I was pleasantly surprised by this book. It started out rather boring, then gradually became a little more interesting...but by the time we reached the last quarter of the book, it really got pretty good. I'm glad I continued reading to the end.
To start off, this book is about our 11-year old protagonist Lyla. It's the Second World War and she's been evacuated to the countryside to live with her Aunt Ada - an aunt who is rather loopy and does all sorts of zany things. She's quite eccentric, in fact - talks in a very unique fashion, summons her horse indoors to dinner, gives her niece a ferret to cheer her up (the ferret is called Bucket, btw).
Hang on a sec. Lyla? This sounds familiar. Remember Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials, with a very similar female protagonist called...Lyra. Her personality is pretty much the same.
...except that Lyra is a lot more awesome, and Lyla mopes about her aunt's house and complains that her dad cheated on her mum, and that she wants to go home. Yeah. But she's like 11, so she's probably going to be like that for a while.
The first third of the book is bloody boring.
Seriously. She's just moping around in this giant mansion by herself and complaining about her parents. I almost fell asleep reading it.
A little later, one of Lyla's "Escape Plans" to get out of here and return to London where her mother will presumably help her, involves writing a letter to the Ministry of Defence and trying to persuade them to send their soldiers up to this mansion.
What do they get? An army of schoolgirls. An entire school of them moves into the mansion, and strangely enough Aunt Ada is FINE with that, and Lyla has to enroll in this school and take classes with everyone else.
Honestly, I'm amazed anyone at the Ministry of Defence actually believed this letter written by an 11-year old girl. But I digress.
The next part of the book is a bit interesting...but not that much, because I'm just relieved that our protagonist gets to INTERACT with someone. A few characters are introduced, but seriously only one of them matters. Maybe two. One of them is written to be some kind of bully...except not really, because all she does is say slightly unpleasant things sometimes. That's about it.
The last part of the book, however, makes it almost worth the wait. Lyla has been writing to her mother during the war. She's been writing everyday and has received no reply at all, not even on her birthday. Her father, however, has been writing to her pretty frequently.
Unfortunately, she's of the opinion that her dad cheated on her mum and left her (due to her mum's words) and refuses to read any of her dad's letters. She continues to wait every day for any reply from her mum.
Except for one day when she DOES start getting letters from her mum...but at this point, you can tell that something's wrong, because she should be over the moon about it, and instead she's just fairly happy about it. I've read enough teenage fiction at this point to know that it's not going to end happily.
I could go on about this book further, but I will say that all that boring stuff in the beginning makes it worthwhile when you reach the climax at the end.
There are, however, some parts of the book which bothered me. Namely...this book takes place over five years.
Are you shitting me? FIVE YEARS?
She acts exactly the same as when she's 11, as she does when she's 16! For goodness' sake! Put in some character progression or something! I mean, sure, she matures a bit, but people change quite a bit between those two ages. It felt like barely one year had passed! I get that the author was trying to maintain continuity about how long the war lasted...but still.
Another thing was that the chapters were ridiculously short.
I found several chapters which were less than two pages long. I blinked and the chapter was over. It was like one scene. I finished 50 pages within 10 minutes, and that barely covers any of the book at all. I mean, come on! i felt like it was for much younger readers because of this (especially with the larger font), but the chapters could be a little bit longer than that.
The writing style, too...You know how the first Harry Potter book has this kind of quirky humour about it? Something about it which just makes you smile? Sassy, even. I felt like the author was TRYING to do that here. He wasn't doing a very good job, though. I didn't really smile at how hard he was trying to do humour. It just fell flat, in my opinion.
There's also a scene right near the end of the book where one of the characters starts dying and it comes out of nowhere.
Lyla leaves for three days. When she comes back, the character has suffered multiple strokes and is on her deathbed. The next several chapters (did I mention they're so goddamn short?) go on about how she dies and stuff. Which is a bit sad, since I care a little about the character, but I'm still recovering from reading about Lyla's parents.
in short, the emotional and evocative part of the book was about the protagonist's relationships with her parents. The war setting felt like it was just in the background. Sure, Lyla's dad is off fighting in the war, and he writes letters to her every day which she just turns into paper aeroplanes and chucks in the rose bush, but...I don't know, it's more about relationships here. There's a few nods to the war effort, I guess.
And then there's a point where her auntie starts smuggling Monopoly boards to the prisoners captured by the Germans.
I don't even know how that could possibly work out.
Anyway, I've rambled on too long about this book now. It starts off rather slow, but it picks up towards the middle and ultimately has a satisfactory conclusion. A character gets killed off, but it made virtually no difference to me, except that the author seemed to fill several chapters with everyone mourning for her.
Also, Lyla's mum is a piece of shit, and her dad is cool, and her aunt is loopy, and I still don't believe 5 years passed through the entire book. Initially I would have given it 2.5/5, but I'll raise that to a 3.5/5.
I'm back again! It's been a year now, I think, and I want to get myself back into writing - by which I mean I need to get myself back into reading.
I went into my nearest library yesterday, excited to get a book out...and discovered that the library was temporarily closed for the next month. In fact, it had been closed since May. Bummer.
I then went to the next available library. It was closed.
I gave up and got on my bus home, which passed close to my nearest library. I decided, oh well, what the hell, and checked it out even though the last time I tried to browse the Teenage Section in there, they told me to leave on account that I was no longer a teenager.
It was open. They'd moved the teenage section outside to another part so I could browse freely again.
I'll be doing book reviews again, starting with School of Skylarks.
I don't think anyone on this site remembers me, though. Oh well. Well, I'm Selan and I do book reviews.
I'm also the guy who set out to read every single book in the Teenage Section of his local library. I did it chronologically, and got as far as C.
Now I'm going to have to start again from A, because now time has passed and there are NEW books. I wish myself all the luck that I will need. Oh yes.
Anyway, this book - I started it this morning, the chapters are about 2 pages long average...and now I've almost finished it. I'll write a review on it shortly.
I loved this book. It was a great read and I think I've actually read something in the same series when I was younger. It's set in a "diary" format and is about an ordinary schoolgirl called Mia who becomes a princess.
Yes, she becomes a princess. Turns out her dad is secretly a prince and she has to deal with that. She isn't leaping for joy at first, oh no, her best friend stops speaking to her around the same time, and the boy she dates seems to not care about anything but her title.
But it's really quirky and funny and full of personality. I enjoyed her as a character and liked the other characters too. It's more slice of life and friendship really, not huge amounts of drama. It was pretty satisfying overall.
This book was a bit bland and predictable really. It felt like it was written by an amateur author, even though there's like 3 pages in the back by her gushing about how she loved writing her first book or something, and there's even this little note in the front (at least in my copy!) which says...
"Hello, I'm Nicole, and I wrote this book! I've lived in Edgware all my life, and this library has a huge place in my heart. I hope you enjoy my story, and please keep on reading! Lots of love, Nicole xxx"
I got this book directly out of Edgware Library - so although it does sound sweet of her to put a nice little note in here (it's all on nice pink paper and doesn't look like a photocopy) - it also doesn't sound very professional. It's a nice touch but it's not exactly how you get your book published.
But anyway. The book's setting made me think of The Incredibles. Or any superhero movie, really! Basically, there are people with superpowers and they're all famous and they're called Vigils.
In this book, one girl discovers she has superpowers and can fly and shoot flames and shit. But the main character is actually her best friend, who designs her costumes and helps keep it a secret and has no powers whatsoever.
Sounds so Cardcaptor Sakura, except not so good.
And then halfway through the book, her friend's superpowers are picked up by the Vigils, who recruit her and they don't see each other anymore...but then it turned out that one of the Vigils is more of a villain who wants to blow up London or something and she has to stop them, and there's some other supervillains who are in his gang, and one of them is literally Mrs Freeze or something.
And there's some guy she kisses at the end who turns out to be some super nerd. The villain's superpower is literally that he's a human photocopier. Yup.
That's about it really. It's more about friendship, I guess?...I mean the writing wasn't terrible or anything, but it wasn't that great either.
I guess if you read this if you were 11 and liked superheroes a bit, then you'd think it was rather cool. Even so it's still a very average superhero book and there's not much I can say about it at all.
So I finally got round to reading this. I think it's been around for a while (1985?) and some of the concepts aren't really the kind of thing you'd get for Young Adult. I found this incredible. Training a child from a very young age to fight against these aliens who wiped out billions of people from nearly a decade ago.
The bulk of the book focuses on the main character, Ender, who joins the Battle School and has to fight through "games" which, in one sense are just play-fighting for the other children in the Battle School - but in another, very real sense, are linked to the strategy of fighting the aliens in reality. Plus, everyone takes it very seriously.
I really enjoyed this book from start to finish. As Ender improves, he goes up from team to the next until eventually...it's for real.
But here's one thing I don't get. He's six years old?
And by the end of the book he's 11? And killed billions of enemies? He's become a battle-hardened commander? He's probably become really traumatised and messed up inside. Does this count as child abuse? I'm not sure. Child soldiers, certainly...
His brother and sister are a few years older than him and are talking about mature topics and politics and all these other very "adult" concepts and...it just doesn't feel right.
I...just don't get it. None of the children act like their age. They act like they're 20 years older than that! (Maybe ten, if they're ultra mature.) They demonstrate all these ridiculous understandings of technology, fighting skills, strategies, as if it's nothing at all. I can't even begin to wrap my head around this.
Also, the n-word is used. Once, I believe. Just in case anyone's sensitive about it, but this was written over 30 years ago.
I did enjoy the characters - some of them, anyway. They just didn't feel like they really were children at all? It's like they'd been brainwashed and engineered from a really early age and it just felt weird.
But with all that aside it was an impressive book. Just bear in mind that it wasn't written in this generation, it's probably not for everyone with all the concepts it brings to light, and I still can't get over the fact of six-year olds killing each other with their bare hands.
I enjoyed this book. Very much epic fantasy, with the feared magicians on one side and the impoverished slum-dwellers on the other. Our protagonist is a girl from the slums who happens to have untapped magical powers. One day, she accidentally lets her powers be shown, and the magicians want to chase her down and recruit her before her powers grow out of control.
I enjoyed the pacing of this book and the characters were quite well-written. The magicians themselves are not the "villain", I should mention - there are many of them, good and bad, and I really thought some of them are quite quirky and made me smile just reading about them.
Of course, there are bad magicians among them who feel that a girl from the slums should not be allowed to join them, and one of them tries to blackmail her into leaving the Guild and so on. Lots of intrigue and suspense, I found.
I don't know how I felt that in this book's world, child/teen prostitution was almost normal and that most girls in the slums would have to resort to this. That's...kinda heavy content for this age group, don't you think?...Considering it doesn't really play a part in the plot and there isn't actually anything graphic.
I thought the book would end on a cliffhanger, to be honest. There was an unresolved villainous plot going on near the end and it got pretty tense. Thankfully, they managed to resolve in the nick of time only to bring forth ANOTHER villain to light. But that's what the sequel's for, I guess.
All in all it was a good book to read, though you can pretty much tell that the protagonist IS going to join the magicians. I mean they spend the entire book going on about whether she's going to leave them or join them. There's 2 more books as sequels. Obviously she joins them or nothing will happen, lol.
Trigger warnings: Child abuse, Child soldiers
More trigger warnings. I don't deliberately read books like this (I stay away from them if anything) but they just seem to crop up for some reason. And one look at this book, you wouldn't expect to see it. So yeah.
This book reminded me of the kind of book that your teacher has you discuss in class, and thoroughly analyze it, and everyone is in agreement that "This is a really thought-provoking book and really awesome! If you want to be a writer, then you should aspire to this kind of writing!"
The writing is very good, very descriptive and paints a good image of what it's trying to convey. The main character is Bat (evidently not his real name) and the story starts with him discovering a baby elephant and learning to raise it. The elephant's mother was shot by poachers (in an evocative scene in the very first chapter) and overall I thought it was very beautiful. (The raising of the elephant, that is, not the murder of its mother.)
I saw no real flaws with it at that point, aside that I ended up skimming most of the descriptions (there were a lot of them). And...it was really very predictable. I've read books like this before.
Now, I should mention that this book is split into 3 parts. I like that. Let's go over them.
Part 1: Bat finds a baby elephant and has to learn to raise it, before eventually he must say goodbye to it tearfully and let it rejoin its herd. Very emotional.
Part 2: Bat and his friend Muka are kidnapped by the army and forced to become child soldiers, subject to abuse, outright torture, beatings, half-starved, living in fear all the time, worked to exhaustion and -
wait stop what the fuck?!
Where the hell did that come from?? I thought I was reading a nice story about raising a baby elephant! What?! Child soldiers?
This is where the book takes a sudden twist and gets rather disturbing with the descriptions. It leaves out the explicit parts, but they are forced to join a child army - which is led by an elephant poacher from the beginning of the book! How coincidental.
It's quite grisly at this part. Many of the children are forced to kill, food is very scarce, and inevitably Bat is targeted by the leader as someone who knows where to find the elephant herd.
Shortly after that part finishes - spoiler here - the elephants rescue them! Woohoo!
Oh, I sure wasn't expecting that part! I mean, the section which dealt with the baby elephant wasn't even halfway. Of course the elephant was going to come back.
The third part is them trying to get back home, with the elephant's help. I thought the ending was rather rushed actually. Shouldn't his grandmother be like "Oh my god you were kidnapped for weeks on end I'm so glad you're still alive" or something? You know, something that last more than half a page? Oh well.
And then the author's afterword starts talking about Kony. I guess I should have expected that.
I enjoyed the book overall, but it was pretttttty predictable...up to the child soldiers part where you're like what the literal fuck. And then that ends, and it becomes predictable-ish again.
I was actually expecting the main villain to suddenly come back at the end and say "I've come back for revenge!" or something stupid but he didn't.
Trigger warnings: Child abuse, drug use, psychological torture, more torture, even more unpleasant torture, and did I mention torture
I think this book has scarred me for life. I'm not sure if i can recommend it, actually. Up to about three quarters of the way, through, yes, I would heartily recommend it. But after that ending?...
This book, in my mind, is like one of those psychological horror movies like Saw written down for a YA audience. In fact, I don't even think it should be for Young Adult. It should be just for Adult. Not for kids, certainly...
Okay, here it is. Six people from different walks of life are kidnapped and when they wake up, they're in this underground bunker, a long way under the surface. There's no food. There's six rooms, one for each of them. There's a kitchen and bathroom.
There's no other rooms for them to walk about. There's a hard bed for each of them to sleep in. There's cameras and microphones embedded into every room - including the bathroom, watching them, hearing what they say.
How to say this?...The whole book is literally all of them being tortured by the kidnapper(s), not only physically, but also psychologically, in one long torturous experience.
Yeah. It's never explained who the kidnapper is. He's watching them constantly. If they try to break the cameras/microphone, the cameras emit this deadly acidic spray which causes them to scream in agony. He also controls the heating. The lights switch on and off at a certain time every day, and when they go off they're plunged into ultimate darkness. Our main character is also scared of the dark.
If they try to escape, the kidnapper gasses them - yes, he can release knockout gas from the vents in the ceiling. Early on, they start making shopping lists and holding it up to the camera, and the kidnapper will send down food.
There's this lift which comes down the shaft every day - it's the only way out, and it only comes down once every day. If you anger the kidnapper, he stops sending food down at all.
At one point, the kidnapper seeks to "punish" the victims for trying to escape. He turns the heating off so that it's freezing cold for hours. Then he turns the heating on at full blast so that it's now boiling hot for hours. The characters try to light a fire at one point - and he makes water come out of the vents so that the fire goes out.
Many times during the book, the kidnappers also plays horrendous music at a deafening volume through the walls of the bunker. For hours on end.
Okay. So that's the torture you're in for if you read this.
Want to hear the characters?
1) Our main character - sleeps on the streets, has a pretty good backstory actually
2) A little girl - Yes, that's right, she's like 6 or something. She's subjected to the same torture as everyone else. It's just...sick. I mean seriously?
3) A guy who's a heroin addict (although I came to like him eventually)
4) A woman who's pretty unpleasant and only cares about herself (she starts hiding food at one point)
5) A businessman who is pretty much there for the readers to hate, he's just not very nice
6) An old man who is very distinguished and intelligent - I found him to be one of the best characters. (He's also suffering from a degenerative disease and it really started to take its toll on him)
And...yeah. The characters are awesome. They're realistic and make this book really great. I really did enjoy this book.
Unfortunately, stuff starts happening towards the end...let's just say that the kidnapper gets angry with them. No more food. More torture. Yet more torture. The heroin addict is of course starved of his drugs. It becomes an endless slog to survival.
And...I didn't enjoy that ending. it was really, really powerful...but this book scarred me for life and I don't think I want to pick it up again.
It definitely kept me reading though. No lie about that. And apparently this book won awards too, so I'll give it a moderately high rating.
It's just...the content in this book isn't really for younger readers. It's very powerful, very very disturbing...and let's just say it doesn't go where you'd expect.
This book was incredible. I'm beginning to take a liking to Rachel Caine's books, as she has a very good writing style and I haven't found much not to like about her books so far.
In this book, the Great Library of Alexandria was never burned to the ground. And that's not all. In this world, knowledge is what controls everything. The Library itself controls people's lives: owning books is illegal, as is selling originals to others, and what can be read by people is strictly controlled.
In that way it's a kind of dystopian future (for example, some countries have been completely destroyed by the Library to protect its knowledge, and there's a war going on between England and Wales which feels surprisingly realistic). I can't really try and explain it all, but you'll have to read it for yourself. It paints quite a vivid picture.
Our protagonist is Jess who is actually from a family or black market book smugglers. His family sends him to work at the Library as a scholar and it goes from there really.
Parts of this book actually made me think of Harry Potter. Hell, he meets a bunch of other students on the train, there's one character who is very Malfoy-ish, there's a girl who's really really smart and knows the answer to every question...Yeeep.
At first, it seems quite normal as Jess and his students are taught the ropes as they compete for the six slots available for a Library scholarship. He also has to hide his own identity, of course, and bond with the other students.
Oh, and about halfway through the book people start dying. It starts heading that way. I'll even go so far as to say that there are too many character deaths for my liking. It makes sense, of course, but...there's a death near the book which I really didn't like.
I really enjoyed this book. There's a great sense of mystery, intrigue, politics, fighting, schoolteaching and practically everyone has developed by the end of this book. There is romance, too, but I think the book could have done without it. I'm not complaining too much about that though.
Plus, it's the first in a series. I wouldn't mind reading the sequel if I see it. All in all, I greatly enjoyed this book and looking forward to more of this author's work.
Oh, and there's a canon gay relationship. Just in case you like that sort of thing.
It's strange, actually, how there are so many books with gay relationships in them now. Sometimes they're just thrown in there for no reason whatsoever (compared to books I read 10 years ago from school!). But at least in this book, it did make sense, which I liked.
This book is trash.
(TW: Rape mention.)
I was really disappointed by this. It had a great setting, a great storyline to start off with. The synopsis was pretty thrilling to start off with. Basically, there's a drug called "Death". It costs thousands to buy, and once you take it, you will experience the greatest high of your life. For an entire week, you'll be over the moon, you feel as if you can do everything you want, you'll be living life for the fullest...
Why is it just a week, may you ask? Oh, because after a week you're dead. The drug kills you. Taking Death means you get a week of absolute euphoria and then die.
And this book is set in a kind of...well, a kind of society where there are riots and people are getting fed up and angry at the corporations taking their money, and so young people are taking Death and experiencing life like that.
I didn't really follow that part, to be honest. The society didn't seem much different than now and you don't see teenagers taking this drug which will inevitably kill them. But whatever.
It started out great, it really did. Our protagonist - wait, let me just look up his name again - oh I remember now. Adam.
Adam is a bit of a fuckboy to be honest. He's an ass. He's our main protagonist. He goes with his girlfriend to a party, pressurises her for sex at the end of the night. Of course, she's not impressed and throws it back in his face. He also gets beaten up by a gangster at the party, takes too much of a certain alcoholic substance and has a panic attack (or at least as close to it as our author can muster).
Basically, he's had a shit night and hates himself. So when he gets hold of a load of free Death pills...he takes one.
Pretty bad decision. Pretty stupid. Because for the next week he's on top of the world! He also knows he's going to die after the end of the week.
So he makes a bucket list. Which includes....ah, having sex with multiple women, getting his girlfriend pregnant (because, according to him, he "wants to leave something of himself behind"), killing someone who deserves to die, all these other items...
His girlfriend Lizzie isn't that pleased when she finds him climbing up to her bedroom in Romeo and Juliet style, all suddenly full of energy and confessing that he wants to do all these things. Especially not that he wants to fuck all these other random women. Or get her pregnant.
And she goes along with it anyway.
Christ. I don't know why she does. The whole time, Adam is constantly saying "I love you, Lizzie, I love you" like some kind of mantra. No, really. He never shuts up about it. He says it about 12 times per chapter. (Okay I'm exaggerating here but he says it a hell of a lot.)
Various events unfold throughout the story, including how Adam and Lizzie rob a shop for booze, get drunk (apparently if you're on Death, you need TRIPLE THE NORMAL AMOUNT to get drunk) do some other stupid shit, get arrested, sneak out again, go to another party...
Right, here's the main flaw with the book here. There's a lot of damn sexism going on here.
I'm not talking about the "if a guy's on Death he's automatically going to want to have sex with a load of women". I'm talking more about all the violence directed solely at women throughout the book. One chapter starts with a woman being beaten up. Another chapter has a woman being stabbed on the news live on camera, for the sole purpose of shocking Lizzie. The only female character who doesn't get beaten up, tortured or killed, is his own mother.
Later on, Lizzie is resolved to find the antidote for Death, to cure Adam (even though no sure cure exists). The gangster she met at the party tells on the phone he'll give her an antidote - on the condition that she has sex with him.
She agrees to this without much thought about it at all.
It should be worth mentioning that Adam doesn't even want an antidote at this point - nor is he even WORTH saving, he's such a terrible character - and she's going to allow this gangster to rape her to get an antidote? Which doesn't exist? Seriously?
I'm going to quote from the book here:
"What sort of a bitch would she be to let Adam die, just because of sex? It was the old story. Boys went to the rescue with a gun in their hands, girls with their knickers in their pockets. So which was worse? This way, she thought, at least no one was going to get hurt."
Oh sure, the gangster is just going to rape you and possibly kill you too, no one's going to get hurt. Fucking hell.
Actually, it turns out that he keeps her prisoner and beats her to a pulp - he tries to rape her but can't manage it because he can't get himself up. I'm not sure if this is supposed to be funny or something?
The thing is...the villains in this book are actually pretty comical. They have these running gags and I was sympathetic towards them at first. One of them is insane and has to make medication. Oh, and they kill a guy in a wheelchair too. And beat up women. And may be serial rapists. So I guess they're no longer funny now.
Seriously, don't try to make your villains comic relief - and THEN show that they're mass-murderers, women-beaters and potential rapists. Do one or the other. It doesn't mix!
...Boy, I really started hating the book after that. I skimmed the rest.
If you're wondering about the end, it turns out that the Death pill that Adam took was a fake, and so he's not going to die after all. And some shitty message about how life is precious to you. (Another female character blows herself up, too btw. Because they can't get through one chapter of this damn book without torturing another woman.)
The violence wasn't even very realistic, to be honest. Another gangster comes round to Lizzie's cousin's house and beats her up. Like, breaks all her ribs along one side. Breaks her nose. She should be screaming in agony by this point.
Except she isn't screaming, she's still talking normally as if he only slapped her or something. It's just...badly done. It's like the author wants to see these characters tortured, but can't quite handle the definition of what happens AFTERWARDS.
There's a scene where the gangsters have forced Lizzie to urinate in a potty in front of them, whilst chaining one hand to the bed after they've smashed her face in.
I'll be honest with you here - that just sounds like the author's kink or fetish or something. I mean come on.
Oh, and by the way, Adam still never stops saying "I love you" to her - even AFTER he's had sex with another woman (which he does, the same woman who blows herself up a few chapters later). He also makes it clear to the reader that he fully intends to screw around with more girls behind her back.
This book just makes me angry. It doesn't make sense, the main character is the one who should be tortured for all his shitty actions (not his girlfriend, who almost gets raped), the villains are either highly comical or highly violent against women when the plot needs them to be, the remaining characters aren't great...
And really, what disappoints me is that the premise of this book sounded good at first. It was just executed so poorly. Avoid this please.
A short but moderately interesting read. Martyn Pig is the main character (what a name) and being a Kevin Brooks book, it's a bit like his other titles. Dysfunctional family once again, his father's a drunk, life's not great, no friends, just accidentally killed his dad -
Wait what he accidentally killed his dad?
And in a similar way to a character death from the last book I just read, too.
Yes, his father is drunk and he loses his temper and tries to hit his son and Martyn has had enough of this and pushes his dad and his dad falls drunkenly against the fireplace...and bam he's dead.
And he doesn't tell the police immediately. He's scared, and the only other relatives are his auntie (who tried to gain custody of him years ago, and who is apparently worse than his dad was).
Oh, and the cheque for £30,000 that he finds in his dad's post, delivered the next day. More incentive not to tell the police what happened.
Overall it did keep me reading, it had a great twist at the end (no, the twist is not that the dad is suddenly alive the whole time, he really is dead lol) what with trying to hide the dad's body and all sorts of thing. It wasn't amazing or anything but it was rather good.
Imagine Romeo and Juliet being written using language that is understandable (as in, not Shakespearean, so that it's easier to read) without losing the classic edge that makes it Shakespeare.
Imagine that it's being written slightly different, expanding Rosalind's character and giving us a greater insight into the lives of the Capulets and the Montagues.
Imagine that Mercutio's character is explored in much greater detail, including themes of homosexuality.
And finally, imagine that the main character is now Benvolio.
And that he's the Robin Hood of Shakespeare.
This book is what you get if you put all those things together. I was quite impressed with how this author managed it. It incorporates all of the crucial themes from the original play, but also develops all of the otherwise overlooked parts of Romeo and Juliet.
For example, remember Rosalind? Romeo's first "love" before he meets Juliet? In the original play, she's given virtually no character at all - she's just there as a stepping stone to Juliet.
In this book...she's one of the main characters and has a distinct chemistry with Benvolio. She has conflicting responsibilities, an abusive brother, and is a strong female character in her own right. I really enjoyed how she was written.
Here's the extra bits you now get in this book:
- Main character is Benvolio and he's Robin Hood. Literally. He steals from the rich and gives to the poor. He's the "Prince of Shadows" that the book is named after! That wasn't in the play...
- Romeo is a side character for about half the freaking book. Juliet has barely any lines, but then again Benvolio never really interacts with her.
- Benvolio has the hots for Rosalind. Bet you didn't see that coming.
- Mercutio is now gay and this has real consequences.
- Tybalt is abusive, a woman-beater and a rapist. Actually, many of the men in this book are also rapists - to servant girls mostly. The sexual assault is not explicit, mind you. But it is mentioned.
- Remember how many people die in the original play? Triple that number. This book just ups the ante.
There's a twist near the end, quite cleverly done. Even though it does stick to the play - there's quite a nice surprise which wraps everything together.
Several times in the book, the author actually quotes directly from the play. Such as certain lines spoken by Romeo and Mercutio...and this here I felt was done a bit awkwardly. The author quotes the Shakespearean lines word for word and it doesn't really fit in with the rest of the book. I can see why she would put it in though.
The amount of characters who die is also ridiculous (way more than the original play). As is the ending. I mean, sure, I guess it makes sense in a way?...But everyone just decides "Oh, it's fine, let's go home now" is a bit much.
It's very enjoyable for anyone who's read Romeo and Juliet.
As an added bonus, if you're one of those who was like "Romeo and Juliet wasn't real love! They just had an infatuation!" (which I'm not critciising, btw, it's quite a valid opinion) - then you're in for a treat near the end of the book. It's quite interesting like that.
I found this an interesting read. Prom Nights From Hell is actually a collection of shorts stories, each written by a different author. Basically, horror, supernatural, high school stuff, vampires and demons, that kind of stuff.
Yes, I am aware that Stephanie Meyer is one of the authors on this list. So what. I've actually never read Twilight or a single book by her so this was interesting for me. I've written a separate review for each story.
The Exterminator's Daughter by Meg Cabot
This felt like a Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanfic. Mary is a vampire hunter, and her best friend has fallen into the hypnotic clutches of a vampire. A vampire who also happens to be Dracula's son. Um yes, you read that right: this teenage girl is a vampire hunter who has to take down Dracula's son. It's really silly. But I thought it pretty funny and it's not supposed to be serious. A bit of romance along the way too and it was rather enjoyable.
The Corsage by Lauren Myracle
Ever heard of The Monkey's Paw? Yeah, it's in a similar vein: be careful what you wish for. Unlike the other stories, this one was rather serious and had consequences happen and a bit of tragedy. Still...I didn't feel like it was done very well. It kinda ended a bit awkwardly, too. I just ended up feeling sorry for the character which did die because he meant well.
Madison Avery And The Dim Reaper by Kim Harrison
Oh, I really liked this one!! Madison is at prom, being ditched by her date, and meets the boy of her dreams who happens to be a GRIM REAPER who promptly kills her. And she dies. And then...it's a bit complicated to explain, but there are Black Reapers and White Reapers as well as Grim Reapers, and they have to save her from being annihilated. Oh, and she gains some magical powers or something...and gets a guardian angel. I liked it, it had a great sense of adventure. My only problem was that it was a short story so it was rather open-ended but otherwise I liked the atmosphere.
Kiss And Tell by Michelle Jaffe
This story begins with the main character dying. Then it goes back in time. Actually, this story is quite unique, though a little bit weird. The main character has superpowers. I don't freaking know how or why. Neither does she because she can't remember the last 10 years or some shit. But she has to use her powers to save this little girl (a girl who won't stop kissing as many boys as possible! see what I mean? It's so weird) who is apparently a prophet...or something...which is never confirmed. She apologises everytime she knocks out a bad guy. Lots of action and I really enjoyed it!! Felt a bit awkward sometimes but the protagonist was written pretty well.
Hell On Earth by Stephanie Meyer
Oho, I'm reading my first Stephanie Meyer novel!!...and it's not half bad. Basically, unpleasant things are happening at prom - not dead people or anything, just jealousy and dates cheating on other dates, people getting into fights, LOTS of drama. Yup. Turns out that a couple of demons are mixing things up to cause as much misery as possible because they benefit from that. I found it sketchy at first but I really enjoyed how this one ended. Maybe because I'm a sucked for the angel x demon pairing. But yeah it felt a little different.
And that's that. I didn't really dislike any of the stories, they were all pretty great and good fun to read. If you like vampires or demons, a supernatural atmosphere, possible female protagonists kicking ass and a generous dose of comedy then I'm sure this would be enjoyable.
TRIGGER WARNING: Rape mention.
(More details below, but the plot of this book does revolve around a rape of one of the main characters. It's not explicit, thankfully, dealing mostly with the aftermath but it is quite evocative.)
When I first saw the premise of this book, I thought it was crazy. Tom is a teenager who was hit on the head by an iPhone. The iPhone hit him from 30 floors up, cracked his skull, and bits of the iPhone were embedded in his brain. He was in a coma for about a fortnight and the surgeons couldn't remove all the pieces of the phone.
The remaining fragments of the iPhone fused with his brain and turned him into a walking iPhone. As in...he can access all the information by himself. Take pictures. Save them. Use the internet. Anonymously, even. Just by WILLING HIMSELF to do it.
Does that sound absurd? Does it? Because it does to me. He's using his brain as a freaking iPhone? He can just google anything by THINKING it?
That sounds like one of the most amazing things I've ever heard.
Yup, it is in no ways realistic. But wow. What an idea for a book! Definitely a superhero-kind of book.
Now, um...the actual plot of the book. Which is actually very serious and not as funny as a guy who acquired superpowers because he has a phone in his brain...
One of his best friends got gang-raped in her flat, some real nasty stuff. Because this is a Kevin Bowler book, there are gangs in this story. Like lots of them wearing hoods and stuff, not very pleasant people.
So our protagonist decides to use his new-found powers to take revenge, or at least bring them to justice. He can send anonymous phone calls and texts to the police just by THINKING it, he has access to the entire internet, he spends hours at night just staying awake mentally browsing everything and watching all the horrible stuff that goes on online, trying to stop it...
I mean it really does sound incredible.
Oh, by the way - he can take it one step further by electrocuting people with his fingertips. Seriously. Tom can also use the iPhone's enhanced power to zap people!
He also has a force field. Which he can turn on and off at will.
Unfortunately, he only has this power if he's got a decent reception. If he's got no wireless signal, he's just a normal kid. Can you believe this?
The rape in this book was uncomfortable for me. It wasn't even explicit or descriptive - but Tom talks to the victim at length, you see how people treat her, and it's quite sickening. After reading a few chapters of that I wanted to chop off my own genitals. Jesus. I don't have any experience of sexual assault but it did feel realistically written from her point of view.
Was the superpowered-iPhone-boy absolutely ridiculous? Yes. Does it make the book bad? No. I LOVED it. It really hooked me, seriously. I ended up reading it one day. Hence the high rating.
The ending was satisfactory to me too and it was a great book overall. Just the iPhone superpower thing. So silly, lol.
I was conflicted about whether to read this book at first. Is this Malorie Blackman's newest book? I mean, it was on display under new books in the library and it was even in hardback. Plus, it was sci-fi and I remember what her last sci-fi book was like.
So I was presently surprised when I started enjoying it a lot. The characters were great, I really enjoyed the setting (set aboard a spacecraft trying to survive to get some fugitives to safety) and for once, the plot was actually decent.
You know what wasn't? The romance. Insta-romance.
Our two main characters, Vee and Nathan, literally fall in love with each other at first sight. Despite not knowing a thing about each other, immediately pulse rate going up at first contact, temperature going up, all that shit.
Oh boy, the love-making scenes in this book are ridiculous. There's SO MANY of them. Never mind that Vee decides to kiss Nathan full on the mouth in front of his friends just to prove a point to them. Oh, I'm sure it wasn't for any romantic reason whatsoever.
Before the book gets halfway they're both making out in the navigation room. Like getting all sweaty, covering each other with kisses, steamy stuff.
Or at least, as steamy as you can get for a YA book. It does become sex. No, seriously, they start screwing all the time. It isn't vivid or explicit but bloody hell. You know, I started skimming the love scenes because there were SO MANY. There were like several chapters devoted to this. I mean why can't these characters just be friends?
Sure, Vee has spent 3 years with no human contact at all. They're like, 18 or 19 years old maybe even though they start getting butterflies in their tummy just by looking at each other and...well, this is more like how 15 or 16-year olds act (no offence to anyone of that age group). Aside from all the constant sex.
Now, the shitty romance aside, I was a bit bored until maybe just after halfway. Because people start dying and there's a murderer aboard the ship and that starts getting exciting.
And then more love triangles (yes, it's Malorie Blackman, what did you expect?), more people dying, more drama, and it does get pretty good. I was actually pretty hooked onto it in the last part and it ended rather satisfactorily.
There were quite a few decent plot twists. I felt it was mediocre at first but after some unnecessarily frequent sex scenes, all of which I skipped in disgust, the plot picked up again and it kept me reading. So I'll give it 4.5 stars for that.
All right...I've tried to find this book. Again. And I've failed.
I can't find it on this site (except the audiobook). I even put in the ISBN code and Booklikes gave me a completely different book.
Well, I can't find this book. Even though it came out in 2016?
I searched by the author and went through 9 pages of all her books. Still no luck.
Chasing the Stars, by Malorie Blackman.
If anyone can find it on this website then please let me know. Just finished it and have a review to put up.