March 5, 2015

Review: I Was Here by Gayle Forman

It seems abstract when you’re dealing with people online, but they are still people, and some of them are not nice people, not the kind you ever want to be in a room with. Sometimes you don’t even need to be in the same room for the damage to be done.

Synopsis:

When her best friend Meg drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything—so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg’s college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there’s a lot that Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her dead-end small town in Washington. About Ben McAllister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, who broke Meg’s heart. And about an encrypted computer file that Cody can’t open—until she does, and suddenly everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend’s death gets thrown into question.

I immediately fell in love with Gayle Forman’s previous books, especially If I Stay and Just One Day. Her past few books have all been emotional, romantic and full of lyrical prose so when I read that she was tackling the subject of suicide in her newest book, I was extremely interested in both the novel, and her spin on the subject matter. Unfortunately, my high expectations were not met.

I Was Here isn’t a terrible novel. It’s not even a bad novel. But there is nothing remarkable about the story either, and that pains me to say. The entire story is very cold and almost unemotional. Which, granted, is because Cody is very much a cold and unemotional character. You know that she is upset at her friend’s death. You know she feels guilt but you never really see it. It’s just talked about, not felt.

Suicide is never an easy subject matter. But it makes it even worse when you write about such a painful topic and it falls flat. Everything is flat. Cody. Her mother. Meg’s parents. Ben. Not one character seems to have a spark. With the exception of Meg’s younger, intelligent brother. I really wish that he had been the main character. I might have actually enjoyed the plot more.

The main reason I kept reading it was to find out WHY Meg had decided to end her life. That was the point for me. Not the flat romance between Cody and Ben. Not Cody’s guilty conscience. But why Meg made that decision. And for that reason, I am glad that I read it. There was a twist I wasn’t expecting and that made it more worthwhile for me. But my main disappointment was definitely Cody. I like when you see the humanity inside a fictional character’s mind. I like learning what makes them tick, what motivates them. And that was why I was so annoyed by I Was Here. You don’t get that with Cody. At all. You get a tease for a split second, and then it’s gone. Reading this book, you just get the feeling that it was rushed, which is strange because it also just drags on. I truly hate to say this, but I was actually glad when the story was finished. Especially since I found another book tackling the same topic that was written so beautifully that I never wanted the book to end.

Have you been disappointed by a book that you had high expectations for? What was it? What was so disappointing about it? Let me know in a comment!

THREE STARS

February 4, 2015

Review: All The Rage by Courtney Summers

And how do you get a girl to stop crying? You cover her mouth.

Synopsis:

The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything–friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her past there. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time–and they certainly won’t now–but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear.

In the interest of being honest and up front, I was one of the 50 recipients who won a copy of the ARC of All The Rage from the giveaway that St. Martin’s Press held back in November of 2014. This in no way means that I will be biased in my review. Quite frankly, I don’t need to. Courtney Summers has written yet another book that I have fallen deeply in love with, even if the subject matter is hard to handle.

Earlier, I came across a “review” on goodreads that said “stop writing teen rape books.” The fact that you can even write a review on goodreads without even having read the book annoys the crap out of me, but that’s neither here nor there. This is EXACTLY why All The Rage is necessary. This is not just “another teen rape book.” This is a gritty, hard novel that gives an unflinchingly real look into the way that rape survivors are treated and abused after their already horrific assaults. Romy is the epitome of a victim. But this does not mean that she’s pathetic. Romy is quite the opposite. Can you even for one moment imagine losing everything – your sense of self, your sense of safety and self-respect – having it stolen from you and when you speak up, you are ostracized, treated as though it were your own fault? Anyone who can go through that and survive is certainly not to be pitied, but to be admired.

Courtney Summers is known for writing about the harsh realities of teenage girls and their “politics” and All The Rage continues in that tradition. Summers shows us the ugly side of people who cannot handle truths and instead prefer to live in their own blissful ignorance, no matter what the cost. Her characters, while fiction are painstakingly real. The pain and shame Romy and other past characters (Sloane from This is Not a Test, Regina from Some Girls Are) showcase is REAL. These are characters that girls and women who have been hurt and abused can actually relate to and THAT is important. In a time where victim-blaming/victim-shaming has become common practice? THAT is why these “teen rape books” are so important.

It’s no secret that I harbor a major girl-crush on Courtney Summers, but because of my own past, I was both afraid and eager to read All The Rage. It was rough but so worth it. Her writing is superb, flawless and this is certainly her greatest work yet. Every page is filled with emotion. Romy is a heartbreakingly fragile and yet still amazingly strong young woman who refuses to give up even though that is exactly what she wants to do and you will find yourself eagerly turning the pages to see what happens next. If that is not the mark of a great writer, I don’t know what is.

Have you read All The Rage? I’d love to hear your thoughts! And if not? What other dark novels have found a place in your heart, even if they were hard to read? Leave a comment with your thoughts!

FIVE STARS

June 28, 2014

Stacking The Shelves #3

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews that showcases the books you are adding to your shelves. These can include ebooks, physical books you have purchased or ones you have borrowed from friends or the library.

I am in love. With my local library. Seriously. I have a major library addiction lately. It’s getting a little out of hand actually. And I am perfectly fine with this :) Here are the books that I picked up this week.

Click covers for more info:


Of all the books, I am most excited to read The Winter People because I absolutely love Jennifer McMahon. If you have never read her books, I highly urge you to do so asap. You won’t regret it. They are deliciously creepy. What books are on your shelves this week? Leave me a comment and share away!