Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Turtles all the Way Down: By John Green

Hey readers! So I have been waiting for a new John Green book, and I am happy I found this one! It just came out in October and I got some flashbacks of younger me reading his books like Paper Towns or The Fault in Our Stars.  This book is perfect for my younger readers and even teen ones as well! Although this book is very different than any other John Green book I have encountered, it still has the John Green charm and genius.

What I really enjoyed about this book is the three "plots" that are interwoven throughout; a love story, a depiction of mental illness and a mystery.

The Love Story:  You have your typical John Green love story. Aza and Davis. Davis is the son of a millionaire and has his own complicated life. While Aza ...well I will explain in the paragraphs to follow.

Depiction of mental illness:  You also have something not typical of John Green novels. John Green deals with the painful reality of people living with mental illness. Aza has OCD and constantly describes how she is "spiraling" into a mess of thoughts and emotions that she cannot control. Green really included the raw truth of what many have to live with, and he did not only include the good parts.  This is what made the story real and an honest portrayal - something needed for young adults.

Your mystery.  My not so favorite subplot. Davis's father has disappeared and a reward of $100,000 is offered. Aza wants the money to pay for college and she and her good friend Daisy are determined to solve the mystery.

I did like Aza as a character, mostly because I loved how real she was, however, I could not seem to wrap my head around the Davis-Aza love saga. It seemed so superficial to me. Maybe I am getting a bit old for these tween novels but I found their relationship unrealistic. Although this book included texting (which is needed because teens communicate via their phones all day, everyday these days), I found the texting philosophical and not at all how I have seen any teenager behave.

While the premise of this book was really great, I found that the three subplots, although intriguing, made the overall plot seem as if it was stretched out too thin and failed to make much of an emotional impact on me. Without the big mystery of the father, not much of the story would be lost at all in my opinion and I think the story would be better without it.

My message is contradictory though. I loved how real the book was with mental illness, yet I hated how fake it was with the love story. Loved Green's seemingly new style, yet also found it kind of annoying and not as predictable as expected. Overall, by my standards I would give it a "fine" or a "please read it but don't expect your mind to be blown". It definitely passed the time and John Green is always an interesting and easy read to pick up in your free time.

But as I said the mental health portrayal in this book was honest and I found it to be the best part of the book. Well done John Green. Kudos to you.

I hope you guys enjoy this new Green novel! I know I (kind of) did.

Your Friend,
Rae Sparks

Thursday, September 21, 2017

A Clockwork Orange: By Anthony Burgess

Hey readers! I am sorry it has been a while since my last post! I had a busy summer, but I am back with an amazing book! This classic, A Clockwork Orange, is one that cannot be beat. It has definitely made my top 5. This book, however, is not for my tween crowd but ventures on the teen and adult side.

Written in 1962 Burgess portrayed a dystopian society in which everything is run by the state. The totalitarian society's rigid rules leave little room for freedom.

Alex, the protagonist, uses the little human freedom he has to engage in two things: violence and classical music. Although a seemingly juxtaposing pair, they are quite similar in Alex's mind.

Alex, the egotistic, brutal, violent and overall awful human being spends each night going out with his 'droogs' or friends committing horrible acts of terror from rape to robbery and even murder.

Although seemingly graphic, the book is written in Burgess's made up language "Nasdat".

The language was definitely the coolest thing about the book. In the beginning, just warning you, it is hard to understand what is going on because you have to get used to a new language. The slang of the Nasdat language has some similar sounding words to that of English, however, it takes concentration to become "fluent" in Nasdat. For that reason it is hard to fully understand the violent acts Alex is committing.

After the first few chapters though I found myself understanding the narration, and being in complete shock. The violence-packed book is masked by the language which really helps you take a step back from it all. SO if you are not interested in violence I still recommend you give it a try, because you may not even realize what is going on!

 In a world where the state thinks taking away one's humanity is better than having free will, Alex gets sucked into the system and spit right out.

You think you would feel bad for such a terrible human but guess what? You don't! It is exactly the opposite. You will find yourself feeling sympathy and even wondering what is wrong with other people, but not Alex! You will be confused on who the victim truly is, and what is the crime.

After reading this book I began to ask myself if this was really where our society was heading. Not only was I entertained and intrigued to keep reading (and maybe even a second reading), but I found it weird and mind-blowing that I was able to pick up another language so quickly by just reading this book. Do not be discouraged though, not every word is in this made up language.

Overall...READ IT. You won't regret it. Apparently there is also a movie, but don't go for the movie until you have read the book...please.

Your friend,
Rae Sparks

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Gone: By Michael Grant

Hey readers, we are almost nearing the beautiful summer weather!! As summer comes along, we are all in need of a new book to sit with by the beach, pool or even just to read at night:)

I recently read Gone, by Michael Grant. This book is for my teen and tween audiences, not so much for the older teens and adults. This book reminds me a lot of the Lord of the Flies mixed with the Maze Runner.

This sci-fi novel begins suddenly with the disappearance of everyone 15 and older. With no explanation, all kids under the age of 15 are left alone in the town of Perdido Beach. The town is suddenly surrounded by an impenetrable boarder which won't let anyone in or out.

When no adults are around the world of these children is sent into chaos. Struggles for power and order. Bullies taking over. There are kids to take care of and mouths to feed. Confusion all around. Not to mention once the kids turn 15 they disappear. To where? I certainly don't know nor did I find out after the first book.

If that wan't enough the kids begin to find out that they have powers.

As a middle schooler or teen fascinated with sci-fi, this book is definitely interesting. I could not put it down, mostly because I had so many questions throughout the novel. However, that was part of the problem....

The reason I picked up this book is because the concept is fascinating. What would kids these days do if all of the sudden there was no authority? Adding the supernatural into the book was a good idea in theory, but I think there was too much for Grant to develop. I was left with so many questions that I was so frustrated that nothing was being answered.

This book was good don't get me wrong, but I feel that I am starting to see a pattern in all of these dystopian novels. If I had read this book a year or two ago,  it would be a different story.

The writing style also did not agree with me. There were a lot of main characters, so much so that I feel like it was hard for the author to develop them in one book. I recently realized that there are 6 books, however, I do not know if I am intrigued enough to finish the whole series. There are so many questions I have that are unanswered, which is why I will continue reading, but it may be short lived.

Overall, I don't strongly deter you all from reading this, so please be my guest and give it a try. I just must share my honest opinion as a blogger and give you the whole truth.

Your Friend,
Rae Sparks