Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Dark Divine by Bree Despain

“We don't forgive people because they deserve it. We forgive them because
they need it—because we need it.” 

Grace Divine, daughter of the local pastor, always knew something terrible happened the night Daniel Kalbi disappeared—the night she found her brother Jude collapsed on the porch, covered in his own blood—but she has no idea what a truly monstrous secret that night held. 
The memories her family has tried to bury resurface when Daniel returns, three years later, and enrolls in Grace and Jude's high school. Despite promising Jude she'll stay away, Grace cannot deny her attraction to Daniel's shocking artistic abilities, his way of getting her to look at the world from new angles, and the strange, hungry glint in his eyes.

The closer Grace gets to Daniel, the more she jeopardizes her life, as her actions stir resentment in Jude and drive him to embrace the ancient evil Daniel unleashed that horrific night. Grace must discover the truth behind the boy's dark secret...and the cure that can save the ones she loves. But she may have to lay down the ultimate sacrifice to do it—her soul.

I'd seen this book around before and the cover kind of intrigued me. (What kind of plot is best summarized by uber-pale legs with purple toenail polish?) So when I won a copy of the series from Rachel's Book Reviews, I took it as an omen that I should read the books. 

So Grace, our main character, is the daughter of a pastor. I've read books with situations like this before, and I think this book does a better job of portraying what that lifestyle would be like than any other I've read—she can't watch certain TV shows, she isn't allowed to use the internet in her room, she can't curse, she helps out around the community with her family. 

I also liked how there are actually bible and religious references in it—I'm glad the author did her research instead of just using the church family thing as an interesting background for her characters. It made it a lot more believable.

I think there is a secret YA book recipe that's being passed around from YA writer to YA writer, and I've been trying to figure it out how it goes. I've written it out to the best of my abilities:

  • Start with love interest. His qualities must include: crazy good looks, a dark and mysterious past, a cocky and arrogant front, the ability to be a sweet best friend, a shy and guarded attitude, and a soft and romantic side. It's imperative that ALL of these traits are included in the SAME person.
  • Add main girl character. She should be clueless when it comes to figuring out extremely obvious truths. For extra spice, have her be persuaded to ride a motorcycle by aforementioned love interest at some point during the book.
  • Add one humorous and slightly quirky best friend to appear a few times throughout book for comic relief. Don't be afraid to have her disappear conveniently when the plot thickens and there isn't time for her.
  • For best results, include another completely hot guy to play second love interest. The main character should date him about three-quarters of the way into the book.
  • Mix well. Top with good cover to seduce innocent YA readers.

Now, I might be missing a few steps, but I think that's the basic gist of it. Try and tell me that you haven't read a recipe book or two. (Or twelve.)

So, along with my recipe idea, I also believe in the line filler conspiracy. This is when a writer is in the middle of writing dialogue, but they need something to really hook their readers. Well, how about using one of these lovely line fillers?

"You have no idea what you do to me."
"What I am...It's why no one can ever love me."
"All I wanted was your love, and now I know that's the one thing I can never have."

I don't know about you, but I just cannot stand it when anything like these come from our hot and brooding love interest, so you can probably imagine my reaction when all three of these (and many, many more) poured out of Daniel's mouth.

I had a lot of other little issues with this book, like Grace just leaving randomly and never explaining it to her parents, or how there was way too many clues to what was really going on that Grace never realized, or how odd it was that the character's moods would change three or four times all on one page. (That last one really was weird.)

But I'm not going to continue writing my thoughts, even though I could, because I'm not trying to bash this book. (Yes, I know it looks like I am.) Also, I seem to be in the minority for not liking this book—all and any reviews I've read for it are glowing and positive.

This book wasn't bad—but I've read so many books that go above and beyond my expectations, this one just fell flat. It's your typical YA paranormal read; I wouldn't recommend against it, but I recommend it, either.

Read more reviews for The Dark Divine at:

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

"I take his hand, holding on tightly, preparing for the cameras, and dreading the moment when I will finally have to let go."

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to death before—and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love. 

I read The Hunger Games for the first time over two years ago and I've been meaning to re-read it since. With the brand-new movie and my brand-new copy of the book from the wonderful Amanda's Writings, the timing couldn't have been better.

Honestly, I'm sure everyone that by now has heard of The Hunger Games. (If not, how's life living under that rock?) So instead of going on and on (and on) about how amazing it is, I'm going to bullet point my thoughts to keep this nice and short.

1. Katniss. There are definitely people who dislike her character, but I'm totally behind her. Having a hard life makes you into a different person, but Katniss always held onto what's important, and I completely respect her for that. I loved being in her mind the entire book—if it had been written any other way, it just wouldn't have been the same.

2. Plot. Suzanne Collins took a mind-twisting concept and wrote it out to its fullest potential. The world is so believable, and there's so many concepts she thought to put into it that it truly makes The Hunger Games unique among its YA competitors.

3. The relationships. I'm not just talking the romantic ones, but all the people that Katniss connects with: Peeta, Rue, Gale, Prim, Cinna, Haymitch, Effie. You learned so much about Katniss from the way she interacted with these people, and I loved that every one of them was part of the story.

4. Everything. Okay, this is an insanely broad point, I know, but it's true. There is literally nothing I dislike about this book. The moment I finished a chapter, I wanted to go re-read my favorite parts in it. I'm know I'm going to re-read over and over, and my fingers are already itching to pick it up again. 

If you want my recommendation to read it, you have it. I love this book. So. Much. (I didn't even include my usual "what I didn't like" section.) Go buy it. Go read it. Go fall in love with it.

Read other reviews for The Hunger Games at:

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen

"And as I read down the list of over one hundred and fifty eight-grade boys, I realized that to me, there had only ever been one boy.” 

The first time she saw him, she flipped. The first time he saw her, he ran. That was the second grade, but not much has changed by the seventh. She says: “My Bryce. Still walking around with my first kiss.” He says: “It’s been six years of strategic avoidance and social discomfort.” But in the eighth grade everything gets turned upside down. And just as he’s thinking there’s more to her than meets the eye, she’s thinking that he’s not quite all he seemed.

This is a classic romantic comedy of errors told in alternating chapters by two fresh, funny new voices. Wendelin Van Draanen is at her best here with a knockout cast of quirky characters and a hilarious series of misunderstandings and missed opportunities. But underlying the humor are two teens in transition. They are each learning to look beyond the surface of people, both figuring out who they are, who they want to be, and who they want to be with.

Even though I'd had this book on my bookshelf for a while, I hadn't actually read it. (I was planning to—really, I was.) But it was Amanda @ Born Bookish's review that finally made me pick it up.

When I sat down to write this, I realized if I started raving about how good this book was, I might not stop.

Honestly, I just fell in love with this book: with Bryce and Juli and their families and their lives. This is the kind of book that I wanted to re-read when I wasn't even finished reading it. This is the kind of book that I know I'm going to read over and over because I genuinely love the story and the characters and everything about it.

So I'll try to break down my thoughts for you. What I think hooked me at first was the character's voices. The story isn't just the things that happen but the way that it's narrated. I could read a thousand books from Bryce and Juli's point of views and still want to read more. And the he-said, she-said style is brilliant. I've read books in this style before and I completely hated the way it was done. The way they both saw every event that happened was completely different, because they were two completely different characters with two completely different perspectives. The author pulled it off so well.

I am full of way too much general amazement at this book to find anything negative about it. The five hearts up there say it all.

As it obviously doesn't need to be stated yet again, I love this book, and I can't recommend it more. I'm off to see the movie!

Read more reviews for Flipped at: