Sunday, March 24, 2013

Review: Delirium Stories by Lauren Oliver

Review: Delirium Stories by Lauren Oliver

Publishing Date: March 5, 2013

Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 208 (Paperback)

My Rating: 5 of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads):

For the first time, Lauren Oliver's short stories about characters in the Delirium world appear in print. Originally published as digital novellas, Hana, Annabel, and Raven each center around a fascinating and complex character who adds important information to the series and gives it greater depth. This collection also includes an excerpt from Requiem, the final novel in Oliver's New York Times bestselling series.

 Hana is told through the perspective of Lena's best friend, Hana Tate. Set during the tumultuous summer before Lena and Hana are supposed to be cured, this story is a poignant and revealing look at a moment when the girls' paths diverge and their futures are altered forever.

 Lena's mother, Annabel, has always been a mystery--a ghost from Lena's past--until now. Her journey from teenage runaway to prisoner of the state is a taut, gripping narrative that expands the Delirium world and illuminates events--and Lena--through a new point of view.

 And as the passionate, fierce leader of a rebel group in the Wilds, Raven plays an integral role in the resistance effort and comes into Lena's life at a crucial time. Crackling with intensity, Raven is a brilliant story told in the voice of one of the strongest and most tenacious characters in the Delirium world.

Ok, so as far as who should read this, I seriously would not suggest reading these stories (except for Hana) if you have not already read Delirium and Pandemonium.  Otherwise, you should be fine.  I'll split this review up into each individual story, so this will be a 3-part review.

This is the first of the novellas that Lauren published, and I've been dying to read it ever since it came out.  I do not have an e-reader, though, so I restrained myself (I could not contain my excitement when they decided to publish all the stories in one paperback).

In Requiem, we get to see life from Hana's point of view.  In Requiem, however, Hana has already been cured.  So, even though it is extremely interesting to see life from a cured's POV, I've always wanted to see something from Hana's POV before she was cured.  And Hana offers us a glimpse into her mind that last summer she spent with Lena.

I'd say that of the 3 stories, Hana was the least mind-numbing, and yet still, it was entirely emotionally involved.

WELL.  Let's just say, have the tissues and a pint of your favorite ice cream ready.

This tells the story of Lena's mother as a teenager before they attempted to cure her, and also from her point of view in the crypts.

I never really liked Lena's mother in the primary works of the Delirium trilogy.  She seemed so distant, and almost abandoning of Lena.  And this story completely changes things.  You finally see her motives, her thoughts, and all that she's been through.  And I now think an entire series should be written just from Annabel's POV.

And... well... *sob*.


Raven's story was by far my favorite.  I think, after just having read Annabel, I was still totally wrapped up in her story, and completely expecting Raven to be a drag.  As much as I've always wanted to see something from Raven's POV, I still was not expecting it to be that good.  Little did I know.

Pretty much, this is all I can say about Raven:

So, if you're a Delirium fan, and you were thinking of skipping over these novellas just because you think that they won't add much to the story or that they will be a waste of time: DON'T.  It's worth every penny.  I promise.

Peace out Girl Scouts,

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Review: Prodigy by Marie Lu

Review: Prodigy by Marie Lu

Publishing Date: January 29, 2013

Publisher: Putnam Juvenile

Pages: 371 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 2 of 5 stars

Summary (From Goodreads): 

June and Day arrive in Vegas just as the unthinkable happens: the Elector Primo dies, and his son Anden takes his place. With the Republic edging closer to chaos, the two join a group of Patriot rebels eager to help Day rescue his brother and offer passage to the Colonies. They have only one request—June and Day must assassinate the new Elector.

 It’s their chance to change the nation, to give voice to a people silenced for too long.

 But as June realizes this Elector is nothing like his father, she’s haunted by the choice ahead. What if Anden is a new beginning? What if revolution must be more than loss and vengeance, anger and blood—what if the Patriots are wrong?

Warning- If you have not read Legend, the first book in the trilogy, there may be a few spoilers in this review.  Sorry guys. I'll start reading some first installments or stand-alones soon, I promise!

My expectations for Prodigy were sky high.  I expected this to be an awesome, adrenaline-filled, emotional, blow-it-out-of-the-park book.  Unfortunately, however, Prodigy met absolutely none of my standards.

First things first though: THERE IS HOPE.  At the end, I got somewhat emotionally involved (for the first time in the entire book), so it's possible that Champion (book 3) could be a complete mind-numbing blowout of a book.  Prodigy just didn't happen to be in my case.

For starters, Prodigy had the worst case of Bridge Book (basically Middle Child Syndrome for books) that I have seen in quite some time.  I've seen authors make their bridge books absolutely awesome before, but on average, most middle books in a series are exactly what the name implies: a bridge from the first book to the last book.  Prodigy was definitely one of them.  It just lacked emotion on my part.

Also, June seriously got on my nerves this time.  And she might have been likable, if Marie Lu had not written EVERY FLITTING THOUGHT THAT WENT THROUGH HER MIND.  I understand, you want to make a point that June pays attention to detail.  But I also do not need, or want, to know every little piece of information around her.  I do not care if "Ninety-two seconds later, we stop before a set of wide glass doors.  Then someone scans a thin card (about three by five inches large, black, with a reflective sheen and a gold Republic seal logo in one corner) across the entry screen."  Especially if that card had absolutely zero relevance to the scene.  I'm not recreating it.  I do not need its dimensions or its every single little detail.

She also keeps up with time on an inhuman level.  Not merely to the minute, but to the second.  NO ONE IN REAL LIFE KNOWS THAT IT'S BEEN EXACTLY 92 SECONDS THEY'VE BEEN WALKING DOWN A CORRIDOR. In Legend, June seemed very elite, but still human.  In Prodigy, however, she took on very robotic characteristics, and it got quite annoying.  Marie made it out to be that June had virtually no weaknesses.  Frankly, I can't stand a main character who knows and can do everything.  And that's more or less what June became in this book.

Moving away from June, let's talk about the dialect.  I normally never get mad at authors for putting dialect into their stories.  It has to be seriously bad for me to get annoyed.  But.  Marie did not use slang or dialect (to my recollection) in Legend, but she chose to in Prodigy.  Which seriously bugs me.  It would be fine if they were set years apart.  But there is only a week or two between the end of Legend and the beginning of Prodigy.  DIALECT AND SLANG DO NOT CHANGE IN THE COURSE OF TWO WEEKS.  She didn't even mildly work it in.  She added the word "..., yeah?" to the end of almost every. single. sentence.  And she made up a word, goddy, which she also proceeded to use at least 50 (or more) times in the novel.  I am all for an author using dialect or slang, but only if it is executed well.

In addition to all of that, the writing also felt somewhat childish to me.  There were several times that I though, "There is no way that an adult woman was writing this." Many parts of the book were ridiculous, irrational, or implausible.

Finally, the lack of emotional connection seriously irked me.  In several parts of this story, I felt like I was simply reading words on a page rather than being completely immersed in a story.  Any time there were serious moments, I had an urge to laugh.  I'm normally a person who gets emotionally involved in a book pretty easily.  But this book was so cheesy that I laughed through over half of the scenes that were supposed to come off as emotional or intense.

There were several moments when you could tell that Marie Lu was attempting to give the audience a good scare or to blow their minds.  But most of those moments were either super-predictable, or just kind of, "eh." Any time she was shooting for extreme emotion, I found myself with a severe lack of reaction.

So.  To say that I was disappointed with Prodigy is an understatement.  I expected so much from this book, and it certainly did not come to par in my opinion.  I've read several reviews of friends who liked it, but it just really irked me. I am a very detail-oriented person, and I feel like the details just weren't really thought about in this installment.  I will still most certainly read Champion, because I think Marie could pull off an awesome book if she writes as well as she did with Legend.  So, I'm crossing my fingers that Champion is the best book of them all, and hopefully the series can only go upward from this point.

Peace out, Girl Scouts,

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday (#4)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme held by The Broke and Bookish that asks readers to tell their top ten picks for the given list each week.

This week's topic: Top Ten books I HAD to buy, but are still sitting on my shelf unread

I don't really have a ton of these, but I do have enough unread classics laying around that someone should probably shoot me for my negligence.

1. The Riddle by Alison Croggon- I read the first in this series, The Naming, dying because I loved it so much, and still have never gotten around to reading the next one.
2. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen- I absolutely loved Pride and Prejudice.  When I finished reading it, slightly less than a year ago, I immediately had to start Sense and Sensibility.  I bought it, made it about 10 pages through, then quit because I was bored.  I still haven't gotten around to reading it.
3. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte- Sorry, guys.  I was on a British lit kick when I bought all this stuff. But I had just seen the movie (my parents got it for me for Christmas), and so of course, I had to read the book! But I never got around to it.
4. The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart- Ok, so in addition to British lit, I had a pretty big interest-in-King-Arthur kick when I saw some documentary or movie or something about him on History channel.  I can't really remember what it was that I saw, but I immediately had to go out and by a book on King Arthur.  What did it do, however? It sat on my shelf.  And it's been sitting there since a summer or two ago.  I feel kind of bad for it.
5. The Two Towers/ The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien- Oh, this is by far the worst.  I hide my face in shame at the fact that I haven't read these yet.  I read the first book, and it took me an eternity to do so, and so I just never started the second two.  They're still sitting on my shelf, begging for me to read them.  I really need to get to that.

Ok, so that is my list of bookish shame.  What about you guys?

Peace out Girl Scouts,

Monday, March 18, 2013

Review: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Review: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Publishing Date: February 5, 2013

Publisher: Fiewel and Friends

Pages: 452 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 5 of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads):  *Warning- there will be some major spoilers in the snippet if you have not read the first book in the series, Cinder.  I'm not really touching on Cinder's p.o.v. in Scarlet in this review, though, so it's still safe and spoiler-free :)  Just skip to the bottom of the dotted lines.  

The fates of Cinder and Scarlet collide as a Lunar threat spreads across the Earth...

 Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She's trying to break out of prison- even though if she succeeds, she'll be the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive.

 Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit's grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn't know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother's whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder.

Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

This is no average "Little Red Riding Hood" story.  No, in this tale, Little Red exchanges her riding hood for a red hoodie, and her somewhat childish name for a more feminine and "grown-up" version, Scarlet. This time, when Grandma goes missing, Scarlet pulls out the guns.  She will leave no stone un-turned until she finds her grandmother.  And in this tale, Scarlet chances upon an entirely different kind of wolf.

Set in futuristic France, Scarlet and her grandmother have been farmers for as long as she can remember.  She has lived with her grandmother since she was a little girl, and has barely spent any time away from her ever since she moved in.


One day, her grandmother disappears.  And Scarlet can't find her for weeks.  She has to keep up with the farm while she searches, though, so she has to trust the authorities to search while she keeps farming and dealing with clients.

Soon, on a delivery, Scarlet meets a very interesting person.  A street fighter named Wolf.  And thus began her adventures, along with an entirely new type of danger entering her life.  But she won't give up.  Not until she finds her grandmother.

Scarlet is a feisty chick.  She won't let someone tell her what she can and cannot do.  She knows what she wants, and she's not going to stop until she gets it.  She's a kick-butt heroine, and there's no way anyone but herself will define her.

Wolf.  Oh my goodness, Wolf.  I'd say he's pretty much unlike any male protagonist I've read in my life, ever.  Just... *swoon*.  He's there for Scarlet when she needs him, but he knows that she is strong enough to stand on her own.  He is strong, but not prideful.  He is caring, but careful to keep control of his emotions.  Wolf has his faults, like everyone else, but rather than not acknowledging them or even taking pride in them, he works to overcome them.  He pushes to be the best he can be.

There are some books that you must take in slowly.  Reading carefully, calmly, and making sure you really understand a sentence or paragraph before you move on.  Other books, you can read at a steady pace, happy and always moving forward, but stopping to smell the roses along the way.  Some books, however, you must devour.  You slip a toe into the water, only to discover that you're being pulled into the deep by a violent tide.  Scarlet is one of those books.

I began slowly, trying to ration out a certain amount of chapters or pages per day.  But no.  Once I began, I couldn't help myself.  I was constantly reading, caught up in the non-stop action.  It's a book that will leave you wondering where the time went, why it all went by so fast.  But it's beautiful, and you'll love it anyway.  It's worth every second of reading.  For every ounce of expectation you have after reading Cinder, it spits back tenfold the amount of emotion.

Favorite quote from the book:
"But her grandmother had never suggested she could think the same of Scarlet.  You'll be fine, she always said after a skinned knee, a broken arm, after her first youthful heartbreak.  You'll be fine, because you're strong, like me."

Peace out, Girl Scouts,

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Review: Requiem by Lauren Oliver

Review: Requiem by Lauren Oliver

Publishing Date: March 5, 2013

Publisher: HarperCollins

Pages: 391 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 5 of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): 

They have tried to squeeze us out, to stamp us into the past.
 But we are still here.
And there are more of us every day.

 Now an active member of the resistance, Lena has been transformed. The nascent rebellion that was under way in Pandemonium has ignited into an all-out revolution in Requiem, and Lena is at the center of the fight.

 After rescuing Julian from a death sentence, Lena and her friends fled to the Wilds. But the Wilds are no longer a safe haven—pockets of rebellion have opened throughout the country, and the government cannot deny the existence of Invalids. Regulators now infiltrate the borderlands to stamp out the rebels, and as Lena navigates the increasingly dangerous terrain, her best friend, Hana, lives a safe, loveless life in Portland as the fiancĂ©e of the young mayor.

 Maybe we are driven crazy by our feelings. Maybe love is a disease, and we would be better off without it. But we have chosen a different road. And in the end, that is the point of escaping the cure: We are free to choose.
 We are even free to choose the wrong thing.

WARNING: If you have not read the first two books in this trilogy, Delirium and Pandemonium, there WILL be spoilers in this review for those books.  

Now, on with the review.

Oh, how it hurts me to know that this is the final installment of the Delirium series.

But what goes up what must come down, just as what begins must end.  Even if it's beautiful.

Delirium holds the mark of a truly good book, in that it connects with you.  It connects with every piece of you, and you feel like you're there.  Like you're a part of it.  Like you're in love.  Like you're hurt.  Like you're scared.  I still strongly think that Alex is my first love. Because he is.  This story became a part of me, a part of my emotions.  It is by no means an average book.

Delirium, Pandemonium, and Requiem flow seamlessly.  They are set in a futuristic America where love is considered to be a disease known as the Deliria.  There is a cure administered to all citizens above the age of 18 that eradicates love from the recipient's mind.  There are boundaries, curfews, laws, and walls in this America.  Things to keep people safe.  To keep them from the Deliria.

Lena Haloway is the main character in this series.  She is an average, rule-following girl.  And then she catches the Deliria.  And everything changes.  She falls in love, and these books are her story.

Book 1.
This is the beginning.  The easy, beautiful, painless beginning.  It eases you into the series.  Sweeps you off your feet.  Makes you fall in love.  It draws you in.

Book 2.
This book begins with hurt, pain, and a bitterness that almost creeps into yourself.  But it begins to build you back up.  You begin to love the characters again, even if you thought you never would, after Delirium.  Slowly, but surely, you fall in love with the characters all over again.

Book 3.
The heartbreak that this book begins with is nearly unbearable.  The most awful, terrifying choice lies before Lena, and it breaks your own heart nearly as much as it is breaking hers.  It makes it unbearable to put the book down.  You are left reading for hours on end, dying to know what happens in the end, yet still willing the book to last forever because you don't want the story to stop.

Requiem is beautiful.  Not merely for the fact that people chose to love even when love seemed so impossible, but also for the fact that people chose to stand up.  They didn't let corrupt leaders control them.  They stood up for what they believed in.

Even though this book seems to be focused on love, it's really about so much more than that.  It's focused on everything that's worth fighting for.  The Delirium series, and especially Requiem, shouts a message to the world.  It screams that there cannot be freedom without responsibility, there isn't health without pain, and there can never be love without choice.  If you're going to fight for something, make it something worthwhile.  Something you believe in.  Something good.  And give it all you have.

Favorite quote from the book:
"This is what amazes me: that people are new every day.  That they are never the same.  You must always invent them, and they must always invent themselves, too." 

P. S. - After you read the book, if you're looking for a really good tear-jerker, you can read Lauren Oliver's goodbye letter to Lena here.

Love you guys,