Monthly Archives: May 2013

Crash Into Me by Albert Borris

Crash Into Me

“Self-esteem is overrated. Anyone will think they color great if enough people tell them. Artificial praise. Down inside, compliments like that are hollow… Real self-worth comes from mastery, from getting good at something. It doesn’t matter what. Then you don’t have to worry about empty compliments. You don’t worry about what other people think. You have self-respect.”
-Mr. Clark

Frank, Audrey, Owen, and Jin-Ae are four suicidal teenagers with one common goal: a cross-country road trip to visit celebrity suicide sites ending in Death Valley, California, where they will kill themselves together. They spend the rest of their time completing bucket list items and sharing secrets, knowing that death is final and this is their only chance to finish what they’ve started. But will time during the road trip change their minds before they reach their final destination?

This is and always will be one of my favorite books, for a few reasons. One, the suspense. You just don’t know what will happen at the end. Everything is so completely unpredictable, even when you think you know exactly what’s going on. Two, the awesome subject matter. I’ve always been attracted to books about suicide (I’m not obsessed with death or anything, I promise), and this is a perfect choice for someone like me. Sad? Of course it is. But not as sad as you’d think, and it’s not an all-out tear fest. It’s just like any other book, just with a much darker subject matter.

And finally, number three deserves its own paragraph. This is one of those few books where I like all of the main and supporting characters. Owen, the narrator and main character of the story, is quiet and easily lovable boy you wish you knew in real life. He seems considerably more vulnerable compared to the other characters. Frank, the other male of the group, is mainly described as an awkward-looking “jock” who really likes beer and hates his father. Jin-Ae is the only gay member of the group, and also a cutter with a love for poetry. Audrey, the youngest member of the group, is an extremely outspoken Nirvana fanatic with a buzz cut and a large scar across her forehead. Despite their total oppositeness, together they make one awesome pack.

I’m kind of rambling now, but you get the main idea. As a whole, the book is great, and I believe everyone should take the time to read it at least once in their lifetime. This book is very underrated, so if you do read it or have read it before, please let me know what you think of it. (I haven’t found one person yet who has read it, and everyone I try to convince thinks it looks too depressing.) Have a great night, and happy June! 🙂

-J

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Crank Series by Ellen Hopkins (Crank, Glass, Fallout)

CrankGlassFallout

“Crank is more than a drug. It’s a way of life. You can turn your back. But you can never really walk away.”
-Kristina/Bree, Crank

So I’ve done it. After thinking about it for 50+ reviews,  I’ve finally made a full series post. Now this is as weird for you as it is for me, so please bear with me as I try this out.

The first book in the series, Crank, tells the story of Kristina, described as “gifted high school junior, quiet, never any trouble.” One day, when she decides to visit the father who has been missing all of her life, she discovers a powerful drug: crystal meth. Soon Kristina’s life is changed forever as she falls deeper into lies, trouble, and addiction.

In Glass, Kristina continues to struggle with her addiction, but with all new problems. As everything around her falls apart, she’ll have to find new ways to get with the monster, and they won’t be pretty.

Fallout takes place nineteen years after the events in Crank, and is told by Kristina’s teenage children, Hunter, Autumn, and Summer. Although their lives are completely different, they have one thing in common: their mother has torn their families apart, forcing them to live separately (and in some cases, without knowledge of each other). But when their paths intersect, their individual lives will be changed forever.

These books are impossible to put down. I know I would’ve had them all read within a few days if it weren’t for my final exams this week. The series is, like Ellen Hopkins’s other novels, not for the faint-hearted, and as real as it gets. Also, I commend the author for her incredible talent of being able to write a teenager’s point of view flawlessly, no matter the subject matter or age range.

The character of Kristina in the first book, Crank, was especially relatable to me due to the description of her personality (quoted above), and I think that made me like the first book a lot more. It is really interesting to see how someone like Kristina could turn down the dark road of crystal meth so easily, and how it affects everyone around her. By Glass, though, the story starts to drag on a little. It feels like most of it is being repeated, or that the words don’t matter and are only there to take up space. I became bored with this book very quickly, and feared that the final book of the series would be even worse. But, I can gratefully tell you, Fallout was my favorite of the three.

The narrator change is what made Fallout interesting to me right from the start. Books are always more exciting with separate narrators, considering you have three different voices, three different points of view, three different lives instead of one throughout the whole 500+ page novel. But the change in narrator wasn’t the only thing that made this addition the best.

Although it makes me upset to finish a series, the final book is usually my favorite. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows of the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, Everlasting of the Immortals series by Alyson Noel, and Fallout of the Crank series by Ellen Hopkins all have that in common, for two main reasons: one, the climax is biggest and best thing the author can possibly think of; and two, the author always finds a way to tie all of the previous events together perfectly. This denouement, as my English teacher says, is so exciting to me. And the final book in the Crank series fits this description well.

I hope this extra-long series review was worth the thirteen-day wait for me to post again. This review was exhausting, so I think I’m going to stick with some single books for a while until I’m ready for another hour-long reviewing session. Please let me know what you think of the series review style and whether you think I should do this for every series I review. Thank you so much for reading, and have a great summer!

-J

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hollowmen by Amanda Hocking

Hollowmen

“I know you wish things were different, but they aren’t. This is the way things are, Remy. And they’re not going back to the way they used to be, no matter how much you want them to.”
-Max

As the sequel to Hollowland, Hollowmen starts off six months after its predecessor left off. Other than a few, this book introduces numerous new characters, and is much more heartbreaking than you’d expect.

As you already know, my spoiler-free nature of reviewing causes problems when I review a series, so many that I sometimes consider making one long post for a series instead of one for each book. But I’ve already come this far, and I’m going to finish this review no matter how bad it sucks. So let’s get started.

I have a theory (one that many of my fellow GoodReads members share) that Amanda Hocking ended Hollowland how she did only because she wanted to write another book. She could have easily changed the ending, but I guess her way makes for more suspense leading up to the next in the series. That being said, Hollowmen starts off strong, with pain and suspense around every corner. The entire series is a fight for survival, and at times you may get so into the story that you feel the adrenaline or fear of other characters.

If you get attached to characters easily, this should not be one of your first choices. Hollowland didn’t have too many lovable characters die, if any, but its sequel is a different story. Don’t even think about liking a character t00 much, because in this book they’re either dead, zombified, or turn evil. (Or, in one particular character’s case, gone throughout the entire book.) It happened to me countless times before I realized it wasn’t going to stop. It’s painful and it sucks, but it makes for a good story.

Although I loved the other book, this one was much better in my opinion (despite the fact that all of my favorite characters died). The ending was very realistic, unlike what you usually see in apocalyptic stories, and it made me feel much more at ease. Its shortness makes for a quick and easy read, which unlike most, I really enjoyed.

If you’re looking for a totally awesome and underrated zombie novel, or just a quick and interesting read to get you through the day, Hollowland and its sequel Hollowmen would definitely be my top pick. (And if you do decide to check them out, please let me know, as I haven’t talked to anyone else who has read them and I’m eager to hear what they have to say.)

And finally, I am very pleased to announce that my GoodReads account is working again after re-creating it twice. You can find me at http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/18209699-j — I’ll follow back anyone and everyone, and I’ll respond to anything you send me, so please follow and send me messages! 🙂

-J

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hollowland by Amanda Hocking

Hollowland

“This is the way the world ends – not with a bang or a whimper, but with zombies breaking down the back door.”
-Remy

After zombies break into the quarantine where she lives, nineteen-year old Remy is on a mission: to find her brother, who has been taken to another quarantine several states away. Along with a thirteen-year old girl, a former rock star, and a doctor-in-training, Remy fights to survive the ongoing apocalypse and return to her only living family member.

The thing I’ve learned from reading the reviews of Hollowland on GoodReads is that people either really like it or absolutely hate it. I, fortunately, am one of the readers that loved this book. I truly think that it should be much more popular than it is and don’t fully understand why it isn’t.

Amanda Hocking has one problem with her writing: she hasn’t gotten the hang of developing supporting characters. I can’t say I know much about any of the characters except the main character and narrator, Remy. Sure, I know the basics, but I couldn’t really tell you much else about them. One review I read made a great point, one I (sadly) can’t share with you since it contains a spoiler about the ending of the book.

This was one of the first books I downloaded when I first got my Kindle last summer. Due to this, I can’t read/review its sequel, Hollowmen, since I can’t find the PDF online and can’t pay for it at the current time. Also, I apologize for the disappearance of my previous review, Rosebush, that deleted when I tried to post it (like what happened to my review of Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac not too long ago), and that I won’t be rewriting it. I spent half an hour writing it the first time, and it would be far too frustrating to try to write it again.

I’ll leave you on a lighter note: this is my 50th review, which means I’m halfway done with my 100 Book Challenge!

-J

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Where She Went

““A day might just be twenty-four hours but sometimes getting through one seems as impossible as scaling Everest.”
-Adam

The sequel to If I Stay is set three and a half years after the car accident that killed Mia’s family and put her into a coma. It is told from the point of view of Adam, Mia’s boyfriend during If I Stay. Adam’s band, Shooting Star, has risen to the top of the Billboard charts and granted him the fame he’s always wanted. But one night he spends in New York changes his life– and his opinion on music– when something he’d never expect happens. (I can’t say too much else about the plot without ruining the first book.)

Where She Went is just as great as its predecessor, which is a pretty big deal considering how awesome the first book was. You can really see the change of character in Adam from the first book to the second; it’s like he’s become a whole new person, leaving behind every trace of his old life for what he thought would be much better.

But, as always, I have one complaint. Gayle Forman has a tendency to use half of her books to tell the real story, and the other half as flashbacks. If I Stay was full of them, which was understandable since Mia was in a coma, but I think Where She Went took it a little too far. Being set three and a half years after the first book makes a huge gap in time, which is, understandably, filled with flashbacks. But there are also flashbacks of before the events in If I Stay, and then flasbacks that you’ve already heard in the first book but for some reason need to be retold by Adam. It just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.

Don’t mainly focus on my complaining, though. It’s a very minor complaint, one I was debating whether to even include in this review, and it really doesn’t take away from the great story. I’d recommend anyone who read and enjoyed If I Stay to read Where She Went immediately after, because I had my doubts about the sequel being worth anything at first, but was proven wrong (as I usually am when I question books).

I’m going to use the end of this review to inform any of you If I Stay fans that the film version is in production (hopefully soon), starring Chloë Grace Mortez (who starred in Kick-Ass and Let Me In) as Mia. Even though she’s nowhere near the Mia I had in my head as I was reading, she’s an incredible actress and I know she’ll do the part justice.

-J

Tagged , , , , , ,

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

If I Stay

“Please, Mia. Don’t make me write a song.”
-Adam

The day started out great: a snow day had been issued, and Mia Hall and her family were going to spend the day visiting her grandparents and some family friends. But in an instant, they are involved in a crash that claims the lives of her parents, and lands Mia and her brother under intensive treatment in the hospital. During an out-of-body experience, Mia realizes she will have to decide whether to continue her life or end it all.

If I Stay is one of those really tragic books that you can’t help but read over and over again. Half of the book is Mia’s experiences as she wanders around the hospital; the other half tells of flashbacks from before the accident. It’s really suspenseful, mainly due to the fact that for most of the book you don’t even know if Mia’s brother is still alive, nor do you know if Mia will decide to let herself go or force herself to live without her parents. But I really love the element of music featured in this book, from Mia’s classical cello style to her family’s and boyfriend’s punk-rock obsession.

Mia goes through serious hell in this book, besides her parents’ death. Some of the flashbacks and memories she tells of are really depressing, and involve a lot of death as well. Also, the car-crash scene is very graphic, so if you’re squeamish, I’d advise you to either skip over those pages or just don’t read the book at all. It probably wouldn’t be a good idea, considering there are full explanations of her parents’ appearance after the crash.

-J

Tagged , , , , , , , ,