Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

The Maze Runner by James Dashner was… unexpected. It was not at all what I predicted it to be and I am glad that it wasn’t.

            He can’t remember anything, except that his name is Thomas. Coming out of the Box and into the Glade was a harsh experience: he was surrounded by teenage boys that didn’t seem too welcoming in a less-than-ideal environment. He was also surrounded by a Maze. These boys have tried to solve this Maze for over two years, but there is one problem: every night, the walls move and vicious monsters, the Grievers, come out. Runners are the only ones that can go into the Maze, and Thomas feels drawn toward the Maze; he knows that he wants to be a Runner. But the next day, the first girl to ever appear in the Glade shows up, and that’s when things start to go crazy. Thomas and the girl, Teresa, know that the end is coming, but they need to figure out how to survive it.

            At first, Thomas seemed distant and ordinary, but as the story continued, his true colors began to show. He was brave, courageous, and smart. He risked his life several times for people that he hardly even knew. He was also strong and did not freak out very easily. Most people would have gone crazy right away in his circumstances, but Thomas never let the craziness take him. Although we only knew Teresa for a short time, I liked her instantly. She was tough and didn’t play the damsel in distress, at all. Another good thing about Thomas was that he knew that. Teresa was also really smart and she seemed caring, even though we didn’t see it right away.

            The plot was amazing. I was pulled into the story almost immediately and the mystery kept me guessing. I wanted so badly to figure out the mystery of the Maze before the characters did, but they were too smart for me; I couldn’t figure it out until they did. The mystery was alluring, as was the many things about the outside world that this book doesn’t tell you. I hope that more of my questions are answered when I read the next book!

            This book was on the NYT Bestseller list and when I first started to read it, I was like, “What’s all the hubbub about?” When it began, I thought it was just an average story, but then it really pulled me in. Dashner is excellent at keeping the reader invested in the story because I could hardly put it down after I started reading it! And that ending! Oh my. The sequel, The Scorch Trials, came out a few years ago and you can bet your buttons that I will be reading it immediately!

This book amazed me. 5 Smileys!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

I had to read Unbroken for school and I really wasn’t planning on liking it. I actually thought that I would hate it and struggle to get through it. Little did I know that I would fall in love with it. It was unbelievable. I literally could not believe it.

            Louis Zamperini has always been a runner. In the beginning he ran from the people he stole from. He was a rambunctious child whose favorite hobby was theft. But then, in high school, his brother, Pete, convinced him to try out for the school track team. He was horrible at first, but when he heard people clapping for him, he vowed to hear it again and again. After much training, Louie ran like the wind. He was the best runner to hit Torrance, California ever. He was a star in his high school, as well as at his college, USC. He even participated in the 1936 Olympics, finishing fifth in a race that he had only fun four times before. Finally, Louie’s life was looking up. Then, WWII hit and Louie was thrust into the Army Corps. At first, all went smoothly until his plane, Green Hornet, crashed in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Stuck on a raft for over forty days with two other men, no food, and little water, Louie survives only to be captured by the Japanese and placed in numerous horrific POW camps. What Louie experienced there haunted him for years after it was finally over. He had spent over three years being beaten, starved, and worked nearly to death.

            Okay, I know that was a long description, but this was a really complicated book. It was unlike any book I have read before, so this review will be unlike any review I have ever written.

            First of all: Louie. I fell in love with him as I read about him. He was so strong and he always stayed positive and he was funny. He constantly challenged those that tried to crush him and he remained human even after all of the dehumanizing experiences he went through. Although he had a hard time living after the war was over (he was haunted by nightmares and plagued by flashbacks), he still never really gave up. And when Hillenbrand described old man Louie, I wanted him to be my grandfather. He ran six minute miles in his sixties and he rode skateboards in his eighties! The day he got out of the hospital with a broken hip, he hiked three miles. Is he a resilient dude, or what?

            Now for his story: I think the reason that I liked his story do much more that other nonfiction things that I have read is that what happened to him was impossible. There is no way he could have lived through all of the things he went through and remain anything resembling a human, but he did. It was astounding. I am so so glad that Laura Hillenbrand was able to get his story down on paper before it was gone, along with Louie (he is still alive; I’m just saying). It was an incredible story that I think EVERY SINGLE PERSON ON THIS EARTH should read (however, you must be able to handle extreme violence and disturbing things). It was that good. It shows the side of WWII that we don’t usually think about: the Pacific POWs. Usually all I hear when discussing WWII is the concentration camps and the Nazis, but I rarely hear anything about Japan or the POWs there.

            I must say that this book disturbed me a lot, but I still really liked it. Although there was one incident with a duck that I could have lived my entire life without knowing. Hillenbrand did an excellent job because she held nothing back and she told every part of the story so brilliantly and beautifully that I was awestruck. I LOVED LOVED LOVED this book!

Every person on the planet should read this. 5 Smileys!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Wilde's Army (Darkness Falls #2) by Krystal Wade

I liked Wilde’s Army by Krystal Wade just as much as the first of its series, Wilde’s Fire.
            Kate Wilde has just been visited by two gods- one Light, the other Dark. Upon waking from these “visions,” she discovers that everyone from her new home has been taken away by daemons; all except for Perth, the Ground Dweller that Kate was sworn to marry in return for a favor. No one seems to trust Perth, but the Light god told Kate to trust those around her, so she really has no choice. Once finding her friends, she and Arland must lead their people to Willow Falls where they are thrust into court life under a complicated ruse: Kate must pretend to be in love with Perth and act as if she has every plan to marry him, while her sister, Brit, appears to be in love with Arland. Keeping up their fragile ruse proves difficult, but nothing will be more difficult than what lies ahead.

            First things first: the characters. I thought that Kate was pretty strong and her magic was really cool. I mean, she has tiny sprites to do her bidding; they even dress her so she doesn’t have to do it herself! How awesome would that be? PRETTY DARN AWESOME, I TELL YOU. However, she thought about love a little too much. As a matter of fact, the word “love” was mentioned way too many times in this book, but eventually it didn’t bother me so much. I think I became immune to it. Kate also had some serious trust issues and got angry for small reasons (well, I saw them as small, but that may be because I don’t really get mad ever).

            As in the last book, I still thought of Arland as a pleasant, likable guy. He was really understanding and never got mad at Kate, no matter what she did. He was also strong and he really loved Kate, but as I said before, he talked about it a little too much. I feel like he was a little too open for being a guy, but I still liked him.

            Now for Perth. Oh, Perth. I absolutely LOVED Perth. I have no idea why. I just really liked him. He was really underestimated, but he pulled through in the end and ended up being a really great guy, even though everyone claimed that he was so evil and not to be trusted. I felt so bad for him because all he wanted was someone to love him, but people were constantly talking about how much they didn’t want Perth, but he was actually awesome.

            PLOT! I thought that the plot was entertaining. I liked the part where Kate had to pretend to be in love with Perth the best, but at the same time I didn’t like that part because I felt really bad for Perth… Anyway, there was a lot of action and magic-wielding and such. There were also a few surprises thrown in there, but there  were other things that I did see coming. Overall, I liked this book!

This book was pretty good! 3 1/2 Smileys!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Faerie Tales: The Misfortune of a Teenage Socialite by Brandi Salazar

Oh, what to say about this book? I really don't know what to say, but I shall try.          

           Valerie Williams has always had an east life: Her parents gave her all the money she could possibly want, she has the hottest boyfriend in the school, and she is the one that everyone wants to be. All is going smoothly until her mother tells her that she must get a job and that she already has one planned out where she works. Val never thought to ask what her mother did, but she was about to find out, and when she did, she couldn’t believe it: her mother was a tooth fairy, as she now was. And her trainer was no one other than the Goth boy in her class, Rick. She feels drawn to him because, she finds out later, that they are soul mates, put together by the company. But then there’s Vince: tall, dark, and handsome. He is also vying for her attention, not to mention that Val already has a boyfriend. As Val struggles with her impulses, she does some crazy things that she isn’t so sure she can come back from.

            Alright, first let’s talk about Val. In the beginning, she is totally self-centered, vain, and shallow, until she meets Rick. She falls in love with Rick all while having a boyfriend, who she cheats on with Rick. Calvin only breaks up with her later when he sees her wings, then wants to get back with her. I don’t really understand why he would because Val really isn’t very interesting or nice. Then Rick, who is actually a really good guy, falls for her then they start going out, then she’s reassigned to someone else and about a day or so after meeting him, she makes out with him. Then she just thinks, Well I’m already in trouble, so why not do whatever I want, and then she sleeps with him. Seriously? SERIOUSLY? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? This girl has some serious mental issues and I suppose she admits that, so I guess this is a book about a crazy person, or at least I hope so because if it isn’t then that’s kind of sad. Really, the only good character in this book was Rick.

            Despite the vapid protagonist, I did like the story. I thought that it got a little ridiculous at times, but I still felt pulled into the story. The writing, however, was a completely different story. Whoever was the editor of this book should be fired immediately. There were times when she used the wrong form of the word, such as “threw” for the word “through” and “meat” instead of the word “meet.” These are actual examples. Then, there were times that she didn’t even use the right names for the characters! One time she used the name Victor when she was actually talking about Vince and the name Ashley when she was actually talking about Jessica. That was a serious problem.

            The ending of the story was quite good and I thought it was really sweet. She ends up with the guy that I wanted her to, so that was good. Really, the ending was darling. I know that it sounds like I really hated this book, but I didn’t. It was just that there were a few problems that I wanted to rant about, so I did. I really did get caught up in the story because I wanted to see what this crazy girl was going to do next, even if I was screaming at her the whole way.

This book was crazy. 3 Smileys!

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

So many times I heard that this book was phenomenal. That it would knock my socks off, and possibly even my head. Well, Laini, you did.

Karou was never like other girls. For example, other girls didn’t have a giant beast for a foster father or a snake-woman for a best friend. Other girls didn’t have blue hair that grew out of her head that way and they couldn’t speak over 20 languages, not all of them human. Karou runs errands for her “father,” Brimstone, who collects teeth and pays for them in wishes. Sometimes Karou wonders what he does with these teeth and she also wonders who she really is. Sometimes she feels empty inside, like she should be living some other life. Then she meets Akiva, the beautiful angel, and her whole world changes. She discovers who she is, as well as the secret behind Brimstone’s dealings.

Karou was an amazing protagonist. She was independent, strong, loyal, and really funny. I found myself laughing out loud at a lot of parts in this book and it was mostly due to things that Karou said. She had blue hair and, after reading this, I now really want blue hair. If I could just wish my hair to be a certain color, I would totally make it blue, just like Karou. She was just awesome.

Akiva, the male protagonist, was also pretty cool. He had tiger eyes that glowed, and I think that would look really awesome. He was fierce, strong, loyal, and sweet. Well, at least when he wasn’t trying to kill Karou.

At first, I thought that Karou and Akiva’s love happened really quickly, but then when I realized… something (I don’t want to give anything away!)… I thought that it made perfect sense. However, during the whole flashback scene, I thought that they fell in love a little too quickly there too, but hey, maybe that’s just how people from other worlds roll. I don’t know.

Laini Taylor’s writing was absolutely beautiful. It flowed nicely and it was poetic. She didn’t simply describe what was going on, but she embellished the events with interesting words choices, similes, and metaphors, though not too many. Her writing was perfect and I loved it because she could write beautifully while still delivering a funny line. It was impressive and I commend her for that!

The plot was very interesting. I was caught up in the action, even when there wasn’t really any action, and I could hardly put it down. The only part that I thought was a tad slow was the beginning of the flashback part, which takes up quite a few pages of the book, but once I got used to the story shift, it became entertaining again very quickly. Taylor wove a very complex story that I thought was really cool. She took a series of random things and brought it all together in the end, seamlessly.

And, oh, that ending. I WANT THE NEXT ONE NOW. It was a REALLY BIG cliffhanger and I want more, please! The next book, Days of Blood and Starlight, comes out on November 6, 2012. It has a beautiful cover. Just LOOK AT IT.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone was FABULOUS. 5 Smileys!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Glitch by Heather Anastasiu

Secrets were strictly forbidden in the Community. Of course, it had never been a problem before, because we weren’t supposed to be capable of secrets. It was secrets that started the wars and almost destroyed the planet. Secrets and lies and destructive passions. But we were saved from all that. We were logical. Orderly.
Secrets were wrong. Keeping one was wrong. But I had more than that now, dangerous secrets, piling up like the lies I had to tell to keep them hidden.

                  Welcome to the Community, home of Humanity Sublime and perfect peace! Here, we’re all connected to the Link, which gets rid of our emotions. Emotions are what caused the Earth’s destruction, after all. Here we have no sadness, no happiness, no emotion whatsoever! However, there are those who glitch and their Links give out. They feel. They are anomalous and deadly dangerous. They upset our premier goal: Order first, Order always. They must be fixed immediately. If they cannot be fixed, they are to be deactivated, as soon as possible. Please report any anomalous behavior you witness.

                Zoe lives in the Community. She never knew how it was to feel, to truly live. But all of a sudden, she feels everything: panic, loneliness, love, fear. She’s not too sure she likes it at first because she is only feeling the bad emotions. Until she meets Adrien. His blue-green eyes seem more alert than the others. He seems more alive, but then again, she is desperate to have someone. To not be so alone in holding this nearly-impossible-to-hide secret. But Zoe has another secret, too. She’s Telekinetic. She can move things with nothing but a thought, but her power is erratic, at best. Glitch follows Zoe as she struggles to keep these secrets with the risk of them fixing her glitches, or worse: deactivation.

              First of all, I want to talk about Zoe’s power: Telekinesis. I loved the idea of Telekinesis because it’s a really cool thing that hasn’t been used much in recent literature. As a matter of fact, I was thinking how cool it would be to have Telekinesis just the other day. After all, it is my go-to answer when I’m asked, “If you had a superpower, what would it be?” Telekinesis, my friends. There is nothing more awesome than Telekinesis. It has the power to do pretty much anything, it’s something that isn’t usually used, and, you have to admit, it’s the best superpower. Ever.

               Another really tremendous aspect of this book was it’s story line. Ms. Anastasiu did an incredible job to keep this book surprising. And, boy, was I surprised. I wouldn’t have been more surprised if a ninja dropped down from the ceiling and slapped me in the face before climbing out the window and escaping into the night.  Okay, well, maybe a little more surprised, but it was still the least predictable book I have read in a long time, maybe ever. It was a wonderful story.

              Glitch is a story about discovering emotions, color, and one’s true self. When Zoe is free for the first time, it made me think about the beauty of the world around us and how we take both our freedom and beauty for granted.  Anastasiu explains each emotion so well that it felt like I was just learning them all for the first time, along with Zoe. It also made me rethink about love a little bit. The love between Zoe and Adrien is so precious and I just adored it to pieces.  I could really feel all of Zoe’s emotions. I cried when she cried, I loved when she did, and I felt loss so big I thought my chest was hollow. This book was beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.

I loved this book! 5 Smileys!