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

Image

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.

Matched by Ally Condie

Image

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

Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik

Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik

Series: None, it’s an actual standalone *everyone gasps*

Published by HarperTeen on August 2, 2011

Pages: 295

Format: Ebook

Source: Barnes and Noble

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This book makes the world explode into magical clouds of unicorns, fairy princesses, rainbows, and sparkles. Kaboom.

I get this fuzzy, happy, magical feeling inside and my stomach feels like it’s made out of butterflies whenever I read this (and I’ve probably read it 3 or 4 times by now).

Basically, it’s a retelling of Pride and Prejudice, set in LA. Pretty Fantazmic cheesy wonderfulness. The main character is Elise, the sarcastic, modern version of Elizabeth. Jane became sweet Juliana. Lydia was problem child Layla. Darcy became I-have-movie-star-parents Derek. Caroline and Charles turned into Chelsea and Chase. The author did pretty much the same thing to the rest of the characters (same first letter of their names, same personality).

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, PEOPLE.

Take a sarcastic, witty, poor-ish heroine, move her to LA, put her in an exclusive rich-kid school (Coral Tree), throw in a  a hot, reclusive, popular, rich guy, plus a funny, annoying, social-outcast and KABOOM. Love-triangle amazingness. If you’ve already read Pride and Prejudice, you know how it turns out, but still.

QUOTING TIME

“No family is normal. Normalcy is a lie invented by advertising agencies to make the rest of us feel inferior.”

“I got lost in him and it was exactly the kind of lost that’s exactly like being found.” *sighs* (you should be sighing now)

“Everyone at Coral Tree Prep was good-looking. Really. Everyone. I didn’t see a single fat or ugly kid all morning. Maybe they just locked them up at registration and didn’t let them out again until graduation.”

“He can’t ground her if he’s already killed her,” I pointed out when Juliana quoted this to me. “Well, he can, but it wouldn’t have the same impact.”

If you’re in the mood for a sweet, fabutiful romance, this is it. READ IT.

NOW.

GO GET IT.

Really, it’s only 9.99 at Barnes and Noble. That’s only one-and-a-half meals. You can skip one-and-a-half-meals. What’s a little stomach growling between friends? ~The Red Queen