Review: Paper Towns by John Green

PaperTowns2009_6APaper Towns by John Green

Pages: 305

Format: Book

Source: Barnes and Nobles

Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis: Who is the real Margo?

Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs into his life—dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows. After their all-nighter ends, and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues—and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew…

Review: Hello! So this will probably take awhile to write. After my absence, I decided to review a book that is quickly rising on my list of favorites. I spent a few minutes scrolling through the Goodreads reviews for this book, which all I either agreed with or made me moderately to quite angry. So I thought I should address something here before I start really discussing the book: the similarities between Paper Towns and Looking For Alaska (another by John Green if you don’t know). The majority of the one star reviews on Goodreads were criticizing Mr. Green because of this. He is scarily good at writing teenage protagonists, and yes, Q and Miles are both male, and in high school, and they each love an interesting girl. I see where you’re coming from. But read each book and consider all the circumstances. They are very different. Q has loved and watched and idealized Margo his whole life. Miles meets Alaska and begins to idolize and fall in love with her right away. I believe all the characters and situations in the two books are notably different, and honestly, they are each incredible books. Does it really matter? Now, Paper Towns.

Paper Towns is a big change from most YA books. John Green is remarkable for telling stories in a way that honestly just capture a period of time realistically, rather than starting in one place with a crazily misunderstood protagonist with powers, or a dead family, or who is the lone survivor of the apocalypse. Nothing is nearly as dramatic, all of these things could have happened. The paper towns (and Agloe, NY) are real. These kinds of conversations, thoughts, and personalities are also very real. John Green is very good at writing that way.

There is just something about John Green’s writing that makes you think, wonder, and want to do the things that you read about… but the incredible thing is that nothing he writes is something that you couldn’t do. There is such a cold, hard, amazing truth to these characters and events.

All of this holds true for Paper Towns.

Q, Quentin Jacobsen, is a normal teenager. He’s preparing to graduate, he’s friends with the band geeks, he likes playing video games. He likes routine. And he also happens to live next door to Margo Roth Spiegelman.

I love Q, his banter with Ben and Radar, and his character development.Throughout Paper Towns, you see Q go from quietly loving Margo to understanding her in a much better way. When she takes him on an all night trip of adventure and revenge, he is even more intrigued. But when she disappears and he starts searching, he begins to realize how Margo is not an idea, not some enigma, but a person. As he gets closer to realizing this he understands her better,and eventually finds her when she never meant to be found.

He has two best friends, Ben, with a lot of interesting habits, fixated on going to prom, and Radar, who is dedicated to editing a Wikipedia-like search engine. Oh, and his parents own the world’s largest collection of black Santas. Actually one of my favorite parts of Paper Towns was something Radar said to Q,

“You know your problem, Quentin? You keep expecting people not to be themselves. I mean, I could hate you for being massively unpunctual and for never being interested in anything other than Margo Roth Spiegelman, and for, like, never asking me about how it’s going with my girlfriend – but I don’t give a shit, man, because you’re you. My parents have a shit ton of black Santas, but that’s okay. They’re them. I’m too obsessed with a reference website to answer my phone sometimes when my friends call, or my girlfriend. That’s okay, too. That’s me. You like me anyway. And I like you. You’re funny, and you’re smart, and you may show up late, but you always show up eventually.”

I feel like a lot of people have that problem.

Margo Roth Spiegelman is basically a girl who everyone idolizes, always doing interesting, unexpected things. Q knew her as a child, but they kind of got older and got different friends, so that Q only really watched Margo until the night she showed up at his window.

My favorite topic explored in this book is how Q, and we, will often look at people and decide for some reason that they are less or more than human. We put them up on a pedestal or shove them beneath us, when really they are simply… people. With the same kinds of emotions, senses, everything, as us. You shouldn’t try so hard to know how another person thinks without knowing them, it only twists your vision of them in a more confusing way. Q saw Margo as something he had made up in his head for so long, he had to finally break down that image and see her as a girl. That’s when he found her, talked with her, understood after so long.

“What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person.”

I know I’ve been talking about mostly the same thing this whole review but I could continue and go on forever. I love this book. I highly recommend it, as well as John’s other books. John and his brother Hank also have a great youtube channel (vlogbrothers) that you should check out. They just finished filming the Paper Towns movie and well, I really, really hope it’s good. But I’ve got faith in it, because John was a big part of it. So I’m sorry for such a long absence, I will try to get Chesh and the Red Queen on here soon, and I’ll post more. Thanks for reading such a long, talky review (rather than my usual nonsense filled with gifs). Give me something as great and interesting as this book, and I will never shut up. So… yeah. Read Paper Towns!

~ Alice

Clarity by Kim Harrington

ImageClarity by Kim Harrington

Series: Clarity #1

Published by Scholastic Point on March 1, 2011

Pages: 177

Format: Ebook

Source: Barnes and Noble

Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (courtesy Goodreads):

When you can see things others can’t, where do you look for the truth?
This paranormal murder mystery will have teens reading on the edge of their seats.

Clarity “Clare” Fern sees things. Things no one else can see. Things like stolen kisses and long-buried secrets. All she has to do is touch a certain object, and the visions come to her. It’s a gift.

And a curse.

When a teenage girl is found murdered, Clare’s ex-boyfriend wants her to help solve the case–but Clare is still furious at the cheating jerk. Then Clare’s brother–who has supernatural gifts of his own–becomes the prime suspect, and Clare can no longer look away. Teaming up with Gabriel, the smoldering son of the new detective, Clare must venture into the depths of fear, revenge, and lust in order to track the killer. But will her sight fail her just when she needs it most?

Review:

I’m going to start with the things I disliked because I’m just that much fun.

First off, the cover is awful. It poorly represents the book and it looks like a Sims animation.

So yeah.

Also, there were a couple of plot points *tries not to spoil anything* that seemed a bit ridiculous.

NOW THAT THAT’S OUT OF THE WAY this book was 300% fwamtastic.

Clare is realistic, likeable, and relatable, but she’s not so perfect that she’s cliche. She has a few very serious flaws that are strongly represented throughout.

That said, the antagonists aren’t irrefutably bad, either. They had some redeeming factors.

It was a well done mystery. Maybe it’s just me, but the ending was surprising and it had several plot twists that threw me off the scent of the murderer.

The infamous love triangle makes its appearance too, but this is one of the better ones I’ve read. Nobody is head-over-heels in love with anyone. They each have their own doubts and mixed emotions.

Clarity is entertaining, cute, and overall enjoyable. I recommend it to anyone with some spare time.

~Cheshire Cat

 

Review: Croak by Gina Damico

CroakCroak by Gina Damico

Series: Croak

Pages: 311

Format: Ebook

Source: Barnes and Noble (also known as the land of butterflies and magical unicorns)

Rating: 4 and 1/2 stars

Synopsis:

Fed up with her wild behavior, sixteen-year-old Lex’s parents ship her off to upstate New York to live with her Uncle Mort for the summer, hoping that a few months of dirty farm work will whip her back into shape.

But Uncle Mort’s true occupation is much dirtier than shoveling manure. He’s a Grim Reaper. And he’s going to teach Lex the family business.

She quickly assimilates into the peculiar world of Croak, a town populated by reapers who deliver souls from this life to the next. But Lex can’t stop her desire for justice – or is it vengeance? – whenever she encounters a murder victim, craving to stop the attackers before they can strike again.

Will she ditch Croak and go rogue with her reaper skills?

Review:

Contrary to what the cover and synopsis might suggest, Croak is not a hide-under-your-bed-the-grim-reaper-is-coming kind of book. Its not even a I’m-kind-of-scared-let-me-cuddle-with-a-puppy-for-awhile book.

Not even close.

No just no

Croak is hilarious. It’s one of those will-get-you-strange-looks-in-public-because-you-are-laughing-like-a-mainiac books.

So, Lex starts off the book like Dug from Up.

Squirrel

Except, instead of seeing squirrels and wanting to chase them, she sees people and wants to punch them.

Hermione punch

This made me squeal with happiness because, anger issues are not your typical heroine behavior.  So, after almost getting expelled from school because of the said anger management problems, her parents decide to ship her off to her Uncle Mort’s farm, which obviously means that she will be scooping horse poop and milking cows all summer. Nopedy nope nope.

Uncle Mort is actually a Grim Reaper, and so is pretty much everyone in his little town, Croak. They “kill” and “cull” souls and take them to the “afterlife”. Throw in a milky-eyed murder mystery, an insufferable yet undeniably hot partner, death jellyfish, Edgar Allen Poe, black hoodies, a Titanic poster, and a dash of awesome sauce and you’ve got yourself a book.

And not just any book, but a book without insta-love (praise the lord), with witty death puns, and with characters that actually are not cardboard cutouts.

Excuse me while I go explode with happiness.

confetty ponies

Witty quotes that I must share with all of you:

“Should she go on? Or drop it? Maybe this was one of those things that people should keep to themselves, like a hatred of baby pandas or a passion for polka music. Everyone needs a secret or two.”

“The list of scars my students have sustained at the hand of your daughter grows longer each week. Poor Logan Hochspring’s arm will forever carry an imprint of her dental records!”
“You bit him?” Lex’s father said.
“He called me a wannabe vampire. What was I supposed to do?”
“Oh, I don’t know–maybe not bite him?”

“There comes a time in every young girl’s life when she is instructed by a complete stranger to scale a tall ladder for dinner atop a roof, and in almost every case the best thing to do is refuse and run home to call the asylum from which the stranger escaped.”

“It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye,” Ferbus said too loudly. “Then it’s one-eyed fun.”

I could go on, but I’ll leave some of the book for you to read.

Speaking of you reading, why are you still here? You should be frantically racing to the bookstore to go buy Croak. Go now my minions.

Minions conga line

~TRQ

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

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Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Series: Unwind Dystology #1

Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on November 6 2007

Pages: 335

Format: Paperback

Source: twas a gift, dahling

Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis:

Connor, Risa, and Lev are running for their lives.

The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child “unwound,” whereby all of the child’s organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn’t technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive.

Review:

When you look at the cover and synopsis of Unwind, it looks pretty darn creepy. Like, horror movie creepy. If you’re considering this book because of its horror, you might be sort of disappointed. Although the premise that teens can have all their organs taken out and retransplanted into someone else is chilling, the book as a whole isn’t really like that. The book follows Connor, Lev, Risa, and several other unwanted children in their escape from the twisted laws that are in place.

Although the book leaves you with a pretty good idea of each character’s fate, it leave soooooo many questions. Questions the author himself doesn’t know the answer. The point of the book is obviously not the characters’ stories, but the super deep questions behind unwinding. Are you really alive when your body parts have been scattered? What would happen to your consciousness? Would it be as if you had died normally, or would you exist in each of the people who took an organ? Is unwinding any better or worse than abortion? These questions are discussed briefly by the characters, the Neal Shusterman’s purpose was probably only for us to think about it ourselves. Aaaand now I have a headache.

The characters were beautifully written. Connor and Lev in particular were excellent examples of character development. The only character I really had a problem with was Roland. His evilness seemed exaggerated. Perhaps I’m missing the point of his character, I don’t know.

I feel like Connor and Risa’s relationship was realistic. No insta-love here, folks. It was very refreshing to read a book where that wasn’t shown as one of the problems that needed to be resolved. I find it funny how some other dystopian books can have characters that are in mortal danger constantly, but still find time to stress over their love life. Maybe it’s just me, but if I were trying to escape from a bunch of crazy doctors that wanted to sell my kidneys, I wouldn’t be too concerned about whether a certain boy liked me or not. Priorities, people.

Like I said earlier, the whole book isn’t that creepy. But the part that was really was. I read it late last night and had trouble sleeping because of it. A+ for horror writing. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to write a scene like that.

I would recommend Unwind to someone who is interested in the genre of creepy YA, but still deciding whether they really want to read it or not. It gives you a piece of adventure/dystopian fiction with a little taste of scar-you-for-life near the end, almost like it’s teasing you with it. It left me wanting to explore Neal Shusterman’s writing a little more, but probably not the Unwind Dystology. I’m satisfied with the way the story ended and I’m afraid the next book will spoil it.

~Cheshire Cat. Rawr.

Review: No More Goddesses by Kim Baccellia

No More GoddessesNo More Goddesses by Kim Baccellia

Series: None

Published by Zumaya Thresholds on May 28, 2013

Pages: 252

Format: PDF

Source: YA Reads Blog Tours as a part of the No More Goddesses Tour

Rating: 3 and 3/4 stars

Amazon     Barnes and Noble     Goodreads

Synopsis: 

Jordan Lake discovers an ancient bracelet in her grandmother’s house and uncovers a family mystery that links her favorite actress, Audrey Hepburn, a romantic movie, and an aunt she never knew. Jordan hopes the bracelet will bring her love. Instead, it brings one nightmare after another, unleashing Hathor, the Egyptian love goddess, who decides it’s fun to mess with the McKnight High School social scene. Jordan holds the key to vanquish Hathor, but will she figure out what it is in time to save her school, one of her best friends, and get a date to the Valentine’s Day dance?

So, for this one I have mixed feelings.

In general, I liked the author’s writing style. It was perky and cute, went into lots of detail.  In fact, the writing style for narration may have been my favorite part of the book.

Chuck norris gif

After that, the characters definitely were not terrible. They may have been a tad cliche, but I happen to like Audrey Hepburn and Jordan’s love *cough* obsession *cough* with her made me smile.

Audry Hepburn Smile

Selena, her “BFF” was a tad obnoxious. The author tried to overemphasize her “spanishness.” It would have been enough to mention it a few times, but having her mix in spanish over and over went a little over the top. Otherwise, Selena was alright. She had a reasonably similar personality to Jordan and added a few quirky lines.

Considering that this book is all about romance (and I mean all about), there wasn’t actually that much romance in the book. I’ve read YA books that’ve been passed off as Sci-fi or Adventure that had more actual romance in them. My main problem with the romance is that it was semi-there and semi-not. The two (yes there was a love triangle, drop your torches and pitchforks, it wasn’t that bad) love interests were never really elaborated on. I couldn’t get a clear picture of them in my mind and none of their scenes together really had any spark. That being said, I’m glad it wasn’t over emphasized and Jordan didn’t spent half the book wailing about who she was going to love. In general, there could have been more character development there, but it didn’t really detract from the book.

As for the plot, books centered around romance generally aren’t my thing, but this one was decent. There was an evil goddess trying to turn people and cats into green glittery ice cubes and whatnot, so it definitely kept me entertained.

Overall, No More Goddesses, with its action and romance, decent characters and some sassy one-liners, is a reasonably light read. Even though I liked the book as it is, I feel like it would be better classified as a middle grade novel. Although the characters were in high school, their dialogue and the plot seemed like a better fit for a younger audience. I think it is a middle grade novel disguised as a YA book.

disguise skill

In general, if your looking for a nice, light read for a rainy day. This one isn’t a bad pick.

-TRQ

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Matched by Ally Condie

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Matched by Ally Condie

Series: Matched #1

Published by Dutton Juvenile on November 30, 2010

Pages: 369

Format: ebook

Source: Barnes and Noble

Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis: Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander’s face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate… until she sees Ky Markham’s face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it’s a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she’s destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can’t stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society’s infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

Review:

The best word to describe my experience reading this book was a v e r a g e.

It’s basically your average YA dystopian romance novel. It was average length, with an average main character, average do-I-choose-the-blonde-or-the-brunette love triangle, average totalitarian government, average first sparks of a rebellion.

I hope this review doesn’t come across as too negative, because I did enjoy reading Matched. It did what an easy reading, young adult book is supposed to do. You can just curl up with a cup of tea and neglect your responsibilities for an hour or two, worrying about the character’s problems instead of your own. It was a perfectly good distraction.

Matched just wasn’t anything special. The main protagonist, Cassia, lives in a futuristic city where people are divided into different ranks. They have a mysterious, over-controlling government with an ominous-sounding name (The Society. Oooh, scary.) She’s matched with the boy she liked for most of her childhood (that would be the blonde), but another name face comes up at the last moment, the enigmatic Ky who shouldn’t have been in the matching pool in the first place (who is… wait for it… brunette).

It’s fairly obvious from the beginning who she ends up falling for. You probably can guess just from reading this review.

“But,” you ask, befuddled, “if this book was so run-of-the-mill, why does it have 3.5 stars, instead of just 3?”

Weeelllllllllllll, I have a soft spot for pretty writing, particularly symbolism, imagery, poetry-esque stuff. And Ally Condie is pretty darn good at writing those in. I’m just going to add a few of those passages because I’m a nerd.

“As I walk to the air-train stop the next morning, things feel crisp, less weighted. The cool of the night accomplished what the rain yesterday did not; the air feels fresh. New. The sun blinking through the last of the clouds dares the birds to sing, and they do. It dares me to let the light in, and I do. Who wouldn’t rage against the death of something so beautiful?”

“At first when the rain fell from the sky so wide and deep, it smelled like sage, my favorite smell. I went up on the plateau to watch it come, to see the gifts it always brought, but this rain changed from blue to black and left nothing.”

**could be considered a spoiler**

“So I fight. I fight the only way I know how, with thinking of Ky, even though the pain of missing him is so strong I can hardly stand it. I put the seeds into the ground and cover them with soil. Will they grow toward the sun? Will something go wrong so they never push, never turn into anything, just stay here rotting in the ground? I think of him, I think of him, I think of him.”

Matched by Ally Condie is a cookie-cutter dystopian romance. It might be enjoyed better by one who hasn’t read a lot of dystopian before. I would recommend it for someone who’s just starting to read that genre, because if you’ve already read a lot of it, it’s thoroughly ruined for you. It’s best redeeming factor is the pretty little pieces of writing scattered throughout. So if it’s raining hard, you have no where to be all day, and a 20 page paper you don’t want to write, go ahead and read it, but don’t bother if you don’t.

~Cheshire Cat

Divergent by Veronica Roth

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Hello friends! First post of 2014 🙂

I’m a bit late jumping on the Divergent bandwagon, for some reason I just never read it  before.

I liked it a lot actually, it might not be my favorite book ever, but it was very good.

ALRIGHT SO,

Tris. I liked her character a lot actually, probably because of the way she thought of herself and the way she was portrayed, like she wasn’t particularly pretty, and she knew that. How she used her Abnegation qualities through Dauntless was pretty cool.

I’m not madly in love with Tobias.

But I liked his character especially when he says how he wants to have all the qualities of the different factions.

I also really liked some of the minor characters, like Christina, and some of her other friends.

And Al 😦

Aw and Will. Of course you shot Eric in the foot and Will in the head….

Oh Tris. What ever are we going to do with you.

Okay rewind to training –

Molly:

And Peter just makes me so mad. Anger.

So the thing I would say I didn’t like about this book is that I was reminded of the Hunger Games in a few ways, it has some very distinct differences. But a few things I just noticed were very similar…

I mean….. Tobias got manipulated then tried to strangle Tris?

But I did like most of the storyline.

The way Erudite used the serum to manipulate the Dauntless was very clever. Jeanine made me think of a meaner Rita Skeeter.

So basically.

I really liked this book! I’d probably give it 4 out of 5 stars.

And no, I have not read Insurgent or Allegiant yet,

so you comment spoilers,

So anyways.

Alice out.

beyoncé beyonce gif