Saturday, August 10, 2013

Looking for Alaska by John Green

Posted by Ellie at 1:10 PM 0 comments
Looking for Alaska by John Green
231 pages

Just gonna get right to it. I really didn't like this book. I suppose it's not all that weird, I've only read one other book of his, and even though I adored it, you're bound to not always love everything someone's written... Right? Well, either way, I couldn't stand Looking for Alaska.

Relatively short, less than 250 pages, Looking for Alaska is about some kid named Miles whose obsessed with dying words and is looking for his "great perhaps". So he decides to attend this boarding school in Alabama his dad had attended in his teenage years. From there he befriends his roommate "The Colonel" and his group of friends: Takumi, some Russian-or-Ukrainian-or-wherever-they-have-an-Eastern-European-accent (is it sad that I've already forgotten?) chick, and most importantly: Alaska. Who is the biggest problem of this novel. And it's a short novel, so if your title character is the biggest problem, then you're in for it.

Looking for Alaska is shallow, vapid, dirty, and depressing. I read it in one sitting, but I still had trouble stomaching it at times. That's mostly personal preference, though, because I hate gratuitous pervertedness in books. I can handle depressing books. If I'm attached, I will cry. A lot. If not, I will probably cry anyway just because of the injustice against humanity. I didn't shed one tear, or even tear up at all while reading LfA, and, though I'd like to avoid spoilers, it deals with some very heavy and sad subject matter.

Anyway, the book's biggest problem (as stated previously) is Alaska. It's not so much a problem with her, but more about her. You see, she's not a person. Yes, I know she's fictional and therefore not real, but I mean she is literally the defining image of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope. She is not a fleshed out person, she's an ideal. She's so mysterious, she's so intriguing. She's sexy, funny, crazy, spontaneous, moody, alluring. But here's the thing: she's not. She has all these traits, but isn't any of them: they are her. Alaska isn't a person, she's a trope. And maybe that's the point, maybe Alaska isn't meant to be seen as a person but a metaphor. Alaska is very obviously stated by Miles as his "great perhaps", and is not treated by him like he would treat another person, but as he would treat a goal. But that's my problem. You can't write a novel about PEOPLE and make one of the people nothing more than a metaphor. I mean, you can, nobody is stopping you, but that doesn't mean I, personally, will enjoy it.

Miles is another big problem in the book, perhaps bigger. He's an ass. And maybe all teenage boys are, but I don't want to read about normal teenage boys. I want to read about people who are more than. People who have life in them, who think and feel and know and dream and believe and try and care. I don't want to read about normal, pretentious, shallow asshats who just know that they're better than those old boring people who he used to be sort-of friends with. I don't. Maybe it adds "realism" to the book. Maybe it doesn't. Doesn't mean it's anymore enjoyable to read about.

Miles didn't see Alaska as a person, he saw her as an object. To be coveted after, lusted after. He was mystified by her, seduced by her. Do you really think, for one measly second, that if Alaska had been ugly ANYONE would have even put up with her batshit moodswings and reckless behavior? Much less found her the pinnacle of all female beauty. Everyone was in love with Alaska, but no one loved her. Everyone wanted her, but no one cared about her. I suppose it's fitting. How can you care about a metaphor?

I suppose the ending is supposed to signify Miles's growth, but I really couldn't see it. For a novel with what is supposedly such a deep and powerful meaning, it didn't feel any different for me than your average contemp YA fare.

I liked some things about the book. I liked Colonel and his mom. I liked Takumi up until he admitted he too was in love with Alaska, just like everybody else. The writing is excellent, and it really does draw you in and makes sure you don't want to put it down. I love John Green a lot and I love nerdfighteria, so I don't want this review to make it seem like I'm just hating on it needlessly. I know a lot of people are enamored with this book, so if you like it, great! I'm glad you enjoy it, really. I just don't think it was the book for me. Maybe this book's meaning just went over my head. If you have anymore insight on it, leave a comment and I will be glad to listen to different opinions! I'm still going to keep trying with John Green's other books, as I loved TFiOS too much to give up just yet. 

Thanks for reading and stopping by! I hope I was able to offer some useful input.

~ Ellie

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Posted by Ellie at 11:52 AM 0 comments
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
Feiwel & Friends
454 pages

If you've read my review of Cinder, you know it took me a while to read these books. And you also know that I regret that with every fiber of my being. As I finished Cinder, I made it my mission to own Scarlet. After two unsuccessful trips to Barnes and Noble, one online order, and three agonizingly long weeks after my initial reading of Cinder, I finally had my copy. And may I just say — wow. I thought Cinder was good? Well. In the immortal words of Cadet Captain Thorne, “Hello, Scarlet.”

It’s safe to say that Scarlet blew me away. One moment I was cracking up and the next I was a sniveling mess of tears and ugh. Seriously, if you have any misgivings that it won’t live up to its predecessor or that you’ll find yourself not liking the new heroine as much, rest assured. Marissa Meyer is an expert at her craft.

Scarlet takes place right where Cinder left off; Cinder breaking out of jail the day after the catastrophe that was Prince Kai’s coronation. We’re also introduced to the book’s namesake, Scarlet Benoit, who is arguably the most badass fairy tale incarnation ever to grace the pages of literature. In her first appearance, she’s just been informed by comm that the police have stopped the search to find her grandmother — Scarlet’s beloved guardian who has been missing for weeks. From here on you experience the fight with these two awesome girls that take action to save themselves and the people they love. They meet new friends and are reunited with old ones, all allied in hopes to bring down the horrific Queen Levana. MM seamlessly integrates their stories together, along with glimpses of Emperor Kai and Queen Levana herself.

There are several new characters in Book 2, such as Wolf, the mysterious street fighter who embarks on the journey with Scarlet to rescue her Grand-mére (he’s my favorite precious darling, next to Scarlet, of course), Cadet Carswell Thorne, a sleazy American thief and army deserter who worms his way into your heart and by the end of the book, definitely deserves the title of ‘Captain’.

The character interactions in this book were gold, and I found myself appropriately squealing, dying, screaming, and in some cases, screeching, at most chapters.

Definitely towards the end there were some twists I was NOT expecting (which, for the sake of being a spoiler-free review, I won’t mention). I was constantly on my toes because holy crap who do you trust omg who are you who is that WHAT IS HAPPENING?!!??!

MM’s prose is fantastic and vivid. I loved the settings and how they were described, the Benoits’ farm being my favorite location of both the books together. just as I loved the choice of Beijing for Cinder, I loved Rieux for Scarlet.

I just really love these books. I love everything about them so much AahHhH I am trying to sound like a smart adult with good things to say but my emotions are taking over and omG I love them so much!!! The Lunar Chronicles is absolutely 100% one of my favorite book series ever; up there with Harry Potter and Percy Jackson and The Hunger Games. Is there a movie deal yet? Why is there no movie?

I CANNOT wait for Cress. Rapunzel is probably my favorite fairy tale (I think it’s the hair, I’ve got a thing for crazy hair) and Cress is such a clever name. Watercress = Cress? And perhaps Cress is short for Crescent Moon? AHH Marissa Meyer you are killing me with these possibilities!!!! How am I ever going to survive till February? Seriously. If you have an ARC and you don't want it or are just very generous coULD YOU PLEASE LET ME BORROW IT? PLeASE. (Okay that sounds creepy I know, but I'm kind of distraught and very incredibly emotionally invested in this series.)

~ Ellie

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Posted by Ellie at 12:53 PM 0 comments
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Feiwel & Friends
387 pages

originally saw Cinder sitting on a shelf at Barnes and Noble, and while the story sounded interesting, I was so burnt out on fairy tales at the time (so many corny movie adaptions — ugh) I ended up passing. Big mistake. Fast forward about a year, I’m browsing B&N online and I see a book called Scarlet. Apparently it’s the second book to that one scifi-Cinderella novel I skipped last year and there are two more books coming out in ‘14 and ‘15, respectively. Over the span of that year, I had rekindled my love for fairy tales (thanks, Tangled) so I decided to give the series a try.

My first thought after finishing Cinder was that I was going to build a time machine. Not only for the purpose of meeting Charles Dickens and pushing Hilter off a cliff, but also to push myself off a cliff because I wrongly judged this book. VERY wrongly. It was easily one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.

Our story takes place in futuristic Beijing, 126 years after the fourth World War. Cinder, main character extraordinaire, is New Beijing's most renowned mechanic and near slave to her greedy adoptive mother. But there is something about Cinder that makes her different. She has no memories of her life after she was in a horrific accident at age eleven, leaving her to be an amputee saved by modern science and cyborg prosthesis. Unfortunately, the world Cinder lives in is very prejudiced towards cyborgs, so she must always hide herself. 

On top of all that, there is a raging epidemic of letumosis, the mysterious and seemingly incurable fatal disease, a charming prince in need of Cinder's mechanical genius, an annual festival Cinder isn't allowed to attend, and a murderous queen from the moon determined to make Earth her domain.

Cinder is SUCH a great character. She's so relatable. I was rooting for her all the way through! She was witty with such dry humor and a good heart. I felt so horrible for her with all of the trials she had to endure throughout the book. Her almost-romance with Prince Kai was refreshing and infuriating and adorable and heartbreaking and -- !! Okay, I won't spoil, but really! They were so cute together, and this book is completely void of insta-love, which makes me a very happy camper. Those last chapters though. THAT END. WHYYYYY??,??!!! OKay, okay, no spoilers. Right.

All of the side characters and villains were very well-developed as well, with Adri as the almost-pitiable step-mother, and sweet Peony, and bratty Pearl, and the awful, awful Lunar Queen Levana, the batty Dr. Erland... Everyone was so interesting to read about. Ms. Meyer is amazing at writing interesting and unique characters.

One thing I adored about Cinder was the setting. Love the nod to the roots of Cinderella. New Beijing is such a cool place, I love the mix of western influence and old traditional Chinese. It really feels like how it would be in the future, with cultures meshing together after so long of segregation.

Be warned though, Cinder has something of a cliff-hanger (and a heart-wrenching one at that), but the second book Scarlet is already out! I've already read it, and I LOVE it. So please, PLEASE check out this series if you think it sounds interesting. Definitely one of the best books I've read this year, and one of my favorite series of all time.

~ Ellie

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Newborn

Posted by Ellie at 6:25 PM 0 comments
I have crossed the divide, the river of no return. I am now a blogger.

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