Friday, August 26, 2011

Fantasy Friday: Supernaturally

Supernaturally, by Kiersten White

Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 352
Reading Level: 12 and up

Paranormalcy was one of my absolute favorite books of last year, so I was super excited for Supernaturally.

From GoodReads:

Evie finally has the normal life she’s always longed for. But she’s shocked to discover that being ordinary can be . . . kind of boring. Just when Evie starts to long for her days at the International Paranormal Containment Agency, she’s given a chance to work for them again. Desperate for a break from all the normalcy, she agrees.

But as one disastrous mission leads to another, Evie starts to wonder if she made the right choice. And when Evie’s faerie ex-boyfriend Reth appears with devastating revelations about her past, she discovers that there’s a battle brewing between the faerie courts that could throw the whole supernatural world into chaos. The prize in question? Evie herself.

So much for normal.

I'm a little torn with how I feel about Supernaturally. Don't get me wrong, I loved it, but last year, Paranormalcy sucker punched me with its freshness and originality. It had that real "Wow" factor because it was so unique, not only in storyline, but in the way the story was told. Since I've already been exposed to it, I was less blown away by Supernaturally. That being said, Supernaturally still kept all the awesome elements I loved from Paranormalcy and advanced the story in a way I think will make Endlessly amazing.

Let's start with the voice. Bleeping amazing! Evie jumps right off the page and makes me jealous I don't have Kiersten White's genius. Even in the most dire of circumstances, the narrative is funny but not in a distracting way. Aaand, how cute are Evie and Lend? The book could've been entirely encompassed by their flirting and I still would've been pleased.

I'm a little surprised, but I didn't dislike Reth in this novel. I'll be honest, I hated him through most of Paranormalcy and only at the end did I start to hate him a little less (which, is due to his character, not any flaw on White's part). Reth's involvement in the story makes him more and more intriguing. I kind of want to go back and read Paranormalcy again, knowing what I know now, and see if I can like him a little more. Also, Neamh = lovely.

I think what I really enjoyed about Supernaturally--besides the amazing characters, voice, plot, and overall great writing--was the moral dilemmas. There were several of them in this book and they were examined with just the right amount of attention. They didn't overwhelm the story nor were they rushed over. I have a feeling the conclusions of these dilemmas are key for the last book and it makes me extremely excited.

If you haven't read Supernaturally (or *dies at the thought* Paranormalcy) you should go do that. Now. Even if you're not a fan of paranormal I think you'll like it.

Happy reading!


Monday, August 15, 2011

MiddleGrade Monday: The Secret Language of Girls

The Secret Language of Girls, by Frances O’Roark Dowell

Publisher: Atheneum (Simon Schuster)
Pages: 256 (paperback)
Reading Level: 9-12 (middlegrade)
Enjoyment Level: Medium

This is another one from my good friends at Simon Schuster. And it’s another one I’d seen around and heard about, but didn’t read until I got my copy from the publisher.

From GoodReads:

In the old days, when Kate had no interest in romance, she never cared what other people thought. Now, it appeared, love was turning her into a rotten human being.

Eleven-year-old Kate Faber wishes she could talk to her best friend Marylin about this. But Marylin is no longer her best friend. Or is she? Kate and Marylin had always been the kind of best friends who lived on the same block for their entire lives and who could agree on the kind of boys worth kissing (only movie stars) or who should be invited to their sleepover (definitely not Mazie Calloway or Elinor Pritchard). The kind of best friends who didn't need words to talk, but who always just knew.

But lately Marylin has started to think that Kate can be a bit babyish. And Kate thinks that Marylin is acting like a big snob. And a lot of the time, well, it feels as though they just don't know each other anymore. Somehow nothing is the same, but secretly Kate and Marylin both wish that it could be....

I think I must be losing my touch with middlegrade books. I just wasn’t terribly impressed and I think part of it is just that I haven’t read many for this age range. I know what I liked and disliked about the book, but I might be behind in what’s the norm for MG books.

I liked the characters just fine. They seemed slightly young at times for being in sixth grade, but the personalities worked for me. The author did a wonderful job at building the girls and making them pop as real people in real situations, and all of the side characters were well-rounded. I don’t usually enjoy books where the point-of-view switches between characters, but it worked all right for this storyline. I did like getting both perspectives, since the book was about both of the girls.

The plot didn’t really work for me as well, though. It fell flat in several places and left me questioning the reasons behind various plot points. The writing was sort of simplistic, which, I think, led me in feeling like the girls were younger than sixth graders. I wanted a more mature writing style to really help drive the story and tie everything together. By the ending of the book, I still wasn’t quite sure where the plot was going, and it left me hanging, but not as though it was a cliffhanger.

In my mind, I’m comparing this to Princess for Hire, by Lindsey Leavitt and I much prefer that story and writing style to this one. That’s not to say others and MG girls won’t like this one. I just wouldn’t suggest it to reluctant readers, as it isn’t as fast-paced as other books. The characters are relatable for younger readers, so that’s a definite check in the pro column. Readers will be able to identify and others may have a better time enjoying the plot than I did. It’s worth checking out if you’ve got young girls in the house.

Until next time, go read something!

~ Vilate ~

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Teen Fiction Tuesday: Across the Universe

Across the Universe, by Beth Revis

Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin)
Pages: 398 (hardcover)
Reading Level: 14 and up
Enjoyment Level: Highest

There was a movie a few years ago called Across the Universe, so when this one came out, I thought it hadn’t just come out – I thought it was a book of the movie. I couldn’t figure out why everyone was suddenly talking about it. Of course, I was set straight eventually, and put it in my to-read pile.

From GoodReads:

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone - one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship - tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now, Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.

So many, many amazing books have been released lately! I feel like it’s impossible to read all of the good ones and do justice to them in reviews and interviews. Plus, I’ve been slacking in reviewing what I’ve read recently. It’s hard to know exactly what to say with a book like this one, though. It was just fabulous!

The story is dystopian, but it’s mystery, as well, with a lot of science fiction thrown in. I loved the plot – it kept me hooked. The intricacies of life on the spaceship got more and more interesting as the book moved on and mysteries were revealed. I felt like the writing was solid, and just enough information was given at any one time. It kept me turning pages (and staying up late).

Amy is a good character. I felt so sorry for her but cheered when she did what she had to. Her interactions with others on the ship drove home all the differences between what we know as modern life and what the characters knew on the ship. I can’t say that Amy was a stand-out character if she was compared to some others I’ve read recently, but for the story and her chemistry with Elder, the development is spot on. I believed the relationship between the two of them.

I did guess who the bad guy was early on. I don’t know if the author meant to be more subtle, but I was clued in at the introduction of this particular character, and the subsequent development of that storyline had me sure long before the mystery was solved. On the other side of that, the other “bad guy” character development did surprise me a little, so I felt that it was all balanced out in the end.

This is definitely a favorite for me this year, and I can’t wait to read the sequel. I’m so excited to keep reading about Amy, Elder, and the unusual lives people live on the ship. I highly recommend this one. You won’t be sorry if you read it.

Until next time, go read something!

~ Vilate ~