Sunday, December 12, 2010

In a world ruled by the dead, we are forced to finally start living. ~ Winter Break 2010

I'm not even going to give this post a "week" tag, because I have a mere four weeks of freedom from law school to read as many "fun" books as I can before I'm thrown back into the insanity of my 1L year. Despite all the craziness and endless amounts of reading that I've done this semester, all I could do was daydream about winter break when I'd be able to catch up on my reading. Yes, I am an uber-nerd.

But first...

In the past few weeks, I've read the whole Walking Dead comic series. I got interested after my husband and I started watching the AMC series (which is awesome I might add). I was immediately sucked in. The story centers around Officer Rick Grimes. He's a deputy sheriff in a small town, when he's shot on the job. Weeks later, he wakes up from his coma in a deserted hospital. As he stumbles out of bed and through the halls of the hospital, he realizes that he might've slept through more than he could've imagined in his wildest dreams.

The terror begins from the moment Rick enters the hospital cafeteria and is faced with a room full of the walking dead.

The good: You will not be able to stop reading this series. It is extremely addictive and highly action packed. From the first page, you are drawn in. The characters are extremely well-written and you find yourself empathizing with them. I could honestly feel the terror and isolation that Rick was feeling. What would it be like to wake up one day and realize that the world has completely changed? If you think this is some hokey B-movie-ish horror story, you are wrong. This story is based around the zombie apocalypse, but what it really focuses on is what it would be like if a disaster of epic magnitude was to hit the US. You can take out the zombie element and fill it in with something else: a natural disaster, bio-warfare, etc. It doesn't matter. Once civilization falls, what are we left with? What would you do if you needed help and when you dialed 911, there was no one there to answer? To me, the scariest part of this story is not the zombies... it's the regular, everyday people and what they become when faced with unimaginable horror.

The bad: Seriously, don't get attached to any characters. Kirkman has no problem offing one of his major characters. Usually it'll end up being someone that you were somewhat attached to. Don't bother. This is the darkest series I've ever read. Be prepared to have some freaky nightmares.

Also, if you get these comic books individually and not in the volume compilations, expect to read them in about 30 seconds. They are a quick read. I'd highly recommend checking them out from the library or buying the whole volume. That way you'll have six-months of comics all bound up in one book. Otherwise, you're going to finish one book and TRUST me, you are going to want more!

The verdict: If you like comics (or even if you don't), you will not be disappointed by The Walking Dead. A word of caution: Do not expect the comics and the TV series to line up. The show goes off on different paths and inserts characters that are not even in the comics. It's good in it's own right though, just don't expect it to mirror the comic exactly.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The only secret people keep is immortality. ~ Week 28

Evermore is the first installment in The Immortals trilogy. It's about Ever, an orphan after a tragic car accident that claimed the life of her parents and sister. Ever is the sole survivor in her family, and ever since her near-death experience she's graced with the ability to sense people. She can see their auras, hear their thoughts, and if she touches someone she can see their whole life's story. Needless to say, Ever is not the most popular girl in school. She spends most of her days hiding beneath a bulky hoodie with her iPod in the pocked and her ear buds wedged into her ears to block out all the noise.

Ever is living a pretty miserable existence until gorgeous Damen comes into her life. He's exotic, mysterious, and rich. Best of all - Ever can't seem to hear his thoughts or sense anything about him. When he's near, the noise is quieted and Ever feels some form of peace. Immediately intrigued, she gets pulled into Damen's mysterious world and finds herself filled with more questions than answers.

The good: I really liked the frustration that I felt mounting between Ever and Damen. Is he interested? Is he not? I know I was biting my nails. Guys like him simply do not exist and you know that your high school experience wasn't anywhere near as interesting as Ever's. Ever's friendship with Miles was also a definite plus - you can't go wrong with a gay, hilarious, best friend. His character was fun and provided some comic relief to the story. All in all, it was entertaining to live vicariously through Ever's "rollercoaster" ride with Damen.

The bad: Nothing was really "bad" about Evermore. The problem was that nothing particularly stood out about it. In a few months, I will have a very hard time describing the story to you, because there was nothing extraordinary about it. I feel like the plot has been used time and time again in young adult books:

Conflicted girl; usually has faced some type of personal tragedy (i.e. parents dying, illness, injury)
Mysterious and really hot guy; he usually comes from another town in the middle of the school year and is really good looking. All the girls fawn over him. Oh, he usually has some type of "secret" that our conflicted girl can't seem to put her finger on...
Supernatural element; one or both characters has a supernatural ability.
Young Adult book that has been written OVER AND OVER AND OVER.

All that being said... this doesn't necessarily make for a bad book. But it definitely doesn't make for a unique one. I would have a hard time telling you something unique about Damen and Ever. They are the love story that YA writers love to rehash because it's fun and it works. I'm okay with that... but it's always nice to have something stand out a bit.

The verdict: If you take this book for what it is, you will enjoy it. That means, don't expect a literary masterpiece. Don't expect to read anything ground-breaking or life-changing. Expect a fun story with lots of steamy scenes that make you daydream about when you were 16. Good times!

Monday, June 14, 2010

The darkest sky is filled with stars, the sun casts it's warmth on the coldest day. ~ Week 27

So during my break from this blog, I read two books that I have yet to write about: Life As We Knew It and The Dead and The Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer. Since I never wrote about those two, this post is going to serve as a review of the whole trilogy and focus on the last book and how Pfeffer decided to "wrap-up" her series.

The Last Survivor's Trilogy begins with the moon being hit by an asteroid. This throws the moon off it's orbit and basically screws up the gravitational pull between the moon and Earth. What ensues is a whole mess of natural disasters. The weather changes drastically, with snow in June and barely any summer. There are tsunamis, earthquakes, and horrible thunderstorms. Life As We Knew It was a diary of sorts, narrated by 16 year-old Miranda. She takes us through the first days and weeks of the disaster and how her family copes. The Dead and the Gone introduces us to Alex, a 16 year-old living in New York City with his family. Alex loses his parents in the disaster and is left to fend for himself and his two sisters. This World We Live In brings both characters together in rural Pennsylvania as they try to survive, almost a year after the disaster that has changed the world.

The good: Cool idea. There's tons of post-apocalyptic books. There's tons of ways that authors have chosen to imagine the demise of our civilization. I've read books where the culprit is disease, natural disasters, even zombie attacks. I initially picked up Life As We Knew It because Pfeffer's idea was different. It got me thinking about the plausibility of an asteroid hitting the moon (or Earth for that matter).

The bad: One thing that really irked me about this series. It was kinda cool concept. A unique apocalyptic scenario. But I feel like Pfeffer didn't really focus on what was going on in the world enough. Everything was centered around the main characters and their boring day to day existence without the comforts and stability of a "normal life." Pages and pages were expended on the banalities of search for food and keeping their home clean. However, after the initial event, Pfeffer didn't really talk too much about what was going on around the country. Also, our characters rarely ran into other people. It was like they were isolated on another planet. I found it plausible, but highly unlikely. I feel like a real end-of-the-world scenario would be grittier and much scarier.
The verdict: This book is definitely aimed towards a much younger age group than what I usually read for YA literature. If you're prepared for that... it's really an intriguing read. It gets you thinking. Or, if you're like me - planning your post-apocalyptic disaster plan.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

We were out of orbit now, and it felt wrong. ~ Week 26

Bree Tanner is a "newborn" vampire. Newly changed... she has vague memories of her human life. All that she knows is that she has to watch her back, keep quiet, and get home before sunrise. She's under the control of her "creator" - a mysterious redhead that seems to control her every move by manipulating the vampire that keeps watch over her, Riley.

Fans of the Twilight Saga know that the mysterious redhead is Victoria. We also know that Bree Tanner played a role in the battle at the end of Eclipse between the Cullens, the werewolves, and the newborn vampire army that Victoria created. Sounds exciting, eh?

The good: I was well overdue for a dose of some Twilight. I read all four books in the span of a week. I was feening for some more Edward, Jacob, and everyone else. While I didn't get exactly what I was expecting... it did "tide me over" until June 30th (please, don't act like you don't know that's when Eclipse comes out!)

The bad: Okay, so I wasn't sure why Stephenie Meyer decided to write The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner. At first I was excited when I heard it was coming out. Mainly because it related to the Twilight Saga and frankly, I was obsessed. But the more I thought about it, the more confused I was. Who the hell was Bree Tanner? I didn't even remember her from Eclipse. Why did Meyer decide to hone in on her minimal character for another book? If Meyer really wanted to make the fans happy, she should publish Midnight Sun already! I figured maybe she had a really exciting background story for Bree Tanner and I was intrigued. But after reading the book, I realized that Meyer was probably just trying to bank a little more cash for the phenomena that is Twilight. (Do you blame her?) She could've written about pretty much any character from the saga and let's face it - people will buy it. Smart lady, if you ask me.

Another problem. Since reading Twilight, I've read about 50 other young adult books. Shiver, the City of Bones Trilogy, The Dark Divine... etc. Excellent books, by excellent writers. That's not to say that Meyer isn't a decent writer. However, I feel like her writing leaves much to be desired. I found myself a little bored with her descriptions and found my mind wandering while reading.

The verdict: Read it if you're obsessed with Twilight, like me. You won't necessarily be disappointed if you go into it with the right expectations. Don't expect to be satisfied with a little dose of Edward (and/or Jacob). Not gonna happen. Also, it's hard to feel anything for Bree. She was such a minimal part of the series, that I wasn't very "invested" in what happened to her. All in all, it's a short book so you won't feel like you wasted your time. If you're a true fan, give it a shot!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Hunger was a very powerful force. But so were humiliation and rage. ~ Week 25

Ahhh finally the next installment in the Gone series. I was a little hesitant to get sucked into another series. It was starting to irk me - every author feels like they need to make a trilogy or series out of their books. What ever happened to one book, standing alone and being good all by itself? Well, I must say that I'm a little less skeptical now. After reading Gone and Hunger, I was hooked.
Lies picks up a few months after Hunger left off. The kids (anyone under age 15) are still stuck inside the "dome" of the FAYZ (Fallout Alley Youth Zone) in Perdido Beach, CA. Still no adults. They've managed to survive hunger, crime, chaos, and evil. Their encounter with the "Darkness" has left them beaten down, exhausted, and pitted against one another. Our hero, Sam, is still reeling from his experience with Drake- which almost killed him. Astrid has formed a town council to oversee the ongoings of the FAYZ. Caine and Diana have retreated to Coates Academy to regroup and lick their wounds. Orsay is seeing "prophecies" and a mysterious girl named Nerezza has appeared in town. On top of all this - kids are starting to come down with the flu. Things are basically a mess. This instability sets the scene for a whole slew of complications...

The good: I must say that I'm quite attached to the characters in Michael Grant's series. Sam, Astrid... even Howard. Three books in and I feel like I know them. I loved how this book built on the story from Lies, but didn't leave you confused. It's been a while since I read Lies, so I was worried that I'd forget the storyline. Grant makes sure to get you back up to tabs without recanting every last detail of the last book. There were also some new characters that you will love - Sanjit and his family, little Justin, Jill the Siren, and evil Nerezza. The book is action-packed... it's one of those where you'll keep saying, "Just a few more pages..." and find yourself reading well into the night.

The bad: I should take this section out of my reviews. I don't read bad books lately. Lies is no exception. Good writing, good characters, good stuff.

The verdict: I can't wait to see where this series goes next. Plague comes out in 2011 and I can't wait to be reunited with the FAYZ once again.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

I am telling you, trouble is like the ocean. It covers two-thirds of the world. ~ Week 24

The good: This book touches on some serious stuff. War in Africa. Definitely not a light read. But certainly something that is happening for real and it does not hurt to be aware of the reality of what some children face in Africa right now. This book made me heart break a little bit. I say this as a good thing, because although it was fictional - it made me want to find out what I could do to help the people who are facing the situations that were described in the book. Poverty, civil war, and brutality. Words on a page to you and me - but for many they are reality. This book made me feel. That is always a plus for me.

Another plus - Little Bee was an amazing character. She was strong and believable.

Oh, and I found a few wonderful quotes in Cleave's writing:

Death, of course, is a refuge. It's where you go when a new name, or a mask and cape, can no longer hide you from yourself. I's where you run to when none of the principalities of your conscience will grant you asylum.

That disaster, when it is quite sure of it's own strength, will announce itself by hardly moving it's lips?

And my personal favorite:

That is a good trick about this world, Sarah. No one likes each other, but everyone likes U2.

The bad: I was hesitant to pick up this book at first because of the cheesy little "hook" they put on the back cover to try and get you interested in reading it. "We don't want to tell you what happens in this book. It is a truly special story and we don't want to spoil it..." It goes on for a bit about how awesome the book is and how magically it unfolds. Yes, the book was good. But it would've helped to put a little more about what the book was about and then let the reader decide how incredible it is. I don't think that they needed a "gimmick" for this one...

Another problem - I found Sarah quite despicable. Oh and Lawrence... even worse. I disliked those characters very much. Not sure if this is a negative - again, Cleave made me feel a strong emotion for these characters. Good writing does that.

The verdict: Put this one back on the shelf if you are looking for a light-hearted summer read. If you're looking for a book to make you feel, cry, and ache - that's what you'll get with Little Bee.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

As terrible as the truth was, there was something restful about it. ~ Week 23

Ahh yes, another Young Adult book that fulfills the "requirements" I have for a highly entertaining read. Here's the formula:
Strong female character + Attractive bad boy + supernatural "stuff" = happy Dana

The Dark Divine
has all of these aspects and then some. From the first page I was hooked. We're introduced to Grace Divine, your typical good girl - daughter of a pastor, conservative, excellent student. We're told that a few years back, there was some type of mysterious "incident" between Grace's brother, Jude, and his best friend, Daniel. No details are given... all we know is that Jude returned home covered in blood and really pissed off at Daniel. Daniel disappears for a few years without a trace. Grace is never given an explanation as to what happened and every time Daniel's name comes up the family falls into an uncomfortable silence.

Well, Daniel returns one day and shows up in Grace's art class. Oh, I forgot one aspect of my "formula" - the bad boy is usually artistic and hot. He won't talk about what's happened and Grace reaches out to him to try and figure out what the deal is. In the midst of all this, an undeniable attraction begins to grow between Grace and Daniel. Big problem: Jude loathes Daniel and doesn't seem to want to explain why. There's also something off about Daniel that Grace can't seem to put her finger on...

The good:
Daniel, Daniel, Daniel. Another book crush. He's tormented, artistic, and basically awesome. Despain's story is a page-turner. It wasn't really what I expected and I enjoyed the twists and turns.

The bad:

The verdict:
If you like: Twilight, Shiver, Graceling, Fallen, Evermore... etc etc etc. You will like this book. I read it in a day. Pick it up, lay back on the beach, and let yourself be immersed in a good story.