Feb
09

TItle: Maybe One Day
Author: Melissa Kantor
Publication: February 18, 2014 by HarperTeen
Format, pages: Hardback, 400
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Age Category: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
My Rating: ★★★½☆ 

From Goodreads:

Critically acclaimed author Melissa Kantor masterfully captures the joy of friendship, the agony of loss, and the unique experience of being a teenager in this poignant new novel about a girl grappling with her best friend’s life-threatening illness.

Zoe and her best friend, Olivia, have always had big plans for the future, none of which included Olivia getting sick. Still, Zoe is determined to put on a brave face and be positive for her friend.

Even when she isn’t sure what to say.

Even when Olivia misses months of school.

Even when Zoe starts falling for Calvin, Olivia’s crush.

The one thing that keeps Zoe moving forward is knowing that Olivia will beat this, and everything will go back to the way it was before. It has to. Because the alternative is too terrifying for her to even imagine.

In this incandescent page-turner, which follows in the tradition of The Fault in Our Stars, Melissa Kantor artfully explores the idea that the worst thing to happen to you might not be something that is actually happening to you. Raw, irreverent, and honest, Zoe’s unforgettable voice and story will stay with readers long after the last page is turned.

What if the person you loved most in the world was crumbling right before your very eyes, and you were essentially helpless to do anything to save them?

That is the dilemma we are presented as our main character, Zoe, a former dancer kicked out of her dance program several months before the start of the novel, is told that her best friend Olivia has been diagnosed with leukemia.

I know some of you, if you’re anything like me, are done with the oversaturated “cancer story” genre that seems to have been given a revival ever since the release of The Fault in Our Stars (and then further revived with the movie release in a few months). I simply do not find cancer books all that interesting to read about. My great-grandmother, aunt and two uncles have died from cancer, and the topic just isn’t something I like to read exploited in my literature, which I feel as though many books tend to do.

I think if I had to pinpoint my biggest issue with these books, is the discussions about life, which, if you’ve read TFiOS, you know is basically the entire plot. I find that the use of cancer to spark these discussions is highly pretentious, emotionally manipulative, and whatever else you want to add in there. You obviously should include something about life in these books, since it’s such a precarious situation, whether or not the person lives, but I don’t need it constantly shoved down my throat to show how “deep” and “philosophical” these people are.

I can’t say Melissa Kantor’s Maybe One Day is an original book. Because, to be honest, it’s not. You could probably read several books quite similar to it, and maybe even of greater quality. But I love that this book flips the idea that a cancer book has to be all about cancer or some end-all relationship about infinities (sorry, but I could take jabs at TFiOS for days). It’s about friendship, and how everyday life is altered, and how even the most mundane of things can be missed, such as not having to wear a surgical mask before you go near a person for fear that they could be carrying a germ that could end your life.

Zoe is hardly a likeable character, and many readers have already complained about her personality, and I expect many other readers probably won’t even finish the book because of her. I won’t lie, I seriously considered it myself around the 40-45% mark. She’s extremely judgmental of other people, particularly the cheerleaders at her school. It’s not that these people weren’t annoying at times, but that’s only because Kantor felt this need to characterize them as flimsy stereotypes, and only occasionally treaded on the idea that they could be something more. However, during the latter act of the novel, her judging is kept to a minimum and focuses more so on the story at hand.

And does Kantor really expect me to believe that sixteen year old girl doesn’t know that leukemia is cancer? I’ve known this information since before I was ten.

This is also a reasonably long novel, and I don’t know if enough happens to justify a 400-page length. Easily 50 pages probably could be eliminated to trim this down to a much more reasonable length, but I was able to get through it quickly enough considering life was pretty hectic during my reading.

At the core of this novel though, is the friendship between Zoe and Olivia. Don’t let this novel mislead you into thinking that it’s about Zoe and her attraction to Calvin, who is Olivia’s crush. Such a small portion of the book is actually about that, and the resolution of it all is with so little drama that I can’t believe the marketing for this book even tried to build off of it.

No, this is about a girl and the person who has always been by their side, who was there through heartbreak, the highs and the lows, who she has shared everything with, no matter how painful or embarrassing. This is about how one day you have to look into that person’s face and contemplate the fact that this person could very well be gone in a few months time. How you’ll have to watch them slowly disintegrate before your eyes, altered physically and emotionally then the person they once were. Zoe isn’t always the best friend to Olivia, and she does things that I personally would never do to my own friends, but the relationship between the two is so poignant, it’s essentially the thing that makes this particular novel stand out in my mind.

I won’t say that if you read this book, your life will be changed. I’m not even saying that you’ll like it. All I’m saying is that I personally found something unique in a genre of beaten-to-death cliches, and that’s all I ever really ask for with books like this.

…..

Other books by Melissa Kantor:
If I Have a Wicked Stepmother, Where’s My Prince? (September, 2005)
• Confessions of a Not It Girl (May, 2006)
The Breakup Bible (May, 2007)
• Girlfriend Material (May, 2009)
Invisible I (September, 2009)
• The Darlings Are Forever (January, 2011)

Comparable Titles:

Aug
30
17132881

Title: The Fall of Five, The Lorien Legacies #4
Author:
 Pittacus Lore
Publication: August 27, 2013 by Penguin Australia & UK, HarperTeen (US)
Format, pages: Paperback, 298
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Sci-Fi, Action
Source: From my favourite penguins (i.e., publisher)
My Rating: ★★★½☆ 

From Goodreads:

The Garde are finally reunited, but do they have what it takes to win the war against the Mogadorians?

John Smith—Number Four—thought that things would change once the Garde found each other. They would stop running. They would fight the Mogadorians. And they would win.

But he was wrong. After facing off with the Mogadorian ruler and almost being annihilated, the Garde know they are drastically unprepared and hopelessly outgunned. Now they’re hiding out in Nine’s Chicago penthouse, trying to figure out their next move.

The six of them are powerful, but they’re not strong enough yet to take on an entire army—even with the return of an old ally. To defeat their enemy, the Garde must master their Legacies and learn to work together as a team. More importantly, they’ll have to discover the truth about the Elders and their plan for the Loric survivors.

And when the Garde receive a sign from Number Five—a crop circle in the shape of a Loric symbol—they know they are so close to being reunited. But could it be a trap? Time is running out, and the only thing they know for certain is that they have to get to Five before it’s too late.

The Garde may have lost battles, but they will not lose this war.

Lorien will rise again.

The fourth instalment in Pittacus Lore’s The Lorien Legacies was… interesting. As most of you may know The Lorien Legacies is my go-to entertainment read – The Fall of Five had a few cinematic-like action scenes, one specifically involving the total destruction of Nine’s penthouse apartment in Chicago from an onslaught of Mogadorians rappelling from the roof, breaking through the windows and shooting to their hearts’ content. But there weren’t as many action scenes as there was in the predecessor The Rise of Nine. Although there was a lot of excitement throughout this instalment, it didn’t compare to what I had experienced previously, making The Fall of Five, sadly, weaker – and the weakest of the series so far for me.

Additionally, despite there being many surprises regarding Lorien, the Garde, and Number Five, as well as the unexpected increase in the death toll, I felt the plot of The Fall of Five failed to deliver on ramping up the thrill and overall excitement of the series and beginning Act Two with a bang. The plot was also predictable with not much substance, a bridge book, genetically the same as a book diagnosed with Second Book Syndrome – and that probably meant nothing, though, considering I had finished The Fall of Five in one night… justbecauseIneededtoknowwhathappenednext!  

Feb
05

Title: Pivot Point
Author: Kasie West
Publication: February 12th, 2013 by HarperTeen
Format, pages: Hardcover, 352
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction, Romance
My Rating: ★★★★☆ 

From Goodreads:

Knowing the outcome doesn’t always make a choice easier . . .

Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.

In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through . . . and who she can’t live without.

Kasie West’s young adult debut novel Pivot Point is a great example of an interesting and fresh idea turned into a compulsively readable and well executed book. What West excels at is her ability in weaving two timelines of two separate futures together seamlessly, each with its own events, characters, mysteries, and romances. With this we see Addie’s two juxtaposing worlds, her Para life in the Compound surrounded by others with high intellectual and mind powers like her, as well as her Norm life outside the Compound in Dallas, Texas where she must keep her abilities a secret and pretend to be a Norm – normal human.

Addie is able to see into the future because she is a Searcher, which means that whenever she must make a choice she is able to experience and look at the two futures and their consequences, making her choice that much easier to make. What forces Addie to Search and which springs the novel’s plot(s) into motion is the decision she must make when her parents announce they’re divorcing: to stay with her mother in the Compound, with her friends, or go with her father to live in the outside world, someplace much different to the one she knows.

What makes Addie such a great character is her innate intuition at knowing what she must do and the fine line between right and wrong; her ability to Search may be the reason for this. Whether it’d be helping her friend Laila with the trouble she is in in relation to this guy called Poison and Laila’s father, to her friendship and eventual fondness with Trevor whom I really liked as a male love interest for Addie (and really… ever!), to her struggling relationship with Duke, her mother, and her father, Addie’s attempts to put things right even within her Searches proves her greatest strength.

West’s dialogue shines bright throughout the book. But what I believed needed a little more explanation was the Compound, its conception and its politics, decision-makers and workings as a society consisting of people with mind abilities. I did not know that there was going to be a sequel when reading this, but now that I know, hopefully a greater understanding for the Compound and it relation to the outside world will be given.

I’m glad I listened to Amber‘s advice to read Pivot Point because I was not let down by it and what was promised. Kasie West is a new author that I’ll be keeping my eye on for years to come in the young adult world.

Thank you to HarperCollins via Edelweiss for the galley to review.

What others said about this book:

Amber @ Books of Amber:

There is literally NOTHING I didn’t like about this book. Definitely check it out when you get the chance, because it’s brilliant. Almost good enough to be rated an All Time Favourite!

Judith @ Paper Riot:

The concept itself (a so-called sliding doors effect) is so unique and unlike anything I’ve ever read before, that I was intrigued by it from the start.

Books in this series:

1. Pivot Point (February, 2013)
2. Untitled (February, 2014)

Jan
21
Posted by . This post has been sorted into "HarperTeen, Review, Tahereh Mafi" • 3 Comments

Title: Shatter Me, The Juliette Chronicles #1
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Publication: November, 2011 by Allen & Unwin
Format, pages: Paperback, 348
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction, Post Apocalyptic, Dystopia, Romance
My Rating: ★★★★☆ 

From Goodreads:

“You can’t touch me,” I whisper.

I’m lying, is what I don’t tell him.

He can touch me, is what I’ll never tell him.

But things happen when people touch me.

Strange things.

Bad things.

No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal, but The Reestablishment has plans for her. Plans to use her as a weapon.

But Juliette has plans of her own.

After a lifetime without freedom, she’s finally discovering a strength to fight back for the very first time—and to find a future with the one boy she thought she’d lost forever.

Tahereh Mafi has entered the Young Adult scene with a defiantly striking and distinct prose in her debut novel Shatter Me, garnering mixed responses from readers, some overtly displeased while others embraced the change in style. I, for one, revelled in the beauty of the words and the stream-of-consciousness-like writing. Perhaps being different isn’t all that great in such a media when the literary norm has been set in concrete centuries ago, with little transformation and originality able to be done by new writers. Mafi’s prose is a perfect fit for Juliette’s character, however, because she’s someone who has been locked away for 264 days, away from civilisation and zero contact with others, so, therefore, the way in which she thinks, reacts and perceives to the world around her has altered, and this change is exhibited in the writing – only, really, if you want to see it that way. Additionally, Juliette’s love of words, of numbers, and of writing in her journal may also be a contributing factor, with Mafi creating a style that screams ‘Juliette’. Although it took a while to adapt to Mafi’s writing, I’ve developed a taste that I would love more of.

I’ve been locked up for 264 days.
I have nothing but a small notebook and a broken pen and the numbers in my head to keep me company. 1 window, 4 walls, 144 square feet of space, 26 letters in an alphabet. I haven’t spoken in 264 of isolation.
6,336 hours since I’ve touched another human being.

Juliette’s inner struggle to accept who she is, with an ability such as hers, is something that makes falling in love with her easy. Throughout Shatter Me she is manipulated, ordered and forced to use her power, tried to be shaped by Warner into a weapon against enemies of The Reestablishment, something that Juliette wants no part of. Her disastrous past combined with her naught self-acceptance and the destruction she knows she can cause becomes Juliette’s formidable force and resistance against those that want to use her. Slowly throughout Shatter Me she discovers more about herself and her ability through her journey from escaping Warner’s grip with Adam, a childhood friend and somebody she can touch, to Omega Point, the base for the resistance filled with people just like her. There was much to take interest in when it comes to Juliette.

I took a sincere liking to Adam. At first his deceiving to Juliette in the beginning under Warner’s orders made me weary of him, but as the novel progresses you hope Adam is the one that Juliette will be with in the end. The more the two of them are with each other the more we see them change, be truthful, be accepting of one another’s secrets, finally with someone that they can confide in things with. Shatter Me centralises on Adam and his predicament as an older sibling and guardian for his younger brother. There is also Warner, who was the main antagonist in this novel, and is pretty evident to become a love interest as such books usually go. I detested Warner for his conniving, manipulative, and dominant stance with the people around him. Of course, it comes with his position. For me, Warner was very one-sided in Shatter Me, only ever after one thing: Juliette, either that be for her power or to sate his possessiveness and obsession to be with Juliette romantically. He was a complete and utter psycho, someone who I would love to treat by bashing his loose head against the ground at Juliette’s feet.

Mafi’s thrilling plot from Juliette’s escape from isolation to Juliette’s discovery of others like her makes Shatter Me a pretty good beginning to the trilogy. However, I was holding out for more in this book than just a precursor and introductory to what can be expected from the second book. The conflict scenes were resolved all too easily, with a fake kiss being used for one of them as a tool for escape and defence, a tool for kindling vulnerability. The way the story unfolded worked though, with Omega Point being almost like a paradise; Juliette and Adam are on a journey to find this haven, even if it took a while to come to it.

Mafi has created a world where fans of X-Men and The Hunger Games can enjoy seeing two of their enjoyments, superpowers and dystopia, mash  together in a surprising and moving tale of self-discovery and self-acceptance.

What others said about this book:

Brodie @ Eleusinian Mysteries of Reading:

The best part about this book is Tahereh’s amazing ability with words. Her style is so unique and original, I’ve never read anything like it. Every single word is so carefully structured, full of passion and love and tenderness.

Lisa @ Read Me Bookmark Me Love Me:

This novel drove me insane and up the wall. It made me feel like jumping, screaming and crying in absolute joy! Shatter Me is most definitely one of the best books of 2011, if not ever.

Books in the series:

1. Shatter Me (November, 2011)
2. Unravel Me (February, 2013)
3. Untitled (February, 2014)

 

Aug
06

There is nothing like a quest to understand everything, even if there is nothing to know.

Title: The Rise of Nine, Lorien Legacies #3
Author: Pittacus Lore
Publication: August 22, 2012 by Penguin Australia
Format, pages: e-ARC, 333; Paperback, 384
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction
My Rating: ★★★★★ 

Thanks to Penguin Australia for the e-ARC via NetGalley!

Until the day I met John Smith, Number Four, I’d been on the run alone, hiding and fighting to stay alive.

Together, we are much more powerful. But it could only last so long before we had to separate to find the others. . . .

I went to Spain to find Seven, and I found even more, including a tenth member of the Garde who escaped from Lorien alive. Ella is younger than the rest of us, but just as brave. Now we’re looking for the others–including John.

But so are they.

They caught Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.
And Number Three in Kenya.
They caught me in New York–but I escaped.
I am Number Six.
They want to finish what they started.
But they’ll have to fight us first.

| Goodreads |

.

I am a sucker for books packed with action (and conflict), addicted to them like girls and their book boyfriends. The Lorien Legacies books continue to be more exciting than the last; The Rise of Nine was one helluva book. There’s still three more books to come, but man, I JUST DON’T KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT ANYMORE! Okay, since I read The Fallen Legacies novella I may have a smidge of a sense what would be involved in Book Four… but this is a review for The Rise of Nine – looks like I’m already itching for book four… and five… and six… This series is addictive as hell! There is still so much more awesomeness to come and we’re only halfway through. Imagine what I’ll be like for the final book. Dead, I imagine, from an overdose of Loriens… or Legacies… both. THE LORIEN LEGACIES!

Like The Power of SixThe Rise of Nine was told through John’s (Four), Six’s, and Marina’s (Seven) perspectives. It begins with Marina, Six, Ella (Ten), and Clayton flying to India, as they believe that is where another member of the Garde is after reports of a God-like child, which we discover is actually Eight. While those four are occupied with that, John and Nine are also making their own discoveries involving their chests, their Legacies, and about themselves. John doesn’t stop moaning about the loss of Sam and Sarah, and Nine is the one telling him to get his act together. Both groups come across difficulties forcing them to use their Legacies and through a sequence of events find their paths to one another so that they can defeat Setrakus Ra once and for all – at least fight him.

‘We are not going to Ohio to see if another one of your humans is all cozy and safe. This is not our home, Four. These humans are not our brothers and sisters. Everything we do here on Earth is for our real home, for our real brothers and sisters, for the Elders who sacrificed their lives to put us on that ship …

If you don’t have Lorien in your heart, then you should say so right now. I won’t run around with a traitor. Our only goal is doing everything we can to be at full strength so we can defeat Setrakus Ra and his army. That’s it. Got it?’

I decide to remain silent. My feelings for Sam and Sarah will never subside. I know this. But Nine is right about what comes first. We are of help to no one if we do not increase our strength, and that only happens if we can find the others.

p. 118 from e-ARC

Sam makes no appearance in The Rise of Nine sadly since the Mogadorians have him as a sex slave in their brothel captured him and Four and Nine could not rescue him at the end of The Power of Six. However, there is Sarah towards the end, and my faith is restored in her. Felt so sorry for her. But the humans aren’t the makers of this story. It is the members of the Garde.

The new addition to the journey, Eight, has some amazing abilities/Legacies, providing Marina with a boy to crush on and this also provides an opportunity to come to realisations about certain things and into her own self. Six was just as kick-ass ever. And Ella, well, she’s not bad too. Besides his constant moaning over Sam and Sarah, John comes to understand a lot. The chapters of him with Nine show how cheeky Nine can be – a substitution for Sam’s hilarity in The Rise of Nine. Even with their constant bickering and physical fights, I sensed a real brotherly bond form between the two. Where Sam is a friend, Nine is a brother. I just loved it! And then when all the Garde come together (minus one – Five)… wow!

Fifty pages in there was a full-scale, explosive, film-imagined action sequence full of missiles and helicopters flying balls of fire. Imagine the action a hundred pages in, then go to the climax and the end. The action doesn’t stop. Even if it’s an exchange of words. I didn’t know what to expect in the oncoming chapters. Pair the action with the perilous adventure and the new revelations about the world of the Lorien Legacies, you have here an amazing science fiction series that  will have you wanting more, and you’ll see yourself return as soon as possible. I reached the end of The Rise of Nine and swore because I wanted more. I’m addicted; it’s my crack. It wasn’t a cliffhanger, but it was just a too sudden ending; it was a fantastic close for Act 1. Now, it’s Act 2 and I certain it’s going to kill me. Damn you, Pittacus Lore!