In My Mailbox 12/15/12

These just in from the library:

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Dying to Know You – Aidan Chambers
Adaptation – Malinda Lo
Miss Fortune Cookie – Lauren Bjorkman
Lullaby – Amanda Hocking
Blink Once – Cylin Busby

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Butter

Title: Butter
Author: Erin Jade Lange
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: September 4, 2012
Pages: 316
Genre: contemporary
Source: library
Rating: 3/5

An obese boy nicknamed “Butter” plans to eat himself to death over the internet.

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I decided not to rate this book because I’m still not really sure how I feel about it. The storyline was certainly compelling, I can’t argue with that, but I can’t say it was necessarily all that good/enjoyable. It was well-written, but I still wouldn’t say I actually liked it.

This book was really just horrible to read. Other than his passion for music, absolutely nothing truly good happened to Butter. Watching him get closer with people who were only his friends to get in on the action and who you knew were going to drop him in the end was like watching a burning plane fall out of the sky. Watching him lie to Anna both in person and online was just as bad, because you knew it was all going to blow up in his face.

At one point, it really seemed like Butter wouldn’t go through with the internet suicide and I had a little hope for him, but as soon as Anna discovered that he was J. P. all along, my heart sank through the floor yet again. I was glad that Anna at least had the decency to call the police, and that she wasn’t as awful as the rest of the people who were watching Butter’s snuff video.

I wish that the ending could have been a little more uplifting than it was, although to be honest that’s probably how it would go in real life, too. I was happy at first that Tucker bothered to email Butter to check in, but was upset that he basically cut Butter out of his life. However, I do understand that Tucker meant to cut out the negativity from his life, not specifically Butter, but it was unfortunate that Butter fell under that category, because now Butter doesn’t really have another friend who relates to him.

I have to say I was a little confused about why Lange chose to end the book the way she did. I think it made sense to end it with Anna, because that was Butter’s one relationship that had some promise, but I’m confused why he said that she could call him Butter. They both sort of agree to start again, but then Butter/Marshall still continues to use the identity forced upon him by the people who bullied him.

I suppose one could argue that continuing to call himself “Butter” symbolizes a growing self-acceptance, but considering the despicable origin of the nickname, I disagree. Even when the story ends, he is still defining himself through his personal demons.

I guess I am glad to have read the book, as it was kind of interesting to see people’s reactions to Butter’s website, but the sociological aspects of the story weren’t enough to make me actually like it.

Speechless

Title: Speechless
Author: Hannah Harrington
Publisher: HarlequinTeen
Publication Date: August 28, 2012
Pages: 288
Genre: Contemporary/LGBT
Source: Eidelweiss
Rating: 4/5
Picture Perfect: render me speechless
Protagonist Pizzaz: pretty high
Va va va voice: p(r)eachy keen
Mph: 50

Everyone knows what Chelsea Knot, queen of gossip, did at her best friend’s New Year’s Eve party to land one boy in the hospital and two of her friends in jail. What they don’t know, or rather, understand, is why she’s taken a vow of silence, or when she’ll find her voice again.

Picture Perfect: render me speechless
Go America. Your cover is so much better than the Australian one. Just sayin’. But really, the US cover is super cool and clean, and I can’t think of what could be better. It’s creative even though it’s stark, and it’s certainly not as hokey/cliche as the Australian cover.

Protagonist Pizzaz: pretty high & Va va va voice: p(r)eachy keen

The only real “problem” I had with this book was that sometimes it got too preachy. Like, at the end, Harrington basically spells out the lesson Chelsea learned in a manner I found a little irritating. I think the lesson is pretty obvious and the way she chose to show it was just unnecessary. Other than that, I thought Chelsea’s voice (no pun intended) was authentically sixteen without being outlandishly shallow, which seems to happen frequently in younger young adult novels. She was believable and genuine and ended up being really likable. Her story was honest, heartwarming, and sometimes heart-wrenching.

Mph: 50
Speechless was very steadily-paced, without any major climaxing to make the literary speedometer go wild, which kept there from being any major down-time.

Burn for Burn

Title: Burn for Burn
Author: Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 18th, 2012
Pages: 368
Genre: Contemporary
Source: Amazon
Rating: 4/5

Summary from Goodreads–Lillia has never had any problems dealing with boys who like her. Not until this summer, when one went too far. No way will she let the same thing happen to her little sister.

Kat is tired of the rumours, the insults, the cruel jokes. It all goes back to one person– her ex-best friend– and she’s ready to make her pay.

Four years ago, Mary left Jar Island because of a boy. But she’s not the same girl anymore. And she’s ready to prove it to him.

Three very different girls who want the same thing: sweet, sweet revenge. And they won’t stop until they each had a taste.

Whoa. Well that was a wild ride. Let me slow down for a second and catch my breath…

Okay, so. If you’re looking for a quick, escapist read with juice bursting out of the spine, look no further: you’ve found it. While you can’t expect much substance from any of the characters other than the highly damaged Mary, you can expect a lot of action and, of course, sweet, sweet revenge.

After reading this book, I, for one, would never want to get on Han or Vivian’s bad sides. Their plans for revenge were pretty darn tough, carried out by characters who only seemed to have a conscious after the fact. On that note, I thought it was interesting that though she had a big hand in all three revenge cycles, Kat was the only girl who never seemed to feel an inkling of guilt throughout the story. In fact, she’s the one who gets the last word, only hoping that they get away with what they’ve done.

When I started reading, I didn’t think I would get quite as invested in the characters as I did, since I don’t usually go for the petty-escapist-revenge type of stories. However, I did end up liking or at least being interested in the majority of the characters. Still, I found myself wishing that Kat had a little more substance to her story, although at first I thought it was Lillia who lacked substance as a character (I was proven wrong).

The only character whose desires I was a bit confused by was Mary. I wasn’t sure if she wanted to get revenge on Reeve or for him to fall in love with her. She goes back and forth throughout the book, clearly demonstrating that she had an incredibly unhealthy, dangerous relationship with him. I’m also a little worried for the second book because it seemed like Han and Vivian were trying to introduce a paranormal element with Mary’s seeming ability to make bad things happen.

I was also majorly disappointed by the ending, not realizing there would be a sequel (Fire for Fire, to be released ) until a good 15 minutes of loud ranting had passed. But once I realized this happy fact I felt slightly better. Let the games continue in 2013!

League of Strays

Title: League of Strays
Author: L. B. Schulman
Publisher: Amulet
Publication Date: October 1, 2012
Pages: 288
Genre: Contemporary
Source: NetGalley
Rating: 2.5/5

When lonely, seventeen-year-old Charlotte Brody receives a mysterious invitation to join a friendship-promising group called the League of Strays, she is immediately intrigued. She and the other group members come under the care of Kade Harlin, a young boy determined to help them hash out revenge on everyone who has ever hurt them. But, Charlotte soon questions Kade’s true intentions as his plots grow more and more cruel.

Inevitably, the plot of this book led me to compare it to the last NetGalley book I reviewed, also about a sinister group of high school pranksters. While I can say that this book certainly delivered what Circle of Silence failed to, it still did not reach its full potential.

To start with, I absolutely could not stand the narrator. Though she was the protagonist of the story, Charlotte was boring and predictable, not what an author wants if they’re trying to create a complex character.

From the start, you know that Charlotte is pretty much doomed. Really, what other sort of fate could you imagine for a character who is naive enough to meet a bunch of people she doesn’t know in the middle of the night in a remote park? I hated the way she was immediately drawn into the group by Kade’s supposed charm and charisma. Throughout the entire story, it seemed to me the only reason she was in the group in the first place was because she found Kade attractive.

This is something that really bothers me about relationships between teenagers in the majority of today’s young adult literature. If you look at really popular books, for example, Twilight, you will notice that the main reason a girl stays with a boy is because of his looks. Like in Twilight, Charlotte and Kade’s relationship is abusive as well. She stays with him though she knows that he is only interested in furthering his personal agenda.

But, to be fair, Charlotte is not the only one seduced by Kade. The entire group seems to be under his spell, and they all seem to be romantically attracted to him in some way, except for maybe Zoe. This was something else I did not appreciate about the story: though the book was narrated by Charlotte/Charlie, it was really about Kade, as often happens in young adult books where there is any romance.

Even after she finds a letter describing his sociopathic behavior, Charlotte waits too long to do something about it. From the beginning, it is made clear that Charlotte is the token “good girl”, and it just didn’t seem believable that she would switch sides so quickly. I also wish the author had played up Charlotte and Tiffany’s relationship more, as well as further emphasized her loneliness, which is what supposedly prompted her to join the League in the first place.

Besides all that, it really concerned me that the members of the League didn’t struggle more with the morality of what they were doing. Even though Charlotte eventually admitted to herself that she didn’t like where the group was headed, I feel Schulman could have made that struggle a bit more prominent. All Charlotte seemed to care about was Kade: her relationship with him, his past, etc. It took a whole abduction for her to really start challenging him.

So, while this book was certainly more interesting than Circle of Silence, it still didn’t do much for me except make me frustrated at the way teen girls are portrayed in young adult literature. An all-around disappointing read.

The Ivy

A fun summer read about one girl’s life among the Ivies, complete with gorgeous boys and diabolical roommates.

 

Lauren Kunze and Rina Onur may not have succeeded in making me want to go to Harvard, but they did succeed in crafting an entertaining story. The Ivyprovided me with a delicious escape from my humdrum summer, despite the fact that it is about school. The characters were very different from one another, and each added their own unique edge to the story. I am pleased to have discovered this new series, and cannot wait for the next installment. If anyone else feels this way after reading The Ivy, try Alicia Thompson’s Psych Major Syndrome or J. Courtney Sullivan’s Commencement to tide you over.

here’s a short & silly video of the writers talking about The Ivy

I find it particularly interesting that the actual writer (Lauren Kunze) doesn’t like her own main character. This is also a collaboration I haven’t heard about before; one person provides the ideas and the other puts them into words. So, the question becomes: who’s doing the real creating?