Thursday, January 26, 2012

Crossed by Ally Condie

Barnes & Noble Description: "In search of a future that may not exist and faced with the decision of who to share it with, Cassia journeys to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky - taken by the Society to his certain death - only to find that he has escaped, leaving a series of clues in his wake.
Cassia's quest leads her to question much of what she holds dear, even as she finds glimmers of a different life across the border. But as Cassia nears resolve and certainty about her future with Ky, an invitation for rebellion, an unexpected betrayal, and a surprise visit from Xander - who may hold the key to the uprising and, still, to Cassia's heart - change the game once again. Nothing is as expected on the edge of Society, where crosses and double crosses make the path more twisted than ever."
My Review: I was NOT a fan of Matched at all---read the review of it to find out why---so I was VERY apprehensive, picking up Crossed. The only reason I even really picked it up was because I read multiple reviews that said it was much better than Matched. So, naturally, I was very curious. And, after reading it, all I can say is that while Crossed was better than still doesn't amount to much. The plot is more interesting, and there is actually some action this time! Amazing, right? I also liked how the story is narrated through two perspectives---Cassia's and Ky's. It makes the story more fresh, relieving us from the dull monotony of just one perspective of one very dull girl. And speaking of said "dull girl"...she actually wasn't so dull this time. Don't get me wrong---she still had none of Katniss's wits or Tris's fire---but she actually took charge of her life and grew a backbone and made her own decisions. That was nice. So the book WAS better than Matched. However, it still had the same major problems Matched did: even though there was action this time, it went very slowly. Also, it was written in a way that was so confusing that I would read a few pages and then wonder, Wait---what just HAPPENED? Also, the characters are STILL too timid and emotional. They wax poetic about books and poems endlessly---yet they don't really do much to help the Rising (the rebellion) keep going. I will read the other books out of curiosity, but I don't have much hope for them, after Crossed delivered a merely "meh" performance. 
Cover: But, yes, the cover is GORGEOUS. (That's probably the ONLY reason I would ever buy these books, to be honest...) The color is beautiful and the image is striking. I love it. I can't wait to see the next cover. 
Overall Grade: C-

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sorta Like A Rock Star by Matthew Quick

Goodreads Description: "Amber Appleton lives in a bus. Ever since her mom's boyfriend kicked them out, Amber, her mom, and her totally loyal dog, Bobby Big Boy (aka Thrice B) have been camped out in the back of Hello Yellow (the school bus her mom drives). Still, Amber, the self-proclaimed princess of hope and girl of unyielding optimism, refuses to sweat the bad stuff. But when a fatal tragedy threatens Amber's optimism--and her way of life, can Amber continue to be the rock star of hope? With an oddball cast of characters, and a heartwarming, inspiring story, this novel unveils a beautifully beaten-up world of laughs, loyalty, and hard-earned hope."

My Review: Sorta Like A Rock Star was a very unique book, full of spunk and heart. At first, I didn't understand Amber's situation OR her language. I was scratching my head and thinking, This girl's a loony for the first few chapters or so. But it got easy to understand pretty quickly (her mom's lame ex-boyfriend kicked them out, they're poor, so Amber, her mom, and her dog live on the school bus her mom drives for a living) and then I began to really enjoy the book. First of all, Amber's unique slang was just plain amusing and it made her seem so much more REAL. In real life, teens don't talk in the perfect, structured way they do in most YA books. Granted, Amber's slang wasn't slang I've ever heard before---but that's why it made HER unique. I also loved how she tried to help everyone she met and how kind and caring she was, in her own sassy, spunky way. I couldn't help but understand why everone loved her BACK and wanted to help her out back. I loved the tragedy twist---it made the story so much more raw and real---but I loved the ending even more. This book is real and legit. It'll make you wanna cry and laugh, all at the same time, and it'll make you love the Princess of Hope, Amber herself---I ain't kidding, broskis. (There, incorporated some of my own slang into there...)

Cover: The cover is upbeat and colorful and in-your-face. Kind of like Amber herself. I like it.

Overall Grade: A+

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Lying Game by Sara Shepard

Goodreads Description: "I had a life anyone would kill for. Then someone did. The worst part of being dead is that there’s nothing left to live for. No more kisses. No more secrets. No more gossip. It’s enough to kill a girl all over again. But I’m about to get something no one else does—an encore performance, thanks to Emma, the long-lost twin sister I never even got to meet.
Now Emma’s desperate to know what happened to me. And the only way to figure it out is to be me—to slip into my old life and piece it all together. But can she laugh at inside jokes with my best friends? Convince my boyfriend she’s the girl he fell in love with? Pretend to be a happy, carefree daughter when she hugs my parents good night? And can she keep up the charade, even after she realizes my murderer is watching her every move?
From Sara Shepard, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Pretty Little Liars books, comes a riveting new series about secrets, lies, and killer consequences.
Let the lying game begin."

My Review: I thought the Lying Game was a pretty good book. It wasn't amazing, I will admit that. The Pretty Little Liars series is more juicy and suspenseful, that much is true. And the TV show of The Lying Game is much better than the book, that much is ALSO true. However, The Lying Game is a nice chick-lit book, a perfect beach read, in my opinion. Shepard tries hard to make it as eerie and suspenseful as Pretty Little Liars, but it just doesn't work: A seems MUCH more mysterious and scary than Sutton's unknown killer. Emma is a slightly pathetic character in that she's always bewildered and upset and confused. I understand her feeling all of that, but honestly, get yourself together a bit! Sutton's character---the ghost watching Emma---is much more interesting to read about, because she has MUCH more personality. Also, the secondary characters are weak, as is the plotline. STILL---despite all that, I did read to the end and I will continue with the series (if just to see who Sutton's killer is; I'm curious that way). This book is light, without much substance, but still a slightly quirky, interesting, girly read. Fans of Pretty Little Liars may not LOVE it, but they will probably appreciate it.

Cover: Okay, I admit: the cover is pretty cool! I just like the whole effect of it, the flipped twins and the swirly words. Shepard is good at making girly-but-eerie covers.

Overall Grade: C+

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Declaration by Gemma Malley

Amazon Description: "It's the year 2140 and Longevity drugs have all but eradicated old age. A never-aging society can't sustain population growth, however…which means Anna should never have been born. Nor should any of the children she lives with at Grange Hall. The facility is full of boys and girls whose parents chose to have kids--called surpluses--despite a law forbidding them from doing so. These children are raised as servants, and brought up to believe they must atone for their very existence. Then one day a boy named Peter appears at the Hall, bringing with him news of the world outside, a place where people are starting to say that Longevity is bad, and that maybe people shouldn't live forever. Peter begs Anna to escape with him, but Anna's not sure who to trust: the strange new boy whose version of life sounds like a dangerous fairy tale, or the familiar walls of Grange Hall and the head mistress who has controlled her every waking thought?
   Chilling, poignant, and endlessly though-provoking, The Declaration is a powerful debut that will have readers agonizing over Anna's fate until the very last page."

My Review: The Declaration was a very DIFFERENT type of dystopian book. For one thing, it wasn't too unrealistic. There was obviously the futuristic aspect---certain people slaves for messed-up reasons---and there was also some of the creepy advanced technology (a serum that helps you stay young for almost forever!). But for the most part? Very realistic! No flying hover cars, no holographic people, no destroyed countries... It all made sense. That's what I liked about it---it didn't follow the cliche dystopian outline (even though I do like that outline, at times...). The characters were interesting and easy to read about, not too serious or war-like; they were more realistic. They actually SEEMED like teenagers. I personally feel that no matter what year---whether 1400 or 3100---and what type of society, teens will be teens. So the characters worked. The plot was interesting and kept me reading and flowed well. It also made me think quite a bit. The social commentary was all about how people obsess so much over their looks THESE days, going to extremes (plastic surgery)...what will they do in a hundred, or a thousand, years, when technology is even MORE advanced? ...An intriguing and creepy question, no? Anyway, this was a pretty good book. Not TOO exciting or amazing, but a good, solid read.

Cover: The cover is very pretty. I love the colors together: scarlet, sky blue, and steel gray. Who knew they'd go so well together? The image is beautiful as well, pretty yet twisted, a butterfly trapped within coils of wire. Think about the symbolism of THAT!

Overall Grade: B-

Monday, January 2, 2012

Fire by Kristin Cashore

Amazon Description: "She is the last of her kind...
It is not a peaceful time in the Dells. In King City, the young King Nash is clinging to the throne, while rebel lords in the north and south build armies to unseat him. War is coming. And the mountains and forest are filled with spies and thieves. This is where Fire lives, a girl whose beauty is impossibly irresistible and who can control the minds of everyone around her.
Exquisitely romantic, this companion to the highly praised Graceling has an entirely new cast of characters, save for one person who plays a pivotal role in both books. You don't need to have read Graceling to love Fire. But if you haven't, you'll be dying to read it next."

My Review: And I thought Graceling was good! Fire is amazing! I still think Graceling is a tad better than Fire, but Fire is still a brilliant companion novel to Graceling. Fire was an amazing character, intelligent and real, and she was someone I really felt bad for. The "monsters" that Cashore created were very intriguing and had slight undertones of social commentary on the treatment of minorities in our world---at least, that's what I saw. The characters were all very interesting, especially Cansrel, her father, and Brigan, the young prince. I loved seeing Fire's maturity and growth as the book went on and the plot was just amazing. Also, it was great as a prequel (of sorts) to Graceling because you really got to see where King Leck came from. Cashore created an intense and vibrant new world within the world of Graceling and I LOVED it! A midst all the overdone dystopians and paranormal romances, these books truly stand out. I can't wait for the third book, Bitterblue, set to come out spring or summer of 2012!

Cover: This cover is really pretty and it fits perfectly with Fire as a character and the book itself. Love it!

Overall Grade: A+