Category: ya lit

Fierce Fragile Hearts Book Review

Author: Sara Barnard

Rating: 5/5

I’m not generally a fan of contemporary YA novels as series. I think stand-alone’s are far more satisfying, and far less drawn out. So you can see why I was reluctant to pick up a sequel to a book I loved (Beautiful Broken Things review here) which I thought would be unnecessary at best, a waste of time at worst. 

I was so wrong. This book was beautiful. It focusses in a girl named Suzanne, who was a victim of child abuse and, at the beginning of the novel, is in the foster care system. We follow Suzanne as she gains her independence in a very big and very complex world which is moving on faster than her. Whilst I’m not an abuse survivor, I find Barnard’s narration endlessly relatable; the way Suzanne reflects on the concept of death, her description of feeling you’re on the edge and being too tired to do anything about it, and so many other moments. 

The relationships between Suzanne and her friends are so raw and real. Caddy and Rosie are far more developed than in the first instalment, and I love the different directions that Barnard took these three in. That said, my favourite relationship is between Suzanne and her retired musician neighbour, Dilys. Dilys is the perfect example of the good in this world that Suzanne had been so deprived of, and their friendship was pure and benevolent.

Finally, I want to talk about Suzanne’s family. Her brother plays a complicated role in her life, having never been a victim of their father’s wrath. It’s both heart-wrenching and disgusting how his childhood was so opposite to Suzanne’s, and how that affects their sibling relationship. Her mother is also beyond complicated, and this book gave me an insight into why child abuse is so rarely reported by family members. It’s so much more difficult than I could ever imagine, having such a loving and supportive family myself.

So, as if you couldn’t tell, I loved this book. I loved it more than Beautiful Broken Things. One of my new favourites for sure.

Beautiful Broken Pieces Book Review

Author: Sara Barnard

Rating: 4/5

Until the ending, this book was very so-so. Developed enough characters, advancing plot, very readable writing style. I solid 3-4 star read.

BUT WAIT. I cannot tell you how perfect the ending was. I was crying in my library! That lifted it to 4.5 for me.

Overall, I had problems with ALL of the characters, but that doesn’t mean thy were badly written. Caddy (the narrator) was ungrateful and spoilt – and pitied herself for it. And whilst this was annoying, I think it was meant to be. I see Caddy in so many people I know – people who are jealous of others’ trauma because it’s more exciting than their boring life. And, if you are inexperienced in how ruining and scarring trauma can be, you might see where she’s coming from. Rosie was more difficult to dissect; she doesn’t take anyone’s bull, but she’s also judgmental and controlling. Finally, Suzanne. I think she could represent how some people deal with their abusive past, but I don’t think in the slightest that she represents the majority – and that’s why her characterisation could be considered “damaging” to some reviewers.

I think you were meant to have your own opinion on the character’s actions, and that’s why they were so frustrating. Bernard creates a chasmic ironic gap in which the reader can fully understand situations the narrator can’t, which is difficult to do well.

As I’ve said, the ending truly made this book for me. For that alone, I would recommend Beautiful Broken Things.

I Was Born For This Book Review

Author: Alice Oseman

Rating: 4.5/5

Buy: Amazon US

         Amazon UK

Such an interesting read! I picked up this book based on the plot: it follows our two main characters, Angel and Jimmy. Angel’s life revolves around a band called The Ark who have become her life. They have given her all of her internet friends, a purpose in life, and hope that love exists. Jimmy is the lead singer; he has severe anxiety and paranoia and is deeply insecure in his profession. He loves music, but hates fame. The story revolves around their own growth and change, as well as how their paths meet.

As a huge member of the bandom, it was fascinating and shocking to see the effect that fans have on their idols. It’s opened my eyes to the pressure of being so depended on by millions of people who don’t even know who you really are. But, as someone who has been kept alive by the music of twenty one pilots, Pierce The Veil and the like, it breaks my heart that some musicians are overcome by fear and hatred of their fandom. I never thought about how stressful it must be, having all these strangers fawn mindlessly over them (or the strangers’ image of them, which is worse). For that reason, I’m thankful that this book has given me the chance to be more mindful of my irrevocable adoration of bands and their members.

Saying that, it was also scary how much of myself I saw in Angel. She puts The Ark before everything else in her life and, as someone who would willingly die for Brendon Urie, I can now see how distressing that is. There are fans who are nothing except the people they idolise, and I now see that I can be a fan without selling my soul.

Disclaimer: I FULLY respect anyone who’s life revolves around a band/tv show/celebrity if it gives you happiness. My opinions are only as a response to my own personality, and the fact that it was beginning to cause me unhappiness.

Subject matter aside, I thoroughly enjoyed the writing of this novel. It had the perfect conversationalist tone for a YA contemporary without being cheesy or cliched. There was a lot of emotional impact, especially in the scenes in which Jimmy had a panic attack, as well as the shock of the finale. The pacing was perfect, even though what I thought was going to be the main event happened quite far into the book (it worked brilliantly). 

Also, amazing diversity! A male main character with anxiety, a Muslim main character, a trans main character, a gay main character and a bisexual main character!!

The only reason this isn’t 5 stars is because I hated one of the characters with a deep-seated, fiery passion. But that’s okay, since I knew he was supposed to be the object of readers’ hatred anyway.

I Am Thunder Book Review

Author: Muhammed Khan

Rating: 5/5

Buy: Amazon US

         Amazon UK

Stunning. Stunning. Stunning! Thank you so much to my librarian for showing me this book because it was phenomenal. I Am Thunder is a brilliant YA novel focussed on the prejudice against Muslims and the threat of radicalisation from the viewpoint of a high school student. Muzna has lived her life with her strict parents showing her that she is Pakistani first, Muslim second and British last – if at all. After moving schools, she meets a boy who treats her like she will become something, and she discovers freedom. It sounds quite fluffy at this point but (without spoiling anything) events begin to take a dark turn as she is torn between the hate people give her, and the possibility of hating them in return.

My knowledge of Islam is limited, which is why I was so keen to pick up this book. I’m an atheist, but understanding religion is something I not only find fascinating, but essential as well. Muzna is from a background of conservative Islam, trying not to obviously be religious due to their fear of prejudice. Firstly, I found this heart-breaking. To know that people feel the need to hide who they are in fear of hate is shocking – and I hope books like this can show the awfulness of Islamophobia and bring about change. 

Radicalisation is not something often depicted in novels, especially YA. However, this book shows how slowly it can weed into a person – without them really realising it; how sly extremists are when it comes to manipulation. But what I appreciated in this book is that Muslims were treated as the victims, not the masterminds, of this radicalisation. This is how people should be viewing extremism! It’s horrific that terror attacks are caused by people using religion as an excuse, and the people who truly believe in this religion are taking the fall! 

Even with the themes aside, I Am Thunder is  an excellent YA novel. The language is so colloquial and readable; time past so quickly whilst I was reading it! The plot develops quickly, but almost under the radar, so that you can’t really tell how intense things are until it hits you like a train. 

The author is own voice, so I hope that he is able to portray an honest experience of being a British Muslim. However, if you don’t agree with the way themes are tackled in this novel, please tell me and I’ll add your thoughts to this review. But otherwise, this read was both enjoyable and enlightening – an emotional rollercoaster.

They Both Die At The End Book Review

Author: Adam Silvera

Rating: 4/5

Let’s hope I can stop crying enough to write this review. TBDATE is mind-blowing, but also almost harrowing for a YA contemporary. This is the first of Adam SIlvera’s books I’ve read but I’ll be reading ALL of them after this one. I don’t know how, but he was able to balance the scales between heart-warming and heart-breaking flawlessly – I was laughing, crying (with happiness and CRIPPLING SADNESS) and squealing throughout.

The most interesting thing about this novel is that the author decided to take the contemporary route rather than the dystopian adventure it could have been considering the concept. But no – there was no government conspiracy, no rebellion, no discovery of the secrets behind Death-Cast. Instead, it focusses on these two boys living their final day. And it’s beautiful. BUT BE PREPARED TO CRY OKAY.

Something I haven’t seen anyone talk about was how the chapters began when we were reading about a character besides Mateo and Rufus. Each one started with “Death-Cast did not call [insert name], because he/she isn’t dying today,“ and for some reason I really liked that. It was kind of quirky.

This story makes you think too. I’ve found myself trying to work out how Death-Cast works: maybe people only die when they’re called because they think they’re going to anyway?? or maybe it’s a fate reader?? maybe everyone has a set date to die?? maybe it’s rigged and it employs people to kill the call recievers?? Honestly I don’t know, but I kind of like being able to think of theories myself. But, on the other hand, it is awful not being able to know for sure.

A 4/5 from me. The only thing I wanted was a little more depth into the world Mateo and Rufus were living in. We did get quite a bit, but I still had more questions than I wanted by the end.

Crooked Kingdom Book Review

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Rating: 5/5

All Six Of Crows fans (like me) who are scared that this sequel won’t live up to the first – you will not be disappointed. I found it difficult to believe Six Of Crows could be matched, let alone beaten! Crooked Kingdom is everything I wanted and more: development of the characters and relationships, twists and turns that are completely unpredictable, emotions sky-high through the whole thing and both a satisfying and heart-breaking ending.

I love the writing style of this duology*. Usually, multiple POV isn’t my thing, but the fact that it’s written in third person rather than first makes it more refined and I would say sophisticated. Leigh Bardugo has expertly chosen which section of the story should come from which character, revealing just enough about what’s going on so that the reader understands and is excited about the events but is still kept guessing. Another thing I thought was achieved really well was the seamless flashbacks throughout the narrative. They were almost rationed throughout the story which made it easier to swallow and intriguing.

And how can I review this book without talking about the characters?! They are all so beautifully flawed and have so much depth and personality. Each complements and clashes with the other stunningly – and you just can’t help but fall in love with them! 

Usually this is the part where I talk about the negatives… But I don’t actually have any! Loved it beyond belief and something I will always remember.

(*I know I talk a lot about the actual writing of books but personally I think that it’s just as important as plot or characters)

The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi HeiligRating: ★★★☆☆SynopsisIt…

The Girl
from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Synopsis

It was the kind of August day that hinted at monsoons, and the year was
1774, though not for very much longer.

Sixteen-year-old Nix Song is a time-traveller. She, her father and their
crew of time refugees travel the world aboard The Temptation, a glorious pirate
ship stuffed with treasures both typical and mythical. Old maps allow Nix and
her father to navigate not just to distant lands, but distant times – although
a map will only take you somewhere once. And Nix’s father is only interested in
one time, and one place: Honolulu 1868. A time before Nix was born, and her
mother was alive. Something that puts Nix’s existence rather dangerously in
question…

(from Goodreads)

Thoughts

I was really excited to read
this book for the longest time. First of all – time-traveling pirates. That’s
the best thing imaginable. Secondly – the cover is just so incredibly beautiful
(I know, I know, don’t judge a book by its cover), that it drew me in. In the
end the book may not have quite lived up to my expectations, but it was still
an enjoyable read.

The concept of this story is
spectacular and unique. It’s such a cool idea that a person would be able to
navigate to any map, be it real or imaginary. My first thought when the
characters described how they travelled between times was of course: “So if they
had a map of Hogwarts or Narnia, they could just go there?” That made me very
excited. Do you have any idea how often I’ve dreamt of being able to do that?
However, navigating, as they call it, it a bit more complicated. The map has to
be hand drawn and made in the contemporary time, so a map of India in 1774 must
have been drawn in 1774. And in order for them to travel to a mythical or
imaginary land the person who drew the map must believe the place is real. This
makes it sound like mythical maps are extremely rare, but apparently not. On
the ship the crew has a bunch of magical objects from different myths, such as
a bottomless sack from an Irish story and luminescent herring from a
Scandinavian myth explaining the Northern Lights. They even have a crew member
from an imaginary city.

The crew is able to navigate
to these strange and magical places all thanks to Nix, our main character. The
girl is like a walking encyclopaedia of myth and history. I am myself a big fan
of mythology, but there was still so much mentioned in this book that I had no
idea about. Still, you could keep up with the story without knowing all the
facts beforehand. And for the very curious (like me) there is a handy dandy
author’s note in the back detailing the origins of most of the myths and
objects mentioned in the story.

The story mostly takes place
in Hawaii in the 1800’s. I have always wanted to go to Hawaii, so learning more
about its history was really fascinating. This was a story I had never heard
before in my life. I am starting to realize what an interesting history Hawaii
has, and would really like to learn more.

I found the main character to
be extremely smart, but a bit hard to relate to. She keeps herself at arm’s
length from the other characters, and also from the reader. The rest of the
characters in this story are very diverse, which always makes a story better in
my opinion. The ships motely crew come from all over the world and from all
different times, which makes a very interesting mix.

This is most of all an adventure
story, but from the blurb I thought it would also have quite a bit of romance
in it. I mean, the front reads “A journey through time. A journey to love.”. In
spite of that, I do not think this was a love story at all. Sure, there was
some romantic tension between a few characters, but not at all enough to call
it a romance. This turned out to be the complete opposite of most YA, where
there is usually more romance than you expected. Instead, this book focuses
more on the love within families, which is refreshing.

I really enjoyed this story.
It had plenty of adventure and lots of myth and history. I adore the
time-traveling concept, and I look forward to seeing where the author takes the
story in the next book (I believe this is a duology?). I recommend it to all
history- and mythology nerds out there or to anyone looking for an entertaining
adventure story. Also, how could you say no to time-traveling pirates?

//love from L

Find it on Goodreads

More reviews

The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi HeiligRating…

The Girl
from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Synopsis

It was the kind of August day that hinted at monsoons, and the year was
1774, though not for very much longer.

Sixteen-year-old Nix Song is a time-traveller. She, her father and their
crew of time refugees travel the world aboard The Temptation, a glorious pirate
ship stuffed with treasures both typical and mythical. Old maps allow Nix and
her father to navigate not just to distant lands, but distant times – although
a map will only take you somewhere once. And Nix’s father is only interested in
one time, and one place: Honolulu 1868. A time before Nix was born, and her
mother was alive. Something that puts Nix’s existence rather dangerously in
question…

(from Goodreads)

Thoughts

I was really excited to read
this book for the longest time. First of all – time-traveling pirates. That’s
the best thing imaginable. Secondly – the cover is just so incredibly beautiful
(I know, I know, don’t judge a book by its cover), that it drew me in. In the
end the book may not have quite lived up to my expectations, but it was still
an enjoyable read.

The concept of this story is
spectacular and unique. It’s such a cool idea that a person would be able to
navigate to any map, be it real or imaginary. My first thought when the
characters described how they travelled between times was of course: “So if they
had a map of Hogwarts or Narnia, they could just go there?” That made me very
excited. Do you have any idea how often I’ve dreamt of being able to do that?
However, navigating, as they call it, it a bit more complicated. The map has to
be hand drawn and made in the contemporary time, so a map of India in 1774 must
have been drawn in 1774. And in order for them to travel to a mythical or
imaginary land the person who drew the map must believe the place is real. This
makes it sound like mythical maps are extremely rare, but apparently not. On
the ship the crew has a bunch of magical objects from different myths, such as
a bottomless sack from an Irish story and luminescent herring from a
Scandinavian myth explaining the Northern Lights. They even have a crew member
from an imaginary city.

The crew is able to navigate
to these strange and magical places all thanks to Nix, our main character. The
girl is like a walking encyclopaedia of myth and history. I am myself a big fan
of mythology, but there was still so much mentioned in this book that I had no
idea about. Still, you could keep up with the story without knowing all the
facts beforehand. And for the very curious (like me) there is a handy dandy
author’s note in the back detailing the origins of most of the myths and
objects mentioned in the story.

The story mostly takes place
in Hawaii in the 1800’s. I have always wanted to go to Hawaii, so learning more
about its history was really fascinating. This was a story I had never heard
before in my life. I am starting to realize what an interesting history Hawaii
has, and would really like to learn more.

I found the main character to
be extremely smart, but a bit hard to relate to. She keeps herself at arm’s
length from the other characters, and also from the reader. The rest of the
characters in this story are very diverse, which always makes a story better in
my opinion. The ships motely crew come from all over the world and from all
different times, which makes a very interesting mix.

This is most of all an adventure
story, but from the blurb I thought it would also have quite a bit of romance
in it. I mean, the front reads “A journey through time. A journey to love.”. In
spite of that, I do not think this was a love story at all. Sure, there was
some romantic tension between a few characters, but not at all enough to call
it a romance. This turned out to be the complete opposite of most YA, where
there is usually more romance than you expected. Instead, this book focuses
more on the love within families, which is refreshing.

I really enjoyed this story.
It had plenty of adventure and lots of myth and history. I adore the
time-traveling concept, and I look forward to seeing where the author takes the
story in the next book (I believe this is a duology?). I recommend it to all
history- and mythology nerds out there or to anyone looking for an entertaining
adventure story. Also, how could you say no to time-traveling pirates?

//love from L

Find it on Goodreads

More reviews

The Selection Book Review

image

Author: Kiera Cass

Rating: 5/5

This book took me less than a day to read – utterly addictive! To be brutally honest, it isn’t top quality literature. But it is top quality YA indulgence. It has all the ingredients for a proper YA experience: loveable characters for you to root for, a cheesy love triangle to cause chaos in the fandom, SEQUELS and a balance of corny content and immersive plot. The writing style isn’t incredibly sophisticated, however it’s well paced and very compelling. The author feeds off the reader’s emotions and that makes this novel even more gripping.

I had to give it 5/5, it doesn’t really deserve it but it would break my heart to rate it anything less!

Everything, Everything Book Review

image

Author: Nicola Yoon

Rating: 4/5

Beautiful and heart-wrenching story. Like a lot of people, I finally picked this up when the movie was announced, but it had been on my TBR for a while. I finished it in less then 24 hours! Shocking ending, and a stunning journey before it gets there.

I adored the unique format of this book with its IM screens, medical forms, definitions and doodles. This is definitely what I consider to be an indulgent read. But each of these details were balanced out by some beautiful quotes. Often, I would read over them over and over because they were so breath-taking. There were many uses of inspiring figurative language and I loved the metaphors the main character uses to describe her life as well as her relationship with Olly.

However, the problem I had with this novel was that the narration at some points was quite basic. During scenes, Madeline was shown as an intellectual and intelligent character, and a point is made of her impressive and extensive vocabulary. But throughout most of the story-telling, she narrates like a younger child, with the exception of the quotes I mentioned earlier. I just feel like someone as intelligent as her (and someone who reads) would narrate with more impressive word variation. But her figurative language was stunning, and something I felt was very suited to her character.

All in all, 4/5.