Five mini-reviews of YA books

I haven’t written a review for any of the books I’ve read since last November so I decided to do a quick catch-up entry. I’ve been on a role with my reading, thankfully, so now the “unfinished” side has changed from the lack chapters read to the incomplete reviews I’ve written. l need to write my reviews in a more timely manner, otherwise I forget that my initial reactions were.

Meyer, Stephenie. Breaking Dawn. Little, Brown and Co., London, 2008. ASIN: B004SIFYYW
Bella and Edward get married but there are complications with a human being in an adult relationship with a vampire. Bella get pregnant by a vampire-human baby that is killing her from the inside. After the child is born, Edward must change Bella into a vampire in order to save her. This creates concerns with the Volturi and the Cullens must build an army of vampires from across the globe to stand up to the ruling class of vampires.
This book took me forever to finish. The wedding was over in a second with no real description, the honeymoon was on “Island Esme” in Portugal where Edward just happened to speak Portuguese. Then after really awkward and brutal nights in the marital bed Bella ends up pregnant with a demon baby – okay, now this is interesting. The middle of the book is in Jacob’s perspective so most of the dialogue is in italicised thoughts between the werewolves. Finally as Bella gives birth in the most dramatic and gory way, she has to be turned into a vampire. But the martyr Bella doesn’t want poor, sweet Edward to know that she is in unspeakable pain so she never even screams as her whole body feels like it’s on fire. This is after she has bones break from giving birth to the demon spawn Renesemee (which is a name no one in the world can pronounce.) Then, of course, Jacob imprints on her (creepy) and then we have to sit for the whole rest of the book to hear about the possibility of a Volturi visit after the hope of cool new born vampire stuff can happen with Bella (because she didn’t want to be out of control so she wasn’t – of course she didn’t.) So there’s even an index with all the characters and clans of vampires who come to defend the Cullens – as if we care at this point because it’s the end of four books.
Anyway, I did like the end where Edward has a glimpse into how Bella felt about him. That was the one redeeming quality in the whole story. Otherwise it just dragged and was just not doing it for me. I think reading all four in a row made me just way too jilted to take the whole thing seriously.

Stiefvater, Maggie. Shiver. Scholastic, New York, 2009. ISBN: 9780545123273
Grace keeps seeing wolves in her back yard. When they become a danger to the town of Mercy Falls, the police take action and try to shoot the wolves. This is when Grace finally meets Sam who has very familiar yellow eyes. This year will be the last time when Sam will be human again and Grace is desperate to keep him with her.
I really liked the story and how it was written but it is a subtle novel – I don’t remember much about it, honestly. A lot of people have reviewed this as “boring” but I quite enjoyed it. I appreciated the language that didn’t exist in the Twilight books (this was listed as an alternative for such fans.) Grace was a character I actually was interested in and Sam played the werewolf boy who was in love with her. Using the two different point of views was a nice way to even out the story because Grace tried to save Sam while Sam was trying to survive. I appreciated that style of story-telling a lot and while I’m not really super eager about reading Stiefvater’s other books, I know I will get to Linger and the Ballad series eventually.

Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. Scholastic, New York, 2008. ISBN: 9780439023528
Katniss Everdene is a teenager from District 12 who has to volunteer for the annual Hunger Games in order to save her little sister Prim. Katniss is thrown into the Capitol where she is created to be a reality-show star for a deadly game. Her partner, Peeta, confesses his love for her and with the insistence by her mentor Haymich, she gives the audience the star-crossed lovers show that they want. Once in the arena she fights to the death before saving herself and Peeta – at least for this year.
Ah, our beloved Katniss! She is the heroine that we all cheer for these days. I made sure to read this before I saw the movies. I had bought the series before moving and I’m proud to say I own a hardcopy and an ebook copy of two of them now.
I know plenty of people have written better, more in-depth reviews about how great these books are. The fantasy, dystopian novel is so well done that you are on the side of Katniss from the first page. I appreciate how the first person point of view works so well and the reality mixed with the touches of science fiction make it that much better of a book.
No, it’s nothing like Twilight. This is amazing.

Collins, Suzanne. Catching Fire. Scholastic, New York, 2009. ISBN: 9780439023498
Now that Katniss is back in District 12 as a winner of the Hunger Games, she has defied the Capitol with her cunning ability to save herself and Peeta. The government is tightening their grip on all of the Districts and after President Snow makes a personal visit to see, and warn Katniss that her actions are not forgotten, she finds herself going back into the arena in a special all-winners fight to the death. What Katniss doesn’t know is that she has now turned into the symbol of a revolt and her survival is eminent for the hope of every district who wants to overthrow President Snow.
Of course, I picked this book up immediately after reading the first but I dragged with it a bit. The impact of the first book was great because you were learning about the world that Katniss lives in and the Hunger Games themselves. With this book, however, there was a lot of “Where are they now” kind of description at the beginning. But Katniss’s life is still in turmoil and we still have to go through more pain with her.
I have not read Mockingjay yet and I’m holding off for a while. The subject matter of these books is awesome and intense and after two books in a row, I felt drained. I’ve heard plenty of reviews saying the last book isn’t as great and that Katniss isn’t the strong female heroine that we loved in the first book anymore. But I’ve also heard that people loved it, so I’ll read it soon but not just yet.

Bushnell, Candace. The Carrie Diaries. Harper Collins, New York, 2010. AISN: B005UVQE68
Our beloved Carrie Bradshaw was a girl once herself. She had best friends, gay men, unrequited love interests and a deep commitment to her writing from her teenage years.
After all the intensity of the Hunger Games books, I decided to pick something easy, fun and pink. Not having read all of the original Sex and the City novel, I can only assume that what kind of upbringing Carrie had in the television show was completely made up by HBO. While this book wasn’t jam-packed with excitement it really harkened to my love for a good, real-life first-person girl’s story. I saw Sebastian as an early Mr. Big and the betrayal by her best friend and the conflict with the over-popular bully are just hints at what Carrie will have to learn to live with in New York City.
By the way, Ms. Bushnell, awesome twist to Donna LaDonna’s secret family member. I cheered. I’m also super excited that they’re making a movie for this book now. Something else to cheer about!

Smith, L.J. The Secret Circle: The Initiation and The Captive, Part I. Harper Teen, New York, 1992. ISBN: 9780062119001
Cassie Blake and her mother move to New Salem where she meets a group of witches. She discovers that all of their families have been bonded together by the making of a new city, and the untimely deaths of their parents. Despite her acceptance into the group by Diana, the cruel Faye holds Cassie captive (hence the title) in lieu of blackmail. Cassie and Adam know they are destined to be together but the friendly and beautiful Diana already has been in love with Adam for years.
I read this book as an alternative to The Vampire Diaries popularity with the books and TV show. Unlike the Secret Circle show, the ideas that were brought forth in this first book were pulled together nicely to make a basic plot to work with for all of the episodes. I can only assume that the second book has more about the witch hunters and the other boys that Cassie has tried to be involved with but as far as the book goes, it was pretty bland.
What I did find interesting is that I felt like a teenager again as I read this because it reminded me so much of the Christopher Pike books I devoured in high school. After I just looked at the publishing date as 1992, this makes complete sense and it just goes to show that there may very well be a time for your book to hit it big – even if it takes twenty years.

Now that I’ve finished my stint of YA books, I am planning on a few classic books to get under my belt. More updates soon!

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