange in order to keep their careers booming and it was also believable that they wouldn't consider how terrible eternity in the Netherworld would truly be. I'm not sure why, but the characters that I loved in the first book fell flat to me in this second installment. It seemed like more attention was paid to the plot than continuing to develop the characters. The whole book centers around a character named Addison, but I just didn't like her. I honestly can't say why because I felt like Vincent did her best to portray her in a way that should bring sympathy to her character.

My favorite thing about this book was that the characters got the chance to explore the Netherworld. Vincent did a great job creating another dimension that paralleled our world in many ways, but had terrifying alterations. I hope "My Soul to Keep", the next book in the series, spends more time in the the Netherworld. Even if it doesn't, it still sounds like a really interesting book. If you want to learn more about Rachel Vincent's books check out her website here. "My Soul to Keep" comes out June 1st and I know I will be reading it! I just hope Vincent is able to bring back my love for Todd and the other characters.