Book Review / Feed

Author: M.T Anderson
Genre: Dystopian Young Adult
Year Published: 2002
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Length: 299 pages

Synopsis:
In a world taken over by capitalism and marketing, everyone is constantly bombarded by advertising by the feed, a chip implanted in their brains. Titus and his friends are completely used to this constant advertising. And then Titus meets Violet who is completely different from everyone else he knows. Violent challenges they very ideals and beliefs Titus grew up with, and he’s not sure he likes that. As their relationship develops they also begin to see the feed in a new light.

My Perspective:
This book took a different route than I was expecting. It was more of a love story with social commentary hanging out in the background. I went into this book expecting it to be all take down the man and scream it from the mountaintops. Which in a way made it more powerful. It showed how normally and easily technology came to run everything. Everything felt so much more normal than I was expecting.

The characters were very genuine and relatable. They seem so normal despite the weird feed and everything that goes on with that. Titus and Violet are very much products of their environment. Titus grew up with the feed. Everything about it is so normal to him. Violet, on the other hand, received the feed later in life and grew up with a father who is against it. These teens are trying to reconcile their beliefs and their relationship, and really just trying to figure out life.

M.T Anderson never fails to create interesting worlds with relatable characters. Overall I really enjoyed this read. It was a easy quick read, but also very thought provoking.

My Rating: 4 hackers out of 5

Book Review / The Impossible Knife of Memory

Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Year Published: 2014
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Length: 391 page

Synopsis:
Hayley Kincain is far from your typical high school senior. After being home schooled for five years as her dad worked as a semi-truck driver, she finds herself back in the halls of public high school. Throughout first, and last, year in high school Hayley juggles a father suffering from PTSD, trying to access her own memories from her childhood, figuring out the rules to dating, and not doing great at actually passing her classes. Hayley skirts on the brink of disaster in her life on a daily basis. Will she let the memories tear her way through and trust that she can recover? Or will the pressure of taking care of her dad become too much to handle?

My Thoughts:
I just have to start out with proclaiming my love for Laurie Halse Anderson. She is seriously the queen of YA. Anderson takes big issues and weaves them into incredible heart-wrenching tales of love, loss, and belonging.

The ways in which Anderson explained Andy and Hayley’s relationship was so realistic. She didn’t try to sugar coat their dynamic, but showed how complex it was. The constant turmoil Hayley went through of loving and wanting to help her father, but also wanting to just be a normal teenager for once felt was so genuine.

I also loved seeing the highs and lows Andy went through from Hayley’s perspective. This book was a very real exploration of a child living with a parent suffering from PTSD.

I can’t talk about this book without talking about Finn. Hayley and Finn’s relationship was precious, and just as complex as everything else in Hayley’s life. Again, Anderson succeeded in create genuine, realistic relationships between her characters. I think insta-love is all too common in YA. And sure, sometimes it works. But, it wouldn’t have for Finn and Hayley. The fact that Hayley had never really dealt with the realm of boys and relationships became very real in the way she approached her relationship with Finn right from the start. Seriously though, that date he tricked her into? Adorable. Also, the fact that Finn had his own emotional baggage was perfect for Hayley. Sure, they were kind of crap at communicating, but that’s pretty typical for a high school relationship. They definitely learned to be what the each other needed.

For me the sign of a good book is when it makes me emotional. If I am so attached to the lives of these characters that I can’t hold it together, that’s a good sign. This book did just that. I laughed, I cried, I swooned, and I yelled. The Impossible Knife of Memory was just as fantastic as any of Anderson’s other works.

A Really Awesome Mess / Book Review

Author: Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Year Published: 2013
Publisher: Egmont
Length: 275

Synopsis:
Justin is a sixteen year old with daddy issues and a sex drive. Emmy, an adopted Chinese girl, desperately seeks love to the point of developing an eating disorder. Both of these teenagers land in Heartland Academy, a therapeutic boarding school. Thrown into a rag tag group for therapy these two find themselves in crazy adventures, making new friends, and even confronting their own issues.

My Perspective:

I was not the biggest fan of this book. I got it for free for volunteering at a book sale on my campus, so no harm no foul really. Emmy and Justin both annoyed me. I know they were dealing with very valid issues, but they just seemed so whiney. The character change throughout the book felt forced and sudden. They were both so reluctant to work on their own life issues, that when they finally started to it felt ingenuine. I sort of liked the all the other characters in their therapy group, mostly because they were funny. I just had the hardest time getting invested in their lives. Typically, I love books about kids in therapy because usually the characters are complex and I really enjoy trying to figure them out. But, Emmy and Justin just seemed flat and cliche and boring.

Same with the plot. I was not invested in what was happening. It was definitely fun. The kids were all about crazy hijinks. More than they cared about their own character development honestly. Their adventures were a bit unrealistic though.

Overall, I just think this book wasn’t my cup of tea. Or a wrong book at the wrong time type of deal.

My Rating: 1 jailbroken pig out of 5.
You’ll like this book if: You enjoy fun reads full of hijinks and shenanigans.
You’ll dislike this book it: Typical characters that fall flat.

Why We Broke Up

Author: Daniel Handler
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Year Published: 2011
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Length: A 354 page letter

Synopsis:
“And that Ed is why we broke up.”

When Min Green and Ed Slaterton breakup Min goes on a mission to give back everything she has collected over the course of their month long relationship along with a letter explaining exactly why they broke up. Why We Broke up details the crazy adventures and explosive break up of this unlikely couple.

My Perspective:
The Pictures: First off this book is beautiful! Every story that Min includes in her letter is accompanied by beautiful illustrations. This makes the story even more intriguing and definitely pulls the reader into the world of Min and Ed.

The Characters: I love these characters. Ed is the basketball star and your stereotypical high school jock bro. Min is not arty but…different… Seeing Ed and Min interact was so interesting. Min brings out the sensitive side of Ed and Ed turns Min into a basketball girlfriend. Yet both are still so caught up in their own worlds.

The Plot: This book was so real and easy to get into. I was so invested in the relationship and lives of Min and Ed. Also, I had to keep reminding myself that they had only been dating for a month. Crazy! It seemed as though they had been dating for so long!

Overall, I really enjoyed Why We Broke Up. It was so fun reading a book by Daniel Handler other than the Series of Unfortunate Events, which I haven’t read since I was young.

My Rating: 5 obscure movies out of 5.
You’ll like this book if: You enjoy you like contemporary young adult books about relationships.
You’ll dislike this book it: You don’t enjoy books about dramatic teenagers.

Like a Thorn

Author: Claire Vidal
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult Fiction
Year Published: 2002
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Length: 119 heart-wrenching pages

Synopsis:
Melie is a strange child with an interesting relationship with her mother. Her mother goes from “Rosey Mother” to “Dark Mother” in a blink of an eye. Melie begins to invent rituals she believes will counter her mother’s erratic behavior. This slowly, but surely spirals out of Melie’s control.

My Perspective:
I got this book for free a few months ago for volunteering at a book sale on my college campus. The cover is beautiful and the blurb intrigued me. When I decided to start this whole read my book shelf in a year thing, I figured this was a good place to start. It’s tiny, only 119 pages, and the print is pretty big. But, oh man, does this book pack a punch. I don’t think I have ever felt so many conflicting and confusing emotions before in one little book. I couldn’t decide if I was on Melie’s side or I thought she was over-reacting. I couldn’t decide where exactly to place her mom in the middle of all this. I also feel as though I was missing so much of the story. It was so small and simple that I felt like I needed more information to decide what my emotions were.

That being said, I did think that even though it seemed simply written it was beautifully written. It probably sounds even more beautiful in French. Like a Throne is a simple, yet complicated story of a young girl spiraling into mental illness and how those in her life react to them. This quick, but heart wrenching read will keep you thinking for days.

My Rating: 3 out of 5 antique gifts
You’ll this book if: You like thinkers. If you like dark books and psychologically challenging reads.
You’ll dislike this book if: Happy reads where everything turns out ok in the end.