Category Archives: Young Adult Fiction

Book Review: “Eleanor & Park” by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor and Park

Title:  Eleanor & Park

Author:  Rainbow Rowell

Pages: 336

Synopsis (from bn.com):

Bono met his wife in high school, Park says.
So did Jerry Lee Lewis, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be, she says, we’re 16.
What about Romeo and Juliet?
Shallow, confused, then dead.
I love you, Park says.
Wherefore art thou, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be.

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits-smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love-and just how hard it pulled you under.

 

My thoughts:

When I was working at Barnes & Noble, I remember seeing this book on the Young Adult Bestseller shelves directly to the right of the Customer Service desk.  I can’t tell you how often I moved that book as it changed spots/numbers on the list.  Now after reading it, I have to be brutally honest, I have absolutely no idea how it stayed as a Bestseller for so long.

Wow, this book fell completely flat for me.  I think this story of first love in all its odd, boring nuances was just completely lost on me as an adult, so perhaps this one just doesn’t cross over to us oldsters.

Frankly, I found the book just boring. . . page after page after page of the minute details of the lives of these teens.  I know that is apparently what it was supposed to be, it just wasn’t my thing.  I can’t imagine a teen in this fast paced day and age enjoying this book with no action – but what do I know.

I also found myself having no connection at all with either of the main characters – in fact I found myself disliking them a bit.  Instead of coming off as an outcast, outsider Eleanor came off to me as just plain mean and snotty.  Park was just well . . . boring.

Both main characters definitely had tough family situations in very different ways, which also should have left the reader feeling something – and I didn’t, I was just annoyed.

And for the ending . . . a little ridiculous in my opinion.  Yes I know it is fiction and a story, but it was quite unrealistic and for me at least didn’t give me the emotion I believe the author was going for.

Overall, a complete dud for me . . . slow pace, boring story, unlikeable main characters, unrealistic ending.  Not a combination for a winning read.

And remember,

Books Are Life,

Heather

 

 

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Book Review: “Extraordinary Means” by Robyn Schneider

extraordinary means

Title:  Extraordinary Means

Author:  Robyn Schneider

Pages: 324

Synopsis (from bn.com): 

Up until his diagnosis, Lane lived a fairly predictable life. But when he finds himself at a tuberculosis sanatorium called Latham House, he discovers an insular world with paradoxical rules, med sensors, and an eccentric yet utterly compelling confidante named Sadie—and life as Lane knows it will never be the same.

Robyn Schneider’s Extraordinary Means is a heart-wrenching yet ultimately hopeful story about the miracles of first love and second chances.

My thoughts:

Well my obsession with Young Adult fiction continues with this book by Robyn Schneider.  This story follows a group of teens who are living at Latham House, a sanitorium for patients with incurable TB.

I picked up this book of course because of the teens in medical crisis story.   SPOILER ALERT – the author makes very clear in her notes that there is no resistant strain of TB of course so it left the whole premise of the book a little unreal and disappointing to me from the very beginning.

The overall plot of course included aspects of boy meets girl and falls for girl, but what I truly enjoyed about this book were the deeper, more meaningful themes of building friendships in unfortunate circumstances, looking at the meaning of your life in a different way, change, taking risk, facing death, and so many many more in this brief book.

I think many teens can identify with the main character, Lane, in this novel in terms of his strong drive to success and get in the best college with the best grades and the best everything, his perfectionism, his single goal in life . . . and hopefully can gain some adult life lessons throughout the book.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book . . . wish the premise of the story had been at least build on a real situation at least but could get passed it.  Strong characters, great themes beyond simple teen falling in love story.

And remember,

Books Are Life,

Heather

 

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Book Review: “We Were Liars” by E. Lockhart

we were liars

Title:  We Were Liars

Author:  E. Lockhart

Pages:  225

Synopsis (from bn.com): 

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from New York Times bestselling author, National Book Award finalist, and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.
Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

 

My thoughts:

What can I say about this book but . . . WOW!

I was enjoying the suspense, mystery, and thrill of the book . . . and then BAM I was hit with the ending.  It smacks you across the face and as the reader you mouth drops open and you find yourself saying “what did I just read?”  Loved it!

Before the ending – which of course I will not say one thing about – the book was solid in plot and characters.  I enjoyed the pace of the book and found the plot just the right amount of twisty, suspense, mystery, and drama.

This book really addresses the themes of lifelong friendships, change, family conflict, secrets, and ultimately the price of those conflicts and secrets.

I am not a huge fan of books to movie adaptations at all as of course usually as a reader the book is almost always much better – but in the right hands, this book could make a very, very interesting movie!

Overall a book I really, really enjoyed!  Fast read, solid plot, strong characters, and of course an ending that at least blew me away!  Buckle up and enjoy the ride.

And remember,

Books Are Life,

Heather

 

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Book Review: “Everything Everything” by Nicola Yoon

Everything Everything

Title:  Everything, Everything

Author:  Nicola Yoon

Pages:  352

Synopsis (from bn.com): 

Risk everything . . . for love.

What if you couldn’t touch anything in the outside world? Never breathe in the fresh air, feel the sun warm your face . . . or kiss the boy next door? In Everything, Everything, Maddy is a girl who’s literally allergic to the outside world, and Olly is the boy who moves in next door . . . and becomes the greatest risk she’s ever taken.

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

Everything, Everything will make you laugh, cry, and feel everything in between. It’s an innovative,  inspiring, and heartbreakingly romantic debut novel that unfolds via vignettes, diary entries, illustrations, and more. 

My thoughts:

As I sit here on the couch recovering from a trio of “itis”s – pharyngitis, laryngitis, tonsillitis, I figure there is no time like the present to get caught up on my book reviews – and I am really, really behind at this point – WOW!

I am normally a cozy mystery/mystery/psychological suspense reader, but ever since joining the “Thirteen Reasons Why” craze recently (the review on that is coming later as I really have to formulate my thoughts on that one), I am completely addicted right now to Young Adult Fiction of a certain kind.  I’m not even sure what to call it – it is those books based on characters that are dealing with a particular problem such as a medical issue, mental illness issue, death/dying, grieving, drug problem, etc.  I am not interested in normal “boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl” fiction or any science fiction/dystopian type of young adult fiction.   Totally addicted to lets call it young adult problem literature right now – so if you are reading this and know of great books, please comment as I’m looking for more!!

Now on to Everything, Everything.  I saw a commercial that this was going to be a movie, read what the theme was about, and knew I needed to try it.  I am glad that I did.

I truly enjoyed almost all of this novel.  I loved the plot line of a young girl dealing with a disease that basically kept her inside, isolated away from the world, and how she dealt with this along the way.

I loved the themes in the book of resilience, isolation, relationships, and risk.

What I didn’t enjoy at all was the overall pace of the book particularly toward the end.  I thought the way the story ended was fantastic, but right before the end the book felt like it went from 0 – 60 mph not in any good way.  For me I felt that the book was rushed at the end with little explanation or closure for me – I wanted much,, much more in depth about this storyline.   I was left wanting more – again not in a good way – but feeling as if I had been cheated of a great story.  Perhaps the author can do a sequel so I feel more satisfied 🙂

Overall, a strong book worth reading in my opinion.  Great plot, great themes, and I want a sequel for that great ending twist.

And remember,

Books Are Life,

Heather

 

 

 

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