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.

Leaving Time

I recently had my heart ripped out of my chest. Well, at least that is what it felt like when I got to the end of Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult. To top it all off I was at school and had to sit through class going through one of the biggest post-book crises of my life.

Alice Metcalf, an elephant researcher, disappeared after a death at the elephant sanctuary she ran and the only witness was her three year old daughter. Ten years later Jenna Metcalf sets out on a mission to find her mom, or at least find out what happened to her. Partnering up with a washed up psychic named Serenity and one of the policemen that originally worked the case, Virgil, Jenna begins to piece together the clues in search of the truth. What she finds is shocking beyond belief.

This book took me through an array of emotions. I thought it was really boring for a while. Honestly, the only thing that kept me reading was the fact that I have a signed copy. You can’t own a signed copy of a book you’ve never read. That’s weird. However, Leaving Time took me a really long to time to work my way through. Not a lot happens for the first 200 pages honestly. Little details of the night of the death are revealed and a whole lot of boring backstory is told.

Then it got really weird. Stuff finally starts happening in the weirdest way imaginable. I was left perplexed, but wanting to finish reading just figure out what the heck just happened.

And figure it out I did. Because next came the twist ending that Jodi Picoult is so wonderful at delivering. I gave up while ago trying to guess how Picoult’s books end because I am literally always wrong. And boy was I off with this one. I had many theories floating around my head as I read this book, but this one not only took me by surprise, but also ripped my heart out and left unsure of how to continue on with my life.

Jodi Picoult is a master of narrative. Even if I thought the beginning of this book was boring, it was so worth it for the shock of the ending. I would recommend Leaving Time to anyone who loves getting invested in the lives of characters, but also enjoys emotional roller coasters. Just know, you are in for a long haul when you start this book.

Happy reading,
Sam

The Knife of Never Letting Go

I am typically not a huge fan of science fiction books. I’m definitely more of a contemporary kind of girl when it comes to my reading habits. However, when I read the blurb for The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness I was instantly intrigued. This book had been on my want to read list for a while, so the other day when I saw it at the library I just had to check it out. And I loved it.

Young Todd Hewitt, who is on the brink of manhood, is suddenly forced to flee his home of Prentisstown with just a rucksack full of supplies and his dog. That is, until he meets Viola, a girl from a settler ship sent on a scouting mission. Viola is the only girl Todd has ever met due to the Noise, the disease that causes every man’s thoughts to be heard at all times and kills women. At least that’s what Todd’s small amount of schooling taught him. Viola and Todd partner up and flee from danger together. Along the way Todd finds out a lot truth about the life he thought he lived.

First I have to mention the relationships in this book. They were so wonderfully authentic. Before Viola Todd had never even seen a girl before. At first their friendship was awkward and quiet and sort of weird, but that is totally normal. Ness didn’t feel the need to make this an instant friendship or rush it along. They way it progressed was perfect. As time went on and they continued to journey together you could see them getting closer and caring about each other more and more. One of my favorite parts is when Todd realizes that he can read Viola, even though she doesn’t have noise. I love when he jumps up with the realization that he knows her well enough to know how she is feeling. Or when he is with Doctor Snow and Viola refuses to leave his side. Oh, I just love them together. I am excited to see their friendship grow even more as I read the next two books.

Also, Todd’s relationship with Ben and Cillian is so tragically beautiful. In the beginning Todd and Cillian’s relationship seems kind of rocky, but as soon as Todd has to flee you see the love they have for each other. Ness did a great job portraying that familial connection. I was so happy when Ben and Todd were reunited that I started crying. I could practically feel the love radiating off the page.

Don’t even get me started on Manchee. I am not ok with his ending.

Not only were the relationships in this book portrayed so wonderfully, but so were the antagonists. Every time Aaron popped up again I was so angry! He was the last thing Todd and Viola needed in their lives. And yet every few chapters there he was. Seriously Aaron, no wants you here. And then there’s Mayor Prentiss up on his horse getting everyone else to do his dirty work. I dislike him strongly.

The Knife of Never Letting Go was so action packed and fast paced. It definitely kept me intrigued. I kept having to cover the next page so I didn’t read ahead! This book might just change my opinion on sci-fi. I can’t wait to dive into the sequel.

Happy Reading,
Sam

I Have a Problem

Hi book lovers,

So, I have this problem. I really like to buy new books. But I also really like going to the library. This results in a dangerous mixture of purchasing books all the time only to have them sit on my shelf unread. I own books that I bought up to five years ago that I still haven’t read. That means I bought them when I was fifteen. Five years is a long time for a teenager! Naturally, the books I check out from the library take precedence because I have to return them whereas the books I own will always be there for me.There is just something so magical about a library full of endless possibilities.

Which is why it pains me to say this. I am banning myself from the library.

GASP! Sam, how could you do that to yourself? This is a truly atrocious crime!

I know, I don’t like it anymore than you do, but it must be done. I currently have a stack of books checked out that I am still working my way through, but once I’m through it is that last I will be seeing of the library for a while. At least until I make my way through my own bookshelf.

Do any of you have this problem? 

Happy Reading,
Sam

The Saddest Book I Have Ever Read

Hi Book Lovers!

I have been known to shed a tear or two when I read sad books. Don’t even get my started on the waterworks that come every time I read The Fault in our Stars! But I have recently broken my record for length of time crying due to fiction. The winner of this title is none other than The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

I had heard really good things about this book before I picked it up and have been wanting to read it for a while. Opportunity presented itself while I perused one of my housemates bookshelves while she packed to go home for the holidays. When I saw it I was so excited to borrow it. I was so naive. So unready for what this meant for my future. But, here I am, a mere 24 hours after completion telling you all about my reading experience.

The Book Thief takes place in Nazi Germany. We meet our main character Liesel as she is being transported to a foster family in Molching. The story follows her over the next four years of her life as she learns about the power of words, the joy of stealing, and the importance of friendship. Many of this lessons taught by the Jewish man her family is hiding in their basement.

I have said it before and I will say it again, I thoroughly enjoy a book that brings tears to my face. As much as I kept telling myself how stupid this book was I loved it.

First off, the writing was beautiful. I just loved the sentence structure and word choice. Narrated by Death, this book has an interesting take on the war. One of my favorite parts is when Death is talking about how everyone thinks war is his favorite thing, but in reality it’s like a cruel boss that overworks you everyday. I love that! What an interesting new perspective.

Also, the relationships throughout this book are so genuine and full of love. Liesel moved to a whole new town with a completely new family when she was ten years old. That would be so hard. And yet she is able to form such strong bonds with the people that surround her. Including a man her government tells her she should despise.

Lastly, I think all fellow book lovers can relate to the power and magic of words that we see in this book. I, for one, now what it’s like to crave fiction written across pages and bound at the spine. Liesel loves her books more than anything. She reads them countless times over and even uses them to soothe restless souls during the air raids. We also see the dirty side of words.

And I cried so much! I am pretty sure there were tears in my eyes for the last 200 pages.

I give The Book Thief by Markus Zusak five out of five stars. If you’ve read it, let me know what you thought! I would love to discuss it with you.

Happy new year and happy reading,

Sam

Rundown

Hi book lovers,

Similar to the way I stumbled across This Is What I Did: I found Rundown by Michael Cadnum while searching the library even though I should have been reading one of the many unread books that I own. The synopsis was intriguing and I found myself putting it in my ever growing pile of check outs. I really should not be allowed inside a library.

Rundown is about 16 year old Jennifer Thayer. Jennifer’s dysfunctional family pushes her to fake an assault by a serial rapist going around her town. Rundown is her journey through dealing with her family, the police, and her own internal conflict through this fake crime that took place.

I did not enjoy this book as much as I had hoped too. I thought this book was going to be a really interesting look into the mindset of someone who would go so far for attention. I was excited to learn about the fractured family Jennifer came from. I couldn’t wait to get into her head. However, Cadnum didn’t dive into the emotions and relationships of the Thayer family as much as I would have liked. He briefly touched on it all but I really wanted him to dive into it.

Overall I was not very impressed by this book or Cadnum’s writing. I give Rundown two stars out of five.

Happy reading,
Sam