Friday, June 17, 2011

A parade of books

Just a quick review of some of the books I've read lately that I wanted to mention but didn't feel like writing a whole post about.

"Amy & Roger's Epic Detour," by Morgan Matson
Amy, who's having trouble dealing with her father's recent death, is asked by her mother (who's already at their new home in Connecticut) to bring their car from California to Connecticut. Only Amy doesn't drive. So enter Roger, a family friend, who's going to do the driving. Pretty much right from the start they deviate from Amy's mother's careful plan and go all sorts of places that end up helping both of them with their issues.

This a solid YA romance/dealing-with-issues book. I think if I read it at almost any other time, I would've been 100 percent in love with it and raved about it at length, but for some reason, it didn't hit the spot for me this time. Maybe in a couple months I'll try it again and see how it goes.

"Dreamland Social Club," by Tara Altebrando
Jane moves with her father and brother to Coney Island, where they have inherited a house from her grandfather. Quite, plain Jane meets all sorts of crazy/interesting people at her school but has some issues with her new friends when they discover that her father might be in charge of building the new contested roller coaster. At the same time, Jane is also finding out things about her mother, who grew up on Coney and who died when Jane was six.

So on the one hand, I loved this book, because I thought Coney Island made an awesome setting. Most contemporary YA's don't have much of a setting; they tend to take place in these nondescript towns, because it's the plot that's important not the place. But the setting in this book is practically it's own character, and it gives the book this really funky atmosphere that's easy to lose yourself in. However, other elements of this book I didn't love quite so much. One was Jane herself, she just faded into the background too much. I understand that she's supposed be shy and unassuming, but she's the main character, for pete's sake. She should stand out at least a little. And the other thing the annoyed me was the whole romance she has with Leo. It left me completely unsatisfied--and that's all I'm going to say so I don't ruin anything.

"Delirium," by Lauren Oliver
Lena lives in a world where love has been declared a disease, and everyone must take the cure when they turn 18. Lena is excited to be cured--she's looking forward to the calm and security that comes with it. But then, a couple months before she's scheduled to be cured, she falls in love--and of course, that changes her whole perspective.

I was really looking forward to this book, and as a result it let me down a little. I mean, it was an interesting read, for sure. But I found myself skimming and wondering how much longer it was until the end. I don't know why. I think it was partly because I never connected to Lena, and partly because the story got pretty predictable pretty fast. Overall, I did enjoy it, but I doubt I'm going to read the sequel.

"Divergent," by Veronica Roth
Beatrice lives in a city controlled by five factions: Abnegation (selflessness), Amity (kindness), Dauntless (courageous), Candor (honesty), and Erudition (intelligence). When they're 16, each person must take a test that tells them which faction they're best suited for, then the person can choose either that faction or the faction they grew up in. When Beatrice is tested, it turns out she's Divergent--she fits in more than one faction--which is dangerous in that society, so she can't tell anyone about it. At her choosing ceremony Beatrice joins Dauntless over Abnegation, her home faction, surprising everyone. But once she joins Dauntless she has to undergo really intense initiation training, and she begins to discover that all is not right in the relationship between the factions.

I totally love this book! Really. I basically couldn't put it down. I loved Tris (the name Beatrice chooses for herself when she joins Dauntless) so much--it's been a long time since I've found such a likable character in a action-based book. Tris isn't too tough, but she isn't too whiny either. Plus, she totally kicks some serious butt. The fact that Four (Tris's love interest) is completely awesome probably helped my infatuation with the book too. And the plot was totally engrossing--like I said, I couldn't put it down. I definitely recommend this one. Bring on the sequel!

"Just Like Heaven," by Julia Quinn
I don't really remember enough about this book to summarize it, to be honest. But it's basically a fluffy romance that's along the same lines as all of Julia Quinn's recent books. Aka, it was fun and enjoyable, but it didn't have much substance. Don't get me wrong, it was funny and I liked it, but it was also pretty forgettable.

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