Posts tagged ‘5stars’

December 31st, 2010

Wither by Lauren DeStefano; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: Wither

Author: Lauren DeStefano

Published: March 22nd, 2011

Number of Pages: 368

Rating: 5/5

Official Review:

With a premise that is extraordinary and unique, particularly among YA literature, Wither stands out on the shelf. However, it’s not until one picks it up and reads that one realizes what a mind-boggling, intriguing treasure it is. Rhine’s story is of love, both voluntary and not, hate, confusion, and passion. I was swept away in her world, her predicament, her feelings and worries. There’s no doubt that Wither wowed me – and there’s no doubt it will hypnotize many others.

Synopsis:

What if you knew exactly when you would die?

Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden’s genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden’s eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left. [From Goodreads]

Review:

What a ridiculously original and intriguing book! The premise itself is… unique and disturbing, but indubitably irresistible. I am so very, very grateful the opportunity to read an ARC (as were a friend of mine and her sister…).

Here’s the deal, this book is so fantastically interesting that I can hardly imagine anyone being able to put it down easily. The idea is simultaneously horrifying and surreal (in a, um, nightmarish way). Even during the slower parts of the book, I was desperate to know how the story would unfold – or if it even could. The darned thing was so twisted, and my feelings toward actions, characters, and what I hoped would happen were all over the place. I knew what I should feel, and it tended to be at odds with what was actually running through my head. This book makes your mind reel.

Rhine (first of all, what a stellar name!) is an ideal main character. Nonirritating, thoughtful, loving, naturally worried but not constantly overanxious, smart, clever, funny, and full of weaknesses that show that, not only is she human, but she has a beating heart just like the rest of us. Her confusion mirrored my own. Her fears and needs and wants were just what you’d expect, and her actions were all in character. Ultimately, though, the thing that made her awesome was that she could see beneath people’s skins, forgive them or dislike them, but treat them as they deserved – not necessarily as she wanted to treat them. I loved that despite everything, her visions and opinions weren’t always set in stone, but willing to change should change be necessary. She wasn’t too obstinate or inflexible. She gave second chances.

The other wives are fascinating as well. The dynamics of their situation are certainly unusual, but to them it’s surprisingly… unsurprising. Each one of them has a different take on the situation, their new home, and, for that matter, their new husband. The bond the wives share is one I think all girls or women can relate to. They are the most strong as a group, they work off each others’ energies, thoughts, and strength. They rely on each other as I would guess sisters do (I don’t have one). Essentially, it was a both a touching and heart-wrenching element of the novel.

Linden – the husband – is an incredible character! I never knew what to think of him. With every moment we spent with him, with every comment made by any of the characters regarding him, my opinion changed. Originally, his name made me cringe. He was evil. He was sick. Yet, as his character was revealed I came to “enjoy his company” and yearn to learn more about him. I can’t say anything more without giving too much away!

Gabriel is another key factor in the novel (of course). Though I thought he was sweet and learned to respect him, and though I was excited whenever he made an appearance in the book, I never felt close to him. I never quite felt like I had fallen in love with him – which is a bummer. Interestingly, I thought it was Rhine’s relationship with Linden that developed more and was the more intriguing of the two. I was far more anxious and excited when Linden entered the room.

The atmosphere was fascinating, as it was a mix of the present, future, and past. There were things that we definitely have not achieved technologically as of yet, but the society seemed to be very 1920s-like. I loved living in the world of this book for a short while (I read it way too quickly!), despite the fact that it’s horrifying. There were simply so many characters, settings, plot and character twists, and things to admire about this novel that I cannot wait for the sequel!

Ultimately, Wither is an astounding debut novel with incredible situations, moving scenes, terrific writing, and fascinating characters. I foresee many positive reviews in its future, as it is mystifying.

Thanks, so, so, much to Simon & Schuster for the ARC!

December 29th, 2010

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephenie Perkins; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: Anna and the French Kiss

Author: Stephenie Perkins

Published: December 2nd, 2010

Number of Pages: 384

Rating: 5/5

Quote-that-Is-Super-Long-Due-to-Infinite-Goodness:

Oh my. He’s English.

“Er. Does Mer live here?”

Seriously, I don’t know any American girl who can resist an English accent.

The boy clears his throat. “Meredith Chevalier? Tall girl? Big, curly hair?” Then he looks at me like I’m crazy or half deaf, like my Nana Oliphant. Nanna just smiles and shakes her head whenever I ask, “What kind of salad dressing would you like?” or “Where did you put Granddad’s false teeth?”

“I’m sorry.” He takes the smallest step away from me. “You were going to bed.”

“Yes! Meredith lives here. I’ve just spent two hours with her.” I announce this proudly like my little brother, Seany, whenever he finds something disgusting in the yard. “I’m Anna! I’m new here!” Oh, [Gosh]. What. Is with. The scary enthusiasm? My cheeks catch fire, and it’s all so humiliating.

The beautiful boy gives an amused grin. His teeth are lovely – straight on top and crooked on the bottom, with a touch of overbite. I’m a sucker for smiles like this, due to my own lack of orthodontia. I have a gap between my front teeth the size of a raisin.

“Étienne,” he says. “I live one floor up.”

“I live here.” I point dumbly at my room while my mind whirs: French name, English accent, American school. Anna confused.

He raps twice on Meredith’s door. “Well. I’ll see you around then, Anna.”

Eh-t-yen says my name like this: Ah-na.

Synopsis:

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris—until she meets Étienne St. Claire: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he’s taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.

As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near-misses end with the French kiss Anna—and readers—have long awaited? [From Goodreads]

Review:

Let me tell you – this book took the abilities of my innards to the extreme. I believe my gut twisted, wrenched, flipped, pirouetted, and did all sorts of flexible things its usually incapable of doing. My grief at the idea of having to go to bed before finishing was so great that I begged my mother to let me finish (it was after midnight). It was either begging or having to confess and halfheartedly apologize the next day!

Anna and the French Kiss is a book that I’ve had my eye on for months, after having heard about it on Kiersten White’s blog. Knowing me, I probably would never have given it a chance if it weren’t for Kiersten, SO THANKS TO KIERSTEN. And, also, thanks to my dearest little brother who happened upon my wishlist post and then proceeded to buy me the book.

The moment you start reading, it’s clear that you have a clever, funny, and relatable main character. Anna is without a doubt someone I would want to hang out with, and I had no problems whatsoever cheering her on, despite some decisions that made me cringe. It was like she was my avatar and I was living through her, and the only way that could possibly be is if I were unusually comfortable with her. She’s the sort of person who’s willing to learn and grow, yet she’s not just a hunk of Play Doh – She won’t be changed by people stepping all over her. I was pleased that she was the sort of girl who actually seemed deserving of the love interest.

Étienne St. Clair. The romance in this story isn’t the sort that’s just fun. You don’t want them to be together because you know that’s what’s supposed to happen. St. Clair is not just a pawn in another love story, really only significant because there has to be a guy somewhere. He’s St. Clair. (You can tell I’m dazzled when I start emphasizing the obvious in italics.) This is the sort of guy that makes people swoon for all the right reasons, who would be perfect even if he wasn’t gorgeous, who is perfectly imperfect. He’s three dimensional, clever, intelligent, and, overall, loving. I was so glad to see that he was flawed and just as mortal as the rest of us. He can be wounded and stupid and make really dumb decisions more than once, but still struggles to be a good person, a better one. And now that I’m done writing that paragraph, it’s painfully obvious that I’ve failed to express how purely awesome he is. Please, just read the book.

The supporting characters, namely Rashmi, Mer, and Josh, are all crucial to the story. They say what needs to be said, do what needs to be done, be what they need to be, but they manage to do it with a flare that is entirely theirs. Rashmi is kind of a harsh and “I don’t put up with crap” sort of person, but I absolutely loved her. She was strong and sensitive. Stephenie Perkins should create a guy version of her for her next love interest (a British guy version of her). Mer was sweet and precisely what the group needed to soften them all up and keep them in line, and Josh was adorable and funny.

Who am I kidding? They were all funny. This book made me laugh out loud, sometimes to the point that I couldn’t read. Most books don’t reach that degree of hilarity. Speaking of which, this book made me do a lot of odd things. For example, it’s been a long time since I panted in panic at the thought of having to go to bed before finishing.

The book did pass into a sort of chick-flicky territory near the end (perhaps the last quarter of the book). I was upset and definitely disappointed, but there was no way I was going to quit reading. The characters made some stupid decisions that I simply couldn’t get behind, but I kept reading – I wasn’t there to hold grudges, I was there to see them make things right. I tend to tweet thoughts as I read, and here’s one that I tweeted last night:

You can’t go all chick-flicky on me, ANNA! You & I are too close for this kind of betrayal. (But I still love you. We can get through this.)

Ultimately, this book was amazing. In regard to my five star rating, I said:

If only because it takes a lot for a book to drive me THAT crazy.

So, while there were things that got on my nerves, there is no doubt whatsoever that this book is unique, hilarious, and will make your heart pound. I am not exaggerating. I probably squirmed when I read particular scenes. For example, there’s a scene in a movie theater, and I couldn’t get rid of the jitters for at least five minutes.

So please, dear readers, read Anna and the French Kiss, if only for the gift of living within such an enticing story and admiring all that makes it special – the writing, the voice, the people.

If you’re still having doubts, don’t take my word for it – take John Green’s…

realjohngreen: @maureenjohnson have you read ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS? It’s like you and me and Sarah Dessen had a really sexy baby.