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

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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

We Were Liars

Hi Book Lovers,

It was near impossible to escape the hype around We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. Although I knew near nothing about the plot I found myself drawn in by the excitement that surrounded it. So when I somehow ended up in the book section of Fred Meyer while running errands it jumped into my cart and I  just had to bring it home with me.

Disclaimer: if you have not read We Were Liars and are planning to I suggest you turn back now. I completely believe it is best to go into this book as blind as possible. Also, it is really hard to review this book without spoilers, so there are going to be some of those suckers in here. Don’t ruin it for yourself!

We Were Liars centers around Cadence and her very rich, very dramatic family and the summers they spend on their private island. Cadence cherishes the time she gets to spend with The Liars.  “The Liars”, as they deemed themselves, consist of Cadence, her cousins John and Mirren, and her kind of step-cousin / secret boyfriend sort of Gat. They spend their summers wreaking havoc on the island.

The summer of her fifteenth year Cadence wakes up in the ocean with no memory of how she ended up there. After spending a summer away from the island she returns the summer she is seventeen and starts to recover her memory and figure out what the heck happened the year she was fifteen.

Ok, This is where the real spoilers start. Just a warning.

I have no idea how in any world it is a good idea to set fire to your grandfathers house just to teach the adults in your life a lessons. That is just an altogether terrible plan! I understand that the aunts were doing crazy things just to win their dads approval and it would suck to be in the position of the Liars. They were essential just pawns for their moms to use. I understand they wanted to do something to end all the manipulative, fake behavior that ran so deep in their family. But really, arson? What kind of fifteen year old thinks of that?

I was not impressed by this book. The writing style sort of drove me crazy. It was almost like it was trying a little too hard to be beautifully written. I think it might because it was written in first person. These were supposed to be Cadence’s thoughts, but they just seemed too poetic. Maybe I just think that because I am pretty simplistic thinker. It just didn’t feel genuine.

The characters annoyed me. Cadence was way more dramatic than necessary. Mirren was a diva. Surprisingly Gat was probably the most stuck up. Johnny was funny, I kind of liked him. The Aunts were so completely desperate. They just bothered me.

The worst part of this for me was the fact that I predicted the ending. I love a good plot twist. I had heard that this book had one. I was so upset when I predicted the plot twist!

I honestly think the only reason I  read this book so quickly was because I was on a three hour plane ride and had already finished the other book I brought. I don’t think this book deserves all the hype it got.

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

The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life

Hello Book Lovers,

 I recently read a book that can easily be summarized by one simple quote from it:

“‘You’re joking right?’ Then she’d turned to me and said, ‘Scav Hunt sounds like a bad teen comedy. One called something lame like Scav Hunt. I wouldn’t even want to play myself in that movie.’”

And that is exactly what The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life by Tara Altebrando is, a bad teen movie written down.

The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life is about high school senior Mary and her group of misfit friends. This team of outsiders decide to participate in a long standing senior class tradition, The Scavenger Hunt. Mary is extra motivated to win in order to defeat her “arch-nemesis” and somehow find a redeeming quality from the last four years of her life. Throughout the journey to the finish line Mary has to deal with crushes, and friendships, and fights, and all sorts of high school drama wrapping up as her year ends and graduation scoots closer.

Here’s the deal, normally I am a HUGE fan of stupid teen movies. I have been known to sit on Netflix all day watching one poorly written, terribly acted movie after another. And calling it a great day. Stupid teen movie in book form? Even better! So that aspect of this book didn’t bother me. What did was how incredibly annoying Mary is.

Throughout the whole book Mary is pining over a guy who was never even a potential in her life. Like actually though, she spends a good 75% of the book complaining about how he needs to just admit he is in love with her. Oh yeah, and he doesn’t even know how she feels. Sorry hon, but that typically isn’t how it works. And he is kind of a massive jerk anyways.

Also, Mary is willing to give up everything to win this scavenger hunt. Another boy on the team, Patrick, is a little more reasonable and continually tries to tell her she is going to far. That is isn’t worth it. But there is no convincing Mary. She will go to the end of the earth to win. I just don’t get it.

 Mary has a pretty decent life from the looks of it, but she finds everything wrong about it and focuses on those little things. It drives me crazy.

 I couldn’t even find it in me to cheer for her team to win. I didn’t care. In fact I kept telling myself how funny it would be if they lost.

Basically, I think this plot could have been interesting. However, it was just a bunch of pointless high school steered by a whiny teenage girl. I did not enjoy The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life by Tara Altebrando. I give it a two out of five stars.

Let me know what you thought if you have read this book!

Happy Reading,

Sam

Gated

Hey Book Lovers,

If you read my review on The Beckoners you have a slight understanding of my love for stressful books. I love a book that is so fast paced and unpredictable that I am pacing and fidgety while I read it. Is that weird? Oh well, I am kind of a weird person. Anyways, I recently read Gated by Amy Christine Parker and this book was just that. At one point I was standing in my kitchen and bouncing up and down and gasping every few pages while I read. I am pretty sure my housemates think I am insane. That being said, Gated was a fantastic read.

Gated centers around 17 year old Lyla who has lived in The Community for the last 10 years of her life. The Community, a cult lead by a mysterious man name Pioneer, is preparing for the end of the world, which they are told by The Brethren will be in a mere three months. The Community is all busy preparing for the end of the world, meanwhile Lyla is beginning to have doubts. Her whole life she has been the gentle soul in The Community. She most definitely is not ready for the end of the world to come. And with the introduction to a cute Outsider she begins to rethink everything she has ever believed.

Let’s just start off by saying a book about a cult is basically automatically interesting. Pick up a book about a cult and you know things are going to get crazy. And Gated definitely lived up to that expectation.

Lyla was a very relatable, and quite frankly awesome main character. It was very easy to get into Lyla’s mind even though I have never been in a situation even remotely close to hers. First she is struggling through being the weak link of The Community. And then she meets a cute Outsider, Cody, and doesn’t really know how to handle a crush. Plus she’s basically engaged to someone else who she doesn’t actually love. (Once the youngest child in The Community turned 12 they had a ceremony in which Pioneer paired every child with their “Intended” a.k.a who they would marry once of age). So many teenage emotions! And growing up around the same 20 families with your future planned for you from the beginning doesn’t exactly teach you how to handle hormones. But seeing Lyla struggling through these emotions makes her seem normal even though her situation is kind of crazy.

And then there is Pioneer. The fearless leader of The Community. At first I didn’t hate Pioneer very much. What if he genuinely believed he was getting visions about the end of the world from some alien race? What if he wasn’t just a crazy, manipulative, control freak? However, it is made very clear that that is not the case. About half way through the book it becomes evident that Pioneer is a psycho, manipulative maniac! And then things get interesting.

This plot kept me wanting more the entire time. I had a hard time doing normal people things like working and sleeping and cleaning. I just wanted to read! Although ultimately, it is kind of easy to see how it is going to end I still found myself stressing about if everyone was going to be ok. Also, I could have done without the little love triangle, but it does not distract from the storyline. Cody ends up helping quite a bit so I am not too annoyed.
I give Gated by Amy Christine Parker 5 out of 5 stars and I would highly recommend it. If you’ve read it let me know what you thought! I would love to hear.

Happy Reading,
Sam

The Beckoners

Hey book lovers,

I really like reading bully books. This might sound really weird, but bullying is just such an interest topic to me. I love getting a look into the brains of the tortured and their tortures (although most bully books are in the point of view of the bullied). These are usually the books that I don’t want to put down until I know every last detail. The Beckoners by Carrie Mac took the world of bullying to a whole new level.

The Beckoners is about sixteen year old Zoe whose slightly unstable mother moves her family around A LOT. With another move comes another new school. Zoe kind of falls into this vicious clique (or small gang, whichever you prefer) called, you guessed it, The Beckoners. Lead by the always brutal Beck, this group of high schoolers teeter on the fine line between bully and criminals. Zoe quickly realizes she does not want to live the life of a sixteen year old gang member. The need to get out is intensified by her growing friendship (?) with The Beckoners favorite viction, April (also known as Dog). However, once initiated into The Beckoners it’s not so easy to get out.

This book had me pacing and clenching my fist the whole time I read it. I am a big fan of a book that stresses me out (in a good way) while I read it. If I am so invested in a book that I don’t even want to sit down then it’s a good one.

I have never read characters as crazy as Beck and her followers. I had to keep reminding myself that these are 16 YEAR OLD GIRLS. What? That’s insane. I have never in my life met a 16 year old girl as intense and terrifying as Beck. Maybe I just grew up in a nice little happy bubble with nice bullies? No, I just think these girls are psychotic. That being said, they were so interesting to read! Also, Zoe was a great main character. Mac really captured the thoughts of a girl who is used to moving. A girl trying to muddle through high school and the dilemma of which side of the line was better to be on: the victims or the bullies. Mac shows that not everything is as black and white as it may seem. We get to see Zoe’s whole thought process. Zoe had to learn who she really was and what she wanted to stand for. Although, Zoe does have a little life in the Beckoners I think she is a great role model.

The plot of this story was great. There was never a dull moment. Like I said, I was literally pacing while reading parts of this book. The books opens with an introduction to Beck and Dog before launching into Zoe’s story. And it’s probably one of the nicer things she does to Dog in the whole book. It’s a great introduction to just how crazy the book gets.

I give The Beckoners by Carrie Mac 4 out of 5 stars. I would highly recommend this book. If you’ve read this book let me know what you thought. I would love to hear your opinions!

Happy Reading,
Sam