Saturday, June 30, 2012

Review of Everneath by Brodi Ashton: 4.5 Stars

Everneath (Everneath, #1)

Maybe it's because I am at a friend's wedding that I was in the perfect state of mind for a good love story. But I know that's not the only reason why I loved this book.

I wasn't sure what to expect from this book as it seemed like people either liked or disliked it. Let's just say I was definitely pleasantly surprised. I rate this book 4.5 stars.

Everneath by Brodi Ashton is a play on the mythological story of Persephone and Hades as well as Orpheus and Eurydice. We are introduced to the protagonist Nikki, who is already currently in the Underworld with Cole, a sinister yet intriguing antagonist. There is one thing that keeps her sane during the 100 years that she is bound, and it is thoughts of her first love, Jack. Only 6 months pass in the upper world, and she returns to Earth for 6 months before her ultimate fate of feeding the energy of the Underworld until she is used up. Jack and Nikki frantically try to find a "cure" and discover secrets along the way.

I'll put this right out there. I absolutely loved this book. Perhaps part of it is that I love Greek mythology to start with, but that said, I thought this book was well done. The characters were very well developed and I really got Nikki's relationships with both Cole and Jack. I understood her progression from despair to hope and the symbolism to drug use with what Cole represented. The prose was very clear and many times poignant, and I blazed through the entire book in a few hours, never losing interest. I was in tears at one point. For me, that's not a usual response. I enjoyed how the book was told in both present day and past day, and thought that this method of storytelling worked very well for the story that was to be told.

So why did I rate this 4.5 stars since it's obvious that I loved it? There were a few things that I saw that for me would propel it even to a higher level. I wish that I had even more details of Nikki's past with Jack. Jack seems like such an interesting character, but in the beginning he's painted as the player guy who sleeps with everyone, which is such a dichotomy from the guy he is with Nikki. There's a reason he does that and I want to know what it is. Second, I'm not sure if this is left for the second book, but there is a huge misunderstanding between Jack and Nikki which leads to her going to the Underworld in the first place. I guess we can chalk up her emotional state to being a teenager, but I wasn't quite convinced. And lastly, I felt that the ending could have been done a little better-- in fact, if it had ended two chapters before, it would have been a better ending I believe.

That said, it's obvious that I loved this book even with its flaws, and I highly recommend it to any lover of YA fiction.

Would love if you would vote on my review on Amazon! 
Everneath Amazon Review

Don't forget to sign up to win a signed copy of Ingrid Ricks' book, Hippie Boy, A Girl's Tale.

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Friday, June 29, 2012

SVU, Polisse, and Child Protective Services

I'm going to change gears just a little bit in today's blog, because like most YA lovers, I have other interests :-)

I have always loved procedural thrillers, psychological thrillers,and shocking cases. That is, until I saw these cases in real life-- seeing the real thing took away from the lurid fascination of shows like SVU (Special Victims Unit). Little did I know that there is an actual medical profession (Child Protection Program) in which one can specialize.

I have seen a lot of horrible cases in my three years of residency, but nothing compares to focusing on only those horrible cases of child abuse every morning for the Child Protection morning rounds. Oddly, during the two weeks I was on this service, I was invited to a movie by a friend, a French movie called Polisse, which was compared to shows like SVU.

Rotten Tomatoes Description: Winner of the Jury Prize at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival and nominated for 13 César Awards, Polisse follows the daily lives of a tight-knit team of men and women working in the Child Protection Unit of the Parisian police. Basing her richly textured script on real child investigation cases, writer-director actor Maïwenn has gathered an accomplished ensemble cast of French actors who convey the emotional strain of the unit's work with gritty realism. They not only deal with the stress of their jobs but the inevitable fall-out in their personal lives-breakdowns, divorce and adulterous relations within the force. In between, there are frequent flashes of humor as the team attempts to diffuse daily realities. As the cases,confessions and interrogations pile up, the squad members have only each other as support as they face an uphill battle against both criminals and bureaucracy.

So this sounds interesting, right? Unfortunately, I was interested in how the movie was incorrect rather than getting caught up in the emotion.

Let's start with just the basics. Here we have a good basis for a movie-- but there are so many characters and so many plot lines that it is hard to feel sympathy or empathy for any of them. Horrible, awful things happen in the film, and we as theater-goers are gasping in horror when we see things like parents dropping their babies, slapping them around, abusing them in multiple ways.  But I was most horrified by how the police were portrayed in investigating these allegations. The movie showed multiple police officers yelling at "perpetrators" who weren't even convicted of anything. They showed interviews where children were asked "yes" and "no" questions and very leading questions (both of which are total no-no's when interviewing children), and these kids were always interviewed in the presence of their perpetrators. They showed police officers laughing at a juvenile booked for giving a blow job in order to get her cell phone back. I know some of this was for shock value, but not once did I see them doing anything right. I would have rated this movie 3 out of 5 stars if it were a book because while there were moments of strong emotional impact, the dangling plot lines and inaccuracies were just too much for me.

In real life, there are occasional happy endings for some of these kids, thank goodness. We had a kid in the hospital, a beautiful girl with golden curls, who had a subdural hematoma and retinal hemorrhages (evidence of "shaken baby" syndrome), who was initially in the intensive care unit, but pulled through, became the darling of the floor, and was sent home with a wonderful foster family. We all have high hopes for her.

Don't forget to enter the giveaway for Ingrid Ricks' book Hippie Boy: A Girl's Story

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Curmudgeon's Corner: Science in dystopian YA and Review of Partials by Dan Wells

Dark DaysOne of the books on the Dark Days tour is Partials by Dan Wells. I've had this on my to read list for a month before I had heard about the tour and saw that it was getting mixed reviews. I can understand this sentiment as I award this book 3 stars.

Partials is about Kira, one of the last remaining humans, after a terrible war that they've lost against Partials, which are mostly robotic creatures with some human DNA. What really decimated the population was not the war, but a devastating virus that has rendered humans incapable of reproducing-- babies die within days of birth after getting the virus. Kira is a young scientist, and with a band of her friends take on the government and the Partials to try desperately to find a cure.

Partials (Partials, #1)There are some really great things about this book-- Kira is a headstrong and engaging protagonist, although I at times sided with Marcus, her boyfriend because I can understand his desire for self preservation over a 1% chance Kira's crazy plan is going to succeed. Samm is a Partial that Kira meets and without giving too much away, their interactions are fascinating and moving at times.

The strong aspects of this book are overshadowed by some of the odd science elements. Perhaps because I'm a scientist, I can't get past bad science in books. Kira describes different forms of the virus as Blob and Spore. Yes, exactly those names. The use of Spore in viral transmission is just so wrong on so many levels. If we are talking about mold or fungi, fine. Just for kicks, I looked up "viral spore" on Google, and my first hit was Wookieepedia, the Star Wars Wiki, and the definition was as follows: "Viral spores were developed by the One Sith scientist Vul Isen during the Second Imperial Civil War as a means of pacifying rebellious worlds without committing substantial Imperial forces. They were capable of poisoning all living organisms on a planet's oceans within days, effectively rendering it uninhabitable. These viral spores were deployed in canisters and were used to great effect as part of the Final Protocol as part of the Genocide of Mon Calamari on Dac. Later, Sith-Imperial bombers of Squadron Quad Victor deployed these during the destruction of Da Soocha."

OK, so I don't know who any of those people are (where do Star Wars fans come up with this stuff?) but I digress. My point is, the science in this book is bad, and I couldn't really get over it.

*MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD* So one of the big reveals is that a pheromone is the cure for the virus and that a small amount in a syringe has the ability to interact with the virus and cure the child. What?! First of all, hormones don't cure viruses, our own immune system does. Second, hormone injections are given over a prolonged period of time to give the desired effect. Not to mention there is a high rate of allergic reactions to these things. That was kind of the last straw for me.

This is not the only book that had these issues. Sometimes even books I really liked had this issue. Case in point, Lauren Oliver's book Delirium, showcased the illness Amor Deliria Nervosa. I get where she's coming from, but defining love as an illness was just too much for me-- and these people are basically getting a frontal lobotomy? Who would ever pass this law? That said, she writes beautifully, and at least she named the illness properly, versus Blob.

OK, nuff said. :-) Have any of you been frustrated when there is bad science in dystopian fiction?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday (2)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating.
Last week, my first entry for Waiting on Wednesday was a book I am unreservedly excited about. This week, I am selecting a book that I'm not sure I'm going to like, but still am going to read no matter what. My selection this week is Unwholly by Neal Shusterman, the sequel to the wonderful Unwind.

UnWholly (Unwind)

Amazon Book Description:
Thanks to Connor, Lev, and Risa—and their high-profile revolt at Happy Jack Harvest Camp—people can no longer turn a blind eye to unwinding. Ridding society of troublesome teens while simltaneously providing much-needed tissues for transplant might be convenient, but its morality has finally been brought into question. However, unwinding has become big business, and there are powerful political and corporate interests that want to see it not only continue, but also expand to the unwinding of prisoners and the impoverished. Cam is a product of unwinding; made entirely out of the parts of other unwinds, he is a teen who does not technically exist. A futuristic Frankenstein, Cam struggles with a search for identity and meaning and wonders if a rewound being can have a soul. And when the actions of a sadistic bounty hunter cause Cam’s fate to become inextricably bound with the fates of Connor, Risa, and Lev, he’ll have to question humanity itself. Rife with action and suspense, this riveting companion to the perennially popular Unwind challenges assumptions about where life begins and ends—and what it means to live.

Why I Am Worried: I'm not sure this book was meant to have a sequel. The first book was so satisfying and whole (no pun intended). I always worry when authors tack on more books after the first one was so successful. That said, look at Ender's Shadow, while perhaps never to be as revered as Ender's Game, still a wonderful book in itself.

Why this book may still be good: I like that Shusterman is focusing on different characters-- I feel like Connor, Lev, and Risa's stories have been told. This description is fascinating. I hope it lives up to the hype!

Please don't forget to enter the giveaway for Ingrid Ricks wonderful book, Hippie Boy: A Girl's Tale!

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Part II Interview with Ingrid Ricks, author of Hippie Boy: A Girl's Story

Hello again, everyone! Ingrid Ricks had so many fascinating answers to my questions that it was two blogs worth! Here is part two of the interview. Enjoy and sign up to win a signed copy of her wonderful book, Hippie Boy: A Girl's Story!
Profile Picture
Ingrid Ricks is a Seattle-based writer and speaker who focuses on overcoming adversity and embracing life. Ingrid lives in Seattle with her husband and two daughters. She is also the author of A Little Book of Mormon (and Not So Mormon) Stories.

1) I think it's wonderful that you are working with at risk teens to write about their own stories. Can you tell us a little more about your partnership with high schools and your writing workshops for these teens? 
In December, a high school teacher at an alternative high school near Seattle contacted me. She told me Hippie Boy was the perfect book for her students and asked if I wanted to form an author partnership. I jumped at the opportunity because even before publishing Hippie Boy, I envisioned using it as a tool to connect with at-risk teens. Hippie Boy is about a girl who is always trying to escape her life until finds her voice and realizes she has the power within to face down her challenges and claim the life she wants for herself. This is the focus of the writing workshop we started. We use Hippie Boy as a reading/writing guide to help teens reclaim their power by finding their voice and sharing their stories in a narrative nonfiction format. Our first month-long workshop had such a powerful impact on the students that we helped those who were interested in going further to publish their stories in a compelling true story collection (just released) titled “We Are Absolutely Not Okay: Fourteen Stories by Teenagers Who Are Picking Up the Pieces.  

2) A related question. How did the experience of writing this book inspire you to start working with teenagers?
A year ago, I was invited to share my story on an hour-long podcast. It was so empowering and validating to share my story. At least a dozen women posted comments noting that they had experienced something similar and that it helped them to know that they weren’t alone. That’s when I realized how powerful personal storytelling is. Working with at-risk teens was a natural fit because I understand where they are coming from and recognize that by finding their voice and sharing their stories, they can reclaim their power and a create a happy, healthy adult life for themselves.

3) Do you have any advice for aspiring writers? 
Yes – WRITE EVERY DAY. Writing is hard work and it’s so easy to get discouraged and make excuses for not doing it. I worked on Hippie Boy sporadically for more than ten years. Finally I gave myself permission to go after my dream and made writing Hippie Boy my priority. Within six months, I had a finished manuscript. That experience taught me a valuable lesson: Dreams don’t become reality without constant, continued action.

4) What is your next project?
I’m working on a memoir called Focus. Eight years ago, at my first ever visit to an eye doctor, I learned that I suffered from a devastating degenerative eye disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa and that I was already legally blind. Focus is about my journey with RP, and about learning to see what matters and make every moment count. I plan to publish it in September.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Part I Interview with Ingrid Ricks, author of Hippie Boy: A Girl's Story

Get ready, boys and girls! I am incredibly excited and honored to be able to host my first giveaway of an incredible book I just finished a few days ago, called Hippie Boy: A Girl's Story. This is an autobiographical tale of the author, Ingrid Ricks' childhood, but also serves as a wonderful example of a terrific YA book.
Hippie Boy: A Girl's Story

What would you do if your Mormon stepfather pinned you down and tried to cast Satan out of you? For thirteen-year-old Ingrid, the answer is simple: RUN.

Ingrid Ricks grew up in a dysfunctional Mormon family with an absent, freewheeling dad and an intensely religious mother who was desperate to ensure her family's eternal salvation. For years she yearned to escape the suffocating religion and poverty at home by joining her dad on the road as tool-selling vagabond. When her parents divorce and her mother marries Earl--a cruel authoritarian who exploits his Church-ordained priesthood powers to oppress her family-- she learns the lesson that will change her life: she can't look to others to save her; she has to save herself.

Rating: 5/5 stars 
See my Amazon review at this link : Hippie Boy Amazon Review

Hippie Boy Book Trailer (created by Ingrid's daughter!)
Hippie Boy Book Trailer

Ingrid Ricks 
Ingrid Ricks is a Seattle-based writer and speaker who focuses on overcoming adversity and embracing life. Ingrid lives in Seattle with her husband and two daughters. She is also the author of A Little Book of Mormon (and Not So Mormon) Stories.

Interview with Ingrid Ricks Part I. (She had so many awesome answers, it was two blogs worth!)

1) How did you first get into writing and what/who inspired you to write Hippie Boy?
I’ve always loved to write. I started my career as a journalist and quickly moved into feature writing because I was fascinated by people’s stories. Then I switched to advertising/PR because my husband was in law school and my journalism income wasn’t cutting it. About that time, (nearly fifteen years ago) my dad hired me to write his life story. While writing it, I kept inserting my story and realized that I had a book of my own I wanted to write.

2) It must have been difficult for your family members to see themselves in your childhood eyes. Can you tell us about the journey of writing this book and the effect that this had on the people in your life?
That was really the biggest challenge with writing Hippie Boy because I love my parents and didn’t want to offend anyone. I struggled with it for several years and would occasionally send draft chapters to both of my parents to read. My dad was always supportive of the book even though, as he likes to say, “It’s the good, the bad and the ugly.” My mom had a more difficult time with it. In the end, though, the process of writing Hippie Boy and sharing it with her has been healing for both of us. It enabled us to finally talk about painful times in the past, which in turn made it possible for us both to move forward with our relationship.

3) Some of the negative reviews on your book have commented that you are anti-Mormon. I did not get that feel from your book, but can see how someone might get that perception if he/she has not read the whole book. Would you mind commenting on this for our readers?
I respect the Mormon religion--as I do all religions-- and have several close friends and many relatives who are members of the Mormon faith. Hippie Boy is about the abuse of power that can happen in any religion.  It's also about growing up in a dysfunctional family with an explosive, absent dad and an intensely devout mother . Some of the cultural differences (my mother immigrated from Austria), mixed with her extreme focus on religion and severe unhappiness in her marriage, led to an environment that wasn't the norm for other Mormon families. Growing up, I knew my family was different from other families at church.  They didn't have daily hour long home church sessions and constant prayers. They didn't live consumed by guilt and they didn't experience life with a horrible stepdad who used religion as a weapon to abuse and oppress. There is good and bad in every religion. Thanks to the church welfare system, we had food when my mom didn't have money to buy it for us. And it was ultimately an amazing Mormon bishop who stepped in and intervened on my family's behalf. The story would have ended very differently had he not done that, and I will always be grateful to him.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Liebster Blog Award

I was just nominated for the Liebster Blog Award by Katie from Breath of books, thanks!:

The Rules:
1. Post 11 facts about yourself.
2. Answer the 11 questions that the blogger gives you.
3. Tag 11 other bloggers that have under 200 followers.
4. Tell these bloggers that you tagged them.

11 Facts about myself
1. I am a pediatrician that loves YA.
2. I have two dogs, a bichon frise named Oz, and a lhasa poo named Boots.
3. I love sour candies, particularly sour straws.
4. I am a major foodie and research menus before going to restaurants.
5. I am addicted to's Writer's Cramp contest. My favorite prompt included a cannibal's new shoes.
6. I am a huge fan of Harry Potter, and actually bought a wand (McGonagall's) at Harry Potter Wizarding World in Orlando.
7. Mosquitoes love me and preferentially bite me above anyone else.
8. I love the ocean and get very sad if I don't get to go to a beach once a year.
9. I only started reviewing books in December 2011, and then got progressively more addicted to my hobby.
10. I make a mean breakfast sandwich.
11. If I had a superpower, I would want to be able to transport myself (and loved ones) to wherever I wanted to in the blink of an eye.

Breath of Books questions:
1. What is your favorite thing about book blogging? Wow. I have a lot of favorite things, but probably my favorite thing is meeting new people with similar interests.
2. What book are your currently reading? The book I am currently reading is Partials.
3. What are five books you want to read this summer? Everneath, Petroplague, Player One, The Pledge, The Selection
4. How long have you been blogging? Since last week.
5. Do you participate in any memes?  If so, which ones? Waiting for Wednesday
6. Who is your favorite author? Orson Scott Card and Lauren Oliver
7. Do you prefer series or stand-alone books? It depends. I love trilogies when they are done well.
8. Do you have a Goodreads account? Yes.
9. Have you gotten any ARCs since you've started blogging? I actually got ARC's before I started blogging... I did this all backwards.
10. What upcoming book are you looking forward to the most? I have a ton that I'm looking forward to, but am really looking forward to Unwholly (which will be my Waiting for Wednesday pick this coming week).
11. Do you like to write to as well, or do you only like to read? I love writing, but it's a scary process and I'm sort of making my way there.

Blogs I have tagged:
A Dutchie On Books
Errant Author
In Between Designs
Reflections of a Bookworm
Books Are my Heroine
Kelsey Hearts Books
Reading Between Classes
Graveyard Books
Writer's Corner
Brimful Bookshelves

Questions for the tagged blogs:
1. What is your favorite movie?
2. What is your favorite genre within YA (dystopian, paranormal, romance, etc)?
3. Do you have any dogs? What kinds?
4. What book are you currently reading?
5. What is your current obsession?
6. What is your favorite food?
7. Who is your favorite Harry Potter character?
8. If you could have a superpower what would it be and why?
9. Who wins: Twilight vs. Hunger Games?
10. What do you like most about blogging?
11. Who is your favorite evil character?

Congrats and have fun!

Tomorrow, to start off a brand new week, I'll be hosting a giveaway for two signed copies of Hippie Boy: A Girl's Tale by Ingrid Ricks as well as posting an interview and review of the book. Stay tuned and win a copy!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Curmudgeon's Corner: Trilogies (The Good, the bad, the ugly)

A Million Suns (Across the Universe, #2)

As promised, my next topic will be trilogies. As everyone knows, YA in particular has been bursting at the seams with trilogy after trilogy. There are pros and cons to this tactic. For the authors that can do this well, this can mean the big bucks and a fan following for their novels. In addition, they don't have to leave characters they have grown to love and develop.

I am currently reading the Across the Universe trilogy by Beth Revis, which inspired this post. She has done a terrific job at not falling in any of the following pitfalls. See my review of the second book, A Million Suns at:

At the same time, there are a lot of pitfalls that authors can easily fall into.

1. Not making each book essentially a stand alone book. The Hawk and His Boy, by Christopher Bunn is one book that comes to mind. The beginning of the book is very strong and then we are introduced to more characters and plot lines than we can count. And get this, none of the plot lines intersect AT ALL during the span of this book. Bunn writes in his author note that these books are not supposed to be read individually but as a three book set. My question then is, then why have three separate books?

2. Using the first book as development of the world without its own story arc. This relates to the first point. But if the first book is just description, most readers won't tune in to the next two if there is nothing there that grabs their interests.

3. The trilogy wasn't planned, but the first book was a success so they tacked on more books. This tactic becomes pretty obvious. We see this more in blockbuster movies (Transformers anyone??) but sometimes books fall into the same traps.

4. The first book is so complete and satisfying as a stand alone, there is no interest in picking up the next one. Even though it needs to be its own book, there have to be strands that are left open and interesting enough for the reader to be driven to pick up the next two.

5. The second book is just filler to get to the third book. Funny story. I was reading Kelley Armstrong's Darkest Power trilogy a while ago. I really enjoyed reading the first book and was excited to get my hands on the next two. I accidentally got the third one first and was blown away-- I thought this is really where it starts! Then I realized I had missed the whole second book without realizing it (I didn't miss it at all and my sister told me it wasn't worth reading), and the third book was the final one and left many plot lines open.

What experiences have you all had with trilogies?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Curmudgeon's Corner: Pacing; Beginnings and Endings

Today, I have been thinking a lot of endings and beginnings. This morning I just graduated from my pediatric residency program and have ended yet another phase in my medical career. Next week, I will be beginning my fellowship in gastroenterology and am a little anxious at once again being at the bottom of the totem pole.

What does this have to do with YA lit? I have been reading a lot on my vacation, and I've noticed that many authors seem to have a lot of trouble with overall pacing in a book. Either the book takes way too long to get started and may lose readers along the way, or the book is great along the way, and then fizzles out at the end.

I just finished Glimmer by Phoebe Kitanidis. See my review at: Glimmer review

Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy, #1)I was enthralled by the premise of this novel. We have two main characters who have lost their memories and are trying to piece together what has happened in their lives and what is going on in the town they are living in. The pacing was great, I was hooked from the start. But then something happens near the end-- the pacing is not quite right and seems rushed and the ending a little too pat. It's a shame because it had the chops to really make it to the next level. I'll be watching to see what else this author has up her sleeve.

On the other hand, novels like the fiercely loved Vampire Academy by Mead, start off slow and take too much time to build up the world that we are being introduced to. The end of Vampire Academy made it all worth reading, as we start to get a sense why all the details were there.

That said, I am really looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

If I had to name perfectly paced books I would include, Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, and Bitterblue (Graceling series).

Have you seen this issue? In which books have you noticed that the endings or beginnings were either a strength or a weakness?

 As I was looking at the books I was planning to put in today's post, I realized how many trilogies I am reading (apparently that's the way to go these days for better or for worse). Tomorrow's post will be my rant on trilogies-- the pros and cons.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday Upcoming Book

First I want to thank all of your support for my new blog! It's been a crazy addition, but I'm totally enjoying myself in this new world! From a great recommendation from Jessi, who has a wonderful blog at Reading in the Corner (crazily enough, I met her in person at a Lauren Oliver event at a local library because we were just sitting next to each other randomly), I decided to join the Waiting on Wednesday list.

This blog focuses on which book we are most eagerly anticipating. I have a lot of books I'm waiting on, but there is one that I'm really excited about:

If I Lie
Hardcover, 288 pages
Expected publication: August 28th 2012 by Simon Pulse

Description from Goodreads: A powerful debut novel about the gray space between truth and perception.

Quinn’s done the unthinkable: she kissed a guy who is not Carey, her boyfriend. And she got caught. Being branded a cheater would be bad enough, but Quinn is deemed a traitor, and shunned by all of her friends. Because Carey’s not just any guy—he’s serving in Afghanistan and revered by everyone in their small, military town.

Quinn could clear her name, but that would mean revealing secrets that she’s vowed to keep—secrets that aren’t hers to share. And when Carey goes MIA, Quinn must decide how far she’ll go to protect her boyfriend…and her promise.

The reason I'm excited about this one, is that it's gotten rave reviews from ARCs (advanced reader copies) given to people prior to publication. And also, it was given a high five from my current favorite YA author, Lauren Oliver.

There are a lot of other picks I'm looking forward to that are further out, so stay posted next week for my next pick! 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Review of This Is Not a Test

This is the new blockbuster hit in YA-- zombie style. I may be in the minority in questioning the author's choice for a suicidal protagonist in a post-apocalyptic world... but does anyone else see a problem with this?
This Is Not a Test

4/5 Stars, Dark and brooding with a touch of the Lord of the Flies
This book has been touted as one of the big YA blockbusters of the summer, so I have been waiting eagerly for it to come out.

Good zombie YA fiction is hard to come by. This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers is an attempt to rectify that fact. We are introduced to Sloane, the protagonist, who has been beaten repeatedly by her father and is completely emotionally dependent on her sister Lily, who has just run away and has left Sloane behind. Sloane is about to commit suicide when the infection takes hold of the rest of the town, converting everyone into zombies, except a select few teenagers who have holed up in their high school. What follows is a combination of a horror movie and Lord of the Flies. The teens have to make hard decisions and try to stay alive.

There are a lot of wonderful things about this book. The tone is dark and depressing, and it should be. I'm still thinking about what happened in the book. There are strong supporting characters and Summers is not afraid to kill off characters. How the future unfolds is not out of the realm of possibility in a zombie apocalypse. And how things deteriorate inside of the school is also very believable.

I wonder at the decision to make Sloane the protagonist. It's an interesting choice, because during the whole book she is trying to find ways to commit suicide, and yet, she still remains alive even though many other people succumb to the virus. She seems to drift through the book like a ghost. I try to imagine if another character had been the main one-- the idea that there is a suicidal person surviving in an end of world situation is interesting, but one that doesn't maintain interest throughout a whole novel. The twist at the end is the likely scenario and not surprising, but the end is chilling and still stays with me.

Overall, a dark, brooding, and suspenseful book and entertaining to read, but a different choice of protagonist may have been a better decision.

Welcome to Ensconced!

Welcome to my new blog, Ensconced in YA! Why the title you may ask. Ensconced is one of my favorite descriptive words, and I always think of curling up in a big armchair reading a good book, so it seemed appropriate.

If you know me already, you know that I'm an avid reader and since December of 2011, I have been a prolific reviewer, mostly for YA books. I guess I never got out of that genre. That said, I read pretty broadly and will give most anything a try.

I'll mostly post about books, sometimes about movies and shows. I'm attempting to write my own dystopian YA novel, but as I'm starting a tough new job in a week or so, we'll see how that goes.

Thanks for viewing!