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Audrey, Wait!: Review

Title: Audrey, Wait!
Author: Robin Benway
Release Date: April 2008
Published By: Razorbill
Pages: 320
Goodreads Rating: 3.87 stars

Review: When Audrey Cuttler dumps self-involved Evan, he writes, “Audrey, Wait!” - a break-up song that’s so good it rockets up the billboard charts. And Audrey is suddenly famous! Now rabid fans are invading her school, the lead singer of the Lolitas wants her as his muse, and the Internet is documenting her every move. Audrey can't hang out with her best friend or get with her new crush without being mobbed by fans and paparazzi. But soon she has to confront her ex on MTV - and show the world who she really is.

AUDREY, WAIT! is exactly what it sounds: an awesome, fun read that doesn't stop the momentum from start to finish. Although there were plenty of emotions to go along with the ride, the story was peppered with hilarious incidents and moments of laughter, and all this was helped considerably by the fact that the narrator had the perfect voice for a novel like this. Audrey is smart and funny, with just the right amount of dryness in her narration to keep the pace going.

However, this book wasn't all laughs and games, as there was some good old-fashioned drama to shake things up. It wasn't just pointless, for-the-entertainment drama, though; Audrey underwent real struggles in coming to terms with her relationship with Evan and what it meant. I found this aspect of the book to be sweet and emotional without straying too far from the lines of reality. Nothing here made me cringe, which is, of course, always a plus.

While I enjoyed the book overall and didn't have too many quibbles with it, one part that bugged me throughout the entire novel was that of the realism behind the plot concept. I just couldn't believe that merely being the subject of a pop sing hit would make her so overwhelmingly famous. I would expect that from the writer of the song, not the girl whose name is in it. 

All in all, AUDREY, WAIT! was just what you would want in a pick-me-up book. It's light but has a lot of heart, and is sure to bring a smile to your face no matter what kind of day you've had. There is one particular aspect that does not feel very realistic, but apart from that, the characters and romance are all believable, not to mention the very authentic and funny voice behind the story. I would recommend this to anyone who wants a light and fun read.

Genres: Likes and Dislikes

I know the idea of genres has always been somewhat controversial because of the difficulty in pinning a book into a pigeonhole of a classification, but I do think genres are necessary to at least give broad approximations of what a given book is about. Without them, it would be difficult to quickly describe a certain novel or even to organize books in something like a library or in an online catalogue.

Despite this obvious usefulness, I still feel that the existence of genres can sometimes be a bad thing, and this arises primarily from stereotyping. This happens at one point or another to most people, and for me it happened with science fiction. I found that I just, in general, do not like "traditional" science fiction, and so for the most part I have avoided such books, sticking mainly to sci-fi like Malinda Lo's "Adaptation" instead of, say, something by Asimov.

Recently, however, I was persuaded to read Ender's Game, which had many of the elements of "traditional" science fiction - spaceships, aliens, a nearly all-male cast, a future society, and so forth. Yet despite this, I found myself enjoying the book a great deal. Because I had stereotyped the genre of science fiction to be something dull with little character development, I prevented myself from trying other works that I also might potentially enjoy.

So, what do you think about the existence of genres? Are there any genres you try to avoid?

Waiting on Wednesday (76)

This week, I'm waiting on...

Project Cain by Geoffrey Girard. Here's what Goodreads has to say: Fifteen-year-old Jeff Jacobson had never heard of Jeffrey Dahmer, the infamous serial killer who brutally murdered seventeen people more than twenty years ago. But Jeff’s life changes forever when the man he’d thought was his father hands him a government file telling him he was constructed in a laboratory only seven years ago, part of a top-secret government cloning experiment called ‘Project CAIN’.

There, he was created entirely from Jeffrey Dahmer’s DNA. There are others like Jeff—those genetically engineered directly from the most notorious murderers of all time: The Son of Sam, The Boston Strangler, Ted Bundy . . . even other Jeffrey Dahmer clones. Some raised, like Jeff, in caring family environments; others within homes that mimicked the horrific early lives of the men they were created from.

When the most dangerous boys are set free by the geneticist who created them, the summer of killing begins. Worse, these same teens now hold a secret weapon even more dangerous than the terrible evil they carry within. Only Jeff can help track the clones down before it’s too late. But will he catch the ‘monsters’ before becoming one himself?

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Every Day: Review

Title: Every Day
Author: David Levithan
Release Date: August 2012
Published By: Knopf
Pages: 336
Goodreads Rating: 4.04 stars

Review: Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere. It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.

I didn't expect any less from David Levithan, but EVERY DAY was an excellent book with an intriguing and inventive concept behind it. The idea of waking up every day in a different body is fascinating, and even more interesting are the questions that come with it, which Levithan explored to some extent. For instance, questions about identity and sexuality are raised, and what it means to be "you" when you're a different "you" every day.

I did, however, want more of an exploration of these topics, or at least more of an explanation. To be honest, I don't really buy the idea that A would be able to form as much of an approximation of a personality as he did (for sake of ease, I will refer to A as male even though his gender is much more fluid than that). I feel like someone who lives like that wouldn't be self-aware, or at least not as much as a normal person is, and because of that, I really wanted a more satisfying explanation for why he was able to be who he was.

This is not to say I didn't enjoy the book, because I very much did. And in fact, I particularly liked the ending, and felt that given the circumstances, it was a pretty satisfying conclusion. I know there are some people who definitely were not fans of it, but I think it's the only one that would've made sense. Any other ending would just be plain unrealistic, and would taste more off than this one.

All in all, EVERY DAY was an excellent novel - one that I would recommend every day (excuse the pun). From the intriguing exploration of difficult topics to unique and original concept, almost every part of this book was crafted with the kind of skill I've learned to expect from this author. I did wish for more of an explanation/discussion on certain aspects, but other than that, this was a near-flawless book that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend.

Waiting on Wednesday (75)

This week, I'm waiting on...

The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman. Here's what Goodreads has to say: They called it the killing day. Twelve people dead, all in the space of a few hours. Five murderers: neighbors, relatives, friends. All of them so normal. All of them seemingly harmless. All of them now dead by their own hand . . . except one. And that one has no answers to offer the shattered town. She doesn't even know why she killed—or whether she'll do it again.

Something is waking in the sleepy town of Oleander's, Kansas—something dark and hungry that lives in the flat earth and the open sky, in the vengeful hearts of upstanding citizens. As the town begins its descent into blood and madness, five survivors of the killing day are the only ones who can stop Oleander from destroying itself. Jule, the outsider at war with the world; West, the golden boy at war with himself; Daniel, desperate for a different life; Cass, who's not sure she deserves a life at all; and Ellie, who believes in sacrifice, fate, and in evil. Ellie, who always goes too far. They have nothing in common. They have nothing left to lose. And they have no way out. Which means they have no choice but to stand and fight, to face the darkness in their town—and in themselves.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Adaptation: Review

Title: Adaptation
Author: Malinda Lo
Release Date: September 2012
Published By: Little, Brown
Pages: 400
Goodreads Rating: 3.57 stars

Review: Reese and David are in Arizona when a bird flies into their headlights. When they wake up in a military hospital, the doctor won’t tell them what happened, where they are—or how they’ve been miraculously healed. Things are even stranger when Reese returns home: police enforcing curfew and hazmat teams collecting dead birds. Soon, her search for the truth threatens to expose a vast global conspiracy that the government has worked for decades to keep secret.

This is the first novel I've read by Malinda Lo, and though I heard good things, nothing could have quite prepared me for the fast-paced ride that was ADAPTATION. From start to finish, this book had action that just kept rolling, and it introduced plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader on their toes. Although this wasn't a particularly creepy book (as, I admit, I had hoped), there was enough suspense to satisfy me and keep me desperate to know what was going to happen next.

I also found that, as a whole, the book was very easy to read, and I do mean this in a good way. Reese was one of my favorite kind of young adult narrators, the sort that "speaks" (reads?) in a relatable, flowing manner, and she was entertaining to boot. It almost feels like you're talking to your best friend when you read this book.

Even though the action and suspense were pretty high up there, the author took the time to explore the softer, more emotional aspects of the characters, which I certainly appreciated. Most notably, Reese had a deeply personal struggle with her sexuality when she met Amber Gray, especially in light of her previous crush on David, and I was happy to see how well the author handled the page time. There was just enough devoted to these aspects to really flesh out the characters and make it an excellent read on a deeper level, without too much to detract from the overall plot.

All in all, ADAPTATION was an excellent and suspenseful read that didn't fail to keep me on my toes. The romance was also interesting and while not perfect, certainly better than most romantic sub-plots that occasionally get forced into action/suspense books. This wasn't by any means a flawless novel but it was a very enjoyable read and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to any fans of lighter science fiction.

Snow Storm

As a big Nor'easter approaches... I wish everyone the best of luck in the upcoming snow storm! I for one am hoping school is canceled tomorrow, but not at the cost of losing power. After Sandy and what happened last year, I don't think I can bear another week or so of power loss.

What I'm hoping for is a nice long weekend curled up at home where it's warm and cozy with a pile of good books. So, what are your favorite books to read during storms?

Waiting on Wednesday (74)

This week, I'm waiting on...

OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu. Here's what Goodreads has to say:

When Bea meets Beck, she knows instantly that he’s her kind of crazy. Sweet, strong, kinda-messed-up Beck understands her like no one else can. He makes her feel almost normal. He makes her feel like she could fall in love again.

But despite her feelings for Beck, Bea can’t stop thinking about someone else: a guy who is gorgeous and magnetic… and has no idea Bea even exists. But Bea knows a ton about him. She spends a lot of time watching him. She has a journal full of notes. Some might even say she’s obsessed.

Bea tells herself she’s got it all under control, but this isn’t a choice, it’s a compulsion. The truth is, she’s breaking down… and she might end up breaking her own heart.

What are you waiting on?

All You Never Wanted: Review

Title: All You Never Wanted
Author: Adele Griffin
Release Date: October 2012
Published By: Knopf Readers
Pages: 240
Goodreads Rating: 3.25 stars

Review: Alex has it all—brains, beauty, popularity, and a dangerously hot boyfriend. Her little sister Thea wants it all too, and she's stepped up her game to get it. But she'll stop at nothing to get what she wants, no matter the cost. Even if it means spinning the truth to win the attention she deserves. Even if it means uncovering a shocking secret her older sister never wanted to share. Even if it means crying wolf.

ALL YOU NEVER WANTED is a dark contemporary novel that unfolds some very gritty issues. Each of the characters struggle with their own obstacles, and I liked seeing their individual lives mesh together into a painfully honest story. It can be hard to write an "issues book" well without coming across as too sappy or exaggerated, but Adele Griffin pulled this off with the same skill I've seen in her previous novels.

Perhaps the most notable aspect of this book is the fact that it's told through alternating perspectives, which can be a tricky thing to write. Sometimes authors use it when it's not really necessary, but luckily, this was not the case here. The alternating chapters lent insight into both characters, providing deeper looks into what made them tick and how they were grappling with the issues at hand.

However, not every part of this story was perfect, and one part that rather bothered me was the ending. The book was building and building up, and then I felt like the ending didn't truly resolve everything. It wasn't as summative as it could have been and didn't address all that it could have - or as I felt, should have. If the ending had instead covered more (not necessarily everything), I would have finished with a better feeling about it.

All in all, ALL YOU NEVER WANTED is nearly all you've ever wanted (the pun was impossible to resist). From its sensitive but bold handling of difficult issues to the well-written alternating viewpoints, the beginning and middle of this book will keep you thoroughly absorbed in the story. I did wish for a better ending, which was the main part that disappointed me, but other than that, I would recommend this to any fans of contemporary.