Review: Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Title: Across the Universe
Series: Across the Universe, Book #1
Author: Beth Revis
Published by Razorbill, January 11, 2011
Hardcover, 416 pages

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone-one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship-tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn’t do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed’s hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there’s only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming. (From Goodreads)

This book has been on my to-read list for over a year. I bought it the week it came out. (I mean, COME ON who can resist that cover?!) But then I gave it to a friend to borrow and I didn’t get it back until earlier this year, and by that time I had lots of other things I wanted to read. I kept putting it off, but I FINALLY got around to reading it!

Sci-Fi isn’t usually my thing. But this was really really really really really good. Most reviews I’ve seen have liked this book, but haven’t loved it. I wouldn’t go as far as to say it was my favorite book, but I did enjoy it a lot, even enough to say that I loved it.

That’s not to say that I don’t think this book had its problems. It did. One of those being the instant-love. If you’re looking for some big romance where it takes a while for the main characters to fall in love, this is not for you. Elder loves Amy because she’s “different.” Period. AKA, she has red hair. He gives no other good reason whatsoever. AND Amy is kind of a whiner. Constantly. Sure, I probably would be whiny, too, given her circumstances, BUT PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER, GIRL. I do think the overall story arc for their characters was good, though, and I’m really excited to read the rest of the series.

I also really liked the mystery aspect of this book. I mean, I figured out what was going on WAY before Amy and Elder did, but it was still a nice addition. And normally, I really dislike books where the narrators of each chapter switch, but I kind of got into it with this, and I don’t think it would’ve worked nearly as well if it was JUST from Amy or Elder’s point of view instead of both.

I know this review is kind of late, given that this book has been out for over a year and a half, but I think that if you haven’t read it that you definitely should. It may not be the best thing you will ever read, but it was entertaining for the most part. I’ll definitely be reading the sequel after I finish a couple of others that I need to read first!


Review: The Maze Runner Series by James Dashner

Title: The Maze Runner Trilogy
Author: James Dashner
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
 (Overall rating of the series)

I’ve never done a review for an entire series at once before, but I figured that would be the best way to do this one. I bought The Maze Runner about two months before I actually read it, and I was nervous about reading it. I had really high expectations because I know a lot of people that love these books, and I didn’t want it to be a let down. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy the first book of the series all that much until I was near the end.

Without giving too much away, I’ll try to tell you what the series is about, since the Goodreads descriptions are for each book separately. The Maze Runner series focuses on a sixteen year-old named Thomas. One day, he wakes up in a lift where he can’t remember anything at all about his past other than his first name. He isn’t alone, however. There are others who are just like him, who woke up in “The Glade” and didn’t remember anything. They’re also all boys. The Glade is in the middle of a giant maze with stone doors that close at night so that “Grievers,” which are basically giant slugs with mechanical arms, can’t get in at night. The day after Thomas arrives, a girl is sent into The Glade. A girl has never been sent to the maze before, and usually the boys arrive a month apart from each other. More surprising, though, is the message that she has been sent to deliver. Thomas and the other boys have to find a way out of the maze.

If I tell you any more than that, it would ruin the entire series, so there’s just your basic premise. I will tell you, though, that the rest of the series doesn’t take place inside the maze. We get to see what the rest of the world is like, which I liked a lot about the sequels. Honestly, I didn’t like the first book much at all. I gave it 3 stars on Goodreads. At times, I got bored with all of the descriptions that Dashner gave. It almost felt like he had a certain amount of pages he HAD to fill, and so instead of giving us more things happening, he gives us endless descriptions of things that I honestly didn’t care about. On top of that, the characters never really made me like them (in the first book, anyway). I loved the ending though, so I knew I had to read the rest of the series.

The Scorch Trials was MUCH better than the first book, in my opinion. I can’t really give a description of what happens because it would spoil the first book, SO I’ll just say that I really loved some of the new characters that were introduced (Unpopular Opinion: Brenda was a MUCH better female protagonist than Teresa). The story was MUCH more entertaining than The Maze Runner as well. It still took a little while for me to really get into this one, but not nearly as long as the first one.

The Death Cure was my favorite in the series. It has the lowest rating on Goodreads, and I honestly don’t understand why. I felt like it was the perfect ending to the series. I think the reason I liked it so much more than the others was because we got to see the world outside of WICKED’s control, and by this point I had finally warmed up to most of the characters.

Overall, I enjoyed this series, especially after I started liking the characters. It’s not my favorite series, by any means (that’s a tie between The Hunger Games and Divergent), but I do think that it was a nice read. I definitely recommend that you guys check it out if you haven’t already. If you can’t get into the first book, don’t fret, because they definitely get better as they go!

The prequel to this series, The Kill Order, was released this week. I’ve already bought it, but I have a couple of other books I need to finish first. I’ll be sure to let you know what I think of it!

Review: Paper Covers Rock by Jenny Hubbard

Title: Paper Covers Rock
Author: Jenny Hubbard
Originally published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers, June 14, 2011
Paperback by Ember, June 12, 2012
Paperback, 192 pages

At the beginning of his junior year at a boys’ boarding school, 16-year-old Alex is devastated when he fails to save a drowning friend. When questioned, Alex and his friend Glenn, who was also at the river, begin weaving their web of lies. Plagued by guilt, Alex takes refuge in the library, telling his tale in a journal he hides behind Moby-Dick. Caught in the web with Alex and Glenn is their English teacher, Miss Dovecott, fresh out of Princeton, who suspects there’s more to what happened at the river when she perceives guilt in Alex’s writing for class. She also sees poetic talent in Alex, which she encourages. As Alex responds to her attention, he discovers his true voice, one that goes against the boarding school bravado that Glenn embraces. When Glenn becomes convinced that Miss Dovecott is out to get them, Alex must choose between them. (From Goodreads)

I really wish I would’ve written the review for this book as soon as I finished reading it. It’s been a while since I read it. I may not remember everything about it, but I do remember that it was absolutely amazing.

For a YA novel, I felt that this book was extremely well written, even though it’s a bit on the short side. Each chapter begins with a quote from Moby Dick (which, if I had read Moby Dick, I probably would’ve understood the significance of), which is also the book in the library that the narrator, Alex, hides the journal behind when he isn’t writing in it. It adds a sort of “literary” element to the book that I liked a lot. Alex also writes poetry, so there are several poems included.

I could relate to most of the characters in this book, and I feel like they’re all represented as true teenagers. I feel like most, if not all teens can relate to this book in some way, because the characters’ struggles are all very real problems. The characters are all flawed, which makes them more real than in TONS of YA novels where the characters are seemingly perfect. It is set in 1982, but while reading it, it felt like it could’ve taken place today as well.

So, even though my review for it sucks, you should DEFINITELY check out this book. If you’ve enjoyed books like Looking for Alaska and  A Separate Peace, then I definitely would recommend this book for you.

Review: Struck by Jennifer Bosworth

Title: Struck
Author: Jennifer Bosworth
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, May 8th, 2012
Hardcover, 373 pages

Mia Price is a lightning addict. She’s survived countless strikes, but her craving to connect to the energy in storms endangers her life and the lives of those around her.

Los Angeles, where lightning rarely strikes, is one of the few places Mia feels safe from her addiction. But when an earthquake devastates the city, her haven is transformed into a minefield of chaos and danger. The beaches become massive tent cities. Downtown is a crumbling wasteland, where a traveling party moves to a different empty building each night, the revelers drawn to the destruction by a force they cannot deny. Two warring cults rise to power, and both see Mia as the key to their opposing doomsday prophecies. They believe she has a connection to the freak electrical storm that caused the quake, and to the far more devastating storm that is yet to come.

Mia wants to trust the enigmatic and alluring Jeremy when he promises to protect her, but she fears he isn’t who he claims to be. In the end, the passion and power that brought them together could be their downfall. When the final disaster strikes, Mia must risk unleashing the full horror of her strength to save the people she loves, or lose everything. (From Goodreads)

I wanted to like this book. I really did. The book trailer was absolutely stunning, and I really liked the description given, but it never lived up to my expectations. Not to say that there weren’t SOME good things about Struck. The world building was great– Bosworth’s descriptions of the post-earthquake LA were at times extremely realistic– and the idea of being struck by lightning and receiving you some sort of “powers” was really cool, but the way that sci-fi element was included didn’t turn out to be great. The cults could’ve been a great addition to this book, but I felt like they were overly religious most of the time, to the point of making fun of Christians, which I didn’t like in the least, no matter how much the author denies she was doing that.

Really, though, my biggest problem with this book was my lack of emotional investment in the characters. I honestly didn’t care what happened to any of them at all. If an author can’t make me feel sorry for at least one of the characters throughout the entire course of a nearly 400-page book, then in my opinion that book is not worth reading. I should WANT to know what’s going to happen to these characters, but that just didn’t happen for me in Struck, unfortunately.

I HATE giving a book a bad review, especially when I was so excited to read it. I really wanted to like it. The concept was intriguing, and the trailer and book cover are both great, but I honestly had a hard time making it through. There were several times I just wanted to quit, but I kept on reading anyway just because I thought it HAD to get better at some point. I suppose I was wrong.

Playing Catch-Up

Hey, guys! Instead of posting TONS of reviews over the next few days, I thought I’d just give a run-down of the books I read while I was away. Several of them are books that have been out a while, so I didn’t really see a point in giving a full-on review when most of you have probably already read them (I’ll link to the Goodreads description just in case). Some of the books WILL get separate reviews, and therefore will not be included in this post. So without further ado, here’s what I’ve been reading!

 Looking for Alaska by John Green

This summer, I have come to love John Green’s writing. I read The Fault In Our Stars when it was first released, but then for some reason waited until this summer to read anything else he wrote. I really enjoy his writing style and his character development. I always feel so connected to the main characters and I really love that about his books. This book is absolutely amazing. It’s not my favorite John Green (more on that later), but I did love it a lot. If you haven’t read it, I recommend you solve that problem pronto.

Breathless by Lurlene McDaniel

I’m not sure how popular this book is. I honestly had never heard of it before I bought it on a whim from Amazon, so many of you may not have read it. This book is so short that I read it in about 3 hours. The story was good, but I felt like I never got to know any of the characters at all. I would’ve liked it a LOT more if it would’ve been about 100+ pages longer. I felt like the whole thing was rushed, and I didn’t want it to be because I felt like I could’ve really liked it if it WASN’T that way. Oh well.

Paper Towns by John Green

THIS is my favorite John Green book. For some reason I’ve heard a lot of people say it was their least favorite, but I loved it the most. Maybe it was because I connected SO much with the main character, Quentin. I don’t know. But this is another MUST read. Absolutely loved it.

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

For some reason, I never read this book until now. We didn’t have to read it in AP Lit in high school, even though every other class before ours had to. I never read it on my own, either. So while I was on vacation, I decided it was time to buy it and read. And I’m so glad that I did. It became one of my favorite books of all time. I just absolutely love it, and there’s no need for any more of a review than that. If you haven’t already read this, then you’re really missing out (even though I’m pretty sure I’m probably the last person on earth, or at least in America, who is over the age of 16 and hasn’t read this.)

That’s all for now, but full reviews for the other books I’ve read while I’ve been away will be up throughout the week! Thanks for sticking with me :)

P.S. I’m SO bummed that they moved the release date of the new Gatsby movie! I was really looking forward to seeing it over Christmas. Oh well. I guess 6 more months isn’t THAT long.

Review: Starters by Lissa Price

Title: Starters
Series: Starters, Book #1
Author: Lissa Price
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers, March 13, 2012
Hardcover, 352 pages

Callie lost her parents when the Spore Wars wiped out everyone between the ages of twenty and sixty. She and her little brother, Tyler, go on the run, living as squatters with their friend Michael and fighting off renegades who would kill them for a cookie. Callie’s only hope is Prime Destinations, a disturbing place in Beverly Hills run by a mysterious figure known as the Old Man.

He hires teens to rent their bodies to Enders—seniors who want to be young again. Callie, desperate for the money that will keep her, Tyler, and Michael alive, agrees to be a donor. But the neurochip they place in Callie’s head malfunctions and she wakes up in the life of her renter, living in her mansion, driving her cars, and going out with a senator’s grandson. It feels almost like a fairy tale, until Callie discovers that her renter intends to do more than party—and that Prime Destinations’ plans are more evil than Callie could ever have imagined. . . .
(From Goodreads)

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted anything (sorry about that!), but I wanted this book to be my next review, and after I finished I couldn’t put my thoughts into words. But now I’m going to try: This book was absolutely amazing.

Not often do I not get distracted from a book. This book kept me on my toes, and made me want to keep reading and keep reading until there wasn’t anything left to read. It ended with a HUGE twist (like, seriously, WHOA.), and left lots of things open for a sequel, which by the way I can’t WAIT for! It did leave me questioning a few things that I do wish would’ve been explored a little bit more, though.

My biggest and pretty much only problem with Starters was that the Spore Wars were never explained. It never told what caused them. It never told exactly what the spores did to you body. And it left me really interested. I wish there would’ve been even a paragraph or two more just to explain all of this, because I’d really like to know. I also wondered how people were able to stay alive so long (There are 200 year olds!). I wish a little bit of the science behind it all could’ve been explained more.

One thing that I either wish there was more of, or just not there at all were the Cinderella references. I actually don’t even know if they were intentional, but I definitely picked up on them throughout. I haven’t seen mention of this in any other reviews though, so maybe I overanalyzed.

I honestly loved every single character in this book. Even the bad guy, “The Old Man.”(Whose identity, by the way, I have a theory about! I’ll have to wait and find out in the next book if I’m correct, but I have interesting thoughts.) I thought all of the characters were fleshed out extremely well, and I couldn’t help but be invested in all of them.

I’d definitely recommend this book. It might be my favorite book that I’ve reviewed YET!

Review: Surrender by Elana Johnson

Title: Surrender
Series: Possession, Book #2
Author: Elana Johnson
Published by Simon Pulse, June 5, 2012
Hardcover, 469 pages

So instead of telling you the plot of the book like I normally would, I’m just going to post the Goodreads description, because it’s better than anything I could come up with.

Forbidden love, intoxicating power, and the terror of control…

Raine has always been a good girl. She lives by the rules in Freedom. After all, they are her father’s rules: He’s the Director. It’s because of him that Raine is willing to use her talent—a power so dangerous, no one else is allowed to know about it. Not even her roommate, Vi.

All of that changes when Raine falls for Gunner. Raine’s got every reason in the world to stay away from Gunn, but she just can’t. Especially when she discovers his connection to Vi’s boyfriend, Zenn. Raine has never known anyone as heavily brainwashed as Vi. Raine’s father expects her to spy on Vi and report back to him. But Raine is beginning to wonder what Vi knows that her father is so anxious to keep hidden, and what might happen if she helps Vi remember it. She’s even starting to suspect Vi’s secrets might involve Freedom’s newest prisoner, the rebel Jag Barque….

Okay, so that’s a little bit misleading, because Raine is really more of a rebel than Gunn is. But whatever. The description also doesn’t really tell about Gunn’s part in the story, which I think it should include since he is one of the narrators.

I enjoyed Surrender SO much more than Possession. Most of the problems that I had with Possession were not present in Surrender. I felt more connected with the story and the characters in this book than I did with the first. I also liked that Johnson changed it up a little and gave us new lead characters. Because of that, though, this is more of a companion than a sequel, even though it does follow up on Vi, Jag, and Zenn, and they play a major part in what happens, especially towards the end.

I LOVED Raine and Gunn. I loved that instead of just one side of the story, we got to see two different perspectives of what was happening. Usually books with two different narrators annoy me, but that didn’t happen in Surrender. I think it worked well for the story.

There’s not as much of a love triangle in Surrender as there was in Possession, which I was thankful for. I wanted to like Jag, Vi, and Zenn in Possession, but never warmed up to them. In this book, I ended up liking all three of them. I think Johnson definitely worked to make them more relatable, and it helped a lot. My complaint about Thane Myers not being evil enough in Possession was fixed here with his even-more-evil boss, Director Hightower. In general I don’t have any really big complaints about Surrender like I did with Possession. I do wish that the world building would’ve been a bit stronger, but it was already stronger than in Possession, so maybe it’ll get even better in the next book (is there a next book? I hope so!).

Surrender is loads better than Possession, so if you read Possession and liked it, or even if you just sort-of-kind-of liked it, then I definitely recommend reading this one!

Surrender is in stores today!

Review: Possession by Elana Johnson

Title: Possession
Series: Possession, Book #1
Author: Elana Johnson
Originally published by Simon Pulse, June 7, 2011, Paperback May 8, 2012
Paperback, 432 pages

For the first 100-or-so pages of Possession, I didn’t think I was going to like it. I couldn’t get into the writing style that Johnson used at all. The story was just kind of blah. I kept getting confused with their tech-talk. But then about halfway through I started really getting into it and I read the second half in one sitting.

Possession is set in the future where there are “Goodies” who are basically mind-controlled by the Thinkers and “Baddies” who are criminals (except not really, they just don’t follow the ridiculous rules set by the Thinkers, and therefore get banished). The main character, Vi, is in love/matched with Zenn. She get’s caught walking with him one night in the park, and is sent to prison. There, she meets Jag, a Baddie. And she falls in love with him. YAY LOVE TRIANGLES. Vi finds out from Jag that she may be more special than she ever could’ve guessed. I won’t say anything else about the story, because I’m afraid I’d spoil it!

If you’re not a love triangle fan, this definitely is NOT the book for you. That’s one of the major parts of the story, and where most of Vi’s conflicting emotions come from. The other main conflict of the book is with Thane Meyers, who wants Vi to come work with him as a Thinker. I really felt like he could’ve been a much stronger villain than he was. He was almost there, but I felt like he needed a little something more to push him over the edge and make him even more ominous. He could’ve been just as evil as President Snow in The Hunger Games, but Johnson didn’t take him that far, and a part of me really wishes she would’ve.

I had problems throughout with liking the characters. Vi was okay when she wasn’t trying to be snarky. I never really cared for either of her love interests, though, which was disappointing because I WANTED to like Jag, but it just didn’t happen. I also think at the beginning of the book, the reader shouldn’t have been just automatically thrown into the action. There should’ve been a bit of relationship establishment between Vi and Zenn, and even Vi and her mom. I just felt like I never really got to know Zenn and so I never thought they’d end up together. It also would’ve been nice to have a little bit of background on the technology and how it works. I never fully understood that. Just one or two chapters at the beginning could’ve easily solved both of those problems, but it didn’t happen.

Overall, I liked this book. I didn’t LOVE it as much as I wanted to, but it was still a nice read. The sequel, Surrender, is released on Tuesday! I went to Barnes & Noble today and they had it out already, so I’m going to start it later tonight! Hopefully it’ll be at least as good, if not better, as Possession!

Review: Fairest of All by Serena Valentino

Title: Fairest of All: A Tale of the Wicked Queen
Author: Serena Valentino
Published by Disney Press, Aug 18, 2009
Hardcover, 250 pages

I was really looking forward to reading this book, because Snow White is my absolute favorite fairy tale. I love reading / watching anything and everything about Snow White, including the Disney version, which is one of my favorite movies ever.

I was, however, a little bit disappointed with this book. It was featured on a Fairy Tale Retellings shelf at Barnes & Noble in the Young Adult section (where I also picked up Cinder). However, this book is most certainly not the YA I was expecting.

I knew before I bought it that it was published by Disney, since the cover art featured Disney’s Evil Queen. What I didn’t know was just how closely it would stick with the characters that had already been established in the movie.

Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Title: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Series: Miss Peregrine, Book #1
Author: Ransom Riggs
Published by Quirk Books, June 7, 2011
Hardcover, 352 pages

I’ve been planning on reading this book for a long time. I saw it in stores last summer, but I wasn’t sure that I would like it. I flipped through and looked at the pictures, which are real pictures that Ransom Riggs gathered and put in, and they just looked a little bit too creepy for me to enjoy it.

When I started reading Miss Peregrine, I wasn’t completely sure what to expect. I thought that it would take place in the past and be about all of these strange kids that were in the pictures. I was partly right, but Miss Peregrine ended up being a lot different than I was expecting.