Sunday, 22 February 2015

Despising Dystopia

A while ago, someone said something to me that got me thinking. 

I met Fiona from Eventide Reads in Waterstones a few months ago, and whilst we were talking about books, she said about how Dystopian novels are all very similar. This statement made me realise something: I don't like dystopian fiction.

Has anyone else realised how similar YA Dystopian's actually are? Because when you think about it - they are RIDICULOUSLY similar.

If you really think about it, you'll notice how obviously one of the main parts of the dystopias is that there is a society in the future in which something is banned or new laws are put into place and just like that, everyone seems to go along with it. Then a member of this society, will be "awoken", and they will kick off a revolution

Usually, the person at the centre of it all is a girl. This girl will normally be an average member of society. They will be between 16 and 18, and rather okay with their situation (well, with the exception of Katniss). The protagonist will go through EXACTLY the same process as everyone else, yet it is them who decides that what is happening is wrong. Often there will be a friend or relationship brought into the mix that makes the character's decision a hard one.

There is ALWAYS, a love interest who just so happens to come in at EXACTLY the wrong time. Or they will be there from the very beginning and be thrown into the same situation as our protagonist. However, in a lot of YA Dystopias, there is a love triangle. For example; in The Hunger Games - Katniss, Peeta and Gale, and in Delirium - Lena, Alex and Julian. The protagonist normally will have feeling for the first person brought into the mix, but once a second person is added, they will move on to them - often by the end of the trilogy (which leads me onto my next point) or book, they will have made a stupid and very irrational decision to revert back to their first relationship - with the less appealing one of the two love interests. Usually, the reader will favour the second of the two interests over the first.

My final point is the fact that the majority of authors who write dystopian novels feel the need to create a trilogy, and drag the story out over the course of three books, roughly all the same number of pages. This is often successful, but sometimes isn't so much.

Where do you sit with the similarities in YA Dystopias?
Let me know in the comments.

Holly x

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Can't Look Away by Donna Cooner

Can't Look Away
There's no hiding in the spotlight. Torrey Grey is famous - at least, she is on the internet. Thousands of people watch her beauty vlog for tips on how to be popular and pretty. But when Torrey's sister is killed in an accident her world implodes, especially as she feels partly to blame. And that's when the trolling starts...How can Torrey mourn her sister in private, when her bubbly public persona is all over the web? Then she meets Luis, whose family owns the local funeral home, and he challenges all that Torrey thought she knew about love, life, and loss.

Thank you to Electric Monkey at Egmont for kindly sending this to me for review.

A lot of people have really liked this. I've seen my friends' reviews about how they felt this was incredible and amazing. Unfortunately I'm not one of these people.

Can't Look Away is about YouTuber Torrey who in the midst of filming one of her videos, her younger sister was killed in a hit and run. The story follows how she learns to settle in away from everything she's ever known when her family move states.

The reality is that I don't think I have anything positive to say about this book and so I'm just going to dive straight in with what was wrong with it.

My main problem with Can't Look Away was the great difference between what is said it would focus on, and what the book actually did discuss. From what I understood the main themes were how Torrey is struggling with the hate she is getting due to her involvement in her sister's death, and how she was trying to rebuild her presence online. 

Contrary to my beliefs, it seemed that all this book was really about was lust and flirtation between Torrey and Luis. Additionally, I was really bothered by what this book said about grief, popularity, and love. A) Torrey acted like it wasn't alright to grieve and that it was better to move onto whatever was next on the agenda. B) Reading this from Torrey's perspective showed me how she thought that popularity was everything. There were lines like "I was IT at my old school, and now I'm so unpopular," C) Thirdly, and this is similar to B, but again Torrey acted like flirtation and the status of having a boyfriend was more important than allowing herself to accept her sister's death. 

This is a rather short review, I know, but there is so much that I disagree with in this book that we could be here forever, so be grateful that this is rather brief in comparison. 

Holly x

Saturday, 14 February 2015

January Book Haul

It's been a pretty good month in the world of Holly's book buying. By that I mean I didn't buy to many like I have in some previous months. After last months huge birthday/Christmas haul, I managed to restrain myself to only buying 4 books this month. The first 2 of these came from a 2nd of January trip to George where there were loads of books on a 2 for £7 offer. Although the majority were titles I'd never heard of, The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton and The Year of the Rat by Claire Furniss were two books that I'd been waiting to go into paperback. If you see my tiny reviews of these on Goodreads, then you'll know that I loved The Year of the Rat, but really disliked The Miniaturist so that will probably be being passed on to someone else soon.

The other two books that I bought myself were much later in the month, and with some Christmas money, I bought Scarlet by Marissa Meyer and Firecracker by David Iserson. In the midst of a reading slump, I knew that these were the only two books that would get me back into reading and after reading Cinder by Marissa Meyer, I had to get the spectacular sequel in this Sci-fi fairy tale retelling series. Firecracker appears to be one of those books that not many people have heard of, and I heard about it from Emily at the Blue Eyed Bibliophile ages ago in one of her hauls. David Iserson is a writer for New Girl (which I love) and Saturday Night Live which I've only watched clips of but seems great.

This is an extra add on (31st January) as although I was trying to not buy anymore books this month, there was one book I couldn't pass up when browsing local charity shops - Where Rainbow's End by Cecelia Ahern. Due to the film release there have been title and cover changes and I was trying to find a half decent cover for my copy, and I finally found it. 

Books #5 and #6 in this haul are belated Christmas presents from my Dad. Back in December he'd told me I could make an Amazon order of books that I wanted as part of my present - one arrived in time for Christmas, but the others didn't. So although I'm still waiting for one that was out of stock, Everybody Sees the Ants and Ask the Passengers, both by A.S. King came into my possession this month. I've wanted to read Ask the Passengers for nearly 3 years now so it's great to finally own a copy!

Finally, Electric Monkey very kindly sent me a copy of the newly redesigned Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein on 30th January (so, today as I'm scheduling this!). I watched the postman try and get this through the letterbox from inside the house and it was hilarious. They also included a copy of there previews of 2015 publications - I've never received anything like this before and so it was really exciting. Okay, I need to calm down.

Have you read any of these books?

Holly x

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Me and Mr J by Rachel McIntyre

Me and Mr J
Lara’s life is far from perfect, but being an upbeat kind of person she saves her venting for her diary. It’s the only place she can let out her true feelings about the family dramas and hideous bullying she has to face every day. And then a shining light comes out of the darkness – the new young and MALE teacher, Mr Jagger. The one person who takes Lara seriously and notices her potential. The one person who is kind to her. The one person who she falls madly and hopelessly in love with. The one person who cannot love her back … can he?

I received an Advanced Readers Copy from Electric Monkey in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way affected my opinions.

Me and Mr J is about Lara, who in the midst of family struggles, gets a new English teacher. As her relationship develops from teacher-pupil into a friendship, Lara starts to feel that Mr Jagger is the only person who really understands her. 

I love how Me and Mr J wasn't only about a romantic relationship between a pupil and teacher, but also covered other topics that we need to be more aware of in society. For example; bullying, divorce, and feeling cut off from family as a teenager. Lara feels that her parents don't really understand or try to understand her, let alone listen to what she has to say, it was so interesting to see how that every little problem contributed to this growing relationship between Lara and her teacher.

Lara could be seen to be really naive, as she doesn't really mature until the very end of the book. The way that no major character development happened throughout the majority of the book was great as it showed the surge of realisation and acknowledgement that what she was doing was wrong. 

The main thing I appreciated in Me and Mr J was how love overpowered common sense. Lara and her teacher were past a point where they were so in love that they didn't even know that what they were doing was completely wrong anymore. One of the key things that I noticed when reading this was the case of who the responsibility lay with, and it was great to see a stronger, resolute Lara realise that she wasn't the only person to blame. 

Me and Mr J was a quick, clever, informative read that I highly recommend you pick it up.

Holly x