Sunday, 13 October 2013

What I thought of some popular YA novels.

This is a picture of me "reading" last year. I mean, how many selfies of me reading can you expect me to have? Two? Okay okay fine, yes, I have another one.

Before I read the Hunger Games I honestly believed that YA books were all equally Twilight-terrible poorly written silly love stories. I had to be talked into reading The Hunger Games for months before I finally (and in secret) decided to give it a shot.

I loved the first one, and thought the rest of the trilogy was okay. And then I liked the Hunger Games movie too, although Haymitch was not what I expected at all. A little too handsome. Because I am in love with Woody Harrelson. (HOW IS HE 52???) But for the most part the movie was amazingly put together. Admittedly there is a stupid love triangle in the Hunger Games but at least it's not the main theme of the entire series.

Anyway, the point is, I've been trying out other popular YA books since then. I find them to be either really stupid or pretty good. There have been only a couple that I would recommend to a friend.

Here's what I thought of some of the ones I've plowed through recently. My ratings are all to be taken as "for a YA novel", meaning you must be okay with cheesy writing, the same Montegue/Capulet story told over and over, the main character finding out they are somehow "different" or "special",  impossible amounts of angst and yearning, lots of stupid supernatural things that are clearly written to look cool for when it's inevitably made into a movie, and the sometimes awkward use of teen-speak.

What I think of these popular Young Adult novels.

I read Divergent by Veronica Roth

I heard soooo much about this book and how amazing and dark it is. Nah, it was ... okay I guess. The main premise of the book is that a girl is born into a lifestyle she doesn't feel she fits into and on "choosing day" she chooses to go to the "dauntless" faction rather than the "abnegation" faction she was born into, where people take daring risks and get tattoos. But she's special of course, and she finds out the government is planning something evil, and ends up rebelling against the system. I know that is a terrible synopsis but I don't want to give anything away in case you still want to read this one. If you look at the Wikipedia article for the novel it tells the entire story from start to finish so watch out for that.

They're making a movie of this one in 2014, here's the IMDB page for it. I wasn't inspired to read the rest of the trilogy and I feel like the movie is going to be kind of stupid. That's not to say I'm not going to watch it though. If they take the time and spend the money to make it as well as the Hunger Games movie was made it could have potential.  6.5/10

I read Uglies by Scott Westerfield

(And the sequels Pretties and Specials.) Not that these books were anything amazing in my opinion, but I was fascinated by the world Westerfield created. It's hard to explain, because the writing wasn't exactly gripping in and of itself, but the story was pretty cool. I had no idea what this book was going to be about when I first started reading, but long story short there is a town of ugly children who go to ugly school, and when they reach a certain age they are taken to the city full of "pretty" people, given ridiculous plastic surgery, made stupid and ignorant, and are allowed to party until they're old enough to have kids for themselves.The first book is about an "ugly" who doesn't want to turn pretty, and the sequels follow her progression through different life stages and rebellion against the system.  6/10

I read I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore.

Yes, the author's name is Pittacus Lore. The story is about a teenage boy who has been running all over the world all his life with a sensei type character from unknown evil murderous aliens, but he's tired of moving from town to town and just wants a normal life. He's developing super powers and falls in love with a normal girl. I actually got into this one, even though the action was faster than the words if that makes sense. I feel like maybe it needed more suspense and more description pretty much everywhere throughout the book, but I'd still give it a 7.5/10 This one has already been made into a movie which I have not seen. Maybe I'll give 'er a watch sometime. Here's the trailer.

I read Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver.

 This was kind of a weird one, it's about a girl who dies, and then gets to replay the day she died over and over, kind of like Groundhog day, she keeps waking up the next morning as though it didn't happen. It was extremely well-written. The story was okay, but the writing was what kept me engrossed. Somehow, Lauren Oliver wrote this exactly, and I mean exactly, how a teenage girl thinks. It's hard to explain but damn she's good. It was also refreshing to read a teen novel that was NOT placed in some sort of dystopian world. That gets old really quickly unless you genuinely care about the characters. 9/10

I struggled through Gone by Michael Grant,

 and then started and never finished part two of the series, Hunger. It was one of those books I liked the idea of, and heard so many good things that I just kept forcing myself to continue reading long after the luster wore off. I think these were just straight up too young for me. The book is about a world where everybody over the age of fourteen just suddenly disappears, and is written from a few of the kids' points of view. It's such a cool idea and I wanted to like it so bad but it felt like someone in the sixth grade dictated the story to Grant (which is probably what he was going for). Oh yeah, and some of them get weird powers too, which I kind of feel was overkill. Awesome for a child to read, really stupid for a 30+ woman. 4.5/10

I read The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan.

 This one, I'm not sure if it exactly counts as YA, it's got a few more steamy make out scenes in it ... maybe it's meant for the 16+ crowd. Yes it's yet another post-apocalyptic book. I don't know if these are all that exist or what. Anyway it had a cool take on the whole zombie thing, it's set in a time two generations after the initial zombie apocalypse has occurred. So all the main teenager characters were born only knowing death and zombies everywhere, and believing their fenced-in village is the only place on earth with humans left. It's just about how life for a normal teenage girl would be ... but then something changes. Dun dun dunnnn. This one was pretty good, I actually got kind of scared in the scary parts and it's so cool how realistic it seemed, for example how everything turned back to religion, arranged marriages and seemingly medieval lifestyles in just two generations without the modern conveniences to which we have become accustomed.* 9/10

 *Sorry for that pretentious sounding last sentence, I just couldn't bring myself to end that sentence with a preposition for some reason. If I were speaking I would have. I never know how to reconcile my speaking voice with my writing voice.

I read Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.

This is a paranormal-ish teen romance story told from the boy's perspective, which is different, I guess. There was a reasonable amount of suspense, I didn't know exactly where the story was going to go. There's a teenage guy who is bored of his boring hometown and then a new girl shows up and they can speak to one another in their minds, because they're like soooo connected, and she reveals that her entire family is magical and SOMETHING is going to happen on her sixteenth birthday. Something terrible that she can't possibly tell him. But she keeps mentioning it. And they keep counting down to her birthday FOR SOME REASON YOU WILL FIND OUT EVENTUALLY I GUESS. One thing that drove me insane throughout the book was how they called the witches "casters", because to me, that sounds like they're using the French AND Spanish word for beaver, "castor". I would literally imagine beavers every time they used the word. It was a good book to pass the time. 7.5/10

I read The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Again, dystopian society bla bla bla, but there was something about the way this book is written that just kept me hooked. Thomas wakes up in a dark box with no memory of where he comes from or who he is or anything. The top of the box opens and he finds he is trapped, along with a bunch of other teenage boys in a beautiful place called "The Glade". There's a maze, filled with horrific monsters, with bazillion foot high walls surrounding them on every side, and some of the extremely fit boys have the job of running everyday, trying to map the maze and maybe find a way out. They don't know why they are there or what they're supposed to do. Out of any of these books I'd recommend this one the most. 9.5/10 I am actually really looking forward to the movie version of this book, which is also coming out in 2014.  Here's the IMDB page for it.

The sequels to The Maze Runner were also pretty good, but the first book was the most engaging. I think the thing I find disappointing about basically every YA sequel I've ever read is they always follow the same formula as the original story and are therefore very predictable. This is especially true when they follow the same character through a second adventure.


Yup so that's probably 1/3 of the books I've read since the last time I've said anything about reading on a blog. I have also read some big-girl novels and some tattoo related books. For example I am in the middle of Horns by Joe Hill right now, it is fantastic for the record. If you start this one and find it super depressing at the beginning just keep going, it gets better.

Ryan bought me a new Kobo Mini e-reader for my birthday and I am in love with it. We are engaged. I am planning my honeymoon with this thing. So. Yeah. Me like read lots.

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