Tag Archives: suspense

The Divergent Trilogy (Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant) by Veronica Roth

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“A brave man acknowledges the strength of others.”
-Four, Divergent

Many years in the future, the city of Chicago has been split into five factions: Abnegation, the selfless; Amity, the peaceful; Candor, the honest; Dauntless, the brave; and Erudite, the intelligent. Each faction has specific jobs and requirements that must be made in order to join. At the age of sixteen, a choice must be made: whether to leave the faction of your parents that you’ve grown up in, or to transfer to another faction. After a simulation that is supposed to show her what her strongest aptitude is, Beatrice Prior learns that she is Divergent, or has equal aptitude for three different factions. This revelation causes her to rethink her previous idea about the factions, and her decision will transform her into a completely different person.

I tried to write that summary without any spoilers, so I apologize if it seems a little vague and uninteresting, because it’s truly anything but. The Divergent trilogy is reminiscent of trilogies like The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner, due to the dystopian future and survival themes, and this trilogy is just as action-packed and compelling. If it weren’t for the trouble I had finding the second and third books, I would’ve had this entire series read within a few days.

Not only do I love the action and suspense in these books, but the numerous themes are also a big deal to me. It’s like Veronica Roth just decided to write about absolutely everything she could think of to try to fit the books into every category possible. And I don’t just mean that this is an action/romance/sci-fi/suspense novel, but the fact that she decided to take nearly every problem a person could be faced with and let the characters struggle with them. The ability to do all of that and still make it work, I think, is what makes this series even more incredible than it would have been.

This trilogy also has a growing fandom, and that fact is an even better reason to try out these books. Although Allegiant, the final book in the trilogy, was released only two months ago, Veronica Roth has already announced a series of short stories from Four’s point of view will be published as an anthology in February. Additionally (and yes, I realize I’ve been ending a lot of my reviews with this sort of statement, but that just means they’re good books, right?), the film adaption for Divergent will be out in March, starring Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort (who will also be playing Augustus and Hazel in the The Fault in Our Stars film adaption) as Beatrice and her brother Caleb.

I’m going to use the end of this post to do a little promotion for the Divergent Fandom WordPress blog, in case you’ve already read the series and want to check it out. It’s a great site that you should definitely check into if you’ve read and enjoyed the series. Thanks for reading, and happy New Year!

-J

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The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

“You don’t pass or fail at being a person, dear.”
– Mrs. Hempstock

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is an unusual story told by an unnamed narrator about the childhood he has just remembered after sitting by the “ocean,” the lake in his old friend Lettie Hempstock’s yard.That’s really all I can say about the book without spoiling anything, so this will be a pretty short review for a pretty short book.

Overall, I have mixed feelings about this book. While I was reading, I didn’t want to stop. It was suspenseful, it was strange, and it was like I had been transported into Neil Gaiman’s little fantasy world. Sure, all of his books are unusual in a way, but this one was a little more so than the others I’ve read. And although I did really like it while I was reading, I’d become a little disappointed by the time it was over. Like I needed more, like it couldn’t be over so soon. Not as if it needs a sequel– I just feel he left too much unexplained and he should’ve  had an extra chapter or something. The ending was the only thing I really didn’t like about the book, but looking back on how odd the entire thing was, I’m surprised I even liked it at all.

And once again, like I’ve been ending a lot of my reviews lately, I hear about a possible film adaption produced by Tom Hanks. I don’t know if I can picture the book actually becoming a movie, but I’m excited nonetheless.

To conclude this review, I’d like to ask your opinion of whether I should post a review of the movie adaption of Catching Fire, which I recently went to see. Hopefully this will work out, since this is the first time I’ve ever linked a poll into a post. Vote on it below, and I’ll see you next time!

-J

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The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

“People want to forget the impossible. It makes their world safer.”
-Silas

After his family was murdered when he was just a baby, Nobody “Bod” Owens grew up in a graveyard, parented by the ghosts of a married couple and guarded by a tall, dark, mysterious man named Silas who is neither living nor dead. The man who killed his family is still out there, waiting until the time is right to finish him off as well. And although the graveyard protects him, Bod wants to explore and meet others like him– which means exposing himself to his family’s killer.

The premise of this book is mysterious and strange, but beautiful nonetheless. It’s not your average fantasy story, of course; it’s bent on showing the “good side” of monsters and creatures we were all afraid of as children, while still being extremely dark.

I really liked the book while reading it, but I think the fan theory about Silas was what made me step up into loving the book. The theory that Silas is actually a vampire never occurred to me while I was reading, but after thinking about it, it made a lot of sense (actually, after thinking about it, I felt stupid for not getting it sooner– but apparently a lot of people were in my same situation) appreciate that Neil Gaiman didn’t stick to the vampire stereotypes that circle today. He was my favorite character in the book by far, and the realization that he was actually a vampire made me love him (and the book) even more.

Although I thought the book was absolutely great, I really disagree with one of the reviews featured in the version I read, which stated it was “a book for all ages.” The novel begins with a man murdering three people and attempting to murder a baby, and the entire plot circles around Bod not being allowed to leave the graveyard in case of being killed by the same man. There are creatures in the book called the Indigo Man and the Sleer, which I believe could definitely be nightmare-triggering to some children. And there’s a chapter where Bod is kidnapped by Ghouls and taken through what seemed to be a portal to the Ghoul world, which I definitely wouldn’t recommend any children to read. Yes, I do love how they portrayed werewolves and mummies and ghosts and vampires to be the good guys, but there are still bad guys in the book.

So, in general: Neil Gaiman is fantastic, The Graveyard Book is fantastic, Silas is fantastic, and I can’t wait to hear more. And, again, I’ve heard rumors of a movie going around. According to Wikipedia:

Irish Academy Award-winning filmmaker Neil Jordan signed on to write and direct a film adaptation, which as of January 2010 was in pre-production. In April 2012, however, rights to the adaptation were acquired by Walt Disney Pictures. Henry Selick, director of The Nightmare Before Christmas and the film adaptation of Gaiman’s novel Coraline has been chosen to direct The Graveyard Book. Like most of Selick’s other films, it is probable that the film will be stop-motion animated, although that decision has yet to be confirmed by Selick himself. However, in the wake of Disney choosing to cancel another Selick project, The Shadow King, Disney appears to be seeking another director, one possible candidate being Ron Howard.

A possible stop-motion film adaption in the future would be brilliant, in my opinion, as I loved Coraline and I could definitely see another of Neil Gaiman’s novels shining in stop-motion, especially certain characters.

Okay, well, I think that’s mostly it. Sorry about the delayed review once again– I was so caught up in the Doctor Who marathon and 50th anniversary episode that I didn’t even remember I’d finished this book. (By the way, Doctor Who— wow. I know I shouldn’t be discussing it here, and no spoilers for any fellow Whovians out there, but seriously… wowI’m absolutely thrilled.) I should have the review of the Hush, Hush series by Becca Fitzpatrick up either tomorrow or Monday, so I’ll see you soon!

-J

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Tempest by Julie Cross

Tempest

“Forget everything you think you know about time travel.”
-Jackson

Nineteen-year-old Jackson has a secret: he can time travel, but the things he can change in the past don’t affect the future. He hasn’t told anyone but his genius friend Adam, who is trying to help him understand the limits of his ability. But one day, two men appear and shoot Jackson’s girlfriend, Holly. He ends up jumping to a different time in surprise, and finds himself stuck in 2007– two years ago, before he had even met Holly. He spends his time getting to know Holly all over again, and in doing so finds out nearly everything he knew in his old life was a lie. Now Jackson is left wondering who to trust, and he must choose before time runs out and the so-called Enemies of Time come back for him…

You probably don’t know this considering the books I’ve been reviewing, but I’m really into things that mess with your head. Some film examples that immediately come to mind are The Butterfly Effect, The Prestige, Inception, and Frailty. I’m just going to assume that you’ve seen or heard of at least one of these incredible movies. Now, imagine one of those types of movies, but in book form. That’s kind of what Tempest was like: you think you know something, but then you get further in and realize you don’t know anything. And it just gets worse (and by worse, I mean better), because Tempest is a planned trilogy, with an added prequel.

So, I should probably say something about the book itself. In short, here’s what I’ve come up with:

  • Characters: awesome. Other than the obvious antagonists, I don’t think there was anyone I really disliked, and this doesn’t happen often.
  • Pace: perfect. At no point did I feel the story was moving too fast or slow, which made me not want to stop reading.
  • Twists/major revelations: awesome. Just awesome.
  • Action/suspense: yes.
  • Definitely not as confusing as I probably made it out to be.
  • Also, I commend this book for being one of the few with a female love interest who doesn’t totally suck. (*Cough, cough,* Martyn Pig; Jerk, California; and Twisted. Grrr.)

Well, there you have it. Short and sweet and straight to the point. If I had to grade this book, I’d say A-. (We can’t all be perfect.)

By next week I’ll most likely have up the series review for the Hush, Hush series by Becca Fitzpatrick, which is a paranormal romance sort of thing. I haven’t reviewed many books of this genre, so it should be interesting. Hope to see you then!

-J

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

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“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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Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson

Before I Go to Sleep

“I cannot imagine how I will cope when I discover that my life is behind me, has already happened, and I have nothing to show for it. No treasure house of collection, no wealth of experience, no accumulated wisdom to pass on. What are we, if not an accumulation of our memories?”
-Christine

One morning, Christine Lucas wakes up having no idea where the past twenty years of her life have gone. A man who claimed to be her husband has left for work after explaining she has amnesia, and another man claiming to be her doctor has given her a journal she’s supposedly been keeping over the last few weeks. Confused and scared, she reads, unraveling everything she’s found out about her past and present and discovering what’s really been going on for all of this time.

I’m going to start off by saying this is one of my all-time favorite books, and I’m recommending it to anyone 13 or older. The reason I say that is it has a little bit of adult content, and having read this for the first time at the end of my eighth grade year, I remember feeling awkward reading those parts (and still do, being a sophomore now). Either way, the graphic content of the book is slim, and I’m sure it would be fine for most ages. The book is split into three parts: the beginning, where Christine awakens and can’t remember anything until she reads the journal; the actual journal entries that fill in the past few weeks; and what happens after she finishes reading. The entire book is filled with suspense, twists, and revelations, complete with an ending you’ll never forget.

And, if you still need a little persuading before you decide to read, check this out:

Before I Go to Sleep is the first novel by S. J. Watson published in Spring 2011. It became both a Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller and has been translated into over 30 languages, and has become a bestseller in France, Canada, Bulgaria and the Netherlands.It reached number 7 on the US bestseller list, the highest position for a debut novel by a British author since J. K. Rowling. The New York Times described the author as an “out-of-nowhere literary sensation”.

That’s from the beginning of the Wikipedia article, which also mentions that the film adaption will be coming out in 2014, with Nicole Kidman cast as Christine. This is big, guys. And I’m using this film adaption to convince more and more people to read it– I know I’m not one to see a movie based on a book without reading the book first, unless it’s purely by accident– in which case, I have to read the book immediately afterward.

So there you have it. Go read this book as soon as you possibly can, and let me know what you think (without spoilers, of course, for anyone who hasn’t read it). Thanks for reading, and hope to see you again soon!

-J

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Identical by Ellen Hopkins

Identical

“I will probably die before he does. Dying, for Daddy, would be the ultimate defeat. But death doesn’t scare me. To know exactly when I might expect it, up close and in my face, would actually be a comfort. Because to tell the truth, most of the time dying seems pretty much like my only means of escape.”
-Kaeleigh

Identical twins Kaeleigh and Raeanne may seem the same on the outside, but they lead completely different lives. Raeanne uses drugs, sex, and purging to settle her inner demons, while Kaeleigh turns to bingeing, drinking, and self-harm. Raeanne has relationships with numerous guys, while Kaeleigh struggles to keep one. Despite their differences, their explanations are the same: their father sexually abuses Kaeleigh consistently, while Raeanne is forced to keep quiet and stay away. But after years of enduring this torture, it comes to be too much for either twin to handle alone– but who will step up and release the other?

One word can easily describe this entire 560+ page book: powerful. It’s not for the faint of heart, and definitely don’t read it if you don’t expect to cry in the near future. And I’m not just referring to the twins’ lives– even some of the minor characters’ backstories are tear-inducing. There isn’t much else to say; Identical is one of those beautiful-in-a-sick-way novels that really makes you appreciate everything you take for granted.

Without revealing any spoilers (which is the absolute last thing I want to do, considering the huge one in this book), I think the ending of the novel is definitely a topic of discussion. It packs a punch, no doubt about that, and may even require a second read-through for you to fully get your head around. Once again, no spoilers, but I have to compare it to The Prestige. It was the first psychological thriller/twist-ending movie I’d seen since I watched The Sixth Sense at a young age, and to this day it has stuck with me and has become one of my all-time favorite movies. That’s exactly how Identical was for me: I think it’s safe to say the ending of this book was unlike any other I’ve read, and I need to find more like it.

Okay, I think that’s enough gushing in one day. I’ll have another review for you guys in a few days, and most likely it’ll be a big change from the reviews I’ve recently posted. This is a big year for books for me, and I hope you’re all as excited as I am. Have a great Labor Day weekend, and I’ll see you soon!

-J

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The Immortals Series by Alyson Noel (Evermore, Blue Moon, Shadowland, Dark Flame, Night Star, Everlasting)

The Immortals Series

“Today’s worries are yesterday’s fears and tomorrow’s stories.” 

I’m not sure how many of you guys read my little note on my 100 Book Challenge page, but in case you didn’t and don’t feel like going back, I’ll just give you a quick explanation. I was planning on rereading Heaven Is for Real, that short and sweet book that’s been crazy popular for a while now, and reviewing it for you guys in a whiny but professional manner– as I usually do when I dislike a book, even a little bit. However, constant family issues and other personal problems posed a threat. I was a complete mess for a while and didn’t once think about my blogs. So one day, while I was a little cooled off, I decided to cancel the 100 Book Challenge and take a break from blogging for a while. And during my break, I finally finished Heaven Is for Real (it took me nine days total because of everything that was going on– which is sort of embarrassing considering that book is tiny) and reread the Hunger Games series and Immortals series. (No reviews for the Hunger Games series, though, just because I don’t know what I would say other than how much I love the books and how much I’m in love with the character of Finnick.)

But what I really came here to say is: Break’s over, guys. J’s back. And now, it’s back to the most popular time on this blog: reviewing time.

The Immortals series is an action-packed fantasy told from the point of view of Ever Bloom, a sixteen-year-old who recently lost her family to a devastating car crash. Ever wades through her new life in California, hiding beneath loud music and hoods to block out the constant noise that comes with the psychic powers she gained after the near-death experience. That is, until she meets Damen, who seems to be the one person that she can’t read– the one person who silences everything around her– the one person she can’t help but feel attracted to. But Damen is hiding a secret himself, and when it is revealed, it will change both of their lives forever.

Considering the name of the series, I highly doubt what I’m about to mention would be considered a spoiler. But, if you’re still determined not to learn a single thing that could be “spoiler-ish”, you may want to stop reading now.

In the first book, Evermore, we get a background on Ever’s life and how she adjusts to her new school and powers. She uses loud music to block out the endless stream of thoughts coming from everyone around her, avoids touching people at all costs for risk of seeing their entire life story, and learns to deal with seeing everyone’s aura and talking to the ghost of her little sister, Riley (who, eventually, got her own series, which I haven’t read yet but would really like to). Then we meet Damen, who arouses Ever’s suspicions when she can’t read his mind, can’t see his aura, and gets nothing with a touch. He seems to read her mind at times, taking her suspicions even further until he reveals his secret: Damen is immortal, and had made Ever immortal after the crash that claimed her family.

There’s never a dull moment in this six-part series, which constantly reveals new secrets, problems, and enemies. It’s exciting, it’s romantic, it’s philosophical– it’s everything you could ask for in a fantasy series. And just when you think you know everything, a new problem appears.

Just like with most series I read, the final book, Everlasting, was my favorite. After everything that had happened in the previous novels, I constantly wondered what Alyson Noel could do for a big finale without turning one of my favorite characters against them (as she had previously done, but I won’t get into that). The series definitely went out with a bang, though, and I loved every minute of it.

Although, numerous Goodreads users disagree entirely. I’d say it’s about a fourth of the readers out there that hate this series with a passion. I can tell they’re frustrated because Ever always seems to make terrible decisions under pressure– but Alyson Noel has her admit to it being her weak point, and besides, without terrible decisions, how could there be a plot in the first place? So yes, Immortals series-haters, I do understand where you’re coming from, because Ever’s decisions have frustrated me beyond belief as well. But everyone makes bad decisions at some point in their lives, and Alyson Noel is just acting upon this common weakness.

And before I wrap this review up and head off to bed, I want to take a minute to mention two things about Alyson Noel’s writing– one compliment, one constructive criticism. The compliment: I love how she uses unusual names for her characters. And although she does use them frequently in these books, she also uses them in other books– though I’ve yet to read all but one. A couple of my favorite names she has used are Echo, Ever, Haven, Evangeline, Misa, Rafe, Honor, Adelina, and Roman.

Now, some quick constructive criticism. Alyson Noel tends to recycle a lot of phrases when describing things, which tends to get somewhat annoying. While I’m writing this, two big examples are jumping out at me: the Shadowland and the Great Halls of Learning. The Shadowland first came into play in the eponymous third novel of the series, Shadowland, and was described as “The Shadowland. The home for lost souls.” And in every book since then, that’s exactly how she describes it. Along with the Great Halls of Learning, which, during their first appearance in Blue Moon, the second installment of the series, were described using the same monuments and repetition of the word “facade”. And guess how she describes it in every other book it appears in?

Anyway, I think that’s enough for tonight. I hope you enjoyed my review, hope it was worth it after all of the time I’ve been off. And, although I just came back, I’m going on vacation soon, which basically means I won’t have time or a way to review. I’m using this time to reread the Harry Potter series, if I can, which I was planning to do soon anyway but would cause me to disappear for a while again. But since I recently got four new books, and have at least three that I’ve read but haven’t reviewed yet, I promise I’ll return with more reviews as soon as possible. Until then, keep enjoying the summer! 🙂

-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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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

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