Tag Archives: disease

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The Fault in Our Stars

“That’s the thing about pain. It demands to be felt.”
-Augustus Waters

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

Once again, I’ve used the easy way out in copying the description from the book sleeve, but it’s just to be on the safe side. This is truly an amazing book, and I wouldn’t want to spoil anything in it.

I know I’ve said this before, but John Green is one of my favorite authors. Even before, when all I had read by him was Looking for Alaska, he was still good enough to be one of my favorites automatically. Now, reading The Fault in Our Stars has just intensified my adoration for his books and writing style.

There aren’t many books that can actually make me laugh out loud. Not saying I don’t laugh at anything, it’s just that most humor in books fails in making me laugh. So far, I’ve only found two exceptions: the Harry Potter books and John Green’s books. The wittiness of Isaac and Augustus, and some of the weird metaphorical conversations between Hazel and Augustus are just great.

And, once again, I’m excited to say that the film adaption comes out sometime next year. I don’t totally agree with the cast that has been chosen, but I refuse any more judgment until I actually see the film, which I’m sure will be nearly as incredible as the novel.

Until next time, my dears.

-J

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The Maze Runner Trilogy by James Dashner (The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials, The Death Cure)

maze-runner-trilogy

“If you ain’t scared… You ain’t human.”
-Alby, The Maze Runner

First thing’s first, I apologize for not posting in nearly a month. The review for The Book Thief was supposed to be up next, but it somehow disappeared right before I posted it, and I wasn’t about to spend another hour rewriting. So, no review for that one for now. Within the next year I’ll probably end up re-reading it, so you’ll see one eventually (and one for the movie 😉 ). Also, a quick note before I get to the review: when I got these three books from the library, I also got The Kill Order, which is the prequel to this trilogy, but I’ve decided not to post it right away for a few reasons. And now to the review.

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls.

Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every thirty days a new boy has been delivered in the lift.

Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers.

Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.

(Summary courtesy of Goodreads.com.)

I believe that is the same summary found on the inside cover of the book. I knew I couldn’t do a summary of the first without giving away any spoilers, so it’s probably best to let someone else do it for me. I won’t give summaries of the second and third books because of spoilers, so I’ll just go right into the review.

These books reminded me of something that The Hunger Games fans would like. It’s definitely a survival story, and that becomes even more evident in The Scorch Trials and The Death Cure. Thomas does remind me a lot of Katniss, in his attitude and independence despite what others tell him to do. And a lot of the other characters between the books compare to each other, like Chuck and Prim, and Janson and President Snow. You’ll even find tons of results after looking up “similarities between The Maze Runner and The Hunger Games.” But in my opinion, the first book in each series are the only ones with real similarities.

If I had to describe this trilogy with a few words: action-packed, scary, vengeful, and sad. It’s like a survival thriller mixed with sci-fi, with zombies thrown in. (Well, they’re not exactly zombies, but they’re pretty close.)

One thing I love about this series is the variety of characters. You’ve got the good guys and the bad guys, the people you aren’t sure about, the people you think are bad guys and end up being good guys, and vice versa. There are big debates about love/hate relationships with certain characters, the love triangle that starts in The Scorch Trials, and more. All I can say is, in order to spark so many interesting debates on these topics, James Dashner must really know what he’s doing.

And finally, the movie. Whoever casted for this movie did an awesome job, in my opinion. I’m not totally happy with who they picked to play Frypan, but other than that, everything is perfect. And the photos that are already up on the IMDB page– wow. It looks like it’s going to be an incredible film adaption, and I can’t wait to see it when it comes out.

Well, folks, that’s all for today. I’ll be back with another full-series review soon, and possibly a Halloween-themed post before that. Until then!

-J

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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

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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

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Deadline by Chris Crutcher (with bonus list)

Deadline

“Love, in the universal sense, is unconditional acceptance. In the individual sense, the one-on-one sense, try this: we can say we love each other if my life is better because you’re in it and your life is better because I’m in it. The intensity of the love is weighed by how much better.”
-Hey-Soos

When Ben Wolf discovers he has a terminal disease and has only a year left to live, he decides to make his last year worth it. He decides against telling anyone, even his family, and against getting treatment, so he won’t have to spend his last year weak and bed-ridden. He also decides to spend this last year doing anything and everything he’s always wanted to do (or anything he can do within his small town).

I don’t think I could’ve saved a better book for last. It was unbelievably difficult to even find a quote for this post– there were way too many. Not only from the spiritual Hey-Soos (and no, I did not spell that wrong), but from countless others as well. You could literally flip to any page in this book and find a great quote.

There were so many things going on in this book, I don’t know where to begin. The last sentence of the description on the back cover says, “But living with a secret isn’t easy… What will Ben do when he realizes he’s isn’t the only person who’s keeping one?” And that sentence alone pretty much sums up the entire book. Almost every character Ben comes into contact with has a huge secret, or at least a big problem. And it is fascinating.

Now I’m rambling, and I don’t want to keep going in fear of giving anything else away, so I’ll end it on this note: Deadline is easily one of the greatest books I’ve ever read.

And, finally, since I promised you a bonus list in the title of this post, and since I’ve finished all of my Christmas books, here’s

J’s List of Top 12 Best Books Reviewed So Far
*No particular order*

  • The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne — read it in a day, bawled, then watched the movie, bawled
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky — I want to be friends with Patrick. Badly.
  • Saving June by Hannah Harrington — just all-around awesome, and I could only dream of going on a road trip as cool as this.
  • Deadline by Chris Crutcher — see above review 🙂
  • Going Bovine by Libba Bray — very weird, but very cool.
  • The Burn Journals by Brent Runyon — one of my favorite nonfictions.
  • Luna by Julie Anne Peters — a great portrayal of struggling with becoming transgender/dealing with BIID
  • Right Behind You by Gail Giles — Gail Giles is just perfect anyway, but this was my favorite of hers.
  • Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher — after reading only one of his books, he became one of my favorite authors.
  • A Child Called “It” by Dave Pelzer — an incredible story of torture, determination, and survival.
  • Such a Pretty Girl by Laura Wiess — an unpredictable ending that makes the whole book ten times better.
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey — technically a classic, but still amazing. (Also, the movie was nearly just as good.)
I couldn’t bear to leave out two of these marvelous books, so I made it a top 12 instead of the usual top 10. Anyway, it took me quite a while to separate my favorites from the ones I just liked, so hopefully you all enjoy this list. Below is a much smaller list of the books I didn’t like as much. (Let the whining begin.)
J’s List of Top 5 Worst Books Reviewed So Far
*No particular order*
  • The Dream Where the Losers Go by Beth Goobie — stupid, stupid, stupid.
  • Candy by Kevin Brooks — didn’t live up to expectations at all.
  • Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger — could have been so much better than it was, plus the Christmas scene was dreadful.
  • Beastly by Alex Flinn — if you really want to know, read my review, but prepare yourself for some serious complaining.
  • The Morgue and Me by John C. Ford — so terrible, I didn’t even finish it. That’s why you didn’t see a review for it on here.

-J

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Before I Die by Jenny Downham

Before I Die

“Keep breathing. Just keep doing it. It’s easy. In and out.”
-Tessa Scott

Tessa Scott is a teenager who has been fighting lymphoblastic leukaemia since she was twelve. Knowing she isn’t getting any better and her time is running out, Tessa arranges a list of things she’d like to do before she dies. And starting tonight, she’s going out with her best friend Zoey to accomplish number one on the list: sex.

One of the reviews featured on the back cover of the book says “I defy anyone not to cry while reading this.” I’ve seen things like that on multiple books, so I just blew it off, even though I already knew it would be an extremely sad book. And I didn’t cry throughout the book… until it was nearing the end, and I began to tear up. Soon I was full-on crying, and then the book ended, leaving me feeling hollow.

And though I only finished this book about ten minutes ago, looking back at my reaction made me realize that in order to do that, this book had to be awesome.

From the beginning, I thought I was going to hate this book. The first few chapters of the book is just sex, drugs, and more sex, definitely not typical for a YA book. But I went along with it, and I’m so glad I did.

All in all, to me it wasn’t good enough to pass up the others and be considered a favorite, but it was still a great book and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. And the review on the front is a hundred percent accurate: “A book that will make you happy to be alive.”

-J

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13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

13 Little Blue Envelopes

“I like you because you were mad. And you’re pretty. And pretty sane for a mad person.”
-Keith Dobson

Although it seemed interesting, this was another of those books that I thought I would absolutely despise from the very beginning. It seemed a little too girly for my taste, and the review on the back that said something like “fairy-tale ending” didn’t help. But I was wrong, as I usually am with books I’m unsure about.

The summer before she starts her senior year of high school, Ginny Blackstone receives thirteen envelopes in the mail from her Aunt Peg, who died of brain cancer while travelling across Europe. The instructions in the envelopes are simple, leading Ginny on the same route her aunt travelled on. As Ginny follows her aunt’s directions, she wonders why she was sent to Europe in the first place, and what the last envelope will contain.

It was upsetting to see the book end so quickly, but I enjoyed the experience. Throughout her travels, Ginny meets so many kind and strange people that you already know she’ll never see again after the trip. Some of the envelopes make her do odd or unusual things, all while making you question the purpose of the trip.

I do have one small complaint about this book, though. I saw one review on GoodReads that criticized Maureen Johnson for not developing the character of Ginny more. The review said something along the lines of “Even at the end of the book, I still knew nothing about her.” And it’s true, kind of. The only things I can say to describe her is that she’s tall, according to another character named Keith, and shy, judging by her reluctance to ask a boy out or sing karaoke. That’s all. So, yes, I believe Maureen Johnson really needs to work on character development.

And that’s pretty much all I have to say. I really, really hope this review actually publishes, unlike the last two I tried to publish that completely disappeared. If anything does happen to this review, please comment or email me to let me know.

-J

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The Last Summer of the Death Warriors by Francisco X. Stork

The Last Summer of the Death Warriors

“It’s a declaration of intent. In the case of the Death Warrior, it is a public declaration of how the Death Warrior is going to live his life.”
-D.Q.

Pancho, a boy whose goal is to avenge his sister’s death, and D.Q., a boy struggling with brain cancer, couldn’t be less similar. But after Pancho moves to St. Anthony’s, a home for orphaned teenagers, the two become fast friends. And when D.Q. takes Pancho with him to get treatments, Pancho is introduced to a life like he’s never expected.

This is another one of those books that I can barely type a summary for without giving something away. Believe me, I know that was a terrible summary, but don’t judge the book from that. It actually was an alright book, even though it could get boring at points and it wasn’t really my type.

There isn’t much of a central conflict in the story; it’s pretty much just a cause-and-effect kind of book. Pancho and D.Q. have this whole schedule, so for the most part you know what to expect. It’s not very exciting or anything; it’s more of a feeling kind of book, if that makes any sense.

Let me try to explain. D.Q. is dying from brain cancer, like I said earlier. But he refuses to mope around about it and would rather live every moment of his remaining life to its full extent. So there’s a lot of inspiring and deep quotes from this kid and stuff like that.

I expected a lot more, to be honest. The back cover made it seem so exciting, and it was anything but. Sorry if I’m giving you mixed signals with this review, but even I don’t know what my feelings are toward this book.

-J

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Going Bovine by Libba Bray

Going Bovine

“The dark does not weep for itself because there is no light. Rather, it accepts that it is the dark.”
-Balder

After being diagnosed with mad cow disease with no hope for a cure, loser Cameron Smith becomes everyone’s hero overnight. While staying in the hospital, an angel named Dulcie visits him in the middle of the night and tells Cameron he has to search for the cure in order to find it. He takes with him a Spanish dwarf named Gonzo and they travel across the country, meeting all sorts of unusual people, villians, and Viking gods as they look for not only a cure for disease, but a cure for the end of the world.

This book poses the possibility of so many different things, such as “What would happen if there were nothing but happiness?” and “If you only had one wish to base your life on, what would it be?” It’s definitely the kind of book to make you think right up until the end.

I know you guys probably hate my nerdy comparisons, but I can’t resist this one. This is the only way I can think of to make you understand what reading this book is like. Going Bovine, to me, is a lot like the movie Total Recall (both the Arnold Schwarzenegger one and the Colin Farrell remake)– the best part about it is the fact that throughout the whole thing, you don’t know if most of it was real or not. I’ll provide you with some examples–without spoilers, of course:

In Total Recall, Douglas Quaid uses a sort of memory-implanting device called Rekall to see what his life would be like as a secret agent. Just as it’s about to take effect, the people who have set up the device for him learn that he’s not who he appears to be and try to kill him. The basic plot of the movie revolves around the whole idea of “Is this whole thing really happening, or is it just part of the Rekall?”

In Going Bovine, Cameron is diagnosed with mad cow disease and told the symptoms he will face, incluidng dementia and hallucinations. After a few nights in the hospital, he is visited by a punk-rock angel and told he needs to search for the cure if he wants to find it. Everything he encounters on his crazy adventure could very well be a hallucination from his disease, but who knows?

This book is pretty intense. You have to be open to all possibilities while reading it, or you probably won’t like it at all. I was really skeptical about reading this, but now it’s within my favorites of my new books (and yes, I do say that a lot, but I truly believe this one passes up almost all of the others). It’s definitely an adventure you won’t want to miss out on, and an adventure I’m glad I decided to take.

-J

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