Do you have a YA book blog & a WIP? If you do, then I'm looking for you. I am hoping to run a week long blitz featuring you guys.
I don't know if you keep track of that little section of my sidebar where I've posted, in the past, books that I am reading at the moment. Sometimes books are on there a long time and then they disappear and I never write reviews for them. If you've noticed and wondered why, I'll tell you.
Below I am going to discuss a couple of the reasons that I stop reading a book or decide not to review them. You may recognize the books I'm talking about and, if so, please don't point them out in comments. This, again, is not meant to tear down books but rather to explain myself.
"Wait, But I Thought You Loved Dystopias & Alternate Histories!"
Most of the books I don't review are dystopias or alternate histories that just don't work for me. I don't review them because I sometimes don't even read them all the way through when I come across something that just strikes me as ridiculous or faulty with the plot or against character. I never want to spoil another reader's possibilities for enjoying a book or appear to abuse an author who may, in time, get better at his or her craft. So I remain silent.
One of the biggest issues I have with dystopias, though I love them dearly, is that in order to fit a plot inside of them some authors completely subvert the world they've created and the natural difficulties that should come with them. If the author had the plot first and built the world later, I would have thought they would design the world around the plot so that the plot doesn't make a joke of the world. If the author designed the world first and plotted inside of it later, I would have thought they would have stayed true to their original creation. And I would have hoped the publisher would have asked the author to be a bit more realistic before publishing the book.
4 Books I Have Stopped Reading & Why
I know, I know, it's fiction and often science fiction or fantasy at that. But there are still usually the laws of physics and psychology to contend with in the books I'm talking about. For example, an author set up on the very first page that it was completely illegal for girls and boys to even walk together. It's also completely illegal to cross sectors (which I would have guessed would then be heavily guarded). Yet, in spite of this setup, the heroine somehow manages not to get caught crossing sectors to meet in public with her male friend. And he, who just so happens to be in the military was actually the one who asked her do it. Judging from the fact that it was the first page of the book and there was a whole 300+ left, she didn't get caught or punished for breaking the no boys and girls walking together law even though they were apparently on a military base and probably makes it home, sneaking back across sectors, without being caught again. I read that one page and put it down. Perhaps the rest of the book would have been fantastic but I personally couldn't take it seriously after that.
Another book I only half read was one where it was set up in the beginning that the two main characters lived at their school. They break curfew and the boy gets a pretty hefty punishment from a very angry professor who would have also liked to punish the girl. Later on in the book, the two decide to run away. Which should, in my mind and in relation to the punishment the boy got for just breaking curfew, have been grounds for expulsion and perhaps a stint in a prison labor camp. Except both the main characters express their belief that they will be going back to school and that it won't be all that big a deal. Especially for the boy because laws are more lenient for boys. Wait, what? The more I read, the less I could take the book seriously. In spite of excellent peer reviews, I put it down and returned it to the library.
A third author utilized a tight-lipped narrator to attempt to create suspense and mystery. Her seeming inability to tell everything she knows to the reader when she is not literally aware of the reader was like reading someone who had half her brain shut down. I felt like I was watching a movie with only one functioning eye that was fixed in position, not able to turn or move. The view was so narrow and the information given in such a stilted, chopped up manor that I found myself being ejected out of the story over and over. I am referring to my enjoyment of full immersion in stories to where I feel I am living them along with the characters. And by ejected I mean I couldn't stay immersed because of my continual frustration with the narrator. I never finished the book. I tried for months but I couldn't.
The fourth author designed an incredible dystopia. She peopled it well, especially the narrator, who was well developed even though I didn't like her. Her character, her beliefs, and her personal moral compass were so well developed that by the time she met her love interest, there was no reason in the world for me to believe that this bland, average, nice guy was anyone who could inspire the narrator to break character to break laws to be with. Especially when she wouldn't give any leeway to her lifelong best friend and even more especially when she talked (ad nauseum sometimes) about being terrified people would think she was like her mother who had been killed or disappeared for breaking the same laws.
In Conclusion, Ladies & Jelly Spoons
I don't like being frustrated when I read. I take that back, if that is the point of a part of the plot to be frustrated then I take it as one segment of the emotional roller coaster and enjoy it. But to be frustrated by amazing worlds being intricately woven with fabulous minutiae that surprises and thrills me only to have a plot or characters that bend or break away from realistic psychology. Well reading that isn't fun to me.
I know not everyone picks up on the same things that I do in books and so I know that the things I've mentioned may not even phase other readers. I'm glad! I know that, as an author, for someone who is not from the target audience to tear down my book (my baby!!) would feel seriously unfair and not right. And so I quietly put down these books and refuse to review them. The target audience, as proven by reviews from young adults for all 4 of the books I mentioned above, loves them. They should!
And in writing this post I am in no way saying anyone who enjoys books that I do not is less intelligent or stupid. That isn't my intention at all. As they say it takes different strokes for different folks! My conclusions written above have probably stopped me from reading books that I could have loved. I've probably missed out on a lot. But I don't want anyone else to miss out based on my opinions.
Howdy all! Khadija @ Black Fingernailed Reviews, one of my most favorite people in the blogosphere, has graciously decided to extend to me (and of course you!) her review of Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr! Thanks so much, Khadija!
Title: Radiant Shadows
Series: Wicked Lovely
Author: Melissa Marr
Publisher: Harper Teen
Teaser: Half-human and half-faery, Ani is driven by her hungers. Those same appetites also attract powerful enemies and uncertain allies, including Devlin. He was created as an assassin and is brother to the faeries' coolly logical High Queen and to her chaotic twin, the embodiment of War. Devlin wants to keep Ani safe from his sisters, knowing that if he fails, he will be the instrument of Ani's death. Ani isn't one to be guarded while others fight battles for her, though. She has the courage to protect herself and the ability to alter Devlin's plans—and his life. The two are drawn together, each with reason to fear the other and to fear for one another. But as they grow closer, a larger threat imperils the whole of Faerie. Will saving the faery realm mean losing each other?
My Review: The Wicked Lovely series is a favorite of mine. It's not just an interesting and unique fairy series, it's not just an unbelievably awesome character series, and it's not just an amazingly written series; it is all those things and so much more. What Melissa Marr does to me when I start reading one of her books is hard to explain but it's a mix of those three things the idea, the characters, and the writing and when those three things blend together so effortlessly its bound to make for an amazing book.
I had no doubts reading Radiant Shadows that Marr would let me down and I love that! I love when I get so invested in an author and their writing that I never doubt what I'm about to read will blow my mind. Of course there is always a completely unpredictable element with Melissa Marr because you never know what she'll pull out of her bag of tricks next with all the character story mashing.
I don't think I expected to fall so head over heels in love with Ani. But since I'm all about the honesty let me just start off by saying that none of Marr's previous characters in the series (and I've loved all of them) have been as relatable to me as Ani. There was just something there and when I was reading her story I was so far into her mind that I was her.
Devlin. It's not that I have mixed feelings about this guy it's just that he baffled me in so many ways. He was a combination of a lot of things, he was sort of like the embodiment of feelings every person on this planet can relate to: the struggle of belonging, being yourself, trusting. He's that puzzle that's always missing a few pieces. And in the end when he finally made a decision to be himself it was like breathing fresh air after being underground on the subway for too long, a bit dizzying but completely refreshing.
Melissa Marr's characters have the potential to mean something to everyone. They are just so layered and complex.
The uniqueness of Melissa Marr fey is simple enough to explain: No matter how hard you try to compare her faeries to other YA fairies, you'll never find ones that are quite the same. You'll never find War and Reason, Dark and Light, Good and Evil, Right and Wrong, Love and Death, all represented in her fey.
Now here comes the hard part: The story-line, the writing. In all the YA books I've read (and I've read quite a few) the hardest to explain are Melissa Marr's. She is a true storyteller, she weaves emotions so powerful into her words that at times they'll take your breath away. Her story-lines might not be everyone's cup of tea; At first look they might seem simple or familiar but the great thing about stories like Radiant Shadows is that they are vast and endless wells. You can always dig deeper and find more.
A good story has one of three elements: great characters, great writing, great story. But an unforgettable story has all three and for me Radiant Shadows was unforgettable. It doesn't make me sad to think that Darkest Mercy will be the last book in this amazing series because I know that Melissa Marr is one of those authors who's writing I'll be addicted to for as long as she writes.
Zombies Don't Cry by Rusty Fischer
Release Date: May 1, 2011
Publisher: Medallion Press
Received Through: Books With Bite Book Tours -- Thanks Savannah!
Reading level: Young Adult
In the sleepy small town of Barracuda Bay, Maddy Swift leads the life of a fairly typical teenager, but while attending a party one night, Maddy is struck by lightning and awakens to realize she has been reanimated and turned into a zombie. While becoming acquainted with her new "lifestyle," Maddy stumbles upon two unexpected undead chaperones, fellow students Dane and Chloe, who begin to teach her the ways of zombie life, including defending the populace from Zerkers—the bad zombies. Together, on prom night, the three teens must ultimately defend Barracuda Bay High from an all-out zombie Armageddon.
-- from Amazon.com
Mini-Preface: I love book tours & supporting new efforts of book bloggers so when Savannah of Books With Bite began book tours, I browsed the books she was offering and chose this one. My first impression from the back cover synopsis (not the one from above) was that it was going to be one of those cute, romantic, high school books that glibly include zombies to add humor or angst. You know, the ones with the same covers as regular contemporary high school romance books but with a slightly disheveled person included. However, this book at least had a very black cover featuring a very interesting cropped, creepy eye photo. So it couldn't be too bad, right? And hey, I have had great experiences broadening my horizons by reading books I might not otherwise have picked up. So here's what I found when I did read it.
First of all, I think whoever wrote the back cover synopsis should be fired. If the author wrote it, I'm sorry, Rusty! I love you but I would have missed this one if it weren't for the book tour! There is so much more to this book than what was there. Maddy is hilarious from start to finish. Her upbeat, often acerbic observations diminish the hard edge of what has happened to her and how sad it could really be in reality. Seeing zombie life through her eyes is at times completely amusing (crazy zombie movie marathon?) and at others heart-rending. She might be (un)dead but Maddy's emotions run what I would consider to be a pretty natural course through the entire book.
I am always wary of reading books told from a teenage girl's point of view written by an adult man. I have read a few that failed miserably. Not this one! Mr. Fischer has an amazing grasp on Maddy's voice. She is authentic, imaginative, and comes across as a teenage girl as clear as a bell. I fully believed her and the other characters and so I was able to submerge myself in the story and the world completely. Something I find integral to enjoying the reading experience.
The story took plenty of turns and I know I laughed and cheered out loud a number of times. I especially loved learning about the Elders and zombie laws. I was a bit disappointed that there wasn't more of that in the book but perhaps it will be fleshed out (no pun intended) in future books. Because I very much hope to have the privilege of reading much more about Maddy and her undead men! Though the ending, even if bittersweet, was definitely one that I could be satisfied with even if Mr. Fischer never writes more about Maddy.
I was thoroughly impressed with the level of intensity and energy through the book that never waned. This book was packed from beginning to end with so much action, unique (to me) zombie mythology, and snarky dialogue that I never could find the right place to put it down. So I didn't. I read straight through and when I was finished I definitely wanted more. Thank goodness Rusty Fischer loves his undead characters and so there is much more for me to read! I completely and evangelistically recommend this book to anyone who loved the delicious sarcastic banter of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the entire idea of zombies trying to take over celebrated school functions.
|Zombies Don't Cry
I'm looking to add some variety to my blog and would like to open it up to guest bloggers who would like to pop over and add some spice and pizazz to this place. You can write about anything from why you started blogging to book reviews to pretty much anything really.
If you're interested please comment on this post or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.